Saturday, March 2, 2013

Finding Your Eye: Journey of Fascination ~ techniques

The acquisition of knowledge or
skills through experience, practice, or
study, or by being taught
Hmmm? Which way do I learn best? It's really a combination of all of these. When I have a problem I have to study about it, either in books or on the Internet. Don't you just love the Internet?  So much is right there at our fingertips! Then, I need to practice, A LOT! I learn better if someone personally teaches me, but I'm a hands-on person and have to do it myself, not just watch.
Here's the problem. Many of my photos were soft and flat. They're not out of focus, but just plain lifeless! It was fixable in post processing by adding a little bit of contrast. I didn't know that it was a correctable problem until I read a blog post by Lee at Sea Blue Lens. She had the same problem. Knowing that her camera should take better images, she researched, found the answer, and shared it. To be honest, It didn't dawn on me that this could be fixed in-camera. Well, it can and goodbye to adding contrast almost every single time!!  (another one of my secrets revealed)  Let me just stop here and say a very, very big thank you to Lee. Stop by her post and see how she solved her problem. Since I have a different brand camera than Lee, I had to do my own research. I found a flickr group of Sony camera owners. It has this great discussion board and "flat images" was one of the topics. I found a way to solve the problem, chose an object with contrast, and experimented. In the second photo you can see the brighter tones of the leaves and how the bird seems to stand out more.

There's a button on my function menu that is called "creative style." I switched from "standard" to "vivid."  That's how easy it was. OK, so that was too easy, I needed to find something else to learn about.
Hence, my second learning experiment.  I've been wanting to learn about spot metering. Sometimes when you're shooting there is more than one light condition. The camera needs a little help deciding which light to choose.  I did know about the spot metering button, I've just never played with it.
I chose a cloudy day because I figured it would be easier to work with than a bright sunny area that would definitely blow out. On the property behind us there is an abandoned railroad trestle that provided a dark area and a light area. You can see it made a difference when I spot metered on the background.
In this set of images I also tried the third option "center weighted." This brought out more color in the background, but I thought it made the posts a little too dark. Now, comes the next step in the learning process...practice, practice, practice. I have to practice enough that the knowledge will stick in my old brain!!

So there you have the way I learn.
help from others
Thanks, Kat, for another wonderful assignment that has helped me take another step forward in this journey of photography!!


  1. You are really taking some great shots. Congratulations!

  2. Cathy, your learning style is very much like mine. I'm very happy that my discovery about those in-camera controls was helpful to you. I see a big difference between those two images. The second one has so much more life and "snap" to it.

    I'm very impressed by your metering experiment. Back in my film days, I used center-weighted a lot, but with digital I've always let the camera just do its thing. Now I can see I need to give spot metering a try.

  3. Fabulous Cathy! Great steps forward. I'm glad to see you playing with metering options, since exposure can have the most dramatic impact on photographs. You are finding the conundrum of photography though - when you expose for one area, it will often be too dark in another. That's where post processing comes in, allowing you to brighten/darken different parts of the image selectively. It's great that you know how you learn and can follow the steps, always learning something new.

  4. Great learning experience. I know that I get stuck doing the same things over and over and forget about the other features and possibilities that my camera offers. Your post is a good reminder to pull out the camera manual on a regular basis. Your examples do a great job of demonstrating how knowing our cameras can help us take better images.Thank you for sharing your experiences.

  5. Great post, Cathy! I can feel the excitement in your words, excitement from learning something new that takes your photography to the next 'level' if you will. It's great that you showed the differences in your images here, too. Leon's post is a great one, and I picked up some tips from that, too.

    This is what community is all about. Learning, sharing, and encouraging each other on the journey! Love it!

  6. It is so great so see the differences between the metering types. I don't play with them much either, but one more nugget of information to tuck away in my brain. And yes practice, practice, practice.

  7. Good for you! Thank you for the examples, they really help illustrate your points so well. I do quite a lot of adjustments on my computer, but i tried some different settings too, and found it does make a difference.. Practicing is so important -- i wish I can more time!

  8. totally going to check into my camera options. isn't it always amazing what a few little tweaks here and there can do. i swear there is always something new to learn with photography. which is what sometimes frustrates me, but yet also what i love about it. :)

  9. Vivid. I don't use that. I could give that a try. I do spot meter-a lot. Especially in areas with wide range of light difference. I think you'll find this super helpful. As in your tree shot-meter for the bright spot. Then move around to your focus point. You'll love it. Something else which may interest you-or not, take it or leave it-I've started shooting often with the histogram displayed. As soon as you take your first shot with the metering you chose, you can look down and see if it's too blown our or too dark.
    I can see a big difference between your "before and afters". Practice , practice, practice. I think you'll find this a skill you'll pick up easily.


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