Archive for Posts Tagged with "photography"

‘Cause she eats her spinach! This is a bonus Mary picture, taken earlier this month, that didn’t qualify for Picture of the Week.

She's Strong to the Finish

A Beginner’s Guide to Troubleshooting Light

This is an excellent, easy-to-read introduction to getting the correct exposure from a DSLR, and is the perfect follow-up to my 2008 Lessons in Photography post.

Photography is quickly becoming one of my favorite hobbies. I’ve got a long way to go before I can hang with the likes of some of my friends, but I learned a lot in 2008. A post chronicling everything that I learned over the past year would be far too long, but here are the highlights, with some of my favorite shots from the year. Hopefully some of these tips will someday help other budding photographers.

Find and Be Thankful for Generous Friends – If you have the opportunity to borrow equipment from a friend, DO IT. Lou Ann was tremendously helpful in encouraging my addiction hobby by lending me her old DSLR, and a couple of prime lenses. I use the 50mm f/1.8 prime as my main lens. It is fabulous.

Good Equipment Helps, But It’s Not a Magic Wand – “Wow, you have a great camera.” is something I’ve heard several times about some of my photos. It is simultaneously rewarding (because I know somebody liked the photo) and frustrating (because they don’t know all the work that went into shooting and post-processing). I mean, you should see all of the TERRIBLE pictures I take with my great camera. I only post the ones that qualify at least as “mediocre”.

The New Toy

Learn to Purge – Speaking of all those terrible pictures I take, I’ve learned to keep them from ever seeing the light of the Internet. I take probably 10 times as many photos as I post, possibly more. Many are deleted right off due to poor focus, exposure, composition, etc. It’s amazing what can look in focus on the camera’s LCD only to be total crap on the monitor. If I wasn’t also shooting for posterity, I’d probably trim even more photos out of the pictures I take from various events.

Good form!

Learn (or Teach Yourself) The Basics – Learn about composition, exposure, focus, etc. Take a class (I need to take my own advice on this one), or teach yourself. There are so many amazing resources on the Internet.


Get Out of Auto – That little green box on the dial on your camera? Never use it. No, seriously. NEVER USE IT. When I use the 50mm prime, I almost always shoot in aperture priority (Av mode on your dial), which gives me some awesome control over depth of field. Getting out of auto gives you so much control over your photos, allowing you to turn your photographs into art instead of snapshots. Art. Right. I should work on that.

Ready to Bust

Ditch the Built In Flash Whenever Possible

The built in flash on cameras has its place, and most of the time, it’s down and not being used. Do something, ANYTHING to use available light instead of popping that flash up. As soon as you let that sucker fire, you’re practically guaranteed flat, boring, snapshot quality images. Open the aperture, increase the ISO, slow the shutter speed down (and put your camera on a tripod) – do whatever it takes. I’m still struggling with this one as the lighting in my house is awful, and kids are FAST little buggers that are constantly moving. I take lots of blurry pictures. I’m cheating with the picture below, as it was shot with an external flash (remotely triggered with a PocketWizard) on loan from a friend. See the first item about borrowing equipment!

A Little Holiday Cheer

So get out there in 2009 and keep shooting! And more importantly, keep posting them on Flickr, Facebook, SmugMug, or whatever your site of choice happens to be. I constantly learn from and am inspired by the work of many photographers on the net.

Grandpa and Mary
Christmas 2008 Photo Session Outtake - Mass Chaos

The Christmas 2008 photo session went well, and I think we got a picture we were happy with to use for our Christmas cards this year. A friend of mine was kind enough to lend me some lighting equipment (2 strobes, a reflective umbrella, and a light stand), and I was able to set up a little studio in our house. I took a metric ton of pictures, and there are probably a dozen or so I’d be perfectly happy sending out with our family’s Christmas cards. This flickr set is the best of the outtakes (view as a slideshow). Enjoy!

MostlyLisa, one of the blogs I read on a semi-regular basis, posed the following question: “How did you get into photography? What or who was your muse?”

Well clearly this was a no-brainer for me. My kids! Well, my kids and my dog. We bought our first digital camera about a year before Simon was born, and used it like anybody uses a point-and-shoot. When Ellen accidentally dropped that camera (which I consider a huge blessing in disguise) it set off a chain-reaction of upgrades (okay, two) that culminated this June with the purchase of my first DSLR. By the way, Ellen, anytime you want to come over and “accidentally” drop my television, computer, and iPod, feel free.

The vast majority of my photography is my family and my dog. Part of this is because it is all I have time for. Between work, other commitments, and other interests/hobbies I find it difficult to find time to take and process pictures of them, much less anything else. But the pictures I do take, I want to share. I want to become more involved in the large and active online photographic community.

But then I think about all the weirdos on the Internet. They’re out there and they’ve already impacted how I write on this blog. I decided to stop talking about politics after a conveniently anonymous stranger commented that I was “brainwashing children”. Was it a totally ignorant and ridiculously outrageous comment? Absolutely. Was it also enough to make me not want to deal with it? Definitely. But it begs the question: what other kind of undesirables are out there, reading my content?

The amount of information we publish in this medium can impact our lives in a number of ways. How much we provide is a decision we all have to make for ourselves. Unless you’re a 3 year old who relies on his parents to make that decision for you. Oops. The rule we established with Simon is that we’d post pictures on Flickr that were “public” up until the time he turned one, at which time they all became available only to those we’d marked as “friends” or “family.”

I relaxed that rule a bit when I got the new camera, because one of my main subjects is Simon, and I want to share my. . .um. . . art. As of today, my paranoia has gotten the better of me (again), and I’ve changed most of the Simon pictures back to their restricted status.

I’m clearly somewhat conflicted on the issue, so I throw it out to my readers: What lines do you draw with regards to pictures of you, your family, and your kids on the web?

A beautiful photoblog from the Boston Globe.

Mary has been getting a lot of attention recently, but we’re trying to give Simon his due, too. Having Kate’s parents in town helps tremendously. The kid gets tons of Grandma and Grandpa love. I had a chance to take Simon, his soccer ball, and of course my camera to a nearby field earlier this week.

Look at that form. At 2 years old! That’s sick.


The New ToyThe more time I spent on flickr this past year, the more I started craving a DSLR. I was further inspired by pictures taken by friends like Lou Ann (check out this hummingbird) and Shannon (take a gander at these statues). Finally, Lou Ann provided the straw that broke the camel’s back by lending me her Canon Digital Rebel, and possibly more importantly, a Canon 50mm f/1.8 lens.

So last Tuesday I went out and spent the money from the government that we didn’t yet have, picking up a Canon Rebel 450D from Penn Camera in Fair Lakes. It is a beautiful camera, and I’m super excited. Hopefully it will allow me to capture some small portion of the cute-overload that is the TID (Toddler+Infant+Dog) our household is about to become.

I haven’t had a lot of time to play with it yet, but took some shots this weekend. And then I discovered that my existing software won’t read the RAW files from the 450D. So I have a bit of work to do to get the correct software installed and refine my work flow for processing photos (I had a good system with the Rebel). Once I do you bet I’ll be posting pictures here (and on flickr).