I’ve had several people ask me for tips and tricks for photography. Professional, hobbiest, or individual with a camera, this is one thing that is VERY important to know!!!
I’m going to try to make this short and simple.

When photographing a subject (anything from a cake, to a building, to a chair, to a person) changing your position may completely change the look of your image!

Here’s an example.

See this picture here?

This is a beautiful little dead flower, it makes you think of deep woods. The photographer must have walked a mile in the woods before they saw this little flower and they were able to capture this cute little sad image, right?
Actually no. This little flower is a dead little garden flower. Surrounded by grass, other dead flowers, and neighbors…

When taking a picture of this great opportunity to tell a story with it.
When you capture it in the wrong position, you lose a great story.

See this picture here?

This is the exact same flower from straight on. I’m eye-level with it shooting it.
It’s still a cute(ish) flower I guess, but really? The neighbor’s house?
A lot of people will tell you “Don’t worry about the background, no one notices it.” I’m sorry to say, but they’re wrong. People really DO notice it. (Especially other photographers. :P *laughs*)

So, you say, how do we change the position with this flower?
Let’s try it from another position, let’s try shooting down a little so we change the background to the grass. (Grass looks great with just about anything, right?)

See this image?

Still the same flower, just a different position.
It’s still bland and boring. The grass is distracting, and the flower just looks skinny, long, and very 2 dimensional.

When you’re dealing with the 2 dimensional/flat look, you definitely want to find another position to add dimension and life to your image.
In this case, let’s try shooting almost straight down.

Now we have this image!

This is a great position because you now have a less distracting background AND great dimension to your image.

Change a few settings, edit the colors a bit… and voila!!!
You end up with this!

And this…

And this!!!

All from the same position!!!

See how a simple change of position makes a world of difference?
I barely moved a foot. My body stayed in the same place, I just moved around to capture it differently.

SO, the next time you’re out shooting something or someone and you are just not liking how it’s turning out. Try changing your position! :)
Even after you’ve found “THE” position, keep changing it up and try a few new angles! You can never find too many different angles.

Happy shooting!

Coming next…
“Auto VS Manual!”
Not a deep explanation on Automatic VS Manual, just some quick and basic examples of the difference between the two.

If you haven’t read “What Makes a Good Photographer Great – Part I” then this section may not make any sense to you, as I am going to be referencing several points from the first part. :P So take a few moments to read Part I first!

In the first part of “What Makes a Good Photographer Great” I mentioned on what makes a photographer great, now I will be talking about how YOU too can become great in your photography!
Any aspiring photographer can shoot like the pros.

Now, to quickly clarify, I am not claiming to be a great photographer. Just a photographer aspiring to be great, and hoping that some day I will be! :)

Here’s some of the things I have found to be very helpful (or absolutely necessary) along my way of becoming a better photographer.

- Books, Study, and Research!
Some things I have found that are KEY is always to advance your knowledge of photography.
There’s always something else to learn, and someone else to learn from.
I found that getting books from the library, borrowing them from fellow photographers, and buying them from Amazon or Half.com are some great ways to begin studying!
Find blogs from other photographer, or websites, or forums and go through anything that interests you. You don’t have any idea how much you can learn from someone else until you apply yourself and listen.

Have a question or are confused about what something means, or how to capture a shot like one you saw on a book? Google it! Find a blog or website on it and do some research into it. :)

Study them, learn from them and apply them. Test your knew knowledge and purposefully go out photoshooting to try it! :D

- Practice and Patience.
Get out and try something new! Keep your photography skills alert. Shoot, shoot, and shoot some more! :D
If you’re not happy with it, be patient, try it again, try it from another angle or distance. You’ll find a shot you like if you keep trying new ways of shooting it.
Don’t let the winter blues keep you from using your skills! I’m saying this because this is one of the main things that gets to me. I’m a mood photographer, I always enjoy capturing moods, mostly happy, joyous and love-enraptured moods, I don’t want to be shooting when I’m depressed because it’s 34F, dark and raining!
You have to give yourself challenges, if you like an image that someone else shot, go try to do it yourself! :D

- Get inspired, and encouraged!
Even though it’s always sweet to have friends and family tell you you take great pictures, it’s not enough to truly be inspired and encouraged, Aunt Shirley doesn’t know the first thing about good photography and of course mom is going to say she loves your picture of your big toe, it’s because they love you and will love any photo you take.
It’s time to connect with other photographers!
One of the things that has encouraged, inspired and helped me more than anything else is connecting to a 365 Project group that was loving, encouraging and helpful!!!
These people have KNOWLEDGE and they know what makes a good picture good, and a bad picture bad.
They will give you honest and encouraging comments and criticism to better further your photography skills.
(Tip: Take their opinions into consideration. If you have several people telling you to do something differently, there’s generally a good reason for it. They know what they’re talking about. They most likely have done it themselves and learned from it. I have one person in particular that has helped me more than they know because they kept telling me to change something, I admit I got a little frustrated and had no idea how to do what they said, but they helped me learn what it was and it changed my entire way of Post Processing.)

