Thursday, July 28, 2011


Woaaaaaah! by
Woaaaaaah!, a photo by on Flickr.

I saw a lot of people wandering around the fairgrounds with dSLRs.

I wonder what kinds of pictures other people take. They buy big fancy cameras, nice lenses, cool straps and facy cases. Do they know how to use them?

I always have people telling me that they wish they knew how to use all the settings on their cameras. They say they want me to teach them, but the time never comes. They are always too busy.

So do they really want to learn, or do they realize how silly it is to buy equipment that they aren't sure how to use?

A lot of websites make fun of people who buy cool cameras without knowing how to use them. "Every girl you went to highschool with that has a nice camera calls herself a photographer" type stuff.

It is true. Of course there are people who know how to use their stuff... I talk to a lot of them on flickr. But really, there is a disporportionate number of cameras floating around, set to "auto" at all times.

Not to mention the people who ask me what kind of camera I have. They see a cool picture, and out pops, "oh wow, this is such an awesome shot! you must have a nice camera!". I've also had quite a few people ask me to help them make a camera purchase.

They really seem to be under the impression that there is a direct correlation between money spent on equipment and awesomeness of pictures.

Mind you, you can be an awesome photographer and get some good images out of a point and shoot. I've got some pictures I took with my phone that I absolutly love.

There are two things about photography.

1). Technial Knowledge. You must know about shutter speed, ISO and aperature. You have to. You have to realize how these three things interact. You have to have some idea of how to process images (Adobe Lightroom, Photoshop, etc).

2). Aestetic. You have to be able to see beauty before you can capture it. You have to have the perspective of an artist.

Anyway, back to the fair... I was wondering which of these people walking around with a dSLR around their necks were techincally good, which were aesticially good, which were both, and which were neither.

And what did they think of me? Were they looking at me the same way I was looking at them?

Either way, my kid had fun riding rides, and I had fun taking pictures. :)

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Why I do This

Lightning on Orange by
Lightning on Orange, a photo by on Flickr.

When I was little... maybe 10 years old... I was riding down the road with my mom. It was early spring, and I was struck at how pretty the trees were, with their tiny little buds.

I mentioned it to my mom, and she said, "I hadn't even noticed that... you surprise me with all those little things you pay attention to".

Photography lets me capture those things, both the little hints of beauty and a sky full of wonder, and share them with other people.

The art of photography, for me, is in capturing what I'm seeing. By learning all of the functions of my camera, I can usually photograph things exactly how I want.

Some of the "rules" of photography ("rule of thirds", "leading lines" and a few other compositional techniques) also help.

Most people don't realize how our eyes actually work. You don't just see everything at once. You look at stuff. Your eyes travel over everything, until they find something to focus on. The compositional rules help a photographer understand how to capture these natural eye movements in a photograph.

When I look at things, I look as if I were the camera. That sounds so cheesy, I'm sorry.

Last night when the sky turned orange and yellow, I got worried. I got worried that I might miss this amazing moment, I rushed to the car (kid in tow) and headed out to a nearby field studded street.

Just looking around, it was almost too beautiful. Unbelievably beautiful. There were so many elements of beauty that I couldn't figure out what to capture.

The sky to the west was on fire, saturating everything with a warm golden hue. To the east, the sky was cool and blue. In between, the colors merging together was magical.

Photographic manipulation (photoshop, lightroom, etc...) makes it easy to make "decent" pictures look amazing. But it also makes it hard when you have amazing pictures.

It's hard because there are so many photographs that look amazing, mostly due to post processing, that a truly amazing shot doesn't really stand out.

That's what I was thinking when I was photographing the sky. "No one is going to believe that the sky was really this amazing...".

Oops, sorry, that was a bit of a tangent.

What I'm getting at is that you can know the rules and techniques, and you can get some great images. If you do it long enough, something in your brain will change, and you'll start seeing the world as if you were constantly photographing it.


I tend to live in the past. My memories of things always tend to be much more glorious than the event or experience really was.

I think a lot of us do that.

I first consciously realized this when I was in Egypt.

I was miserable. Hot and sweaty, stomach problems from the water, no alone time (due to cultural differences... Arabs are much more social than Americans in my experience), and bored.

Then I thought of how I'd remember my stay in Cairo. I knew my memories would be grand. I'd remember how amazing it was to see the pyramids while riding a horse through the desert. I'd miss the constant noise of the city streets. I'd romanticize the markets and parks.

But really, at the time, I wasn't enjoying much of it.

With photography, I become so focused on those awesome moments, and how they will look in the future, that I really do miss out on the drudgery.

It makes the present better.