How did you learn photography? (finale)

Some of what I have learnt that helped improve my images

Developing an approach

Thus far, we have journeyed through some of my early photography, how my interest got rekindled and blossomed through lots of learning methods and activities.  In this final episode, as promised, I’ll go over some of my approaches and methods for getting the images that I do.

The Alley

The first item I want to clarify is that everything I do to get an enticing image can be learned and practiced until it becomes second nature.  There is no denying that some people will learn quicker and develop their abilities faster, which is often referred to as talent.  However, talent alone is not enough to produce great results in any field.  There is no substitute for making bad photos and learning from your mistakes.

So what are the not-so-magical steps to my process for getting the images that I want?  No surprise, but they are pretty straightforward:

  • Find something that is interesting to photograph
  • Have an idea of how you want to portray what you have found
  • Decide what steps in execution get you that result

Like I said: it’s pretty simple, when you break it down this way.  So let’s take a look at them in a bit more detail.


It is pretty self-evident that without finding something interesting to photograph, there is no photo.  While this may be obvious, how often do you drive or walk by some place without noticing that there is a photo there?  Of course, all of us know how to recognize lots of photogenic subjects, such as El Capitan, the Golden Gate Bridge, the Great Pyramid, or the leaning tower of Pisa and the list goes on and on.  However, most of us don’t live right by these locations or have the budget to go travel to these places on a whim; so what to do?

Blue Pond

A significant amount of my landscape photography is done during my commute to and from work.  As I look to vary my route, so that I don’t get into the same rut day upon day, there are a number of spots along the drive that have become some of my favorites to photograph.  The key to finding those special locations is awareness of your surroundings.  Don’t be afraid to stop on your way and check things out!

Another key item in finding that interesting shot is that sometimes your best shot is behind you rather than in front; such was the case for Blue Pond, which you see to the right.  I stopped to photograph the marsh and passing train, which didn’t really impress me, so I turned around and noticed how I could get the sky to play off the pond; a much more pleasing shot!

The skill needed to find images everywhere can be developed through exercises that challenge your vision to explore scenes in new ways.  Always look for more!


Now that you have found that really cool subject that you can’t help, but photograph, it is time to decide how you want to show it to your audience.  It is all too easy to shoot a beautiful subject in a way that detracts from its brilliance; I’m sure you have seen snapshots from friends of that amazing waterfall that is so poorly composed that it’s lost its power.

Bath Harbor Light

So how do you go about ensuring that your shot doesn’t suffer the same fate?  The first step is to frame a picture in your mind that brings out the exact sense of beauty that you feel from what you see.  Look through your lens to see what it shows you; if it is a zoom lens, see what zooming in or out presents to you.  Change your perspective by moving around or lowering your vantage point (this can be particularly effective when looking at a reflection).

The image of Bath Harbor Light demonstrates this principle.  If you have ever been to Acadia in Maine, you may have vistied this sight and you’ll see lots of photos of this particular lighthouse.  Most of these photos do not show it from this angle, but rather from a vantage point that eliminates the trees.  The rocks were filled with photographers looking for exactly that angle (it’s a ways to the left and lower, if you ever want to find it).  As the light was not ideal on this day, I decided that framing the lighthouse between the trees provided context and more visual interest.

Again, this is a skill that can be gained through ample practice!


Naturally, all your work to this point should not be allowed to go to waste with a poorly exposed image.  Therefore, the final step is to decide how you want your camera to read the light (assuming you’re not going 100% manual), the depth of field that gives the right feel, what shutter speed might work best.

The Lady Gazes

Even if you use a 100% automatic, such as an iPhone, which I often do, there are still ways to control exposure; good material for future posts, maybe.

In your visualization, you may have given thought to what parts of the image should be sharp, while other parts should blur somewhat.  Think about what F-stop will give you what you’re looking to portray.

If your camera is even in partially automatic mode, you will want to make sure that your exposure reading is not fooled by bright white or very dark colors.  Learn to adapt for that by using pre-exposure compensation (DSLRs will have this, but not all point-and-shoots do).

