Sunday, November 21, 2010

What I learned about photography

So, a friend asked me to take some pictures of her family. I was flattered, because really, I am a far cry from a photographer. It's a growing hobby of mine, but that's about it. I got my DSLR camera to capture great memories of my family and maybe a few neat shots in between. Anyway, I agreed because she's my friend, and because I thought it would be a good experience for me and teach me a few things. I was right. I learned quite a lot.

1. Backgrounds are KEY. The background in a portrait or family shot can really make or break the photo. We went to a place called Herb Island, which is actually quite nice, but it was not an appropriate setting for the pictures. There were too many people around to take wide open shots, and the backgrounds were sometimes tacky and WAY too busy. The lighting in the green houses was difficult for me, an inexperienced photographer, to work with. It was a little chilly outside for little Logan who is only three months old. I should have went to their house and took photos near a window with his blankies and toys...something more traditional. Outdoors would have been nice in the warmer weather in a quieter location.

2. I need to learn about the autofocus settings on my camera. For some stupid reason, I left my focus settings on 3D tracking, which is actually for moving subjects, but my subjects weren't moving. Should have gone with plain old single point. I switched over since then and I have more keepers now.
3. I need to learn how to use my flash and reflector. I love my external flash. I use a mini softbox and bounce it off the ceilings at home. This makes amazing light with no shadows. But I am still unsure about how to use the flash as fill light. I tried a few times, and the photos came out with an orangey cast. As for my reflector, I tried using it to reflect light, but it created even hotter light on their faces. I think I was using it incorrectly, or just in an inappropriate situation. However, it did work quite well for blocking out some harsh light. Must practice some more with it.

4. If I were to do such a thing again, I would have to do some research and compile a list of possible poses. Nearly all of my pictures are of the family sitting on various photo-op benches, chest-up pictures, looking at the camera. I was not nearly daring or creative enough. Some candid photos would have been great. I think this would have turned out a bit differently had we been in a secluded area outdoors, but still, a variety of poses to draw from is always good.

5. I understand why professional photographers charge so much. You really spend most of a day doing something like this, and then you've got hundreds of pictures to go through, choose the best from, and then edit. Editing takes time...many hours...days.

6. My 35mm 1.8 lens is great. More keepers from that lens than the Tamron 17-50. The Tamron is give me more flexibility and I love the wide angle at 17mm, but for quality, the 35mm wins.

This all being said, we got a few good pictures out of it. I'm happy that she has a family picture she likes enough to put on a Christmas card. I just wish there were more shots of baby Logan alone basking in his own cuteness. This would have been possible if we were in his home. Some diaper shots would have been awesome. I'm not really happy with the photos, mostly because of the venue, but I am inexperienced and didn't know any better. At least I learned a lot from the experience.

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