Entries in John's Pass Village (9)
It seems lately my DSLR photography students are coming in even more enthusiastic, more eager to learn than ever before. New student John and his Nikon D300s is yet another such example. Even though John has quite a significant photography background in the past, if one does not keep up on it, like with many other things, skills can be forgotten, or at least buried under other memories. So during our first lesson I helped John dig up some of that old photography knowledge and added a lot of new DSLR specific info for him to put into his memory banks as well.
John (his website) is a very interesting person of some notoriety in the permanent makeup world, though I cannot say I had even heard of that term before I met him.
Due to the St. Pete Grand Prix going on last weekend, we did not meet at my preferred first lesson local, downtown St. Petersburg, instead meeting at John's Pass Village. After setting up his Nikon D300s with all the customizations I have done to my own Nikon D300, we used the mix of waterfront, beach and gift shop environments to go through all the normal settings one needs to change on a given day of photography in the bright Florida sunshine.
John has the same awesome Nikkor AF-S 105mm f/2.8G VR micro lens that I do, which is what we ended the lesson practicing with. That macro lens has very unique DoF properties, outstanding sharpness and the best looking bokeh around. John is excited about having more and more lessons, and I am as well, especially using the 105mm lens.
One photography tip to keep in mind as you start to progress as a photographer is previsualization. This is the process by which you see the final photograph before you even put the camera up to your eye. I was teaching a 1-on-1 DSLR Photography Lesson at John's Pass Village recently in very poor, harsh mid-afternoon Florida light. This meant there was no reason for me to look for shots that would produce great color or exposure. So I did not. Instead, I switched my mind to looking for possible black & white or similar photo opportunities.
As soon as I saw all these birds sitting in a neat row on the railing of a pier this popped into my head: use the rectangular shape to frame the shot, post-process using a bleach bypass filter (found in Color Efex Pro). How was this able to instantly come to my mind? Because I had already started the previsualization process when I accessed the natural light situation. I gave myself a very specific type of shot to focus on looking for, so once a possibility was seen, I knew right away how I wanted to photograph it.
This is what the above scene looked like to the naked eye:
The next time you set out with your DSLR, try to previsualize shots before you even think about pushing the shutter. This will not only likely help you produce better photographs, it will cut down on the number of shots you just immediately delete when you get home.
Post a link to your previsualization results in the comments below . . .
For my second DSLR Photography Lesson with Malissa (1st lesson) we met at John's Pass Village on Madeira Beach. We started out having a review session on the four primary settings one needs to know how to set for making any given photograph. This time Malissa brought a notepad and took detailed notes as I gave default settings to use for photographing children's sports, how to get a good exposure indoors, etc.
After our chat we walked down the long row of shops along the main street of John's Pass Village looking for a good palm tree to photograph to send to one of Malissa's friends who lives in a much colder climate. This was a chance to show the decision making process for which lens to use (wide or long) and what surrounding foreground elements to include, or not include, in the composition.
We later had a chance to try some wildlife photography as there are many birds hanging out on the boardwalk and this time some dolphins playing just around the pilings also! I suggested that Malissa zoom in tight on a great blue heron sitting on a rooftop, as showing it standing on metal would take the viewer out of nature thinking. So if you can see only bird in the shot, even if you have to compose its feet out of the frame, that is much better than letting some humanmade object intrude.
John's Pass Village on that afternoon provided us with a very good variety of subject matter to practice shooting with. Now with this second lesson of knowledge and her notes I look forward to seeing some of Malissa's improved action and nature shots!
At John's Pass Village Linda continued her torrid pace of taking DSLR Photography Lessons. For our fourth lesson together (1st, 2nd, 3rd) we concentrated more on composition and seeing photographs when walking around a given tourist or travel area. John's Pass Village is definitely a touristy place, but one I actually like a lot myself as it is heavier on nostalgia than kitsch.
I had not had a lesson at this location in awhile, so it was nice to go back and spend time along its quaint shops and candy stores. However, a lot had changed since my last visit, including installation of many street light poles that were unwelcome intruders into scenes that were once free of such objects, as well as an artistic staircase losing some of its art appeal.
For followers of my flickr photostream, you may recognize that shark. There is now a light post making it impossible to get the same composition I did two years ago (photo here). Hopefully Linda will like her shark photo as much as I do mine. Now when I go back there I feel like the shark is an old friend.
The above photo is titled off horizontal axis on purpose since I could not otherwise fit both Linda and the shark in the frame. This was the main composition tip I had Linda practice during the lesson. Sometimes the best composition is not with everything in a straight line. Sometimes you cannot fit all you want to in a level composition. In these cases, off level composing can be very effective. Of course as with all techniques, one should not become too reliant upon it, but rather maintain a variety of composition styles.
I did not know that brown pelicans were just recently an endangered species. Having grown up in Florida and seen these large birds all over the place in plentiful numbers, I just never imagined they could disappear forever. Not until I read Scott Bourne's recent post about brown pelicans, the BP oil spill and the importance of photography did I know that.
Being a person who is committed to not causing harm to any animal for any reason, it causes me great pain to see the oil covered birds, turtles, hermit crabs and all other creatures in the effected Gulf of Mexico coastal areas. The oil spill is truly a crime against Nature.
So whenever I see a brown pelican now I will look upon it with a new respect and think, as Scott wrote, this could be the last photograph ever taken of this species. Take care my friends.