March 8, 2011

The Highs and Lows of Photography

I want to take better pictures.
Ziggy, 1995
Ziggy, 1996
A cat, 1976
Most of the photos on this site and in my knitting patterns were taken by me.  Since I now use a digital camera and trash my failures, I had to search the archives for the best examples of my worst shots.  I get better results than I used to but still struggle to take good photographs.

When I searched online for help, I found Steve Johnson's Minimalist Photography 101.  The site and Johnson's ebook, Low Cost High Impact Photography, contain useful information for photographers who want to take great pictures using relatively inexpensive cameras.

Johnson writes, "An expensive camera and an in depth knowledge of photography is not required to take good photographs. "

The first part of this point is well illustrated by the photographs on his site and in his book. He took this photo with a Canon A3100 IS, a compact camera.
Woman on bridge in the snow, by Steve Johnson
Many of Johnson's photographs are black and white. He writes that shooting in black and white "is a very fast way to get a good appreciation for the importance of tone and it will feed back into your photography very quickly."
A new ebook

I found both Johnson's site and book inspirational. I have a dSLR, which I love, but there are times when I prefer my compact. I wasn't very far into Johnson's book when I had to admit I've been making a mistake leaving my compact on auto.

For the last few days I've been experimenting with different settings and finding a new appreciation for my old Canon PowerShot. It's quite fun to, as Johnson puts it, treat a camera as a sketchbook.

Even after reading this practical book, I'm lost when it comes to the technical aspects of cameras and photography. Fortunately, the book includes tips and techniques that one can put into immediate use while still mulling about f-stops, ISO speed, and depth of field.

I like to learn by reading, practicing, and then reading a little more. I'll be revisiting Low Cost High Impact Photography in between taking pictures. In the meantime, I'm keeping this encouraging advice from Johnson in mind:
Photography is never as complicated as it sounds on paper or screen; always treat this sort of writing as jumping off points for your own ideas and experiments. If something doesn't make sense don't worry about it, it may tomorrow or in six months' time.
Take lots and lots of pictures and treat the camera and photography as a learning process. The best photographers are the curious ones who have a reasonably developed eye.
by Steve Johnson
Steve Johnson's photographs and words are used here with his permission. No cats were harmed in the making of this blog post.

1 comment:

Stacey said...

Wow, that is exactly what I need! I'm in the same position. Thanks!