While being a busy mother with many hobbies hasn’t given me a lot of time to devote to studying photography, I
dabble in research run across blog posts occasionally that inspire me to hone my photography skills. I’ve been attempting over the last two years to get better at taking photos, and I’ve learned a few things about myself as a photographer busy mom who takes pictures and my likes and dislikes as far as photography.
1) I hate editing. I see a lot of photos from professionals that are so obviously photoshopped that I feel like EDITING is the art as opposed to the photography. That’s great for them. It definitely gives cool looking pictures. But I don’t want to be a good editor. I want to be a good photographer. Yes, I edit my photos and some of them I edit extensively with my
super-expensive fancy photo-editing software free version of Picasa3, but I’m always looking for ways to take better PICTURES.
2) I love natural lighting, and like my photos slightly over-exposed.
3) I have this weird obsession with eyes, especially in natural lighting.
4) I’d much rather photograph people (especially their eyes…see #3) than objects or nature.
This morning while wading through the spaghetti bowl that is my morning time online (which consists of email, Facebook, reading blogs I’ve subscribed too, and participating in linkups), I stumbled upon two photography posts within a matter of minutes. The first one was entitled “Photography Myths Mom’s Can Ignore.”
This first post irritated me a tiny bit, as the first point of the post was to turn off the flash to get better pictures. But, ever the perfectionist, this quickly turned into a challenge. Because any time I feel like I’m being told “you’re doing it wrong,” I say back “okay…let me fix that.”
This is one time my perfectionism worked to my advantage.
My biggest struggle with photography right now is the limitations of my camera’s ISO (it only goes up to 1600)…and for those of you who don’t know what that means…well…google it. Because I don’t really remember what it means either. But it has something to do with lighting. And the lower the lighting in your environment, the higher your ISO needs to be.
But I’m not totally hating on my camera or its ISO. It’s honestly a great camera and takes phenomenal pictures in bright light or outdoors. It’s just my house… the place I spend the most time… that doesn’t get along with my camera. My house is small and each room only has one 3 foot window in it. At the right time of day, there is quite a bit of light in the house, but most of the time, things are pretty dim.
Enter problem three: moving subject (aka Ezra). The thing about low-light situations is that you need to use a slower shutter speed to let it more light (I think it goes something like this), which means that there is more time elapsing when you are taking the picture. Any movement, on either the part of the subject or the photographer will result in blur.
If you are lost, let me simplify:
Moving subject (aka wild boy) + low light (aka dark house) + lowish ISO (aka my camera) = blurry photos
And, as Ezra is pretty much the one thing that I enjoy photographing the most (remember, I like people!), I either have to put up with blurry pictures, or use the flash.
And the author is right about the flash. I really hate the flash too. It leaves things washed out and very over-exposed (and not the nice kind of over-exposure that I like). But I use it anyway because I’d rather get a washed-out captured memory than not capture the memory at all because all the photos were so blurry they weren’t worth keeping.
Now that I have explained all of that, let’s get back to the “feeling challenged and inspired” part of the post.
I got out of the shower to see Ezra in the play yard with sun filtering over his little face, and I decided to experiment some more with NOT using the flash and using the natural light close to the windows.
It’s hard to get the angle between the subject, the lighting, and the camera all in sync. I still got a little bit of blur with this one:
A few more attempts.
(Please don’t ask me why my son is eating a flash card, because I have no clue.)
Blurry hands, but the rest of the photo is great:
Exit flash card, enter juice cup.
Still getting some blur, but the eyes are in focus:
So then I moved to the back of the house where the sun was brighter to experiment with taking pictures of myself. (I remembered how great the photos turned outthat I took of my husband last week!) This is where the second photography post comes in. It was entitled “Portraits of a Mother” and gave a mother’s inside perspective on her own 365 day self-portrait photography project. It’s really nice to see other moms getting in front of the camera and made me feel less vain for using myself as a practice subject to improve my photography skills!
The trouble with the intense brightness of the morning sun, is that if you put the subject looking into the sunlight too much, the photos get really washed out, but if the subject’s face is aiming too far away from the sun, it creates too many shadows and the face is dark:
This photo really shows the extremes of both, as one side of my face is over-exposed, and the other is slightly covered with shadows. This photo is really creepy in my opinion…kinda like those cats with different color eyes:
Getting the right balance of exposure in relation to the sunlight takes a lot of experimentation with the angle of my face and body in relation to the window, the camera settings, and pretty much a lot of luck–because when you are taking a self-portrait by pointing the camera at your face because you are too lazy to set up your tripod and use the self timer, (and even if you weren’t lazy, you don’t have time because you are supposed to be getting ready to leave the house, not experimenting with photography, and you are already going to be 5 minutes late to where you are going as it is), you can’t really mess too much with the exposure settings.
But, I got a few lucky shots.
I really like this one (if you try to not notice the part where I cut off my own mouth):
This is my “I’m-really-starting-to-feel-ridiculous-for-taking-so-many-pictures-of-myself” face
Zooming out to show off my jeans:
I’m sorry I’m hurting your neck…this is me experimenting with camera angles:
And my personal favorite:
So there you have it. Flash-less photography in the morning light that filters in the windows of my house. I can’t wait to experiment some more!