Look for a group on Flick.com for a 365 Project group to help you.
If 365 (a photo a day) is too much for you try a 52 (a photo a week) group, or a 30 Day challenge group.
Don’t forget to ask for other people’s opinions, or suggestions!

Flickr is also a great place to get inspired!
Go to http://www.flickr.com/explore/interesting/7days/ and look through some of the “Explored” photos. Some days are not as good as others, but on an average day I will find dozens of really amazing photos that inspire me to capture something similar, or that at least spark my own creativity!
(Tip: On the Explore page you can just click ‘refresh’ to find a whole page of new photos!)

Generally, if I find a photo that I really like I “favorite” it and look through the photographers other photos, which then leads me to some more amazing photos. Other times I go through their list of “favorites” which leads me to a completely new photographer and their photos and favorites… etc.
*sighs happily* Flickr was created for photographers like me, so I can legally “stalk” other photographers whose fantastic skills I normally would never have seen or even heard of.

I have many dear friends of mine who I would have never even met except through Flickr! :) I can’t sing their praises enough.
(Facebook and Twitter just don’t even come close, not in this area.)

- Know Thy Camera
I cannot stress this enough!!!
Know your Manual settings!!! (not to be confused with your camera’s manual handbook) Aperture Priority, Shutter Priority, or Program AE is NOT going to cut it. It works well for situations like birthday parties, or a quick shot of something, but when you are doing something (or anything!) professionally, you MUST shoot manually.
It’s best to have manual control over every setting possible.

If you don’t know how to operate your manual controls, or what ISO, Shutter Speed, or Aperture(F/Stop) means then it’s time to learn! It’s simple, you will understand it in no time.
Here’s some quick Youtube Videos to watch, by the time you’re done you’ll have a deep knowledge of how to operate your camera in Manual mode, and you’ll be one step closer to being a GREAT photographer.
This is longer and explains more about each setting —-> http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v9BH4JOMPss
This is shorter but, sadly, not as detailed —-> http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iv59QkeVvio

The more you know about your camera, and your camera’s capabilities and settings, the better your pictures will be!
Also, search through your camera’s manual hand book. I assure you, you’ll find settings you didn’t know your camera had!

I have so many other things that have helped me, but these are some of the main issues that stuck out at me.
Work on each of these areas and you’ll watch how far your photography skills advance because of it.

Next up on “What Makes a Good Photographer Great” will be what to avoid, what not to do, how to avoid most mistakes photographers make. Don’t want to miss it! :)

Have a great week everyone, thanks for reading it means a lot to me!
Capturing Life,

Today’s Frivolous Fact Friday is on… Flowers!!!

I am a royal sucker for flowers. Truly, I am.
There’s dozens and dozens of different kinds of flowers, and to be honest I pretty much like them all!
Lilies, Daisies, Lilacs, Forsythia, Irises, Chrysanthemums, Asters, Roses, Tulips, Orchids, Peonies, Carnations, Forget-me-nots, Mums, Marigolds, Freesia, Gerbera… I could go on forever. ;)

(Table setting at Liz and Phil’s wedding – September 2010)

(Wild Purple Thistle)

(Resurrection Lily – From my back yard!)

(The Bouquet from Melissa and Tim’s wedding -October 2010)

(White daisies from my local park in the gorgeous autumn sunset light)

(Table setting at Liz and Phil’s wedding reception – September 2010)

(Bolero Bee Marigold from my back garden)

(Small daisy with leaves and a tree branch)

(Poinsettia growing in Sunny California)

(Bouquet from Chris and Elbia’s wedding – October 2010)

(Red Rose on the snow -That my father bought for my mum for their anniversary)

(Red Rose and snow – That my father bought for my mum for their anniversary)

*sighs happily* Whenever I see a gorgeous flower, I can’t help but take pictures of it!
As it’s March 4th, and I’m watching our ground slowly thaw out, I am hoping (and praying) that my Spring flowers come soon! :))

Some quick tips for shooting flowers for any photographer!

-Shoot from a new angle. Everyone shoots flowers down, but try shooting up or to the side, or at a strange angle. Walk around the flower to capture some better views.

(Most people shoot flowers from the top, I captured these Magnolias from the bottom. To me, it made the image more dramatic. The dark colors of the branches contrasted well with the light and bright flowers)

- Don’t shoot in direct sunlight!!! Direct sunlight is harsh and casts harsh shadows on your flower, you want delicate soft light. Shadows, and diffused light work best! If you can do nothing else take a white sheet and have someone hold it in front of the sunlight to diffuse your own lighting.

(I had to hold the sheet over my subject to capture this image, the bright sun just washed everything out. This way I had beautiful diffused light at high noon.)

