Don’t just sit there, learn something

I like taking pictures. I always try to have photos in my blog posts, and feel a bit odd whenever I have a text-only post up here. When knitting and yarn and things related to those form about 95% of your subject matter, it’s hard not to include pictures. And I don’t think my photos are terrible, necessarily, but I do think they could be better. Especially when so many knit-bloggers with such awesome photography skills abound. (I mean, Michelle never produces photos that are not stunning, and Elspeth produces Project-365 pics that would already be fabulous if they weren’t mostly self-timed, self-composed shots). And I’ve always wanted to learn more about photography and get better at it.

So, yesterday, finally, I took my first gen-youu-wine photography class, on Composition. It reaffirmed for me that a) Despite my newbie-ish-ness, I am not a complete and total neophyte about photography, and b) In my opinion, blogging with photos allows for some different composition rules than traditional rules might dictate. (When is a simple shot always the best one, when it comes to blogging, I ask you?)

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Having said that, the class did teach the basics of composition, and rules like ‘thirds’ and framing and balance, and so forth, and these are all things that I could stand to practice more often. I also determined that while I do not own a DSLR camera (yet…just gimme another paycheque or so and a bit more sucking-it-up to walk into the camera store with all my questions and wide-eyed-ness), my little point-and-shoot does not entirely suck, and in fact does have some moderate programmable settings that I have not been using to best advantage.

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So on my way home I tried to play around with those a bit and a 25-minute walk turned into an hour or so, and I grabbed a few shots trying to think through all the Composition tips we’d talked about in class. And it was a cloudy but decent fall day, the sort of day when the wind and leaves are just right but in another week or two all the fallen leaves will have turned to mush, so it was a decent walk. I should really do this more often.

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What about you, folks? What sort of camera do you use? Have you taken steps to go out and get some mad photography skills? What do you like best in your own photographs?

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23 Comments

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23 responses to “Don’t just sit there, learn something

  1. Great fall photos!

    I have a Canon D40 that I’m getting better and better with, I think. But I do want to get serious and make more of an effort to understand what I’m doing.

  2. Georgiana

    Beautiful pictures!

    I have a Nikon Coolpix L12 that serves me quite well – especially when it comes to taking pictures of my nephew! – but one of these days I’d like to learn a little more about what’s going on with the whole business, since I don’t have the first clue yet :P

  3. mariajhmom

    I have a Nikon D200, but you can do just as well with a Nikon D70. If you want lots of review, comparisons and lessons, go to Ken Rockwell’s site. I won’t link it or my comment won’t survive your spam filter! Your photos are gorgeous. Photography makes you look at your everyday life in a whole new way, doesn’t it?

  4. J.

    I have a Canon that I bought while I lived in Korea, but it’s the equivalent model to the lowest-end Canon SLR, and I LOVE it. However, for the longest time I had a little Canon point-and-shoot, and you can push those surprisingly far if you’re willing to be patient and thoughtful about the settings, which is something I’d definitely work on getting good at before investing in a higher-end camera.

    I think the advice I was given before I bought mine was “if you’re just going to leave it on automatic, save your money.”

  5. Great shots. I think your photo’s are always lovely, but I’m not picky when it comes to yarn pics!

  6. Great photos! I have a Nikon D70. I admit that I haven’t taken the time to learn all of its mad skills. Must get on that.

  7. LadyO

    Beautiful pictures.

    I use whatever camera is around and the only thing I know (sort of) how to do is use the macro feature.

  8. I’ve got a Nikon D40 that’s a lot of fun. Great entry-level DSLR.

  9. Helen

    They are beautiful pictures. I think the first one is my favourite – it’s simple, but the way you’ve slanted the angles adds a twist. Very bold.

    I have a Canon EOS 400D, which I adore. I mostly just use aperture to control depth-of-field (I rarely bother fiddling with shutter speed). I sometimes stop it up or down to compensate for over- or under-exposure, but I must admit I’m lazy and I usually just do that when I’m processing my images. I always shoot in RAW because that gives much more control over brightness and colour when you’re processing the images on the computer.

  10. Those are some beautiful photos Glenna! You surely have an eye! I just picked up the D60 Nikon dirt cheap because it’s been replaced by the D3000. (They are very similar in features, with just 3 changes). I recommend the D60!

