Learn how to begin using Lightroom on your lunch break in this short video where I talk about how to download into Lightroom without loosing your files. My motto is: Stay organize, stay sane!
Questions? Post them in the comments below.
Want a private tutorial? Click here to learn more about scheduling a 1-on-1 lesson in Orange County, CA or online!
Students come to me, pages of notes in hand, flustered and confused about how watching a gazillion (yes, that's a precise number) videos online has not helped them better understand photography. They know terminology and turn their camera dials, but their ability to metabolize all this information together in a helpful way is nonexistent.
The temptation is real, people. Countless free online videos promise better understanding of your camera, or how photography works. And so many online teachers offer great tips. But here's the trouble with all this limitless accessible free knowledge: it's not contextualized.
Photography is one of those art forms where the information builds. When taught well (and cohesively) each piece adds a layer, like building a pyramid.
Imagine trying to build a pyramid with a thousand blocks at your feet. Each block is identified by it's name, and a definition of the name. But you're given no instructions on the order the blocks go in, connection between the blocks, or how they interrelate.
Now imagine building the same pyramid with the same thousand blocks, and a guide to help you figure out which pieces go first, how the materials support the weight of the lighter or heavier blocks, and where each differently shaped piece fits in the whole pyramid building plan. This is what a great teacher can do -- they can connect the dots, explain complicated processes in easy to understand terms, and show you the best path to understanding photography for how you learn.
So, here's your homework: stop watching YouTube videos and find a great instructor. If you don't already know one I'm happy to help you learn your camera in the best way for you. Click here to learn more about 1-on-1 sessions (via Skype or in person) and upcoming classes I teach.
When has a great teacher helped you overcome a learning block? I'd love to hear your stories in the comments.
Last time we covered the exposure triangle. Now, let’s take it a step further. Each corner of the exposure-triangle has two fundamental elements - what I like to call the "compositional" effect and the "technical" component.
The compositional effect relates to how each setting will affect the more creative part of the photograph – such as how much movement or focus is present. The technical component relates to how much and how long the light is allowed into the exposure. Knowing which setting controls what is key to not only mastering manual exposure, but will also increase your speed of controlling the settings as you learn.
Shutter (located in the camera body)
Aperture (located in the lens)
This article is intended to help expose a bit of the iceberg of information that falls under manual exposure; I hope it’s been helpful for you. When you're ready for more, register for my online Shooting in Manual class. I also offer 1-on-1 support via Skype and locally in Long Beach, CA.
Photography is one of those weird arts, like music, that requires both creative talent and the ability to understand some math (ugh!). Don’t be discouraged just yet, because if this dyslexic can figure out how to shoot in manual, I know you can do it, too.
We ought to learn to shoot in manual and master these tricky little settings, as opposed to shooting in program with a hope and a prayer, because we can discern things like the difference between backlit scenes, or a run away toddler versus a racecar – the camera cannot.
Since our goal is a creatively composed photograph with appropriate exposure, there are three primary settings we must master. We’ll cover additional settings at another time. What follows is a quick start guide to demystify the complex settings of shooting in manual.
Let's think of exposure like this triangle.
The big three are: shutter, aperture and ISO.
Good exposure is generally defined as maintaining details in both the highlight and shadow areas of the photograph. It’s achieved by learning to manipulate each element based on your subject and surroundings (which we’ll look at next time).
Let’s take a brief look at each element.
Shutter – controls “how long” light is allowed in your sensor. Shutter speed is determined based on two things: 1) how much movement you want to be visible in the photograph, and 2) how much available light is present. Think of it like your camera blinking.
Aperture – controls “how much” light is allowed in to reach your camera’s sensor. It is determined by, again 1) how much available light you have, and 2) how much of your photograph you want in focus and sharp. This is similar to how your eye's pupil works.
ISO – controls how sensitive your sensor is to all this light coming in. You can loosely relate it to your eyes when putting on, or taking off, sunglasses.
Next time we’ll look more in-depth at how these elements and how they give you amazing control over your exposure!
Ready to learn more? Register for an online workshop today.
Invited to see life differently, a person who notices and shares through glass and process is a photographer. Contrary to media portrayal and #Insta-fame, a photographers job is simple, humble, and in many ways unassuming. Job one: to notice.
The other day I was sitting on my apartment stoop, waiting to call my mom on Mother's Day, and looked down. My neighbor and his friend were sitting splayed out with chalk, drawing a giant flower, dogs, and abstract designs. It caught my eye. And it made me think: this is what being a photographer is about. It's about seeing, it's about noticing the beautiful crazy world around you.
It's easy to let photography roll into elitism and become all about the tool of the trade: the camera. Which camera you use, how many megapixels it has, and the latest one just released are the least important parts of photography. One of my photography heroes, Ansel Adams, once wrote:
"A great photograph is knowing where to stand." -Ansel Adams
I refer to this quote all the time in my classes and workshops. I love what Adams doesn't say. Think about it for a moment... What isn't being communicated in his words?
By talking about the photographer's position, the negative space of his words implies great photography is not about the camera, how many megapixels it has, when it was released, how much it cost, or even what lens you have on the camera.
When we get caught up in the consumer side of photography it looses its soul. Photography is about seeing the world, calling attention to the overlooked beauty within it, asking people to engage with what's around them in their every day. Photography is a process, even in its finished form.
