The Kitchen: Part 3
Ok, if you’ve been following along with Part 1 and Part 2 of my blog, you’ve learned a little about some of the tools I use to take what I see in my head and translate it into the visions I create with my images. Today, Part 3 is looking at some of the lessons that I’ve learned along the way. There are two aspects to these lessons. One aspect is that you don’t need the best equipment to produce the best images. The second aspect is to learn how to use what you do have.
I learned a valuable lesson during one of my first photography classes. A guy came into class that first day with the absolute best pro-level equipment that money could buy. In his bag was easily $20,000 worth of gear. Any photographer would have coveted what he had in his bag. I did! I thought surely this guy was already a master guru and wondered why he was here. The funny thing about this is, he didn’t have a clue how to use any of it and others in the class with basic cameras were posting far better pictures. The reason I’m mentioning this is that you don’t have to have the best to produce good images. Better equipment always helps, but you have to start somewhere, you have to learn how to use what you have, and I think more importantly, you have to have an eye for it.
Here's just a simple picture taken and edited with my iPhone.
Another lesson I learned that didn’t require any new equipment was to use the Internet to seek out forums of people with similar interests. One forum I refer to frequently is at: fredmiranda.com. They have a sports forum, a people forum, and a wedding forum that I visit frequently. People will post their images for others to critique and learn. The sports forum was extremely interesting for me because of my love of sports and I wanted to see what other people were doing and learn what to do or what not to do. I also spent time in the people section and found some good ideas on the use of lighting and posing techniques to help with my senior photos. The other section I found extremely interesting was the wedding forum. I shot one wedding awhile back and quickly discovered that I have no desire to be a wedding photographer ever. It’s not my thing. What I did find in that forum were some absolutely amazing photographers. What I learned from them could apply to all other aspects of what I do like to shoot with regards to composition, lighting, and visual presentation.
Here's an example of an image I was proud enough to save from back in 2005. (Hmmm, why did I even keep this one???)
That's Tyler by the way above and here's Tyler from this Spring. (Now this is what I keep today!)
The next lesson I learned (and still do every day) is to learn how to use what you have. Take a photography class or a series of classes. Learn how your camera works and what all the settings do. Shooting in auto mode just doesn’t work for me. I needed and wanted to learn how to translate the images I saw in my head to produce an image in the camera. I always see things in my head (that’s why people always said I was a little special) and learning how to really use my camera allowed me the ability to translate that vision into a workable image. Now I have a good foundation when I approach a photo shoot to get an idea of what settings I need to start with in my camera.
Ok, here's an example of a row of trees my wife and I saw driving through the country on that particular day and the way it looked when I first saw it.
Above was what I saw with my eyes. Below is what I saw in my head. (That vision thing I said I see in my head!)
The last piece we’ll touch on today is the basis of why I’m where I am today. Learning and improving. I took some of my best football pictures this last fall. At the time, my shooting and gear had improved, and I felt like the images I produced were top-notch compared to what I had done in the past. However, as I go back and look at those pictures today, there are a few things I’d do to improve them. They were good for what I knew and could do then. Things that I’ve learned in LR now, that I didn’t know how to do better then, like better noise reduction control make a big difference. I know that what I’m doing now will be better 6 months from now. Again, learn how to use what you have now. Learn how to use Photoshop and learn how to use Lightroom.
Here's another example of something I saw in Piedmont Park and the way it looked as my wife said, "yep, that's a bridge."
Below is what I saw in my head and now with learning how to really use Lightroom I was able to translate into my own image.
There are new little secrets that I’m learning all the time. Some of the lessons I’ve learned were by watching tutorials and then some by just simply exploring through my own trial and error. It’s just like my photography; I’m learning new things all the time and trying to apply those lessons to help me improve. Pictures that were taken a year or two ago are not up to my standards today. Always look for ways to improve. It’s a constant education process for me. Do you need everything that I’ve mentioned in my kitchen? No. Start with Lightroom4 and add a Wacom tablet when you can.
Ok, if you’ve read this far, thanks for following me and again welcome to my kitchen. To some, I know this may be like watching a bad movie, you’re only curious to see how this bad thing will end. Hopefully, I’ll get better at this too. I’m not the best by any means. I don’t know everything. I’m just trying to improve and constantly get better by first using the tools that I do have and secondly, learning how to use them better.