If you ever attended mathematics or geometry lessons during your school days you’ll have covered line graphs and bar charts to help display how many red cars drove past together with the amount of blue and yellow cars etc., in other words the aim was to present the information clearly using a chart. Well, now that we record digital information when pressing the camera’s shutter button we need to present the data in a way that shows the various amounts of light levels; only this time it’s the amount of light, medium and dark. But why? you may ask, welcome to one of the major tools we now have in our cameras that we didn’t have when using film, the histogram.
I was asked this question recently by someone who poses as a ‘wanabe’ artist. “what about the art, what about your idea, who gave you inspiration?” is what should be asked. Do you ask a boxer what make of gloves he or she uses or do you ask what type of pen a successful writer uses or do you ask a photographer what type of camera he or she uses.. NO you don’t. Maybe this paragraph will shed some light on what I mean.
‘A photographer went to lunch with a new client and took along a portfolio of his best-loved photographs. After looking through the portfolio the client said, “these are great, you must have a fantastic camera!” The photographer, before leaving the lunch, accepted the invitation to shake the client’s hand and replied, “that was a great meal, you must have some fantastic pots and pans!” Later, when feeling less rejected, the client propagated a second attempt at connecting with the photographer by saying “tell me, what’s the best camera to use”, “the one you have with you at the time” was the answer’.
In some ways these examples highlight a lack of understanding that photography is an art form. The photographer should not be seen as just a recorder of a scene but as an artist. By using painting, drawing or photography one is employing a ‘tool’ to bring to fruition a vision foreseen by a creative mind. It is unlikely that an artist is asked which brand of paint brush or paint he or she has used when presenting their work, nor is it the case that only a particular make of camera should be used when entering a photographic competition. It is true to say however, that not all photographs can be seen as art but, if one accepts that skill and judgment has been applied to the creation of an image, an image which brings forward a reaction in the viewer, then yes, photography can be judged as art and not by the tools used to create it.
“When someone says my camera takes nice pictures, I smile at them and say, thanks, I taught it everything”
Joke taken from https://kidadl.com/funnies/puns/camera-puns-and-jokes-that-have-no-negatives
Looking back over my blog posts to date I decided to offer advice from just a few of the parts of my brain that still lets me remember why I enjoy photography. These are just a few things that I hope you’ll find interesting; so here goes.
* New to using your camera?
* Not sure how to control the end result of your photos
* Not sure what’s meant by the term ‘Exposure Triangle?
….well many of us have been there, so let me demystify these statements.
With the increased number of ‘selfies’ being taken, one wonders if photographers are missing out. I’m thinking that many people are missing out by not using the basic rules of composition and the benefits to be had. No matter what tool you use to record images, paying attention to the foundations of composition can be beneficial and can encourage you to explore new subjects; I’d advocate trying landscapes as this will help develop transferable skills to other subjects.
So what are the 8 elements that can help improve composition; “tell me” I hear you say. In no particular order:
1) Focal Length of your Lens
2) The Rule of Thirds
3) Interesting Foregrounds
4) Leading Lines
5) Using Negative Space
6) Odd Number of Elements
7) Looking for Symmetry
8) Straight Horizons
Let’s look a bit deeper at each one:
I’m sure many of us photographers have over the years seen camera equipment come and go as we have moved with the times. I’ve found it enlightening to revisit the dark corners of my camera bag and remember the ghosts from the past. Rather than give away my ghostly age, I can tell you that it all started when I was 15 with the gift of an Ilford Sporti 35mm camera. I had very little idea of how to put together an acceptable photo so I plodded along for most of my teenage years thinking I was the ‘dogs nuts’. I assume that mummy and daddy paid for all the films I wasted however, it did come with me on a school trip to Italy; oh was I ‘bees knees’. I’ve tried to recall how my hard-earned cash was spent over the years so read on and compare.
Introducing, in the red corner and weighing in at a compressed format, the “I’ll handle it because I know best” JPEG vs. in the blue corner, the undisputed “come on in if you think you’re hard enough” RAW. Well almost a match worth paying to see? The problem is there is no one winner.
If, like me, you come from a world of film, negatives, slides and darkrooms then I’m sure you’ll see how the digital world has a relationship with these forerunners. The main difference now, of course, is that we no longer need to work under a red light and breath in smelly fumes when making prints etc. so which one is the winner? The answer is........BOTH.
Years ago shooting infrared (IR) was a labour of love. Special film, stored at special temperatures and a very hit-n-miss affair. Often it took a lot of experimentation and a lot of darkroom skills and patience to get a result. I tried years ago and it proved too time consuming for me; enter the alternative…. Good old digital.
We have been given a whole new lease of life when delving into this form of picture making so it’s never been easier to ‘have a go’. In this blog I’ve covered the very basics to wet your appetite. To get started, you have one of two options. The first involves placing a special filter over the lens and shooting away and the second involves sending a camera body off to be converted to taking IR only, let’s compare both.
Whilst dipping into a number of old cupboards I can across a bunch of old photography magazines. All a bit dated now but included was a number of supplements. By supplements I mean DVDs, magazine supplements and extra guidance on specific photo items. Amongst the pile was a small packet about the size of a cigarette pack. The pack was supplied by Digital Camera magazine and it contains 30 playing card sized slips. Each card offers a suggested idea, a theme or a project designed to help ‘fire up’ your creative juices when feeling at a loss as where to point your camera next. As it’s difficult to show all the cards it seemed a good idea to share the contents......so here goes.