When this all comes together, you get to express your vision and amaze your friends (no guarantee of that!).

Where to go next

Development and continuous improvement are a never-ending mantra for anything, about which you are truly passionate; once the bug bites you, you’ll spend countless hours improving.

There are two things that you should never stop doing in your photography:

  • Study, not just books, but learn from every photo that you like by determining what you like about it and why it works.
  • Stay inspired, both by what others do and what you do!

This is the last in this series, but I think there may be some follow-on posts from this.  Of course, I love to find out what you like to read more about.

P.S. yes, I left out post-processing…  I will do some posts on how I like to tackle that.

3 Day Quote Challenge (Day 3)

Where the train takes us may not be important…

Past meets present, as we reach infinity.


“My heart is warm with the friends I make,
And better friends I’ll not be knowing,
Yet there isn’t a train I wouldn’t take,
No matter where it’s going.”
– Edna St. Vincent Millay, The Selected Poetry


This is the final day of the 3-day quote challenge that I was given by Mysticalwriter.  First of all thank you for given me the challenge.  As you can tell, I stuck to my plan of using photos to lead me to quotes.
Today’s quote is from American poet Edna St. Vincent Millay; her poetry has always stuck a chord with me.  These lines are a perfect description of life’s journey, which ties back to the image.


One quote a day for three days. They can be your quotes or quotes from other people. Post one a day for three days and nominate three bloggers per post. Also, thank the person that nominated you.
My nominees for today are:
  1. Instamatic Gratification
  2. With Only One Life
  3. Things Understood

Have fun!

Shot of the Week – vol 3

The path leads forward…

2016-01-22 08.04.26 HDR-1
The Path

This week’s shot of the week was taken this past Thursday during my commute.  As I prefer backroads when driving to work, there are plenty of opportunities to find spots that have some photogenic qualities.

My favorite spots are those that are not apparent to all who pass them; this is definitely one of those, as this is a road that goes up to a state mental hospital that is no longer in use (of course it is about time that the good old mental hospitals from the 50’s and 60’s are being shuttered).  Just out of the shot to the left is a ‘No Trespassing’ sign, which didn’t deter this person walking their dog.

This photo was taken with my iPhone 6S with the standard camera app and adjusted with Instagram.

3 Day Quote Challenge (Day 2)

The sound of the waterfall…

Chapman Falls in Devil’s Hopyard State Park, East Haddam, CT.

“When I was walking in the mountains with the Japanese man and began to hear the water, he said, ‘What is the sound of the waterfall?’ ‘Silence,’ he finally told me.”

– Jack Gilbert, Collected Poems

The 3 Day Quote Challenge

This is the second day of the 3-day quote challenge that I was given by Mysticalwriter.  First of all thank you for given me the challenge.  My plan is to use one of my photos each day and find some quote to go with the photo.
Today’s quote is from American poet Jack Gilbert.  I like it for its simple depth and zen quality.

Here are the rules:

One quote a day for three days. They can be your quotes or quotes from other people. Post one a day for three days and nominate three bloggers per post. Also, thank the person that nominated you.
My nominees for today are:
  1. Zero Creativity Learnings
  2. silverpepperofstars
  3. MIDI Mike

Have fun!

3 Day Quote Challenge (Day 1)

The cows come home for today’s quote


The Cows are Hamming it Up!

“The cow is of the bovine ilk; one end is moo, the other milk.”
– Ogden Nash, Freewheeling.

The 3 Day Quote Challenge

This is the first day of the 3-day quote challenge that I was given by Mysticalwriter.  First of all thank you for given me the challenge.  My plan is to use one of my photos each day and find some quote to go with the photo.
Today’s quote is from one of my favorite light-versed poets, Ogden Nash; his wit is always a lot of fun!

Here are the rules:

One quote a day for three days. They can be your quotes or quotes from other people. Post one a day for three days and nominate three bloggers per post. Also, thank the person that nominated you.
My nominees for today are:
  1. Third Time Lucky
  2. Idiot.With.Camera
  3. itonlytakesonepiece

Have fun!

