Thursday, February 21, 2013

3 Important Things To Becoming a Better Photographer

This blog was originally inspired by the brilliant writings of Joe McNally and David Hobby. I had been reading both of their blogs religiously and wanted to reach out to an audience of folks who were just beginning with tips and suggestions so that they, too, would come to be inspired by Joe and David, who, to this day, remain my heroes.

I just read a McNally blog – do yourself a favor. If you  truly love photography, and hearing a good tale along the way – go read his blog and soon you'll find yourself buying his books and seeking his videos and You Tube.

But, if you are just starting out and are looking to become better, let me share the wisdom that was given to me years ago.

• Shoot Daily.  I once asked Michael Nelson to mentor me and he said "just go out and take pictures every day. Select ONE that you like best and throw the others away.  I did that in the beginning and I look back now and marvel at how I have improved over time.  Shooting daily is as important to me today as it was years ago - it allows me to see growth, it provides me with wonderful new opportunities, it challenges me to be proud of at least one image every day and it helps me to build a new and important portfolio. Check out my 365 Photo a Day Posts on Facebook.

• Less is More. Saw this on a t-shirt today and was reminded that it is the mantra of one of my very favorite landscape photographers, Robert Rodriguez, Jr.  Whenever you can, seek education with a photographer that you admire. Seeing how they work, learning how they see, immersing yourself in their habits is so important to your photographic growth. Rodriguez showed me that it is important to caption my vision - find a subject and try and capture the emotion I have for that subject by leading the viewer into the image with leading lines and light. I have been guilty of trying to grasp too much in an image, but my very favorite images are simple, elegant and to the point.

• You can't have a great image without light.  The word photography itself means writing with light. I've read many books about the importance of light but it was Rodriguez who finally allowed me to see the QUALITY and IMPORTANCE of good light. We all recognize how beautiful the early morning glow of sunrise is and how spectacular the colors of sunset are. But if the colors are flat, without the contrast of shadows and light, there is no drama and no practice of good photographic principles. Study light. Where is it? Where does it look best? What is it doing to the composition?

I could go on and on with tips but lets get back to number one - get out there and get shooting!

And enjoy your time while doing it. Life is about embracing the present and stopping to see it's beauty. 

Thursday, February 7, 2013

What Hasn't Made It

I have been enjoying posting a photo a day on Facebook, every day since January 1st. It is a challenge that is making me a better photographer and hopefully more in tune with new concepts and details.  Some days are frustrating and I feel like I have no pictures "good enough" and other days I get 3 or 4 great ones and can't choose which ones to post. Certain friends have suggested that I "save" those really good ones for the "less creative" days, but that feels to me like wanting to reread "Hamlet" and having someone hand me the Cliff notes. Not good enough. They are only MY rules but I have a sense of integrity and who am I cheating by posting an older image? Me, that's who.

So, I stick to my own rules - a new photo every day - TAKEN that day. So, what to do with the "good" ones that didn't "make the cut?"  I thought I'd show some here and discuss why they didn't get posted on Facebook.

 This one was a nice look at downtown Austin but, having photographed the skyline before, I felt I had many more compelling images, so this one just didn't feel like my very best work. Like, for example, this one that I took last year.

I like this Peace sign, and I can see myself in the reflection, so that is fun, but that day I was lucky enough to get several other imsges that I felt were more emotional and compelling. This was nice, and certainly would have been OK on a day I didn't grasp anything worthwhile, but it just didn't show off my photographic abilities and my grasp on how to see something that others don't necessarily see.

Really cool look at the inside of a pointsettia, but I got an even cooler version right after this one. (see next)

Another one I found a lot of fun was this one of a man riding a horse in downtown Austin.  I love the feel of it but I also feel that there is too much clutter in the image. Wish I could have gotten closer and gotten fewer signs and more Capitol Building. Makes me want to go back and try for it again.

Here's one from last weekend that I really liked:

Pretty but kind of cluttered and the subject really gets lost. Here's the one I chose from that shoot:

Strong subject, peaceful feeling, image I am really happy to have captured.

Thanks for visiting friends. Keep on shooting and improving and letting me know what YOU like and don't like.