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FORUMS Photography Talk by Genre General Photography Talk 
Thread started 29 Jan 2014 (Wednesday) 13:09
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I am a beginner, and I am stuck!

Mostly Lurking
17 posts
Joined Jan 2014
Location: Edmonton, AB
Jan 29, 2014 13:09 |  #1

Now before people suggest reading and reading threads that are sticky'd all around the internet, I just want to say that I try to read anything and everything that comes to my attention, I really do! I just have a hard time wrapping my head around the concepts without going out there and just shooting, and then having imagines come out not what I want to (and I know it is definitely from my lack of skills for sure)

Any ways, here is my situation, I am hoping to receive some further guidance beyond articles of words. I bought my first DSLR ever back in May: the Canon T3i with the kit lens. Before that I spent another year thinking about whether I should actually go and buy the DSLR, which one to get, etc. and decided to go for it. Now, I know to live outside the box when it comes to anything that requires creativity, but sometimes I take a shot that I am satisfied with, I feel like they are not something I would want to show to anyone because it's "not good" to them. Then I stumbled upon POTN, and learned even more things, like shooting to the right (which after reading the two threads, I still am not able to grasp the concept of), and further read up on how Aperture, Shutter Speed and ISO all work together. I haven't progressed much since then, nor do I know how to progress.

I am a very systematic person, I would prefer to have a foundation and move on to bigger and more complicated things afterwards. I started out saving pictures to JPEG, until someone told me (and showed me) how shooting RAW is so much more beneficial if you plan on doing some post process work.

I apologize if this became some what of a ramble, but locally I have no means of getting much guidance (none of my friends are into photography). I don't know what "practice taking pictures" mean, because I usually only pick up my camera when I have a shot in mind. Even if there are technical flaws in my pictures (For example, I have a scenery shot I really like, but it was really foggy so half the sky above the objects blurred), I wouldn't know how to fix it. I would love to know if anyone has kind of a schedule as to what to learn and when to move forward. For a beginner, sometimes it's difficult to grasp any concepts without being overwhelmed because it doesn't always sound like plane English; it's kind of like Greek a times with all the jargon.

If anyone is interested, here are the two shots (so far) that I felt was upload-worthy. Very little post processing work has been done to them, just changed the balance here and there with colors and what not. I learned Photoshop from when I was very into graphics and web design, so those are the only skills I apply to editing photos.​106932115@N04/sets (external link)

Canon T3i w/ kit lens and the nifty fifty.
>> Flickr :) (external link)

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2,127 posts
Gallery: 68 photos
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Joined Jun 2012
Location: Cleveland, Ohio
Jan 29, 2014 13:16 |  #2

Take pictures, lots of them. post them and discuss them.
There is a pretty active T3i thread here: …ad.php?t=102097​6&page=641
Try to understand exposure.

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Cream of the Crop
6,239 posts
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Joined Jul 2009
Location: West Marin
Jan 29, 2014 13:21 |  #3

Two dimensional imagery will never replace three dimensional experience. The cameras eye is no where near as capable as the human eye. In order to become better at the craft one must learn how to maximize and transform two dimensional space from three dimensional existence. It's not easy but by surveying photographs you are drawn to you may find clues to help promote this transformation in your own work. Light is central to all of it. Remember some people have dedicated their entire life to the craft.

Cream of the Crop
6,853 posts
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Joined Jul 2012
Location: Pasadena CA and Portland OR
Jan 29, 2014 13:33 |  #4

Read the first few chapters of Understanding Exposure, where he talks about the exposure triangle, DOF, etc. Peterson's explanation of the exposure triangle is excellent IMO. His bucket analogy is very very good, something I use to explain this to people as well.

Spend a sunny afternoon just playing around with the 3 variables you have at your disposal - aperture, shutter speed and ISO. Pick a nice brightly lit scene that has objects in the FG and the BG, like a tree and something further out, or a field of flowers and see how your choices of aperture influence depth of field. You can't just pull the camera out "when you have a shot in mind" and then expect to know what to do to capture it the way you want if you don't have a feel for how your setting choices influence how the photo comes out.

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dumb remark memorialized
30,314 posts
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Joined Dec 2006
Jan 29, 2014 13:36 |  #5

If you havent read it, get a copy of Bryan Peterson's book Understanding Exposure. Its a good explanation of the elements of exposure and how they work together. As for shooting. Force yourself to shoot lots of photos. There are limits to your ability to progress through visualization. Do a photo walk, or decide to document a given subject, some people do a 365 project each day to force themselves to create something each day. There are many reasons to do this, but it will teach you to see in 2D, and to get a feel the role that focal length, distance, and focus play in isolating the subject. You just dont simply get better by understanding more through osmosis, you gotta shoot.

David ­ Arbogast
Cream of the Crop
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Location: AL | GA Stateline
Jan 29, 2014 14:02 |  #6

Since your question is primarily addressing techical issues (like exposing to the right, shooting in raw format, making images sharp/in-focus, etc.), I recommend Scott Kelby's excellent book series on Digital Photography (There are now four little books in the series). Scott does an outstanding job of making things simple and making great suggestions. The format of his books is that he presents an image and then proceeds to explain in easy terms what you need to do to capture that image. His first book was like training wheels on a bicycle for me - I just about wore it out. …kelby+digital+p​hotography (external link)

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Tom ­ Reichner
"That's what I do."
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Jan 29, 2014 14:06 |  #7

YEGenesis wrote in post #16647481 (external link)
. . . locally I have no means of getting much guidance (none of my friends are into photography).

You should find the info on this page helpful, if you are diligent, follow up on it, and put time into making the most of the opportunities to be had near you: …alberta&ie=UTF-8&oe=UTF-8 (external link)

"Your" and "you're" are different words with completely different meanings - please use the correct one.
"They're", "their", and "there" are different words with completely different meanings - please use the correct one.
"Fare" and "fair" are different words with completely different meanings - please use the correct one. The proper expression is "moot point", NOT "mute point".

