Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Making the Shot

The picture that started it all.  (From Karen Russell's Blog.)
I don't know about you, but I have always wanted to take better pictures.  It is one of those crazy things that feels like it should just be automatic, especially if you have the right equipment.

Cowboy Kitteh Bokeh
Last summer Bill got me the "right equipment," a Canon Rebel DSLR with a zoom lens.  The pictures were better (all of my China pictures were taken with it), but the images always lacked that certain something.  (My dad would tell me I need to edit more, but argghhhh I hate the editing, too!)  Plus, no matter how many books I read, I couldn't make heads or tails of aperture, ISO, f-stop, blah, blah, blah.

Bill bokeh
Unfortunately, excellent pictures weren't automatic.  Shocking, I know!  Among other things, I couldn't figure out how to get that cool out-of-focus-background look that makes some pictures just look cool.  That's called "bokeh," by the way.  I didn't know there was a one word name for it.

Kitchen Bokeh
I fell down another internet rabbit hole the other day.  Googling "French Pocket Door" and looking at the various pictures, I saw one picture that was just better than average.  Sharper, more vibrant, just cute. So I clicked on the image, which landed on a lovely blog from a lady out in Oregon.  Who is also a mom, and a photographer, and a teacher of on-line photo courses.  Her company is even called "Snapshots of a Good Life."  Isn't that cute? 
Yurt bokeh
And, lo and behold, her next nine-week course was already scheduled for March 25.  That date worked for me.  And registration was already open...woo-hoo!

Ash Wednesday Bokeh
So, after consulting with Bill, I decided to go ahead and sign up.  However, I did not realize that apparently Karen is very, VERY good at what she does and has quite a following, meaning people who wait up until midnight to register for her course so they can get a slot.  Fortunately, I'll be able to audit but let's just say I have fingers and toes crossed hoping that someone has to drop out so I can be  "real" student.

No bokeh.  Just Valentines.
Immediately after I signed up I got this great packet of information that I immediately read from cover to cover, immediately.  I'm nerdy like that.  And (it's okay if I tell you this part, Karen said so) she strongly, STRONGLY recommended a 50mm lens for shooting in my natural environment (i.e. my home). 
Museum bokeh
I am happy for any excuse to go to Amazon, and I purchased my lens and immediately started taking pictures with it.

Snow bokeh
WOW.  I just want to say, WOW.  Just that one little piece of advice from Karen has improved my pictures so much!  This isn't a zoom lens, so if I need to get closer to my subject I actually have to move, but that hasn't been any problem at all.  I was just so darn excited about all my new bokeh-y pictures.  As you can see.
Ipad bokeh.  Also, check out the natural light!
I took all these pictures except the first one (that's from Karen's blog).  They are unedited and taken with my new lens.  I can see such a difference in the clarity and light.
Bubble bokeh.
Then, of course, I got another email from Karen, full of encouragement from many of her former students.  And their pictures were just so breathtakingly gorgeous that I had to laugh.  I have many, many miles to go.  But I can't wait to start.

Birthday Bokeh.  Happy Birthday, Uncle Ed!
There's still space, so if you think this sounds like a fun thing to learn for nine weeks or so, please join me!


Mary Prather said...

VERY nice, Cheryl.... I learned about bokeh at BEECH from Amanda Padgett at Everyday Elements -- that's a good blog if you want to learn a little about taking pictures, too. :-)

This will be fun for you --- I wish I could do something like this right now! Maybe soon (when I get a great camera!)

Cheryl said...

I'll check out her blog. Thanks! I am looking forward to the discipline of having to do the class in "real time," too! Wish you could do it with me...