Manual focus

Usually my focus is on auto focus. It’s fast and easy to use. My eyes are no more so good. Almost ever I use this setting.

Whenever I discover a new setting, I wonder: Why and when should I use this? It’s really very nice to learn what features a camera has and how great they are, but if I don’t know when to use them, they are redundant.

There are three situations when I set the focus to manual.

  1. Today I practiced yoga. I often take self portraits in order to check the postures. It helps me to improve the asanas. I have a remote control. My camera is on a tripod, I adjust ISO, aperture and time. Then I go to my yoga mat and make test shot. Often everything is fine. Then I get into a pose and often in vain. My body is out of focus. The auto focus has nothing to adjust. This is when I use manual focus. I put a chair or anything at the place where I exercise. I take a picture. The automatic focus adjust exactly where I’ll sit later. Then I remove the chair and set the focus on manual focus. That way I make sure that the camera clicks and that I am in focus.

2. I use manual focus when I need structures and backgrounds for my images. In this case I don’t use the manual focus to get sharp pictures. I aim for blurry pictures.

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3. When I see light, I set my camera to manual focus, too. Again I aim for blurry pictures. Usually I get a nice bokeh picture that I can blend into other pictures.

Manual focus works in both directions. Sometimes it helps to get the subject in focus, especially when taking self-portraits. One can also create blurry pictures and bokeh pictures.

Comments are welcomed.

ISO - an approach

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Yesterday I googled ISO. I had the feeling as if everything about ISO was written already. Pictures showed the different ISO settings applied on the same object. At the end I knew how useful ISO is and how powerful.

What was still missing is how to approach ISO in a more practical way. It’s great to know what is possible. But how can I use ISO when I take pictures?

  1. ISO is the first setting that I check on my camera. Before I adjust anything else, I adjust ISO to the current light situation. The first question is about the light. This is done rather fast. The correct ISO setting can save a picture.

  2. First orientation I got in a workshop. The teacher told us to use ISO 400 when outside and to use ISO 800 when inside a room. I found this as a very good start. From there I could fine-tune my camera. When the room is very dark I use a higher ISO. Once I was on a beach on a bright day I knew at once that ISO 100 would be great. When the main subject of the picture is bright I can use a lower ISO.

  3. ISO 100 creates pictures of the highest quality. The higher the ISO the more corny the picture gets. This can be wished. It can be a mean to express the night. Corny doesn’t equal bad picture. Yet usually one aims for a low ISO setting.

  4. By now I mentioned two light situations: Inside a room and outside on a normal day. But there are much more difficult light situations. A difficult light situation is when it’s very dark with bright light somewhere, and when in addition the main attraction of the scenery is moving. Then I adjust my camera to ISO Auto. Especially when the light is changing all the time, this is my setting.

  5. It’s a good tip to know the camera by heart. Also in a dark environment one should be able to adjust the camera.

    I remember how to adjust my camera to ISO Auto: Camera on - second button (back, from below) - wheel at the front.

    I remember how to adjust my camera individually: Camera on - second button (back, from below) - wheel at the front to ISO - wheel back to adjust individually.

    There are two respectively three steps to adjust ISO to the light situation..

  6. It’s difficult to forbid to take pictures these days when in a museum or a concert. Usually to take pictures is allowed, but without flash. With ISO a flash can be compensated. It makes sense to understand ISO and how to set it in different light situations.

PIcture:

I took the above picture with a Nikon 750. ISO was in auto mode. I later checked ISO. It was set to ISO 12800, which is the highest setting. Is the picture unpleasant corny? I don’t think so.

To combine situations with ISO settings might help to get faster:

Beach is ISO 100

Snow is ISO 100

Outside is ISO 400

Inside is ISO 800

Concerts is ISO Auto

These are only rough orientations, but it’s a beginning to get familiar with ISO and to adjust it.

I’d appreciate to hear if this post was useful for you. Please comment. Thank you.

The result of a photo session

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I had something else in mind when I started taking pictures. It was dark already. I had to hurry to have still some natural light. My camera was too close. The location had not enough room to put the camera farer away from the wall. It got dark quickly. That’s it for today, I thought.

Am I disappointed?

Not at all. I’m surprised and entertained.

Depth

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A picture usually is flat. Yet it’s possible to deceive the viewer and to create an illusion of depth.

How to create depth in a picture:

This is possible with lines, light, blurriness, sizes and so on….

