Sunday, May 22, 2011

One Lovely Blog Award

Saru at the incredibly delicious and artful blog Creative Cakes by Saru has awarded me with the "One Lovely Blog Award".  One look at her wonderful blog and the pastries she makes and you'll know just how talented she is.  Her magic is created from ingredients like drops of dark chocolate,  butter cream, sugar and flavored rum. YUM!   

The One Lovely Blog Award requires that I list 7 things about myself.  So, I must think about my answers so I'm not redundant to my Versatile Blogger post.  Let's see what I can come up with.

1.  I have no grandchildren. For years I longed for them - not so much any more. Maybe I no longer wish to babysit!

2.  As I grow older I become more and more selfish with my personal time.

3.  I make pottery and I'm working on a wild design (and I do mean wild) for my cremation urn. I will make it myself. As the Girl Scouts say: "be prepared". 

4.  I love my hubby, I love my horse, I love my dogs. Not always in that order.

5.  I hate confrontation, except with my neighbor, who lets her dogs poo in my garden beds. 

6.  Aging kinda' sucks - I had to give up ice cream. Not even Lactaid works!

7.  Life is good and really does beat the alternative - whatever that may be.

Now I get to pass this award on to bloggers I admire. I'd like to introduce you to 6 blogs I've recently started following and love. Take a look -

Rogue Artists Speak
JJ Botta at The Disconnected Writer
Christina's Daily Paintings
Raven Myth
Studio 48 Tango

Thank you Saru at Creative Cakes by Saru for honoring me with this award. I'm very flattered! Be sure and visit her site and check out her amazing creations.

My Hubby, my horse and our dogs:

My Hubby - He's a great guy!
He's always #1!!

Mica- registered name "Slightly Painted"
She's a gorgeous Red Roan

Frankie our Border Collie

Sir Rob Roy of Mayhem
Our West Highland White Terrier

Suzie-our Havanese
We rescued her from the Humane Society

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Popular Lenses

You've asked for information about dSLR lenses and most inquiries are for Nikon and Canon. 

Here are the most popular lenses according to Amazon:

For Nikon owners:

For Canon owners:

When I’m considering a new lens I consider the type of image I’ll be shooting, which lenses are popular and my budget. Why do I consider the popular lenses? They must be used by lots of folks who get excellent results and that narrows down my list. 

Here’s a description of lens types:

Kit Lenses – Entry level lenses packaged with a camera. Purchasing the camera and lenses together may save you money but you may sacrifice quality. However, depending on your budget and photo interests this may be a good starting point.

You may prefer buying the camera body and purchasing upgraded lenses separately. A good idea is to rent a lens from a camera shop and try it.

Telephoto Lenses – These are the most popular. They come in a range of configurations. With zooms you do not need to get physically closer to your subject to frame your image.

Prime Lenses – A prime lens has one focal length like the popular 50mm. To focus you physically move closer or further away from your subject. These have great image quality and speed (fast aperture).

Macro Lenses – Specifically designed to shoot objects up close, they give you life sized images.

These are the basics. You may also want to check out wide angle and fish eye lenses.

You’re now equipped with a starting point for purchasing your next dSLR lens. Happy shopping!

What other information or tips would like like regarding lenses, cameras or photography?

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Composing Backgrounds & Elements

Understanding basic photographic composition will definitely help you take better photos. 


 Background is one of the essentials in photography. However you must be aware of everything around your subject before you take the shot, not just the background. Sometimes it's a judgement call and your personal taste....

Biker between 2 pedestrians.

Eliminating one pedestrian.

Lots of action.

Eliminating some of the action and focusing on my subjects.

Do the elements in your composition add to it or distract from it? Remember to stop and look around before you push the shutter release button.

I captured a portion of a house in upper right corner and partial red tulips on the left, distractions.

I eliminated the house and tulips to focus on my subject-the frog.

How often have you taken what you thought would be a great shot only to find that the image lacks pizzazz because the subject blends into a distracting background that overwhelms your subject?

I love this guy's hat and dreds but there's too much going on in the photo for viewers to focus on him.

Start by checking the area for unpleasant objects.  If necessary, place your subject in a different location with a different background or take the shot from a different angle. Turn your subject, kneel down and shoot up, stand on something sturdy and shoot downward.

Kneeling down-shooting upward.
Shooting downward
Don't place your subject with anything popping out of their head like trees, light posts, or sign posts. If you can't move your subject, shoot from a different angle. 

Above: notice the tree “growing” out of her head – a distraction.
By shifting left I captured a nicer image. The curve in the tree trunk now makes a nice frame for her face.

Notice the power lines “growing” out of my hubby's ear!
My Hubby and Son

Centering them under the tree is more appealing visually.

"Fill flash" would have eliminated the harsh shadows on the above  photos-I'll cover fill flash in another post.

At times it's necessary to take the shot as is. Some of my best photos break the rules of background. I leave interesting or unusual elements in if I feel they add to the image....

The elements in this photo distract from the flowers.

This is better but.......

Breaking the rules-I like this one best-the added element of the 
boots creates a story: Who is that?, What's going on in the photo?

Objects in the background can distract from or add to your photos. Being aware of what's going on in all areas of the image will help you get the results you want and improve your photographic composition.

I love the graffiti background and the boarded up window framing my son's head.

Below: cropping your photos in post editing software is often the answer to eliminating unwanted objects. 
Unattractive background

By cropping in my editing software I've created a pleasing image.

Practice, practice, practice; read, read, read, look at lots of images by other photographers. You'll catch on to composing your backgrounds and the other visual elements in your photos in no time!

