For the Love of Photography

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This book is aimed at a casual photographer, like me, who enjoys capturing the daily family adventures, but also wants create compelling storytelling images. Snapshots plus. Photos that that really capture the presented photo opportunity! Often this means, knowing your camera, looking at the light, thinking about the background and finding a great angle to make that photo sing. All that in 10 seconds, because the family is moving on or the 6 year old subject is getting bored!

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For the Love of Photography

Story Telling Moments .. This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License. (http://creativecommons.org.au/learn-more/licences) All photos copyright © 2012 by Rob van Elven, Sydney, Australia.

Notice of Liability The information in this book is distributed on an “As Is” basis, without warranty. While every precaution has been taken in the preparation of the book, the author shall not have any liability to any person or entity with respect to any loss or damage caused or alleged to be caused directly or indirectly by the instructions contained in this book or by the computer software and hardware products described in it.

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For the Love of Photography Tips for the casual photographer, who wants to create storytelling images, while the family is waiting.

Table of contents

Introduction Preparation Opportunity All about the light Understand how the camera sees the world Composition Routine checks Editing Storytelling images Experiment! Thank you

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For the Love of Photography

INTRODUCTION This ebook is aimed at a casual photographer, like me, who

enjoys capturing the daily family adventures wants to know how to create compelling images doesn't always have lots of time to make these images.

I am a visual person and have always enjoyed looking for that great light, hunting for the perfect composition, that decisive moment, that captures it all. For the majority of years, all I focused on was just the composition, with the camera simply on Automatic.

Photo: Taronga Zoo, Sydney. Not sure what to make of this. About 4 years ago, I started listening to photography podcasts and they made me more interested in taking control of my camera. I replaced my Nikon CoolPix 990, bought an entry level DSLR and started reading books, looking at training videos and simply learning-while-doing. Photo: Sydney sunset.

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The majority of my photography is when we are out and about. This can be during a visit to the park, a bush walk or when we are returning books to the library. I try to always bring my camera. Pretty much in all these "on-the-go" situations, we do not specifically stop to take photographs. Over time, I got quite good in spotting potential photographic opportunities and being ready for that "decisive moment". Photo: In Singapore, stuck on an island..

Part of that is: 1. having the camera ready (not tucked away in the bag) 2. having the right settings dialed in (knowing your gear) 3. being in the right position related to subject, light and background 4. not being afraid to walk the arc and keep shooting, so you have something to edit


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For the Love of Photography

Preparation As the resident family photojournalist, you have to be ready for that unexpected photo moment. In our house the camera is always close by, ready to be used when an interesting picture moment presents itself. My indoor default settings are:

Aperture priority, somewhere between F 2.8 to 4 800 ISO (so it is possible to get a good shutter speed outside and inside) White Balance set to Daylight. Lens cap off.

On the go, I carry the camera over my shoulder. A tip here is to point the lens inwards (pointing to your back, rather than pointing outwards towards whatever you want to bump into). My lens cap is off, lens hood is on. When you go from indoors to outdoors, update your camera settings. You might want to change your ISO settings or white balance.

When you are part of a group, taking pictures of the group, try to be in front of the group. Generally it is a good habit to change the camera settings back to your “default” settings after a day of shooting. This avoids the situation where you start the next day with some wacky white balance from the day before.

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Opportunity [Luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity] For a lot of great photography it is all about knowing your subject. If you know your subject, you can prepare yourself to bring the right lens, be there at the perfect time for the best light or simply know how to engage the subject and get a great pose and expression. When I photograph my son and need him to forget there is a camera, I always start to talk about a favorite toy or activity he likes to do. This often gives me very natural expressions. When you notice great light somewhere, try to bring your subject to it. A certain room in the house can have wonderful afternoon light streaking in. Try to encourage your children to play there for a while..

You have prepared the camera, dialed in the right settings. You have set the stage and now have your favorite subjects in gorgeous light.

Luck might bring you a great natural expression when the kids simply carry on playing and forget about the camera. Photos, top to bottom, left to right: Late afternoon backlight, panning shot with slow shutter speed.. Rainbow Lorikeets are very common in Sydney and easy to photograph up close, especially when they sit on your hand.

