Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Photography, Part I

I took advantage of a free library event last weekend. For adults, even! I have been a big fan of photography since high school. Love the basement of the Art Institute of Chicago. Love just about everything about photography. Take some decent shots myself, when I make the effort. With digital photography being so cheap, everyone can take better photos with a little applied knowledge.

So, presenting at the library was a Chicago Tribune staff photographer veteran (35 years, then laid off. The new American reality.) named
John, who had some interesting tidbits. Here are some highlights.

Read the camera manual. I really need to do this for the fancy camera I received nearly a year ago.

Always carry your camera. I don’t, but Baywatch does, and I certainly enjoy his work, so seems like a solid tip to me. Baywatch also keeps a cute little tripod attached to his camera all the time. I have one now, too (Came with the camera! Bonus!), but haven’t actually used it yet.

Use different angles on your subject. Get low, go high, whatever. If you take boring photos – this is the number one hint for you!

For one National Geographic story, a photographer will generally take 14,000 shots. They use about 12. What does this mean to you? Take more photos! They are free until you start storing every single one back home. Then obviously the memory will eventually cost you.

The light at 4 pm is very flattering. My husband is always going on about this.

A recent photography book he recommends is The Moment It Clicks: Photography secrets from one of the world's top shooters (Voices That Matter). Apparently it’s full of good cheap solutions to taking better photos. John had a few tips along those lines, too.

  • Create a lightbox with plain nylon ripstop fabric.
  • Buy clamps at the Home Depot not the camera store.
  • Go to Hobby Lobby, buy Mylar, and apply it to Gatorboard (whatever that is. Stronger than posterboard, I guess.) for a cheap light bouncing technique.

Granted, the first two are more for indoor studio-type work. But hey, aren't we all trying to take better photos for selling stuff on eBay and etsy and all?

There are only two differences between a cheap and an expensive digital camera. The speed with which the camera reacts when you want to take a photo, and the digital noise you get when shooting in low light conditions.

Next up: Inspiration and resources

1 comment:

Baywatch said...

Golden Hour is key! four pm is a little misleading - best light is always the hour after dawn or the hour before dusk, when the sun's light is at it's most indirect and travels through the greatest amount of atmosphere to reach you. Conversely, avoid shooting at high noon whenever possible. Yeah, take some more pics!

Also, a wise man (balustrade) once told me: "Never delete in the field."