One of the best ways to improve any skill or craft is by consistent, regular practice. We could all think ourselves the best painter in the world if all we ever did was read about how to do it – but putting the brush to canvas is another matter entirely. So it is with photography. It’s quite possible to think that you’ve got this photography thing down,only to realize when you are inspired to shoot, your Apertures and your ISOs are all in a heap! The secret to getting better at photography is consistent, deliberate, regular practice.
This can sometimes be easier said than done. As cute as your kitty cat is, it’s tiresome taking his portrait all day long and what else is there to shoot? Well listen – I’ve got the answer…
A great way to hone your skills is to do a weekly assignment in the form of a Weekly Photography Challenge. This is similar to Project 365 that you might have already heard of but a little less intense. The idea is that there is one theme per week which you use as your inspiration to go out and shoot. Depending on the challenge, the theme may be quite vague and open to creative interpretation or quite specific – perhaps a particular subject or technical skill. Being to told what to do takes away some of the issues you might have surrounding what to shoot and give you purpose to your practice.
But the other really nice part of participating in a weekly photo challenge is that you are not doing it alone. The camaraderie and friendships that develop in these groups is phenomenal and they provide a wonderful learning ground for people new to photography. If you think this might be something that you would be interested in, I’ve put together some of my top tips below, to help you succeed with a weekly photo challenge like the CameraShy Take 52 Challenge.
There are many places where you can follow along with a photography challenge – some with private Facebook groups or forums and others where bloggers just provide a link up section in the comments of their posts. Take your time to do a little research to find the right group for you. Photography is infamous for having a lot of very passionate and sometimes opinionated people and it can be super intimating for a newbie to join an established group. If you a beginner/intermediate search for groups specifically in this area, like my CameraShy Take 52 Group. (I boot out any meanies that surface tout suite!)
If your love is food, perhaps you’d love a food specific group. If you goal is to become more professional, you might consider a group with a stricter critique protocol. Facebook is a great place to begin your search, as of course is Google and Flickr is still holding its own.
If you like my style of teaching, Join The Camerashy Take 52 Challenge.
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When you first join a group take 5 minutes to read the admin’s rules about how and when to post. There is nothing more frustrating than a new participant ‘spamming’ the group with tons of photos of their aforementioned cat which have nothing to do with the theme.
Read the rules, ask questions if something isn’t clear and introduce yourself to your new group of friends.
When the theme is released each week, remember that it is not a competition to be the first to submit. The idea of being a participant is to improve your work – adding that amazing shot you took of the Tetons 3 years ago will do nothing to improve your skills only perhaps boost your ego for 5 minutes.
Take a minute to let the theme sink in with you and think about it before you shoot. Initially you may draw a complete blank but you’ll be amazed how your brain works and when you least expect it, an idea will present itself to you.
When you decide to shoot your subject give a little thought to how you are going to compose your shot. Try several different ways to approach the same subject – change your aspect, the time of day, lens and of course your camera settings.
This is sometimes one of the hardest parts of an assignment i.e. deciding which image you are going to present. It’s tough trying to figure out what your best work is and quite often you’ll feel like you could have done so much better and quite often you are right, but just go on and submit.
Waiting on perfection can be the devastation of many artists.
Share your best efforts and keep looking forward – there’s always next week!
Share your camera settings which can be found in the exif data of your image and more importantly, share your thought process too. This will help other people learn from your work and help you to clarify what your intentions were with the image.
Be an active contributor to the group both in terms of what you submit and by helping others, answering questions and giving feedback on others work. It’s usually not a requirement to submit EVERY single week – at least I do not keep track of these things in Take 52 – so don’t be put off if your snowed in one week or you have a sick kid and cannot get out to shoot. It’s usually ok to play catch up or just to jump in again when you are ready.
If critiquing each other’s work is part of the challenge, remember to do it kindly and constructively. First read the rules which deal with critique and comments. Some people may not be open to critique at all but it’s a very necessary part of the process both for the “critiquer” and critiqued.
In my group we follow this protocol: Say something you like about the image, say something you’d change about the image and end with something positive.
It is as beneficial for the commenter as much as the critiqued party when constructive feedback is given. Receive the critique openly and in the spirit which it was given. There is always room for improvement and its good to hear how others would approach the same shot.
Taking part in a weekly challenge really is a terrific way to improve your photography skills, get inspired by other people’s work and meet some awesome people. When you actively shoot every week you will be amazed at the portfolio of work you can begin to build and you will see the improvement on your work in leaps and bounds!
