Showing posts with label photography class. Show all posts
Showing posts with label photography class. Show all posts

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Review of Photography Tips



  Class Offers Helpful Tips

It is a good idea for every photographer to review some of the basic techniques for photography from time to time. I have taken many classes over the years and I always think I will remember the techniques I have learned and I do for a time. But then, I will find myself falling back into old habits or trying new techniques and forgetting to use some of the basics. For that reason, I think it is great to have a review of basics on a regular basis.
In the nature photography class I am taking the instructor used the second session to go over some of the basic techniques. He reminded us of things like using a tripod, watching your vantage point, taking both vertical and horizontal shots and watching your background.
On this page I will be sharing some of the tips he gave us and showing you photos that I have taken using these techniques.
The first photo here is one I took of a bleeding heart flower. I set my aperature on a 5.6 and zoomed in to get a closeup. The resulting photo shows the flower in detail and a soft blurr for the background.
All photos on this page are my own-mbgphoto.

Photographing Waterfalls
I love photographing waterfalls. When I come to a waterfall i usually shoot it at a variety of speeds. It is a great way to learn how your camera works at various speeds.
Here are the tips the instructor gave us get that smooth blurring look in the water.
  • Set your camera to your lowest ISO
  • Set your speed at 1/15 sec or slower
  • Always use a tripod

The photo above is one I took of a waterfall at Missouri Botanical Garden.

Pop Up Reflectors are Great Tools

In this photo and the one below you can see the difference a reflector can make in a photo. I was with my friend photographing a garden when I came upon this old plow. The first photo I took had a glare from the sun on the wheel. I kept moving around but could not get rid of the glare, so I asked my friend to help. She stepped just outside of my frame and held the black side of the reflector over the wheel to block the sunlight.
It was amazing, as she lifted the reflector to block the sun I looked at my camera screen and it was if someone was drawing a dark line around the wheel. The light spot disappeared and you could clearly see the wheel. The resulting photo is shown below.

Plow Using Reflector to Shade the Sun


The reflector below is the type I used for these photos.

Click here to View Amazon Link

Watch Your Background and Foreground - frame your photos

In our class the instructor spent quite a bit of time talking about backgrounds and framing your photo. So many times we get so caught up into getting the object we are photographing to look just right that we forget to look at what else might be in the photo. There is nothing more distracting than having an unwanted person or object behind our main subject. The instructor suggested that before you click the photo you should run your eyes around the perimeter of the photo to make sure you are only including what you want in the photo.
Foregrounds are also important and if you can find an object to frame your photo it can give your picture a very focused look. In the photo above I used falls leaves to frame the Split Rock lighthouse in the distance. In order to do this I climbed up on a rock and made sure the branches of the tree framed the outside perimeter of my photo.

Make Your own Background


Sometimes the best way to get the background you desire for your photo is to make your own background. In our class several different ways to make backgrounds were suggested. The instructor carries squares of fabrics in various colors in his camera bag. A black or a green piece of fabric draped behind a flower can give you a great backdrop. This way just the flower is in the photo and it gives you a dramatic look.
In this photo I used a velvet skirt and draped it over my kitchen chair. i then sat the plant on the chair to get this image.

Use a Polarizer - a must for the serious photographer

Our instructor suggested that if you were only getting one filter for your camera the one you should get is a polarizer. I completely agree. A polarizer will cut down on glare and really make the colors pop in your photo. It is like having sunglasses for your camera. A polarizer is particular useful when shooting foliage and fall colors.
The items below are made from photographs I took of Split Rock Lighthouse in Minnesota.  I love taking photos of lighthouses from lots of different vantage points.

by mbgphoto

I learn at lot from studying the tips found in photography books.  I highly recommend Scott Kelby's series on digital photography.  The book below is the first in the series.
Click on Photo to view book on Amazon



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Thursday, June 25, 2015

Review of Garden Photography Tips

Garden photography can be a very rewarding hobby and one that can be practiced in your own backyard or in many public gardens. I decided that it was time for me hone my skills in photography so I signed up for a 5 week course in Garden Photography. This class is held at Missouri Botanical Garden during the month of May, so in addition to learning some new photography skills, I got to spend a lot of time at one of my favorite public gardens.
 Missouri Botanical Garden was founded in 1859 and is the nations oldest continuously operating garden. I feel fortunate that this beautiful garden is only 45 minutes from my home.

