Back to Basics

Today I took a photography basics course hosted by the Louisiana Photographic Society. Although I have been photographing for many years, I have never really learned the basic info that I should know. I would always just mess with the camera over and over until I kind of got the shot I was hoping for. I have also lost a lot of shots over the years as well because I didn’t know how to make it happen. I know that a quick and easy fix would have simply been to read about it, but… I hate reading unfortunately.

So today, Joshua Lefebvre  taught a class for us on the basics. I was really looking forward to it as Joshua seems to shoot a lot of similar stuff that I like to shoot. The class was a lot of fun, we discussed all the real actual basics and we did a lot of practice in between each specific topic. I was really surprised at the amount of info that I left with having been photographing for the amount of time that I have. So let me share the pieces of my day that I worked most on and how my photos progressed.

We started off working with shutter speed. Shutter speed is exactly that, the speed in which your shutter opens and closes. To achieve blurred motion photos you use a slower shutter speed. For frozen action photos you use a faster shutter speed. So we practiced this today in class. We started by using tennis balls and rolling them across the table. I was really really bad at this. Here are a few of my tennis ball practice shots with shutter speed. I was decent at the fast shutter speed freeze frame but I could not get the slow shutter speed practice down.

Towards the end of the class with had some time to walk around and practice everything we had learned. I was determined to try the shutter speed piece some more as it was obvious I need to work on it. For this I used 2 fountains I found on the grounds. The first fountain it is more difficult to see the difference but I was very pleased with the photos I got regardless. You can see a slight difference in the smoothness of the water but it’s not dramatic.

On the second fountain I was able to get a very different image between the 3 different shutter speeds.

The second piece that we worked on that I was most interested in was aperture. I enjoyed this piece a lot because I love to take macro photos and aperture really helps me to achieve the blurred background and bokeh  effect. I was better at this than the shutter speed. So my first try with the aperture was with the books on the library shelves. I was not a fan of these.

After trying with the books and not being very happy I came back to our classroom and tried with the tennis balls lined up. These, I was very happy with.

Finally I tried this exercise with a small toy. These photos weren’t too bad either, They made it easier to help see how the background changes with the aperture. This particular set of photos also showed me how dirty my lens is and how badly it needs a good cleaning.

I continued to play with this and practice during our final assignment at the end of our class. I really enjoyed the results of those photos as well. It’s very interesting how just the smallest change to aperture can change a photo.

Joshua also touched base slightly on white balance. Something I had used before but hardly ever. Although I knew how to use it and what it did I never did think about how changing it might effect the photo. I always kept it on auto and just rolled with it. Today during practice time I played a little with the white balance on a bobble head to see what it would do. I think this is something I may need to start playing with.

As you can see there’s some very different looks, some much better than others. Joshua also told us a fun little tip about white balance. He was telling us that changing the white balance can give you effects such as the look of dusk when shooting in pure daylight sun. I will be trying this.

Finally, the last piece that stuck out a lot to me today was composition. I knew the rules of art when it came to composition but honestly never really consciously thought about them when shooting. So today during our final assignment I tried to think about them and find different examples and actually shoot with them in mind. Here are some of those examples.

All in all I had a great time and the class really made me think more about what I was doing rather than just shooting. I even came home and practiced a little more at home this evening. Here’s a few from that practice.

I am very excited to take what I learned today and apply it to my future work. I’m also excited to go back through some of my old work and review the settings so that I can recreate effects and learn from the good and the bad!!!


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