It’s not too late to join the CameraShy Take 52 Challenge! Just click here to sign up and jump in where you are or play catch up if you like.
Since I’ve moved home to this site (IngridKellyOwens.com) I’ve been spending some time going through old tutorials that I’d done in my archives and I’ve decided to refresh some of them for my newer readers out there. This tutorial is all about that little +/- button you have on your camera. The Exposure compensation button. Watch the video below to see everything it does 🙂
This week I continue my series on figuring out some of those buttons on your camera. Ever wondered what that little +/- button on your camera is for? All cameras have this Exposure Compensation Button – point and shoots and DSLRs and understanding it can really make improvements to your pictures. Watch the video below to find out how!
Prefer to read? I’ve outlined the transcription of the video below!
Hey there! It’s Ingrid here once again from Camerashy. This week we are going to talk about another underutilized button in your camera and it is called Exposure Compensation. If you have a Canon, the exposure compensation button is this little + – minus button right here on the back. On some other Canons it is up here at the top, and on some Nikons it is up here at the top as well. What you are going to look out for is that little + button. So what does this do? Well, the exposure compensation button is your way of controlling the exposure of your shot – i.e. how bright or how dark it is and over-ride the camera settings. This can only happen if you are in the program auto mode, the aperture priority mode or shutter priority mode. If you are in auto mode, this won’t work. This is a really good way to get a feel for exposure without actually knowing what you are doing.
So why would you use exposure compensation? Sometimes you take a photograph and the camera just doesn’t get it right. It might be a little bit too dark or a little bit too bright. Just not exactly what you see with your eye. This sometimes happens when the photograph contains extremes of light. Say for example if you are photographing in snow, the camera sees all of that bright snow and the camera seems to darken your image down or likewise when you are shooting into the sun you need to overexpose the photograph a little bit.
So, how do you do this? Well you just use your exposure compensation by pressing and holding down that +- button and rotating the command dial towards the + if you want to make your image brighter or towards the negative if you want to make your image darker. So what you are really saying is, hey! Camera I see what you’ve given me but could you please make it a little bit brighter or a little bit darker? Thanks ever so much… Be sure to say it a nice way because this is one of the only times that you know a little bit more on what’s going on the camera does and we don’t want to offend :).
So, remember, you are not really controlling how the camera makes it brighter or darker. You can only do this by slowing down the shutter speed or opening up the aperture and this will ultimately affect how your image looks but it really does help to just give you a little bit more insight to what is going on with the exposure and so you are one stop closer again to using these modes in a more manual way. So, venture out of auto mode into your program auto, your shutter priority and your aperture priority mode and play with your exposure compensation to see how it affects your photos.
So, I hope you find this useful, be sure to give it a thumbs up if you liked it and share it with your friends.
Until next time…
Is it too early to talk about Christmas? Nah – I’m going to run with it! It is November after all and Santa surely wants to get a little start on all those Christmas lists! So is there a new camera on your Christmas list this year? I know many of my students have been really trying hard to be good girls all year so that hubby or maybe Santa will pop something special in their stocking. A new 5D Mark iii perhaps? That nifty 50mm f/1.4 you’ve had in in your Amazon wish list for months?
If you are leaving it up to hubby to decided you might be in for a sad face on Christmas morning. The smart snap-happy lady might want to give him a few pointers in the right direction. But what if you are even struggling to figure out what you need next?
Let me help you by outlining some of the main issues I see beginning photographers face.
No – it doesn’t count if you go to a Body Sculpt class at the Y every Friday morning! Cameras have changed enormously in the last 10 years and if you are still struggling along with a tiny LCD screen and hard to read menu then maybe its time for an upgrade. Features such a WiFi, touch screens and large LCD screen have become standard and you will find such an amazing change in the quality between a new T6i and the Rebel XS not only in picture quality but in ease of use.
Perhaps you are now happily shooting in Manual Mode and love the flexibility that it offers but you hate the fact that you have to contort your fingers in award positions just to change the Aperture. If it’s like a mini game of twister each time you take a shot, its time to level up! The mid-range DSLRS all have a second command wheel at the back which makes control exposure in manual mode a breeze. Check out the Canon 70D and the Nikon D5300 for this great feature.
You will also have a bigger body that is more robust but you will absolutely LOVE it!
