Monday, August 11, 2008

Rancher Woman’s Photo Tips #1

I’m going to start a new series here today - maybe this will be the first post in a long-running series, or maybe it will be the only post in an ill-advised attempt to transfer the twisted thoughts in my brain to yours. We’ll just see what happens.

It seems that many of you visit this blog to check out the latest, greatest pictures of my animals, and for that I am flattered and humbled. I love my animals, and I love to take pictures of them; that other people want to look at them just makes my day.

I majored in photography in college, so pretty pictures should be the rule here, not the exception. After all, my parents and I paid good money for me to be able to capture Wynonna with a bathtub ring, or George listening to the sun set, or Smooch looking positively regal when she’s really just a goober.

People have told me, you have a photographer’s eye or you have a designer’s eye. Well, hello. I damned well better, given all this education and experience.

Good pictures are not about the camera. Just because you use the same camera that I might use doesn’t mean you’ll end up with the same result. So what ARE good pictures about?

Composition. The stuff that’s in the frame.

Here is the secret. Shhh...don’t tell anyone else. I went to college for four years to learn this trick. Find yourself an old 35mm slide and cut out the film. Walk around with this little frame. Put it close to your eye, then stretch out your arm and see what happens.

Turn the frame sideways.
Learn to see what the camera sees.

Start to look at your world through a lens, even if you don’t have one.
Try it. But be careful. I don't want to be responsible for anyone tripping and doing a face plant. Do it often enough and you will learn what makes a photo interesting...or not.

Next time we’ll talk about what to do if what you see in your little slide frame isn’t all that interesting.


  1. Ya know I try to see the picture and then I take it and it looks good on my screen and then I get home and I go Ohhhhh. It just doesn't look like I thought it would. Thanks for the tips.

  2. THIS is gonna be fun. I look forward to your next entry.

  3. Ohhhh goody!!!! Now if my camera could just not be blurry, or dark, or...never mind...

    I have absolutely NO artistic ability whatsoever, so your first tip is already helping me out. Maybe I should have taken Photograpghy 101 instead of the History of Art!!!

  4. The case where I do think it's the camera is in the zoom capability. My camera does NOT zoom very far and when I do, it can't focus. So zoom and wide-angle is a priority on my next camera. I miss a lot of great shots because I can't get up close. Or, the action shots are blurry.
    My sister and I have both have Sony point-and-shoots but her's cost more $$ and is a slightly more technical model and it takes nicer photos. We'll take the same picture and hers just picks up the light better than mine.
    Can't wait to read more in this series! ;)

  5. Please do a post about how to transition from the old film and light meter and darkroom school to digital.

    I have a little Sony digital and basically all I can do is point and shoot with it.

    I MISS the ability (and the know-how) to adjust f-stops and push film and tinker in the darkroom. :/

  6. This should be interesting, especially when there are thumbs involved. Mine are always in my pictures!

  7. Really helpful information. Thank you for the time to school us. You have a gift.

  8. You're awesome, Linda. Thank you for sharing your years of education and experience. uh...will there be a test later?

  9. Thanks for the Photography lesson :)
    I hope we are not going to get a bill in the mail! Oh well, It would be worth it!

  10. What a great idea to help people like me that really don't have a natural eye for seeing what the camera sees. I shall practice this. Thanks and I look forward to some more posts like this.

  11. I took photography in High School so I should probably be taking better shots than I am.

    I do believe it does have alot to do with 'an eye for composition', and just like an architect or an interior designer, unless you're gay, you either have it or you don't. (And hey I can say that! Some of my best friends are gay and every one of them have perfectly decorated homes. I'm jealous!)

    I think good photography also does depend on the quality of a camera, too.
    My old digital camera was sloooow and had a 9" zoom (well it sure felt like it!).
    My photos were barely passable.

    But then I got my current camera and my photos improved immensely overnight.
    I don't think my skills changed that much so fast. I got a huge bit of help from my newer camera.

    I could still use some more speed, a few more pixels and a longer zoom. But I'm happier than I was with my older camera! hehe

    Thanks for the photography tips. I never tire of the photos you take of your critters :)

  12. Hubby and I can be standing in the same spot and looking at the same thing, but HIS pics are always better than mine! I'm going to have to work on mine! Thanks for the tips! Look out, hubby!!!

  13. Good post and I'm looking forward to more. My digital SLR requires looking through the viewfinder to take the picture and that helps.

    It also helps to be aware of what's behind your subject as that often affects your picture.

    Good stuff.