I just wanted to write a quick article about photography rules. Have you ever heard of “the rule of thirds?” If not, you can simply use Google to search more information on it. In essence, “the rule of thirds” is one of many photographic rules that deals with a photo’s composition. This widely practiced rule simply means, that the subject your focusing on must take up 2/3 of a photo (or half). By using “the rule of thirds,” your showing the viewer what you as a photographer is focusing on (the subject of interest in the photo). This is also one of the reasons why photography teachers stress cropping on every photo. Some photographers are strong believers of this rule, and encourage other photographers to do the same. Well, the reason why I brought up this subject; I want to illustrate to my readers that this rule isn’t etched in stone, or doesn’t apply to ever photo, and or that there are exceptions to this rule. I found the above photo that actually won a recent photo contest. The photo is very beautiful, yet simple. But the reason why I’ve picked this photo was because, not only did this photo win a contest, it does NOT follow “the rule of thirds” rule. How do I figure? Well, if I use “the rule of thirds” logic, the subject of interest in this photo is the sky, however it’s not, it’s actually the bird on the wire (which covers only 1/3 the photo). So, If I was unwavering in my “beliefs” that you MUST use “the rule of thirds,” this would have been rejected and viewed as a bad composition/incomplete photo. As I’ve always said before, learning the fundamentals of photography is extremely important, you can’t get away from that. However, if you focus too much on every single rule that “you’re supposed to do” in photography, you’ll never be free to think clearly enough, and be your own individual photographer, and NOT a follower.
© 2014 ShadesOfSepia.com
Do you still use your old 35mm camera? Do you have an Android smart phone? I downloaded a very cute and inexpensive app a couple of weeks ago; although I realize I don’t need it, I still think it’s a nifty thing to have. It’s called “Light Meter Tools”, and you can find it on the Android market. The main features of this app are measuring the estimated ISO, Aperture, Shutter & EV. You can measure using your cell phone’s built-in camera sensor, or you can measure the light illuminating from the surrounding area using the “camera feature” of the app. This would have been essential back in the day, because it can really take some of the guess work out of figuring out the correct exposure (on 35mm cameras). You can measure with zoom (if your phone supports zoom), and it even has the ability to recalculate if you’re using a natural density filter. I think this is a great app for newbies to experiment with, and learn how to take better pictures with your old film camera. It has a few other bells and whistles. Here is a link to the product on Google’s Android market. Please note, it is not necessary to use this app along with a DSLR camera; I recommend this strictly for old meterless 35mm cameras.; you may be better off spending that money to get a real professional light meter if you wanna go that route.
© 2014 / ShadesOfSepia.com
Remember when I’ve said that a photographer’s photographs always tells a story? I was thinking of some good examples and I think the above photos explains it perfectly. Gaze on the two stock photos above and try to figure out what each of them are tying to tell you. If we study the example 1, the mood of the model suggests that you’re a construction worker and he has assigned a job to you that you’re not going to like, but it has to get done nonetheless ’cause nobody else can do the job. However, by simply adding a small amount of Gaussian blur to example 2 , it now suggests that something major has happened with the equipment onsite, and he not only accuses you of carelessness, but also the reason for equipment malfunction. I could have also done another photo blurring all his fingers/partial fist, then changed it’s perspective a tiny bit; I guess we could then interpret the photo as saying “I want to blame you, but I know it’s me.” I could have also changed the background to give the atmosphere a different mood. I guess this is really no different from talking with some and reading hand gestures and facial expressions; because we all know that a person’s words and gestures don’t always tell the same story.
So, if you can understand that each photograph has it’s own story, then you’ve reached the most basic level of understanding as to what photographic art really is. While it’s also true that not every photograph will have a story; but the ones that do will leave a strong impression in viewer’s mind the longest because he/she can connect with that photo with some kind of relevance and meaning. Having every Photoshop filter known to man installed in your computer will not teach you how to tell a story with your photograph (although it can help enhance it if a story already exists). Telling a story can only come from the creative side of yourself, the intuitive side of yourself, the feeling part of yourself; and the part of yourself that’s willing to take risks in shooting subjects that society looks away from; finding the beauty within each subject. While understanding lighting and how light effects the quality, the mood, depth, perspective, and sometimes even the shape of a subject within your photograph is important, the best camera in the world cannot capture emotion in a photo if there is none. Technology is here to improve our creative artistic abilities, NOT to take the place of artistic expression. This is the difference between a Photographer, and someone who takes pictures.