Garden Photography Class

Class One

The first photography class covered a review of the basics including use of aperture, shutter speed and ISO. The instructor spent a good amount of time talking about composition and gave us lots of tips that he found helpful in his photography. Here are a few of the tips that I found particularly useful.
  • Take the safe shot first and then fine tune.
  • Slow down...take your time (this is one area where I need to listen).
  • Find a subject that you want to photograph and then keep fine tuning to find the best shot.
  • Get eye level with what you are photographing
  • The higher the number of the f-stop (aperture) the smaller the opening and more of the photograph is in focus.
  • Try using the Aperture mode on the camera where I set the f-stop and the shutter speed is set automatically. This is particularly good for still shots.
  • Use a tripod most of the time---buy a good tripod. Use especially for closeups and low light conditions but it is good to use it most of the time. ( I really need to work on this one)
  • Turn off camera to change lenses.
  • Don't delete in the camera
  • Work on getting closer and filling frame with subject.

After some time in the classroom we went out into the garden. The irises were in full bloom so we went to that section to work on our photography. It was a sunny day and there was a wind so it was not the best time to be shooting the irises. The instructor gave us several tips while we were shooting to help us get some good shots in that light. He steered us toward the edges of the beds were there was some shade and we could get some photos without the bright sunlight. He also suggested that when we shot in the sun we should look for brightly colored flowers because the pastels would complete fade out in the bright light.
Here is one of the photos that I took. I know I have a lot to work on, but I felt very good about what I learned in the first session.

Purple and White Iris

Purple and White Iris
Purple and White Iris


Landscape Photography - class 2

Our second class was on landscape photography. It was a overcast day so we also got a lot of tips on photographing on overcast days. We were out in the garden about 30 minutes and it started to rain so we headed back to the classroom. Scott, the instructor is great on turning everything into a learning experience so we then got a lot of good tips for shooting on rainy days.
During the short time we were out in the garden shooting I took the photo of the waterfall above using Scott's formula for making the water look "silky". The photo I shot was using a F18 aperture at 1/8th of a second. Here is the formula:
1. Cloudy Day
2. ISO100
3. Tripod (a must)
4. Polarizer filter (I don't have one yet...so I didn't use this)
5. Aperture set between F16-F22
Here are some of my favorite tips from the Landscape Class.
  •  Move things out of center...imagine a grid like a tic-tac-toe and place center of interest at one of the intersections.
  • Rarely put horizon line in center of photo (reflections are an exception)
  • On dreary day eliminate sky from picture (or minimize it if you can't eliminate)
  • Frame your photo...use trees--leaves etc. to frame the picture and draw your eyes into the scene
  • Curved lines bring interest to photo
  • Avoid bright spots near the edges..they draw you out of picture
  • Most images fail because they are too busy and do not have a point of focus
  • Use more vertical shots
  • Layers give more depth i.e. flowers in foreground, lake, mountain, sky ...use wide angle 17-35 and get close to foreground
  • For landscapes focus about 1/3 of the way into the photo and use a F16 aperture.
  • Polarizer filter is great for fall shots.

Practicing Photographic Techniques

Class 3

For our third class we spent most of the morning in the garden practicing the techniques we have been learning in class. There were two instructors that went out with us and gave us a lot of personal tutoring. I really enjoyed being able to ask questions as I was photographing. We first went to the Iris garden and worked more on closeup photography. The instructor had some diffusers with him and showed us how they work to bring light into a subject. One of the tips that really hit home with me was to always look at what is in the background even though you are taking a closeup of a certain item. In the case of the irises I saw what a difference it made when I moved just a bit to make sure I had a darker background. 

