The Anniversary Post

It’s my anniversary! Woo hoo!

A year ago today, I purchased my first DSLR, and then started a blog about it for two reasons: first, to keep myself motivated in learning how to use the camera; and second, to document what I was learning so I could use it for reference later. And the blog has worked on both counts. The first time I picked up the camera, I was scared of it! It seemed too big and it had so many moving parts. And I think those first few posts are a good indication of just how much I had to learn. (In case you missed it, I posted my favorite shots from the year a couple weeks ago. I’ve improved a little.)

For this anniversary post, I’ve put together a short compilation (extremely condensed) of the things I’ve learned about photography in this past year. And I know now that for each item on this list, there’s an infinite number of things to learn still.

So here goes:

  1. Camera

    My constant companion

    Always carry a camera

  2. Check off the mental list: camera, correct lenses, card, charged battery. You’d be surprised at the number of times, early on, I’d forget an essential component.
  3. Mechanics – ISO, Aperture, shutter speed, white balance, etc., etc., etc.
  4. Depth of field
  5. Lens choice – close up wide-angle vs. far-away zoom
  6. What metering is. Why shoot in RAW.
  7. EXIF data – the camera settings are all documented in the image file!
  8. It’s all about the light – off-camera lighting, dawn & dusk, backlighting, seeing where the shadows fall, there’s actually such a thing as too much sunshine (still to be documented: filters!). This is still an area to explore.
  9. Calibration – printing and monitors. Another area where I have a LOT to learn.
  10. Composition. Is it possible to master this?
  11. HDR – or, combining pictures to deal with too big a variation in light.

Tools

Lightroom

Lightroom

  1. Photoshop
  2. Viveza
  3. Lightroom
  4. Picasa. Each of the above has its special niche.
  5. The Photographer’s Ephemeris – critical in helping me get this shot of the harvest moon. Now all I need is a full-frame camera and a much better tripod.
  6. GPicSync for geotagging photos (adding latitude / longitude to the EXIF data, so you can match them up with a map)

Nature

Frosty leaf

Lots of nature to see

  1. Awareness – I can’t say enough about how being out with the camera has raised my awareness of my surroundings – the rising and setting of the sun and moon; where the shadows are; movements of tiny critters; the sounds that are everywhere
  2. Discovery – I discovered that spiderwebs are iridescent when the sun is low;  there’s magic in water drops; in a thaw after a frost, the leaves snap-crackle-pop as they fall off the tree; the sky is most colorful before dawn and after sunset
  3. Identification of bugs, flowers, trees

Entertainment

Water drops

Plop... plop... plop...

  1. Indoors – when it’s nasty outside, there’s plenty of fun to be had indoors. Most of it involves flash of some kind or another, so I expect to stay busy working on that learning curve over the winter.
  2. Outdoors – zoom burst and panning and any number of other ways to stay entertained.
  3. Everything else – it’s all entertaining – why do it otherwise?

Misc

  1. Good critiques are essential for getting to that next step
  2. Personal style – everyone has, or develops, a personal style. I’m still working on it, but I get the biggest charge from capturing the things that other people overlook
  3. Flash photography – there’s way too much to learn!
  4. Silhouettes – I love them
  5. Timing – you can’t always capture the same moment. Grab it while you can. (Sometimes this is easier said than done!)
  6. A little bit of Photoshop is not cheating
  7. Photographer’s rights – the best source I’ve found (in the US anyway) is here: http://www.krages.com/phoright.htm

It’s been a great year of learning! A GREAT BIG THANKS for all the fantastic support and encouragement that you’ve given me during this process. Here’s to another year of photos and fun!

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5 comments

  1. You have come a long way! For me, the fun is in that there is always something to learn or work on. The trick is to not get discouraged and to share both the successes and the failures. Your idea to do the blog was a huge one. I have seen many people start and than stop because they had nothing to motivate them.

    I use my blog in the very same way. It pulls me forward.

  2. What a great summary. One of my not-so-favorite lessons learned–remember to check your camera settings. That low light shooting at ISO 2000 just isn’t wanted or necessary when it’s bright out. 🙂


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