Moss

I’ve started experimenting in Lightroom (my Lightroom 101 class started this week).  So far I’ve only played with a few settings:  white balance, temperature, tint, exposure, and contrast.  I’m sure there will be plenty more fun tools to come!

Here’s one of my early attempts at enhancing an image:

f/2, 1/250 sec, ISO 100

f/2, 1/250 sec, ISO 100

And the original:

f/2, 1/250 sec, ISO 100

f/2, 1/250 sec, ISO 100

Which one do you prefer?

Linking Up:

 Little by Little

Advertisements

Photo 101 by Nicole’s Classes Review

If you’ve looked through my past posts, you’ve probably seen that I’ve been following the Photo 101 course from Nicole’s Classes, taught by Nicole Hill Gerulat.  The class is wrapping up this week, so I thought I would post some of my thoughts on the experience and how it has helped me as a beginning photographer.  There are so many intro photography courses out there — online and off, led by an instructor or self-guided, etc.  I didn’t know if this class would be worth the cost compared to other options, and all the reviews I found seemed to be from people who were given a free class in exchange for a blog review.  That is NOT the case here!

I think this class is best for someone who is truly a beginner when it comes to manual DSLR settings — as in never having turned off auto before.  The first week was all about how to use those settings for proper exposure (and rightly so, as understanding this is key to good photography), but it was information I already knew.  The real benefit I found was that the class really forced me to use manual mode exclusively instead of the priority modes I tended to favor.  Am I completely comfortable with manual mode now?  Well, mostly, but it depends on what I want to shoot.  It takes some time to properly expose images, so I’ll probably revert to the priority modes when I’m traveling or not taking still life photos.  I’ve got to keep practicing.

What I did not expect was the strong focus on portraiture in the second half of the class.  That made completing the homework a bit of a challenge because I didn’t have anyone but my husband to practice on.  I don’t think he was thrilled about that, but I’m glad he was willing to cooperate 🙂  On a good note, it did force me to learn more about posing and lighting patterns, which I probably would have avoided otherwise.  However, I really think that the last two weeks could have been combined (there was a lot less info presented than in the first two weeks) to make room for a few more concepts.

Overall I liked the structure of the class.  The content (videos and transcriptions) was made available all at once so I could work at my own pace, and most importantly for me, there were weekly homework assignments.  I think these regular deadlines are what really kept me on track — it created a level of accountability that isn’t available with self-guided tutorials online.  The other big difference is that Nicole provides constructive criticism on all the submitted assignments and had a live video chat to answer questions at the end of the course.  There was email available too, although I didn’t use it.  Sometimes it’s nice to have an expert answer your question directly instead of trying to deduce the answer from the internet!

So to answer my original question, was the class worth the money?  Maybe.  It really depends on how much of a beginner you are and what your learning style is.  I was able to purchase my class on a Brickyard Buffalo sale so I’m okay with what I spent, but I don’t know if I would been happy having paid the regular price.  This is based purely on my experience given where my photography skills started and not a statement on the value of the course on its own.  I’m not trying to say that the course is too expensive, just that some of it was a little too beginner for me.  When it comes down to it, I think the real value comes in having reliable instructor contact with someone who is a trained professional, and I am on board with paying professionals what they deserve in exchange for quality service!

Will I take another course from Nicole’s Classes?  Possibly, although not right away.  I’m eyeing up a few courses (Photo 102, Tabletop Photography, Lightroom 101), but I don’t really have the time to devote to them right now.  We shall see.

One last thought:  Be conscious of what time of year you choose to take this course.  It is extremely helpful to have natural light when doing the homework!  Being February (the snowiest one in years to boot) and working full-time, I was unable to shoot during the week and had to cross my fingers for good light on weekends.  Just a friendly tip that I hadn’t considered before signing up 🙂  I just noticed that Nicole’s recent blog post mentions the same thing here.

I did not write this review as part of any affiliate program and am not being compensated for it.  All opinions are my own.

Tulips

f/2.5, 1/30 sec, ISO 400

f/2.5, 1/30 sec, ISO 400

I made it into the grocery store myself the other day and couldn’t help but buy some tulips.  It’s nice to have a little bit of spring inside, especially since Mother Nature doesn’t want to grant my wish — it snowed twice last week, and there’s another big storm on the way 😦

Linking up:
Little by Little

Amaryllis

There hasn’t been much greenery around the house recently.  I don’t keep houseplants around as a rule (I usually forget to water them regularly), and I haven’t been doing much of the grocery shopping lately where I’m liable to pick up a bunch of sale flowers just because.  Nor did I get any this past V-Day (not complaining, just saying) since we were snowed in that weekend and there was no way either of us could get to the store.  So currently the only other living thing hanging around our house these days is an amaryllis that we got as a Christmas gift.  I’ve managed to not kill grow one of these a few years back, so I knew we could handle it again.  (Don’t over water?  Check!)  We planted it about two months ago, and it finally started to bloom!

