Share your knowledge. Beginner's photography class: Take Better Photos & Get Out Of Auto

It has always been a dream of mine to teach. Before attending college I was split between becoming a teacher or pursuing photography. I'll spare you all the details, but I followed my bliss, and have a BFA in Creative Photography from the University of Florida. 

When the teacher is ready, the student appears. Ok maybe that's not how the saying goes, but it's how it happened for me. I kept having conversations with people that had cameras and didn't really know how to use them. They had spent a good amount of money on these cameras and wanted to be able to take photos on vacation, or of their families, or just of the beauty in the world--they wanted the skills that I have cultivated over many years of education and practice.

This my friends was a problem that I could solve! So here's how it went, I organized a beginner's photography class: Take Better Photos & Get Out Of Auto

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The 6 week course's home base was in Orlando's Antique district,  Ivanhoe Village at a shop called Bluebonnet. We also met up at Washburn Imports to switch up the scenery a bit and Foxtail Coffee in Winter Park.

Each of the students happened to all own Nikon cameras, and even though I own a Canon, I do have experience shooting with Nikon too. so regardless of camera brand; each student was able to learn what it takes to properly expose an image!

 Exploring depth of field and composition Photo by student Jen D'ambra

Exploring depth of field and composition Photo by student Jen D'ambra

In case you don't know, exposure is based on the combination of ISO, F Stop (aka Aperture) and Shutter Speed- the 3 elements that allow light into the camera. (read more about exposure here

 Experimenting with long shutter speeds and panning. Photo by student Frank Paradiso

Experimenting with long shutter speeds and panning. Photo by student Frank Paradiso

Playing with neon lights at night. Photo by Student Kimberly Chiozza Bridges

Practicing composition and white balance techniques. Photo by student Kimberly Chiozza Bridges 

once a week we met and talked about these elements, experimented with the settings, became familiar with our cameras, and had fun taking photos in manual mode with varying lighting situations.

Exploring leading lines and depth of field. Photo by student Kimberly Chiozza Bridges

Every student received hands on learning experience with their cameras in class and had mini homework assignments to help reinforce what they learned! 

 Playing with mirrors. photo by student Frank Paradiso

Playing with mirrors. photo by student Frank Paradiso

 Practicing with depth of field. photo by student Frank Paradiso

Practicing with depth of field. photo by student Frank Paradiso

Experimenting with long shutter speeds and panning. Photo by student Jen D'ambra

By the end of the course, each student became more familiar using their cameras, and were taking better photos. The student's progress was impressive! (Look at all these cool photos they took in class.)  

 Practice with capturing the light as our eyes see it. photo by student Jen D'ambra

Practice with capturing the light as our eyes see it. photo by student Jen D'ambra

So if you would like to learn more about exposure and how to use your camera, come join me for my next Beginner's Photography class starting October 1st.

In the class you will learn about proper exposure, white balance, composition and how to change the settings on your camera. Get out of auto and into Manual mode! 

 

XO,

Kimberly

 

Want to learn more about the class?

 

 

Aperture Explorations in Albany

I arrived in Albany via the train from NYC. First stop, Juniors where they feature locally brewed beers and comfort style food. I ordered the poutine, a classic Canadian dish of French fries, cheese curds and gravy. I personally love poutine, and when I saw it had Buffalo chicken, It was my curiosity that got the best of me, and I had to order. 

Our Northern across the border neighbors would probably abhor this version, as the fries were lavished with buffalo sauce gravy, chopped chicken and blue cheese---maybe a tomato here and there if I recall. It arrived oversized, and I mean Extra extra large--Two people could lay their heads on this plate.  I almost did, but kept my composure instead.

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The next day I awoke to the sounds of black crows crowing, which was an eery early morning welcome to NY state's capital city. Um, thank you?

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Later on my friend, Amanda and I ventured into Troy for the day. The Hudson River was frozen and icy on top, waves of water stopped in motion. I was all wow! A sight I had never seen before. Rivers actually freeze?!

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Above the frozen waters, I saw the most unusual bridge, bulky and very 1920's industrial revolution appearing.

However, the Green Island bridge was actually completed in 1981 after it collapsed in March of 1977--spooky, and yet no one was actually injured. 

I took two photos of the bridge, to show you how changing the composition a bit will give a different feel to the image entirely.

 ISO  125 F2.8 1/3000    I chose to shoot at F2.8 to get a nice depth of field. it was a bright overcast day, and since I decided to shoot at such an open aperture, it was necessary to shoot at a low iso and high shutter speed to control how much light was coming in.      Compare this image with the one below. I used the same settings, but slightly changed what was in view, adding the fence as a "framing technique". Which image do you prefer?