Cream of the Crop
5,935 posts
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Joined Mar 2011
Location: Dallas TX
Jan 29, 2014 14:13 |  #8

Put your camera in M mode and do a 365 project. Take a picture, or try to, everyday. Doesn't matter if it is your shoe, a salt shaker, a tree, the neighbor's cat, just take a picture. In M (do NOT use auto ISO), you will have to adjust shutter, ISO, and aperture all on your own. You'll screw up a few, or many, exposures trying to get that picture for the day, but you WILL learn...and you'll learn quickly.

You'll learn how aperture affects DOF, you'll learn how shutter speed affects motion, you'll learn how ISO affects noise (grain). You'll learn to make adjustments without moving your eye from the viewfinder and using the meter in there to see if you're exposure is correct.

Doing a 356 project, you will get better in a week. You'll be much better in 2 weeks. You'll want to start playing with off camera flash in a couple of months because you'll be completely comfortable in M mode and how the different metering modes work.

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Cream of the Crop
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Joined Dec 2010
Jan 29, 2014 14:17 |  #9

From a technical side, the absolute fundamentals of photography are shutter speed, aperture, and ISO: the exposure triangle. Some of the books mentioned above (Understanding Exposure, and the Kelby books) will cover the concepts. Understand the exposure triangle before moving on to any more technical concepts such as exposing to the right.

From a creative side, there's way more to a photo than technical proficiency. Composition and light are the fundamentals that will carry you through your photography career. Start learning to see light wherever you look, even when you're not carrying a camera.

There's no substitute for experience. Shoot more. Practice more. Experiment; you've got nothing to lose except a little time expenditure. Join a meetup group and go to group shoots.

http://www.avidchick.c​om (external link) for business stuff​m/VictorVoyeur (external link) for fun stuff

2,119 posts
Likes: 233
Joined May 2012
Location: Cleveland, Ohio
Jan 29, 2014 15:37 |  #10

For my practice I got a year pass at the zoo. yeah, it got really boring taking pics of the very same thing over and over, but there were also times that I would catch something unusual and it made the visit worthwhile. The light conditions and distances were different for each animal so I got used to changing the settings in order to get a decent exposure every time. Sometimes I wanted to get no background and very little dof and other times I wanted a crisp, sharpo pic with a larger dof. Also, you start to get the hang of exposure based on the color of the subject. (and they don't listen to you either, so you get shots when you can)

that type of outlier
1,398 posts
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Joined Aug 2007
Location: Richmond Va.
Jan 29, 2014 15:40 |  #11

Use this simulator. Set it to M and see precisely what changes to the exposure triangle do to the image INSTANTLY. Then see hoe focal length of the lense affects Field of view and how aperture affects DOF.

Did I mention INSTANTLY?​pps/camera-simulator/ (external link)

Bill (external link)
Gear: 60D - 400D - 15-85 EF-S, 55-250 EF-S,18-55mm EF-S, EF, 50mm 1.8 and more stuff .

Senior Member
473 posts
Likes: 2
Joined Aug 2009
Location: Canada
Jan 29, 2014 20:26 |  #12

I see that you are in the lovely city of Edmonton. Also being from there, I know the dreary weather doesn't help much in motivating going out and taking photos. However, there are many different groups that I am also finding that acts as great opportunities to meet other individuals who are also interested in photography.

In terms of your learning, I think everyone takes a different approach. Some (like you) are very systematic while others pick up bits and pieces here and there. I myself was pretty systematic before but now I'm trying out different mediums and just enjoying it as much as I can. Some days I feel like taking out a full frame camera with the biggest aperture lens while other days I'll grab a point and shoot.

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Cream of the Crop
10,415 posts
Likes: 54372
Joined Jan 2009
Location: SoCal
Jan 30, 2014 04:58 |  #13

BrickR wrote in post #16647674 (external link)
Put your camera in M mode and do a 365 project.


Cream of the Crop
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Joined Nov 2010
Location: Hong Kong
Jan 30, 2014 06:01 |  #14

The best thing you can do to improve is to shoot more photos. Don't just pick up your camera when you have a shot in mind. Take your camera with you, or go on outings with the aim of taking photos (not specific photos, although those can of course be included), explore your city, take photos of anything and everything you find interesting.

Sooner or later, you'll find out what type of photography you like, then you can explore that a bit more.

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1,825 posts
Joined Oct 2010
Location: Charlottesville, VA
Jan 30, 2014 07:50 as a reply to  @ Sibil's post |  #15

YEGenesis wrote in post #16647481 (external link)
...I just have a hard time wrapping my head around the concepts without going out there and just shooting, and then having imagines come out not what I want to (and I know it is definitely from my lack of skills for sure)

You're going to have to shoot a lot and try stuff. The 365 is actually a great tool; it makes you come up with something every day and eventually you just HAVE to try something new.

There are also plenty of ways to get critique on your images, which can lead you to working on specific aspects. For instance, the little girl in the pink shirt, if you look at the light on her face the color isn't flattering. There are slightly warmer tones in the background but the light on her cheek is a bit blue. You can fix that in post, but you could also take that as a 'study item' to think about light temperatures and white balance. Also, there are no shadows on the face; the light is very flat. Read about portrait lighting and try to create the classical lighting effects by bouncing the flash or positioning your subject differently. These are skills that take practice.

Read the "Composition and arty stuff" thread. Look at your crosswalk light picture. Did you intend the elements to overlap? Why or why not? What does that tree top add? Where does the eye go? There are details in everything that can be analyzed.

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I am a beginner, and I am stuck!
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