A time to turn off image stabilization!

By , August 8, 2013 12:39 pm

First off, if you have been confused about image stabilization , you are probably not alone. IS is how it is labeled on your lens. It is short for “image stabilization technology, which helps you control camera shake when you are holding the camera. It helps you reduce blurry photos that occur when your hands move as you are taking a picture.

On the side of your lens you will see an on & off switch for your image stabilization. When I first got my camera I made sure that IS was turned on all the time.  However, through my readings and studying various books, magazines, and the internet I discovered that there is one big exception to this. That time is when you are using a tripod. You might have had an experience when you were using a tripod and couldn’t understand why you weren’t getting sharp images. So turn it off when using your tripod! When IS is turned on while your camera is on a tripod, it causes the camera to look for vibrations, which in turn, can cause vibrations!!



Photo Credit


Buy a cable release for your camera

By , July 17, 2013 12:20 am

When you have your camera on a tripod remember to turn off the image stabilization on your lens.  This will give you a sharper picture. Photographers use tripods to reduce camera movement when taking pictures. A cable release will also further insure that there is no camera movement.

I have had good luck photographing birds on my back porch using a tripod and a cable release. I purchased the Canon Remote Switch RS60 E3 and the Steren 2.5mm Stereo Audio Extension Cable – Sub-mini phone Male Stereo – Sub-mini phone Female Stereo – 12ft. You can purchase two of the cables and you can photograph right from inside your home while the birds are enjoying the food you have put out for them.  Below are some sample pictures I have managed to get using this technique.

tufted titmouse cardinal wings

blue jay

Turning on the ‘No Card’ message

By , July 12, 2013 10:28 am

One of the most frustrating things that can happen to you while out shooting is to discover that you forgot to put a memory card in your camera. None of the pictures you took had been saved! Of course, on that particular day you probably got some of your best shots ever !  Here’s a way to prevent this from ever happening to you.

  1. Go to the Menu button located on the back of the camera. You will see the menu list.
  2. Use the Main dial and choose the far-left menu tab.
  3. Scroll down to the ‘Release shutter without card setting. Use the Cross Keys and press the Set button.
  4. Use the Cross Keys to choose the Disable option, and press the Set button.
  5. Choose the Menu button to go back to shooting mode.

I have had this ‘No Card’ message pop up for me a few times and it has been a great reminder to have.


memory card

Photo Credit



I am still learning!

By , May 2, 2013 7:32 am

Wow! I have been away some time from this blog. I joined the 365/2010 flickr group and posted one photo each day. Then I completed the once a week photograph group on Flickr in 2011. I found that it was better to do one a day as it kept me more focused so after the once a week group in 2011 I returned to the once a day group for 2012. I am now just about half way through the 2013/365 group.  I learn so much from this group. Others share ideas, tips, and let you know how you are doing with your pictures. It’s a warm, supportive group and I have made many friends. I would recommend these groups on Flickr to anyone who wants to improve their photography.

So while I have been away from this blog I have not been away from photography. I love it! I have learned so much and still have much more to learn. That’s what I love about the photography, the learning! So I will try to share some of that learning. When I first started with switching from being just a point and click girl to one who could hopefully do well with a more sophisticated camera. I did a lot of research and decided that for a beginner like me the T1i would make a good starting point. I had no idea what I was getting into and was very overwhelmed at first. I am going to try to share some of my learning with you. The hardest part for me in the beginning was having so many things to learn. So I dived in and read a bunch, retained very little from the reading, and finally concluded that I just needed to get out there and shoot, try to take small bites of learning at a time, and just not worry too much about how little I knew but focus on the joy of learning. Now I feel ready to go back and revisit some of the learning. I have indeed taken lots of pictures, learned a lot, had fun, and developed a passion for photography in the process. I took this picture back in the beginning of this journey:


still learning

I took a picture of this plaque back in 2010 when I was just beginning to learn how to do more than just point and click a camera. I wasn’t happy with the shot but said I would keep trying. I finally got around to the trying and I think I achieved a much better shot.

