confidence matters





When I started blogging - 9 years ago - I realized I needed to get into photography to produce nature images as well as nature words.  So I went back to school - online - to Digital Photography School (DPS).  I  learned technical things I didn't used to know - how to use manual mode, different lenses, focussing and other stuff. But I'm still rarely satisfied with the results. I still find it incredibly hard to replicate the images in my mind with the ones I end up capturing. I also know I don't practice enough.

I started thinking, maybe my problem isn't technical after all. Maybe it's about confidence, about accepting myself. I found a piece by Gina Malicia on the DPS website incredibly helpful. It's called Game Changers: How to take your photography to the next level.

The first point Gina makes is to take photos of subjects and experiences that you love. If you do this, she says, you will always be excited and inspired. I never tire of taking shots of the garden and the plants and wildlife visiting or living in it.  It's always changing, so there's always something new to wonder at. I also never tire of taking photos of children enjoying nature. If young people have positive experiences, I figure they will grow up as protectors, not exploiters, of the natural world.



Passion, not perfection is what it's all about. I do know this profound truth, but from time to time I forget and need to be reminded. I have found living is not so enjoyable when you're thinking you're not up to scratch, not good enough. Don't just focus on what something looks like, Gina says, focus on how it feels.



These two photos were taken at sunset through the window in a friend's suburban house. The scene was actually quite prosaic, but the fading light made it look moody, and the silhouettes made it look romantic and interesting.

It was reassuring to hear that many artists and photographers struggle with confidence. A lot of time I do accept myself and feel confident, and then life sings. But sometimes I forget, and listen to destructive self-talk. Then everything, including taking photos, becomes stressful and no longer pleasurable.

Thank you, Gina, for helping me to change my game.


Comments

  1. Today - with my silly phone, hitting the wrong button, he caught a video clip of me laughing in delight.
    Neither he nor I could have done that ourselves deliberately.

    My photo skills are FAR from what I see and would like to capture. But sometimes the camera agrees to 'see what I see'. (I admit I haven't done the lessons, and put in the practice)

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    1. sometimes my camera is compliant too. I had hoped I might get more control, but I think I was a bit ambitious. Luckily contemporary cameras are pretty good.

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  2. That kangaroo makes me nervous.
    Are they OK around small children?

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    1. Hi Diana, I laughed when I first read your comment, and thought: our native mammals are not aggressive like your big cats are. But then I looked at that kangaroo like a Rorschach test, and I suppose it could look like it was dangerous. Actually, it was unusual but I recently did hear of a big male kangaroo attacking someone. Yikes!

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    2. and our big cats, would much rather keep away, out of sight. No interest whatsoever in coming near people, if they can possibly avoid it.

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    3. I think most critters are not aggressive, and will stay away unless they feel threatened.

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  3. I took a photography course in my last semester of high school for the extra credit I needed for graduation. I loved it! I had a little Kodak 110 camera. I vaguely remember (it was 48 years ago) putting photo paper into acid wash baths to develop my prints - black & white only. I guess that fascination stayed with me cause I still love taking photos!

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    1. That must have been wonderful, do you think we are missing out on something now we can create pretty good images so easily with digital cameras? I never took photos until I started blogging, so started from scratch - or maybe should say started from blur.

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  4. It's hard to be confident in photography (when the results aren't quite what you expected as being a copy of what you see with your own eyes).

    DPS is great for their weekly articles and I've learned a lot from their guest writers as well as their regular writers.

    When you've got time, have a look at other nature photographers and try to figure out what you like about their images. When you can work out what you do, or don't, like in their composition, you will get more ideas on how to shoot your own.

    To be honest, I'd take lots of photos (500-600 in an afternoon) when I took up Photography 7 years ago. Mainly because of my poor eyesight even with spectacles. I figured if I made 7-8 photos of each subject from all angles, I'd gradually learn what works best. In the beginning I only liked 1-2 out of those 500+, but practice does help.

