January 6th at home in Ireland is called Nollaig na mBan or Women’s Christmas. It’s traditionally the last day of the festive season and one day for the women to finally put their feet up and take a rest. Ha! Not likely in this house! Here in the US the Christmas season only lasts one or two days and this year we even took our tree down on the day after Christmas day itself as we were headed out of town. Needless to say today, the holidays are truly over, despite me still finding pine needles everywhere (I guess Spring Cleaning has yet to begin in this house!) Our minds have instead turned to the New Year, new resolutions and new commitments to master new things. Now’s the time to finally figure out how to use that camera and polish up your photography skills!
If improving your photography is something on your list for 2015 I’ve outlined my top 5 tips below on how to help you achieve this goal.
1. Take your camera out of the box! Seriously! Take your camera out and have it accessible in your daily life so that when the notion takes you, you can grab it and shoot. Charge the battery, stick on a lens and leave it somewhere convenient in your home. Better yet, get one of these cool camera purses and you’ll have no excuse not to take it everywhere you go and look cute to boot!
2. Schedule playtime for yourself. Try to calendar in some dedicated time each week to allow you to play with your camera and it’s settings. Press the buttons and see what happens – I promise you can’t break anything and if in doubt you can always turn it off and turn it on again 😉
3. Read the Manual. I know you have one – it’s probably still sealed in the little plastic baggie in the bottom of the box. Throwaway the French/Spanish version and read a little of the Double Dutch version that came with your camera. If that doesn’t work, consider buying one of the appropriate Dummies for … Books which help to break your camera functions down into easy to understand language. The less intimidated you are by the thing, the more likely you are to become it’s friend. I promise you there is no self-destruct button on there so you really can’t do any damage (at least not on the new models…) If you are local to Atlanta and want to meet up to go over your camera functions get in touch and we can meet for my crash course session which will have you confident with your gear in no time.
4. Get out of Auto. Move away from that little green box or smiley face and play with all those other modes on that mode dial. Mr Canon wouldn’t have put that dial right up there on top if he didn’t want you to turn it, now would he? It’s only by taking control of the settings that you are ever going to improve. Spend some time learning what some of those numbers mean and what happens when you change this or that. There is oodles of info on all this stuff out there but if you would like to cut to the chase, check out my course for absolute beginners and my course for those who feel a little more confident and are truly ready to get of of auto.
5. Shoot Shoot Shoot. Did I mention I think you should shoot? It’s really the only way to get better. One of the ways you can commit to doing this is by taking part in a daily or a weekly photo challenge. Project 365 has been around for a while and it involves taking a picture every day of your life to document the everyday. I tried this for about 20 days and decided instead that a photo a week might be more doable for me. Hence the Take 52 Challenge was born! I now head up a group of more than 1,000 like-minded beginner photographers who hang out in a private group on Facebook. Every Monday morning I issue a one worded prompt to inspire participants to get out and shoot around that particular theme. It’s amazing what a little assignment can do and this weekly, constant practice is truly one of the best ways of improving your craft. The Take 52 group has the added bonus of a supportive community to answer questions, give help and advice and critique your work. The improvements made by past participants is incredible and I’d love to have you join us. Click Here to Join the Take 52 Challenge for 2015
Hope to see you in the Group!
This week’s theme was Artificial and the image that I chose to critique is from Julianne Anderson.
Shutter Speed: 1/125
Click on the video below to hear my thoughts on Julianne’s image.
If you would like to join the #Take52 Weekly Photo Challenge then we’d love to have you! You can find out how it works and sign up here to receive my the weekly prompts via email and to get access to our private Facebook group. It’s a great community and a wonderful place to learn and improve your photography.
This week the theme was Roots which could have many conations. I’ve chosen this image below taken by Tommy Polnaszek
as it indeed said “Roots” in many ways.
Take a look at the video below to hear my brief critique.
P.S. If you would like to join the #take52 Weekly Photo Challenge you can sign up anytime here and join in the fun!
Week 7: Cherish
Image stats: Shutter Speed 1/500
This week’s image is courtesy of Olivia Geraci who beautifully captured a typical moment in the day in the life of a 2 year old. Love this as I go through the same thing daily 🙂
Here is my critique of her work:
If you’d like to join the #take52 Challenge it’s never too late to jump in. Sign up here to get access to the weekly emails and facebook group.
‘Til next week
Photo Credit: Bobby Love
Canon 60d with 40mm prime lens
remote flash was set to about 1/32nd
This week’s image is an example of some wonderful photographic technique and perfect use of the theme Ancient.
The image is from challenger Bobby Love and you can follow along with the rest of Bobby’s work here.
