Armed, but not dangerous, at least not yet….

So as I have said in an earlier post my camera is coming along more often. As much as I love my camera bag and everything that I can bring along sometimes it is just not as shoulder friendly as I would like it to be. So I am trying to cut down on what I bring and trying to go camera only. Half the time it feels as if I am walking around naked, I miss the bag that much. While it took a little bit of getting used to it made it easier to get some shots as I didn’t have an unwieldy bag to haul around. Fully loaded for a day trip my bag probably weighs more than it should and I guess that is my fault for wanting to be prepared for everything. I am horrible at packing suitcases too, not just camera bags.  With just my camera, my 18-200mm lens, a few filters, and lens cloths it is a much lighter load, so I can get around a bit easier and stay active a little bit longer as the weight doesn’t drag me down. I went to USJ and hit the local park like this. Even forgoing my tripod! I have to say on one hand I am happy with some of my shots, while on the other I was longing for the bag and every little bit of magic it contains.
So since there is a little blur in Mel’s diner, don’t hold it against me! Shot in the cold, without a tripod, shaking hands were kind of a problem.

I also hit up my local park and was able to use my Kenko Pro 1D AC CLOSE-UP #3. The effect it gave was varied and it created a kind of “slice” of focus which was very hard to work with. I think I really need to hit the gym more also to help take care of this shaking hands. Not sure if it’s just me or if everyone’s hands get shaky after holding up the 7D for long periods of time. Needless to say the tripod would have probably came in handy again here but I didn’t have it on me.

As you can see very little is actually in sharp focus. So this little guy will take a lot more work to get decent at.

While I like the effect on flowers, I’m not quite sure what else I will use it on.

So while I have been using it more and going to try to get it out even more often I find that I always want my bag when I don’t have it. And and I don’t want to carry it when I do. Such is life I guess.

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Working on it

So with my last post deciding what I should work on I have started working! You should feel proud! I feel proud! However as I have been sick for going on about two weeks now I haven’t gone out and gotten new shots…… How am I working you ask?  That is a good question! Youtube and Adobe tutorial videos and such! Yeah for the computer!

Everyone knows that the camera can’t see what you see in fact sometimes it’s way off~ way way off sometimes if you are me. If you are working with a DSLR, welcome to heaven and purgatory! Better known as Photoshop and Lightroom in my case. One I have trouble getting it just right in but when I do it’s great and two is fantastic for organizing and non-serious edits but I hardly get any photos out of it, they just sit in limbo. More of a personal problem I know but I would like to believe that it happens to all photographers at one time or another.

So what have I been doing about it you ask. Well first I watched The Grid: How to be a better Photographer in 2014 and as you know I scrapped my 365 project, we had that lovely discussion earlier. I decided I needed to learn PS and LR better than I already do, which involved me buy Scott Kelby’s book covering Lightroom 5 because I like his writing and his book usually covers enough to get me going into the extras that I can later explore on my own. So started flipping through that learning some new tricks and tips. I headed online and watched a bunch of educational(FREE) videos because I wasn’t going out in the wind and cold. So with my hot chocolate I sat down to absorb all I could in about 3 or 4 hour segments.

I realized that I did not know as much as I thought I did. So then I decided to delve into all the photos! I mean ALL THE PHOTOS… I hate deleting, that just in case always gets me. So I decided to start just randomly and closed my eyes and clicked a folder. It happened to be my Shirakawago trip. I then picked a photo I really liked but I couldn’t get to work/look the way I wanted. This was the photo I started with….Snow in Color - Original

So as you can see it’s kind of flat, a little boring and not really at all how that morning looked to me. The snow is rather gray and a little dirty~ Not really the pristine snowy landscape I saw. So using all the wonderful information I has absorbed I took it all into lightroom, took 3 of the different exposures, bumped them over and into HDR in photoshop and then SURPRISE, SURPRISE I bumped them back into LR as a 32bit TIFF! Oh the things you learn… So about an hour or so later, yeah I’m still learning LR, I had a final-ish product.

Snow in Color

Now I tried to crop it so those little branches on the side disappeared but the crop looks funny and as much as I don’t like them I have started to like them. Not sure if that is good or not. So what do you think? Let me know! More and more the work continues. So much more to do and learn and hopefully when I get over this stupid sickness I will be able to get out and get more shots.

A need shutter actuations~

New year new goals.

Ah dear reader, it’s nice to see you again. I am still here but I happen to be a little lost. As you know I am on a quest to better my photography. I even started a 365 project to do so….. And then I watched an episode of the grid that told me not to! I was told I should instead figure out what I want to do. Therein lies the rub. I want to do it all! Except portraits.