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For the Love of Photography

In the photograph on the side, my son just came back from a pirate birthday party and I wanted to take a quick shot with him still in his outfit. He simply stands near the open door of our garage. This only took a few seconds to set up .. Australia flag behind him for some color, all just within the short attention span of a pirate high-on-sugar. In general, to get compelling images or capture wonderful moments, there are a few things that have to come together. Here is my list for creating "luck":

Find interesting light and know how to use it for a photograph. Understand how the camera sees the world. Create an interesting composition. Have an interesting subject

Photo left: I always see so many photographer take the photos from their eye level. Often you want to be at the subjects eye level., unless shoot down for a specific reason. Photos below: Great directional window light, put the subjects in it!

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All about the light Interesting light is what can potentially make a great picture. If you study beautiful landscape photography, you start to realize that they are almost certainly taken at either dusk or dawn. The light at that time of day is beautiful for photography. Photo: The smoke from the hazard reduction burns created some interesting light the next morning Learn to see the differences in light will help to improve your photography. Photography is all about the light. Once you realize this and start "seeing the light", you will notice great light everywhere. This is called "active seeing", which can sometimes be quite frustrating if you realize that you left your camera at home again... Photo: Beautiful light in Kiama, NSW, Australia Seeing the light is understanding the various properties of light and what effect they have on the photograph:

direction (where does the main light come from related to subject) quality (soft or harsh shadows) intensity (has consequences for shutter speed and or aperture) color temperature (varies through the day, warmer during the morning and late afternoon)

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For the Love of Photography

Direction of light When we are talking about the direction of light, it is always in relation to the subject. Direction of light makes a big difference in a photo. Front light coming from behind the camera, is generally not the most interesting light for a photo. It can serve you well when you are trying to photograph a tiny bird in a distant tree but for most other subjects, you want to see some shadows to give the subject form and depth. "Light illuminates, shadows define" is what photographer Rick Sammon always says. The old master painters already knew, that light coming from an angle creates depth in a painting. Some specific light and shadow pattern is even called Rembrandt light. The height of the light source is also important. Something to avoid is dark shadows under the eyes ("raccoon eyes"). Mid day sun or a flash bounced of the ceiling might do this for you. Not very flattering. Light from the side, highlights texture. Just compare the flying mud in the first and second photo and notice how much more texture it has in the second.The side light and resulting shadow at work for you. It can be great for landscapes, generally not very pleasing for skin as it highlights imperfections.

Backlight creates a bright rim around the subject. I love that light direction but it does present some challenges. It can take some practice to get the exposure right, as the camera is often fooled by the bright light and wants to turn the subject into a silhouette. Photo: Top to bottom, front light, side light, back light. Photo left: backlight highlights the spray

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Things to look out for with backlight: Needless to say, the sun is fairly bright. While composing the shot, avoid looking directly at it through the viewfinder. If you have a live view LCD, you can use that instead.

Photos above: local park, strong backlight causes lens flare, my son going in the cold water, I used fill flash to brighten up the face

Lens flare Even with the lens hood on, you are highly likely to get lens flare shooting with back light. It is a very popular look at the moment. If you want to avoid it, make sure something is casting a shadow on the lens. This can be the shadow of a tree or a cap in the hands of a friendly assistant. Photo: Whale watching near Forster, NSW. Backlight lights up the spray.

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For the Love of Photography


The camera light meter can be fooled by the bright light behind the subject. If this is the case, you can fix this by

adding some + exposure compensation (find this useful dial on your camera) using fill flash or using a reflector (I bought a cheap reflector off eBay for this)

A reflector or fill flash can also help create catchlights in the eyes. Photos: Without catch lights, the eyes often look lifeless

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Quality of light Quality of light for the photographer is mainly the quality of the resulting shadows. For people and landscapes, the golden hour (early morning, late afternoon) is the preferred time to shoot. Shadows can be very harsh when the sun is high in the sky. Not the best light for general people photography, but perfect for black and white photography, where you want the strong contrast.

Photos: Harsh midday shadows create raccoon eyes..but also new possibilities with shadows. Photo right: Soft afternoon light

Intensity of light Light intensity has consequences for your choice of shutter speed and aperture. If a room is barely lit, you will end up with a slow shutter speed. It takes time for the camera to gather all the available light for a correct exposure. Photo: one of my first experiments with my new tripod. I trigger the camera with infra red remote.

