Steps to Overcome Photography Block

Take Out Your Camera

This probably sounds like the dumbest advice of all time. Of course you have to take out your camera!

But let me take this advice a step further: make sure your camera is in your hand.

It’s not enough to have the camera in a bag on your shoulder, and it’s not enough to have it dangling from a strap around your neck. When you’re feeling blocked, you pass up photo opportunities due to a lame excuse: it’s too much effort to get the camera ready.

But when the camera’s in your hand, it’s always ready. You don’t have any excuse not to take the shot.

Once you take one, your right brain engages and you start seeing great photo subjects all around you.

Get Out of Your Comfort Zone

Many photographers usually settle on a subject they like: flowers, people, buildings, food, pets or children. Let’s say that flowers are your passion. Once you’ve taken 1,000 flower photos you feel pretty comfortable with your subject.

When you’re feeling blocked, spend an entire day photographing something totally different: children, for example. Unlike flowers, they never stay still and aren’t willing to wait for you to adjust you camera settings.

It’s almost guaranteed that a lot of the shots that you take won’t turn out. This is to be expected – you are out of your comfort zone, shooting something brand new.

The benefit of this exercise is that it takes your mind away from your favorite subject long enough to see it differently when you get back to it.

Start With Your Shoes

This technique has worked well for me in the past when I’m just not thinking (and seeing) creatively.

I take pictures of my shoes.

I point the camera straight down, and try to find something interesting about the pattern, texture or color of my shoes to bring out in a photo.

Once you spend about 5 minutes trying to make your shoe look interesting, look up. You’ll suddenly see a wide variety of subjects far more interesting than your shoe.

If you approach those subjects with the same eye that you applied to your simple shoe, you’re bound to take some engaging photographs.

Digital Noise

Digital noise usually occurs when you take low light photos (such as night photos or indoor dark scenes) or you use very slow shutter speeds or very high sensitivity modes.

When taking pictures with a digital camera an electronic sensor (also known as a CCD) built from many tiny pixels is used to measure the light for each pixel. The result is a matrix of pixels that represent the photo.

As with any other electronic sensor the CCD is not perfect and includes some noise (also know as white noise to hint on its randomness attribute). In most lighting the light is significantly stronger than the noise. However in extreme scenes where the light is very low or when a high amplification is needed noise levels can become significant and result in pixels in the photos that include more noise data than real photo light data. Those pixels usually appear as random dots or stains on the photo (for example white dots scattered randomly on the photo).

Understanding digital noise in various scenes:

  • low light (night photos or dark scenes): when the scene is dark the amount of light measured by each pixel of the CCD is low. When the light intensity is very low it can become too close to the level of noise naturally found in the CCD. In such cases some pixels can appear as noise because the noise level measured for them is significantly close or higher than the actual light intensity.
  • slow shutter speeds: when the shutter is kept open for a long time more noise will be introduced to the photo. A slow shutter speed translates to the CCD integrating more light per pixel. The effect can be easily understood as the CCD “accumulating” light in each pixel and measuring the total light over the shutter period of time. However at the same time the CCD is also “accumulating” noise. For that reason in slow shutter speed photos some pixels will appear as noise because for these pixels the amount of noise integrated is significantly close to or higher than the actual light measured.
  • high sensitivity modes: high sensitivity in digital photography is implemented by mechanisms that result in amplification. The CCD amplifies the measurements it takes. However there is no way to just amplify the actual photo light that falls on the CCD pixels instead the noise and the actual light are both amplified. The result is that the CCD becomes sensitive not only to light but also to its own noise. When too much amplification is applied some pixels will appear as noise.

While it is impossible to completely prevent digital noise there are a few options that allow you to significantly decrease it. When taking photos in low light scenarios such as night photos there are two main parameters to play with: sensitivity and shutter speed. Raising sensitivity creates more internal noise in the CCD while slowing down the shutter allows for more noise to integrate on the CCD. The amount of noise generated by both parameters is different. It is recommended that you set your camera to manual mode and play with a few different sensitivity/shutter speed pairs to find out the one that generates the least noise.

Some cameras include a built-in feature called “noise reduction”. Noise reduction is implemented by sophisticated software that can identify the noise pixels and remove them. For example the software can identify the noise pixels based on their randomness and usually extreme intensity gap between them and their neighboring pixels. Removing the noise can be implemented by interpolating a replacement pixel value based on its neighboring pixels.

If you do not have a built-in noise reduction feature or it does not work properly you can use a PC based software that removes digital noise. Many photo processing software include a combination of automatic and manual digital noise removal. Some software packages can also use a few photos of the same object to “average” them and thus remove the noise (relying on the fact that digital noise is random and the noise pixels will be different in each photo taken).