ISO 125 F2.8 1/3000

I chose to shoot at F2.8 to get a nice depth of field. it was a bright overcast day, and since I decided to shoot at such an open aperture, it was necessary to shoot at a low iso and high shutter speed to control how much light was coming in. 

Compare this image with the one below. I used the same settings, but slightly changed what was in view, adding the fence as a "framing technique". Which image do you prefer?

 ISO  125 F2.8 1/3000     In this version of the Green Island Bridge, I chose to include the fence that was just in front of me to give more interest and depth to the image. 

ISO 125 F2.8 1/3000

In this version of the Green Island Bridge, I chose to include the fence that was just in front of me to give more interest and depth to the image. 

As I photographed the bridge, I took more of an interest to the fence ahead of me realizing the power it holds for a photographer. I often use them in my work. they are amazing at showing linear perspective giving a killer leading line, and when used effectively a fantastic vanishing point.

I took three photos of this fence using different settings and vantage points. Let's take a look at the results:

In the first image I used a wide open aperture of f1.8. In doing so,  it allows for a greater depth of field and isolates specifically the area of what you focus on, leaving what ever you aren't softly out of focus. Of course, keep in mind it also all depends on how far or near your subject is.  

 ISO 100 F1.8 1/2000   

ISO 100 F1.8 1/2000

 

For the second version of the fence, I shifted slightly to the right to include more of the archway of the bridge. I also used a smaller aperture (f4.0) to get more of the subject in focus. 

 ISO 100 F4.0 1/1000

ISO 100 F4.0 1/1000

In the third example, you'll notice that the fence and bridge are more in focus than the previous examples. This is because of the aperture size. (F13 in this case) Using a small aperture/higher number on the aperture ring of your camera provides a broader depth of focus--meaning most everything within the frame will be in focus.

 ISO 100 F13 1/60

ISO 100 F13 1/60

Playing with the aperture is one of the many ways to work creatively with photography. Try it for yourself! I'd be happy to see your results. 

Photography lesson via Brooklyn, NY

I write to you from New York, it is winter and I am a Floridian. I'm doing well. There is snow on the ground, although from a distance it looks like sand.

I brought my Canon 5d Markiii and several lenses to choose from. The lens that is on it is the 50mm f1.8 and it has not come off my camera since I first arrived. It is a versatile piece of glass, lightweight, unobtrusive, and works great for portraits, creative compositions, and street photography. The lens is aka "nifty fifty". It's a classic, and I am using it to photograph the streets of Park Slope on my way to Prospect Park.

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These streets are picturesque as all get out, and it's early so the sun is rising and working in my favor creating light flares and making everything look quite warm. I'm into it.

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Everywhere in Park Slope I see indications of Roman and Greek influence. It certainly isn't exclusive to this part of NY, I see it available in all different aspects of architecture. I amuse myself by identifying the different orders of columns. There are only three: Doric, Ionic and Corinthian. I learned this in an Greek Art History class I took in college while studying photography at the University of Florida.

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Speaking of threes. Photography has three elements that determine how light comes in. ISO, F stop, and shutter speed. Let's take a look at how a photograph appears differently based on changing one or more of these principles.

I'm shooting in manual mode, iso 160 and adjusting according to how I want the depth of focus and ambient light to appear. I do this by changing the F stop and shutter speed.

I came across this black wrought iron fence, and decided to use it as a great opportunity to show how changing your focus, but keeping your settings the same can really impact how your final photo appears.

Take a look at the following three images. They were all taken using the same settings, only altering what the camera focuses on. Look at how that really changes each image!

  iso 160 F1.8 1/250sec Focused on one of the fence points closest to the camera

iso 160 F1.8 1/250sec Focused on one of the fence points closest to the camera

  iso 160 F1.8 1/250sec Same Settings here and location, but the focus is on the building and further away from the camera

iso 160 F1.8 1/250sec Same Settings here and location, but the focus is on the building and further away from the camera

  iso 160 F1.8 1/250sec The settings haven't changed here, just what the camera is focused on, which is the fence a bit further out

iso 160 F1.8 1/250sec The settings haven't changed here, just what the camera is focused on, which is the fence a bit further out

What happens when you change the F stop? The next 3 are of the same scene, but using a different f stop (the last one show what happens when you slightly change the vantage point of where you stand). Let's take a look at how that affects things:

 iso 160 F4 1/125sec   Because we changed the F stop (which is one of the three ways you let light in the camera), We also have to adjust the shutter speed and/or ISO (the other two ways light comes in). I chose to keep the ISO the same and change the F stop and shutter speed to control the depth of field and ambient light. Notice in comparison to the previous images how F1.8 is different from f4.