To create depth has something to do with the composition of a picture. In general one can say that a composition can make a picture interesting or boring. There are rules, yet it’s possible to break.

I realized that I neglected depth in a picture by now. Spontaneously I put my models in front of a wall. A wall can also be bush or a house or a door. A wall is something that doesn’t allow to look deeper. The picture stops usually behind the motive.

The question ‘why should I create depth’ is as important as the how. There are reasons for both compositions.

I tend to prefer flat pictures. Taste is surely also a criteria why to chose a composition.

It makes sense to look at pictures with the questions:

  1. Is there depth in a picture or is it a flat picture?

  2. How is the depth created?

  3. If there is no depth, which background is used?

  4. Why makes the composition of depth a picture interesting? Which story is told with this depth?

The rule of third

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The ‘rule of third’ was one of the first composition rules that I learned and applied. I set my camera in a way so that I saw the 4 lines that divided my frame into 3 parts, horizontal and vertical. This gave me an orientation. Later I checked my picture in Lightroom and cut them accordingly. I’m convinced that my pictures got better with this rule in mind. To center the main subject is way too balanced. There is no tension in the picture that comes from composition. Tension can come from other sources, of course. Contrast i.e. can make a picture exciting. Nevertheless the composition of a picture is important. With the composition I can lead the eye of the viewer.

The rule of third is very useful for a landscape or portrait frame. Instagram has only squares. With Instagram I moved my subject to the middle of the frame again. Everything else feels off.

The first consideration when I take a picture is what frame I shall use. I love the ratio 2:3. This frame allows to move the subject to the side.

I’m convinced that applying the rule of third makes most pictures better.

Reasons for breaking this rule exist.

Yesterday I was in a museum here in Cape Town, SA. In one floor they showed African fashion shows. For me fashion is art, too. The models, the clothes were so beautiful. I sat down and watched one show after the other. In that room were also use dolls dressed in contemporary African clothes. Suddenly a woman entered the room with a huge camera. She took a picture and in the next second she took another one. She asked me to take some pictures with her in the frame. I agreed. Quickly she wanted to terminate the photo session. As fast as she entered the room, she was out.

Sometimes one has to be fast, very fast with the camera. Being ready is everything. Moments don’t repeat. When sleepwalking many situations will get missed if one is not ready. But dolls cannot run away. Why not taking time to think first what one wants to capture. Perhaps details are more important than all these dolls. One must set the camera correctly in such a difficult light situation.

Being fast and ready is a very useful skill.

In order to improve the art of photography one must pause from time to time. Before taking a picture it makes sense to ask oneself a few questions. These questions can change….

For the next month I focus on the following questions before I take a picture:

  1. What’s the subject and do I like it? I want to take pictures of people, but I don’t like to take pictures of people checking their iPhones. There are more interesting activities than that.

  2. From where comes the light? Perhaps I must move?

  3. What composition can I apply? Today it’s the ‘rule of third’ that I want to apply.

Black and white

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It’s 1st December, I started the last 30 day challenge of this year. It’s black and white because I want to focus on subject, light and composition. Color is such a strong element in a picture that one can easily be distracted. Indeed, I view the world differently when I have this project in mind. I’m looking for strong contrasts, bright light, dark furniture, strong patterns and so on.

The above picture is called ‘A private affair - the mirror and me’.

Friskiness is contagious

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They saw my camera and started posing in front of me. I had to take pictures of these children full of joy. They did handstands and ran around. In front of them is the beach. Later I saw them dancing and jumping around on the sand. A boy did a cartwheel. The other jumped into the sea. Because of such moments I love to travel.

The children wanted a print, but I couldn’t print out this picture as a gift.

What I missed today

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We’re in Stellenbusch in South Africa. This morning we woke up, showered, dressed and soon we were ready for the breakfast in the hotel. We went down and soon we had our first coffee, fresh fruit, toast, jam. I had left my camera in our room. I don’t want to take pictures of food anymore. Breakfast rooms are also not that exciting even though the one here is very special with the antique furniture, the dishes with gold rims and the heavy curtains beside the windows. Then she came in. A woman in a dress with a flower pattern headed for a seat. I guess she was in her 70th. And she was barefoot. It’s rather cold here in the morning. The rooms are not heated. Everybody wore shoes. She was barefoot and didn’t made the slightest move to change this. She came without shoes, she had breakfast without shoes and she left the room barefoot. She didn’t care at all. It seemed so. The thought to go barefoot to the breakfast room in a hotel never crossed my mind. I loved it.

