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

An Up-Close Look at Macro Photography

One of my favourite genres of photography is macro.  The most common definition of macro photography is photographing small subjects up-close, but technically, that definition is wrong.

To find out what it really is, check out the talk I gave recently at my local camera club.  Also some tips on how to get started.

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Breakin’ Up is Hard to Do

When I first took up photography full-time in 2014, I became completely joined at the hip to Adobe’s photography-related products:  Lightroom and Photoshop.  For many years before then, we had just been casual acquaintances.  Over the years, we’ve settled into a very comfortable and predictable relationship.  We’ve grown older together, seen changes around us and tried to adapt as best we could.

But sometimes you grow apart as a result.  When Adobe first moved completely into a subscription model and last year announced its intention to move more into cloud and web-based image editing, I knew that we were on the skids and destined, someday, for a breakup.

Well, that day has come, sort of.  As of today, I’ve moved out of Lightroom, trading in its familiar interface for the new face of ON1 Photo Raw. 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

Photographing the Work of Others

It seems there is a long-standing debate around photographing other people’s work.  It’s a simple debate:  what exactly is the photographer creating if the photograph includes an object or structure that has been created by someone else?

This debate arises mostly in relation to works that exist in public spaces.  The originating works may already be labelled “works of art” or may be labelled “architecture”, “edifice”, “structures”, “building”, “hardscape”, “figure”, “carving”, “casting” or any of many names that don’t necessarily assign an aesthetic value.

And yet all of it was imagined by someone, designed by someone, built by someone and placed on display.  Even if the work has another function, such as a building, there was a creative effort expended to provide that space.  If a photographer takes an image of it, presents it as their own creation and maybe makes a profit from it, is that right?  Disclaimer:  this is not a legal review. Continue reading

Reading the Histogram

Another short presentation to my local camera club.  This item was on activating, reading and responding to the histogram.

A histogram is a plot of the tonal values (dark to light) captured by the millions of photosites that make up your camera sensor in a digital camera.  Just like the eye of a fly that uses thousands of tiny lenses to create one image, the digital camera uses millions of photosites to create one image.  These tonal values can be plotted on a chart available in camera that photographers can use to assess the overall exposure of their images.  One reason this chart is useful is that our eyes handle complex scenes so much better than our cameras.  Knowing what the camera sees helps you make the right choices on settings.

Most cameras show the histogram after you take the photo and display it on the LCD screen.  You can then adjust your settings for the next shot.  But higher end or newer models, especially mirrorless models, include a “live” histogram that helps you pick the right settings before you ever press the shutter.

While post-processing can address some of the problems that arise from using the wrong settings, if your image is overexposed or underexposed, there will be limits on what you can do afterward.  So use the histogram to give you an extra edge every time.

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A Focus on Autofocus

One of the greatest advancements in photography has been the invention of autofocus.  Simply by pointing your camera at a subject and pressing the shutter halfway, the camera will not only meter the ambient light, but bring the main subject into sharp focus.

As with most things photographic, there is theory and there is practice and sometimes the two don’t mesh exactly.  Here’s what I’ve learned about autofocus. Continue reading