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For the Love of Photography

To counteract a blurry image in a low light situation, some options are

raise the camera's ISO and/or open aperture (go to lower number) (somewhat confusing at first, but high aperture number f22 is small lens opening, I think of it like squinting your eyes, everything is sharp, a broad depth of field, but takes a longer time to gather enough light through that small opening)

use flash ( this can actually kill the ambience of the scene that was so interesting in the first place ) put your camera on something to keep it still during the slow shutter speed (which is what I did in the image below)

Too much light is usually not such a problem, unless you need a slow shutter speed for a waterfall shot. The other extreme is when you want a shallow depth of field in bright light. For this you set your aperture to the lowest value (creates a big lens opening). Your shutter speed will go quickly towards the max value for your camera. I have a polarizer filter that I use for when it is really bright. There are also specific filters for reducing the amount of light, called neutral density filters.

Filters can be expensive and to save cost, you can buy a filter for your biggest lens. Then buy step-down rings for the smaller sized lenses. Photo: Polarizer filter is a pair of sunglasses for your camera. It cuts reflection and saturates the colors

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Color of light The color temperature of sunlight varies during the day. Our eyes automatically adjust, so we are often not aware of these changes in "white balance". Indoor lights can range from orange to a more greenish tint. Things to look out for: A camera set to "Auto white balance" usually does a great job getting it right. Auto WB can sometimes work against you. When you try to capture that warm light during the sunset, the auto WB will neutralize the orange cast. In that case it is better to change it to a WB preset. Tip: If your camera has Live View you can immediately see the result of the WB preset without taking a test shot. I generally shoot in RAW which allows me to change the color temperature later, on the computer. For this reason I pretty much always have my WB set to daylight.

Photo: RAW allowed me to warm up the image by changing the white balance (and fix my exposure)

Photo: Ship ahoy, Morning light

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For the Love of Photography

Understand how the camera sees the world

3D world versus a 2D photograph We see the world in 3 dimensions; the photograph only shows the world as 2 dimensions (no depth).

Photo: Three Sisters, Katoomba, NSW, Australia. Foreground foliage, mid ground Sisters, national park in the background. To create the illusion of depth in the image, there are a few things you can do:

Have layers in an image (foreground element, mid ground and background) Use what is called a linear perspective, repeating shapes that appear to get smaller and form leading lines into an image (a road into the distance, fences, telephone poles). Use what is called the areal perspective, the haze or fog you see between distant mountains. Sometimes it can work to include a familiar object into a scene to illustrate the size of subject. (person next to big waterfall) Objects higher in the frame appear to be farther away. Sometimes pointing the lens down, to include more foreground, creates the illusion of more depth in a scene.

A common mistake with the way we see a scene and the way the camera sees the scene is to have that tree in the distance, appear in the photo as growing out of the subject’s head. It can also be used to our advantage as can be seen in the image on the beach. Photo: The 2D photograph makes the relation between the ice cream and flag more apparent than what it would have appeared to be on the actual beach.

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About exposure The light meter in the camera reads the reflected light from the scene. Based on that measurement, it calculates the exposure. The value the light meter is calibrated for, is

often referred to "18 % grey", "middle grey" or as I call it here, "neutral grey". For the average scene it creates an acceptable exposure. Things tend to get off track where the scene has more "bright" or "dark" areas than the typical average scene. A photo in the snow is one of those situations where the camera incorrectly assumes it is a neutral grey scene with lots of light. What the camera does in response, is set an exposure that actually under exposes the scene. We, as photographers need to recognize this and should compensate the exposure. Simply keep an eye on the LCD and adjust the exposure compensation, until the snow in the photo is back to white. If the background in a photograph is mainly dark, the camera assumes there is too little light and wants to overexpose the scene. As a rule of thumb, if the scene has more dark than light

tones relative to the subject, you might need to underexpose. If the scene appears very bright, you typically need to overexpose. Don't forget to reset the exposure compensation when you move to a new location. I speak from experience.. Photo top: Sand boarding at Stockton Bight sand dunes, a potential situation for exposure compensation. Photos bot: Tricky exposure. Looking through mailbox opening in door. Bright beach, used fill flash to balance foreground and background.