iso 160 F4 1/125sec

Because we changed the F stop (which is one of the three ways you let light in the camera), We also have to adjust the shutter speed and/or ISO (the other two ways light comes in). I chose to keep the ISO the same and change the F stop and shutter speed to control the depth of field and ambient light. Notice in comparison to the previous images how F1.8 is different from f4.

 iso 160 F4 1/125sec Same settings as before, yet focusing on the building instead of the fence points

iso 160 F4 1/125sec Same settings as before, yet focusing on the building instead of the fence points

Ok people, so try this for yourself! Grab your camera and choose to shoot the same scene, alter a few settings. In fact, why not alter your vantage point as well? shoot at eye level, crouch down, crouch forward or back. Do your thing, but shoot the same scene so that later when you upload your photos, you are able to see how making little tweaks here and there tremendously changes the outcome.

 iso 160 F4 1/125sec  So this is virtually the same image as the first one I showed, except I crouched down a bit to give a slightly different perspective.

iso 160 F4 1/125sec

So this is virtually the same image as the first one I showed, except I crouched down a bit to give a slightly different perspective.

It is a really simple exercise, and it is a interesting way to see how the camera sees. This is all in the name of fun. Practicing photography gives you the opportunity for play, and when it is time to shoot "for real" you've got a variety of experience and an arsenal of ideas to pull from.

 

 

 

Collaboration and why it matters

There is something quite powerful in the creative collaboration of doing. There is power in numbers, power in the knowledge, strengths, insight and talent that each person brings. 

I recently collaborated with a spectacular group of creative entrepreneurs.  We all showed up, and brought our own unique skills to produce an extraordinary result that would not have been possible without each other. For that very reason, collaborating is an integral part of being part of business regardless if you are in an creative industry or otherwise.

I was contacted by stylist Anna Christmas to be the lead photographer for Giovanna Barrios and her gorgeous collection of luxury exotic leather goods ranging from chic clutches to sophisticated duffle bags, wallets, and accessories---and they had me drooling. I love that she has so many styles, colors, patterns and textiles to choose from.

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If Giovanna Barrios' impeccable use of textiles wasn't enough, just throw gorgeous bouquets of peonies from sponsors like In Bloom Florist, amazing threads from Retromended in Orlando and Forema Boutique in Winter Park and the collaboration gets immensely more interesting.

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Models Elizabeth Tyler above and Katy Ching below brought the fire when in front of the camera.

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Not to mention how great makeup artist Elizabeth Garcia made the model's faces pop, and hair stylists Miranda Buzzella and Kate Vaughn knew exactly what hair styles would compliment the fashions each model wore.

The power lies in our abilities together. 

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Olivia just owning it 

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As is Madeline

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MasterClass with Annie Leibovitz

Things I learned while taking photos blindfolded 

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So yesterday I watched the 9th lesson from Annie Leibovitz's MasterClass and it talks about The Technical Side of Photography. In the lesson, Annie mentions an exercise that she learned in art school. The idea is to take some photographs while being blindfolded, and to later look at them to evaluate what is appealing.  

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Yes, while you are blindfolded!

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It seems like such a counterintuitive approach to photography because clearly photography is a visual expression, however a compelling image also has much to do with instinct, intuition, and a feeling of what you see.

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So I experimented with the exercise, and the results are a refreshingly free expression. Devoid of sight, I became aware of my physical space in a more feeling capacity. I still "focused" on what I thought I was photographing by using the back button focus, and would stop when I no longer heard the audible clicking of the lens. other instances I did not focus at all, and rather took photos of certain familiar areas in the room.  

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This exercise tapped into a feeling rather than a thinking approach. I love how free the images are.

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Want to give it a try? here are grace with fire photography's suggestions before you go and do it yourself: 

1. Decide where you are going to make the photographs (I chose what I call my "Zen Den"--as it has a lot of natural light coming in from the windows and has an overall calm vibe) no overthinking, pick a place and go for it!

2. Properly meter so that you will have the correct exposure  

3. What camera & lens will be best for where you choose to shoot? I used my Canon 50mm 1.8 and canon 5d markiii

4. Blindfold yourself and start shooting! It was pretty cool to be in a room I was so familiar with because I had a good idea of where things were, and it gave me a chance to tap into my imagination and memory as to where you *ahem* think things are.

 

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Continually educating yourself is such a big part of becoming better at photography. one of the best ways of learning is practicing and experimenting with different ways of seeing

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Did you try the experiment? I would love to hear from you and see your results. link to your website or IG and share the love. 

Want to hear more photography insight from Grace with fire photography? 

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