Photography 101 – Week 1 collection of goals, questions, tips and pics

Week 1 of Photography 101 has been scintillating! Reading constructive feedback on photos taken by fellow course mates got me wildly excited. I knew I would improve!

It also changed how I look at my creations. In fact, I announced to hubby Hitoshi that we had to return to Japan immediately to retake pictures going back to 2006.

After sleeping on my panic that our extensive Japan collection wasn’t up to my new standards, my focus (ha ha) shifted to getting better. After all, the only direction I can go is up!

Akita City sculpture - low quality photo

Working with what I knew then
Sculpture in Akita City, Japan taken with a Canon PowerShot A75, September 2006

Goals for Photography 101

Before the course started, my loosely defined goals were:

  • learn to use our dSLR camera’s manual settings instead of treating the camera like an expensive point and shoot
  • trick the camera into taking macro photos as opposed to half blurry half sharp disappointment
  • learn about etiquette or opinions on fiddling with contrast – I wanted to know if I was the only one playing.

Manual and me – no longer versus

After asking a question about unbalanced food photography on The Commons, two bloggers gave me the nudge I needed to get goal 1 started.

I am immensely proud of each photo I have taken. Every one is manual including the lens. While aperture and ISO are staring to make sense, I don’t get shutter speed so the camera’s exposure indicator is my helper.

Going out for the last five days to take photos has greatly increased my confidence using the manual setting. Even though 95% of the over 200 photos are blurry, ho-hum in composition or blue (?), each attempt is a record of development.

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I’ve also discovered taking photos is relaxing and it’s something Hitoshi and I are doing tgether.

More goals and new questions from Week 1

  • continue to experiment with composition and ask questions – can empty space be a subject?
  • keep experimenting with aperture, ISO and shutter speed – These tips sheets on exposure and an overview of manual photography have been helpful.
  • figure out how to focus – I wear glasses. A picture looks good through the viewfinder but a hair out of focus on the laptop. Taking off my glasses and cranking up the diopter haven’t worked. Hopefully, calibrating will!

Theme Photos for Week 1

The themes for this week were Home, Street, Water, Bliss and Solitude. While a photo from our Japan collection represented Home, the others are fresh.

With composition, I struggled with defining a subject, especially in the “establishing shots” that we were to work on. I look forward to feedback and continuing to raise my bar.

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Do you have suggestions for focus if you wear glasses? Can a subject be empty space? Do you have composition tips? Can you help me with understanding shutter speed? If you are also in Photography 101, how do you feel after one week?

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14 thoughts on “Photography 101 – Week 1 collection of goals, questions, tips and pics

  1. Ah, I wish I had to know you were taking the course. If it the one offered by wordpress, I would have joined! You are doing amazing!! I bet it is so nice to get out and just take photos. I laughed when you said you want to return to Japan and retake the photos – I feel the same sometimes, especially when the weather doesn’t participate or other elements out of my control ruin what I would consider the perfect shot.

    I am so happy to hear that you are having fun learning and that you and your husband enjoy taking pictures together. My husband and I do it all the time and actually, we sometimes have a friendly competition to see who can get the better shot. We are very competitive when it comes to photography, but its all in good fun. I wrote a little about it here http://foreignsanctuary.com/2014/04/19/through-the-camera-lens-my-photos-published-in-a-magazine/

    Happy picture-taking!!

    • Thanks, Constance! I appreciate your long distance support. 😀 It *really* is so enjoyable to be using my brain in a different way and challenging myself. If you’re interested in the course, you can follow the Photography 101 assignments in your reader. Anyone can access them – it’s just the internal bulletin board that is only open to people registered.

      Thanks for the link! I remember reading it a while back and was *very* impressed. And I read it again today! That’s such a wonderful accomplishment and especially to be noticed by someone else first – wow. You must have been tickled! And likely still are?? I’ve only been published once. It was in Outpost magazine when they used to run the traveller tip series. It was really fun to see my name in print and then I promptly misplaced that treasured magazine. Argh!!! I’m still determined to track a copy down.

      Happy middle of the week!

