Monday, November 29, 2010

What I learned about photography II

My friend Angela was kind enough to invite me along to a cosplay event in southern Seoul on Sunday. I'm not into Japanese animation at all, but the lure of taking interesting photos and getting out on my own for a day won me over. We had a wonderful chat all the way from Chang-dong to Yangjae about everthing from photography (we are both new but eager DSLRers) to the North Korea situation. It's so great to get out once a week on my own and do something fun.

Anyway, we finally made it to the event, ate some street food, and started shooting. I had no idea how many people are so into this the point that they dress up like this once a month for these events. Some of the costumes and makeup were very elaborate. We eventually tracked down the members of the Seoul Photo Club. For me, this was good and bad. Good because they're nice guys, some with a lot of experience in photography. Also, due to their experience they are a little more bold when it comes to asking people permission to photograph them. We followed them around a bit and jumped in on their shoots.That's why it was bad, too. With so many people swarming around the subject, it's hard to get in there to get a good, clear shot. You're shooting in a hurry, sometimes with people walking in front of you. But it was great to watch them as well. They were not afraid to direct the cosplayers in how to pose or where to stand. So I picked up a few things from them.

Here's what I learned on Sunday:

1. I shouldn't shoot wide open all the time. For some reason I'm always shooting at the largest available aperature. I guess sometimes this is good, but you don't have to all the time. I think I would have had some sharper photos had I stopped down a bit more.

2. Don't be afraid to ask people to take their photos if you want to. The worst they can say is 'no.' Sunday was a good exercise for me, being a shy person. By the end of the afternoon, I was walking up to people and asking them to pose for me. Don't be afraid to tell people, especially at such an event, how to pose.

3. Look for more interesting angles. Angela is pretty good and seeing different, more interesting angles. I need to work on this.

4. Look for good light. The light was hard to work with on Sunday. It was so bright and there were harsh shadows everwhere. In some of my photos you can see the shadows of other photographers and other things. Not pretty. When trying to find a good angle, you have to look at how the shadows are falling.

5. Use flash. I brought my external flash on Sunday, yet I did not take it out until the last 1/2 hour or so. I don't know why. It was stupid. I should be experimenting and testing it out. When I finally took it out and used it, I was so pleasantly surprised by the results, I was kicking myself all the way home for not using it more. One of the last photos I took and I used the flash to even out the light, and I I think the results were good:6. Don't be so hard on yourself. Often I go out expecting to bring home jaw-dropping photos, and it just doesn't happen. But so what? As long as I learn something, it doesn't matter. I'm always so hard on myself, in all areas.

7. I need to start shooting in RAW. Angela took the plunge on Sunday and switched over from JPEG to RAW. I need to start doing this so that I can work more with my photos in the editing phase.

8. I'd like to get a good portrait lens next year. Both my lenses are great, but I want something a little longer and portrait-specific. I'm borrowing someone's 85mm 1.8 lens right now, which is supposed to be a good portrait lens, but I haven't had a chance to get out and use it yet. It's too long to use indoors and I didn't want to bring it on Sunday because the owner doesn't have a filter on it, so I didn't want to risk it.

That's all that I can think of right now. I really enjoy photography as a hobby. Whenever I take a bunch of photos, I can't wait to get home and upload them and see if I got any keepers. Since I started uploading photos with my new camera to facebook, people have been asking me what kind of camera I have and what to do... Just get one! Best decision I ever made.

1 comment:

CedarBough said...

wow, you're making great progress. I agree with your points, all of them. Don't forget when using the flash for fill to dial it down a lot (-.7 or -1 or something-try a bunch of different settings) and if it is getting dark, set the camera to manual and try shooting on regular flash power but with the shutter speed down a long ways (don't hesitate to try 1/25 or 1/20th) because you'll get more of the ambient light to show up but the flash will freeze the subject in an interesting way-- fun to play around with. GOod to play with that in the house with Grace trying to keep the warm glow of your lamps instead of a really "I used a flash" result.

Also, have you tried setting your camera to A (aperture priority) and just setting it to 1.8 or 2.8 or something and just firing away? fun fun fun background blurring possible.