TPF Noob!
Feb 11, 2006
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Bristol, UK
well I'm still a beginner but I need to find ways to improve my photography, in the past week I've taken just over 2000 shots and found only 5 that I'm actually happy with, there were days when I first started with digital that I would think I had about 400 good shots out of that lot but my critical eye is improving, now I just need to follow it up with improving my photography or I'll spend the rest of my life trawling through bad shots! What advice do you have for someone in my position? What helped you to pass from thinking of yourself as an ok photographer to a good photographer? And what is the meaning of life, the universe and everything?

I only know the answer to the last question!
Light is the key. Figure out what works and what doesn't and why. Experiment by copying other people's shots and seeing how they were lit.

And 42

Yeah, light is something I've ben trying to pay more and more attention to, I can often be found squinting at the suntrying to work out when it's going to come out from behind those clouds then sitting down and waiting for what seems like hours! I've also been experimenting with lighting in the house as well, I have a dimmer switched standing light that I can get a good light range from but I'm not really learning all I want to from those experiments to be honest (they account for about 750 of the shots in the last wek!).

I've often been amazed to deal with something which has so many rules and so many reasons to break the rules, it's a learning curve that I don't think I'll ever manage to get over.

ps. Glad someone else shares my deep knowledge of the universe!
I've found that table-top compositions are a good way to practice your lighting. Get yourself down to the market and buy some fresh fruit - arrange on white paper and light with desk lights.

Get hold of some gel off-cuts from a local theatre, practise coloured light.

Also, for a tricky shot - try doing fresh lemons and oranges in a square vase using soda water. Reverse lens macro - done the old-fashioned way with rubber bands - is a good one to try.

The possibilities are endless. I find that confining myself (usually to a pub rather than a living room) is handy as you need to SEE things and capture them. Pubs are great as they are full of junk and people. Also, if you buy someone a beer, they'll do anything for you. (almost anything!)

Rob.....could u go into the reverse lens macro a little bit....sounds interesting but im a little confused lol Thanks
Along with understanding how light models objects, you might do well to look up some books on composition at your local library. Those aimed at the painter are usually the best in terms of useful information.

And don't forget to take your towel!
I'm glad this topics has come back up again, I think my photography has improved somewhat recently but I've not been out with the camera for a few days and I'm feeling a bit unispired again. Perfect timing really!

Rob: sorry I didn't reply to your post, it's not that I'm an ingrate (honest) just that I didn't see it...

Obike Flick: reverse lens is just that, instead of fitting the lens to the camera hold it up to the fitting backwards, you'll need to move the camera in and out to focus though unless you have three hands! You can get reverse lens adapters that screw on like filters but have a camers mount on them, I wouldn't trust them to hold the whole weight of a lens though...

Torus34: Atrip to the library isn't too bad an idea, I haven't got much else to do today so I might as well head down...

And the towel is a great idea, portable backdrop that fits in your bag and you can just throw down in a few seconds, wonderful. I use one that's white on one side and black on the other, the cheapest and one of the most useful additions to my camera bag!
It you shot 2000 pics you are overshooting without thinking. You can get to a point where you just shoot and shoot hoping to rake enough muck to find a pearl. Try everything mentioned here but when you get out in a real world situation THINK before you trip the trigger. That is most likely your biggest problem. Then look at pics you like and figure out WHY you like them. I know it sounds too simple ...
mysteryscribe said:
It you shot 2000 pics you are overshooting without thinking. You can get to a point where you just shoot and shoot hoping to rake enough muck to find a pearl. Try everything mentioned here but when you get out in a real world situation THINK before you trip the trigger. That is most likely your biggest problem. Then look at pics you like and figure out WHY you like them. I know it sounds too simple ...

I know what you mean about not thinking, I took a load of shots where I just pointed the camera and took the shot rather than thinking about what I wanted from it and adjusting accordingly, fortunately I've got out of that habit recently for all but the most 'passing moment' shots These days I'm shooting a lot less but taking my time over it and trying to get things right. I fail miserably most of the time but I'm getting there slowly!
Yes, I agree with overshooting. Really think about your composition, etc. etc. before snapping the shutter.

Why are you squinting and waiting for the sun to come out? Try shooting overcast... try shooting when there is not much sun. Just open up your aperture, bump your ISO and shoot anyway. There is so much you can do without the sun.. personally I prefer to shoot with the sun going down or overcast for lots of things because I don't have to worry so much about blowing out my details. ;)
About natural light..

There is no better light than overcast light for some things. It doesn't make great texture shots but figure out what shots it is best for and shoot those shots on those days.

give me a cloudy day for outdoor portraits anytime.

If I had to make one and can't get the weather to cooperate, I looked for a shady area. Bright light is the light of doom.... at least for outdoor portraits in my opinion... Funny because in the studio more light is better. Oh well one of lifes contradictions.
Yeah, I've heard overcast skies reffered to as 'natures softbox' before and I can see your point but I tend to stay away from portraits, they're something I have no eye for at all and they always come out wrong. Couple that with not knowing anyone who really feels at ease in-front of a camera and you have a pretty poor portrait photographer!

I tend to like bright sunlight though as it works well for everything else, mid morning and mid-late afternoon on a sunny day are probably my ideal times as colours really seem to 'pop' around then making for nice vibrant shots...
Ahhh... come on, play a little :mrgreen:

check on my blog, I have an entire aquarium section that was done in fake light or overcast light - indoors at that (but in an atrium - that's where the bird shots were done - still, it was overcast). You can still get some rockin' color on overcast days... you really can! :thumbup:
I'd not go so far as to say I'm a "good" photographer, but one thing I did find that helped was not so much going over other people's shots, but going over my old ones. I found all the ones that I personally liked, and tried to figure out why--which elements, aspects, and details made them stand out to me, and how and why I shot them the way I did. This was helpful, because it made me think about what natural habits and tendencies I have when shooting, so I can focus on working with them and improving them. Not that figuring out, working with, and improving your use of other people's techniques isn't good, too.

One advantage is that this will help you bring out your own style of photography, rather than emulating someone else's--not that there's anything wrong with emulation, either.

And, whatever you do... DON'T PANIC!
Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying that I only shoot outdoors on sunny days, I live in the UK, I'd only take about 5 shots a year! I'd take shots in just about any conditions, it's just that I've learned how bright and sunny works and I've got a lot of work to do catching up with other lighting situations...

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