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For the Love of Photography

Have an interesting subject This is not meant to be the really obvious one. When you take family pictures, the subjects are of course, always interesting. In other situations, maybe during a holiday, you can do everything right (technically), but if that waterfall is not too exciting to start with, the resulting picture will possibly be not too exciting. You simply need a better waterfall! A quote from National Geo Photographer Joe McNally sums it up nicely:

"Want your pictures to be more interesting? Stand in front of more interesting stuff!"

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Composition Painters start with a blank canvas and add things. Photographers do it exactly the opposite, we remove things that do not contribute to the photograph. I have heard that composition is looking for things that stand out. This can be something with a different color, a repeating pattern.

For every photographer, an interesting composition is a series of very personal choices. Any of the suggestions on composition that follow in this chapter, are just that. The idea is to learn what works for you and understand why in general certain compositions look more pleasing than other compositions. It should never stop you from trying different things that "break" the rules. But know them before you break them. These are some of the things that I consider when composing a photograph.

What am I trying to say with this image? Where do I place my subject?

"Dead center is deadly" is what photographer Rick Sammon often says. The center is usually where people start, because that is typically where your camera has the main focus point. It is often good practice to recompose the shot and move the subject away from the center (look up ”rule of thirds” for more on this..). For pictures that illustrate symmetry, a center composition can work very well. To focus-recompose a shot, you have to A. half press the shutter-release button with subject in center B. when you have focus, recompose the shot keeping the shutter release half-pressed C. then full-press the shutter release. Advanced how-to-confuse-you-more Tip: I use a technique called Back Button Auto Focus. It is beyond the scope of this ebook but I have added some links in the last chapter.

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For the Love of Photography

Horizon line

Think of what is more important, the sky or the foreground. If the sky is more important, try a photo with the horizon placed lower than the center line. Place the horizon higher in the frame, in case you think the foreground is more interesting. When you have people in the frame, think about whether you really want that horizon line to go straight through the neck. A small change in camera position will change the position of the horizon line in the photograph.

The final thing about horizons is, if they are supposed to be straight, keep them straight. If you are going for the crazy Dutch angle, go for the crazy tilted camera. Avoid the almost-straight horizon unless you want that to become your style. Most photo software has the ability rotate the image and fix the horizon on the computer, which is what I have to do most of the time myself.

In essence, composition is all about making conscious choices about where you place things in the frame

Camera height. An interesting photograph often means an interesting angle or perspective. Try to think what height you will photograph from. We typically see the world at eye level, so interesting pictures often have a different point of view. Rick Sammon: "Use your camera like a space ship.", meaning move it up down, shoot from high, shoot from low.

Keep on shooting If you notice something that made you stop to take a picture, don't stop after one or two shots and move on. If you have taken a few images with the camera horizontal, try a vertical, try a Dutch angle and ... "walk the arc".

Walk-the-arc? Walk-the-arc means, walk around the subject and take images from all different angles, with main light now coming from a different direction. If you start approaching your photography like this, you will soon find out that your favorite image is often closer to the end of the series than the start. � 20

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Getting closer

Famous Magnum War photographer Robert Capa said it like this: ”If your pictures aren't good enough, you're not close enough". Getting closer means less distracting elements in the frame and thus often a stronger image.

Cropping Related to getting closer, is knowing which portion of the subject to keep in the image and where to make the crop. The general rule of thumb is not to crop at any portion of the limbs that bend. So don't crop at the knees, wrist and avoid cutting off finger tips. In close-up portrait we don't need to see the top of the head.

Border patrol Just before you press the shutter, check all the borders of the photograph. Elements that come in the frame at the edges can sometimes be very distracting. I also try to keep lines straight (horizontal or vertical) that are near the edge of the frame. Photo: Notice how the frame above the TV has nothing to add and can be removed from the image.

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For the Love of Photography

Group portraits and hands When there are a number of people in the photograph and you have the ability to arrange the group, build triangles. Stagger the subjects for a more pleasing composition. Be careful how you position the hands. Awkward positioned hands can draw unwanted attention to them. Hands close to camera can appear larger than the subjects head depending on the type of lens used and can often appear brighter than the face if they are closer to the light source. Your eyes would naturally look at the brightest part of the image first.