- On some occasions you can use the high bright light to shoot through a softer flower’s petals to bring out a glowing effect. Just a side note: You’ll want to be careful with this, don’t shoot into the light you could harm your camera equipment and/or harm your eye sight if you don’t do this properly.

(Shooting through the flowers brought out the beauty of these bleeding hearts. The lightflares don’t harm the look of the image either. ;) :P)

-A lesson I learned from Scott Kelby’s “The Digital Photography Book”, is you don’t have to wait until it rains to get beautiful ‘rain drop’ shots. Take a cheap spray bottle, fill it with some water, and create your own rain!!!

(I had to add my own water drops to this beautiful burgundy Victorian Rose, that is original to my century-old house!)

- Shoot your flowers with same or similar colors in the background. It gives a beautiful soft feel to your pictures!

(This white cherry blossom bunch looks beautiful and natural against the white background, anything else would have been too heavy or too dark and wouldn’t have the soft look I was going for.)

- Shoot your flowers on completely contrasting background for a very dramatic picture!

(A random attempt at mimicking Stephanie Meyer’s “New Moon” book cover. ;) I found this tulip in our yard. The black background brings out the beautiful colors and details of the flowers.)

- Don’t be afraid to get up close and personal. Details of flowers are truly awe-inspiring. Don’t hesitate to get a close up and capture as much details as possible!

(The soft stigma of this purple iris was more beautiful than capturing the image as a whole)

- Flowers don’t always have to be fresh and alive. Sometimes flowers are just as pretty when they are dead or dying.

(This flower wouldn’t look as beautiful alive as it does when it’s dying. The image is more dramatic with it’s drooping stem.)

*takes a breath*
Well, that is my random thoughts on flowers and flower photography for today. :)
Now… go buy some fresh flowers and start practicing, so you can be taking pictures of flowers like a pro when Spring comes here and we’re surrounded by hundreds of flowers!

Happy Weekend everyone!
Many blessings,

(Don’t worry! Part II of “What Makes a Good Photographer Great?” will be coming shortly! I haven’t forgotten about you all.) :)

A little over a Year ago I acquired my first DSLR and thought it would be the thing to take me that leap from being a good photographer (who has a wonderful time taking pictures) to a great photographer (who can take wonderful pictures at any time).

We’d all be shooting like the pros if we had expensive equipment, right?! Anyone can be a good photographer when they have a $2500 camera hanging around their neck with a $1200 lens attached to it, right?

Oh, little did I know…
After just a short year of hard work, amazing encouragement and help from other photographers, constructive criticism, and lots of studying, I now understand what it takes to be truly great.

I’m hoping that someday soon, with even more hard work, encouragement, help and criticism from some of the most amazing photographers I know, and even more study, I hope that I too can become what it takes to be a truly great photographer.

So, what makes a good photographer great?
In my opinion it’s a combination of these factors:
It sounds simple enough, but wow, does a photographer have to be on their toes and constantly exercising their creativity in creating good images as well as capturing them.
A Skilled Eye.
It’s something you can learn and it takes a lot of training to truly be attentive to the mundane.
Every photo reflects the character of the photographer, how a picture looks says a lot about that photographer. To have truly great pictures takes good character.
- Personality.
Let’s be honest, who wants to hire a photographer for their family portraitss who is like the Walmart Studio guy? A truly good photographer has enough personality and is engaging enough to help anyone feel comfortable in front of the lens. Having your portraits done shouldn’t be as bad as going to the dentist. ;)
The great photographers are ones who are constantly investing in their skill and knowledge about their profession. One who is always growing and learning will never be disappointed in their abilities.
(Yes, it’s a word.) The willingness to deal with the unknown and work well in/with it is truly admirable in any photographer. That is when some of your best pictures will be captured.
Even the crème de la crème must be humble. It takes great courage to be humble in front of other photographers and know when to take criticism well. Humility is key in taking that step from being good to great.

No, I did not include “Thousands of Dollars Worth of Equipment”, or “Being Brave Enough to Stand in Front of an On-coming Bus” or “Amazing Business Sense”, or “Know All the Right People”, or “Work with Movie Stars!” Though all of those are fun and are sometimes helpful… they are not necessarily key to being great.

I have to admit, these are things I have learned from working with some truly great photographers.
I have been so wonderfully blessed by so many other photographers across the world who have taken the time to invest in my learning experience as a photographer.
I want to be half as much as an encouragement to someone else as they have been to me, and I also want to honor their investment in me by aspiring to be a truly great photographer.

On the road… not quite getting there, but hope to someday soon. ;)

Up next is Part II! If you’re an aspiring photographer, you probably don’t want to miss it. I will be putting up my encouragement and thoughts on what specifically do to take those first steps of becoming a great photographer!!! :D

Many blessings on each and every one of you!
Until next time,

Me in the Mirror
In Schaumberg last November for Bible Bee Nationals. Taking pics of our hotel room, and capturing myself in the ever-cliched mirror shot. ;)