Editors note: All images in this article taken or created by NOU contributor Debra Sheridan.
Photography is fun, is readily available, and easily sharable. Anyone with a smart phone has a camera. And there are a myriad of apps available, many free. It’s a great way to document your life. Photography is a fantastic way to express your feelings, share with others what is going on in your life, and stimulate your brain.
On The Edge
When I was recovering from tonsil cancer treatment I experienced significant chemo brain. I knew I needed to actively work at regaining the mental functionality I was missing. I had a lifelong love of photography and decided asking others to help me with my recovery. I walked around the block I lived on in my neighborhood, knocked on doors, explained my idea for recovery and asked for a project. It worked! I got two projects booked, one to document a gorgeous garden in full bloom, and a family portrait. The benefits were numerous:
–Interaction with people who didn’t know me but still agreed to work with me;
-Set goals and work toward achieving them;
-Gained a sense of accomplishment at a time I was despairing being able to be productive again.
One great benefit of taking up photography is you never stop learning. There are as many ways to create a photograph as there are people and situations. There are “rules” in photography but it is by knowing the rules that you can break the rules creatively.
Rule of Thirds
Watch the background
Look for frames
Fill the frame
Leading Lines (and frame)
Include head and hands
Another benefit of photography is the way it changes the way you look at everything. The more you take photographs, and analyze them, the more you look for opportunities to see light and capture it. You see people’s expressions and learn to capture fleeting moments. The wonderful thing about photography is you capture a moment in time, never to be reproduced ever again, no matter what. The flip side of that is if you see a moment and are not ready to capture it, it will forever be a mental image, for you to enjoy alone. Such an example happened for me just yesterday. I noticed a brilliant rainbow with color tinged clouds beside it in a blue sky and a Southwest Jet climbing. (can you see it? Rainbow colors with a bright blue and orange jet.) I watched the scene and when the jet had just crested the rainbow I captioned the image – “Going somewhere over the rainbow.” And I had no camera at hand to capture it. And so the composition of the image will remain in my mind archive.
There are many resources available to learn more about photography, how to train your eye to see light, suggestions for composition, and how to use your camera to create artist effects and images. The beauty of photography is that you can unleash your creativity. You get to determine what the image means to you. You can delve as deeply as you want to into the technical aspects of the physics and geometry of photography. By letting your creativity flow and learning new techniques and facts you build, or rebuild, neural pathways that will help in other aspects of your life. A great, and free, learning resource is Digital Photography School. http://digital-photography-school.com/ You can sign up for the weekly newsletter and/or peruse the archive of articles which cover a broad range of topics related to digital photography.
Regarding digital photography, there are two schools of thought. One maintains that digital photography can never replace the nuances of film photography. Unfortunately, the number of film manufacturers, the number of types of film, and labs to process the film are dwindling. The other freely embraces the added benefits of digital Imaging, and using the digital data captured by the cameras to create images in a way that film cannot. I remember when I was working with the CT scanner development team of a major medical imaging systems manufacturer and having a discussion with engineers that the day would come when the CT scanner would capture data scanning the patient and then the patient would be sent away and the date used (reconstructed and reformatted) to create images that could not be captured directly by the scanner.
Example of a typical neck CT layout for review and reading by the radiologist. The upper right image shows traditional slice, the other three images are created by putting all the slices together and recreating new views.
The same premise is true in digital imaging. The number of image apps you can download onto your smart phone or tablet or computer is a good indicator of the popularity of digital photography. Go to your app or play store to see which apps you may like. Instagram, Instasize, and Prisma are my go to apps on my phone.
On my computer I use Adobe Lightroom and Photoshop. I consider these the staples of digital photography. Adobe made a wise decision to create Creative Cloud, and offer a number of imaging processing and management programs for a monthly licensing fee of $9.99/month, with automatic upgrades available as soon as they are released. By using these tools I can control the “look” of my photographs rather than rely on what the camera thinks is the best way to capture a scene. I also use Topz Impressions for digital photo “painting.”
What the camera saw:
What I saw and created with Light Room:
Marketing folk agree with the old adage “a picture is worth a thousand words.” They know the inclusion of a color image increases by 80% the likelihood of their article being read. And we all know sometimes an image can express a message or feeling in a way than words cannot.
So, how do you get started with photography? First of all, the best camera you can have is the one in your hand. You can have the most sophisticated camera gear, but if you don’t use it is of no value. Start out using the camera built into your smart phone. Try out different apps for giving your images different looks. Watch YouTube videos to get ideas and tips. Read articles online. Do image topic searches on Instagram. Follow photographers who create images that appeal to you. As you progress with your confidence in the images you are creating join a local photography club. This is a great way to get constructive feedback about your images and learn ways to improve in the ways you want to. You can join in photo shoot sessions to try out new techniques. You will also make new friends! Bonus!! You can find a buddy to shoot with. This way you can collaborate and share ideas about capturing a scene or setting. There is great creativity growth with comparing how you see and how others see the same scene. And, you can always hire a photographer, like me, who will work with you on specific topics, such as explaining and showing what all those buttons on your camera do, practicing “seeing” a scene to create composition that conveys what you want to express, digital image archiving and management, digital image processing.
As you gain more experience you may want to branch out with different types of photography.
HDR (High Definition Resolution)
Transformation (I call these mirror and kaleidoscope)
Download this free app and have fun, either with photos you capture with your phone or with photos you’ve uploaded to your phone.
Photography is a wonderful way to express yourself, and share with others what you see day to day in life. Photography is flexible enough to let you play and be goofy or take it very seriously and delve deeply into the technology of cameras, detectors/receptors, and software.
Enjoy, and don’t forget to share!