As an introduction I’ll say before I got my camera (a Canon), portrait photography was an area I never thought I’d be interested in. I barely took photos of myself and I rarely took photos of anyone else; it was an area I was just not interested in. It did not capture my attention. This has changed since I got a camera.
Shooting with a camera comes with new challenges that just do not exist when you’re capturing pictures with a phone. Suddenly, there was much to learn and consider in terms of lighting, and focus and aperture and shutter speeds. Nothing was done automatically – I mean unless you shoot in auto-focus modes, but then that’s no fun. Having these additional elements to consider made taking pictures way more interesting, and this definitely translated into taking pictures of sentient, moving objects. I also just happened to have access to the very best of subjects: my little baby niece.
These pictures are the first “portrait” shots I took with a camera. And, though they are certainly not RAW images – (I had no idea what that meant, or how to apply it), I am still really pleased with the details and the composition of the photos.
For me, shooting toddlers/babies/pets, though challenging because they move around A LOT, they make the best portrait subjects to shoot. This is because as I’m not particularly comfortable in front of a camera and posing in general, shooting with other adults and directing their movements is quite a scary concept.
This is still something I’d like to challenge myself upon. Shooting different kinds of people, in different lights and set ups, and going with some kind of plan in mind. Though I think shooting children will always probably be my favourite portrait subject.
How about you, do you struggle with any particular element of photography? Let me know. Also hit me up with any good portrait photographers, I really should get some inspiration…
As this photography blog series follows my first few months of progress, I wanted to share with you my first major pitfall – action shots. To me this constitutes capturing moving elements in a photograph, like animals or people.
So, to paint the picture. It was my first time with a ‘proper’ camera – my beloved Canon EOS 80D (hence the silly Exploring the Grand Canon title). Sorry, not sorry. I gathered my troops; or, more accurately, the two people who happened to be in the house when I wanted to practise – my mum and my boyfriend. Thank you to them by the way, they continue to be excellent and patient practice models.
I read the manual that explained the modes my camera ought to be in. I set the camera mode to manual, I put it on the high speed continuous shooting drive, and set my camera to autofocus. (I hadn’t yet realised the importance of aperture, ISO and shutter speed, so these were largely untouched, or at least not used to their appropriate function). This was why when I looked at the pictures of the camera’s LCD screen everything looked peaches, but when I transferred the images to my phone they were horribly, horribly underexposed. As you can see …
And this was a real shame, because I’d also captured a few quite hilarious pictures of my boyfriend in a wig. Clearly prime content.
He’s honestly quite a pretty woman.
The point is however, I didn’t understand at the time why the pictures looked so dark on my phone screen, but fine on my camera’s screen. I did manage to capture the motion using a tracking manual focus but there was almost little point as the pictures couldn’t be clearly seen. After a couple of months I now do understand. The pictures came out underexposed because I shot the “action shots” indoors, and the scene lacked a lot of natural light. I neglected to boost the “fake,” or “enhanced” light via the ISO settings. The ISO by the way, in a very under lit room was only on 1000. ISO’s function by the way is to just boost that light in a picture if you’re shooting indoors, at night or even on just an overcast day.
After I’d realised my mistake I set out to shoot action shots again. I asked my nearest available model – thank you again mother.
She had taken the leaves and thrown them up in the air, and I managed to capture a fair few nice ones.
I also captured some good doggos. This little Bedlington Terrior, Holly was full moving about everywhere, and I managed to get a fairly decent shot of her, showing all her strange and beautiful cuteness.
These pictures were taken only a few weeks apart, and I believe they capture my progress with taking legible “action shots.” I still have a long way to go to improve my overall technical ability, but for now I think I’ve done pretty well.
My previous blog post detailed why and how I began: “My Photography Journey.” In this blog post series -“Exploring the Grand Canon”, sorry I like puns, I will be describing how my first couple of months of shooting (with my first ever camera) turned out. Expect a lot – or a little – of technical jargon.
So, I decided to buy a camera for my twenty-second birthday. I hadn’t really had an interest in taking pictures the previous year, so probably missed out there. Anyway, I did a lot of research on what camera to buy, because my god that’s a minefield, and with the attitude of, “fuck it” I bought a Canon EOS 80D.
Now, as some photographers might know that camera is rather pricey, and frankly probably way too technical for complete beginners. I had even neglected to buy an SD card alongside my camera (which I bought off of eBay), so when my camera arrived my complete excitement – captured by my lovely boyfriend – was a little short-lived and pre-mature.
A very excited gal.
Evidence, that I did in fact buy it off eBay.