© 2014 Yogi / ShadesOfSepia.com
These days, it seems that many are dubbing themselves as a photographer, but what does photography really mean to them? The more people I meet, the more I realize just how many different ideas are out there in terms of the meaning of photography. Computer technology has changed traditional photography, (both positively and negatively) quickly I may add. As a result, there are very mixed attitudes from professional photographers. One common complaint from traditional/professional photographers, is that somehow cellphones are indirectly lowering the value of photography, because the picture quality on smart phones have improved exponentially. Now everyone has become zealous “photographers”. Some go as far to say that cellphones are taking some jobs away from educated photographers. However, I say that the other side of the coin is, try to blow up a photo taken with the latest cellphone, you’ll discover that the quality is no way near up to the standards of any DSLR camera, neither do you have the flexibility. I think what scares many photographers (particularly news photographers for instance) is that cellphones today are easily accessible, and ready to snap a photo the minute something is about to happen, then submit it to any news station. A perfect example of that are Weather and Traffic news stations. I can understand the irony in that.
In terms of photographic art, many feel that their is so much imagery of selfies, and buffoonery on popular sites such as twitter, facebook, flickr, etc, that quality of art has been overshadowed. Believe it or not many professional are of the opinion that these site actually dumb down the importance of real photography. Unfortunately, I do understand that to some extent. But, personally, I do make a distinction between taking a picture, and taking a photograph, they are not the same.
I think there is another dynamic to this piece many bloggers/photographers are not discussing, that is the assumption that photography is easy (and I do think new cellphone technologies are partly responsible for that). There is a lot more to know about camera than people realize, which is one of the reasons a lot of people spend hundreds, and perhaps thousands of dollars for a “good camera” to only use it in automatic. That’s like spending $6,000 on a multimedia gaming computer, only to sit and play Solitaire on it. DSLRs are so powerful and most people don’t use not even half it’s potential, cause they think they don’t need to. However, if you want to make the most of the money you’ve spent, yes you should. Knowing you camera will help you overcome common problems that being in automatic mode can’t always resolve. Increase you shutter speed and you’ll be able to capture your daughter jumping in mid air; but if it’s too fast, your photo will be darker. Widen your aperture to reduce bokeh, but more light will go into the lens. Your at a dinner party, the environment is very dark, Your ISO is at it’s full capacity and you have grain in the entire photo; do you know how to correct this on the fly? I think this is what makes the difference between a “picture taker”, and a “photographer”.
© Yogi / ShadesOfSepia.com
Do camera lens adapters really work? In my humble opinion, if you are converting a small filter to be used on a large lens, they are NOT worth the hype. Well, you know that o’l saying, “you can’t knock it ’till you try it”? Well, my followers should know me by now, I like to see things for myself, instead of believing the first thing someone tells me, especially when it comes to electronics. I purchased a lens converter, that makes my 72mm lens compatible with my 52mm accessory filters. I wanted to see if I can use some of my filters from my first lens, without having to tag along two lenses with me. Well… The results were less than impressive. Actually, I had a feeling I would have a problem with it, but I only paid less then $5 dollars for it, what can I loose? If anything, I can educate my visitors with my personal experience. First, I gotta say, if you’re thinking of getting these adapters to use with your Micro Close-ups, forget about it. I had the same problem. The major problem was what I had expected. I got ring (a hard vignette) around the photograph @ about a range of 18mm through 150mm, See here. This means the only way you can get rid of that ring, you’re forced to zoom at full capacity, and physically move yourself farther away just to take your picture. This is a shame, because it also means you’ll most likely never be able to get crisp pictures ’cause your forced to keep it fully zoomed at all times. I would assume that these adapters would work best, if you where converting a large filter to a small lens, rather than vise verse.
© 2014 Yogi / ShadesofSepia.com
We can read as much as we can about whatever subject we want to; but having an experienced teacher helps you to put everything you’ve learned in to perspective. If you would like to read a short article I’ve written about my instructor click here. Unfortunately, I did not take many photos in between class because I was busy learning and paying close attention to what the teacher was saying. In this picture, we were practicing using various apertures settings, which create really nice bokeh effects. Bokeh is a very common type of photography; when the subject is sharply focused, and the background is blurred. Bokeh is one of my favorite styles of photography. Of course there are several software you can use to easily produce bokeh with; but, doing it with your DSLR camera is a much better quality, with out spending hours on the computer trying to produce a natural and crisp looking bokeh (I find that this requires a lot of practice, depending on the photo). It was really wonderful being amongst other aspiring photographers.
