Please Rate These Photos For Me: Part II
Taken by an amateur, with an amateur's camera!
I’m not a professional by any means, but I would once again like some input from the world out there. The pictures here were all taken by me, with a compact, camera this time. All of the photos were taken with a Panasonic compact 10 Megapixel camera with a Leica lense, which is a couple of years old. Leica lenses have always had a pretty great reputation, so I decided to try Panasonic's camera with the Leica lense. My understanding is that the lense is actually made by Panasonic, to Leica's standards, as both company's seem to work closely together. I have actually been very happy with the results /i've been getting! This was not some high-powered Digital DSL camera with interchangeable lenses. I really do want to know what you think of the photos on this site, and what a better group to judge, than Hubpages readers? In exchange, I will offer some information that has been invaluable to me in the form of some brief tips. If you don't like my advice, maybe you can give me some advice!
Lili Pad in Blaboa Park, San Diego
You need to be a photographer with a good eye, who can read the instruction manual, long before you need a better camera!
How often do you feel you really have a great shot? Quite often, I don’t feel like I get enough great shots, as well! How often do you feel that people are yawning as they look through your photos? Most of the time, this has a lot to do with your editing and how much you show of something! Hopefully you won't be yawning through these!
But, if you think a new camera will make all the difference in the world? Sorry, it won’t! The truth is, that a good photo is much more up to the photographer than the camera. The camera is only a tool to capture what you see, and you need to know how to use that seeming complicated tool. Any tool in the wrong hands is almost useless! Taking good pictures can be done on almost any camera. The majority of the time it’s the photographer who hasn’t read, and possibly reread the camera manual.
You can’t expect the camera to make up for your lack of thought, preparation, common sense and even experience. Believe, me, great cameras can take lousy photos too. I’ve done it!
Besides, that’s not giving the photographer much credit. The photo is "there", it’s how you capture it that makes the difference.
Some Important Questions To Ask Yourself
While there are tips everywhere out there, I will throw out my tips in the form of some simple questions to ask yourself each time you try to take what you hope to be a special photo. Believe it or not, you can get some pretty fantastic photos out of your basic camera.
1. What will be special about this shot?
Aside from the basic reason I believe I must have this picture, what else will help me make it special? Will most people yawn when they see it? If so, why? How could I make it better?
Pick Up Truck in Hanapepe, Hawaii
My Wife: Looking Good In Waikiki
2. Are you afraid they’ll bite?
I guess that depends on what you’re shooting! Otherwise, always get as close to the subject your shooting as possible. Don’t be so dependent on your telephoto or zoom lense. You’ll be much better off.
3. What is the most interesting angle I can find for this shot?
Everyone pretty much takes photos of the same items in the same way, and mostly at the same time of day. I am often guilty myself! But, try not to be like the typical tourist that gets off the bus or out of the car, and snaps a picture in 5 seconds and then moves on to the next brief pause in their step, to take another quick photo. Think about going where, or doing what others are not doing, to take your picture. Be different (whenever possible). Don’t hesitate to take any shot that you may only have one chance at, but don’t snap away at anything and everything without a thought, as to what will be special about it. I’m talking about going for quality. Stand and look at your subject both with, and without looking through your camera lense. What is it that you really want to get out of this shot? What will make it special? How can I make my picture better or different than the person standing next to me? Before taking any picture, take one last look through your viewfinder and decide if you’ve got the scene composed of all the elements you want in the shot. Are they arranged the way you want them? If you’re taking shots of a group of people, how does the group arrangement look? Are all the heads and feet included fitting in to your shot? If you’re going to shoot everything without a thought in mind, that’s fine. Then hopefully, you’ll be a very harsh and disciplined editor when it comes to deleting photos!
Monticello, Charlottesville, VA
4. Will I value this picture years from now?
In my simple mind, there are two basic types of shots. One type, is of something that may be akin to a scenic or artsy type shot. You are taking it for the art and the composition of it all. The other type is taking a photo of some person or living thing that you want to remember or capture at that moment in time. Ask yourself with each shot, “Do I want people or living subjects in my shot?” If not, you may need to wait and be more selective about the time or the angle of the shot.
