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Improving your Photography

I have the pleasure of being able to shoot the team pictures for my local high school.  Last week, I shot the Football pictures.  Having seen some of Scott Kelby’s and Matt Kloskowski’s recent photos this past year, I wanted to try to replicate their harsh light/gritty looking images.  For this picture I used one strobe (off the camera to the right) balanced by an early morning sun to the left. I used a 70-200 mm lens to both blur the background a bit and to bring the scoreboard in a little bit closer.   Since this is to be the young althlete’s individual picture, I didn’t take the effect quite to the extreme that Scott and Matt do.

I’m using the image to lead into my topic today.  How do you improve your photography?  One thing that has helped me (and still is) in my photography, is to look at as many photographs as possible and read as much about photography as I can.  But as pointed out by Scott Bourne in is post today, you have to do more than just look at the photographs.  You need to try to figure out how the photograph was made.  Where is the light coming from?  What lens was used?  What was the shutter speed, aperture and ISO?  What kind of post processing was used?  Currently, two of my favorite places to look at pictures (other than the blogs I read) are Flickr and lately 500px.  500px has blown me away.  The level of quality on this photo sharing site is huge.  I have an account myself, but I’m reluctant to put my images up next to the ones on the site.  It tends to look like a before and after add!  A great feature of this site is that most photographers put their exif data and a story about how the picture was taken.  The data is pretty much the numbers I talked about above.  So armed with this information it’s much easier to deconstruct the picture.  The ‘story’ allows you to understand what the photographer was trying to show in his photo.

One last thought on this topic that Scott doesn’t include in his post today.  Anymore, it is just as important to constantly improve your editing skills as your camera skills.  As you look through the pictures on 500px, I would dare say that 99% of them have been edited with Lightroom and Photoshop.  If you want to improve your editing skills, there are tons of videos available for free on the web.  Today, Matt Kloskowski posted a tip on using the adjustment brush in Lightroom.  He’s a great teacher, easy to listen to and generally straight to the point.  He posts these short videos about once a week on his site.  Currently, I’m reading his newest book, Photoshop Compositing Secrets.  Both Scott and Matt write great books on editing.  They’re a great place to start improving your skills and both have a pleasant, humorous approach.

By the way, there are a lot of photographers on Google Plus.  If you would like to stick me in one of your circles (that just sounds wrong!), my account is +Bruce Vigneault.  If you need an invite, feel free to email me for one!  Also, if you want to practice your photography, Scott Kelby is sponsoring his third annual, Worldwide Photowalk. It’s an opportunity to get out and shoot with other photographers for a day or two (October 1st and 2nd).  Just go to the link above and find a walk near you (their are a number of them in Michigan) and sign up!  This will be my second one (I was out of the country last year).  They’re a ton of fun and an opportunity to talk to other photographers about your passion.  Also, they are free and there are prizes to win!!

If you have a favorite source of pictures that you look at or a site for tutorials on editing, please share by leaving a response below!

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