Here is the shot I made today:



So yes, I am still learning!




Next steps on this learning journey

By , January 5, 2011 8:56 pm

I have been away from this blog for several months. I have been taking this learning about photography, specifically with the Canon T1i camera, a step at a time. I have been busy taking pictures each day of 2010. I completed my goal of achieving 365 shots for 2010. Here’s a sampling of some of my photos:

Here is my link to my Flickr Set for the entire year- 365 pictures! They say the best way to learn your camera is to use it. I agree and feel that I got proficient, in particular, in using the Manual setting. I got better at composition filling the frame, and noticing more details around me. I certainly am learning more about flowers and plants (was woefully ignorant). I’ve learned how “to press the shutter button” correctly. I know more about white balance, exposure, shutter speed, and many other things. I still have much more to study so I’m going to go back through some of the items I had previously read but maybe not always applied. I want to improve my skills. I need to internalize lots of  things and get a better grasp of specific concepts. Some days I became so preoccupied with getting my picture of the day that little time was left over to review things and expand my learning. This year I’ve joined an EdTech 52/2011 group. That’s one photo a week. I’m hoping I can review, refresh, and log my continued  learning  on this blog.

So that’s my next step to becoming a better photographer.  Perhaps it will even help another “new” learner. I’m looking forward to the learning journey!

Flickr Photo Credit


By , August 4, 2010 8:24 am

I have spent the last month just practicing taking photographs in an attempt to internalize some of the technical information I have been learning. It is helping but  lots more practice is still the order of the day.  I thought I’d post about “composition” of photographs and what I have been learning there. In the past I have managed to takes some good photographs but it just sort of happened – circumstances were right and background worked with the subject at hand, etc. but I never really thought about composing in the sense of thinking about the entire picture. Here are some things I’ve begun to focus on when composing:

Learning how to see the world though a lens was my first step. I didn’t realize how I would just instantly focus on the specific subject I was photographing. I didn’t give much thought to the background and how distractive it can be. I just wanted my subject in focus and looking good. You may get a great shot of your subject but background clutter can pull you eye away from the subject. Now I try  to scan the four corners of my picture through the lens. This habit will help me eliminate any clutter or distractions.  I’ve also learned to look at how the light is affecting the photo to be. It can take away the focus on the subject. So I try to remove the clutter, if possible and if that is not possible I use a shallow depth of field to blur the background.  This is something that I had no idea how to do. I plan to post more about depth of field later.

Here are some basic rules and things to think about  for composition that I have either read in my books or read on the web. You need to learn the rules and then be OK with breaking them in a way that enhances your own individual photography.

The rule of thirds
In your mind, divide  your image  into nine equal parts. The human eye is naturally drawn to a point about two-thirds up a page. Crop your photo so that the main subjects are located around one of the intersection points rather than in the middle of the image.  This will enhance your image by adding balance and interest to your photo. The T1i has the option to superimpose a grid on the LCD screen to help you even further with applying this rule. So remember not to put your subjects dead center in the photograph.
Flickr photo credit

Balancing your photograph
Place the main subject off-center to make a more engaging photo.  You don’t want the scene to  feel empty so think about including another object of lesser importance to fill the space.

Flickr photo credit

Leading Lines

When you view a photo your eye is naturally drawn along lines. The lines may be straight, curvy, wavy, diagonal, zigzag, etc. You need to place lines in your composition so it draws you into the picture, towards the subject, or on a journey ‘though’ the activity in the scene. There are many different types of line – straight, diagonal, curvy, zigzag, radial etc – and each can be used to enhance your photo’s composition.

Flickr photo credit

Symmetry and Patterns
There is  symmetry and patterns all around us, both natural and man-made, and they can make for very appealing compositions, particularly in situations where they are not expected. Another effective way to use them is to break the symmetry or pattern in some way, introducing tension and a focal point to the scene.

