Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Learning from the past

I spent time this morning looking for a particular image and it gave me an opportunity to review images from the past.  In 2006 I decided I wanted to really learn to be a better photographer. I had always been happy as an amateur but I found myself out of a job and thought "what would I like to be when I grow up?" The answer immediately came to me - a photographer because I enjoyed taking pictures so much. A mentor recommended that I shoot for at least an hour a day, every day, and select one image as my favorite and throw all of the others away.  While I was never able to toss the entire shoot, I did learn from the "select the best" method and I still do that today.  Looking back on the ones I should have deleted, I see that I have learned a lot in the past few years.


This should be titled "Things Not to Do."  I was trying to capture a friend's Ichibana creations and thought natural light would help - but look at that BUSY background. It totally takes away from the flower arrangement. This one is a little bit better...



But the background is still competing with the subject.  Today I would bring some solid backgrounds along and  provide some diffuse lighting so that the flower arrangement stands alone.

I just read some good landscape tips by Matt Kloskowski on Scott Kelby's blog (http://www.scottkelby.com/blog) today. Simply put, they are: 1.  Get up earlier than you think (an hour before sunrise) 2. Get ready the night before - this is important - make sure you've got everything you will need and all batteries have been recharged. 3. Shoot and move - don't just stand in one spot. Look around for other sweet light opportunities. 4. Try photographing people and 5. It's all about luck - sometimes it's just being at the right place at the right time. 

Keep shooting!

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Trip to the Beach

Following the theme of getting away, I am happy to report that I just returned from a 3 day "Girls" weekend at Long Beach Island in NJ. My "girl friends" are as young as 18 and as mature as 87 and all 6 of us are creative, intelligent compadres who enjoyed a lot of laughs and way too much great food.

As all my weekends go, it also provided me with a nice modicum of photography.
 Notice how the lines all lead you into the picture. Look for patterns and textures and lines. We were fortunate to have such a beautiful sky. Gray skies make good light on a subject but are horrible in the upper part of a photo.  On a gray sky day, focus tighter on your subject. Try and cut out the sky entirely. If you are photographing people, put them up against a brick wall or a weathered building - the texture will add to feel of the picture. Don't put people in front of a very busy background - it distracts the viewer from seeing what is important.  Keep it simple. Fewer elements are better than many elements. Happy shooting!

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Many thanks to all who came to see the show!

It's still up if you missed it! It's at the East Fishkill Library, Route 376, Hopewell Junction through April 30th.  We had 92 folks show up for the Artist's reception last Friday night.  It was awesome!  I asked one aspiring photographer what is the best time of day to take pictures. She responded "noon."  Heck no!!!!! Early morning and an hour before and after sunset are the best times. Those are the times of day with "magic light."  Noon creates HARSH SHADOWS!  So, if you do nothing else, notice how lovely the light is tonight as the sun is going down and grab your camera and take a few shots.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Getting back to photography tips

I started this blog a year ago to talk about my travels...and I have (Ireland and Scotland can be found in "older posts") but the sad truth is I spend more time dreaming about traveling than actually traveling.  There is a photo trip coming up in Page Arizona that I've been obsessing about - a chance to capture the slot canyons, Lake Powell early in the morning and more - but I'm haven't found a way to afford all that I want to do. That doesn't stop me from constantly trying to figure out how to make it happen.

As much as I want to head for beautiful places to photograph, sometimes the best photography experience can be found close to home. I've discovered that living in the magnificent Hudson Valley. We are blessed with mountains, rivers, lakes and four totally different seasons. There is a cemetery within walking distance of my house where I've found gnarly old trees, a heron who hangs out with the geese and a pond that reflects Fishkill Ridge. I've even gotten some great gravestone images but I have no idea how to market them.  I do use the place to "exercise" my craft. I'll head over there early morning, or just before the sun goes down, with one lens and challenge myself to find a good picture. One of my favorites is an old dead tree that looks as if it's chasing me - I call it "Monster" - it's many limbs are all akimbo and it seems to be reaching out with a spooky blue sky behind it.  That tree is long gone now - I'm glad I captured it when I did.  I especially like photographs that tell a story. The story can be different for everyone who views it, but they should all look at it and know that there's a story in there somewhere.

When I get home after a shoot, I upload all my images and delete any that are flat out garbage (we all have those) and try to zone in on what's my one favorite from the shoot. Which one is a "keeper." This habit has helped me become a more discriminating viewer of my own images. Sometimes I upload the "keeper" onto Facebook to get reactions from friends. Other times I'll save it for a photo competition or exhibit. But the routine of critically reviewing my images and selecting only the best has helped to make me a better photographer. I spend a lot of time looking at other photographer's images as well. I work for the Poughkeepsie Journal and always review the photography department's "Photos of the Week." I review stock company's sites and National Geographic.  If you know what looks good, it will be easier to try and capture something good yourself.


Have fun shooting!

Saturday, April 3, 2010

My first exhibit

"These are a few of my favorite scenes" is the name of the exhibit of random photographs that I prepared for my very first solo exhibit at the East Fishkill library in Hopewell Junction.  A friend, Lynn McCabe, who exhibits frequently talked me into it and I've had a full year to prepare. I've got 20 photos up and it is absolutely exhilarating to know that that whole wall of photos is all mine. As I told a friend earlier, next week at the "artists opening" is going to feel like I'm at my own funeral - only I get the benefit of being there alive and hearing what they're saying about me. Here's a shot of what it looks like:
I'll let you know how the reception goes, but I will admit, I stopped in to visit the photos today myself and I really enjoyed the experience. Thanks Lynn, for encouraging me to do it.