The Essential Photography Tool

by Robyn on May 11, 2010

Shadow of a hummingbird

Hummingbird, shadow

Recently I attend a conference for bloggers. One section was on improving your photography for your blog. Of course, everyone wanted to know which was the best camera to use? Was a point and shoot camera worth using? Is it necessary to have a DSLR? Is Canon or Nikon better? Do I need to buy a fancy lighting kit? How about back drops and light boards? We all want to know how to take the perfect picture. We’re looking for the sweet spot, the correct ISO, and depth of field. You know, so we’re accepted and applauded by FoodGawker and Tastespotting. There is nothing worse than being rejected, especially when you’ve tried your best to get it right.

The interesting answer to these questions was any of the above. And none of the above. You see, photography is all about knowing your camera, but even still it is about understanding light. Once you have mastered the skill of “light” the rest is pretty simple. The digital age has seemingly made photography more simple. It’s an illusion. Photography is an art form. Anyone can take an okay photo and dump it into a graphics editing program like Photoshop and turn it into a somewhat acceptable picture. However, you want your photos to be near perfect straight out of the camera.

It’s all about the light. Why do you think Industrial Light and Magic is named what it is? Light is magic. The teeniest, tiniest amount can change picture’s entire meaning or view. Knowing where your light source is coming from, will make things easier on deciding the shot. Think of it as a compass and your subject is the hub of that compass. Is the light coming from the north, south, east or west? If directions are difficult, try looking at light as a clock. Is it 12? 3? 6? or 9? Your subject is the middle holding the arms of that clock, what time is the light at? By moving your body to change the direction of the light can make huge differences in the way your photo appears. Or you can choose to use light in different ways. Art is created by seeing things in other things. Look around, what is lit? What do you see, that is unusual, yet always there. Has light been there all the time, giving you opportunities to be an artist? It sure has. You just have to keep your eyes open. Even in the worst light between the hours of 10 a.m. and 2 p.m., for photographers that is, you find light has given you shadows and bounce like nothing else can.

The picture of the hummingbird. I tried for days to get a picture of the hummingbirds at the feeder. However, our porch is only 3 feet wide. It’s not as if I could stand there while the little birds came to draw upon the nectar. Also, they move so quickly! I was sitting in the living room typing away on my computer when I saw it. I saw the opportunity light had given me, I grabbed my camera and quickly took the shot. There it was, my little hummingbird, preserved to enjoy another day. That’s what photography is all about, isn’t it?

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