Flickr photo credit

Consider where you will shoot your subject from before you actually begin to  take the photograph. Think about photographing from high above, down at ground level, from the side, from the back, from a long way away, from very close up, and so on.

Flickr photo credit

Search for a plain and unobtrusive background and compose your shot so that it doesn’t distract or detract from the subject. Make sure there is nothing in the photo that may distort your subject in some way. You don’t want a tree right behind you subject as it may end up looking  like the tree is growing out of your subject’s head. When you are photographing you are turning a three-dimensional world into two dimensions. You are flattening everything the camera sees into one visual plane. So be careful not to include any objects that may be a problem.

Flickr Photo Credit

Create Depth
Create depth in a photo by including objects in the foreground, middle ground and background. Also you can use  composition technique called overlapping, where you deliberately partially obscure one object with another. This creates an image with more depth.
Flickr Photo Credit

There are many objects in nature that make perfect natural frames, such as trees, arches, and holes. By placing these around the edge of the composition you help to make the main subject stand out in a way that pulls your eye naturally to the main subject.
Flickr Photo Credit

Watch out for clutter around you subject and crop tight to eliminate the background ‘noise’ to make sure the subject gets main attention.

Flickr Photo Credit

Zoom bursts

By , May 29, 2010 7:54 pm

This is a technique I learned in class and have been practicing. I know, I know, I need lots more practice! Also, you would not believe how many shots I took today trying to do this. You can do this with zoom lenses that have a manual zoom ring. The trick is to zoom the lens while the shutter is open with a slow shutter speed, usually below 1/60th of a second.

Here are the steps:
1. Focus on your subject.
2. Use a slower shutter speed in either Shutter Priority or Manual Shooting mode. Shutter speeds can range from 1/60 to 1/8.
3. Click the shutter release button and twist to zoom the lens simultaneously.

You can zoom from the shortest to the longest focal length or vice-versa. Using a tripod is suggested.

Now I have to figure out what subjects are best for this technique and just keep practicing. Any suggestions are welcomed!

My settings for the car shot:
Exposure Program: Shutter Priority
Shutter Speed: 1/10 sec
Aperture Value: f/36
ISO: 200
Focal Length : 55m


By , May 29, 2010 7:46 pm

I have been practicing panning in the current class that I am taking. I do need more practice but this is the first one I got that is kind of on track! I will get better – I’m determined! Here are the steps I attempted for “panning”:

1. Tried to keep my feet planted, my arms, wrist, and hands still and pivot at the hips. (glad there is no picture available of me!)
2. Used a shutter speed of 1/15. and worked in Shutter Priority mode.
3. Pre-focused on Genesis on her bicycle.
4. Used continuous shooting mode.

Having fun with silhouettes

By , May 29, 2010 7:39 pm

I’m having fun with silhouettes – gives you a chance to be creative! Here are the steps:

1. Make sure the subject is backlit. If you are using the sun, let a tree or something else block the sun’s direct light.
2. Use “spot” metering and meter off something other than the subject. I metered off the sky.
3. Choose a strong subject that is a recognizable shape that will be interesting to look at. It should be a definite shape.
3. Get as close as you can to your subject and frame your image so that the brightest light sets off the subject.
4. Make sure your flash is turned off.
5. Try different angles and if you have more than one shape, try to keep them separated.
6. Have fun!


By , May 29, 2010 7:29 pm

Needless to say, one of the most important skills for a photographer to learn is how to focus correctly. You need to be sure you are focusing correctly on what you want to photograph and not something that is beside it, behind it, or in front of it. You need to set your autofocus to one of the main focal points on your camera. On the T1i there are 9 focal points.  You need to put your camera on something other than automatic to do this. I usually use the Manual mode. Then look through your viewfinder and hold down the Focus Point Selection button that is located on the camera back at the top right side. While you are holding down that button, use the rotating dial (on the camera top in from of the ISO button and this lets you move between the numerous focal points. Set one particular focal point as the default main focus and then come back and change this, as needed.

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