It was hinted at that I should decide to master one thing this year and not just be generic. So… What should it be… Let us do a process of elimination together ^_^

Portraits -as you know are out, I’m one of those awkward people, those who know me know this.

Wildlife – don’t have the glass or the time to travel extensively. I live in the city so the only wildlife is rats and cats. Neither are really high on my list.

Macro -don’t have the glass, and though beautiful takes a lot of time, effort and bugs.

Street/city – back to being that awkward person.. Let me leer at you through my lens. Also having a camera around my neck makes me stick out a little more than I already do here in Japan.

Underwater – would love to do these… If I could afford the housing so I wasn’t freaking out about water damage every 2 mins.

Trains – um nope. I mean great for practicing different skills but not something I enjoy taking pics of.

Sunrise/set – oh the over done joy! Honestly I like these but unless you are somewhere spectacular I really don’t want to see another.

Food – see above. In all honesty I don’t care how it looks, the most important thing for me is how’d it taste.

Architecture – this I enjoy, let my buildings lean! Lean back, lean back. So we got one that’s a maybe…

Landscapes – oh sweeping beauty how I wish you looked at least similar in my final product.

Daily life/traditional life – I live in Japan, opportunity abounds, but some odd million other people live here also…

Nature – Flowers, overdone but beautiful. Autumn leaves, see Flowers. But I enjoy it none the less. So that gives us another one to work on.

So I guess that gives me landscapes/scenic views and Nature. Hand in hand I guess. But I want to add “leaning” architecture to that too. And maybe a bit of daily life?

See the problem I’m running into here? I can’t get it down to just one. The tragedy! But I guess that will give me more to work with. So it seems that I will have to rename my G+ album and start getting more focused. I have ideas, but same problem as always. I actually need to get up and off the couch to do them!

And as I do not have a nice scenic landscape on my phone to post. Here! Enjoy this chocolate piggy~
image

What’s in a Name?

I am a big fan of Patrick Rothfuss. If you know who I am talking about then double extra bonus points for you! I have just finished re-re-re-re(maybe one more re-) reading his two books while I am awaiting the third and something struck me as interesting. I HATE NAMING my photos or entitling them if you will. I believe in a way it detracts from them! Well for the most part, sometimes I will find something that just works. If you have read the book or thee books then you will know why this is relevant.

So here is my question for you…. Do you enjoy naming your photos? If so why? I find it one of the hardest parts of my photography. In fact if you check out my G+ page you will find of a lot of the photos are named… Why you ask? Because I feel like its a failure on my part if there isn’t a name along with my photos. But at the same time I feel that in a way I am forcing my view upon whoever is viewing my photos. Maybe they don’t see the same thing, maybe it creates a different feeling, maybe there is some other connection that just isn’t there for me and by titling my photo I have now taken that chance away.  AAAAHHHHH THE PRESSURE!!!

This is especially true of photos of people or animals, for the most part I focus on nature and landscapes but sometimes…. ahhh sometimes its just too cute or too perfect to pass up and when I get it home and load it up its still perfect! But it will just sit there…. in an abandoned folder on my hard drive lost forever due to the fact I can’t, or won’t name it! *sigh* There is a literally a folder… and the folder itself was just left as “unnamed”.

The pressure… I pretty sure there are people out there that would love a job to just sit around a name photos, to be honest it would be a fun job, but I would still be afraid I am taking away something that someone else may see by the simple action of slapping a name on it!

 

 

THE BOX

THE BOX, you either love it or you hate it! Then again there are those of us that just don’t really care 😉

If you haven’t figured it out we are talking about Instagram. Arguably the most popular photo sharing social media site out there. Started in mmnnmnm (What Anne means is “October 2010” – K) and now owned by the Big Blue Giant FB the box hasn’t changed.

I use instagram…. >.>…. sometimes. My screen name is Chimera_Refelections. I usually don’t post a lot of mobile photography per say as much as I take my camera shots and crop them to fit the box. I also hate trying to hashtag all my photos.

I happen to use G+ for a lot of my mobile shots now. Even before it changed owners I wasn’t a big user and after well…. I felt much less likely to use it. From my previous trip I posted a few shots of Fu but other than that I haven’t done much. In all honesty if I used it more it would probably be pics of my daily life (which I assume is what its supposed to be) and my dog.

