1/21/2013

Using A Still Life To Learn Photography



Hi! I hope you had a lovely weekend. My weekend was just that. I relaxed, worked out, made a dessert that I CAN'T WAIT to share with you tomorrow, had a wonderful lunch with Amy of Your Southern Peach (the sweetest person!) and had a few dates with my camera. Speaking of my camera, I thought I would change things up today to tell you about something that has taught me a lot about photography...

 More after the jump...


Many of you sweet readers have asked me how I have learned photography. My one word answer is practice. Practice, practice, practice and more practice. I bought this Canon digital camera almost two years ago. At that time I knew absolutely nothing about the camera or photography for that matter, so I took an inexpensive six week digital photography class at this local photography school to learn the basics. If you are new to digital photography, I highly recommend taking a class. If you can't find a class in your area, then this online class would be a great option. You might not walk out of the class taking the best pictures in the world, but you will have a much better understanding of how the camera works and your strengths and weaknesses. 

The main thing about digital cameras is learning how to shoot in manual mode. Manual mode simply means that you control all of the aspects (i.e modes) of the camera. I was terrified and quite frankly terrible at shooting in manual mode at the beginning. But I got much better with practice. Lots of practice. I know I keep harping on practice, but it is honestly the best teacher. 

One of the ways I practice shooting in manual mode is by creating a still life. I simply gather a few items with various heights, colors and textures that I have around the house and style them. It's sort of the same concept as setting a dinner table. I put the styled items in a spot in my house that has good natural light. I then take different shots of the still life from different angles. I adjust the settings, in manual mode, based on where I'm sitting or standing and the direction of the light. If the picture looks too dark, light or blurry, then I adjust the ISO, aperture or shutter speed to get the desired photo. If those terms are foreign to you, this chart is a great reference tool...


So here are a few photos I took of a still life that I created along with the camera settings for each photo. I shot this on the floor of my entryway and the light was coming from a window on the left side of the photo (the first photo of this post). I used this 50mm f/1.8 II lens, which is the lens I recommend for beginners. It's inexpensive and pretty much takes good photos of anything anywhere.

ISO 800, aperture f/5, shutter speed 1/80 

ISO 800, aperture f/5, shutter speed 1/100 

ISO 800, aperture f/5, shutter speed 1/80

ISO 800, aperture f/3.5, shutter speed 1/80

The light was indirect morning light, so I used an ISO of 800, which is good to use when shooting indoors. I mostly used an aperture of 5.0, which means that from where I was shooting, there was enough light that I didn't need the lens to bring in additional light. However on the last picture, I was standing in front of the light, so I used a lower the aperture of 3.5 so that the lens would bring in more light. The lower aperture also defined the texture on the juice glass and created a blurred background. Even though the light was indirect, there was enough light to use a medium shutter speed of 1/80, which isn't fast, but isn't slow either. If this were direct afternoon light, then the shutter speed would be must faster (i.e. 1/125 +).

So the main takeaway from all of this is that if you are interested in learning photography, practice as often as you can. It might get frustrating at times, but keep going. You will get better as long as you keep trying! Creating a still life is one of the best and easiest ways to learn, so try it out!

If you have any additional questions, please feel free to ask in the comments section or send me an e-mail!

P.S. These were slightly edited using iPhoto. Yep, I use iPhoto even though I own Photoshop! Yikes. Editing photos in Photoshop terrifies me just like using manual mode terrified me when I was learning how to use my camera. But my goal is to learn how to use Photoshop to edit photos- one day! :)
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20 comments:

  1. You are hired! You make it look so easy. One of my nay goals this year is to take a photography class and learn a little...feel like such a novice. Thanks for the tips..its a start!

