One of the things that helped me most in my progress as a photographer was learning to take control of my camera, making it do what I wanted it to, rather than just letting the camera decide. Hopefully I can pass this on, with some tips on how to move away from auto settings.
The first thing you need at this point is a basic understanding of shutter speed, aperture and ISO, so you can make informed decisions on how to set up your camera. These three settings are often described as the exposure triangle, as each one contributes to the amount of light that gets into your camera. One common analogy is filling a bucket of water, the ISO is how big the bucket is (how much light you need), the aperture is how fast you pour the water in and the shutter speed is how long you’re pouring for. You always need the same amount of water (or light) to fill the bucket, but you can add it quickly or slowly. The shutter speed and aperture are often chosen for creative reasons, so I’ll explain what they all mean and why you would choose certain settings below.
I’m still really working on my wildlife photography so spent a little while in a hide at Shapwick Heath National Nature Reserve trying to capture some good shots.
We saw plenty of interesting birds, including bitterns, cormorants, grebes and the kingfisher pictured below – not quite close enough so unfortunately this is cropped right in, but still glad to have snapped one.
I’ve never really been that into photographing people, I love seeing other people’s work but it’s just not something that’s ever really inspired me personally. Probably a large part of that is the interaction with the model, posing them and making sure they’re comfortable while you get the shot you’re after.
That said, I have a baby daughter on the way, and want to make sure I capture some memories of this time of life as best I can, so have recently been trying to give it a bit of a go.
My wife has a Pinterest page full of maternity and baby photos to give me some inspiration so we’ve been trying to recreate a couple so I can learn how to point my camera at something other than a landscape.
I strongly believe that knowing how to edit your photos to maximise their impact is as important as knowing how to take them well in the first place. It’s not a new thing, having been very common in the film days too, it’s just become more accessible and doesn’t require specialised equipment or advanced skills to get started with.
There will always be debates on how much you should edit, my personal approach currently is not to add anything that wasn’t there, and mostly keep removals to spots/artifacts, so I do 99% of my editing in Lightroom. For this reason I always shoot RAW as it allows much greater scope for adjusting exposure, white balance, etc. and helps reduce the need for some filters like graduated neutral densities.
Macro photography is always seen as a bit of specialist subject, there’s lots of different techniques to get the level of magnification needed, from expensive dedicated lenses like the Canon MP-E 65mm, to reverse lens adapters, extension tubes, bellows… it’s a confusing market and can seem daunting to get started.
There’s also a lot of challenges, finding your subject and getting close enough, shallow depth of field, getting enough light in. No matter what equipment you use you will come across these problems.
For my first blog post I decided to cover a technique I have been using more and more recently, which is using heavy neutral density filters to create long exposure photographs, even in bright daylight conditions.