      • Congrats on being published as well. Call me vain, but I keep the copy sent to me on the coffee table – you know, just in case someone wants to see it lol

        Reading about your photography assignments inspired to get out the other night and photograph some temples, more specifically dragons. I am preparing a post as we speak! 🙂

        Happy Friday!! Have a great weekend snapping photos!

        and BTW, stop making me wish Tim Hortons! I am thinking about tim bits all night 😉 haha just joking! 😉 🙂

        • Ha ha ha! I LOVE that you keep the mag on the table. Good for you and be as vain as you like. Do you have it open to the page or at least bookmarked with a giant sticky note? ;D

          Yay! I’m looking forward to your dragon post.

          Tee hee! I’m not a coffee drinker and have no strong affection for Timmies – donuts make me sick, but hubby swears by the chain.

  2. I do wear glasses and just keep them on when I photograph – it seems to work. I do rely a lot on automatic focus though. I think it is important to learn how to use spot focus so that you choose the point your camera is focussing on. You can set the camera to focus on one spot only and then shift it so it is on the thing you want sharp. Or you can hold down the release button and recompose your image without changing the focus. If you are taking a view it is often a good idea to focus about 1/3 distant (which is usually 1/3 way up viewfinder). You can make use of depth of field which gives you a range that will be in focus in front and behind the focus point. That distance is greater the higher the F no. e.g. f16 will have a big depth of field and f5.6 will have a small one. Once a minumum shutter speed to freeze movement has been achieved it is often a matter of balancing the exposure for the depth of field you need. Above all though I think it is just a matter of practice. I mix manual photos and automatic ones to see which comes out better. I am not sure I am winning!

    • Thanks for your comments, Annette! I think I need more practice with my camera and then I’ll come back to what you’ve said. It seems a lot for me to take in now, or perhaps it’s late and I’m ready for bed. 🙂 I like the idea of switching between manual and auto for a scene. I’m stubborn and want to stick all manual, including the lens, until I figure out what I’m doing. But then I could also try the auto setting on the lens.

  3. I love the “Bliss” one! Lovely colors and texture. 😀
    As for the glasses issue, I usually wear my contacts because I have the same problem. Lately I’ve been lazy and have been shooting sans glasses or contacts and the results are…mixed. Well, they were to begin with, but definitely a leaning towards the “worse” end. :/
    Look forward to seeing what you discuss and learn in your next class. 😀 (I’m learning too, yay!)

    • Me, too! Thanks so much! Yes, glasses and contacts. I had to stop wearing them years ago. 😦 I would love, to. My eyes are beyond the +3/-3 setting on the viewfinder thingy. Story of my life with getting contacts and in-stock lens for glasses. 😛 I tried without my glasses and saw approximately… fuzz. Ha ha ha! Yay! So happy you’re enjoying the course vicariously – well, sort of vicariously. Anyway, did I tell you that you can read all the posts that we see? The only thing you can’t access is the bulletin board/”Commons” using for posting and discussion. The link is through the badge/button thingy on my bloggidy blog.

      • Ahhh that’s tricky. Hmm I have a couple of friends who also can’t/don’t wear lenses–I’ll see if they have any good tips. 🙂

        Thanks, will definitely peek at the posts you guys are working through! 😀

        • Please, do! I still haven’t calibrated my lens but I did discover that my viewfinder needs to be cleaned. Not that I have a little puffy brush or anything like that on hand!

  4. I was looking forward to read your post ! You did it well to summarize this week’s theme in one post !!! Regarding the street picture in your slide where you ask where the eye is catched first, for me, it’s with the big pine tree. I really like the water pictures you did. I wouldn’t have thought about it in evaporation. Good idea !!! Have a nice week and hope you and your husband get better quickly !

    • Thank you! Okay, two votes for the pine tree. I’d like to take that picture again and use a different angle that focuses more on the tree. Any ideas??

      I like the puddle one but I realized after that the angle wasn’t great. The focus isn’t on the puddle but on everything else. For the evaporation one, I cropped like crazy to make it stand out. 😀 I think I need a ladder.

      Thank you! We’re getting there and so far baby is still okay. 😀 Hope the rest of your week is also fabulous!

  5. Really nice job summing up all of the assignments! I hadn’t seen some of yours yet and they are beautifully done (along with your gallery slideshow). That’s why I am doing photo 101, to learn all this and be inspired by great photographers like yourself!

    • Thanks, Terri! Same for me. And I’m glad to finally get a post out this week. Hitoshi and I got sick at the same time earlier in the week. I do my bloggy stuff at night so that got cut. I’m so relieved our baby is still healthy. It’s so hard to be a parent when you’re sick. I’ll be checking out your photos from the last week soon. 🙂

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