If you find yourself drooling over blurry backgrounds on Pinterest and wonder why your macaron images just don’t look as appetizing as the blogger next door, perhaps is because the aperture on your kit lens is severely limited. Most kit lenses only open to a maximum aperture of f/3.5 which isn’t enough to blur the background and separate your subject from the background. The answer to your problem is a lens with a wide maximum aperture. A great suggestion is the wonderful “Nifty 50 lens.” The little gem has a fixed focal length lens of 50mm which means its great for portraiture but can also open up wide to f/1.8. Which will absolutely render a beautiful bokeh (that creamy dreamy background your soul has been searching for.) It magically turns your boring, blah images into something you can be really proud of . And if you struggle with having low light a 50mm f/1.8 will be your BFF.
There is a learning curve with this lens and to get the most from it you’ll need to be shooting in Aperture Priority mode or using full manual exposure settings If you need help with this we cover all this in my Get out of Auto course. (Maybe Santa will gift you that!)
If you struggle with low light in your home – and by “low” I mean you don’t have a blissful sunroom with light pouring in all day, maybe its time to up your game with an external flash. Yes, natural light is awesome but for many people its not possible or practical to get out and shoot outside all year round. The key thing with using a speedlight as opposed to the built-in flash on your camera, is that you have the ability to tilt the flash head towards the ceiling and bounce it off there to make a large soft light. This gives you the intensity of the flash without the harsh direct-on flash.
There’s always a need for a new camera bag – who says you only have to have one? Maybe one for every month of the year! One for out and about shooting, one for shooting up that mountain on a hike, one that can do double duty as a diaper bag – I could go one – Honestly I can justify anything about “needing” a new camera bag. Many hubbys might not realize that camera bags don’t have to be canvas velcro-laden, black ugly things – they can be pretty and pink or yellow (like mine!) Check out the wide ranges available from Epiphanie, Jo Totes and Kelly Moore which are all available at Amazon.com
And if its all up to you to buy a new camera, sign up here for my Free Online Workshop being held on November 18th all about Choosing the Right Camera for You! I’ll be answering any questions you might have on all aspects of camera shopping so you can comment below with your questions or ask me live on the night!
Ok ladies – have I got a treat for you! Well, it was actually a treat for me but as any girlfriend knows we can squeal together about cute shoes, cute purses and cute CAMERABAGS! Yes – have I got a new, cute camera bag!!!
As any of my students can attest to, I am constantly searching for the perfect camera bag to hold all my gear, that is easy to carry and of course, looks super stylish. So when JoTotes sent me their beautiful Gracie in Mustard to review I was beyond excited. I was also super nervous because I was afraid it wouldn’t live up to my expectations but boy was I wrong.
One of my biggest concerns was space. I need a fairly sizeable bag as it needs to do double duty as a camera bag and a regular purse for a mom of littles. The Gracie is much bigger than I anticipated. It has SO much room in there for your camera, lenses speedlights ,iPad, wallet, lip balm and all the other odds and ends you might need for a day out shooting or just a family day out.
It comes with 2 straps of different lengths. currently I’m loving the longer strap and I like to wear the bag cross body style and even when packed up it still sits comfortably on my body.
It has 4 dividers inside which you can move around to suit your camera size and lenses which makes it super versatile and the lining is made of a luxurious material in light gray which makes finding things in the bag really easy.
My biggest concern about getting a JoTotes was the fact that it wasn’t a real leather bag – but hey, when I gave it more thought, would I REALLY want an expensive leather bag that could get damaged or easily marked. If one of my cute models (aka my 4 yr old or 6 yr old) spills juice or gets sticky all on the bag – a quick wipe with damp cloth or my ever at the ready baby wipe (how did I ever live before baby wipes?) sorts it out.
And check out the beautiful color. This is perfect for summer and makes me happy just looking at it 🙂 They also have so many other beautiful colors -teal, magenta, etc. That might be the hardest part of your purchasing decision with this bag!
And if I still have any guys reading thus far, you want to get serious brownie points ? Get the momma in your life a JoTotes and you will not regret it. If you can’t figure out which one to get – you cannot go wrong with the Gracie. I love it! And who wouldn’t want a new bag?
A girl can never have too many shoes, purses – or camera bags 🙂
So a big thank you to the folks over at JoTotes for this beautiful bag. Now go – run , don’t walk to get yours and let me know what colors you dig the most!
My next hands-on workshop is taking place on Saturday July 18th and is open for registration right now! This is a fun way to learn how to take the photos you want of your family, your travels or anything you want.
If you are the owner of an awesome camera but are totally overwhelmed by all those buttons and numbers and dials (on my!) then this is the class for you.
This is a hands-on, beginners workshop where I teach a small group of like-minded students the basics of DSLR photography. No (or as little as possible!) tech talk here! This a relaxed setting where you will learn:
All you need is a DSLR camera, a willingness to learn AND have fun!
