Photo Tip Monday - February 10 - Ld

Photo Tip Monday - February 10th

Today we will continue on with our towards revealing 'five tips for setting up a great nature shot'. To quickly recap, we started out with talking about paying attention to your light source, then went over the importance of checking your horizon, and last week discussed watching for unwanted objects in your photos. 

Today, we will go over something that fits into the other topics, but is important enough to have a separate blog post.

But first, here is my disclaimer for this series:

Warning: Throughout this series I will be showing you some pictures that well...are not some of my favorites. Unedited. Never before posted (never before wanted to post). I decided to post these pictures versus finding examples on the internet because 1. that would be copyright infringement, and 2. because I want you to see that I don't always get it right. I have learned by doing and I want you to learn from things I have done. The best way to do this is through some of my mistakes/examples.

4. What do you want in your photograph?

I remember a couple of things from the first photography class I ever took in college. First, I remember that we had to use a non-digital camera (yes - I mean we had to use film. Where do you find those these days?), and then we had to develop that film into slides. The reasoning behind this was because the teacher wanted us to learn the fundamentals of photography without being able to review the pictures on an screen and without using all the automatic features on today's camera. This was an expensive lesson as it wasn't cheap to buy film that can be turned into slides, and it wasn't cheap to develop the film into slides. However, it is something that I value now as I did learn a lot. 

The second thing I remember is that we had to present our slides to the class. This was an embarrassing lesson. I had absolutely no idea what I was doing with photography, and the others in my class were far more advanced than I was. And it wasn't only the teacher critiquing, it was the entire class that would critique. Cue humiliating movie scene. 

I remember one particular week when I had taken a picture of a pine tree branch. I don't have the picture anymore (I wish I did so I could so you), but I can guarantee you that it was extremely basic and not inspiring. This was the third or fourth week into class, and I could tell as my pictures were getting critiqued in front of the class that my teacher was getting frustrated with me. She finally straight-out asked me the question I'm asking you in this blog post:

"What did you really want in that photograph?". I responded by saying that I wanted a close-up of the pine branch with the needs and the pine cones. What she said back to me has stuck with me ever since. 

Her response? 

"Then why don't you GET CLOSER next time?!?"

As I practically crawled back to my seat, I sat and thought about what she had said.

The next week I went back to that same pine tree on campus and got up close and personal. I practically had my camera in the tree. I was determined to capture what I had originally intended in my mind the first time. 

The result was a huge change. I was so excited. I had captured exactly what I had wanted. Needless-to-say, my teacher was extremely happy when I presented my slides next week. She let out a yelp of joy that she had finally gotten through to me. My photography has never been the same since. 

When you're taking a photograph, I urge you to stop and ask yourself what you are actually intending to take a picture of.

In the picture of the tulips above, I wanted to capture the hint of the blue/dark purple color on the outside of the petals. The only way I could achieve this was to get close and take the picture from the side of the tulips versus from the top. I also wanted to include multiple tulips because not all of them had the different coloring.

The purple tulips in the picture above are the same tulips as the first tulip picture. This picture looks completely different (minus the inclusion of the pink tulips of course) than the first tulip picture. In the photo above, you can't even tell there is blue/dark purple on the purple tulip's petals. I also changed the angle that I took the picture from. 

In the alpaca picture above, I wanted to capture the texture of fleece on his face, as well as his long eye lashes. In order to do this, I couldn't just depend on a full-face shot or a full-bodied picture (below). 

In the above examples, the fix for capturing what I really wanted from my subject(s) involved getting closer in order to capture those details. But the solution doesn't always have to include getting closer. It all depends on what you want from your picture. Sometimes the solution involved excluding things from my photos. 

Take for example the picture above of this old barn in Grand Teton National Park (my favorite place!). I wanted the main focus to be the barn, and the mountains to be the background. When I took the photo, I made sure to not to include too much of the mountain range by taking the picture vertically and also by limiting the amount of the mountain range I included in my view finder.  If I had included the full mountain range, the main focus would no longer be on the barn. Instead there would be the full mountain range and also a lot of empty space to the left and right of the barn which would  be distracting for the viewer. 

Sometimes the subjects you don't include are just as important as what you do include. 

The next time you're taking pictures, I encourage you to ask yourself: "what do I want in this photograph?" and set up your photo from there. 

Here is this week's takeaway: 

-Ask yourself "what do I want in this photograph?"

-Experiment with getting closer to your subject. Don't be afraid to GET CLOSER!

-Practice taking the same shot vertically and horizontally to see what you like better

-Remember what you don't include is often as important as what you do include

-Don't be afraid to exclude things you don't want. You can always take another picture with what you excluded next

Ever have an 'ah-ha' moment while learning something in photography or another subject? What was it? I'd love to hear about it or any other comments you have!

Next week will be the last post in this series. I have already begun exploring and brainstorming other series to blog about. That being said, if you have any ideas of topics you would like me to cover, I'd love to hear what it is!

Happy Photographing!

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