Wednesday, August 27, 2008


The more I've learned about photography the more I've also learned that artificial filters and manipulation are often required to make a natural looking image. Slowly but surely, I've also realized that human perception and the photographic processes are quite different. Filters and photo editing programs can't replace being at the right place at the right time, but they sure can help when the lighting conditions aren't just right.

I didn't use filters for most of the photos I've taken, but there are times, like high noon, when I'll drag out the extension tube so I can screw on a polarizer filter (this is the most important type of filter in my opinion) to cut down on the glare and shadows.

Miz Donna asked me to post about another little trick I've learned by reading, and by trial and error, in a pinch you can use a pair of sunglasses (not prescription) as a filter. You use them to cut down on the glare from sunlight in your eyes, so why not lay them down in front of your camera lens (or if you have a steady hand, hold them in front of the lens) and snap your shot. I have a shot of Zach in the garden that I took through some amber colored sunglass lens but I can't find it right now so you'll just have to take my word for it, you'll love some of the effects you'll get when you try this.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Editing Digital

I'm as serious as a Saint when I say that digital photos sometimes are only as good as the photo editing software that you have, ask any photographer, professional or otherwise, and they'll agree. I'd like to say I have the best software but I don't, and I probably never will, some of it is just too expensive for my budget. But just about any editing software will do the basics, there's even some free stuff out there that's pretty durn good for that.

Most often, the photos that I edit only need a little sharpening, and it's really a good thing that just a little is all that's needed, because I don't know how to do much else so I only sharpen photos that aren't blurry but just need a tiny click to keep the edges from blending in with the background. Too much sharpening can make your photos appear noisy and just defeats the whole purpose.

Anyway, what I was getting to, in my meandering way, was to say, Don't be afraid to use the software that came with your camera, that's what it's there for! Play with it, learn, and when you learn all you can about it, teach me!

I once used Microsoft PictureIt photo editing software, but Microsoft made it obsolete and for some reason, although I bought the product, and registered the product, used the product for almost 6 years, it suddenly wouldn't run on my computer anymore. I don't know if one of their "famous" Windows updates screwed it up, or what, but I really, really, miss that little program. It was also great for making graphics (headers and stuff) because it was so user friendly.

So, I bought Paint Shop Pro 9. It's a nice program, reasonably priced, but it takes more brain cells to operate than I have available so I can only do the most basic operations with it. If anyone knows all the tricks this program has to offer, I'm a willing learner if you can keep it simple! :-)

Another editing program that I sometimes use, and it's free to download, is I still haven't learned much other than the basics with it either, but I can use it for making banners and for tweaking graphics without having a frezied fit, most of the time.

Someday I'd love to learn to use these programs to make some of the wonderful photographic art that I've seen out and about online. Maybe,,, someday. This guy's work facinates me, it's odd to the max but SO interesting and artistic.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Friday Tip - The Eyes Have It

I take loads of photos but I think my favorites to take are of the "up close and in your face" type. When I 'm able to take these of human subjects I try to focus on their eyes because the eyes tell the story. When photographing people and animals, everything else can be hidden or cropped out: the mouth, the nose, the hair. But the eyes must be visible. You must try your best to make the eyes as sharp as possible because if the eyes look sharp, the rest of the photo will appear so even if it's not.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Reader's Tips and Lighting

Two great tips from readers already! That's exactly the reason for this blog, sharing what we know with others who want to know and might be able to use the information to take the sort of photos they want to take.

Miz Cassie-B says, "I'm really big on cropping when I get a good shot. It makes it so much easier for me when I know I can cut out the parts that don't matter. "

And Moma Grits had this to say, "My own personal preference is to FILL THE FRAME and be mindful of the background ya don't want a light pole emerging from your subjects head."

Now, for my daily tip.


Lighting is probably the most important aspect of ALL photography. Choose a scene outside your window and watch what happens to it during different times of the day. Watch the shadows, the way the scene does or doesn't get sunlight, the type and mood of the sunlight that it does get, etc,,, The lighting greatly affects how your scene will photograph.

The best times of day for landscape, architecture or outdoor portraits is always either early morning or early evening. The rising or setting sun creates a warmth not seen during other times of the day.

The best angle for outdoor shots is with the sun directly behind you. This allows the sunlight to fall on your scene, or subject, and also allows you to be able to control the shadows. One little trick I picked up from reading my photo mags and from visiting a forum or two, is when you keep getting shadows on the faces of your subjects, especially when the sun is high, or in a deep shade, turn on your flash so that it will fill in the shadowed areas with light.

Not having enough light will cause your photos to look too dark, or too grainy, sometimes even blurry. Of course using the flash helps, but sometimes it makes the photo look too washed out if you are too close to your subject when the flash goes off. One way that helps me when I'm taking indoor shots and don't want to use a flash (for example, a lighted Christmas tree) is to set my camera on a small, table top tripod and take the photo like that, trying not to move or shake the camera when I focus and click. A standing tripod would be even better, but I don't have a large standing tripod yet, that's on my Wish list. The less or worse the lighting, the more important it becomes to not move or shake your camera when you're taking the photo.

I took this photo on auto focus, hand held, with only the glow from the tree lights. If you enlarge it, you can see the graininess and quite a bit of blurring.

Photography is fun, and what's been the most fun for me is that you don't have to have the most expensive equipment to get great results. For the past several years, I've been using a Sony DSC H1 , 5.1 mega pixel digital with a 12x zoom, and I recently bought a Sony DSC H50/B, 9.1 megapixel, with a 15x zoom. I think they're both great cameras and I've gotten some pretty nice photos while using them, well, the H1, I haven't had much time to really try out the H50/B yet. I'm not ready for all the extra equipment that it takes for an SLR right now, maybe some day.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

First By A Dummy Tips

My first From a Dummy tip is really simple,

In order to take good photos, you have to actually TAKE photos. Don't leave your camera at home in a drawer, take it with you.


Every time.

Get in the habit of grabbing it if you're going outdoors, or if you're going shopping, you never know what you'll see and it's better to have it and not use it than to need it and not have it. My camera goes everywhere with me except to the bathroom and it's even been in there a few times when the kids were making mustaches and beards out of soap bubbles (couldn't pass that shot up!)


Aim your digital camera at your subject and press your capture button down just a little, this allows your camera to focus, looking at your LCD screen you will see your subject come in sharp and clear, if it doesn't, don't push the capture button all the way down cause you'll end up with a blurred photo. But if it looks sharp enough, click all the way.

And keep practicing, it might take a few snaps before you get the hang of how much pressure you can put on the button to focus without it taking the picture until you're ready.