Friday, October 7, 2011

Developing a Photographer’s Eye

During our first year of travel I snapped about 3500 pictures. Everything was new & exciting and I had never seen or experienced the parts of the country we were now a part of. I wanted to cherish those moments and remember them forever plus I wanted to be able to share this with our families and friends.


Now when I look back at those pictures I can still remember the excitement but it’s really not portrayed in the shots that I took. The view from my ‘throne’ in the motorhome is (still to this day) incredible! However, the pictures of the highways or landscapes, to anyone else, could be anywhere in the world.

My first digital camera was a Fuji FinePix Point & Shoot pocket digital with a 3x optical zoom which we used for our first 2-3 years of travel. Great little camera but eventually died somewhere in Arizona. We replaced it with a Panasonic Lumix with a 12x zoom, lots more features and much larger than a pocket-size yet continues to be my favourite carry-around.

Last Christmas the Cowboy surprised me with my first DSLR (Digital Single Reflex Lens) camera – a Nikon D80. I was ecstatic! Did I say ecstatic? I meant overwhelmed! The manual is 162 pages! Aperture? Depth of Field? ISO Sensitivity? I was about to embark on learning a whole new language.

My Nikon


I managed to take a few sample shots, but it was all just too intimidating.  I’m using the camera quite a bit more now these days but I have to admit, the settings are still sitting on ‘Auto’.


During this past couple of years I’ve taken a keener interest in photography and have learned a lot from these blogs. Al from The Bayfiled Bunch has been a major influence as he shares his photos and knowledge. I follow several web sites too. My heroine, Pioneer Woman has contests and will receive thousands of outstanding entries. Many readers will leave comments, some with a link to their blog or web site which are all just a wealth of information.

Next to people, flowers and nature are my favourite subjects so I’ll use these shots as an example. Keep in mind that it was a dreary day.

A field of blue bells in Texas.


Now with a little different angle . . .


Better but now I’m not crazy about the fence in the background . . .


Well, maybe but still not exactly telling a story . . .


Okay! Now that’s more of what I was looking for!

Now a little post processing. I love Picasa! It’s a free software download from Google and extremely user friendly. It’s great for managing as well as enhancing your pics.


My introduction to Picasa was from Chris at Geeks on Tour in 2006 when we wintered in Florida. Chris & Jim Guld are full time RV’ers who travel the country presenting classes & seminars at RV parks & rallies. Click on the link above to check out their website. You’ll find everything you need to know regarding computers and travelling – GPS, Streets & Trips, Blogging, WiFi, Smart Phones, etc.

Some of the things that I’ve read or learned from experience.

Photos should always tell a story


I’ve always preferred candid shots of people.To capture their unique personality catch them doing something they love.



Or being with someone they love.




Unless I know I can blur or crop it out I’ve become more aware of what’s in the background.



Landscapes - Always try to have someone in the photo even if it’s only a silhouette. It makes for a much more interesting picture.






Portraits - You can never get too close. If you don’t have a zoom lens you can crop any photo on almost any program.


During that time I was exposed to and totally impressed with Photoshop so I bought & installed Elements 8 – as if I didn’t have enough to learn. This program is not for the feint of heart.  Now we can add more new words to my vocabulary like opacity, fill layers, background, adjustment layers . . . along with a few new ‘off colour’ words (Pun intended).

As I mentioned I already love and use Picassa for editing and managing but with this Photoshop program there were so many other possibilities and I wanted to learn how. Now!

I didn’t want to start with the basic steps, I wanted to jump right in with blending, reflecting, texturing and adapting all those wonderful features to my photos. Did I mention? . . . Now!

Well, I still have so much to learn but here is my first attempt at blending - one of my beautiful granddaughters – Abigail.


Come to think of it – Abby is the very first granddaughter we were blessed with. Obviously, my success with that first try was better than my stab at blending but you can at least see what I’m trying to accomplish.

Bonus – Abby shares my passion for photography, saved up some $’s and recently bought herself a new camera.

The most important thing that I’ve learned is that you can have all the latest and greatest camera equipment and post processing software that’s available – it’s not going to do you any good until you become aware of the beautiful world around you and see it with a photographer’s eye.

Today The Cowboy is grateful for the new age of digital cameras. Tags:

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