Wednesday, June 22, 2011

First Post

This is my first attempt at a blog since Livejournal, so bear with me.  The point of this blog is for me to post pictures I have taken, give a little information on what I was thinking/doing, and for the reader to tell me if I succeeded or failed.  I have never claimed or will ever claim to be a wordsmith.  These posts may get wordy and make a Hardy Boy's book look like A Tale of Two Cities.

Sometime in January I started taking a photo class at the New England School of Photography.  I had/have a Digital SLR camera, but never took it off the auto feature.  I basically paid a lot of money for a point and shoot with zoom.  I enjoy taking pictures as a hobby, and would like to see where I can go with it.  This class was my first step, and I'm going to share my experience with you.

I didn't know anything about my camera.  I had no idea what ISO, aperture, or shutter speed were, well at least with shutter speed I had a common sense idea of what that was.  I wanted to take pictures of the field where Julia and I take Cena for walks.  I felt empowered after my first class and I was off.  I got to where I wanted to shoot, and put my ISO up to 1600(Higher ISO requires less light to get a good exposure).  It was dark, so I thought the higher the ISO the better...
That is not 100% true.  I found out the higher the ISO the grainier the picture.  The shutter speed was at 1/30 and my aperture was at F3.5.  The lower the shutter speed and aperture are the more light the camera receives.  I didn't grasp the lower the shutter speed the harder it would be to get the picture in focus.  If you're going to shoot at a low shutter speed like1/30, or anything lower than 1/60, you should use a tripod.  I have not attempted to take another picture at this spot.  Now, that I am reflecting on these pictures a second attempt may be in order.
It took me a while before I lowered my ISO.  I have a lot of pictures that looking at them now I get angry, because they could have been some good pictures.  Such as this one...

      As I progressed in the class I was becoming more and more comfortable with my camera and it's settings.  I wanted to tackle motion pictures.  I have a dog and a fiance who is 100% supportive of anything I'm into, if it's not softball.  I made them run around in the snow for a while while I messed around and took some pictures.  Common sense told me shutter speed is how fast or slow the shutter opens and closes.  I figured out that the faster the shutter speed the higher probability of freezing the motion.  It took me a while to figure out that a fast shutter speed allows less light to come in, so you have to find the right balance between ISO, aperture, and shutter speed to get what you want.  This is one of my favorite pictures from that day.
Another spot we frequent quite often is the Arnold Arboretum.  At this point I was shooting in manual mode and getting in a groove of what worked for me.  Trees don't move.  This was around the time when I got into taking "dark" pictures.  My personal preference is less light, but it was not as well received as I had hoped.  I still like "dark," and now you get to look at one of the pictures.

I love the silhouette effect the trees have.  I like that the snow is not taking over the picture.  The subtlety of the sky also made the picture work for me.  I'm sure this picture would have worked with a "lighter" approach, but that was not my mindset at that time.  The next picture you'll see received positive feedback, but in my mind it was as "dark" as the last one.  This picture could have been as bright as a day on the beach, but I fiddled with the settings and got it to fall into my wheel house.  I shot it at an F/8 aperture, 1/200 shutter speed and a 200 ISO.
 This picture is where I first noticed that my camera was filthy, as the dots in the upper right had corner graciously point out. 
Aperture can also control the depth of field of a picture, so I messed around with that for a while with Bowser.  The lower the aperture the less focus in the picture.  Depending on what kind of feel you're going for this technique can have surprising results.  I am no where near competent in this, but I think this picture was my best. 
You can almost see the contempt she has for me in her eyes. 
An example of how drastic a change in aperture can be is shown in these two pictures.  I know which one I like the best and I'm sure you can figure it out too for my comments above.  The first picture was shot at an aperture of F/7 with a shutter speed of 1/1250.
The next one was shot using an aperture of F/13 and the same shutter.  The ISO was also constant at 200.
This picture was one of my favorites from the whole time taking the class.  I like the picture and the idea of it.  It made sense in my head, and I think I got the point across.   
Anyways, I'm glad I took the class, and look forward to taking more pictures.  I hope this was somewhat interesting to you, and look forward to getting some feedback.  Truth be told, after the class I slacked at taking pictures.  I'm hoping starting this blog will get me going again. 

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