Ah Shoot!

Thursday, July 7, 2011

This will probably be a really boring post to a lot of people, but I have actually had a few folks ask me about my hobby of photography, so I thought about posting how I got started, and my thoughts on how someone else could get started as well!

It has really been an awesome hobby for me, even though I haven't spent as much time on it lately as I would have hoped too, but I would highly recommend it as a hobby to anyone who...
  • has very little or no time to themselves (it can be something you pick up for 5 minutes one day, 30 seconds the next day, or an hour on the next day),
  • has little ones that can't move (they provide great practice subjects, at least until they can run in which case all of your pictures will be of the back of their heads),
  • has any other subject that could be used as great practice (my other great subject is my 16 year old cat because he rarely moves and if he does, its at a REALLY slow pace),
  • doesn't want an expensive hobby,
  • has Internet access (the web is an invaluable resource for anyone who has a photography hobby),
  • would like to get involved with a club (I have met some very cool people because of photography as a hobby)

You could probably debate whether or not photography as a hobby is expensive or inexpensive but to me, it could go either way. Today's digital cameras are not only affordable, but have built-in technology that allows even an amateur photographer to capture quality usable images. So you don't have to buy a $5000 camera to get awesome pictures, you don't have to buy 100 different lenses. Just buy learning the basics, you can have a great time. Having said that, once you learn your "base" camera and kit lens, if you are able to, the sky is the limit on what you can purchase. New cameras, different lenses, lighting, backgrounds (for portraits), studio equipment, fake set ups (more on this later), and there are a ton of classes and books that you can learn from as well. So it's really up to you on how much you want to spend.

My camera is a standard Canon EOS Rebel XS DSLR which so far, has been a great beginner camera. It's easy to use, great to learn on, and a decent price. It comes with a standard 18 - 55mm kit lens which was great at first, but I have really enjoyed trying some other lenses (even though I only have two total).


Although my camera is great for now, if I continue with my hobby as I hope to (and no, I will never be a professional photographer, don't plan to, and will never even try to compare myself to the pros) I'll hopefully upgrade one day.

I already have my eye on this baby.
Nikon D7000 DSLR with 18-105mm DX VR Lens

As far as a starter camera goes, you probably want to start with a DSLR so you can shoot in manual mode eventually (meaning you set the shutter speed, ISO, aperture, white balance, etc). You probably want to start with something that has good megapixel capabilities, about 6.0 and up. A megapixel just refers to the amount of resolution on an image. So the higher the megapixels, the more detailed your finished picture will be.

One of my all time favorite photos that I have taken.
I took this sitting in the back of the car on the way to my brother and sister-in-laws house.

::: shout out to Mary, Lauren and Dana :::

When you start out as a beginner, the amount of information on photography can be overwhelming. It certainly was to me. What I found worked really well, was to start off with one specific photographic goal at a time and focus on that. For example, learn and experiment with just changing the shutter speed. Once you get the hang of that, learn and experiment with what happens when changing your aperture. etc. This way, you get the hang of one thing at at time, and before you know it, you are putting it all together!

Then, you can start setting weekly goals (or monthly goals like mine usually turn into because of the little monsters). Here is a great place to start: Photography Articles : 12 Weeks to Better Photos

You know the saying that "practice makes perfect"? That is 100% true with photography. Although you may not get to the perfect stage (I never will), the only way to get better is to just get out there and shoot. You don't have to have kids to shoot, you can walk outside in your backyard and shoot some trees, or flowers, or heck...just take pictures of your house! Try to shoot in different lighting. Shooting indoors is much different then shooting outdoors. Shooting in the middle of the day is much different then in the evening with softer light.

And I'm talking shooting pictures, not guns for your gun-happy people out there. Ack.

Keeping your camera handy helps a lot.
I snapped this picture on a summer evening when we had the most amazing rainbow that I have ever seen. It's far from perfect, and I snapped it one handed while holding a toddler but you get the idea.

Here are some more ideas on what you can practice with...
  • Dewdrops on petals, spiderwebs, or grass blades
  • Take a head shot of a person or animal and practice "filling the frame"
  • Take a picture of a subject in motion. Try to focus on a sharp, clean result. (I have to practice this pretty much every time I shoot anything that has to do with my kids ha)
  • Choose a subject and experiment with shooting just left or right of center.
  • Practice looking at things with a photographer's eye. Take a picture of a pot of boiling water and focus on the bubbles or steam.
  • Try to take a picture of a reflection captured in glass, a shiny surface, or on the surface of a mud puddle.
  • Oil mixed with water
  • Head to the zoo! There is a ton of stuff to shoot at the zoo! Animals, people, flowers, plants, even waterfalls!

I snapped this picture, and the first picture in this post on a recent trip to the National Zoo.

I snapped this shot one afternoon at our house.
As I was cutting the grass, I noticed a birds nest in our front tree.
After a closer look, I found some babies, ran in to grab the camera and snapped away.

I snapped this one on a little family walk around the neighborhood.
I just happened to grab my camera on the way out of the house and this is another one of my favorites.

I think that's pretty much it for now! There is plenty more to come and I can certainly post more about my journey, things that work for me, things that don't work for me and things that I am trying. I'll try not to be too boring for those not interested in photography, but check out my photography pages above if you are interested!

1 comment :

  1. Such a great post! I am slowly learning about photography again. I took a class in college but for some reason it seems that it was all forgaten by the time I graduated. Anyways, very helpful. I know that there is a book out there that is suppouse to be a great book that I have been meaning to get "understanding exposure".


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