Her first ocean wave~

A post shared by Anne Vornbrock (@anne_vornbrock) on

Being the stupid perfectionist that I tend to be when it comes to my photography I don’t like posting half thought out shots and thats what most of my mobile shots are. My bf on the other hand is an instagram pro, his screen name is shirokodogg  and he spends HOURS and HOURS (small exaggeration……not really pretty sure he spent an hr on some of those photos) getting that perfect instagram shot. He works from within the box to begin with and doesn’t crop. I on the other hand can’t spend that much time doing so with my phone. I like being able to enjoy the moments as the come rather than record them as they go.  Especially if I didn’t bring my big camera for just that reason. I am one of those people who get upset, well FURIOUS, at those people who can’t put their phone down and just enjoy dinner or the park or wherever we are. Also I hate it when my phone dies and the camera and auto-upload with G+ are two things that drain my battery!

I, on the other hand, use Instagram quite a bit.  You can find me as kwaterloo.  As per my previous post, I use it more to share moments in my life with my friends and family.  I do equal parts bringing a photo in to Instagram and simply using the camera feature within Instagram.  It depends on how quickly I want to get the shot.  And I don’t typically spend a whole lot of time perfecting a photo.  I worry less about “does this photo look amazing?” and more about “will this photo remind me of the experience I was having at the time?”  

My evening.

A post shared by Kate Waterloo (@kwaterloo) on

I was very hesitant of using Instagram at first, but once I took those first steps, I broke out into a run into the Instagram craze.  I don’t have it linked to my Facebook or my Twitter.  I have more friends on Facebook and don’t necessarily want to flood their news feeds with pictures of my cats (read: they would not enjoy being flooded with pictures of my cats).  

Disco… Are… Are you trying to seduce me?!?

A post shared by Kate Waterloo (@kwaterloo) on

And then this happens.

A post shared by Kate Waterloo (@kwaterloo) on

But I am considering connecting it to my Twitter, just for shits and giggles.  I feel like Twitter would appreciate my cat pics more than Facebook would.  I tend to be one of those people that’s always on my phone.  But I think that has more to do with the fact that I’ve had a smartphone for less than a year and am still mesmerized by the whole experience.  If I am at dinner or out somewhere with a friend, what I usually do is snap a quick picture and deal with Instagram later.  That way I get to capture the moment and enjoy it!  

Being Mobile

Almost everyone has a camera on them. If you are reading this you probably own and have with you at this moment at least one or two cameras. One would probably be on your computer or tablet or whatever you are reading this on and the other would be on your cell phone/mobile. I am sure many of you have heard of the Chicago Sun-Times firing the whole photography staff and then giving out iphones to make up the “new” staff. It was a shock to the photo community as a whole and in a way a sign of the things to come. What is interesting is when you come down to it being a “photographer” is the easiest job to get in the world because all you technically need is a camera, preferably you also have talent but its art, so again subjective. Instagram fame aside apps like Flickr’s, Streamzoo, 500px, Lightbox, Muzy, and We heart it, all point to a new direction in photography. Social sites like G+ and Facebook have a heavy emphasis on photos and even offer automatic uploading from your mobile device. The new trend is towards social photography. We enjoy “hearting” or “thumbing” to show our appreciation but let us not lie….. we also greatly enjoy being a critic, and an anonymous critic at that, no chance for backlash well not a great chance, you can always block them. Using these services in a way also limits the photographer. They no longer have to think about how to show this photo to the best of their ability. This also affects how we see things and what we expect in a photo. When everything is laid out cleanly we become more attracted to it because it’s easier to process and able to be processed quicker. Instagram for example only works in one frame, that of a square, all members of the community must operate within that square. So when we pull up IG it automatically appeals to us because everything is uniform. Though the pictures are different the layout is always the same. When you move over to Streamzoo for example the “photographer” has the option of using their original photo or cropping it. It doesnt seem as visually appealing for this simple reason. But social photo-sharing sites and services aside. How else is this changing photography and what are some key points to remember when you are out and about and only have your mobile available?

What are some simple tips to great, well decent, mobile photos you ask? Well most our common sense and a few are some that are always optional.

1. CLEAN YOUR CAMERA! Let me just say that my phone resides for most of the day at the bottom of my purse, and well… I think I still have a few M&M escapees down there too…>.>  Among other things. But needless to say I have found this clears up quite a lot of my “cloudy” photos. Whether you decide to go all out with a case or to just carry around a small cloth for cleaning it will definitely will help you out!

2. Check your case. If you have a case do a little test. Take a photo with the case on and the same photo with the case off. You might be surprised but the photos may actually be quite different. Due to lighting, shadows, focusing in & out, and how secure you case is there could be a difference even if slight in the quality of your photos. I have to take off my case if I plan on doing a short video or a shadowed scene or sometimes depending on the light a bright as my case is red and reflects a bit the light in my photos also changes.

