Sunday, July 29, 2012

on taking photos

I write this post as someone who loves taking photos and not, by any means, as a professional photographer.

A few years ago I took photos with a point and shoot camera on the automatic setting. I have always admired beautiful captures but back then I had no inclination to learn about ISO, aperture or shutter speed.

But the more photos I took the more control I desired. I started talking to Daniel about composition (think in thirds!) and I tentatively began asking about the technical aspect of photography. I said something along the lines of...."I want to take a photo where the foreground is in focus and the background has that lovely blur." *

I learnt to shoot manual on a canon A570  - a budget compact camera that cost, at the time, about $150. You see, cameras don't take photos - photographers do. You don't need a fancy, expensive camera to take a good photo. You just need to know your camera, learn how to use it and take thousands of photos. 

And by thousands I mean tens of thousands. Shoot, shoot, practice, shoot and snap some more. 

I was so daunted by the photography language that it honestly took me ages to get my head around the settings. It really does take time to know your camera and learn its intricacies. Eighteen months ago Daniel bought me a Panasonic GF1 with a 20mm 1.7 lens (also known as a pancake lens) and I have been shooting with it ever since. It's a micro four-thirds camera, not a DSLR (digital single-lens reflex) - what does that mean? I don't know! See, regardless of the fact that I've been shooting manual for a few years on a camera that I absolutely adore (I take it with me everywhere!) there's still so much I need to learn. I think my strength lies in composition and most definitely not in the technical side of photography. I understand the basics but there's still a long way to go.

Hence I'm attending one of Tim Coulson's photography workshops. Tim's invited me to speak at next weekend's The Nursery. I'll be talking a little bit about my experience with him - how he interacts with his subject and shoots with emotion and then I'll be modelling for the workshop participants. As a bonus I get participate in the day and ask lots of questions (I have a list!). I'm intrigued to learn about his organising/editing/filing of photos as I currently have eleven "to-be-sorted" folders and four folders titled: "autumn." I realise this isn't good and for Daniel (Mr Virgo) this is possibly the worst example of photo organisation. If you are interested in attending The Nursery Tim is travelling to Melbourne in September and plans to host workshops in every state in the next year or so. Email Kesh at hello (at) timcoulson.com to express your interest. 

I'm more than happy to answer any questions you have in the comments section. While I definitely do not have the wisdom or knowledge of Mr Coulson I do know a little bit about taking photos...

For those new to manual photography, this poster is fabulous! 

*I later learned that this is called 'shallow depth of field' and the lovely blur, when combined with beautiful light, is called bokeh. 


The Nursery - a review

Photo by Tim...because choosing my own photo to illustrate a 'photography' post was just too hard.


36 COMMENTS

  1. Oh how i'd love to jump on a plane and head east to spend the day with you guys. That would be fun!

    rachel ox

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    1. I hope your name is on the "Perth" list Rachel...x

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  2. I'm heading to one of Tim's Melbourne workshops so that I can move off manual! Looking forward to it...

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  3. i so know what you mean about bokeh. i became fascinated with it recently after watching a whole lot of films with beautiful cinematography.. :-)

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  4. I look forward to reading about the workshop Jodi, I just know it will be wonderful!

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  5. I purchased my camera 4 years ago and started blogging 2 weeks ago, but the bug has bit me. Last night I read the instruction manual, properly for the first time. Yes, four years on. Thank you for sharing your experience, it has given me the confidence to know that I can improve.

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  6. By the way what does thirds mean?

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  7. The 'rule of thirds' basically means positioning your point of interest in 1/3 of the frame. See the image of Daniel above? Tim has placed him on the line between the (imaginary) 2/3 and 3/3. Generally the image is more pleasing when created this way. Good luck with your camera! x

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  8. Learning how to take photographs is lots of fun. I've taken a few classes and have learnt lots but I'm very much looking forward to attending a class held by Tim when he comes to Queensland. I look forward to hearing any of your tips that you share too. x

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  9. I so wish I could make it to one of Tim's workshops, hopefully someday soon! x

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  10. Now I'm doubly looking forward to next weekend. Your photos are beautiful x

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  11. i can't wait for tim to come to alice springs........*cough cough*

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    1. Would love to make it out the the Territory.