  11. Oh I really like the pictures with the blue hydrant and the one where we can see your feet along the sidewalk with leaves littering the street . . . You’ve got a good eye!

    I have a simple point-and-shoot **sigh** But I think that experimenting with the camera’s features and reading up on photography cannot hurt (which is the extent of my photography education, LOL).

    Have fun in your class and I’m looking forward to all the new pics :)

  12. We have a DSLR that we bought 4 years ago when I was preggers with my oldest, and boy are we glad. We’ve taken THOUSANDS of pictures. I wish I knew how to use it better, though. One of these days I’ll take a class.

  13. i have a nikon d70….but find that the pictures really pop after i crop them. your photos are beautiful!

  14. I just use a Canon point-and-shoot. Most of what I know I know from watching Melissa (the friend with me at Rhinebeck, and also a professional photographer) and trying to copy what she’s doing. Hasn’t steered me wrong yet!

  15. Yeah – I think many people yearning for a DSLR haven’t realized that their point-and-shoots have quite a few features they’re not yet using and should. I really enjoyed looking at your pictures in this post; they look very well thought-out. :)

  16. Great photos! The rules for picture taking will come natural to you. Keep practicing. ;)

    I am on my 3rd Nikon and have gone over the 9999 mark (# pics taken) on each of them. My latest is the Nikon D40, my first DLSR. I love it! It’s almost as good as my hubby’s Nikon D70 (great flesh tones). The Nikon D40 has been on the market for almost 3 years…unheard of in the digital camera market. The only thing I do with my pictures is every now and then crop it and then add my copyright.

    Have fun with your camera! :)

  17. Glad you enjoyed the class! And you captured Fall nicely. Seems as if Nikon is the camera for your readers. I have a D80 and also love it.

    And just to add an extra layer to photography: a lot of that magic happens after you’ve downloaded them to your computer – whether its cropping, color correcting or exposure adjusting. Michelle takes amazing shots because she spends hours upon hours working her shots up in Photoshop. She is a true perfectionist! I spend some time making some adjustments too, definitely not as much time as Michelle, however I use Aperture to make most of my corrections.

  18. I had a photography course in high school, way back when we used to use B&W film! So I know my way around an SLR. That said, I use a Lumix point and shoot or a Canon point and shoot. I don’t want a big camera; I want something that slips into my purse. I’m more likely to use it.

    Your pictures are lovely!

  19. I have a Canon Rebel XT, which I bought from friends scaling up to the newer XTi. This is my first DSLR, and I HIGHLY recommend that you try one as soon as you can manage. It’s worth foregoing some yarn purchases. And, if you can buy used, it helps not only with the cost but with the worry of something happening to your excellent new camera. I was going to India for a wedding and had to have a DLSR before that trip, and I’m so glad I did it, but would have been hesitant to take something fresh out of the box. I probably spent about $275, which is about $25 more than my first digital camera 5 years ago!

    I agree with the others that much can be done after the fact, even with a point and shoot, but the advantage I find is that some functions can be made manual or automatic.

    Of course you can’t but notice the intersection of knit blogging and photography, and I freely admit that part of my impetus to improve my photography is the knit blog.

  20. I have my second Pentax in 5 years, (dropped the first one!) and have never taken a class – which is obvious if you read my blog!
    You’re inspiring me, b/c I’ve always wanted to take a class…

  21. Trine

    I was lucky and digital photography was the 2nd semester curriculum on my study course. So I’ve learned most of the basics too. :) I don’t practice as often as I should, though; as I’ve mentioned a couple of times in my blog posts, it’s hard to find inspiration out here. Danes do like their over-simplistic, minimalistic styles so there’s not really anything that *I* like to take pictures of. I am visually attracted to round, swirly, colourful motifs and well… around here it’s just boxy, black and white.

    Have fun playing around with it, you learn something new every time! :)

  22. Wonderful photos! I went through the same epiphany in the spring and started taking photography classes as well (where I promptly discovered there was SO much for me to still learn). Enjoy your path to discovery!

    [p.s. - It was wonderful meeting you at Rhinebeck (I was one of Elspeth's roommates - the sicky one)]

  23. Cheryl

    I own a Nikon that I’m just learning on but a co-worker who knows a few things about cameras said she would get a large-style Cannon. It sounded like it had some nicer features than my Nikon D-70.