After a week of nothing more than grabbing some quick iPhone shots, when I saw the pretty fog this morning and heard sheep bells chiming signaling the sheep were headed out, I headed out...with the "big girl" camera. I snapped pictures of Hank, pictures of sheep grazing in the fog, foggy sheep with neat trees in the background and then the sun crested the hill behind Stella's house.
I took a lot of pictures. I frequently do. Sometimes because the sheep move or expressions change or just because I have shaky hands and I mess up the focus. Many times it's strictly because I am not getting the picture I want and have to stop and think about what's wrong and how to fix it.
I'm proud of many of my pictures and I'm so flattered that other people like them too. When all this started and I just had a simple point and shoot camera, I had no idea how important photography would become. Kind of like how when I rescued Punkin so many years ago, I had no idea how important sheep would become. Life is full of gifts.
The most important photography tip I've received (so far ;-) is the importance of learning to use my camera's manual settings. All cameras have at least some photographer controlled settings, even the simple point and shoots. I'd like to encourage everyone, once again, to go read your camera's owners manual. Even better, go look for a "Dummies" book for your specific model. Here's a good example of why:
Even my "big girl" camera has a basic "automatic, the camera is doing all the thinking for you" setting. It's P, which stands for Program Mode. You may have noticed P, M, S and A on your camera as well. Worst case scenario, especially BC (before coffee) or when something's happening fast, I lean on this crutch and at least get the photo, even if it's not an especially great photo. I'd rather have a fuzzy picture of Maisie "smiling" than no picture at all. The picture above was taken in Program Mode.
It's sort of a neat photo. I mean, how wrong can you go with sheep in the mist while the sun is coming up? Still, it's pretty dang dark and almost dreary looking and there was nothing dreary about the sunrise this morning. What's happened here is that, with the camera doing all the thinking, it's trying to balance out the entire photograph, from the super, super bright sky to the not quite as bright sheep. I decided it was time to switch to M (Manual Mode).
Manual means that I'm doing most of the thinking. Specifically, in these pictures, I am controlling how much light I want to let in. The sunrise was beautiful, but I decided I really wanted to showcase the light and shadows on the sheep, so I just took the sun out of the equation. By setting my exposure for the sheep only, the sky is completely blown out (compare the sky in the picture above with the picture just below) but the trade off with the sheep, at least to me, is worth it.
Within this series, I took four quick shots changing just my shutter speed for each one in hopes of getting exactly what I wanted. I'm going to share the settings on two of the pictures below, not to say they are right or to tell you that if you set your camera exactly the same way... They are just an example of how you can affect your photographs and hopefully encourage you to learn a little more about your own camera.
ISO 800 f/13 1/250 sec (slower speed lets in more light)
ISO 800 f/13 1/320 sec (slightly faster, slightly darker)
At this point everyone decided to make a run for the barn.
As I followed them with my camera...in Manual Mode...and they ran out of the bright sunlight, the camera maybe should have been back doing the thinking ;-). Sometimes she's way faster and smarter than I am, even AC (after coffee).