Info of Silhouette Photo

In the area of photography, a silhouette is defined as an outline that appears dark against a light background. More specifically, it is where your subject appears as a plain black shape against a brighter background. It is an artistic photography expression that many photographers like to refine and perfect in their images. This effect can be achieved with any bright light source with the sun being the most common. In a sunset silhouette photo, the sunlight in the background is exposed correctly forcing everything else in the photo to be underexposed causing the effect.

When you are preparing to take a silhouette image, there are many things to keep in mind. These tips are equally effective for both digital and film photography. First of all, you need to make sure that there is not too much light on your subject, even if it is being reflected on to your subject the stray light will ruin the effect. If there is not enough light in the background, your subject will appear grey instead of black. The effect is just multiplied when you have multiple colors of bright lights in the background. Some photographers focus on artificial lights, others focus on the sun at certain times of the day, the possibilities are endless.

I usually take my silhouette images when the sun is just above the horizon. I prefer the time around sunset because the sun causes the sky to be brighter than everything else for greater contrast. Another technique I use is to align the sun directly behind the subject so it causes a glow effect around the main subject. I usually use a relatively big subject so it creates a more drastic effect then a small insignificant subject.

I always use a narrow aperture (high f/stop) so the camera captures the whole scene with a high depth of field so everything is in focus. I usually use the aperture manual mode on my camera so I can control what the aperture will be and then the camera automatically selects the right shutter speed necessary for the photo. If you are trying to create the effect with a point-and-shoot camera make sure you compose the photo with the background light by pointing the camera at the background. If you compose the image by pointing the camera at your dark subject, then the background will be over-exposed and you will not end up with a silhouette.

Double Exposures

Most photo enhancement toolboxes contain a brush called a clone or rubber-stamp
tool. It makes possible the transfer of any object to another image in any degree of transparency. Double exposures have been a favorite method of photographers for years, but the difficulty of positioning and blending place the technique beyond most photographers.

The skills of composite or collage construction are useful when attempting a multiple exposure. The benefits of this blending include: a graphic reminder of special relationships, an enhancement of the subtler shades of meaning, a new way to look at the world, and a story-like progression of ideas.

In simple terms, place two photographs side by side on your screen. Match the size (in pixels) to each other. To start, set the transparency at a low figure, say three or five percent. Size the brush fairly large, say 200 pixels. Center the source button on the picture to be transferred and working from the center in a circular motion, transfer the object to the base photograph. Several tries may be needed in order to produce the exact effect. Adjustments in size, color, transparency, sharpness and intrusion of elements all play a part in your new creation. An alternative method is to rend the image to be transferred into an object and move this over the original picture, positioning it and adjusting the transparency for best effect.

Another related method required the outlining of a subject with a mask, turning the subject into an ‘object’, then dragging the object into the frame of another picture. While still an ‘object’, the subject can be resized and positioned for best effect. Special care must be taken so that the edges show no sign of tampering. The clone tool at high magnification and the smoothing tool are good for this.

Aperture Priority Mode

You set the Aperture priority mode by using the camera menus on its LCD in which case you need to browse and choose Aperture priority from the menus or by rotating a modes dial in which case you choose Aperture priority by its symbolic icon (in most cases Aperture priority is symbolized by a capital ‘A’).

In Aperture priority mode you manually set the aperture value. The camera takes care of everything else – for example it sets the optimal shutter speed for the aperture you chose. There are physical limitations and not every aperture value that you choose can be matched by other settings that will result in a good photo. The camera will let you know by flashing a green LED or in some other way (check its manual for more details) if it found the optimal settings that work with your chosen aperture value.

So why bother setting the aperture value manually when you can have the camera set it for you? One good reason is to control the depth of field. Depth of field is defined as the range in which the photo is in focus. For example an infinite depth of field means that the photo is in focus from a certain distance from the camera and up to infinity. A narrow (also known as shallow) depth of field on the other hand means that the photo is in focus only from a certain distance from the camera to another distance which is not further away (or in other words the photo is in focus just around a certain object that is being photographed). The rest of the objects in the photo are out of focus appearing as blurred objects.

The wider the aperture value (the f number decreases) the narrower (shallower) the depth of field and vice versa: the narrower the aperture value (the f number increases) the deeper the depth of field. Just remember that the depth of field changes along with the f number: when the f number increases the depth of field increases and vice versa. A common use for manually controlling the aperture value and achieving a narrow depth of field is when taking portrait photos and trying to blur the background behind of the portrait object.

As always the best way to understand what you can do with different aperture settings is to experiment. In this way you will get a feeling of what aperture values translate to what depth of field. It is important to understand though that the depth of field depends not only on the aperture value but also on the object distance from the camera and the lenses that are used. With digital camera experimenting is free and immediate as there is no film development cost and you can review your photos instantaneously.

