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 Guide, Understanding 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:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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