Beth Jennings – The Journey Captured » I capture the journey of people in their personal and professional lives. I teach amateur photographers how to capture their life in beautiful photos. Photography, Melbourne Photographer, Photography Workshops, dSLR Camera Workshops, Creative Camera Course, Photo Course Melbourne, Camera Class Melbourne

Beth’s Pick – Photographing Water

I will admit, I have been quiet on the blogging front, and I do apologise. But I have a great reason…

I’ve been conducting my online, global Creative Camera Course and also creating the course content at the same time. It’s been a very busy few weeks. After consulting the group I decided to change it to a ten week module so they now have two weeks per theme.

The course is geared at amateur photographers, so that means people who have a digital SLR manual camera, they’ve done some sort of orientation workshop like mine or equivalent, and now they are practicing the left brain technicals, whilst also exploring the right brain creative possibilities.

It’s early days, but I feel so great with this course.  It’s mega fun to put together, and I know it’s helping people.

The participants have been learning, researching, feeling inspired, practicing and keeping notes in their visual diary as they go along.

Just between you and me, I am very proud of them. I can see they are working through the resources I’m sending them, and their confidence is gradually improving.

Beth’s Pick

I decided it would be great to celebrate a win after we finish each topic. Course participants were invited to put up their best picture from the recently-completed Water theme.

It’s not easy to do, to put up a picture for the world to see while you’re learning, and I commend everybody that has done that. Just conquering the technicals alone is a big deal, let alone getting the ideas that live in your mind’s eye out into a two dimensional form.

My selection for this week is….Shelley….

ISO 6400, 1/640 F5.6

Image histogram – perfect!!

Shelley’s comments

  • Context of the Shot

On the horrendously wet Saturday a couple of weeks ago, I decided it was too wet to be outside to do any photography, so I was trying to capture water bubbles and drops using different set ups in my kitchen.  None of them worked!!! I was getting increasingly frustrated with the whole thing, so decided to pack it in for an hour or so and do some house work.  I was heading out to my rubbish bin, when I noticed what great circular patterns were being formed in the puddles at the bottom of my stairs out the front.  I decided to grab the camera and take a few shots – there was a literal downpour outside with heaps of opportunities for water shots!!!  It took lots of experimenting with settings due to bad light, dodging water drops and being freezing cold, but I was eventually happy with the end result…

  • Challenges

Apart from the weather conditions, I found the light tricky.  The spot I was shooting was in a relatively enclosed area and it was quite a gloomy day, but it also had a glare from the midday sun.  I found that instead of fighting with the glare, I got a better shot working with it and getting the contrast which I liked as it brought out the circular patterns more.  This is not the sort of shot I would normally take, so I was happy that I overcame the obvious water shots on a wet day and looked at a situation in a different light.

  • What I Learnt

I learnt that I could get a better shot by having a narrower aperture – much as I like the centralized focus of a wide aperture, I think the shot worked better as a recurring pattern.  I delved back into Lightroom which I haven’t touched for a few years, to bump up the contrast on the shot to really accentuate the circles.  I think that instead of giving up on something that really wasn’t working, I just changed tack – it would have been easy to just take safe shots after getting frustrated, but I thought laterally to make the most of my conditions.  I got a range of different shots (not just this one) from going outside and viewing the weather situation in a different light.

My feedback

Shelley, rock on. The single bestest thing you did on this exercise was to go with the flow. Like, peace out man…you were feeling frustrated, so you let it go. When you came back to it, your mind was open to what was being given to you, and you responded accordingly. Art is the expression of something you want to say….in this example, you wanted to make a photo about the beautiful water circles, and you did just that. You knew what you wanted to achieve, you didn’t try to do everything, you knew it was possible, and you hung in there until the technical elements came together. Great job.

You also did well to go with that light reflection, and move and shift around until the reflections and formations were pleasing. The way you know it’s ‘right’ is when the shadows land where they land in the capture.

This is a deceptively difficult capture to master because the light puddles form and dissipate really quickly. The thing that I’m most proud of is the placement of those circles throughout the entire picture.  All the way to the edges, the circles and patterns have their place. As you study the picture, do you notice how your eye moves fluidly around and around? Great outcome. You are taking the viewer on exactly the little water journey you wanted to take them on. Well done.

There is no escaping the histogram test! And you passed.  Looking at the picture on-screen, I could tell you landed it, but I sought confirmation by checking your histogram. The shadows neatly begin at the lower left corner, and then the highlights taper off nicely at the lower right corner. Great stuff Shelley!

Your technical settings look good to me too. You started with ISO based on the assessment of available light. Then you picked a suitable shutter speed to arrest the water’s movement, finally you worked in an appropriate aperture to give good depth of field. Can you see how your creative ideas were executed by the technical settings you chose? Brilliant.

Your post production ideas made sense – to increase the contrast to further enhance the lights and darks and add depth to the circles. We haven’t done much with post production in the course, so I wouldn’t expect you to go too far along that path just yet.

And the best thing of all – you didn’t take the safe road where you knew you would get a good result straight away. Rather, you had a creative idea that you wanted to stick to, you knew it was possible, and you hung in there until the technicals worked for you.  That my dear, is called conquering your camera in this creative camera course!! Wahooooo!!

This week they are exploring portraiture, and they have the task to produce one environmental portrait, and one closeup.

This is so cool!


Shelley - August 2, 2013 - 7:18 pm

Awesome, thanks Beth…. I’m glad you liked it. I took a lot of different water shots, but kept coming back to this one…. I found the circles quite hypnotic!

Thank you so much for the positive feedback – feel like I’ve already learnt so much over the last few weeks…. Loving the course, you’ve done a great job!!!

Beth Jennings - August 4, 2013 - 1:11 pm

AWESOME Shelley!!! I am so pleased for you – keeping going!!!! xx

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