3. Check your settings. No I’m not talking about your “night mode” or “portrait mode” I am referring to all the other options your phone may have. In my case I have a global HTC One ❤ which I love! Not sure how fond of the “ultra pixel” I am yet… more on that later. However, as for optional settings I can control my Crop, Quality, In phone Image adjustments, ISO, White Balance, Lock focus, Auto smile capture, Geo tagging, face detection, auto uploads, Touch to capture, Grid, Continuous shooting, default filter, and Flash just to name a few. These settings can be personalized to your style to help you get the photos you want.

4. Get the Light! Lets face it, you aren’t carrying around a mini-DSLR here. All phones are different but lets just say that the sensors are all about the same size… for the most part. Don’t expect amazing HDR photos or superb night shots because it’s just not going to happen. Read the light, change the light, use the flash! Whatever you need to help brighten your subject the better it will look.

5. Now go on and check your mode. Most smartphones today come with different modes, or filters. These can both help or hinder you…. but they are there! USE THEM IF YOU NEED THEM!

These are probably the most common sense things once you read them but I doubt you have seen many people clean off the lens after they pull it out of their pocket before they take the shot. Now I can’t tell you how to take your shot only that these will help you get that shot!

Last but not least depending on your phone and your style you might want to get or invest in a phone photo editor. I enjoy Snapseed. It works great for me.

I will leave you with a few shots that were shot by my HTC One and minor edits in Snapseed.

Up or Down~ Illusion

Squishy Nose~ It’s her ball

Remember it isn’t the camera that makes the photographer, it’s the eye behind it.

~Anne

The Highs and Lows

Its all about the light but in particular its how you see and use the light. Probably the hardest and most complicated part of photography beyond photoshop would be light. Composition is something you can study and it has rules. Lighting…. well its subjective.

Now most people know the “golden” hours and most also know the “blue” hours, however there are other hours based on where you live and whats around you. Here in Nagoya I have what I like to call the “blushing” hours, at dawn everything is rather pink-ish here. Spend a day watching the light, and picking out the hours you have,  whether its from your favorite cafe or from your bed through the window, this I lay down as a challenge to you.

Light as a whole though and how you see it and how it works in your photos is completely up to you. Subjective kinda sucks doesnt it? But I wanted to talk about two “styles” of using light in your photography as I cant really explain light to you. They are called “High Key Photography” and “Low Key Photography”. Even if you dont recognize their names you will recognize their looks.  The easiest way to explain it is high key is bright and Low Key is dark. Simple right? Or if you are a histogram person, high key leans right and low key leans left.

High key photography can range from a black and white picture, to soft pastels, to bright pops of color. They key is that there are no shadows or almost no harsh/deep shadows. High key photos usually give you that happy feeling or the soft romantic feeling. The amount of detail you keep in a high key photo is completely up to you. You have probably seen this style used the most in Instagram selfies, baby pictures, wedding pictures, pictures of flowers, and high end product ads(think any recent electronic). High key photos can be done many ways but the three most popular ways are to over-expose your shot, have your subject facing a bright lights, or photoshop. Photoshop can give you more control on what you want to keep and how you want the end result to look, especially if you are just starting out. Of course you can do all three. As for getting a high key shot this doesnt mean you blow-out all of your shots and voilà you have it mastered it! It takes a little bit. Go on and try it.

First Example of Bright color High key photo

More muted version of a high key photo

Low key as you can imagine is the opposite. It usually deals with spot lighting, low lighting, and of course dramatic lighting. These are also most commonly seen in black and white, muted colors or soft colors. It varies about but mostly you will have the subject against a completely black backdrop, harsh shadows and pinpointed lighting. You would usually see this type of photo for dramatic portraits, flowers, and “serious” introspective shots. As I dont have photos of people you can imagine that I fall into again…. dun da DUN! Flowers. Sorry, I know I need to expand my subject base. That’s part of the reason for this blog! If you want to see dramatic portraits open a magazine or simply google (yes i used that as a verb) Low Key Photography. Anyway on to the low key shots.

Low Light shot that retains color

Slightly blacker background but I liked the warm feeling so didnt black it out

These are two styles that we see almost everyday in various settings. Whether its online or in print. They are also probably two of the easiest styles to practice and hopefully perfect. I personally believe that high key photography is slightly easier than low key. Low key for me depends more on the lighting and how you read that lighting. Always a hard point for me. I hope that you learned something new today, and if not then teach me something new, that’s what the comments are for!

~It’s the time you take and the effort you make.

~Anne