Low Light Photography

The method of summing up several pictures of the same scene is conceptually simple. Just take as many photographs as necessary so that when summing them up, the scene will be lighted correctly. The light of each photo will add to that of the others. By adding an appropriate number of such pictures, the photographer can get a final image properly exposed.

We can distinguish between two macro-cases. In the first one, we are taking a picture exploiting the already present natural ambient light. In the second case, we provide the main lighting. In the first case, the proposed method offers several advantages, but, in the second case, the benefits are even more.

Just Ambient Light

The first real macro advantage is that, due to thermal noise in CCDs, still digital cameras simply cannot offer arbitrarily long exposure time. That is why the authentic “B” pose does not exist in digital cameras. Therefore, the proposed method overcomes the problem of very long exposure, impossible with digital cameras.

Another advantage in using the proposed method is noise reduction. Indeed, at least a part of noise is stochastic, which means that it can add to or subtract from the signal. If we sum many noisy images, we make a sort of average, so reducing noise.

A third advantage is we can dismiss faulty images. In the sequence of images taken, some may be blurred by micro-movement of the camera (e.g. due to the wind) or imperfect in other ways. For instance, an airplane or a car passing by may leave an unwanted path of light. There could be zillions of reasons why an exposure could be faulty. If we take just one long exposure, we will end up with a useless picture. However, if we take a lot of them, keeping all of them short, we can dismiss some of the shots at the editing phase. This is even more so if the exposure requires some photographer’s actions, like firing sequences of flashes.

A fourth benefit arises from the powerful capabilities of image editing software. As an example, we can mask unwanted parts in some of the shots. This could be useful, for instance, in order to avoid saturation of the brightest parts of the image. This way, the lighting will be more uniform. Alternatively, we could do this creatively by dimming some portions of the final image purposely. Control over the brightness of the single parts of the image is much stronger.

We could even extend this technique to normally lighted daytime shots, taking advantage of the same benefits. In that case, each single shot would be extremely short (1/500s or faster).

We Provide the Main Lighting

If the photographer is providing the lighting of the scene being photographed, all the previous advantages still apply. Others can be listed, however.

Lighting equipment can be drastically reduced, thus reducing cost and ease of transport. It is not necessary having many lights lighting the scene simultaneously. This time we can shoot each picture with just one light at a time. They will be added during the editing phase. So, we need just one lamp for each type of lighting equipment being used (e.g. just one soft box instead of two). Moreover, the lights being used do not need to be very powerful, because, again, summing their effects via software we can achieve any brightness we desire.

In case of artistic “painting with light”, during the retouching session the photographer has a very wider range of freedom. He can easily try different compositions, perfectly matching the different lights as desired. This will enhance his creativity. For instance, if using two colored lights, the number of possible combinations is countless. In this same example, precision reached through an image retouching tool, summing the different images each with its own light, is unattainable simply dosing the light during the exposure.

Disadvantages

Of course, this method has disadvantages, too. It is obviously the extra post-processing work with the editing software. In particular, the registration phase, i.e. the alignment of all the pictures to be added, is cumbersome. However, there are specific tools doing that automatically. Moreover, although it is true that we can try different combinations by dismissing some photographs or others or masking them in different ways, this may take a lot of time, too. On the other hand, this is a price for greater freedom.

Small Digital Camera

If you have an interest in a small digital camera, you can find them at local drugs stores and retail stores. There are also keychain digital cameras online what come in different colors. You can find the specifications of the small cameras and the dimensions for the size. Some of the digital cameras are so small that you will need to put the dimensions on paper and cut that out to get a clear picture of how small the camera really is and then decide if you could use it.

The small digital camera is something you might buy for conversation as well as picture taking. If you need a small camera that is a little larger than a keychain camera, you could look at some of the digital cameras that are the size of a deck of playing cards. These cameras have features and functions to use. They also take crisp and clear images for a small camera. You can look around for different sizes in cameras and will notice that there are many to choose. You just have to compare features and functions to see which one has what you need.

Taking Fishing Pictures

When living on a lake you should expect more company and overnight guests but we enjoy sharing this beautiful place with others, so this is not an issue for us. Every time one of our guests catches a fish we take pictures. Every two months we develop films loaded with hundreds of fishing pictures. My husband and I started thinking about making a system which would allow our guests who caught fish to enjoy the pictures, as well.

Thus, my husband and I made up our minds to buy a digital camera. Now the camera is with us all the time, we take it every time we go fishing with our guests, so that we could take pictures when they catch a fish. After the day is over, we usually transfer the fishing pictures on our computer and print them. That way we give the photographs to our guests before they head for home.

This is a great gift for them which they highly appreciate because it reminds them of their fishing experience. This also saves us some time and money. Not only do we not have pictures piling up but we also should not mail the developed fishing pictures to our guests which cuts our expenses.