Just remember, if you have too many of one type of shot, and none of the other, your run the risk of missing out on a lot. If you want beautiful scenery, focus on that shot by itself. If you want a person in a particular setting, find the appropriate background, but focus on your person or subject. But, you don’t want to be sitting back twenty years from now with only scenes and no people. It’s people that give us our warmest and best memories.
(Since no one here is reading this article to look at my family, I have limited all of my photos here, but one, to strictly interesting scenery.)
View from Mont Pelier, Home of James Madison
5. Once you have a subject you want to take, why be stingy on the number of photos or trials and errors you make?
Don’t be afraid to snap away! I may sound like I’m contradicting myself here, but don’t be afraid to take lots and lots of pictures, of whatever you want. Just be sure there’s a little thought behind them. Vary the camera settings. Remember there is no film to use up. Digital photographs basically cost you nothing until you print them! Once you have the pictures, you can always edit them out then. Once again, miss the shot and you have nothing to edit out!
6. Why are you taking all of those flash pictures at the nighttime sporting event or inside dark concert halls when the subject is hundreds of feet away?
I thought that by now, surely the word had gotten around that flash bulbs do “absolutely nothing” for your photos in a large stadium or ballpark. But evidently I’m wrong, because I still see hundreds of flashes going off like fireworks in concerts and stadiums. What is the deal? Blind hope? Lack of memory? Force of habit? Don’t know how to turn off the flash?
It doesn’t work, and it actually hurts. Well, it has been useful to help the profits of Kodak with all that wasted film and photo processing dollars. They must have just smiled the widest smiles there at Kodak! We’ve all looked around the stadium or a concert hall and noticed hundreds of other flashes going off. Think about it! These are all people who are about to be greatly disappointed when they get home. I promise! . . . .Yet they keep doing it and hoping for different results!
The problem is that your camera’s built flash is simply not built to light up much more than 10-15 feet in front of you. . .much less a stadium! The only way that using your flash is a good idea is if you’re in the front row or two. And here is the real kicker! Having your flash setting “on,” only makes things worse! Your camera’s little computer inside is going to choose lense speed settings with the expectation that the flash will be coming on, so it’s little brain tells it to use a shorter or faster shutter speed, allowing in less light which will make your pictures even darker in the distance. The only thing your camera did, was to make adjustments so that your camera would handle the light from your flash for those first 10-15 feet that your flash was designed for. So you may have gotten a great picture of the folks in the next few rows in front of you!
My advice: Either get a very expensive telephoto lense with a great focal light capability, along with a tripod. (good luck with that, at a stadium) Or, become a member of the press and get passes to get up close and personal.
Storm Cloud Near Steamboat Springs, CO
View from A Window In "Mont Pelier", Home of President James Madison
7. Have you read your manual?
Learn how to take shots with more light and less light. Learn how to make sure it is set on the right amount of resolution. Experiment around with the various settings on your camera until you can do them by memory, without referring to your manual. Know how to use the menu on your screen, and know what at least most of the settings mean!
Waimea Canyon, Kauai, Hawaii
In Kauai, Hawaii
8. Do You Have At Least A Couple of Memory Cards?
(They’re Cheap When You Consider the Alternative!)
Always have an extra back-up memory card. My suggestion would be to have at least two, 2 to 4 gigabyte memory cards. The one that comes in you’re your camera is usually a joke or at least minimal. You want to have way more than enough room for all the pictures you will be taking. I also like having more than 1 or 2 cards, just in-case one is bad, gets damaged, or gets lost. Then at least you’ll have some of your pictures and it won’t be a total loss. Now I’ve never had a problem with my memory cards, but I know those who have; and it’s very painful! Another good thing to do, is to transfer your photos to your iPad or notebook computer as soon as you can take the time. Then you’ll have a backup and you can do some harsh editing on a much larger screen of the iPad or notebook computer.
Jackson Hole, Wyoming
9. What Is Your Megapixel Setting?
Use All She’s Got! (resolution that is.)
