Save Your Money, Buy a Cheap Camera

Wow, what a tagline! Not clickbait, I promise.

When it comes to photography, there’s a lot of debate about the quality of cameras vs. composition and skill.

Having a ridiculously nice camera does help, but understanding composition (including color, light, movement, and focal points) is the most important aspect of photography, and art in general.

I use two different cameras, the Canon 5D Mark III, and a cheap Canon Rebel. I use the Rebel for most things, (as it’s the camera I actually own) but the Mark III I request to borrow when I know that I need to shoot in low light, or I’m doing headshots and the resolution has to be better.  The Mark III will cost you an arm, and a leg, and probably a few organs as well. So save your money as I prove that skill is worth more than a camera.

Now I am going to show some of my old, and I mean OLD photography. Before I knew anything about the rule of thirds, exposure, color, contrast, etc. All the old images were taken with a cheap Nikon.

Let’s start with a landscape.

Where is the focal point? Is there one? What was I thinking?

This was on auto. I just pressed  button, and posted it on Facebook.

Sigh.

The image below was taken a few days ago. There is a clear focal point, movement, contrast between the subject and the background, and a balance of color. I took this on manual with a 50 prime and focused on the house. I framed with the rule of thirds in mind, and kept my aperture and shutter speed set according to the effect that I wanted.

This next image was taken when I was… 15ish.

The list of things that are wrong! The over-editing. The obvious smoothing of her skin. The yellow light on her skin. The over contrast. The framing has no thought whatsoever. She’s not even wearing shoes!

I did try to set up a “scene”, but… I failed.

So when choosing this image (below), I tried to find one with a similar pose. She is clearly framed according to the rule of thirds, and even the golden ratio would apply. She is in front of the light, giving her this halo behind her and a glowy feel. The white balance is perfect, and there’s no weird shadows on her or her face. This is edited, but you can’t tell.

This is just PAINFUL. The vignette, why the vignette. 

It just looks like nothing. Nothing is happening here.

The perspective is the same as if one was just looking down into a creek. Maybe this would have been interesting if I had gotten on the ground and taken the picture from a worm’s eye view.

Now, I really don’t enjoy taking landscape pictures, but if you are going to take landscapes, the trick is to use perspective to your advantage. This image below is only unique or interesting because it’s taken from a lower level. If I had stood up and snapped a picture, there would be nothing there except a field that you see every day.

In a later post I will address specific issues and how to fix them, but for now that’s as much embarrassing old photos as I can take.

-Jackie

Hey I Learned Something New

Okay I have many posts started about my first semester at college and I will get around to that before the second semester ends but firsssttt I must explain my obsession with photography and how it has changed my life.

If you’ve followed my blog from the beginning (shoutout to Mom) you’ll know that a while ago I posted like 4 pictures and I was super proud of myself.

Oh how times have changed.

At first I shot on automatic because I had no idea what any of the buttons or settings meant.

It honestly doesn’t look that bad, but you shoot 700 pictures on auto and you’re bound to get at least one good one. I filtered through a lot of ehhhhhhhh before this one happened.

So I got some critiques and other opinions, and their first question was “Did you shoot on auto?”

Not exactly the reaction I was going for.

So I did some heavy research on photography 101 and practiced with an online DSLR simulator deep into the wee hours of the night and into the morning, then I tried again.

I was getting somewhere. Not only does aperture change depth of field and the amount of light let into the lens, it also changes how the lens diffuses light. I had a cheat sheet in my pocket at the time and experimented with different combinations of f-stop and shutter speed until I knew what to expect. The wider the aperture the softer the light, if I had narrowed it here the sun would have focused light rays instead of being a soft… blob.

Tech talk decoded-

soft blobs of light = pretty pictures

This picture is my pride and joy because as I was taking it the feathers of the eternal angel of death tickled my soul as a truck rumbled so close to my head my hair was trampled by the weight of hot tires.

(I was laying in a parking lot and a truck almost ran over me but it’s fine)

I was very blessed with Tori and Drake as models because they’re naturals in front of the camera and know exactly what to do without me telling them, which is a big reason their photos turned out so well, because I knew nothing of posing at the time.

Initially posed but asked for a natural response such as intimacy or whispering a secret
Forced posing

 

 

 

 

 

 

See the difference? Look at the posing and the feeling each photo gives off. I’ll write more on this later.

Low. Light. Photography.

Kryptonite.

I learned a lot from this shoot. Including the importance of patience in focusing. And the balance between shutter speed and ISO. I’m still learning.

Low. Light. Photography.

Uggghhhhh this was the only good picture that came from that shoot. Like I said, still learning.

Light.

Shoot where the light is best. If your subject is close enough, any background will look great, like the trash dump behind my lovely model Destiny here.

Color.

What makes this picture good? Yes, my insanely beautiful model Kathleen helps, but look at the dark tones contrasting against the grey house, door, and steps. Contrast makes a focal point. Thus where my oil painting and digital worlds collide.

Before
After

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Shoot. In. RAW.

Why? This is a prime example. It’s a lot better to expose to the lights and then bring up the shadows in post. Shooting in RAW leaves a lot more information to work with in post so bringing up the shadows won’t equal a grainy photo.

As I said I have so much more to learn but I am loving every second of it.

How has this changed my life exactly?

Well….. Maybe I’m exaggerating a bit but I did change my degree to a double major in Studio Art and Electronic Media and Film with a minor in Digital Imaging.

It’s cool, I’m excited.

Until next time!

Jackie