Balance and empty space Elements in an image have a certain "visual weight". Elements that are visually heavy pull the eye more than elements with less visual weight and in order to get a good composition, all elements

need to be visually balanced. Factors that contribute to visual weight: •relative size of the element in the image, •whether it has the same or a different color, •whether it is sharp in focus or out of focus, •how complex the element is, •how much contrast it has.

Photo: Singapore, getting rid of Mosquitos. The best way to practice visual weight, is to look at photography that interests you and try to understand how the images are balanced. Empty space can be used to balance different elements in a composition. For photographs that have something moving, it is best to leave some additional "empty" space in the direction where they are traveling.

Photo: Leave some space in the direction of where the subject of the photo is traveling. Also notice the low point of view when photographing children.

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Routine checks Things to consider before pressing the shutter Just before you are about to hit that shutter button, do a quick few final checks. Border patrol, check the edges of the frame. • No distracting elements creeping in near the edges of

the frame? (The end of a branch that doesn't add anything to the picture. A bright spot near the edge of the frame draws your eye away from the main subject of the photo. Remove them by slightly changing the position of the camera!)

•Check if any parts of the image are cut off at an unpleasing angle. Avoid fingers or feet that are cut off at awkward positions. Reframe the image if necessary. Usually avoid a crop on a limb where it bends.(wrist, knee, elbow) •If you notice strong horizontal or vertical lines near the edges of the frame, just like with a horizon line, try to keep these aligned with edges of the frame.

Photo: my son had climbed into the bin to rescue a piece of art he had created which we had thrown away. He was unable to climb out.. Is the head of the subject in a clean spot? • No branches or poles sticking out of subject's head? • To make the subject standout against the background, look for contrast in the

background. • Can you enhance the contrast by changing the camera position? Find a clear non-distracting background for portraits Do I want to blur the background? Use a smaller aperture, for example f2.8 vs a larger aperture f8. A small aperture produces that creamy background, which is called 'bokeh'. The effect of the out of focus background is enhanced, when the distance between the subject and background is much larger, than distance between subject and camera. Photo: Looking at a Huntsman spider that was caught by a very brave photographer. Focus on the spider.

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For the Love of Photography

Do I see catch lights in the eyes? Slightly looking up towards the light produces this. Catch lights make the eyes more lively. Do I have my focus right? For portraits (one person) •If there is one person in the photograph that needs to be in focus, the best way to focus is to put the autofocus point onto the inside corner of the eye. For portraits (multiple persons) •If there are multiple persons in the image and they all need to be in focus, it depends on how they are positioned in relation to the camera, as to where to put the focus. Photo: Chameleon, taken through smudgy glass at zoo,

is looking slightly up for that tiny catchlight in eye! Generally you focus on the person that is closest to camera, but that doesn't always have to be the case. Creatively, you might want to put the focus elsewhere in the image. The way the focus for a lens works, is that once you focus at a certain point, the entire plane, perpendicular to the camera is in focus. So if people are more or less on the same focus plane, you can focus on one of them and they all will be in focus. If they are not in the same plane of focus, you might have to focus a little further into the scene and increase your depth of field, similar to how this is done in landscape photography. In landscape photography, the first thought might be to set your aperture to the highest number (deep depth of field) and focus on the furthest point in the scene. The little I know about lenses is, that they often perform their best somewhere in the middle of aperture ranges. This is often near f11 or f16. As for the area of focus. The way depth of field works is that the area of acceptable focus starts about one third

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in front of the focus plane and ends about two thirds behind it. If you need a deep depth of field, the rule of thumb is to place your focus about one third into the scene.

Pre-focus. For some situations where the subject is in motion, it can be tricky to get focus. It can help to pre-focus on an area where you want to make the photo, and then wait until the subject reaches that point. There are several ways to keep the focus locked. When you use the back

button-auto-focus technique, like I do, you simply let go of the button you assigned to focus. Once you have pre-focussed, you can switch off the auto focus (usually there is a switch on lens). Some cameras allow you to assign focus lock to a specific button. Photo: pre-focus and panning. Panning is a technique to follow the action with camera set to slow shutter speed. The cut-off helmet was not intentional but user error...also notice the white spot (car window) in the background. The eye is pulled away from the bright shirt to that spot and back. Once you have taken a few shots and checked the exposure and focus on the back of your

camera, try to change your position.