I received a Liebster Award!

Now this was a real surprise!



I was pleasantly surprised when Angel nominated me for the “LIEBSTER AWARD”. Thank you so much for considering my blog worth this award.  As I am just finishing up the Blogging101 course, I am truly honored and excited!

Thank you very much, Angel!  Please check out her blog, where she has lots of uplifting posts and interesting posts, as she tries to make things of the hard things in life!

Now, for those who have not heard about the award, here are the rules:

  1. Thank your nominator
  2. Show the award on your blog
  3. Answer 10 questions asked to you
  4. Ask 10 questions to 10 new nominees (who have less than 200 followers)
  5. Notify them


Thank you once again, Angel, as I can’t thank you enough for this nomination!

10 Questions asked to me by Angel.

  1. What was your first thought when you read about your nomination?  I was simply overjoyed, as it came completely out of the blue.
  2. What is your favourite thing about blogging?  The ability to interact with other bloggers, and get their feedback on what I post.
  3. Would you take more classes like Blogging101? Why? Blogging101 was a tremendous kickstart to finally get my blog out of the doldrums; I’m looking for additional classes to continue this drive forward.
  4. Is there a specific thing you would like to blog about but have not yet?  There are some drafts building up right now, so stay tuned for some completely new material.
  5. What will your blog look like in five years? Hopefully, it will continue to evolve and become ever more inspiring to my fellow bloggers.  As my graphic design skills improve, the look and feel of my blog should grow with these skills.
  6. What inspires you? A unique view into the world around me.  A moment of perfect stillness.  Completing a tricky task.  Inspiring someone else to stretch their abilities.
  7. What drives you nuts? Mindless people, by and large…
  8. If you were reborn – who would you be?  I’d come back as an artistic scientist…
  9. From today’s perspective: If you could change an event that happened in your life would you do it?  There are lots of things that I might do differently with hindsight, but it’s not too useful to dwell on the past.
  10. What is your inner child’s favourite activity?  Musing over things, challenging myself.

The following bloggers are my nominees for the “Liebster” award, and I hope they accept it:

  1. The Inkwell
  2. soFarsoStu
  3. Blue Car Painted Green
  4. Raines Journal
  5. Booksmart
  6. justbluedutch
  7. paperclipsandpins
  8. Gerry Wilson
  9. Poems in the Wild
  10. Spark!

Nominees are kindly requested to answer the following 10 questions:

  1. Why did you start blogging?
  2. How do you feel about being nominated?
  3. What is your opinion about Blogging101?
  4. What are your hobbies other than blogging?
  5. What inspires you the most?
  6. Is this your first/only blog or do you have other blogs too?
  7. How would you describe your blog?
  8. What are the things that annoy you?
  9. who would you want to be if you were reborn?
  10. What is the message you want to give to your readers through your blog?

Keep on blogging!!

Thank you all!

Let’s Talk Some Trash!

Broncos will be busted with some Patriot missiles!!

Return for Refill!

The work week is coming to an end once again, or at least slowing down a bit, as there will be some testing that I’ll continue over the weekend.

Of course, like most of you, I have plans for the weekend, but most of them will be rather pleasant and relaxing, as I’m not overdoing it after fighting off this nasty stomach bug!  So here it goes…

  • Guitar lesson on Saturday!  Yes, this will be an hour of fun, as my guitar teacher makes it enjoyable and ensures that at the end of an hour’s playing, I always feel better about my ability than I should realistically.
  • The basement project shall continue…I’ll at least spend a couple of hours to further progress.  Baby steps!!
  • Hang with the dogs!  Did I ever mention that Cardigans are a blast to hang around with?
  • Hopefully not clear too much snow…the forecasters are saying that most will stay south of us, but you never know!
  • And watch the all-important game this weekend, as the Patriots exact revenge on the Broncos to complete their next step in the Farewell Goodell Tour!  Sorry Peyton (not really), but this is not your time, as Brady has his weapons of choice and will not be denied!

Enough trash talk for the moment!  What are your plans for the weekend?  Whatever they are, have a great one!!