Baseball is a game of individuals playing as a team. When a batter is up, he is not playing as a team that often. Baseball is simple, you hit the ball, you catch the ball, you throw the ball and many times a player's success has nothing to do with the team's success. A batter can hit 400 and the team may not be successful. In 1941, the Red Sox's Ted Williams hit for a 400 average, the last player ever to hit 400. That team had five future Hall of Famers playing for it and still finished second.
I think photography has become just like baseball. Almost everyone has a camera of some type from expensive DSLRs to simple point and shoots and even cell phones take a pretty good picture, although it is a glorified point and shoot. When the digital age in photography came to be, it brought many really great innovations. What people may nor think about is that over all, it lowered the price of photography. The cameras and lens prices have not gone down but photographers no longer have the cost of buying rolls of film and then the cost of processing the film.
When I switched over to digital I was paying around $25 for a roll of film plus processing. Now I can spend that much for a flash card and use it over and over again. Plus I can see some of my mistakes on the camera's LCD screen saving us from wasting what would have been film and lost images. It really has been a great resource for photographers but it has also opened the door for some really bad photography. Even worse it has produced many boring images.
People have a camera and learn how to mechanically use it but do not take the time to learn the art of photography. Photography is a special art. It combines art and science more so than any other art. It takes time and effort to learn it well and then more time to refine your skills. In truth I really do not think you ever really learn all there is to it.
If you study your camera's manual and practice just the steps to working the camera, you can take pictures. If you put it on program mode, you can possibly take okay pictures. If you do not work on the artistic part of your photography then technically they might be okay but your images will not have the wow factor. They will not stand out from the others, will not have any soul and in a single word be boring. They might be great to you and interesting to you and if that is all you're shooting for, congratulations you have reached your goal. Just do not subject the rest of us to them.
Okay maybe your mom will love them or at least say that she does. She is your mom!!! I mean if you have some really good snapshots of your kids, we will all like them and they might even document their cuteness. But please do not take a snapshot of a rock, when the rock takes up a 1/8 of the photo, with the highlights blown out and the shadows gone black and make us tell you we like them!!! These are images that I call snapshots and in my early years I took lots and lots of snapshots and not many really good images. Hopefully I am making images now.
In this post I will attempt to speak to how I make a snapshot into an image. Some of the steps are done in camera some require post production. Like all professional photographers, I have software programs that I use in my post work. My programs are listed in the order I use them which is also the order of frequency that I use them.
I then move on to Photoshop and I use Photoshop for two primary reasons; sharpening and noise reduction. Lightroom has both of these features and they have improved them a great deal from the original Lightroom but I still am not totally satisfied with them.
I do all my sharpening in Photoshop (PS) using unsharp mask. As in most photoshop things, there are more than one way to sharpen using it. I like the unsharp mask but many like 'smart sharpen'. I have two other software programs that I use a lot less; Nik Filters and Topaz Adjust.
I am going to attempt to show how I photograph something and hopefully make it a better image. Some changes are in camera and some are in post production. As I have said, all of these images have been processed using Lightroom and most using Photoshop for sharpening and for the Noiseware plugin.
In the image you can see different colored lights. The different colors are caused by actual colored lights (purple on the bridge) the warm and cooler color lights are caused by the different type bulbs used. Some are tungsten, others are florescent and will photograph differently. Many people will set their camera's white balance control to auto or daylight. What you can try is using different color balance settings to see the effect it gives. In the first image, I used auto.
I adjusted exposure down, added contrast and midtown brightness and used the cloudy white balance to warm up the image.
This last image was the same day after we came home. In my backyard, I saw this turtle. (a yellow bellied turtle I believe?) This is an example of where you can improve your photos right in the camera.
By taking one step, you can improve the image and make an exciting, fun image. Get down to the level of the turtle and get as close as you can. (I would not use this technique with rattlesnakes, lions or bears).
I also cropped to eliminate any uninteresting elements. Now we have a turtle portrait. You can see its eyes and mouth. I think you will agree it is a much better image.
Stop taking all your images from a standing position; bend, stretch, sit or get on your knees. Heck, I was laying down on my stomach for this one. If you have any questions about any of this, please ask me. If you would like to see more posts that teach, let me know.