The Meaning of Life (ok, not quite)

One of the most confusing parts of photo editing for me is finding simple definitions for some of the concepts inherent in photo editing software.  Things like layers, blend modes and opacity, which are concepts many people ask about.  But also the difference between pixel layers, raster layers, adjustment layers, and fill layers.

What are filters and why are they separate from adjustments?  And what the heck is rasterizing anyway? Or the difference between “rasters” and “vectors”?  And what is “rendering”?  And of course, the single most important concept – non-destructive vs. destructive editing.

Despite shooting for many years, I stumble my way through explaining these concepts.  So I finally went looking for the real answers.  It wasn’t as easy as I thought it would be.   But I persevered.  Here’s what I found. Continue reading

Being Sociable

Radio copyI come from a generation born before televisions were common in middle class homes.  We relied on a radio for news and our only “social network” was the people we knew in the neighbourhood, at school, through our parents or through our church.  Getting your name out there was done by word of mouth and by advertising on the radio and in the “yellow pages” or other print publications.

Yet just a couple years ago, I was told that repuations were made in photography by having a presence on as many online sources as possible, particularly social media and sharing networks.  Word of mouth is still very big in photography, but increasingly, I was told, new business comes from being discovered on these sites.  Word of mouth, while still important, was also now equally “word of post” or “word of tweet”. Continue reading

Composition and Composure

Does your photography move you emotionally?  Do other people comment on how it moves them?  Is there a “wow” factor?

NotebookExperienced photographers who share their knowledge with new photographers spend a lot of time talking about composition and the “rules”.  Leading lines, rule of thirds, negative space, etc. help to teach the eye what to look for when evaluating a scene.  But they don’t spend a lot of time talking about why these rules matter at all.

I can only find one answer:  it’s an effort to disrupt the composure of anyone who views the image.  To get a reaction.  Most often positively, sometimes with delight, and sometimes deliberately negatively.  The “rules” provide a roadmap for the senses, and by extension, for the emotions.  To be truly successful as a photographer, you have to tap into that emotion – yours and your viewers.

Continue reading

Some Inspiration…

One of the joys of photography is simply the chance to talk to other photographers.  So many topics to indulge, so many experiences to compare.  And of course, best of all, the chance to admire good work.

I had the pleasure yesterday of attending a talk at our local camera club by Kas Stone, a Canadian photographer based in Nova Scotia.  In addition to her work as a landscape and nature photographer, she regularly teaches, holds workshops and speaks to groups like ours about the art of photography.  Continue reading

Why Are My Photos Blurry?

Something a bit different for today’s post.  I gave a short presentation at my local camera club today to answer a question on why photos taken by club members are sometimes blurry.  You might find some of this information useful.  Click on the pause button to stop on any slide.

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If you would like to download a copy of the presentation, click below.  You will need either Microsoft PowerPoint or a compatible presentation viewer to open the presentation.

Why Are My Photos Blurry?

The Myth of Fast Lenses

Since I took up photography full-time 3 years ago, I’m much more informed about equipment and techniques.  There are some well-rehearsed lines in this industry:  photography is about shaping the light; remember to work the shot; don’t take pictures – make pictures.  And on and on.

Many of those tomes are also around gear – usually put out by manufacturers I think.  As an example, fast lenses (those with a maximum aperture of f/2.8 or larger) are always better than other lenses.  Better for low light capture, better for managing depth of field, better for autofocus performance.  Always buy the fastest lens you can afford.

SaleWhenever I venture to purchase a new lens, I’m typically presented with the fastest lens first – the advanced option.  But the more I’ve shot, the more I’ve come to question this equipment mantra.  Most of the time, you DON’T need the fastest lens.  Here’s why. Continue reading

Competition is Good for the Soul

It’s the dog days of summer here in Canada.  Photographers everywhere are getting out to capture the hum of life.  Vacation photographs, outdoor events, family events, outdoor location shoots or special projects that have been waiting for the perfect day are all being recorded now.  Even indoor work is at its height, with many hours of natural light available to help get the best shots.

In a month, we return to routine, which for some might include membership in the local camera club or association.  I personally belong to three.  Typically on hiatus in the summer, they launch with a bang in September.  And we’ll all have lots of new material to share.  But will we? Continue reading