Monday, July 16, 2012

Photography 101

OK--if by the title of this post you are expecting some hints about photography, or a tutorial of some sort, or any words of wisdom on how to take great pictures, stop reading now.  This is NOT going to be any of those things. 

A photographer, I am not.  I am a point-and-shoot kind of girl.  I have a darling little Canon PowerShot 1400 digital camera that will tuck neatly into your pocket, and it has filled my photography needs quite well, thank you very much.  HOWEVER, now that I am selling my work online, I need super-dooper-extra-wonderful photographs.  While I'm sure if I actually READ THE MANUAL and learned how to use EVERYTHING on the camera I could probably take high quality pictures, I've relied on my husband to do the job.

My husband likes expensive hobbies.  He hunts, both with a bow and with guns, so we have quite an arsenal in our basement.  He fishes, so we have a lovely Ranger bass boat in the driveway, chocked full of high quality fishing gear.  A couple of years ago, he decided to take up photography, and he jumped in with both feet, buying a fancy Nikon D90 DSLR camera and muliple lenses.  (He has since bought ANOTHER camera, and I couldn't tell you how many lenses he has now.)  This new hobby has benefitted me greatly, because he's been willing and able to take very nice pictures of my work to post in my etsy shop

The problem with this set up is, I have to rely on his timetable to get my photography done.  He's always willing to do it, but sometimes when he has time, the lighting isn't good.  He, of course, has a day job (to help pay for all these expensive hobbies he has), so weekday photo shoots have been out of the question.  Some weekends we are not home, or we are busy doing other things, or like I said, the lighting is bad.  So the solution to this dilemma is for me to actually learn how to take my own pictures.

I've been somewhat intimidated by this fancy camera of his. Too many buttons.  Too much to know.  Can I really handle this?  He says yes, I can.  ISO, aperature settings, white balance, depth of field, bracketing---he's speaking another language to me. 

Nevertheless, today we set about my first real photography lesson.  I had a whole parade of new characters waiting to smile for the camera, so it was as good a time as any for me to dip a toe in the water of real photography. 

David is a prince.  I think I have mentioned that.  He's helpful and patient and actually quite good at teaching people things. Today he went over just a few very basic things, got the camera set up for me, and said "have at it."  OMG!!  Really!!  He took a few test shots to make sure the settings were where they should be, then handed the job over to me.

Well, I must say, it was NOT THAT DIFFICULT!!  Hold the shutter button halfway down.  Check for the green dot to tell you it's focused (if not, turn the little dial til it shows up).  Check the light meter to see if it's in the middle (if not, turn another little button until it is).  CLICK!  DONE!!  He has his shutter set up to take three quick photos---one at the set exposure, one just under, and one just over that exposure (HEY!  That's called bracketing!).  Easy Peasy! 

So I had 23 items to photograph.  I probably took somewhere in the neighborhood of 600 pictures!  Of course, over half of them can be pitched, but I got plenty to work with of each item.  Now the sorting and cropping begins. 

I still have LOADS to learn.  I'm not kidding myself about that.  But for a first attempt I'm rather pleased.  Of course, the camera does all the work!  And he really did tell it what to do.  I basically just clicked the button.  But still, progress!

Here is a sneak preview of a few things that will be showing up soon in my etsy shop.  Photography courtesy of Lisa J. Ammerman!

Not too shabby, if I do say so myself.

What sort of task has had you feeling daunted, but when you actually tried it, it turned out being not that bad?  This was one for me, and I think I might actually like it!

I hope you had a great weekend, and are ready to face another week.  We're in the grip of a horrible heat wave again this week, so I'm sure I'll get lots done in my studio!


PS---Turns out my husband has quite a good eye for photography.  He enjoys taking nature pictures, and one of these days I am going to share some of them with you.  


  1. Oh such cute pieces Lisa!!! LOVE all the great detail. Your photographs are great too.

    Photography is one of my favorite hobbies, and I've taken several classes... I love taking nature shots, and see art all around me. But... I find it really difficult to capture my clay pieces as they truly are. I take lots of pictures before finding one or two to use in my Etsy Shop. They are ALWAYS cuter in person, that's for sure!! LOL!

    Looking forward to seeing your husband's photographs! :)

    1. Thank you, Trina! I's very difficult to capture the essence of our work--especially the smaller details. My work is cuter in person too!

      The witch got listed today on etsy. The others will be up in the coming days.

      I'm hoping to post some of David's photos soon here. He did a set of flower photos for a class this spring that were quite wonderful!