Purchasing a digital camera was a good investment as we are very pleased with the quality of the fishing pictures. Another thing I really like about it is that we can scan all the pictures but print only those which we want.

Once I started going through the pictures my husband and I have taken on our many fishing trips. The pictures are from all over the state of Minnesota and Canada. I decided to buy a large frame and put our best fishing photographs in. After that I will hang the frame in the living room where you have a magnificent view over the lake.

That way we will be able to enjoy these wonderful pictures all the time without having to look for them in our many albums. I will try to buy such a photo frame that will be easy to change the old pictures with new ones when I want to.

If the big frame with many fishing photos turns out to be a good idea I might place some frames in other rooms of the house as it is always pleasant to recall the day and the other people in the fishing pictures.

Digital Photo Storage

Removable storage devices enable you to take as many shots as the device will hold, pop it out, pop in another and keep on shooting. It’s like carrying extra film for your analog camera. You can keep shooting until you run out of “rolls”.

How many shots you can store is a factor of the capacity (number of Megabytes) of the storage device, the image resolution and the type of compression being used.

This is an important number to know because when you reach the capacity limit you’re either going to have to remove the device and slip in another, download the images to a computer or erase some of the images.

It’s easier to choose storage device capacity if you think in terms of “rolls of film”. If you normally shoot 10 rolls of 24 exposure when you’re off on vacation, then you need enough removable storage to hold 240 images at whatever resolution
you’ll be shooting. Storage is cheap so it’s better to have and not need than to need and not have.

There are different types of removable storage technologies available and the one that you use is dictated by what your particular camera supports.

Removable Flash Memory cards use RAM chips which are similar to the ones found in computers except they do not have to stay powered up to store your images.

While many digital cameras us the standard PC Card (PCMCIA)interface for their flash memory, some manufacturers are introducing proprietary formats which restrict the type and brand of card which can be used.

Common flash memory devices include PC Cards, CompactFlash, SmartMedia, Sony MemorySticks and xD-Picture Cards.

PC Cards have the most storage capacity but their large physical size restricts their use only to big-frame cameras.

CompactFlash (CF) cards are the most widely used storage device among the entries in the consumer camera market. There are two types of CF cards. CompactFlash cards with slots that are 3.3 mm thick are known as CompactFlash (CF) or CompactFlash Type I (CF-I). If the slot is 5mm thick then it is a CompactFlash

Type II (CF-II). CF-II is gaining in popularity.

SmartMedia cards are smaller than CF cards and do not have as much storage capacity.

Sony Memory Sticks are used mostly in Sony digital cameras although some other brands do support them.

xD-Picture Cards are the tiniest of the removable storage devices and are used in miniature digital cameras. They are designed as a replacement for the larger SmartMedia card.

It’s important to know what type pf storage device a camera uses before you buy it. That way you can make intelligent decisions concerning the ongoing costs of storage and choose a camera which most closely matches your needs.

Compact Cameras vs DSLRs

DSLR Strengths

  • Image Quality. Since DSLRs come with larger lenses, they have larger pixel sizes. Generally, DSLRs offer a lot of ISO settings, you can enjoy faster shutter speeds and noise-free pictures. In other words, DSLRs offer better image quality.
  • Adaptability. As a photographer, you can enjoy a lot of benefits if you choose a DSLR instead of a compact point and shoot camera. Aside from this, these cameras have high-quality lenses with long focal lengths based on what you are photographing. You can also attach a lot of accessories, such as filters and flashes making your camera adaptable in different conditions.
  • Speed. Generally, DSLRs are much faster than regular cameras as far as shuttle lags and focusing is concerned.
  • Large ISO Range. The ISO range is different in digital cameras. However, if you have a DSLR, you can choose from a lot of ISO settings based on the light conditions.
  • Manual Controls. If you like manual controls, DSLR is your best choice. For example, you can choose the manual mode if you don’t like the auto mode. This will allow you to configure a lot of settings that you cannot in the auto mode.

Point-and-Shoot Digital Camera Strengths

  • Size and Weight. Point-and-shoot cameras are so small that you can put them in your pocket and carry them wherever you want to. This is good news if you need a small camera for parties and tours.
  • Quiet Operation. Unlike DSLR cameras, these cameras are much quieter. The subject won’t even realize that they are being photographed.
  • Auto Mode. If you are just a beginner, you may not want to mess with the manual mode. For beginners, it is much better to use a point and shoot camera as it comes with the auto mode. This mode automatically selects the right settings based on light conditions and other factors. So you can just grab the camera and take as many photos as you can.
  • Price. Unlike DSLR, these cameras are relatively cheaper. So, if you are on a budget, this type of camera is the best choice for you.
  • LCD Framing. If you want to frame your shots with the camera LCD, point-and-shoots can be a great choice as all of these cameras feature LCD allowing you to see the frame you are going to capture.