This barefoot lady wouldn’t be amused probably if I captured this moment of her life with my camera. My camera was in my suitcase, so I was forced to behave politely.

The day was still young. I had good hope to capture something else. The goat with the feeding hand became my picture of the day.

Sun rise and sun set

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To check sun rise and sun set is a useful routine for photographers. I downloaded an app years ago. It’s called ‘Blaue Stunde’. Where ever I am I can check the blue hour, the golden hour, when the sun sets and when the sun rises. I also learn about the length of the day. Right now we have 9 hours and 22 minutes day light.

Sun rise and sun set can structure a day. We became so independent from the rhythm of the sun as we have electric light sources nowadays. Yet for those who are interested in light sun rise and sun set becomes interesting again.

Never again

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This installation of more than 3.000 puppies at the Königsplatz in Munich is called ‘Never again’. It’s created by Walter Kuhn. It’s a reminder of those who left their lives in World War 1.

It’s very impressive to see these 3.000 red puppies. This attracts many people. Before I went to that place I saw already some pictures. I wondered how to create something different. I went on my knees first and then on my belly to take some shots from below. The grass was wet, who cares.

Less is more

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Why do I like Instagram?

This is the question I asked myself yesterday again and again. The answer: Via Instagram I feel connected with the yoga community. There are yoginis who create challenges that last for 10 days till a month. Yoginis shall post a different asana every day. These pictures are published with a hashtag. This allows to see all the pictures of asanas from yoginis who do this challenge. This is really much fun. A lot of communication is going on. These challenges allow to connect with other yoginis worldwide. Some post pictures, others videos. The variety amazes me. I practice yoga at home these days. Via Instagram I feel connected to the international yoga community. I don't want to miss this.

I also love the vegan people on Instagram. I subscribed to many accounts and enjoy to see the delicious food the cooks prepare. One can find a lot of creative people in the kitchen these days. Yet one cannot do more than liking the pictures. One can also comment, but that's it.

I'll keep my Instagram account and I'll use it actively. The party is on Instagram these days. It's the first page that I check in the morning after having checked my Emails. 

My  steps to improve my Instagram account were:

1. I deleted all the remaining food pictures and landscape pictures. I also found a lonesome flower, a beautiful one. It looked lost between all these yoga pictures. What does this flower here, I wondered?

2. Instagram loves the square format. For aesthetic reasons I deleted all the pictures that cut body parts because I had used a landscape format. Who clicks on the picture to see it fully? To make things easy is the goal. When going through my account the main subject in the picture should be seen fully without clicking on the picture. 

3. I deleted a lot of pictures that were too lousy.  

5. The profile picture is now a yoga pose too. At first sight one can realize that this account is on yoga.

6. I changed the text. I didn't mention anymore that I'm a photographer. The pictures that I publish on Instagram have not so much to do with my photography activities. They show my yoga skills not my skills as a photographer.

It's recommended to publish every day at least one picture. I always thinK: quality over quantity. 

I'm looking forward to the next yoga challenge that starts in September. 

 

Feed back on my Instagram account is wellcomed.

Repost on Instagram

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In September I'll be part of a yoga challenge created by a fellow yogini. Many yoginis will post every day a suggested asana. One can see pictures of yogis and yoginis around the globe practicing the same asana. This is a lot of fun. The creator suggested to repost her asana suggestions. 

How to repost this picture, I wondered and opened YouTube to find an answer. 

1. First I saved the picture on my Instagram page. 

2. I needed an App that I could download from Google play. It's free. I entered 'repost' and got offers. There are solutions for Android and for iPhones. 

3. The app led me through the process of reposting this picture. 

I did it. I reposted my first picture yesterday. Learning never stops. 

 

 

First step: delete

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1. It seems to be common sense: People who follow an account want to get a clear message. It's highly recommended to post pictures of yoga or travel or portraits or food. But everything in one account is too confusing for the subscribers. Yesterday I decided that my Instagram account is dedicated to my yoga practice. The rest had to go. 

I can organize and publish my travel pictures on flickr. The albums that one can create on flickr are a very useful tool. Who is interested in my trips anyway. 

My first Instagram account is now my yoga picture account. It won't substitute www.my-yoga-blog.blogspot.com. 