There is one other reason for having plenty of memory or memory cards, and this may be the most important, if you want good pictures. The reason is that you should always be shooting your pictures at all times on your camera's highest resolution. I’m sure when you bought your camera, you were comparing megapixel size and getting all hung up on that particular camera feature. So use it!
Use all the megapixels you have the capability to use. There is no such thing as a picture that has enough resolution or detail, in my mind. Besides, what happens if you use a lesser quality megapixel setting for what you consider unimportant pictures, and then when it comes time for the really special photos, you forget to change the setting back to the maximum? You may have a great picture, but it may only look detailed in you wallet, at that size. Enlarge a photo any bigger with a low megapixel setting, and the result may look like an old Polaroid! Then you’d have to forget about that 11 x 14 or 16 x 20 framed prize of a picture! If you bought a 10 megapixel camera then use it as a 10 megapixel camera, and nothing less!
One more thing! The benefit of having and using as high of resolution as possible, is this: If or when you decide to enlarge or crop a picture; or possibly zero in on something that you want to show in more detail, you will be glad you have the capability in detail to still be able to enlarge. Possibly you want a larger picture, but you want to edit out part of the picture, you will have the capabilities to enlarge your picture without it getting a bit more fuzzy and seemingly out of focus. I’m not going to get into the explanation of why this is true . . . just trust me on this!
10. Why do you think you can hold your camera "still enough", no matter what you’re taking?
Buy a fold-up compact tripod to keep handy. Yes the big 4 footers are great, but who wants to haul that around, other than the pros? And actually, they don’t like it either! However, for certain longer distance shots where you are using your zoom or for low light or nighttime shots, you will need a tripod. You can purchase these little guys at camera stores and even discount stores and they will often fit in your pocket or purse. The idea with these, is to use them on a solid surface such as a car hood, car roof, motorcycle seat, luggage, table, large boulder, anything that provides a solid stable surface so that your camera doesn’t move. The tripod helps you get just the right aim on your shot.
Remember, the less light, or the more you’re zooming in, the more an absolutely steady camera will be critical in a clear shot!
11. Do your pictures ever look bluish or grayish?
Ever wondered why, when you get home and really look at your photos, they appear somewhat cool or grey/ blue and washed out? Yes, it may be a dreary day, but it may also be the “white balance” setting on your digital camera. They usually come from the factory set on “auto”, but you may find better results by setting it to the “cloudy” setting. It will give your photos a warmer feel to them, as it will increase the amount of red or yellow in the mix of colors, like mixing a paint to get just the right color!
12. Have you ever noticed that the best outdoor photos are taken in the morning or late, late afternoon?
Avoid taking outdoor photos in the middle of the day. For example try to avoid times between 10:30 in the morning and 2:30 or three in the afternoon. In the summer that might be 10:00am to 5:00pm. It isn’t that you don’t have enough light. It’s that you have the wrong kind of light, and maybe even too much of it. The sun is just too harsh that time of the day. At noon or early afternoon, the sky is much more washed out looking. Look straight up in the sky in the morning and notice how blue the sky can be. Then look up straight in the sky around noon, and see how much less blue it is. Later in the day, or first thing in the morning, your photo(s) will look much better, because of this alone. My favorite time of day is right after sunrise, and just before sunset. Your camera can’t really make up for that unless your taking a close-up with a flash. Also, try to have the sun at your back when taking pictures if at all possible! If your taking closer photos of people or things during the day, when it's cloudy or hazy, always use your flash (as long as your within around 10 feet. It will add more color and pop to your photo over a cloudy day. Your camera may tell you, that you have enough light on a cloudy day, but use the flash anyway when you're close.
FINALLY: Try to avoid crowds that have too many weird things, or too much clutter in the background to make it too busy looking. You always want your subject to stand out. Also, try taking some night shots, using long exposures which can produce some very interesting, if not surreal results. You will need to have a setting for one or more seconds, on your camera. If so, try them all out, but use a tripod. This is mandatory! Believe me, you can’t hold your camera still enough. Experiment around at home with all of your settings, so that you're prepared when the time comes you really need to make some quick adjustments. Again, don't get hung up on mistakes, just be a harsh editor of what you keep and what you show!
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