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Getting the most from your photos

Here is where you'll find helpful tips and techniques for improving your photographs, from both a technical and an artistic perspective. Our judges will be contributing to this page, sharing their knowledge about composition, photographic techniques, digital camera technology, post processing and more.

Table of Contents

ArticleWhere do I start? by Sarah Hansegard
Learning about photography with useful references

ArticleBouncing the Flash by Mark Van Orden
Bouncing a flash to soften and illuminate your subject

ArticleRules of Composition by Mark Van Orden
Composing with "rule of thirds" and other tips

ArticleBasic Color Correction by Mark Van Orden
White balance and correcting color errors

ArticleThe Power of Post Processing by Mark Van Orden
Using Post Processing to enhance photos

ArticleConcentrate on “Seeing” by Sarah Hansegard
Learning to artfully compose your photos

ArticleGlossary: Exposure by PixArtWeb
Learn about aperture, shutter speed, and ISO 

“Where do I start?”
by Sarah Hansegard

Sarah HansegardWhen I started getting interested in photography 13 years ago, I felt a little overwhelmed and intimidated. I knew nothing about shutter speeds, aperture, focusing, cameras…Basically, I had a long way to go!

I don’t feel there is any shortcut to taking great pictures. If one is determined to get great images, you need to do your homework and practice. I can’t stress that last part enough! Practice practice practice!

Take that extra 10-20 seconds before you pull the trigger to think about the composition of the image, re-check the light meter and the focus. This alone can mean the difference between a snapshot, and a “wow” image.

If you are shooting a subject that requires a quick response, say you’re photographing running horses in a pasture, prepare yourself. Set up your depth of field, your composition (as much as you can), and set your camera to auto focus. Many cameras out there allow the user to shoot in bursts. Use this function to your advantage. Study the owner’s manual!

I also feel it’s equally important to become familiar with the history of photography. This can mean reading and studying the masters such as Edward Weston, Ansel Adams, Edwin Smith, Alfred Stieglitz, and Paul Strand. I also suggest looking into contemporary photographers, such as Rocky Schenck, Herb Ritts, and William Wegman…just to name a few. There is so much to find online about all these artists.

There was an editorial piece by Brooks Jensen that was published in LensWork magazine (www.lenswork.com) in their May/June 2005 issue that went over some great ideas about photography. I will only touch on a couple of points, but if you are interested in the article, I believe you can purchase back issues or their CDs.

  • Shoot more than you do, and be your own ruthless editor.
  • Move closer to your subject!
  • Work in projects, think of your work as storytelling. What do you want to say?
  • Photograph what YOU connect with. Don’t go for the “picturesque” shot, if you don’t have the passion for it, your lack of interest will come through the camera.
  • Learn to work alone! Photography is usually a solo project. It’s you, the camera, and the subject.

I can’t wait to see what comes next on PixArtWeb; this is only just the beginning!

Sarah Hansegard

Recommended Reading
Paul Strand /Masters of Photography/ published by Aperature
Mostly photos, but also includes a great essay from Mark Haworth-Booth

Paul Strand/The World On My Doorstep/Aperature
Profiles his work from 1950 untill his death in 1976.

Rocky Schenck: Photographs /Published by University of Texas Press
Mostly images, but the book is well put together and thought out.
Other books of interest
Jim Brandenburg: Looking for the Summer / NorthWord Press
My guy! Proud of this fellow native Minnesotan and his career with National Geographic.

Jim Brandenburg: Chased by the Light, a 90 day Journey/ NorthWord Press
Photography Instruction
National Geographic's Photography Field Guide/ Peter K Burian
A *very* handy guide that I've referenced many times, I used to carry this with me on my shoots.

Galen Rowell's Inner Game of Outdoor Photography/ Published by WW Norton
A talent gone before his time, Galen's articles are compiled here and reflect upon his philosophies about photography.

Close Up Photography by Jonathan Hilton/ ProPhoto series
A lot of stock photography and good basic information on macro photography. Helpful that many of the photos give the photographers details of the shot- their notes about camera, lens, and lighting.


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