Session 4

In our fourth class we studied both water photography and close up photography.
For the first section we took our cameras and tripods and went into the woodland gardens. There was bright sunlight so in order to understand the effects of aperture and speed on our photos we needed to get out of the bright sunlight. In the woodlands we found a small stream running through the area with many small waterfalls as the water went over the rocks. We took the same scene using various apertures and speeds. Although the lighting was not the best we were able to get a good idea of how the different settings would effect the photo. I am anxious to go out again on a overcast day or in the early morning and take the same photos in a better light.

Garden Photography - class 5

When the last day of class came I was really sad to see it end. I enjoyed the people in the class and I feel that I really learned a lot. The instructor was great and I will definitely take one of his classes again. It turned out to be a very hot and sunny day, not really a good day to photograph. Like all of our classes the instructor used the weather circumstances to give us tips. He talked about the summer not really being the best time to photograph. Early morning and at dusk are the best times all year, but this is particularly true in the summer months. He suggested that you use mid day to work on your photos or to go to museums and view other photographers. There is so much to be learned but viewing the works of others.
Here are some of the tips that I took away from todays session.
  •  Light will tell you what to photograph and how to photograph.
  •  Polarizer works well on sunny days.
  •  Tips to photograph fireworks--bulb setting--ISO 400--Aperture F11-F16 Tripod is a must.
  •  You need to know the rules..but don't be afraid to go outside the box and break the rules.
  •  Try to photograph underneath flowers...get on the ground
  •  Wearing a hat forces you to look down..also great to take off and block sun from lens.

In the last class we visited the Chinese garden to photograph. The instructor took a few minutes with each of us individually and answered any questions we had. I had just gotten a new polarizing filter so he gave me hints on how to best use it. It works best when sun is coming in from the side. It mades skies and clouds pop. It is great for landscapes but not so good for water reflections. After my time with the instructor I was working on photographing a small waterfall. Someone said there was a statue of frog sitting on a rock at the bottom of the falls, but just when I was going to take the shot he jumped off into the water. For a second I was disappointed, but then he came up with a crawdad and I captured the photo above. Not a great shot, but a fun one and we all had a laugh about the "statue" catching the crawdad.

Books on Photography

I pick up a lot of tips from other photographers from reading and looking at books on photography.  Here is one on Garden Photography.
Click to view on Amazon




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Thursday, May 1, 2014

Basic Techniques for Digital Photography



Last week I shared my notes for the first session of our Nature Photography class.  Here are some additional points from that first class Nature Photography Class.  The photo of the tulip is one that I took using some tips I learned in that first class.

In our second class our instructor went over some basic techniques for photography.  The list below includes some of the points he made in class that were of particular interest to me.  I hope  you find some that will work for you too.

  • Vantage Point--  Look for a different vantage point for your photos.  Everyone sees an object straight on when they see it, help your audience to see it differently.  Take your time, walk around an object to find just the right place to take the photo and then set up your tripod.
  • Take Both Vertical and Horizontal Views--Even if you think one way would be best try taking it both ways.  You never know when the other way might be what you need for a certain project.
  • Watch Your Background-  How many times are we so focused on the person or object that we are photographing that we don't notice the background till we see the finished photo.  Before you hit the shutter, make it a habit to run your eyes through the outside perimeter of the picture.
  • Waterfalls- To get that beautiful blurr of water take the photo at a speed of 1/15 sec or slower using your lowest ISO.
  • Animals- To get the best reaction from an animal shoot 2-3 shots in close succession.  The first one will get the animals attention and the second will usually have the best reaction.


Each week our instructor gives us an assignment.  This week's assignment is to take an artistic photo of a flower.  Next Thursday I will share my photo with you along with the tips that we get in our third class.  The subject next week will be on Macro Photography. Stay tuned!



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