Sunday, December 11, 2011

For the Love of Photography

Mya and Kendal (my second cousins) playing the piano together

Why, hello there!

How are you?

It's been WAY too long--six weeks to be exact--since I last posted here on my blog. 

What can I say?  Life's been busy, but it's a good kind of busy.

I've been making lots of lists lately (as I often do during the holiday season), and checking each item off as I accomplish it.  Which makes this Type-A girl very happy.

Speaking of lists, in the past week, I've had two friends ask what photography books/classes/websites I would recommend to learn more about the craft.   

Just a guess...but I think it might have something to do with the fact that Christmas is just around the corner. 

What follows is a list of resources that I would recommend if you are interested in learning more about photography.  In addition, I know many photographers these days (myself included) edit their pictures using programs such as Photoshop, Photoshop Elements, Lightroom, etc.  To that end, I'm including a brief section about the programs/actions/plug-ins I currently use during post-processing.  

Now, before I begin, let's get something straight: I am NOT a professional photographer.  Not even close!  I am an amateur photographer, learning more and more each day, about how to produce (both take and edit) better quality photographs.  And I'm loving it! 

What excites me more than anything is that I can see myself years from now still shooting away.  Those who know me well, know that I dabble in a variety of hobbies.  Sometimes, I'm making greeting cards; other times, I'm creating scrapbook layouts.  More than a few times, I've abandoned a hobby because I was bored.

But I do not see that happening with photography.  There's just so much to learn.  Case in point: I bought a Nikon Speedlight a few months ago, but I still don't have the foggiest idea how to use it.  A teacher colleague of mine (who is a great photographer) recently lent me The Hot Shoe Diaries by Joe McNally, which will hopefully help me figure out how to use my external flash. 

Now, without further ado, here are my recommendations:

Scott Kelby's Digital Photography (Volumes 1, 2, 3)

Understanding Exposure by Bryan Peterson

Photographing Your Family by Joel Sartore

Mastering the Nikon D90 by Darrell Young

Pioneer Woman

Kevin & Amanda

Ken Rockwell

Capture Your 365

 Digital Photography School

I've taken four different classes with Bonita Chimes, who is an excellent photographer and instructor.  She'll teach you the basics of photography, and get you shooting in manual mode.  Be forewarned, though: Bonita does not advocate editing photographs in PS/PSE/Lightroom.  She's a big believer in SOOC pictures.   

For more information on Bonita's classes, which she teaches through the Folsom Park & Recreation Department, click here

UV filter

All of my lenses have Hoya UV filters on them.  They are not cheap--practically nothing in photography is--but they are so important. Think of them as an insurance policy.  A few years ago, Brian accidentally dropped our camera.  While there is a dent in the UV filter ring, the lens itself wasn't harmed.  UV filters can be purchased online at Adorama, B&H, eBay or Amazon.  

Polarizing filter

I would highly recommend buying a polarizing filter for the lenses you use most often.  If you are shooting outdoors on a sunny day, it can make a world of difference.  To learn more about why to buy a polarizing filter and how to use it, click here

Camera Strap 

My first camera strap was made of beautiful black and white damask fabric.  It was so pretty, but it wasn't durable.  So, I chucked it and bought a seat belt camera strap...which I love!  I love that 1) it's made out of an old car seat belt; 2) the strap length can be adjusted; 3) the strap is long enough to hang the camera across my body; and 4) my husband isn't embarrassed to wear it.  :-)


As I mentioned above, I own a speedlight, but I haven't quite figured out how to use it.  I dislike the harsh light from the flash on the camera, but sometimes--particularly when shooting indoors--flash is necessary.  That's where an external flash, like the Nikon Speedlight SB-700, comes in handy.

Photoshop Elements

I currently use Photoshop Elements 7.0 to edit my photographs and create digital scrapbooking pages using layered templates.  (One day, I'd love to play in CS5, but for now, I'm content using Elements.)  To be honest, there's still A LOT I don't know about Elements.  Several years ago, I took a class on how to use PSE at Green Tangerines in Rocklin.  I wouldn't recommend the class, though; I left more confused than when I started.  Since then, I've taken a few online digital scrapbooking classes through Jessica Sprague and Big Picture Classes.   


In PSE, I run actions on some of my photographs.  Not all--just my favorites.  There are so many cool actions out on the market right now (like MCP Actions), but I've yet to purchase any.  For now, I'm having fun just playing with the FREE actions from Pioneer Woman's website.


I also love to retouch my photos with a plug-in called RadLab.  Earlier this year, I used it for FREE for 30 days and fell in love with it.  This blog post is proof of my adoration.  And the photo of Mya and Kendal at the beginning of this post.  Regularly $149, on Black Friday, I bought it for just $97.  As I placed it in my virtual cart, I thought, "Merry Christmas to me!"  

So, there you have it.  All of my photography favorites typed up in a neat little blog post.


P.S. Fellow Shutterbugs: What books/websites/classes would you recommend to learn more about the art of photography? 

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I am just learning to use my Rebel T2i camera in modes other than automatic! I took all 5 classes offered by Photography My Way and LOVED them! All about how to use your camera, exposure, lighting, composition and basic Photoshop Elements editing. Check out their website for more info.

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