Wednesday, June 2, 2010

In Honor of Wordless Wednesday

As I indicated in my Library Loot Post #1 --- I am trying to hone my photography skills this summer.  To that end, I have tried to visit various local parks one or two times a week and capture a few shots that I then bring home, upload to Flickr, touch up with Picnik, and then compare to all the other wonderful photos available for viewing on the site to learn how to improve.

I have recently brought home several more photography books, but this should last me for a while (she says with a grin).  The books that I hope to digest over the next few weeks including several by Rick Sammon (Complete Guide to Digital Photography, Field Guide to Digital Photography, and  Travel and Nature Photography) and Bryan Peterson (Understanding Photography Field GuideUnderstanding Exposure and Learning to See Creatively)

I have already read one of these books from cover to cover - twice - and taken notes on index cards that I now keep in the camera bag.  See, I need help in ALL areas of photography, not just the technical end (which is why I typically shoot in one of the program modes as I am not sure I will ever be confident enough to take a picture in manual mode).  But it seems to me that before you learn the f-stops and shutter speeds, you should learn COMPOSITION --- which is exactly what the book, Learning to See Creatively by Bryan Peterson is all about.

The three most meaningful lessons that I learned from this book are as follows:
  1. Change your Point of View:  for the interesting shots, be willing to move around and feel a bit uncomfortable.  Take a few steps back - or closer - or left or right to see how that changes the angle of the shot.  Don't be afraid to get down on your belly - or climb a tree.  And...for the perfectly "square" person such as myself --- turn the camera on the diagonal for truly unique perspective.
  2. Look at all 4 corners before releasing the shutter:  how many times I have taken what I think is a pretty good shot, only to discover that there is an unwanted car (or stranger) lurking in the distance.  Again, my square mentality focuses on the center -- but I must be mindful to look at the entire picture before snapping.  That is when implementing lesson #1 comes in to play --- if I just change my point of view slightly, those unsightly distractions can be eliminated.
  3. There are six basic elements of design.  Keep in mind that most pictures compromise two or three of these elements, but also be mindful of all six.  Amateur photographers need to focus on just a few of these areas, I need to be mindful to experiment and try incorporating all six every once in a while.  The six basic elements are:  Line - Shape - Form (shape in 3D) - Texture - Pattern - Color.
One other final tip that I keep in my photo bag at all times I learned from Scott Kelby's Digital Photography Book series (I believe there are three books in the series, this tip came from volume two).  Always perform a WHIMS test before taking the shot.  What is WHIMS??
  • W -- White balance
  • H -- Highlight warning
  • I -- ISO setting
  • M -- Mode setting
  • S -- Size of image
Personally, If I can just remember W-I-M I'd save myself a lot of headache.

Well, there you have it -- my photo class for the day.  I hope to put lots of these lessons into practice this week and then I can truly participate in Wordless Wednesday without the need for any words.


  1. I'm impressed that you have thrown yourself so whole-heartedly into this project! Good for you - way to make the most of your summer!

  2. I like your posts like this. I often find myself making big lists of books on a subject while visiting you. These photography books all look excellent. I'm looking forward to seeing some of you pictures showing off your new skills.

  3. I've noticed that. Lots of people seem to have a hard time doing a true wordLESS wednesday (I know I've been guilty!)

  4. I've passed on to you The Versatile Blog Award. Congrats. Please see my post from today for more info.

  5. I added Learning to See Creatively to my tbr.

    I'm "square" too, and once I tried turning the camera diagonally, I got some great shots!

  6. I love the point and shoot feature on my camera, but like you I would love to learn more about it! You're way ahead of me!! Isn't it exciting to learn something new?

  7. What wonderful tips! Thanks! (Though I'm not really allowed to touch the good camera in our house.)

    I love how enthusiastic you are about your project ... I'm way too lazy to throw myself so fully into a new project. I dabble and then lose interest so I'm very impressed.

    Looking forward to seeing some of your photos!

  8. Wow, Molly -- you're really getting into it! I would also suggest pure experiment in manual mode (or at least in what Nikon calls "program" mode, which lets you change f-stop/shutter speed combinations in tandem)....just to see what happens! I love seeing your photos on Flickr!

  9. Excellent post. I need to read up on digital photograph too. I would love to improve my skills.


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