Feeling not worthy!

Discussion in 'Beyond the Basics' started by JenPena, Oct 4, 2006.

  1. JenPena

    JenPena TPF Noob!

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    I don't know if I'd consider myself beyond green when it comes to photography - basically I'm still a point-and-shooter who REALLY desperately wants to learn the basics but am having trouble.

    I've been asked several times to do weddings and senior portraits, and my biggest problem is lighting - I just can't get "it", although I know it's not a one-sentence explaination. I have trouble with where to position a person and where to take the picture in outdoors photos with natural light, and an even harder time trying to position my lighting equipment when doing indoor portraits. I have a Nikon D70 that can think for me, but that's just not enough - I see professionals or even some amateurs that create such amazing photographs that I'm not sure I should keep trying to do this!

    I've tried doing some by-mail courses but the lingo keeps giving me a hard time - I have difficulty keeping track of F-stops and exposure meters when I'm shooting and usually let my camera do the pre-set shots, although I'd like to have more control. I need to force myself to look at my user manual to find out about ISO numbers, because when I zoom into my photographs in Photoshop, they are very grainy and not sharp at all - is my 800 setting ruining my pictures? What the heck does ISO really DO?

    Does anyone know of some good books, or courses, or something I can do to make these theories click? Or am I just not naturally good enough to give it a go?

    I apologize for being melodramatic, but I'm under pressure to do some senior portraits again and I want them to be good! Can anyone help??!!

    Thanks in advance!

    Jenny P
     
  2. Big Mike

    Big Mike I am Big, I am Mike Staff Member Supporting Member

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    Welcome to the forum. :D

    ISO is standard for the sensitivity of the film or sensor. As you are seeing...a higher ISO will result in more digital noise...which is not nice. The rule of thumb is to keep the ISO as low as possible unless you need a faster shutter speed. A fast lens will also help. If you can use a tripod...keeping a low ISO shouldn't be a problem.

    I have found that a lot of thing in photography are hard to grasp at first...even when you start to understand the terms and how things work...it takes a while until it sinks in...then with some practice and some time...it clicks...and things start to fall into place. Maybe it's just me...but I think that a lot of people are the same way with photography.

    There are plenty of great books...and don't worry about digital/film or old/new. The basics have been the same for a long, long time. The name 'understanding exposure' comes to mind but you will have to look it up.

    There are also many books on portrait lighting, check out Amazon or even your local library. This is a site I discovered recently and have learned a lot already.

    Maybe check your local community college for courses.
     
  3. I love photography, but the art and craft (the creativity and the skill-base) are definitely related. It's not hard to learn, but it takes a little time an a lot of experience to make it second-nature. I suggest you turn down professional jobs if you really don't think you can pull them off. People might be very disappointed if their special moments go undocumented, or are poorly photographed. Take classes, read books, and go shoot.

    This is in no way intended to be discouraging or condescending. One thing I really admire about TPF is the supportive atmosphere. But I also think it is only fair that you understand the equipment in your hands. Asking a lot of questions here will give you very detailed and friendly answers, but it will take time until you've had a chance to really digest and interalize everything you've been told.

    Best of luck.
     
  4. JenPena

    JenPena TPF Noob!

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    Thanks guys for replying - I am glad to have found a forum I can hopefully learn from.

    Photography is something I've just always loved and in recent years, wanted to master, so that's why I'm here. Fortunately the people I've done jobs for have been happy with what they've gotten from me, although I am still unsatisfied - they are fine point-and-shoot shots, but I want more artistic freedom and I'm starting with a camera that can do most of the thinking for me - making me lazy! What's worrying me is that most photographers I've spoken to have not taken classes or had any formal education in photography, so I'm afraid I'm missing the natural talent it takes to do what they do? What about your experience? How have you come to learn your art?

    Mostly I want to understand lighting to accent and to get rid of shadows - those two things are most important for me in portrait shoots. What would your suggestions be for a faster lens? As I said, I'm shooting with a Nikon D70 and the lens it came with, although I have a 300 zoom lens (generic brand) that can be used on the Nikon and I've been having some trouble getting it to take sharp pictures.

    If you've got suggestions, I'm more than willing to listen! Thanks again!:)
     
  5. oldnavy170

    oldnavy170 TPF Noob!

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    Jen, another way of learning here on this site is to post your photos. That way the more experience photographers will lead you in the right direction. You have come to a wonderful forum and its nice to have you here.
     
  6. JenPena

    JenPena TPF Noob!

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    Thank you for the warm welcome; it will definitely make me come back often! I will post my examples even though I'm afraid of the reaction - I don't think they're very good, although the father of the senior girl I recently shot with thought they were "great" - and I never like ANY of my own work!
     
  7. fmw

    fmw No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    Jen, I certainly agree with Flatline and Big Mike.

    Photography is all about light so lighting, like composition, is a critical aspect of it. I think it is best to learn about lighting with available light. Learn how it changes from time to time and place to place. Learn how to manipulate it to your advantage. Then you can use artificial light more effectively and not get hung up on ratios and the other techical aspects of studio lighting. After all, when we use artificial light, we are usually trying to make it look like natural light. With digital technology we get an instant preview of our image so we we can experiment easily.

    Get a good book on lighting. Go make photographs. Practice like crazy.
     
  8. niccig

    niccig TPF Noob!

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    Jen, a good book I have read on studio lighting is called "Matters of Light and Depth" by Ross Lowell. It's pretty technical (going a lot into lighting ratios and such), but a good reference. It discusses lighting for for still photography and video, and explains in great detail the terminology of lighting, different lighting equipment, and what type of lighting is generally used in certain situations - it seems like something you might find helpful.
     
  9. Big Mike

    Big Mike I am Big, I am Mike Staff Member Supporting Member

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    I suggest you look at a 50mm F1.8 lens. It won't be too expensive and the optical quality will be a fair bit better than the lenses you have now. The maximum aperture of F1.8 is a great tool to have in your bag. Not only will it allow you to shoot in lower light situations...but it will also allow you to get a shallow Depth of Field, which can often be a great effect for outdoor portraits.
     
  10. Alex_B

    Alex_B No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    No need to afraid as we all produce rubbish, even those people on the forum who are extremely talented and experienced, even they produce some percentage of rubbish (even though their percentage is probably lower than ours). Producing not so good photographs and talking about them is the best way to learn :)

    Oh, and not to like one's own images is quite normal. You hardly ever can be objective regarding your own work.
     
  11. ladyphotog

    ladyphotog TPF Noob!

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    The best book I have ever read on Photography is just that :
    Photography By: Barbara and John Upton.
    It is on Amazon.com. It covers everything from shutter speeds and F-stops to natural and studio lighting. Wonderful book.
     
  12. uberben

    uberben TPF Noob!

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    Another thing that I recommend is meeting up with another photographer or two to go shooting and bounce questions off them on the spot.
     

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