Walk-the-arc. Shoot from various angles. Do a quick border control each couple of photos you take. It will soon become second nature and your photography will improve. Photos: Get closer ...

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For the Love of Photography

Editing.. Pick your best, delete the rest The secret of a pro is to shoot a lot and to show very little. Pick your best, learn what works and what didn't, then delete the rest. Some photographers keep everything they shoot. The case where TIME photographer Dirck Halstead found the now famous Monica Lewinsky photo in his archives, seems to speak for that approach. I still edit, pick the best and delete the rest.. I use Lightroom for my post processing. My editing workflow is as follows:

• I look through all the images in a shoot and give each one I like, a one star rating. • I then select only the one star images and make another pass, rating the best with

two stars • Only these two star images get edited. • A small selection from those will be shown to the world

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The unrated ones will be looked at one more time, just in case I missed a gem, but then deleted. For the few images that I decide to work on, this is my post processing workflow in Adobe Lightroom:

• I often crop to make the image stronger

• Straighten the horizon if necessary

• Dodge and burn (selectively darken and brighten parts of the image)

• Increase contrast (shooting RAW usually produces a flat image that needs a bit of a contrast boost)

• Add vignette (darken the edges the draw eye into the image)

Photo: ...new years eve fireworks. Fond memories when my tripod tipped over onto the rocks, a few shots after this was taken ..

I only go to Adobe Photoshop if I need to do some more specific finishing to a photograph. Adobe's best kept secret is Adobe Elements. This is a fraction of the price of a full Photoshop version. Together with Lightroom, they are an amazing combo.

Photos: ..a bit of Photoshop fun!

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For the Love of Photography

Storytelling images Many photojournalists will tell you the secret to getting natural looking images, is to be patient. You have to wait until the novelty factor of the camera wears off and everybody goes back to what they were doing. My family is quite used to having a camera pointed at them. They often forget that it is there and that is when the magic happens. I am able to capture some great expressions and touching family moments.

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Experiment! Don't let all the high tech cameras and "rules" about composition, fool you into thinking that photography should not simply be fun. I love to try things and it is often the best way to discover new techniques and create surprising images.

Below are a few examples of some of my photography experiments. Star trails from our drive way. Set your camera to 30 s exposure and take a number of images in sequence. If you add them together in post production, you get to see these wonderful star trails. Shadows and reflective surfaces. A tunnel and light streaming through door opening.

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For the Love of Photography

Thank you As with my photography, this ebook is one big experiment. I created it on my iPad in Pages, a few hours here and there and finally completed it during the downtime of a 9 hour flight to Hong Kong. As with my photography, the experience of making this was sometimes frustrating (when I stuffed up the layout again and again), but rewarding in the

end. It was certainly a good excuse to look at my older images and see where they would fit to illustrate a point. To sign off, I will list a few podcasts and blogs that have great photography related information. They re-ignited my passion for photography and helped me take control of my camera. The Podcasts are all free and can be downloaded via iTunes or directly via the websites:

This Week In Photo http://www.thisweekinphoto.com/ Photo focus http://photofocus.com/ The Digital Photography Experience http://dpexperience.com/ PhotoNetCast http://www.photonetcast.com/ Shutters Inc http://www.shuttersincpodcast.com/ Big Lens Fast Shutter http://biglensfastshutter.com/ The Candid Frame http://www.thecandidframe.com/ Digital Photography Cafe http://digitalphotographycafe.com/ Depth of Field http://www.thedigitaltrekker.com/category/depth-of-field/ The ProPhotoShow http://www.prophotoshow.net/ The Digital Story http://thedigitalstory.com/

Blogs: The digital photography school http://digital-photography-school.com/ Back button auto focus

Canon: http://www.learn.usa.canon.com/resources/articles/2011/backbutton_af_article.shtml Nikon: http://mansurovs.com/nikon-ae-l-af-l-button

Life's what you make it.Cheers from Sydney, robvanelven.com� 30