Friday, May 28, 2010

It's not the camera, it's me!

As I talked about before, I've always enjoyed great photos.  I've been taking photos since my parents first allowed me to use the camera.  I study others' pictures to try to figure out what makes a good shot.  I'll talk about several of my discoveries over the next few weeks.  But this one was the first.  This "What the Duck" comic strip sums it up quite well.

Rule #1 - It's not the camera, it's me.

I had been using a point and shoot for years, but was getting frustrated with the auto-focus and other things that wouldn't allow me to take the pictures I wanted.  SO - I saved up and begged my husband and bought a shiny new Canon Rebel XT.  I needed something affordable, and my husband (the smart one) decided I should start with something that was somewhat simple and user friendly.

When I got it, I immediately began to shoot.  I was so excited, but I only got mediocre results like this:

This is my youngest child, and my most willing victim - er, model - so you may be seeing her a lot.  The shot isn't bad and I caught a cute smile, but it's a lot darker than I'd like and there's junk in the background.  The part you don't see is that this was shot number 9 out of 12.  Now part of that is the wiggliness of a 4 year old, and part of that is me not knowing what I'm doing!  I just figured if I kept taking pictures, those happy accidents would be the ones I would keep.

But - the next week this happened.

I was trying to take pictures of my choir at school for keepsake reasons and NONE of them turned out!  WHAT??!?  They all looked blurry and I couldn't figure out why.  I thought maybe it was because everyone was moving, but even with the high shutter speed I got things like this:

Even the people who are still in the background are fuzzy....  Shoot!  Even the stripes on the floor and the exit sign above the door are fuzzy!!! 

Time to rethink this.  What to do??  Ah!  Let's read the owner's manual!  (When all else fails, read the instructions, right?!)  You see, I was certain there was a button or something I needed to push to make everything right, but that wasn't the problem.  It was this!!


No, not the person your shooting (although sometimes they need to) but ME!  If I don't keep the camera still, it won't matter how little my subject moves.  The effect you see in these previous pictures is called "shake".  It is caused by me, the camera geek, moving my camera when I take the picture.  The manual demonstrates how to keep this from happening right at the end of chapter 1, but this webpage shows it even better:

Found here.  Please go there!  It has MANY good suggestions about keeping still while shooting.

Once I discovered this, I actually had photos I could work with -

Like this.

More to come tomorrow!!

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