I would say, that as a new photographer, you are most likely going to feel the need to dip into street photography. Of course you can walk the streets locally but if you live in a rural area the chances of getting a result may be limited which means…..taking the plunge into a city or two.
May I offer one piece of advice, you need to be prepared to come home with very little or too many images to pick from (too little seems to follow my experience). My favorite cities are London first followed by Bristol followed by whatever luck I have whilst on holiday.
I’ve been fortunate to work in London and now I travel in as retired ‘lay about’ poking my noise into whatever comes my way. Over time I’ve developed a route that can take the best part of a day to cover depending on the activities taking place at each location. My route follows the list below and is best taken on a Friday or Saturday however, you should allow a full day of walking.
After listening to the long running BBC radio show Desert Island Discs and making my imaginary choice’s, it seem ‘sensible’ to go to the next level and include my 10 most followed photography tutors to help ease any bouts of boredom on my desert island. Over time I think most people find themselves going back to tutors who they fell ‘know where it’s at’ when they get stuck or are just looking for inspiration; I certainly have. Here’s my top 10 photographers that I’ll take on my desert island adventure, (in no particular order)
I’ve come to the conclusion that the best way to increase your Post Processing skills is to have a specific task in mind before you even load the software. Take using a Word Processor for instance, how many people can say that they know all there is to know about using such a programme? The answer in most cases is VERY FEW, you generally only know what you need to know in order to get the job done, right?
How does that equate to Post Processing (PP) of photographic images?, I’ll tell you, 100%. While we may have more enthusiasm to learn how to get a result with PP, very often it can become too complicated very quickly. I only use Affinity Photo (AF) now mainly because I refuse to pay for Adobe PS anyway you need a ‘PHD in everything’ to master Photoshop. Imagine sitting down to learn all that’s on offer in PS, well I wish you luck on that.
For my proposed FRPS panel I’d decided to use all the glorious flowers grown by my gardening guru wife because of the variety offered and the fact that I have them in my garden throughout the year. My existing experience of sharpening, balancing colour and adding layers had progressed to the point of being confident in showing a beginner how to achieve such results but I was aware that I needed to increase my knowledge; enter probably the most useful source of info, good old YouTube.
My second blog ,while stand-alone, is driven by the first. It’s difficult to ignore the desire to attempt a ‘second bite of the cherry’ when the dust has yet to settle from the ARPS. The sensible part of my brain say’s “you’re done really well, stick with what you have and give yourself a pat on the back”. But, during quiet times, ‘the half full’ area pops up and dares me to once again bare my soul to possible criticism or adulation; yes I’m going for the big one, the Fellowship.Why?’ why not? has became my mantra, after all I only in my 7th decade. Like the first blog, this is a description of my journey towards a second award from The Royal Photographic Society; the Fellowship.
It’s hard to put a finger on why as photographers, artists and creators we look for admiration from others. Saying ‘others’ can exclude the camera point & shoot person as we attempt to climb the slippery pole of achievement, but there are no ‘others’. Each and every person who looks at art in its many forms can offer valuable feedback, but it does come in two forms. Formal feedback from art organisations, organised art competitions and paying clients, sets boundaries without the inclusion of value judgments, but informal feedback has the greatest value. With the removal of formal rules and with no set criteria to be meet, we enter the world of informal feedback such as “I like that” or “I don’t like that”. Gut feeling, pleasure to the eye and “I’d put that on my wall” becomes the true value of what others think of your offerings. In essence, gaining formal recognition for one’s work should be seen as a ‘helping hand’ towards raising one’s self esteem and in some cases, helping to improve one’s mental health and not just adding letters to the end of your name. That truly was the reason for my undertaking the long journey towards gaining recognition from an organisation that has historical status. Now in my 7th decade and always having a camera around, I figured my photography needed a ‘pat on the back’. With the option of a Fine Arts degree long gone I arrived at the RPS distinctions. “That too high a level for me” and “I don’t know where to start” loomed long in my thoughts until “just go for it” took over. This blog describes the ups and downs of my journey.
Terence Jones ARPS
A photography enthusiast with a long and varied interest in taking pictures.
Blogs / Tips
39) 20-photography-facts-conversation-stealers (Pt 4)
38) Adding Textures
37) Using LAB for sharpening
36) Photography Forums
35) 20 Photography conversation fact (pt3)
34) Layers for beginners (6 Fill Layers)
33) Layers for beginners (5 Text Layers)
32) Layers for beginners (4 Live Layers)
31) Layers for beginners (3: Adjustments)
30) Layers for beginners (2: Pixel)
29) Layers for beginners (1: Background)
28) Shooting Infrared
27) Save our UK camera shops
26) Affinity Photo
25) 20 Photography conversation facts (pt2)
24) Firmware updates
23) Twenty Newsletters
22) Creative ideas - 30 in total
21) Aperture Priority / Shutter Priority
20) The Golden Hour?
19) 20 Photography conversation facts
17) Traveling with a camera
16) Photo Editing Workflow
15) Camera Meter Modes
14) The Histogram
13) I taught it everything
12) 25 Tips
11) The Exposure Triangle
10) Eight Elements of Composition
9) The Ghosts in my Camera Bag
8) Jpeg vs RAW?
7) Shooting Infrared
6) 30 Creative Photography Ideas
5) Street photography
in London - 10 point plan
4) My top 10 Photographers
3) Post Processing the FRPS Panel
2) FRPS here we come
1) ARPS Membership
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