Many many pictures had to go yesterday. Not every shot was a master piece. Especially in the beginning I had to find a purpose for this account. I learned how to use my phone as a camera. 

There are still some food pictures and pictures with other contents on that Instagram page, but not much and only 3 in a row. The eye needs a break from time to time. Me too, I don't practice on Saturdays usually, I need a break from time to time. To have an endless line of yoga pictures can be tiring. The breaks are so necessary. Yet if someone stumbles over my Instagram account it's clear now: here posts a passionate yogini, someone who thinks 99% in her life about asanas......lol. 

2. In addition I upgraded my account to a business account. The advantage: Instagram delivers insights on the traffic on that page i.e.. 

3. I also added some more hashtags to some of the pictures. I used to be too lazy in the past. Yet hashtags are such a huge topic, it deserves an extra post. 

Result:

Subscribers yesterday: 227

Subscribers today: 234 (that is plus 9 - olala)

Instagram

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The party is on Instagram these days.

Last week I realized that a  photographer with 61.000 followers on flickr deleted this account there, yet the Instagram account is updated and lively. The photography community and all other communities moved. 

From time to time I reflect on how I spend my time and what I do online. Because everybody with 2 legs is on Instagram, it's most interesting there. Oh, not only creature with 2 legs are on Instagram and present themselves there, some have 4 legs. I think of Choupette Lagerfeld. It's entertaining to see all the pictures. Some famous social media sites became lost places. 

In the meantime books are on the market how to use Instagram. There is always something new to learn. By now I publish pictures. Many publish videos already, which is very nice, too. Downtime doesn't exist.

When I started with Instagram I was told that one can publish only pictures taken by a phone.  There are ways to publish pictures taken by a real camera. Via Dropbox i.e. one can upload the pictures on Instagram. 

In the beginning I published everything: Landscapes, food, yoga pictures, things. Soon this page looked like a storage room with everything in it. 

There are so many pages that allows me to publish my portraits or studies on color or animals. My Instagram account is for yoga. I'll focus on that topic. 

Today is August, 21. and I have 227 followers, I follow 659 people or companies. Let's see how many followers I'll have at the end of the year. I'm curious what this focus brings......

Photo marathon Munich 2018

Yesterday I went to the photo marathon 2018 in Munich. It deserves the word marathon. At the end I realized that I took 21.000 steps. I had put on my most comfortable shoes, yet in the evening my feet hurt slightly. Within a time frame of 8 hours we should take 12 pictures. We got first the main topic with 6 sub-topics. At 3 pm we got the last 6 sub-topics. 

The photo marathon was created from some New Yorkers. In the meantime photo marathons exists in many countries and cities of this globe.

The main topic in Munich in 2018 was: Opposites attract. 

The sub themes were:

1. Calmness and movement

2. Dry and wet

3. Truth and illusion

4. Brightness and darkness

5. Fun and boredem

6. Hard and soft

7. Hot and mild

8. Good and evil

9. Captured and free

10. Hot and cold

11. Scared and courageous

12. Misfortune and luck

Buhhhhhhhhh. 

This was a challenge. To show these opposites in one picture was not always easy. 

When I picked up the last topics I realized that some of my pictures were taken in raw. This would have disqualified myself. I had to find a possibility to convert them.  I found out that the camera allows me to convert raw pictures into JPEG. I was relieved.  Such events soar the learning curve. The first 10 winners get really hot prizes. First prize is a very good camera. I'd like to win one of the lenses. The prizes motivated me and gave me energy during these 8 hours.

On time I could deliver my 12 pictures, all in JPEG, all in landscape format and color. I used one lens, even though I had others in my handbag. One of the unspoken goals of this exercise is to create a coherent series. 

Yesterday it rained. The light was perfect with all the grey clouds. The difficulty was that I had to carry in addition to my tripod, my heavy bag, my camera also my umbrella. It was doable.

At the end we got a certificate. The participants got attested stamina and creativity. 

Happy and exhausted I went home. 

PS: The pictures will be published later.

 

On explore

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In the morning I woke up and realized that one of my pictures that I had uploaded on flickr, got a lot of 'likes'. This happens when flickr picks a picture and uploads it on the page 'on explore'.  This picture is taken in Hamburg. It was a cold and sunny day. I loved the reflections of the houses on the water. 

At night we walked home from a restaurant. It was freezing cold, because the it was cold and wet. This gives the impression that it's colder than it is. The freshness goes through the entire body.