This was technically my first shoot as a photographer (since I proclaimed my hobby in the beginning of this year). I went to the Metropolitan Museum shortly after my photography class. The instructor was very strict in terms of only using natural light. However, looking back in retrospect, my opinion is that the museum was a terrible place to shoot without a flash. Many areas were very dark, and it appeared almost impossible. Then again, to be fair, I did not see everything in the museum (it is huge). However, not using a flash really taught me discipline, the mechanics of the how, the when, and the what for. I didn’t realize that A, S, & ISO can literally mean hundreds of combinations within any given moment. Mind you, the A, S, & ISO values also change when you’re using flash, filters, or even the type of light in a room. It takes work to learn how to use manual. There are lots to think about (if you want a great picture with the best exposure). There is no “easy way” to do it. But being in manual mode was truly the best way to help me know my camera, and to quickly make decisions about my camera settings on the fly. The museum was also very strict about not having visitors touch any of the exhibited items. I really wish I had a zoom lens then. My only real gripe was that, as a photographer, I really wasn’t feeling their wall paint. it wasn’t vibrant at all. I hated it. Since I did not see everything in the exhibit, I will give it a second chance one day.
My apologies, I realize that I keep reiterating that my new blog is strictly about my personal journey as a photographer; but for whatever reason, I seem to continuously find subjects that require a little technical background. However, not only am I giving you my personal take on the subject, I also do think these are important topics though; because most entry-level photographers don’t hear about a lot of things I write about on my blog. I do believe that my photo experience as a hobbyist will help a lot of newbies in general (at least the open minded). Please keep in mind, I speak from the “I.”
Let me start off by explaining the differences between Macro, Micro, and “Close-Up.” In the photography world, many manufactures use Micro and Macro interchangeably to mean the same thing. However, I do think there are slight differences IMHO. Because camera companies often do this, most people don’t really realize there is a difference; and I guess most wouldn’t because regardless, we know that they are both used for smaller objects.
The word Macro actually means big, therefore in most cases when using a macro filter lens, you must physically move closer to “fill the frame,” or to make big, or make “close-up.” A huge indicator of this, is when using at least the most powerful macro filter lens (10x) along with your main lens, you normally have to be at least about 4-6 inches or closer to your object before you begin to focus (on manual). The specific Macro lenses I’m talking about are the heavy, yet cheaper $20-30 lens filters to be used on your main camera lens. These are what I call magnifiers. The larger the circumference of your lens, the heavier and thicker your macro lens will be. There are dozens of sizes, so make sure you check the size of your lens first. If your still unsure, I know many cameras such as Nikon will often have the size printed in millimeters on the black plastic lens covers that came with your lens. Please note that not all Macro filters will work well with very powerful zoom lenses. It has been my experience that they work best with smaller prime lenses. However, maybe you can borrow from a friend, and find some artistic uses for them if you still want to try and use them with a powerful lens. Technically these Macro filter lenses are not professional, but with a lot of patience, and a good understanding of manual focus, you can get some really nice close-ups, from these filters.
Then we have the more professional Macro lenses such as this one made by Sony (which do not need the extra macro filters attached). The cost for these professional close-up lenses ranges from $300-6000. Quality and features will vary for each lens. Depending on what you like to shoot, you don’t need a Macro lens with a lot of zoom. My motto is, if you’re broke and you want a good zoom; then use your feet. If you can afford one with a good zoom capacity, then go for it. But keep in mind, like I’ve written earlier, they can get quite expensive, so be sure of what you want to do before you make the commitment to purchase. Check with the manufacture, or your favorite camera store for any specific features your looking for. Also, don’t forget that refurbished lenses are still a good option for those of us who are on a tight budget.