Last week we got our first hint of what color our amaryllis would be:

f/2.2, 1/100 sec, ISO 100

f/2.2, 1/100 sec, ISO 100

I tried to balance the plant with its shadow in the next photo, but I think the shadow is too small and the additional shadow from the sliding glass door is distracting.

f/3.5, 1/640 sec, ISO 100

f/3.5, 1/640 sec, ISO 100

Looking back, I should have increased the DOF in this photo or at least set my focus point on the tips of the pistils rather than the center of the flower.

f/3.5, 1/640 sec, ISO 100

f/3.5, 1/640 sec, ISO 100

And I finally thought to change my metering mode from matrix metering to spot metering.  What a difference!  I wish I had taken more closeups using this setting.  Composition still needs work.

f/5, 1/50 sec, ISO 100

f/5, 1/50 sec, ISO 100

It’s definitely an interesting pattern — I’ve not seen this sort of streaky coloring before — but I’m still looking forward to having the rest of the buds bloom one by one.  Maybe there will be a little bit of extra color in our house for a few more months!

Linking up:

Click Chicks Blog Photography Challenge

Side Note:  I’ve found my homework for Photo 101 to be a good starting place for blog content and document my photography journey, but I’m going to skip this week.  The focus was on posing and lighting for portraits so my poor husband had to be my subject in all of the photos.  I’m not going to post them out of respect for his privacy.

Photo 101 by Nicole’s Classes: Composition

Composition was a big focus of Photo 101 last week, and it’s definitely something I continue to work on to elevate my photos from looking like basic snapshots.  Below are a few shots I submitted as part of my homework and the techniques I was attempting to use.

Rule of Thirds:

f/2, 1/25 sec, ISO 200

f/2, 1/25 sec, ISO 200

Lines:

f/1.8, 1/4000 sec, ISO 100

f/1.8, 1/4000 sec, ISO 100

Cropping:

f/1.8, 1/50 sec, ISO 800

f/1.8, 1/50 sec, ISO 800

Rule of Thirds and Perspective:

f/1.8, 1/60 sec, ISO 800

f/1.8, 1/60 sec, ISO 800

When White Balance Doesn’t Balance

So I had finally stopped relying on the crutch that was Auto WB and saw a general improvement in the coloring of my photos.  And all was well, the end.

Except not.  I guess I still have some practicing to do, because the Incandescent/Tungsten WB setting recommended for indoor use by Nicole doesn’t always give me the best result.

First I tried the Incandescent WB setting:

f/2.5, 1/40 sec, ISO 400

f/2.5, 1/40 sec, ISO 400

But it didn’t look quite right, so I tried good old Auto WB:

f/2.5, 1/40 sec, ISO 400

f/2.5, 1/40 sec, ISO 400

Definitely cooled down a bit.  This second pic looks much more true to life.

These photos were taken in the same room with the same lights as my last post (overhead light and table lamp, blinds open but with little direct sunlight).  Figures.  As I understand it, the Incandescent/Tungsten setting should add blue to counteract yellow lighting, but that is definitely not what I see in the first image.

My best guess is that I should’ve used one of the fluorescent WB settings to account for the CFLs we now have in everywhere.  (Seriously, everywhere.  The local power company came by last year and replaced all of our incandescent bulbs for FREE.  Or somehow paid for by a markup in our bills for the preceding few years.)  But which type of fluorescent?  My Nikon has seven options in a sub-menu: sodium-vapor, warm-white, white, cool-white, day white, daylight, and high temp mercury vapor.  I tried a few:

Daylight Fluorescent:

f/2.5, 1/40 sec, ISO 400

f/2.5, 1/40 sec, ISO 400

White Fluorescent:

f/2.5, 1/40 sec, ISO 400

f/2.5, 1/40 sec, ISO 400

Warm White Fluorescent:

f/2.5, 1/40 sec, ISO 400

f/2.5, 1/40 sec, ISO 400

Eh, Auto WB still looks best.  I see that my manual lists the color temperature for each type of light, but all I know about Kelvins is that 0K is absolute zero (thank you, STEM degree!).  Not exactly relevant to photography.  I feel like it might be a bit too detailed a concept for this stage of my photography journey, so I’ll have to put it on my future to do list.  Until then I guess it’ll be trial and error.

Or Auto.

Update:  I was able to ask Nicole what what balance she recommends for these new light bulbs.  She didn’t have a stock answer because different bulbs will read as different colors, but she said that each bulb should be labelled with its color temperature in Kelvins that can be used to set the white balance.