Sunday, 15 November 2009

Get your photography to the next level through Photography Forums

A friend of mine asked me the other day to help her critique her photography she would really want to take her photography forward to a higher level. It got me thinking that the same way helped me when I started out and that maybe some of my fellow followers might be interested in the same.

To have someone else take a close look and critique your photographs is one of the best ways for you as a photographer to excel. Yes, it can also be a bit daunting in the beginning to have someone else look at your pictures. But you need to keep in mind that everything is someone else’s opinion and there rarely is anything right and wrong. Even if you are not adhering to the rules of thirds in your photographs it does not mean its wrong if you do it deliberately. You should always be aware of when you are breaking photography rules, when you do it on purpose to give that little extra to your photograph its ok. Remember to take the critique constructively as I am sure it is meant. Also if you are trying to help another photographer you have to always give a reason why you think this and that not only say I don’t like it its no good since that will never help any photographer to get better. You might think that oh well I am not good enough to give critique and I must stay that is wrong you do learn a lot when you are critiquing someone else’s photographs since you will have to really look and think of what did the photographer try to do here etc. So join a photo forum and also try to give advice to others as well and not only try go get advice.

If you do not have a photographer that you can ask to critique your photographs I can recommend being part of a Photography Forum. There you can post your photographs and have other photographers or photo enthusiasts give their thoughts about your picture.

I started with this Photo forum, since they were part of the community where I lived at the time. We had monthly meetings where we met to discuss photography. Many brought with them their own printed photographs that we could give our feed back on. I also organized Photo Walk Tours where we all met early morning and went to a pre-organized place and took loads of photographs. Then we all usually had breakfast together and chatted about our photography.
Later that day you could start to see the other photographers pictures appear on the forum from the morning shoot we had together.

I am now part of a few different photo websites where I check in on from time to time. If you are a bit scared in the beginning to post your photographs to a forum you shouldn’t be. Everyone needs to start somewhere, and you can always be part of one more or less anonymously since you can choose your own user name that will be displayed next to your photographs.

There are also several photography workshops with hands on training and on-line workshops that can be beneficial for you as well. When you are in a class or workshop you will meet likeminded people that can be helpful after the class you can meet up and chat about similar difficulties that you might face.
There are also many photo workshops abroad that you can try. I have myself been on the PTO ( Photo Training Overseas I thought it was very well organized and helpful. Most of the people attending was professional photographers some abiding amateurs as well looking into taking the next step of their photography and photography business. It was great to meet and be with fellow photographers for a whole week.

I have pasted in a few photography forums that you can have a look at and see which one that might fit your category/nish of photography.

Of course you can always type in a search in Google and you will very likely come up with a few photo forums that will be beneficial for you. I personally like the idea of having a photo community that is close by where I live so that I have the possibility to meet the fellow photographers but that is not always feasible of course depending on where you live. So take a look and see what will work for you.

Photo Forums

Saturday, 14 November 2009

The Season is Changing from Summer to Winter.

The season is changing from summer to winter here in the Sinai, that means that right now we have more cloud formations than we usually have during the year.

I have taken advantage of this opportunity to photograph the sky, with the different formation the clouds are taking, cumulous, cirrus clouds etc.

I will now file these sky photographs that I have taken under Sky_clouds. So that I can use them later on when I have a photograph with a boring looking sky where a sky with clouds would take the photograph to a different level of just being an ok picture to become a great one.

Remember when you are adding a sky you need to make sure that the light conditions and its direction fits in with your picture otherwise it will look fake and that is not the look we are after.

You can apply this idea to different elements of your pictures some pictures look better if you for instance add a moon, it could be full moon or a crescent etc. So you can also go and build a library with different moon shapes. If you choose a crescent remember to apply the moon the right way up depending on where the photograph is taken. Since the moon crescent looks different if you are here in Egypt compared to England etc. Since I grew up in Sweden to me the crescent moon here in Egypt looks like it is upside down.

They key with adding elements to your photographs is that they always need to look natural/real and seamless.

When making your own library of photographs that you need to use later you need to have a fool proof filing system. Something that works for you and is simple. Don’t try to make things more complicated than they have to be is something I always try to live by. Since these are photographs that I will be using over and over again I will save them as a TIFF file instead of a JPG file, to make sure that over time the photographs still have all their pixels intact. Every time you open a JPG file it looses quality.

This morning I played a bit with motion blur. You can be quite creative with it. The problem I have with this picture of the car is that it does not have a driver so either it is a very futuristic BMW that can drive itself or its just a picture that is unrealistic, I would have to opt for the second choice unfortunately but it proves my point above that when you are changing a photograph make sure you think of all the elements, you want the finished photograph to look realistic otherwise you will only annoy the viewer.

If you need help with your Photoshop skills I can recommend a magazine that comes out every month in the UK called Digital Photo. Every issue also comes with a CD with video lessons of how to use different Photoshop skills and other photo tricks. It is very useful they also always have a gear tests that can make interesting reading, if you are looking for something new to add to your photo arsenal.