Now, the word Micro means small; which usually means (depending on the type of micro lens) you can actually zoom in on your tiny object to fill the frame with that object. Nikon chooses to use the word “Micro” for their lenses. Be aware (especially for Nikon users), lenses that are 105mm and greater, and or lenses with a significant zoom range, will most likely be in FX format. I am not sure if they make DX Micros with very high capacity (it would cost too much money to make). Keep in mind, just like regular lenses, Micro/Macro lenses will vary on different features, such as prime capacity, zoom ranges, aperture, even the type of glass, etc, which will also make the difference in quality, capability, as well as the price. It is also easy to assume that they all come with zoom capabilities; please keep in mind that not all do. But, even if you purchased a 50mm prime Macro/Micro, you wouldn’t have to be literally on top of your subject. Also, like I’ve said for the Macro, if you don’t have money for a Micro/Macro lens with a good zoom, use your feet. If not it is better to wait, save, and see what your options are concerning refurbished lenses.
If you love Micro/Micro photography like I do, I recommend saving money and getting the more professional Micro/Macro lenses, for one important reason, you have control of your depth of field. They don’t have to be expensive, just a basic/entry-level Micro/Macro lens.
The key difference is, with the cheaper Macro filter lenses, is that you must be at least within 4-6 inches away from the subject (sometimes even closer (even if you have your zoom at full capacity, because it works like a magnifying glass)). Professional Micro/Macro lenses are specifically designed for close range/close-up shots. The phrase “close-ups” only means the act of capturing your subject close up. To give you a good example of how different lenses and lens filters can effect your end result; take a look at the difference between figure 1 & 2. These are two pictures of the same wine glass I’ve taken. The first figure was at full zoom; and the second figure was taken with my other 18-55mm lens with one 10x close-up lens, and 1 telephoto lens at about the same distance. I should also mention that for figure 1, it was impossible to get closer to the lens without a “Close-up” lens attachment, because the sensor would keep the shutter button locked because it can’t focus properly. Macro lenses are perfect if you want to take pictures of stamps, flowers up close, some small species, tiny artifacts, and books. They are also great for taking pictures of textures, such as walls, concrete, metal, wood, etc. You can also stack lenses, but I’m not sure if there are limits on the amount you can stack together, the camera’s sensor is very sensitive. Macro Close-up lenses are NOT designed to be used for subjects far away, you will not be able to focus and loose your dept of field.
I do not have a micro lens yet, so I can not show you any examples, that will be later on in the future. I will not write more about micro lenses because I think it’s pretty much self-explanatory at this point. I deleted a lot of the old stuff I’ve written, just because I felt the information I gave was too extraneous.
© 2014 / ShadesOfSepia.com
On Sunday I had the pleasure of meeting Mrs. Mindy Veissid, who is a freelance photographer and Photography teacher. Out of curiosity, I decided to take one of her classes called “Digital Photography: An Introduction For Beginners”. Then I like her so much, I decided to take a second class called “Intuitive Photography”. I wanted to take her classes because I wanted to learn how to use my new DSLR in the real world (uncontrolled environment). Also, no matter how much we read or study, photography is one of those animals that sometimes requires hands-on learning, from someone with real world experience with cameras to help you put that knowledge in to perspective. I will not go over all of the things she’s taught the group, because her style of teaching is worth experiencing for yourself. She explains things in such a way that, it will save you many days of reading (perhaps weeks) trying to understand some of the things she’s covered in the course. I got to say that, not only does she have a great personality, she is patient and has answered every single one of my questions. The class that I took was called “Digital Photography: An Introduction For Beginners”. It’s $75 for a 3 hour session; this is a bargain considering what it cost to take a basic “professional” photography course, or even one Photoshop class. The class was held at the Madison Atrium, in a public space with plenty of objects to shoot. There is no doubt I learned a lot in her class, I also indirectly discovered new things as a result.
The most important lesson I’ve learned in her class is, how to control my shutter through the metering system in my camera. It was trough the metering I’ve learned just how quickly light fluctuates inside our camera lenses, thus I am able to make quick adjustments on the fly. I also realized how mindful we have to be in keep our camera still/stabilized when using longer shutter speeds. By the time class was finished, not only was I ready to take any photos of anything I wish with great results; but I now take photos with minimal or no use of the flash. This was an eye opener for me, since so many professional photographers spend 80% of their time in flash mode. She has taught me what no other “photographer” has taught me, that is, how to take photos using natural light. I highly recommend that you visit her website www.MindyVeissid.com, she has done fantastic photographic work!
© 2013 Yogi / ShadesOfSepia.com