    Don't be afraid to use the Auto setting. I think it helps to improve your composition and drawing the viewer's eye into the frame, without having to worry about the camera's settings or the technical side of things in the beginning.

    I found it also helps to leave a bit of room around your subject (which you can crop off later if necessary). The photo of the two children (your own?) is delightful, but it could have been improved by a bit more space around their bodies. The first shot of the boy and the kangaroo works well.

    It does help to hold the camera very still (to avoid blurred images). I improved a lot when I started going to the Zoo and tried to get one focus point through tiny 1/2" cage wire. I think I went to the zoo about 100 times in 2011,12 & 13.

    After you've downloaded your images onto the computer, turn the one(s) you want to use/keep upside down for a few minutes and you'll be able to see straight away whether the contrast/colour/shapes look 'balanced' within the frame. I was taught that 40+ years ago studying Art and Design at College.

    Don't forget all photographers, even professionals, have bad days and take a zillion photos to get that one perfect shot. And, after a top professional photographer showed us followers what editing he did to his images, I realised he didn't necessarily take great photos - he was just a damn good editor with Photoshop and Lightroom.

    I always wanted to be a good photographer, not a good photo editor.

    I still love photography 7 years down the track and with close to 100,000 photos behind me. To be honest, there's probably only 100 really great shots amongst them.

    Practice makes Perfect. But since nobody is perfect, we amateur photographers keep on practicing. It's fun. It's a great way to attract followers to your blog and to be honest I'd rather see a photo, than only a post with writing in it. Sometimes a photo 'tells a thousand words'

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    1. Hi Victoria, thank you so much for sharing your own experience and giving so many tips. One of my favourite of all the tips you give is not to be afraid to use Auto. I realize I tend to think I have failed somehow if I'm using Auto, which is silly. I will use Auto whenever I want to now.

      I was fascinated to hear the numbers of photos you take in relation to how many you like and found this really helpful. I've never taken as many as you, but only one or two in 50 or 100 probably pass my approval test. I wonder if our self imposed standards are too high?

      The zoo is a brilliant idea - you were certainly persistent. And the upside down idea is a new one to me, I'll try it out. The children are my grandsons.

      So, thanks again for the encouragement and being an inspirational amateur photographer! I need to keep taking photos for my blog, and it needs to be fun. Otherwise it's not worth doing.

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  5. Catmint - I, too, am guilty of negative self-talk and not feeling good about myself but I keep trying. I should at least get an E for effort. You might need a better camera and you might want to look into Adobe's monthly subscription to Photoshop and Lightroom ($9.99 in U.S.). Lightroom has been a big help to me with sharpening and changing the exposure, etc.

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    1. Hi Linda, I like that - we should all get E for effort! I do use Photoshop sometimes, I looked at Lightroom and it seemed very complicated, but if you recommend it I'll look at it again. Thanks for the tips.

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  6. Hi catmint, I remember a few years ago that you recommending a book called 'The practice of contemplative photography'. I bought that book and have found it invaluable! Kirk PS I think that I might have tried to post on your blog yesterday but blogger has changed since I was last here and I might have messed it up. So I might be replying twice . . .

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    1. Thank you, Kirk, for reminding me about that wonderful book. Welcome back to Blogger - you didn't mess up! Hope all's well with you.

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  7. Like you I started trying to take better photographs when I started blogging. I still find it difficult. But nature is so beautiful... I just have to capture it. And sometimes it turns out just right, like your photographs in this post. I can't beleive that's a real kangaroo!

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    1. I couldn't believe it either, I think it's a very funny photo. I love the way you capture nature in the photos on your blog, especially the clear and closeup shots of birds.

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  8. That's good advice. I've gone through many of the stages you describe, too. Sometimes it's the experimentation with a new camera or a new subject in a different setting that gets me revved up about my photography again. Lovely images, Sue!

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