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  12. I struggle with manual ohh so much some days its great others not so much & when my subjects can't sit for a long period of time all I get is a blur.
    I know for one thing I hate using Flash, for me it the essence of a the shoot.

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    1. I used to struggle too - but the more I use my camera the more I can adjust the settings without having to pay too much attention to the screen. I generally don't go below 1/125 to ensure there's no blur, especially when shooting the kids. If you find you need more light but want to stay on 1/125 try increasing your ISO to 400 or 800 (although, depending on your camera, you may get some noise). I only use natural light too, never flash. x

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  13. My name is on that Melbourne list :)

    As a 30th birthday present to me, from dear husband.

    And I couldn't think of anything better x

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  14. This is a great post. Iv'e been really into photography from a MWAC (mum with a camera) point-of-view for a while now, I find it really hard to sort/organize photos especially on a Mac. What do you use to sort/edit/organize and do you use Mac or PC?
    x

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    1. I use a PC Saskia and I do very little editing. I try to get it right in the camera...editing takes time (which I don't have a lot of). I occasionally use photoshop to create diptychs (two photos side-by-side) or add a little contrast. As for sorting/organising....well, improvement needs to be made in that department. x

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    2. Try downloading the 30-day free trial of Lightroom. I've tried to use it in the past but after seeing Tim use it yesterday I'm going to give it another go x

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  15. I always love your photos! I have been working on my photography skills lately so loved reading this post. I am also super excited to be attending one of Tims classes when he is here in Melbourne!! I can't wait!xx

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  16. That sounds like an amazing class! I would go if I didn't live so far away in California. I love takin pictures but need to learn a lot more about my camera and using it manually. I also have serious problems with organization....and then with runnin out of space on my computer because I take way too many pictures. :) I love all the photos you share! They are beautiful!

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  17. Great post, Jodi! I love the images you create. How exciting for everyone next weekend to have you attending too!
    I've got my fingers crossed Tim will make his way to Brisbane/QLD soon...

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  18. I discovered TC's amazing talents through your blog, Jodi. And now, my husband and I are lucky enough to be attending this Saturday's class. Really excited to learn from both of you! Belinda x

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  19. Such a wonderful post, Jodi! You're right about the practice... It's almost embarrassing how many frames I take for one particular shot.

    Great poster... I'm hopeless with the technical stuff (therefore jealous of you and all these other people attending the workshop!). I'm stronger compositionally too... however, my 50mm lens on my camera really challenges me... it's so narrow!

    Your images are always so natural and compliment your writing so beautifully. x

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    1. http://www.d-d-photographics.com.au/products/Canon-EF-35mm-f%7B47%7D1.4L-USM-Camera-Lens.html

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  20. Your photography is just beautiful and I heartily agree with Claire - your images complete your writing just perfectly.
    Ronnie xo

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  21. Really enjoyed this post. Thanks for your insights. I have just started to use my camera on manual settings - its so rewarding when you actually take a half decent picture!

    Was going to book into this workshop with Tim however at the time wasn't sure I would be up to it (given so close to birth) .....Wishing I did now as feeling great! Hope you enjoy and look forward to hearing how it goes.

    x Natalie

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  22. I'm fairly new to your blog Jodie but have recently become addicted! I love photography too and haven't dared to have a go with manual settings but you have inspired me to try! Like you I find the whole manual photography language thing just daunting in itself. Would love to go to one of Tim's workshops...Does he ever come over to London...???

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    1. If he gets enough interest from people in London I'm sure he would consider it. The Nursery goes international....

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    2. Yes. We need The Nursery to be London bound.

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  23. Awesome post Jodi. Wishing, more than ever, that I could attend one of Tim's workshops now you're going to be there. What a beautiful model, and inspiring speaker.

    Your photographs are always so natural and serene. And that poster is fab - it's how I got off auto and started shooting manually a few months ago. I take SO many shots to get one I love (especially when photographing a wiggly Phiney!)

    Can't wait to see the pictures from The Nursery x

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  24. see you there. so excited!
    didn't know you were going to be there ... what a super bonus!

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