Here’s the video with my critique:
If you would like to take part in the #take52 Challenge you can do so at any time. Find out more information here.
’til next time
As you may or may not know I’m a photography teacher and I teach in person here in Atlanta (and also online.) As much as I love teaching photography theory and concepts it is all absolutely useless until you go out and PRACTICE your skills so I always encourage my students to shoot shoot shoot and assign them specific assignments to help them do just that.
I think I read somewhere that one needs at least 10,000 hours of practice to master any skill. But it is hard to just head out and take pictures if you have no direction or purpose to your shoot. So in 2012 I came up with the #take52 Challenge – a weekly photography challenge where I deliver a prompt to a group of eager amateur photographers so that they can use it as a theme for that week’s photograph. They they can share it on a secret Facebook group to receive critique and comment on others’ work as well.
The Take 52 Challenge has been going strong now since 2012 and we’re getting ready to get going again. It’s proven to be a wonderful way to improve your photography and connect with other like-minded photographers – something I hadn’t given any thought to when we first began.
Weekly Themes for the Take 52 Weekly Photo Challenge will be listed here so that you can catch up if you missed a week.
You can sign up for weekly updates of each theme here:
2014 Themes will begin on 1/6/14 so get your batteries charged and get ready!
Hope you’ll join us!
This week’s Take 52 Challenge theme was Music. My two girls are always shaking or banging something which in their mind is making music so this week I had an easy task.
I’ve been playing around with my speedlite lately, trying to get better exposures inside my house. This shot was a combination of natural light coming in from the side and a bounced flash off of the ceiling above Mollie. I’m working on some blog posts about using your speedlite (external flash) so more details to follow.
Til next week
Ok I have a confession…I’ve fallen behind. I’ve been so super busy over the last few weeks it’s been really challenging taking an image every week for the Take 52 Challenge (How on earth does anybody ever so the Project 365?) Anyways, all is not lost. The cool thing about this Challenge is that it’s mine so I give myself permission to keep on going! I have actually been taking the images just not having had the time to post them, so now you get to see a mini collection all at one time.
This week I finally got my 50mm lens replaced so I spent some time playing with it wide open. If you haven’t yet invested in a 50mm wide aperture lens then make it a point to do so soon. I LOVE mine and I especially love that it is so lightweight and compact. It makes a nice change from the heavy zoom lens that I usually have on my camera. It gives such an interesting field of view and of course renders beautiful creamy backgrounds. This shot is of Sam’s glasses and I love the way the shadows created by the glasses almost look like a reflection in the book.
I found Shiny a little tough – probably due to the lack of shiny surfaces in my house – I have 2 kids, a dog and a hubby who loves bringing the outside in you know! And as my mother says I’m NOT a natural housekeeper. So for SHINY I decided to photograph my newest Shiny object – the necklace hubby gave me for Christmas. I used the little bell (also shiny) as a backdrop as it is a favor from one of our wedding showers way back when…
Awh, this week was an easy one right? We were surrounded by love and lovely things all week so I used my iPhone to snap this shot of my brand new
coffee tea travel mug from my hubby. I was seriously excited about this mug – I mean it – I never had one of my own before and I need my tea in the mornings while carrying out my chauffeur duties for the little ones 🙂 Love is tea I guess! (oh and not forgetting the heart shaped peppermint patties)
So I’m reinvigorated and planning to keep up from now on. The crowd in the Flickr group is amazing – you guys inspire me! It’s not too late for you to jump in – just get going this week and don’t even try to catch up.
Have fun 🙂
I heard a podcast this week about how when we let the little things slip, then we begin to slide on big projects. Makes sense. Here we are at the beginning of February and so many of us have let our New Years Resoultions slip and then the goal gets lost and we let the whole idea slide.
Not going to let it happen with me. So, I ‘m playing catch up. Only 5 days late with this post…
Week 5’s theme was Comfort
Sophie and her comfort blankie “Baddie.” He used to be so soft and cuddly … but even now, despite his lack of fluffiness, he still has his calming effect. Heaven help us if he were ever to go missing….
And I better get a wriggle on…
Phew! The weeks are flying by and we’re at week 4 already. Doing this challenge has made me acutely aware of the fact that right now, there is no way I could cope with Project 365!
Last week’s theme was “Play-Time”
Despite the fact that I spend my days surrounded by toys my kids – like most kids – are difficult to photograph because they never stay still! So I gotta say I was pleased with shot shot as I didn’t use any flash and just bumped my ISO – waaay up to 1600 which on my camera is a lot. It is grainy but I think it kinda adds to the shot.
Let me know how you are getting on!