So let's return to the old adage, the best camera is the one you use, and let's go see our world today.
Using whatever camera you have available (smartphone, point and shoot, or DSLR) and take 5-photographs of the world around you. Then share your favorite with me on my Facebook page. I can't wait to see what you see today.
It happens to all of us. We get inspired, go on a great trip, and take a lot of photos. One summer of photo memories turns into three years of photo files and your computer -- or your smartphone -- puts itself in time out.
I met with a 1-on-1 student yesterday who's computer had just about given up with a hard drive at nearly full capacity. The culprit? Her beautiful photos of her new life for the past year. But for her, and for you, there is hope! There are ways to have your computer and your digital photographs cohabitate in peace.
Want a little personalized help navigating the retain of your photo-computer situation? I offer 1-on-1 help in person in Long Beach and via Skype.
I love my clients. And I think the feeling is mutual. They keep saying nice things and I love the excitement when they see their photos for the first time after a session. Today I was thinking about how we ended up in this mutual love-fest, and I have a hunch it's because we value the same things and have similar goals -- whether intuitively or consciously -- when we book a session for their family.
Thank you for being you. Thank you for letting me see you, and make images for you of your wonderful family: fun loving, wild, quiet, and silly. You invite me into these precious moments and I'm so grateful. Thank you.
While meeting with an amazing person I today during our conversation I found myself asking them, "How are you practicing self-care?" As the words escaped my mouth a giant mirror reflected them right back to me. It was now a question I had to answer for myself ... and struggled to answer in a way that left me confident in my current self-care routine.
As I drove away from the appointment I thought: You are your own best asset. If you're not recharging well you'll run out of steam. You can't run on a dead battery anymore than you can wish your smartphone into being fully charged.
So I find myself curious and asking these questions:
These questions can feel thorny -- they have a tendency to do that. But if I want to carry on in the work I love, I have to pause, adjust, and allow myself to sink into un-productive time (it's where inspiration comes from often for me).
Getting into photography for me was a process of tinkering and curiosity. I found an old camera and started experimenting with it in high school. But my tinkering started years before when I was in elementary school.
My first tinkering memory is from my grandma's house. They recently purchased a VCR, but it wasn't working quite right. So I fiddled, clicked a few buttons and - VIOLA - it was fixed. A few years later I was tinkering with the stereo system and accidentally fixed that, too. I remember my parents asking how I knew what to do to fix it ... my reply was an adolescent shoulder shrug, or something like it, because I had no idea. I just tinkered my way into the solution.
And I've been tinkering ever since. Tinkering with business start-ups, website design, painting. If it grabs my attention I'll tinker away. Sometimes for fun and temporary amusement, and other times it develops, you know, into my life's work (like photography).
To this day, when people ask me, like my parents did, how I knew to do XYZ, my response hasn't changed much: "I don't know. Got curious and tried a few things." That's not to say that all my tinkering is "successful"--there was the failed ad sales job, and the sports physical therapy internship (I nearly fainted at my own broken finger). But I can see how those experiments led me to where I am today and I'm grateful.
Im curious though why we've made it so difficult to fail in our society when the best entrepreneurs and life game-changers have royally blown it, and later written best-selling books on the topic. And I wonder, what holds you back from tinkering away at your curiosities? What could happen if you did? And perhaps more importantly, what will happen if you don't?
I'm angry with myself for the times I've let myself believe that creativity is a luxury, that it's a wasteful expense, and that it's completely unproductive. But here's the rub: as much as those thoughts are lies, there's a little truth in there, too, because we don't live in a utopian society. This is the paradox I'm learning to embrace in spiritual direction.
Just this morning I was talking with a person who was born, raised, and currently lives in Mexico. He was telling me that his city (and the larger culture of Mexico) doesn't have room for creativity or art. He said that in Mexico's second largest city there is only one functioning theater house. He said the "middle-class" don't have the funds to afford such "luxuries." And yet he believes it is a tragedy that it is inaccessible to everyone because it's so necessary for human flourishing to engage with beauty and art. There it is: it's necessary, but it's an economic luxury.
Therein lies the problem: due to economic realities we've elevated art to the elite. The solution is moving towards taking art-making and art-engaging back to the people.
For the people who need beauty the most--because it gives hope, encourages innovation, and creates more connected communities--have the least access to art. It's being taken out of education, and some museums are moving to "for profit" models of keeping their doors open. And those who have the most access to these galleries, museums, cathedrals, and opera houses have intellectually removed art from its context as a tool to lead to revelation, creativity, and awareness to the realm of anesthetized aesthetics.
So we need to do something dangerous: we need to create covertly together in our communities. We need to subtly and courageously bring beauty with us. We need to lean in to our creativity and show it off to the world. We need to spread the contagion of our unabashed and unashamed art-making. Dangerous not because it's life-threatening, but because it can be life-altering to you and those around you.
Think of the places in your community and life that are in need of beauty. Maybe it's at work, or in a public space where you live. Here are a few simple ways we can say yes today and take action:
What else?!?! I'm sure you all have a million great ideas. Share them with all of us in the comments here or on my Facebook page. I can't wait to hear what you come up with.