The First Year // The first few months


The first few months of my photography journey were exhilarating, somewhat frustrating and a fury of learning and growth. I started my journey with a Canon Rebel t3i and a couple of kit lenses. This was all a gift from my loving parents for my birthday. I was so intimidated by all of the buttons on the camera that I bought a book that was more extensive than the camera manual itself in order to learn what they all meant. I spent weeks and weeks googling, reading and researching all I could on "learning digital photography." 

I discovered the exposure triangle, aperture, shutter speed and ISO and how they all worked together. Even though I "got it" through reading, actually taking a well exposed photo was another story. I went on walks around my neighborhood over and over again looking for things to photograph. 

Through more research and study I learned about metering and this is where a lot clicked for me. Understanding how the camera meter worked and the different types (spot, evaluative, partial etc...) and then adjusting shutter to achieve proper exposure just "made sense" to me and my photos all of a sudden became much better. I could properly expose a photo the first time instead of constantly seeing an all-white or all black screen (overexposed or underexposed) and then having to try various settings over and over again to get it right.

Figuring out how to properly expose a photo in camera will probably be a lifelong journey. So much artistic vision goes into the exposure alone! There are many reasons for this, but here are the main two that I have discovered during this past year: 

First, to understand how to properly expose a photo you have to understand light in a very profound way. You have to understand where it is coming from, how it is hitting your subject, what temperature it is and how your camera will react to it. That may seem simple, but in reality is extremely complicated. Every time you pick up your camera, the light is different. The variables are constantly changing. 

Secondly, you have to understand HOW you want to expose the photo. “Proper” exposure is somewhat misleading. What does that essentially even mean? That your highlights aren't blown and your blacks aren't clipped, sure, but those affects may be what you WANT to achieve.

Maybe you have a beautiful stream of light barely hitting your subject and you want that portion to be properly exposed to reveal detail, but you want everything else to be shadowed. Maybe you want a portion of the photo to be blown. You are the artist, you have the choice. Therefore, “properly” exposing a photo to match my vision for the photo will, in my opinion, be a lifelong pursuit. 

At this stage, a year and a half in, I feel comfortable with my camera. I shoot only in manual. I have tried other settings (AV, TV) and proceed to confuse myself, so I just stick with what I have come to know. Exposure is something I work on every.single.time I shoot, for fun or for work.

The first few months were a photography whirlwind. I spent the majority of my time reading and practicing. While that hasn't changed a TON since then, I find that WHAT I read now and WHAT I practice on now are very different. But that's how progress works right? Right. 

Next time we will talk about editing. Till then,


Shooting the Night Sky

I love learning new things. I am an eternal student. I would go back to school in a second. 

I think that is one of the things I love most about photography. There is ALWAYS something new to learn. You NEVER have it all figured out. You become better at things, sure, but there are a million other things you could get better at or learn more about. 

Recently I have become interested in learning night photography. I received a killer tripod for Christmas, and that (plus a camera I guess) is really all you need to delve into capturing stars, star trails and the milky way. 

I haven't been able to capture the milky way yet but I am determined to shoot it. Since we live in the middle of nowhere, it should be easier to get away from major light pollution in order to see it. Its usually only visible at certain times in the middle of the night so I will have to convince Paul to give up some precious sleep with me so we can go find it! 

Until then, I've been playing around with capturing stars and the night sky in general. It is a challenge because you are 

  • Shooting in the dark
  • have to find a place where you can shoot in the dark and then sit out the dark 
  • figure out your settings and how to focus properly
  • have to figure out how to create an interesting image while shooting in the blind

Here are the first of my attempts. The first picture was pointed directly up at the sky. I also used an 85mm lens and a relatively tight aperture which I later learned through research is not really ideal for this sort of photography. 

The 2nd picture was closer to town and I did a horizon shot instead of a direct shot of the sky. I used a wider lens and a wider aperture and a lower ISO. I love how you can see the satellite trails.

I absolutely love the night sky and remember loving gazing up at it and dreaming even when I was a little girl.  The infinite number of stars alone expresses God's power and greatness to me in a way that feels like a warm winter jacket.