Review: Digital Nature Photography

Digital Nature Photography

I’m an unabashed amateur when it comes to photography. I mostly snap quick photos using my phone these days, and I only haul out the DSLR for things that require better lighting or have more detail (primarily close-ups of knitting or plants tbh). I do still want to be better at using the DSLR, though, and I thought this would be a good book for instruction since I like taking photos of things in the garden/yard/nature already. As I read into it, I learned that I was right in that this book is overtly JUST for DSLR technique. Not film, not phone, not point and shoot.

I already have a DSLR, but if I didn’t, this book has a lot of great info on how to choose one and what options are out there. I do need to spend more time with the setting up your camera section, though, as I’d like to learn how to shoot RAW so I have more options. There’s also a ton of technical information that I need to let soak in and then play with repeatedly over time in order to learn what my preferences are and what gives me the best results. I feel like this should be a good guide, though, for that kind of practice. Should I get to the point where I’m ready to invest in an additional lens, there’s a lengthy chapter on different types.

The part I was really looking for, though, is the chapter on composition. I feel like I have a pretty good eye for this on my own, but I certainly have room to improve. There’s also a good chapter on close-ups, both with and without a macro lens. I’ll be practicing some of the techniques from that as well.

The only drawback to this book for me is also one of its features, depending on your perspective: John Shaw is clearly a very talented photographer who has had the opportunity to shoot in a wide variety of stunning and remote locations. Many of his photos are of rare creatures or landforms that aren’t accessible to most folks without a lot of travel. I do appreciate the beauty of these subjects, but I would appreciate someone with his expertise demonstrating photography with more commonly accessible subjects. I am looking forward to practicing his techniques, though, as I improve my photography knowledge and DSLR skills.

Disclaimer: I received this book from Blogging for Books.

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nature and shit

So I’ve been trying to learn more about how our DSLR camera works so I can take advantage of more of its capabilities. I saw this tutorial pinned a few times on Pinterest, and lo and behold, unlike a ton of other stuff on there, it turned out to actually have good information behind the pin!

silver maple

This is the silver maple tree in front of our house, as seen from where I usually sit on the couch. I can’t believe this photo turned out this well considering it’s through the window and on a pretty overcast day. I did crop it to a square shape to cut out the little bit of the interior that was visible.

barberry

I’d noticed recently (while peering out our bedroom window at the for-sale house next door) that the barberry shrubs I planted a few years ago actually have a couple berries on them! I’ve never actually seen any berries on them before – I’m not sure if they were under snow, never developed, or were quickly eaten by birds in the past, but I was happy to see a few. Of course I wasn’t thinking ahead and didn’t write down any of the settings I was playing with while I took these photos. But! Awesomeness of digital cameras is that they record that shit for you! It’s taken care of! It even shows up on Flickr so I can see it easily when I look at any particular shot I’ve uploaded. Anyway, I’m pretty pleased with how these turned out! For a first try, I’d say it was a success for sure.

barberry

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GOALs

Ash in the snow

I’ve been thinking about the goals I wanted to set for myself for this coming year, and it’s really easy to get bogged down in the little stuff. My love of to-do lists (and dependence on and adoration for Evernote) makes it easy to have a hundred million items on the lists of things I want to do, and having so many possibilities all right in front of me tends to make me want to just curl up on the couch under a blanket, not actually pursuing any of them. So here are the big things I’m going to try for in 2013.

* knit up existing stash yarns
* refresh our home
* practice photography (this includes learning more about DSLR manual modes)
* find the right job
* blog regularly

Most of these will result in many more small successes which I can celebrate along the way, but I feel like I will be able to manage working toward these big goals without putting a ton of pressure on myself.

I started out the new year on the right foot with a little DSLR practice. I was still on automatic mode, but I played around with shooting outside in the super-sunny snowiness, and I felt that I got a good result. I’m doing a 52weeks project this year, and it felt good to get the first photo taken (following the monthly theme) on the first possible day. I’ll be posting about the 52weeks experience over at AnneArchy, so feel free to keep your RSS eye over there, too.

So here’s to a fresh new year with fresh possibilities!

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cambra!

So I invested in a new camera recently: a DSLR! It’s a Canon EOS Digital Rebel XS, and it was featured on Woot! so I was able to get quite a good deal. Hooray!

I’m still learning how to use it – just beginning to learn how, really. We’ve had such a warm winter thus far, I was able to take some photos out in the garden without even getting cold.

back garden

I clearly didn’t ever finish cleaning up in the gardens this fall – there are still weeds out there, but at least some of them are interesting to look at.

back garden

It’s been ridiculous how little snow we’ve had, and how many warm days. The grass, crabby and uneven as it is, would usually be protected somewhat in winter. Instead, we are constantly tracking in pieces of dead grass and there are lots of little muddy spots throughout the back yard. I haven’t decided yet what action we’ll take in the spring. We’ve contemplated having it re-sodded, but I am so loathe to spend such a lot of money on something as lame as grass.

back garden

The Coreopsis looks pretty even when it’s dead!

back garden

The purple wintercreeper is really looking nice on the ugly back fence. Hopefully by next year it’ll be all filled in, but at least what’s there is purple and lovely.

back garden

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