Pursuing Life's Daring Adventure

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Photography: Finding Your Inner Lens

Years ago, my love for photography came on strong—it traipsed into my life like a memorable song, sashaying in, swinging her coattails, and purring a delectable melody. For me, the lure of the lens is unavoidable and its magic unforgettable. Photography and the world it opens up to share is part of my identity, part of me.

--Dewy daisy at first light, in my backyard, one of my favorite early shots

My first exposure to cameras was in modeling, the high-fashion kind where seedy photographers follow willowy girls with their dark cameras to freeze an attractive look for all time. There, cameras hooked me, I think. Images created and released from the combination of mysterious light, pungent film, and human creativity became a song in my head which followed me and grew louder with each passing year. Swapping sides with the camera, being the creator and not the subject, has been a wonderful experiment for me, a dive into a world of new beauty and staid time.

My first good camera was film-based, and I took endless rolls of photographs, learning by testing the limits of light and lens to find the style which I now see as my own. Changing the film SLR camera in for a digital SLR has been tremendously freeing, allowing me to capture more images than imaginable, all in the small minutes of found inspiration. When the lighting is just right and something beautiful catches my breath, I dash for my camera and click through a few shots. I shoot photography in small blippets of time, between writing and the family and the daily chores of life.

Years and hours behind a camera and studying images have helped me to find my inner lens, one of the more rewarding pieces of my life. To help you find your inner lens, I have three essentials for a great shot.

The Essentials

A WOW moment is one I love to grab onto an image … one where I say “Wow!” as I press the trigger. Three elements are essential to a WOW shot:

1) Lighting. When the light is right, the shot surpasses the ordinary to rank with timeless. Soft light is almost always best—first thing in the morning or in the evening, cloudy days, or natural light through a window. Harsh shadows from direct sunshine or blatant flash usually compromise the best image.

2) Camera. (See below, especially the differences in shutter speed.)

3) Subject. Something amazing occurs in a photograph when the subject (what you want in focus) appears crisp and the background fades out and appears fuzzy. Leaving out technical terms, for a great shot, back up and zoom in as far as possible when taking the photograph, focus on your subject and allow the subject to fill the frame. The background fades away, leaving the subject as the main interest—beautiful!

Practical Matters of Photography

Cameras, and photography, have come a long, long way in a very short time. Without getting into brands and technical jargon, I think there are several things every person taking a photograph in our day can know, to help improve the results. We all want a great photograph—one that looks like what we are seeing, one that captures the moment and the mood, one that commemorates the significance of an occasion and a moment. To put first things first, then, the type of camera should be the most important consideration.

For simplicity’s sake, following are three categories of cameras with their benefits and drawbacks in my opinion:
1) Cell phone cameras:
a. Benefits: handy
b. Drawbacks: poor quality (though technology is getting better), slow shutter speed
2) Compact pocket-type cameras:
a. Benefits: handy and packable, good quality
b. Drawbacks: slow shutter speed (meaning, when the trigger button is pushed, the photograph takes a second or two later), what you see isn’t always what you get
3) SLR cameras: (SLR means Single-Lens Reflex—what you see through the lens is the actual photograph. These are the cameras with detachable lenses.)
a. Benefits: good quality, rapid shutter speed (instantaneous photographs, no lag time)
b. Drawbacks: bulky, generally more expensive

Our family has, and uses, all three types of cameras. But even if I didn’t love photography and cameras and the technology behind the process, I would still choose an SLR camera—for one major reason: when the trigger is pushed, the camera instantaneously captures the photograph. Nothing is more frustrating than trying to take a photograph and missing it completely because of the compact camera lag time. Though the options on an SLR can be mind-boggling as well as the price, SLR’s have automatic settings just like compacts, and also have recently been introduced with models at much lower prices. All-in-all, I believe SLR’s are worth a try, and they will likely always remain my favorite.

This past week, I found out I have passed the screening to join a stock photography site as a contributor—an exciting milestone! I now have an outlet for my work.

Please leave a comment or question on the comments section of my blog. It’s a beautiful time of year to discover some new spring beauty through your own lens … happy clicking!

:o) JK


  1. I had a question via email about a recommendation for a first Digital SLR camera, and I thought I'd share my answer. I'm a Nikon girl and currently use a Nikon D-SLR that Nikon no longer makes. However, a great entry-level D-SLR in Nikon's lineup is the Nikon D40. I also love my zoom lens, 18-200mm, which enables the extreme close-ups and blurred backgrounds. Hope that helps!

  2. Just wanted to say that I love your photographs and find your blog uplifting. Also have your one year mini book, which is perfect for me at the present time.
    Thanks and keep up the good work.
    from Lorraine (England)

  3. Thank you, Lorraine, for leaving a comment, and for your kind words! I appreciate it deeply. Many thanks-- JK


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