By the end of this 3 hour workshop you’ll be confident in using your DSLR and better equipped to begin your photographic journey.
The following post was contributed by the good people at Snap Paper.
If you are aspiring to learn photography and become a professional photographer, printing using the correct papers is an essential part of the process. Although the vast majority of your images will remain stored in their digital form, some will undoubtedly find their way to the printer and then the quality of your work will not longer be judged solely on your photographic skills, but on the printed work as well. In the inkjet printing world, the paper type and quality plays a central role in the final quality of the print. In this tutorial we will cover all aspects of sourcing photo paper for your particular circumstances.
Choosing Photo Paper
Bond Paper Vs. Photo Paper – Perhaps the biggest mistake amateur photographers make is attempting to print a high-resolution image on normal printer paper. It is true that both normal printer paper and photo paper originate in the same manner, however one is uncoated and suitable for simple text printing while another contains a receiving layer designed to accommodate large amounts of ink. Printing on a non-coated paper will produce lower resolution, washed out results and the paper will start displaying waves caused by ink over saturation.
Photo Paper Size – Printing in a professional capacity is very much about cost effective printing. You want to balance quality with your printing expenditure. One area where waste may raise its ugly head is choosing an incorrect size and then having to reprint your work. Naturally, the same photo paper model will cost less in its smaller 6×4” than its much larger A3 alternative. As a photographer you should be made aware of the various options.
6×4” and 7×5” – These are two photo-album size measurements designed to fit into a normal photo album for image keepsake.
A5 and A4 – These are larger than the photo-album sizes and used to fit into various frames to be mounted on the wall, kept on a desk and so on. A common mistake is buying A5 or A4 sheets to insert into photo albums. While cutting these to size is possible, it is both time consuming and a waste of money.
A3 and A3+ – These are mostly used on a professional basis and require an A3 printer. A3+ or oversized A3 is slightly bigger and can vary in sizes so double-check the precise measurements prior to buying.
Photo Paper Finish – The finish is a transparent layer that adds a level of glare to the image. Most common on a scale of highest to lowest levels of glossiness are glossy, satin and matt. While it is possible to revert the finish of choice by using a fixative spray in a different finish to override the initial finish, you are better off choosing the most suitable finish to start with. For personal use, the finish of choice is often down to personal taste however in a commercial manner such as when displaying an image in a gallery viewing angles should be taken into account.
Glossy – Glossy is the finish with the highest level of sheen and in a commercial manner makes viewing from the sides tricky at times.
Satin – Satin can include various levels of sheen, though less than glossy finish. It makes it easier to view images behind glass.
Matt Finish – Matt does have any glare. It is very rarely used in a professional commercial manner to display work.
Photo Paper Weight – Photo Papers vary in weight from as little as 120gsm to 300gsm and more. Weight, which is measured in GSM (grams per square meter or g/m²) relates in most cases to the thickness of the paper (known as caliper), as it is a measurement of material density. While the type of base paper and receiving layer will play a role in the quality of the paper, weight is an important indication of quality. Generally speaking, the higher the weight is, the higher its quality is. It is important to select the most suitable weight to the type of print. For example, lower weights such as 120gms are often used to print brochures and posters, while higher weights such as 250gsm and over are used to print photos.
Photo Paper Printing Mistakes
Mistakes in printing photos are annoying and can be costly. Common mistakes to avoid vary from buying the wrong paper to printing on the non-coated side.
Paper Technology – Printers are available with Inkjet or Laser technology. It is essential to match your printer with a suitable compatible paper.
Wrong Orientation – Failure to proof landscape or portrait prior to printing leads to waste and should be proofed beforehand.
Printing On the Non Coated Side – Unless stated otherwise, photo paper has only one coated side (with the exclusion of double sided photo papers). Printing on the non-coated side leads to poor results and waste.
Neglecting Printer Settings – Most printers are set by default to print text and to get the best out of the photo paper you will have to adjust the printer settings. Often manufactures are able to supply a profile computer file which when opened will set your printer automatically for best results.
This post was written by the people at Inkjet Photo Paper suppliers Snap Paper. Snap Paper™ is a leading manufacturer of Inkjet papers with operations in mainland Europe and other parts. Its range of Inkjet media is used by commercial and domestic clients in order to achieve high quality image reproduction using any type of Inkjet printer.
This week’s theme was Glass – not a very easy subject to capture and it resulted in lots of various types of the substance. I choose the following image from Holly Feerrar as she obviously took some time in the set up and the thought process – LOVE IT!