Thursday, May 5, 2011

The artistry comes from the photographer not the camera

I receive a lot of questions on how to get started in photography on a minimal budget. It's easy. The artistry comes from the photographer, not the camera. You can begin with a camera phone, iPhone, an inexpensive Point and Shoot or an entry level DSLR. Purchase whatever your budget allows. Any of these is a place to start.

An iPhone captures great photos - 

Captured with an iPhone. Photo credit- Tim Todd

Captured with an iPhone. Photo credit- Tim Todd

Captured with an iPhone. Photo credit- Tim Todd

Before I could afford a DSLR my photos were taken with an inexpensive Point and Shoot. Very few people can tell the difference between my Point and Shoot photos and my DSLR photos. Here are two samples from my Point and Shoot -

Captured with my Point and Shoot

Captured with my Point and Shoot

Move up to more expensive gear when your budget allows. Once you are headed in a specific direction you can determine if you need more expensive gear like special lenses, a tripod, special flash attachments, etc. 

One of the first photos I took with my Nikon D90 DSLR

Captured with my Nikon D90 DSLR

Very few people can afford to start with professional gear that may cost thousands of dollars. Better to use that camera phone and get your feet wet than to never start clicking at all.

Start shooting with whatever you have or can comfortably afford, study photographic composition which is more important for beginners than fancy gear and read, read, read, practice, practice, practice.

I enjoy looking back at my early images and seeing how far I've come. Keep track of your progress. It's encouraging and amazing. 

It's fun if you have a friend or group of friends interested in photography who you can shoot with. Join a photo club. No matter what your age, I guarantee a day of photography whether shooting with a camera phone, a Point and Shoot or a DSLR is a great fun!  

Please be sure and check out Tim Todd's website Darje' Images. Many of his photos are of Western Washington where I live. I'd love to share my area of the world with you through his stunning images. 

Tim, thank you for letting me share your iPhone photos on my blog, I very much appreciate it. I'd love to have you write a guest blog post and share your considerable knowledge with us!

Next post - composing backgrounds in your photos.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Composing Photos-The Rule Of Thirds

You don't need an expensive camera to shoot like a professional photographer. Learn why in my next several posts on photo composition.

There’s only rule in photography - there are no rules. But there are a number of composition guidelines which can be used to enhance the impact of a scene. Most guidelines are referred to as rules. I will do the same in my posts so you have a complete understanding of each of the major “rules” or guidelines.

Using the Rules of Thirds
These guidelines will help you take more compelling photographs. They give a natural balance, draw attention to the important parts of the scene, or lead the viewer's eye through the image.
These guidelines take your photographs from snapshot quality to professional looking images. I will discuss these guidelines over my next several posts.

Using the Rules of Thirds

Learn the guidelines (rules) and why they are important, and then learn when to break them. We'll discuss both the rules and how to look at those rules as guidelines. I'll share each rule in one post. Once you have the rules down pat, start experimenting with breaking them.

Let's start with the Rule of Thirds. The Rule of Thirds creates well balanced and interesting shots. Do you always have to use it? No. Rules are made to be broken and some of the best photographs break this one. But it’s best to know the whys of photographic composition before breaking them. That way, your photographs will be deliberate and effective.

The basic principle behind the Rule of Thirds is to imagine breaking an image down into thirds, vertically and horizontally, so that you have 9 parts in your image.

Rule of Thirds grid

Some cameras allow you to set the viewfinder or LCD display into a Rule of Thirds format meaning that when you look through your viewfinder you see the above grid. If yours doesn’t, use your mind, while looking through your viewfinder, to mentally break your image down into thirds.

A good technique for landscape shots is to position horizons along one of the horizontal lines as I’ve done with the following shot. My horizon line is where the water meets the land. For added interest I've arranged the mountain peak along the left vertical Rule of Thirds guideline.

Using the Rules of Thirds

Theory is that if you place points of interest in the intersections or on the grid lines that your photo is more balanced. This enables the viewer to relate with your photograph more naturally. Studies show that when viewing images people’s eyes usually go to one of the intersection points rather than the center of the image. Using the Rule of Thirds works with this natural way of seeing an image.
Another Rule of Thirds Example:

Using the Rules of Thirds

In the above image I purposely placed the eyes of my subject between intersecting points. Eyes are a natural point of focus for a portrait. This gentleman's dark sunglasses give him a bit of mystery.

In the shot below I’ve placed the cowboy along a whole vertical line which means he is off center in the photo. This creates an additional point of interest. Placing him in the center of the frame may have resulted in a less interesting shot. I deliberately placed him on the left vertical line, rather than the right line, to add impact to the photo. My cowboy is mentally preparing himself for a big rodeo event.

Using the Rules of Thirds

Using the Rule of Thirds comes naturally to some photographers. For some it takes time and practice to become second nature.

In learning how to use the Rule of Thirds, and then knowing when to break it, the most important questions to ask yourself are:

  1. What are the main points of interest in my photo?
  2. Where am I placing those points?
  3. What am I trying to convey in my photo?
Remember that breaking the rule can result in striking images. After you learn it and it becomes second nature experiment with deliberately breaking it to see what you discover. In the photo below, I've centered the daisy. I liked the impact of the yellow in the center of my photo.

Breaking the Rule

Lastly, keep the Rule of Thirds in mind if you edit your photos in your post-production software. During post production you can use cropping to reframe images so that they fit within the rules if you feel cropping makes a more pleasing image.

Experiment with some of your old photos and see what impact editing might have on your photos.