Sunday, December 16, 2007

Photography is as Simple as You Want it to Be

Photography. There are probably thousands of books about it. Many people make their living teaching it and related materials. So, how can photography be made easy? Well, it is as easy as you want it to be. Do you just wish to take good snapshots of family and friends. Just learn what you need to do to take family portraits. Wish to take photos of places like you see in National Geographic magazine. Just learn landscape photography. There is no one person I know who is good at all types of photography. Photographers usually excel by specializing in one or two types of photography. However, there is basic knowledge needed to take a photograph. You have to know a little about using the camera just to take a family photo using a digital point-and-shoot. For instance, where to put the batteries and how to power up the camera. Then you need to have an idea of what you want in the picture before you press the shutter release. You don't point the camera at Aunt Susan when you want a picture of Aunt Mary!

Taking the picture of Aunt Susan will require you to know two things. One, you must know how to use the camera. I call this the technical side of photography. Two, you must understand how you want Aunt Susan to appear in the picture. Perhaps you want a photo of her looking straight into the camera. No, you want to show her pleasing side? Well, make up your mind before you snap the photo! How you want the subject to look in the picture is called composition.

These two aspects of photography can be as simple as learning to place the batteries in the camera, turning it on, putting a subject in the viewfinder or screen, and pressing the shutter release. However, people who wish to learn photography usually want more than the average picture that will be exposed during this approach.

I will attempt to teach people photography from "the ground up" in this blog. I'll begin with the basic building blocks and begin to stack them on top of one another until something beautiful results. Basic building blocks of the technical and compositional sides of photography must be understood because both are needed before you can properly control what it is you wish to show when you take the picture.

Will I teach you how to use your camera? No, that is why the manufacturer supplies a manual. It happens often- someone, knowing I'm a pretty good photographer, hands me their camera and expects me to show them how to take a good photograph with it. If you handed me your camera today, unless I had used the same type before I would have little idea of how to make all of the proper settings to shoot a photo. I'd have to learn about it just like you have to learn about it. However, what I will teach you is how to use the exposure composition dial or setting available on your camera, why you may wish to use a faster shutter speed for some subjects, the purpose of the depth of field preview lever, and similar technical material.

Everyone has a different vision when it comes to photography. I once heard an excellent photographer say you don't place limbs or branches of trees around the edge of a photograph. I do it all of the time to frame subjects. Her vision differed from mine. I'm not going to tell you how you should display your subject. I'm going to give you some rules and other information about it. You decide whether, when, and how you wish to apply these rules and information. Remember, rules are made to be broken and part of your vision will be how and when you decide to break them.

I do not plan to begin with just the technical side and then cover the compositional side. The technical side is always advancing and I would never get to the compositional aspects. They go hand-in-hand and I will teach them both. I will attempt to indicate in the title of each post which aspect of photography is being addressed. The word "Technique" will be used to indicate the technical aspect is being covered and "Composition" will indicate a compositional aspect is addressed. In addition, I may also inidcate which specific part of these aspects are being discussed should you just wish to read the postings about it (for example, proper exposure is a technique, so I may follow the word "Technique" with "Exposure" in parentheses). Some subjects cover both aspects and will be labelled with both words.

The word photography basically means drawing with light. Knowing this meaning, one might think light is important in photography. Understanding light is critical to photography! My next posting will just begin to scratch the surface of this all important subject.

Note: The photos I place on this blog may serve as a link to my photography website. It you put your cursor on a photo and the cursor changes (usually into a little hand on a PC), then the photo is linked to my website.

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