Friday, February 22, 2013

Hurry Up, Hurry Up!

I just couldn't let the negativity of my last post hang out there long. Who wants to see gray and snowy February pictures? Aren't we ready to be done with winter? I know I am! My thoughts are of spring and summer and the warm breezes that will bring the butterflies back to town. Here is a picture I took a couple years ago in the same backyard that is now covered with snow. Now doesn't this make you feel much better? Yes, me too. Hurry up, Spring! Hurry up, Summer!

Slow Down, Slow Down!

This is Michigan in winter. These pics were taken this morning as yet another snow storm blew through, snarling up traffic and making for slippery walks.

This isn't a particularly interesting photo but it does give you a glimpse of my backyard being blanketed with a fresh coating of snow.

This photo is better than the first but it isn't my best either.

These photos are examples of what I believe will be my biggest challenge to overcome in improving my photos... slow down and THINK about what I'm doing. I have a real tendency to rush my picture taking, even when there is no reason to. It's not like I didn't think about what I was doing at all, just not enough. I thought about composition (yeah, it probably doesn't look like it in the top photo but I was trying to omit several objects, like the BBQ grill and patio furniture, that would have detracted from the photo) and I thought about white balance but I didn't give a thought to depth of field. That's especially evident in the close-up of the snow on the pine branches. They should have all been in focus. Sigh.

Why do I rush my photo taking? I'm not sure but I think it comes from not wanting to miss the shot because I took too long to set up. This morning while watching a video on photographing snowflakes I was reminded about the Nat Geo photog who when asked what tips he could share for getting terrific pics said, "f8 and be there!" And that is so often the case when it comes to shooting sunsets, weather, sports, etc. You need to be in the moment. The lighting/drama/action can change in an instant and if you take too long thinking about it you may just miss your chance at a great photo.

What can I do to help myself? Well, I can learn my cameras better so that I can change settings faster. That will help some but in the end it won't solve my problem because I still need to think about what all settings I need to change. It needs to occur to me to change more of my settings. That sounds so obvious, doesn't it? But it isn't for me. I get excited about taking a picture just about every time I get a camera in my hand. And when the excitement comes the thoughtful analysis goes right out the window, or in this case right out of my brain. I need to learn to slow down and become more deliberate in my picture taking. Especially when I'm taking pics like these this morning. I had plenty of time to take those photos. So what if the doorwall was open and the snow and wind were blowing in the house and making me cold, lol!

I think this will be my biggest challenge going forward. If I can master this tendency to rush my photo taking I know my photography will improve.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Taking The Next Step

I've enjoyed my photography hobby for many years now. I first started shooting with an Argus 75 camera back in high school when I took my first photography classes. From there I moved on to a Kodak Instamatic camera. That lasted me a few years until I bought my first SLR camera, a Pentax ME Super. That was in the mid 1970s. I loved that Pentax but found that I didn't use it as much as I thought I would. I was in college, you see, and I couldn't afford to buy many rolls of film and pay for the processing on a student's budget.

After college, I got married and started a family. I found the Pentax a little too cumbersome when trying to capture pics of my daughter, who was a non-stop bundle of energy. And too, I didn't want to carry a camera bag in addition to a diaper bag and a purse on family outings. That's when I got my point and shoot film camera. I used that for several years and liked it but then came the digital era.  I was an early adopter of digital cameras. I got my first one back when photos were 1 megapixel size, lol! Then I moved up to a 5mp camera and gradually up from there, still in the point and shoot category.

I got my first DSLR for Christmas in 2005. It was a gift from my husband, a Canon EOS Rebel. Now that was a camera! I fell in love with photography again and for the first time in years I found myself shooting pics with subjects other than my kids and pets. I took a class in learning to shoot with a DSLR at my local community college and then another class taught by Monte Nagler. As Canon developed the Rebel line over the years, I upgraded my camera, appreciating all the new features they added along the way. I got a few new lenses too. Then last year I upgraded from the Rebel line to a Canon 60D. It was about that time that I started thinking about taking the "next step" with my photography.

The thing is, I didn't know what my "next step" should be. I don't have aspirations of becoming a professional photographer and actually earning a living by taking pics. I don't see myself teaching the subject either. I just know that I want to kick my photography up a notch. For personal enjoyment. I want to move on from taking photos to making photos. Since that time I've spent a lot of time online following photographers whose work I admire. I've studied their work and read several blogs about improving my photography. And I think my photos have improved, somewhat. But I want to improve more. And so after much deliberation I've decided to start attending photography workshops when possible, join a camera club or two, and start asking around for critiques of my photos.

Last month I joined the Berrien Artist's Guild. This month I applied to join a local camera club. I'll learn in early March if the club approved my application. I'm not sure how often I'll be able to attend meetings but I'll make as many as I can. I've enrolled in a workshop on "Butterfly Photography" in March. I'm really looking forward to that! I also have another workshop in mind for March but I haven't committed to that one yet so you'll have to stay tuned to see if I do attend. I'm excited to be moving forward with my photography. I'm happy to be taking the next step...

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Icy Sunset

This is the last in my series of pictures taken on February 9th. This one was taken at sunset. As you can see, the light is warmer, more peachy than golden. The icy lighthouses are a thing of beauty, no less awesome in the evening light. 

Icy Silver Beach

In the summer, Silver Beach has smooth golden sand, cool lake water, and thousands of beachgoers. Not so in February! This is the Lake Michigan shoreline at Silver Beach. The ice was thick and multi-hued in the morning light. It was awesome to behold.

Frozen in Time

This pic was taken the same day as the previous photo. I just had to include a pic showing both lighthouses. It was a beautiful day on the lake and I just couldn't take enough pics. Next I'll show you some of the shoreline ice...

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Winter Beauty

For a couple weeks now people have been posting beautiful pics of the ice covered lighthouses in St Joseph. And my shutter finger has been itching to get some pictures of my own. Unfortunately, I wasn't able to get back here until this weekend. Thankfully, the weather held out till I got here and yesterday it was sunny all day. :-) I got up before sunrise and was out on the pier to get this pic. You can see the warm glow of the "golden hour" sun. It was magnificent! The temps yesterday and today got up above freezing so the melting has begun. We are forecast to have above freezing temps several days this week so the window of time to get shots like this is closing. Fortunately, I was able to take a lot of pics yesterday. So you can look forward to more pics like this to come!

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Hail!

This morning I'm basking in the joy of last night's victory over OSU. Go Blue!