learning to take a picture

A good friend and I took a "photo tour" in DC today - we were the only ones who didn't know much about shooting outside of automatic mode!  The theme of the tour was "street photography" - taking pictures of strangers!  I loved it and was stressed out by it at the same time.  And now I just want to go do it again.

There were many levels of challenge to this - being confident enough to snap pictures of strangers (and deal with some of the consequences), composing the picture, and then trying to practice using manual settings.  I got home and saw how overexposed and overly bright my pictures were and it finally clicked - my aperture is too low (am I right Kristina?!).

Despite almost all of these being too bright (and me not knowing how to save my edits in picasa when I try to increase the shadows), here are the few shots that I liked.  This first one is the only successful candid shot I got - all the rest of these but one other were after I asked permission.  Keep in mind that my lens does not zoom at all, so I have to be UP IN PEOPLE'S FACES.  Little stressful.  But I LOVED it.  I want to be the next sartorialist.

If only you could hear the soul music blasting from his boombox.  He was such a nice man, what a sweetheart.

Out of focus!  That's the other thing - I can't manually focus fast enough under the pressure I feel to snap a quick picture.  I put the camera into autofocus shortly after this.

Too bright!

I like the shot of this man, but it would be nice to see what the protest signs behind him said, right?

And my lovely friend Kim, with whom I took the class (and whose great pictures you can check out on her blog!) wouldn't be so washed out if I just learned to play around with that "f" number!

And this nice man, whose gelato Kim tried to steal, would be in focus, rather than his shirt, if I had changed that f-stop.  Right?

Live and learn (I say that a lot on this blog), but now that it "clicked" I'm dying to run outside and try again.  In Baltimore, at 9:30 at night, we are not going to do that though.  Patience.

I just need a new excuse now when I try to take strangers' pictures again now. Tell them I'm taking pictures for my fabulous fashion blog?  Ha!  Or I need a stealth zoom lens...


  1. Yessssss!!!!! I love the first one and the one of the fashionista in the black dress. It's great that we are starting to learn what is awesome about these pictures and what we can do better next time (wear sunscreen ;)). So fun!

    1. Thanks! I've still been thinking about it all day! I can't wait to do it again.

  2. I should do a course like yours too! It's great to learn new things!

    1. You should find one! It was so much fun, I was still thinking about it all the next day.

  3. i just looked at these again and i kind of like that the shirt is the focus in the last picture.

  4. Yay, new photos :) I'm glad you liked your course and are trying things out with the camera and the lens. I never really got into street photography, but I always love seeing it! I agree that the focus on the shirt in the last photo is great!
    I so wish you were here in Germany and could come over with your camera so I could show you the settings. It's so hard to explain without showing. We could do a video chat on Skype or something :))
    I have to run now (work and all), but I'll write down some tipps why some photos are overexposed and such at the weekend for you :)

    1. I never thought to look at the last photo that way!

      I've never skyped before but that would be kind of cool! I was thinking about taking a bunch of pictures and in each one taking a few of the same one with different settings so I could understand what they do and how it changes things. The reason I was so focused on my aperture being too low is that I had it on the very, very lowest one on that lens you recommended the whole time :)

    2. To be honest, I've never done a video chat via Skype myself, but people at my work hold conferences through Skype all the time, so I figured it shouldn't be too hard. I'll try it out at the weekend and let you know! It really is easier to explain how all the functions work together in person. I know there are some tutorials out there online as well, I'll have a look around at the weekend :)

    3. I found one of the tutorials I was looking for: have you seen these photography tutorials on The Pioneer Woman?
      They are easy to read and should be helpful.
      In a nutshell I think why your photos are over exposed is this: You had set the aperture to 1.4 which lets a LOT of light in. This means that on a bright day you need to have a very fast shutter speed to stop the photos from being overexposed (overexposed=too much light). On a sunny day (like I guess it was on that day) the camera doesn't have a shutter speed high enough to compensate the wide aperture. Your highest shutter speed is probably 1/4000 seconds. When you shoot manual, you get a little bar to help you choose your exposure. You change the shutter speed until you see that the pin is in the middle of the bar (right exposure). On a sunny day you won't be able to get the pin there and your camera will probably flash the 1/4000 at you in the viewfinder to let you know that too much light enters the camera. So you need to up the aperture (to 2.2 or something similar), so you can balance out the amount of light with the shutter speed.
      If you shoot in aperture priority mode you don't get the balance bar, but the camera will still flash the 1/4000s at you, so you know you need to up the aperture until it stops flashing :)
      Ugh, I hope that makes any sense to you. If not, we'll see about the skype thing I'd say. Like I said, explaining in writing isn't my strong point :)