I have been taking a lot of photos with my new camera, and I’ve been happy with quite a few of them, although I have a lot to learn. I have a film SLR (Canon Rebel) which I have used off and on throughout the years, but the cost of developing adds up, and so does the cost in physical space of storing prints. (And I can’t seem to throw away any photographs, even if they turn out terrible.) I also have a Kodak DX4330 from late 2002, which was a very good camera back then, but does not have much in the way of manual control, so it was mostly used for snapshots and playing with composition, but the photos I got out of it usually weren’t quite what I was going for. (Of course that was mostly not the camera’s fault, but mine.) I also have owned an iPod touch with a tiny-sensor camera for almost 17 months, which is excellent for capturing a moment in a really not-great photo. I’ve had some good photos come out of it, and many disappointing ones.
I’ve been reading about digital photography for a long time, though, in the hope and expectation that some day I would have a digital camera with full manual control, and learning theoretically what the effect of different settings would be. Of course the aperture, shutter speed, and ISO are the same as on a film camera, but there are all sorts of digital features that I’d never had a chance to play with – the metering modes, autofocus areas, white balance settings, exposure compensation – and now that I have a camera in my hands (a Sony NEX-C3) on which these can be manually adjusted, I’m trying to systematically go through each and get a practical feel for how they work. It’s quite a bit different reading and understanding what each should do, and being outside, trying to capture an image, and trying to remember all the different things I need to change to get the look I want.
Here are the results of my photos so far:
1% – really great
5% – pretty good
27% – OK
67% – ….I should probably just delete these right now.
However, some of the mistakes are pretty funny, so I thought I would share. One of the big things I have to become better at noticing: what is in the photo other than the subject.
This wouldn’t have been a really great photo of Maxwell, either way, but I’m pretty sure no one is very interested in my much-loved but dirty Birkenstock in the foreground.
Same problem here:This might have been a cool shot, Maxwell fetching his favorite doggie, tail waving and legs captured mid-stride. But don’t you just love the folder and Netflix envelopes leaning against the ottoman, and the fabric swatches littering the floor? Note to self: clean up a little first, next time.
And here’s one that just plain looks bad:
This was maybe 30 seconds before the previous one … specifically, before I realized that I had forgotten to re-set the white balance. In our lamp-lighted living room’s incandescent glow (actually, diode glow, but that doesn’t sound as nice), the camera picks up everything as pink-orange-red grossness unless the white balance is set properly. Just look at the color of Max’s fur and the carpet compared to the previous photo. Trust me – John’s hand is not maroon, and Maxwell is not orangey-yellow.
I also sometimes fail to pay attention to where the autofocus spot is located. Here a nice photo of John turned into a nice photo of my water glass. Oops.
And this next one was very disappointing. I hoped for a nice shot of the moss … but the plane of focus ended up about an inch closer, so here’s some of the curb, nicely focused, and my beautiful moss languishing in blurriness.
Now we’re back to the category of Things I Didn’t Intend To Include In The Photo:
The flag looked kind of cool with the grass, trees, sky … and then a large construction truck drove through the scene. The worst jumping-in-my-photograph offender, though, is my right mitten, closely followed by my left mitten. It’s still too cold for me to be comfortable outside mittenless, and I know I should just take them off to shoot a picture, but it’s cold and I don’t – so I have about a hundred like this:
and so on.
Then there are some things that just happen unexpectedly. I forget to turn off my camera before putting it in my pocket or purse, then accidentally snap a picture, or several, while trying to extricate it later.
At least that one turned out kind of cool looking anyway, although in portraits, I generally prefer not to have so much nostril showing.
And this: a nice, pleasant shot of our small cute Maxwell, when suddenly he decides it’s HIS tree, and the world must know it. (Or at least the dog world.)
Not now, Max. You’re on camera!