Where do I start!?

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Maddz's picture
Joined: 08/17/07
Posts: 1759
Where do I start!?

I know I've shared some photos.. But I just keep looking at tips/ideas/studios/etc and I am overwhelmed. I feel like I have sooo much to learn and don't really know where to start practicing and with what. Suggestions?

Ladybugsteph's picture
Joined: 06/21/06
Posts: 2977

Start in open shade. Get right to the edge of the shade with your subject, so you can have that nice even light, but still get some nice light in the eyes from the sky behind you.

Next, pay attention to your light meter when you are setting up your exposure. Start with shutter speed. When shooting kids, get it up to 1/250 or higher. That will avoid camera shake and motion blur. Then set your aperture, based on the look you want. If its a portrait, you will probably want it open to around f/4. Then set your ISO. You may need to change your aperture or shutter speed based on how high you can get your ISO. You want that light meter to read right in the middle typically.

Are you on Pinterest? There are some fantastic exposure cheat sheets that you can search for.

shadow_grey's picture
Joined: 05/03/12
Posts: 581

I'm still learning too and often get frustrated and / or disheartened. My advice, take it slow. Don't focus on everything you don't know, break it down. Think about what you do know and work to improve it. Then pick something new every week / month / year, learn it and add it to the skills you are working on improving. It might take a while, but slowly you will get there. Or so I keep telling myself anyway Smile

AmberBella's picture
Joined: 02/15/07
Posts: 1831

Exposure and quality of light will have the strongest affect on your photography. I agree...work in open shade and play around with a subject who will stay put until it starts to make sense. If you don't have a human subject who will sit still...try a doll or stuffed animal.

There are a million and one resources on the internet and youtube that will explain exposure. There is a book that many of us have read called "Understanding Exposure". It's a really great book for breaking it down and giving little assignments to try along the way.

It is important to learn to use manual, but I personally think it is more important to simply understand light and how it affects your images. I'd focus on that and throw your camera into a priority mode such as Aperture Priority (or Shutter Speed Priority if it's dark out) and think about the light.

If you can't get the light right, your focus will suffer, the image quality will suffer, you'll get distracting shadows and hot spots, etc...

TracyF's picture
Joined: 08/14/06
Posts: 2416

You've gotten some great advice already. I would add a couple of things:

(1) Shoot a lot and post often. People in my life tease me about how I'm "always"taking pictures, but if I didn't, then I wouldn't have progressed as much as I have... and I still have a long way to go. And posting your results often and asking for CC will help you learn too. CC can be tough sometimes, but it is very helpful and usually you will get feedback on what you've done well as well as what needs some work!

(2) Pick up "Understanding Exposure" by Bryan Peterson; it's a very helpful book for learning the basics of exposure. AFTER THAT, I would also I would recommend Scott Kelby's "The Digital Photography Book" books (there are a few volumes, start with volume 1). He just has simple, basic one-page tips of all different types, about how to achieve this type of shot or that type of shot, and it's very readable and simple. Though he does often recommend a lot of (to me) expensive equipment! But you can get a lot from his books without buying the equipment. Smile

Maddz's picture
Joined: 08/17/07
Posts: 1759

Thanks ladies! I appreciate the tips. I unfortunately only have 1 car and my hubby typically takes it to work so I'm stuck at home most the time... and I don't have someone to sit still really... I can try doing my son but he gets bored... really quick. I will try some stuff out and try to see if anyone has that book that I can borrow.

AmberBella's picture
Joined: 02/15/07
Posts: 1831

You don't need a car, you don't need a model. You can practice with window light, on a patio, in a yard....etc. If you have a garage, it's an AMAZING place to learn about natural light. Just stick a doll or stuffed animal in a lighting situation and practice taking photos from different angles. I learned SO much about light just going for picture walks with baby in the stroller around my own neighborhood. You don't need ANYTHING special to begin learning. Seriously.

I don't have a yard, and I live in a cement jungle, with no extra money and I learned and grew fast. All you need is the drive to learn.

TracyF's picture
Joined: 08/14/06
Posts: 2416

I'm in the same type of situation as you, DH carpools and I have the car only part of the time (sometimes very little), I'm constrained by significant health issues, my oldest never sits still for pictures, my youngest only recently... But if you just keep trying, keep looking for ways to improve, and are motivated, like Amber said, you don't need anything special. Just look for good light around you and use a teddy bear, or try some food photography, or whatever you can find, just to practice getting exposure, focus, and light as you'd like them to be, and it's amazing how you can start to improve even stuck in your own house!

Ladybugsteph's picture
Joined: 06/21/06
Posts: 2977

I agree with both Amber and Tracy. That's the wonderful thing about photography. You don't HAVE to have the best equipment or latest and greatest. You can take some amazing photos with just a point and shoot (Tracy is a fabulous example of that!!).

If you have a garage, that is one of the best places that you can start! There is some beautiful light that comes into a garage, and best of all, it's controlled!

AmberBella's picture
Joined: 02/15/07
Posts: 1831

Oh, and don't forget to check the library for photography books.