The Joy of Photography

 
The Joy of Photography
 

Photography is one of my absolute favorite hobbies. Walking around with my camera always puts a smile on my face, but it's beyond easy to get discouraged. Surprisingly, one of the most discouraging things in Photography isn't not finding the time to shoot, but is the realization that there are a lot of photographers out there that shoot the same subject matter you do and may even do it better than you.

I can't tell you how often I look at other photographer's Instagram profiles and think, "I should just stop shooting. I will never be at that level." They get to go to far more exotic location, have more followers than I could ever dream to have, and they are posting phenomenal photos on a daily or weekly schedule. I try to get out as often as I can, but have too much going on in my life to shoot as often as I'd like, but why is that a problem? In short, It's not.

Stop worrying about what other photographers are doing. Stop worrying about how beautiful other photographers work is. Stop worrying about how many followers you have. Shoot because you love it. Shoot because you find it fun and relaxing. Shoot just to shoot. Don't take pictures for other people (unless that person is a client). Nobody starts out as an incredible photographer and nobody starts out with hundreds of thousands of followers. I started shooting more seriously only about 4 years ago, but still have a full time job and 2 kids to take care of. The photographers I follow who have over one hundred thousand followers have been shooting for over 10 years and have dedicated their lives to it.

The joy of photography itself is what makes me continue to shoot the way I do. I love being able to show people a moment in my life. I got so tired of saying, "You had to be there to see how beautiful it was." The photographs on my site are more than just something beautiful I shot. They are something I saw and experienced that I want to share with the world.

Whatever your reason to shoot is, don't worry about the world around you. Worrying only gets in the way of you becoming a better photographer. Any time you discourage yourself, think about it this way: Nobody started out great. Every photographer, painter, professional sports player, etc. started out knowing absolutely nothing about what they are now known for. It doesn't matter if you picked up a camera when you were 5 years old or 60. The photograph in the end is all anyone will ever see, not how old the person was when they took it.

Histograms Explained...

 
Explanation of the Histogram
 

For most, the histogram is that weird-looking graph that pops up when you accidentally hit a button on your camera. Instead of frantically trying to make it go away, take some time to figure out what its telling you. It may just help out your shot.

The histogram is simply a graph that shows you the brightness levels of the pixels in your image. The far left represents pure black, the far right represent pure white, and the middle represents every brightness value in between. As for the height of the peaks in your histogram, that represents how many pixels are in that brightness level. 

The only thing you really need to watch out for is that you don't have a lot of pixels hitting the far right or left side. These pixels will be pure white/black and have no chance of being recovered in post due to clipping. If that's what you are intending to do, I'd recommend not hitting either side too much as you can always adjust your image in post to hit them. This way you'll have a much larger dynamic range to play with and can increase or decrease the exposure to your liking.

Your camera may have a "highlight warning" mode or "zebra pattern" mode where you will see areas flashing that are hitting pure black and pure white. Just know if you are shooting a sunrise/sunset, the sun will almost always hit pure white unless you are shooting very under exposed.

I use the histogram often when shooting long exposure landscape shots to make sure I don't have too many pixels hitting pure black. With the filters I use, it's easy to cause certain areas to become too dark. Seeing the histogram lets me know if I should increase my exposure which I often do by up to +1 stop.

Hope that helps explain the histogram. It's not hard to understand, but can be hard to utilize.

 

New Site Design

After a lot of tweaks and revisions, I decided to change the overall look to my site. As my photography collection got larger, I needed a way to keep things organized and clean. Having a front page of edge to edge photos that you have to hover over was okay, but started turning into a giant jumble of photos.

New Main Page

New Blog Page

My main page is now super organized, the fonts have all been changed to make them easier to read, and my blog has a new sidebar with integrated search, and recent posts and Instagram uploads.

I am still working on a few minor tweaks to the main page, but I hope you like the new layout.

Cloud Types and What They Do for Photography

As funny as it sounds, I love clouds. In my opinion, clouds completely change your landscape photography for the better whether it's helping your composition or enhancing colors in the sky. It may surprise you to know that there are around 10 different types of clouds and each one changes or enhances your photographs differently. Let's take a look at the different types of clouds you may come across and I'll do my best to explain what that particular cloud type does for your photography.

Quick FYI: When I say a cloud type can't help your composition, I'm saying that I wouldn't recommend putting too much of the sky in your shot if that's the only cloud type available. Certain clouds just don't add enough to your shot because they are too thin or boring looking.


Cirrus

Description: Cirrus clouds are thin, delicate looking and white. These clouds look like hair blowing in the wind and are commonly referred to as "mare's tails."

In photography: Cirrus clouds are made up of ice crystals which help enhance the colors in the sky. These clouds will also rarely diminish the brightness of the sun, and tend to stay lit up long before the sun rises and after the sun sets.