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  2. Like you, I knew nothing about photography. But loving picutres, I bought the expensive camera and took the lil class, but I have since been disappointed that my photos dont look any different than they did before. I was so encouraged by your post because you reminded me of the one thing I havent done: PRACTICE! Sure I take pics but have been avoiding the manual mode because I'm afraid! All those dials, all those numbers, all those big words.... But I have been moved by your journey and how lovely your photos are. I'm going to determine to practice and using the helpful info you posted, I WILL USE MANUAL MODE! Wish me luck! :)

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  3. Always wanting to learn more about photography! These are great tips! Thanks for the suggestions! And you are right--Practice is what it takes!

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  4. The passion you show for photography is amazing. It's refreshing to see a blogger learn how to use a camera manually and tackle the challenges. Some people never have the courage to turn that little dial from A to M and don't know what they're missing.

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  5. This is so great! My blog has also forced me to learn more about photography. I've been practicing a lot. Seeing your still images with the settings is very helpful. Thanks for sharing!!

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  6. just wrote down tons of notes from this! Thank you so much!!!!
    Definitely going to practice with a still life set up. I bought Nicole's Classes book which taught me what I know now but I never ever would have thought to raise the ISO that high when there was already light. What I learned from the book is that the ISO brings in a lot of light which is used for low light and nighttime shots. But your photos look amazing so I am definitely trying that!!

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  7. Gosh, I wish I had an OUNCE of skill and talent that you do! Gorgeous photos. I get so overwhelmed that I don't even try...other than editing. I should take advantage of iPhoto more often. Right now I use Picasa or PicMonkey.

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  8. These are great tips Tiffany! I'm so so glad you shoot with a Canon T2i, I have a T3 and I was thinking 'is this not good enough for the photos I want to produce?', but looking at yours and through your blog archives, I think I'll definitely be fine.
    You have also inspired me to finally just bite the bullett and take a photography course. And of course, practice ;). But I am getting pretty alright at using photoshop now, so that's a plus too.
    Great post!

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  9. This is coming at a perfect time! I desperately need to improve my photography skills. My sister, who is a photographer, is coming to visit and we'll be spending some time dealing with the awful lighting in my kitchen in the evening so that I can create better photos for my blog. I'll be spending some time with the chart before she comes so I'm ready to talk camera. Thanks Tiffany! You have a superb eye for food styling and photography...I so admire. : ) Nicole

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  10. Olá Tiffany!!!!
    Acabei de conhecer o seu blog e achei maravilhoso!!!!Parabéns!
    Me visite:algodaotaodoce.blogspot.com.br

    Bj Marie.

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  11. So so happy we made a point to get together and finally meet. YOU are the sweetest :) You've officially motivated me to practice more in manual mode and definitely looking into the classes too. See you soon!

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  12. Love the tips, TIffany!! I am learning digital photography (week 2 of a course coming up!) and love any tips and tricks I can get. I'll be pinning this and would love future tips!

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  13. Great tips Tiffany, thanks for sharing :) I'm the proud owner of a Nikon D5000 but have not nearly gotten close to understanding it completely. This is a good motivation to practice more!

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  14. Thank you for this post, your tips are spot on and easy to follow; I have a lot of practice to do! Thanks for sharing the great links too xx

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  15. Love Love and Love these tips! I've had my camera for some years, but the more I play (practice) with it, the more I realize there's so much more to learn! Thanks for sharing your knowledge...you know that I think your pics are ahhhhmazing!

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  16. Cannot believe these are edited in iPhoto! You're so funny. Photoshop is very simple to edit with if you just stick to playing with a few adjustments. I only adjust the brightness, contrast, saturation and sometimes the levels. Love this little tutorial! Hoping to get really good at photography this year :)

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  17. wow! i totally need a few of these lessons, tiffany. the first image you featured is fantastic. my thought was, "did tiffany take that photo?" you do it like a pro.

    donna

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  18. Love your way of explaining this! I also love those napkins! ;)

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  19. Hope is truly the driving force in us all. Finding someone you believe in, and who believes in you, braids that Wildlife Photography For Sale hope into success.

    ReplyDelete

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