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Posts Tagged ‘motivation’

An idea book, for me, has become a useful tool for those times when I have trouble coming up with a new way to approach an assignment. Having subscribed to magazines like National Geographic, American Photo and Smithsonian for years, I was constantly finding inspiring, interesting photos that I wanted to remember for future “borrowing.” Twenty years ago I devoted a three-ring binder to be the place where I would stash those visual ideas for future use. The wee effort spent in pasting clips into this book has paid off handsomely throughout the years. Today, many pages are yellowed but that binder is still chuck-full of great ideas for lighting, composition and ways to approach tough photo situations. I don’t know what I’d do without it. Grab a binder during the back-to-school sales and start one of your own. I’ll be starting my third volume soon…

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I conducted my first “photo walk” last weekend at a local air show. I met with several local amateur photogs and shared my knowledge and love of photography with them. I was particularly taken aback by a comment from a photographer about how she “could never take photos as good as mine” because she was using a non-DSLR, point-and-shoot camera.

P-51D Mustang

This casual comment started a lively discussion about how the person and not the camera is the most important ingredient to great photography. ¬†Sure, a multi-thousand dollar camera will allow you to have greater control over your photography, but without an eye for lighting, form and composition, it’s just an expensive necklace.

What to do? Adapt your photography to the gear you have in hand now. For example, point-and-shoot cameras are good for portraits and landscapes. DSLRs will allow more lens choices (at a price) and faster captures — ¬†allowing better sports photography. Master the gear you’ve got, don’t set it aside because it’s not “good enough.” Explore all possibilities and potential of your current camera….and keep shooting.

B-17G Wright Cyclone

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The ability to use light and shadow effectively separates the pro from the amateur photographer. While some say this is something you’re born with, I disagree. The skilled use of lighting is something that can be learned.

In the decades since I first picked up a camera, I’m constantly picking up new ideas for making my photos better. One place I find myself going to for a visual kickstart is strobist.com. This is a website devoted almost exclusively to the creative use of small, hand-held electronic flashes. Compiled by David Hobby, it’s a great place for ideas and inspiration. If you’re new to photography or are a pro in need of some new lighting techniques, you can’t go wrong by stopping at David’s site. His Lighting 101 tutorials are fantastic!

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