Worth a Thousand Words, Issue #009 — 8 New Year’s Resolutions for the Photographer in You
January 19, 2011
Welcome to 2011! I hope this year brings you health, happiness and prosperity! In this issue, I have 8 New Year’s resolutions just for you, the photographer. I also have a tip for a great place to shoot during cold, winter months, as well as a creativity exercise to get you really "seeing." Of course, this e-zine wouldn’t be complete without the "too cool not to share link;" this month, it’s "Maka Fushigi." What the heck is that, you ask? Read on to find out!
8 New Year’s Resolutions for the Photographer in You
Get off to a great start this year with your photography by making at least one of the resolutions here.
1. Get off "auto" mode! Spend a little time browsing our pages on exposure basics to learn a bit about aperture and shutter speed, and then claim the creative control that’s rightfully yours as a photographer! Try choosing your own exposure settings instead of letting the camera choose for you.
2. Use a tripod. Now, before I hear from all you street photographers, a tripod is not for every circumstance. However, if your subject is not moving, it’s a great discipline to use a tripod. It will help you to make more thoughtful and precise compositions. And of course, it will rescue your image in low-light situations.
3. Experiment more. You will grow most as a photographer through creative experimentation. Get out there, make some discoveries, and have some "happy accidents!"
4. Backup your images. Hardware does fail, so avoid disappointment. Make sure you have multiple copies of your images on separate hard drives. If you can take a copy to a different physical location (e.g., your cottage or workplace), even better.
5. Delete the junk. The advent of digital photography has encouraged us to take more pictures. Those pictures will quickly clog up your hard drives (in multiples — see resolution # 4!). Sifting though thousands of images to find a particular one you want is a nightmare. Take the time to delete your mistakes.
6. Keyword your images. While we’re on the topic of finding images in your collection, why not be disciplined and keyword your "keepers?" Adobe Lightroom is great for this, but if you do a little research, you’ll find several different software programs that allow you to add keywords to your image metadata. Effective keyword choices will make finding images later a breeze.
7. Set yourself an assignment. Find a long term project for yourself that will encourage you to get out and practice, as well as taking several points of view on a subject.
8. Take more pictures! Practice makes perfect. Set yourself a goal of taking a picture a day (that takes more discipline than you might think), or eve a picture a week if every day is too unrealistic for you.
With this month’s exercise, I want to encourage you to be more observant, and practice the art of "seeing." The most important thing to master in order to take great images is an understanding of light. Great images are made with great light. Start by looking around your home for interesting patterns of light. Perhaps you’ll find interesting shapes of light and shadow created by light passing through blinds. Perhaps you’ll find pools of light illuminating carpet, fabric or furniture. Maybe you’ll find light being manipulated as it reflects off a shiny surface, or passes though a glass table, vase or bottle. There are great photographs to be found here. Sometimes, the photograph is in the pattern of light and shadow itself. Sometimes it is in an object that is being lit by beautiful light.
Look around your house at all times of the day, and watch how the patterns of light that come from sunlight through the window change as the sun moves through the sky. How is the light different at 10am and at 2pm? How is it different in the evening when the artificial lights are turned on? By becoming aware of the rhythm of light in your own home, and observing how it illuminates familiar objects, you will become more attuned to the effects of light. As you are training your eye, be sure to use your camera to capture the magic light that you discover!
Something Every Photographer Needs to Know: Tip of the Month
A Great Shooting Location
Looking for ways to keep warm in winter, while still keeping your photographic skills sharp? Tired of the monochromatic images typical of winter in a snowy climate? Try photographing in a greenhouse or garden nursery. Many public and commercial greenhouses are receptive to a small group of photographers, even ones with tripods. I find that the colorful flowers are a welcome sight after a few weeks of snow.
Just make sure to wrap all your gear in a big plastic garbage bag while you’re in the warmth of your home, before you take it out into the cold to transport it. If your gear is unprotected in the cold, condensation will form on all your lenses as soon as you take it into the warm and humid greenhouse environment, and you’ll have to wait a long time for it to clear before you can begin shooting.
Too Cool Not to Share!
A friend recently sent me a link to this site. It’s filled with stunning images of natural phenomena, including Earth, space, plants, animals, insects and more. "MAKA FUSHIGI" is a Japanese term often used to describe mysterious occurrences. Read more on the website to learn the derivation of the term.
What’s New this Month at Ultimate Photo Tips
Two Minute Tips Podcast: Selective Focus
Check out a brand new podcast about selective focus in our Two-Minute Tips podcast series.
Last month’s winner in our Pets challenge was Julie Anne Moore from New Brunswick, Canada. Her pet Tucker claimed his spot as top dog in her beautifully composed black and white image, "Bath Time."
The topic for this month’s challenge is "water." Over 70% of our Earth’s surface is covered in water. This month, let’s see some pictures of water in all its forms, liquid or solid. Show us snow, ice, or water, or even steam; running water or still; lakes, waterfalls, rain, or bathtubs! Get creative! Just make sure that water is the main element of your photo.
Submit your water images here:
In 2011, watch the Ultimate Photo Tips website for more interviews with photographers, and more articles on a range of topics, from creativity to equipment. As always, if you have ideas for content you’d like to see on the site, drop me a line through the website.
Happy shooting from Ultimate Photo Tips!