If you would like to hear what I have to say about Holly’s take on the theme Glass, please click on the video below.
If you would like to join the Take 52 Challenge, its always a good time to jump in! Click here to find out all the deets!
This week we are looking at this beautiful image by Stacy Phillips.
I love the way Stacy has chosen to process this shot as a Black and White image. It makes the foggy atmosphere all the more intriguing and those trees to appear all the more frightening! If you’d like to hear what else I had to say about Stacy’s image, please click on the video below.
Shutter Speed: 1/200 sec
The Take 52 Weekly Photo Challenge is a really great way to improve your photography by getting out there and shooting! We have a great group of keen amateur photographers over on facebook who are always ready to jump in with advice on their comments on your work. We’d love to have you join us!
This week’s theme was “Local” and it was really fascinating seeing glimpses into where everyone lives. Amid a vast array of landscapes and street scenes there were a few portraits and this one by Michael Knight stuck out to me as something we could all learn from.
Shutter Speed: 1/160
If you would like to here what I have to say about Michael’s image please click on the short video below.
We’d love to have you join us in the Take52 Weekly Photography Challenge, so if you think it’s something you’d like to try you can find out all the details and sign up here.
This post was inspired by a question in my Take 52 group on Facebook. If you are not in that group then you are missing out on all kinds of good information and a cool bunch of photographers friends too 🙂 – So join us!
“How do you set Manual Mode in your DSLR”
Shooting in manual mode is often considered the holy grail to many beginner photographers but its important to remember that there are many levels of manual shooting and it really is not the be all and end all. If you are comfortable making a few mistakes here and there though, its a great way to start taking control of your camera and learning to use it to the max.
Manual Mode should really be more clearly defined as Manual Exposure Mode. This means that you, the photographer are taking full control of the exposure of the shot. You will decide on the the Shutter Speed, the Aperture and the ISO value you need to shoot at. It is these three variables that go to make up the correct exposure. If you change one of these variables it will impact one or both of the others.
Its important to remember therefore, that there is no one correct combination of Aperture, Shutter Speed and ISO for any one scene – there are several combinations that will work. Which one you choose is at your (the photographer’s) discretion depending on the look and feel of the image that you are trying to create.
So for example, if you are a portrait photographer, and Depth of Field is really important to you, then that is the variable that is top of mind for you and you will have a certain f/stop in mind that you will want to stay within to achieve your particular look.
If you are a Sports photographer, Shutter Speed is usually the most important thing to, so you will strive to shoot at as fast a shutter speed that the conditions will allow.
Its the combination of these variables and which one do you change that trips people up in my experience.
Just remember which the the one that is most important to you, hold it where you need it to be and fiddle with the other two until you get a correct exposure.
In through the viewfinder of your camera you have a little meter that reads -3..-2..-1..0..+1..+2..+3 The goal is to have the indicator right on the 0, unless you are trying to deliberately over or underexpose your shot (then you’d shot towards the + or – side of the meter.)
In Canon cameras such as the Rebel T5i, there is a command wheel at top of the camera. Turing this dial changes the Shutter Speed value. If you have a mid-range DSLR like the new Canon 7D ii (lucky you!) you may also have a second dial either on the back of the camera body or at the top right hand corner (Nikon.) Turning this dial will change the Aperture. If you do not have this second dial then consult your user manual as you will need to press and hold another button while turning the main command dial. This gets a bit tricky and takes a bit of practice!
You can shoot in Manual exposure mode and have a whole host of other things taken care of Automatically in your camera, including Focus. The Auto-Focus on modern DSLR cameras is really excellent and there are only a few times when it doesn’t work well. (If you are shooting in low light for example or trying to photograph through glass)
So I prefer to always shoot in Auto-Focus as I trust my camera more than my eyes!
So we’ve established that in Full Manual you are in control of all three exposure variables – Shutter Speed, Aperture and ISO. The other modes in the creative zone let you control some of the settings whilst the camera controls the others.
In Av, A or Aperture Priority Mode YOU control the Aperture and the camera sets the Shutter Speed to compensate. You also can control the ISO or leave it to Auto in this mode.
In Tv, S or Shutter Priority Mode, YOU control the shutter speed and the camera sets the corresponding Aperture. You can also set the ISO in this mode.
In Program Auto you can only control the combination of the the values, you cannot change each one independently, but you can still control the ISO.
So you see there are many steps from that little Green Box of Full Auto to Full Manual. Don’t frustrate yourself by jumping in the deep end too soon and just keep shooting and paying attention to the numbers and you’ll get there eventually.