Thankfully, however due to the internet you can buy and deliver things to your door in a matter of days. Amazing! So when my SD card arrived I immediately took a few “practise shots”, and of course uploaded them immediately to Instagram, like you do. They are unedited however as I was so astonished at capturing an image that was so detailed. This isn’t a practise I’ve continued, partly due to the fact that I acquired Photoshop, partly because the initial novelty wore off. These are how my practise shots turned out – they are of course Jpeg images, as I had no idea what shooting RAW meant for image quality.
I was actually fairly surprised at how well they came out, as I took these shots quite easily. I was surprised because I assumed the camera would be way too technical for me to even capture legible practise shots. However, I had all the elements working for me. It was daytime, and I had access to natural light, and I had chosen subjects that were entirely inanimate.
Once I had decided that my camera did in fact work I had a mini-freakout of, ‘shit, now I have to take better photographs’. Though I liked how my first practise shots turned out I understood that if I wanted to take better pictures, pictures with varying subjects that weren’t static, and perhaps in different lighting conditions, I was gonna have to figure out what the hell ISO, aperture and shutter speeds were.
I began with the readily-given photography manual, and then moved out to modern society’s tutorial mecca – Youtube. (All hail) Not that I didn’t learn a lot from the Canon manual, but as you will see in my next post, the manual didn’t quite explain to me why the picture that looked so good on my camera’s LCD screen looked so underexposed on my phone screen. I do now understand why pictures can look over or underexposed, yet it isn’t really something that gets explained to you when you’re starting out, and personally I was quite frustrated with my first experience of shooting indoors.
To compare with my very first “macro” photography images, I will show you pictures from about a month after. Here, I’d chosen to venture out to get pictures in the “golden hour”, which is an hour before sunset, or if you’re an early bird, an hour after sunrise. I’d really attentively considered what I wanted my subject to be, and kept in mind rules about composition which I’d recently learnt. The result was pictures that I was actually rather proud of. I’d captured some bokeh, and the sun was nicely in the background. The colours were nice and golden, and the placement of the plants was quite aesthetically pleasing.
I will end rather abruptly in saying if you have only just bought your camera and need tutorials, definitely do what I did. Learn composition rules. Watch tutorial videos. I’d recommend Peter Mckinnon, he’s awesome at giving photography tips. Generally immerse yourself in learning your camera. I’m (nearly) two months in and can honestly say I’m leaps ahead of where i was two months ago. I still know next to nothing of what I want to learn, yet by willing to place myself as a beginner I feel like I’ve made the effort to learn, and by learning I’ve taken better shots.
Also, if anyone knows of some good photography books hit me up or write in the comments. I’m looking for Christmas presents.
The beginning of my photography began, strangely enough, with purchasing a new phone back in 2017. It was a “Huawei P10 Lite.” I was not typically a technology-orientated person – my previous phone was an outdated Motorola Moto G. (It was however great for the money I was paying £4 a month for 2GB of data, which is crazy.)
Anyway, these details regarding my phone are important. In 2017 purchasing a new phone became the catalyst for me taking pictures. I went to the park to take some “practise shots” with a phone camera that actually picked up details, and was super excited when the pictures turned out clear and coherent.
I actually still rather like this image a lot. I would however probably up the contrast and edit the picture to make it ‘warmer.’
I also think this is still rather pretty, and it has a clear focus.
I sent what was (in my mind) the highly “aesthetic,” edited images to a friend, who immediately suggested that I start an Instagram account. And I quote, she said, talking about the said images, “woah those are dope,” “Maybe you should make an Insta for these.” I pondered this and said yeah maybe, which I then did – about four months later.
This did turn out however to be quite invaluable advice. I was previously not a “social-media” kinda gal. I actually had no social medias across any sites. I was not overly enthusiastic about sharing personal information with potential strangers. Yet, Instagram I found was not like Facebook or Snapchat. I could post whatever content I wanted, and due to the site’s intrinsic format it was possible to connect with other people’s content. This gave me a reason to create more of my own content, and thus I am now a social media junkie – or at least somewhat more Instagram-addicted.
The first pictures I took actually still says a lot about my personal photography style. I still shoot macros, with one element of the picture being the focus. Yet I am now taking pictures with a Canon EOS 80D, and things brings with it a whole new set of technological challenges. Initially I freaked out when discovering how difficult the whole thing was. Yet owning the camera for a month (I bought it before my birthday and it arrived on the 10th of September 2018), I am beginning to be more comfortable with the necessary requirement of learning aperture, ISO, shutter speed, histograms and camera settings. However I still have EVERYTHING to learn, yet there are so many resources into improving I feel confident I can expand my photography horizons.
As I was a complete beginner before buying my camera I thought I could use this blog to document my progress. I want to become increasingly proficient, so what better way to document my progress and analyse how I could improve? Honestly, I think this is going to be fun…