Composition Notes: Cirrus clouds are a bit too thin to help your composition on their own. I'd recommend not using too much of the sky in your shot if these are the only clouds around.

Cirrostratus

Description: Cirrostratus clouds are similar to cirrus clouds, but come in thin sheets that usually cover up the sky.

In photography: Due to their thinness, Cirrostratus clouds produce a halo effect when the sun or moon passes behind them. These clouds are often around 12 to 24 hours before it rains or snows. Cirrostratus clouds are great if you can use the halo effect to your advantage otherwise they can be a bit boring on their own.

Composition Notes: Cirrostratus clouds are a bit too boring to help your composition unless you are shooting for a halo effect around the sun. I'd recommend not using too much of the sky in your shot if these are the only clouds around.

Cirrocumulus

Description: Cirrocumulus clouds typically form from Cirrus or Cirrostratus clouds and share many of the same features. These clouds appears are small puff-like ripples in the sky and are usually white or gray.

In photography: Typically occurring in winter, these clouds give off a cold, fish scale like appearance. These clouds let a lot of light bleed through them and also enhance the colors in the sky.

Composition Notes: Cirrocumulus clouds are thick enough to work in your composition unlike Cirrus which are too thin. You can include more of these clouds in your shot without making it too dull.

Altostratus

Description: Altostratus clouds have a bluish-gray color to them and typically cover the entire sky. 

In photography: Even though altostratus clouds look thick, they are actually thin and let the sun shine through in certain spots. These clouds are a bit boring since they come off completely flat, but can look menacing in high contrast black and white or HDR shots.

Composition Notes: These clouds aren't going to help your composition unless you enhance them by kicking up the contrast or by composing an HDR shots.

Altocumulus

Description: Altocumulus clouds look white or gray and are composed of water droplets. These clouds can appear as rolling lines or waves in the sky and often form at night.

In photography: These clouds give your photographs a very unique look. I wouldn't recommend taking too long of an exposure as they could possibly blend into each other.

Composition Notes: These clouds are nice enough to enhance your composition. They help bring the sky to life in your shot. You can include more of these clouds in your shot without making it too dull.

Nimbostratus

Description: The famous rain cloud. Dark, thick, widespread, and gray cloud thick enough to block out the sun. Usually comes with snow or rain.

In photography: Nimbostratus clouds can be a bit boring if the sky is just a widespread gray, but these clouds frequently come with lower rough clouds that can look menacing in high contrast black and white or HDR shots. 

Composition Notes: Great if you are going for a menacing and dark look, but otherwise this sky is rather boring to include too much of it in your shot.

Cumulus

Description: Cumulus clouds (My favorite clouds) are puffy, white to gray clouds that look like fluffy cotton balls. These clouds are usually detached from each other, have sharp edges, and grow in size throughout the day until they dissolve in the evening.

Cumulus clouds in photography: Cumulus are the best clouds for photography. They can add to your composition, make shots taken any time during the day even better by filling the sky, and have a beautiful range of bright vivid whites to dark menacing blacks throughout them.

Composition Notes: Incredible looking clouds for your composition. You can include more of these clouds in your shot without making it too dull.

Stratus

Description: Stratus clouds are low, thin, gray blankets in the sky that usually bring a light mist or drizzle. If these clouds are low enough we call them fog. 

In photography: These clouds can be a bit boring, but if they are low enough you can use the fog to add a great effect to your photographs. During the day, you can usually see a perfect outline of the sun behind these clouds.

Composition Notes: Too boring to enhance your composition unless you are shooting for a fog effect. I'd recommend not using too much of the sky in your shot if these are the only clouds around.

Cumulonimbus

Description: Cumulonimbus clouds are thick, heavy clouds that can be as large as a mountain. These clouds bring thunderstorms, and are around during hail or tornadoes. 

In photography: Cumulonimbus clouds can completely change your composition due to their size. If these clouds are further away, they make the sky look fantasy-like and can almost be photographed by themselves. These clouds can also bring lightning along for the ride so try long exposures if you see any.

Composition Notes: Incredible looking clouds for your composition. You can include more of these clouds in your shot without making it too dull.

Stratocumulus

Description: Stratocumulus clouds are low-flying, gray, and lumpy clouds usually showing up in waves or roll-like pattern. These clouds have shades from bright, vivid whites to flat grays.

In photography: Stratocumulus clouds are my absolute favorite clouds to see hanging around during a sunrise or sunset. These clouds enhance every color in the sky and hold colors for a lot longer.

Composition Notes: These clouds can greatly help your composition during a sunrise or sunset. You can include more of these clouds in your shot without making it too dull.


So how does knowing this help you when you can't control the clouds? Well if you look out your window and see a certain type of cloud, you can get a better idea of what to expect out of your shot. If you are already out and ready to shoot, seeing what cloud types are in the sky may help you compose your shot differently since you have a better understanding of how light interacts with them.

Hope that helps! Any questions or comments, please let me know below!