Last weekend I ventured out to do a photo shoot with my family at a local park. I had a full battery, blank memory cards, 2 lenses and a tripod. Pretty much anything you would want or need, right? Well, almost. Being an amateur photographer and still mostly learning what the heck I’m doing, I don’t have some of the bits and pieces that could possibly make my life easier and perhaps help me capture better pictures. But, being on a limited budget, what I listed above is pretty much what I’ve got, so I try to make what I have work for me.
LESSON LEARNED: Check your settings or switch to a programmed mode if you let someone else take pictures with your camera.
One of the things I’ve been doing with my camera is forcing myself to learn how aperture, shutter speed and ISO work together. How? I’ve only been shooting on Manual mode. That works well for me in most cases. Last weekend wasn’t the case. As we were walking into the park, a few very nice people noticed that we were dressed similarly (in orange for Halloween, you know). One of them asked if we would like for her to take our picture. Without much hesitation, we said okay and let her click off a few shots. Only one problem. I hadn’t had time to check the exposure. I didn’t realize that until AFTER they left. 6 shots over exposed.
LESSON LEARNED: Make sure your focus points are set right for the shots you are trying to take.
My Nikon has multiple focal points. Usually a good thing right? Well, it is, IF you remember to change the focus mode from a single point (center weight) to multiple or 3-D. I didn’t realize (again) that I had been taking all of my portrait pictures with a center weighted focus. As such, some of the pictures I took were not focused on the areas I had intended. Several of my shots, especially those with 2 people are in focus for one person and out of focus on the other.
LESSON LEARNED: Find something to bounce light from.
Lighting. It’s possibly one of the most crucial things needed for taking good portraits. Overall, I think I did a decent job of lighting my subjects. Not bad for the on camera flash (again, limited budget. No external flash, no light reflectors). But, they could have been better. A little reflection of light in some of the areas would have been great. At this particular park, there is a trail around the lake. Lots of wooded areas with small gaps for sunlight to break through. Perfect for the use of reflectors. Oh well.
So, these are some of the things I learned during my first “real” photo shoot. I used these pictures for sending to family and friends as our family Halloween and fall pictures. It was a lot of work, but it was worth it. And I learned a lot along the way.