In Which, She Yammers On About Photography And Begs For The Love

So my Project 365 photography thing is still going strong. I’ve been finding it frustrating lately, however, because there’s no feedback on all these pictures I’m taking. Being a blogger trains you to expect instant comments, and Twitter is even worse – if you don’t get a response to a tweet within ten minutes, it’s total rejection. OVER. HAS BEEN.

I took a one-day photography course from BeachMama a couple of weeks ago, and that was the first time ever I had taken my camera off of total-automatic mode. It was a great class, and I highly recommend it if you are interested at all in developing your own personal style or artistic flair with your photos. Since then I’ve been trying really, really hard to improve my photography skills but mostly I’ve taken a lot of really crappy pictures. It’s very tempting to just pop the camera back into automatic mode, but I know I’ll never develop any mad skillz if I don’t work it, so I keep plugging away.

I have a writer’s group where I take my non-blog writing for evaluation, editing, and ideas, and it’s great. I feel like I need something like that for my photos but I don’t want it to be online, as I don’t want to post the kids’ pics up on Flickr or my blog or anything like that. I think what I need to do is email all my photos every day to all the friends I have who take photos, then badger them for feedback on a constant basis until they block me, then send them photos by snail mail and call them over and over until they tell me they LOVE ME, LOVE ME.

Good plan, don’t you think?

I just need a few pointers. Sometimes I’ll try for a specific shot and it’s okay, but not amazing, and I want to know how to get from okay to amazing. Do I need to mess with the camera settings? Choose different framing or a new angle? Would different lighting have helped?

Also, I am totally confused and overwhelmed by the post-processing that is possible. I have GIMP, and it can do about a million things but I only ever really use it to increase contrast, maybe crop the photo. I need someone with the vision to say, man, that shot would be so great if you zoomed in on this one part, or amped up the brightness, or highlighted the reds. Know what I mean?

Here’s a shot I took a few days ago of Little Miss Sunshine swinging at the park. It was a very sunny day and I liked the way her shadow was trailing after her as she was swinging. I wanted to take a picture of her and her shadow in action.

This is the original picture. It turned out okay but I wish the background (the fence and the road) were more in focus (I know that means I should have used a smaller aperture):


Here is the picture after I brightened it a bit in GIMP – better? or worse?

Brightened and Pinks Highlighted

After I looked at it for a while I noticed that the horizon line, which is very clearly marked by the fence and pathway, was extremely crooked. And I thought that if I were to post this photo to some kind of Flickr group, I’d get 500 comments saying, “Your horizon is crooked, DUMMY.” So I decided to straighten it.


Is that one better? It’s straight now, but I feel like the sense of motion has been lost – now she looks like she’s just dangling there, instead of actively cresting the top of the curve (which she was). So was crooked better?


Here are a few other kid-free shots from the past couple of weeks. If you love them, that’s awesome! But if you have ideas on how they could be better…I’m dying to hear them.

crayon pile
ready to bake
finished crayons
hot chocolate
swing shadow

17 thoughts on “In Which, She Yammers On About Photography And Begs For The Love

  1. James

    I always enjoyed Freeman Patterson’s books. Especially: Photography for the Joy of It, Photography and the Art of Seeing. They’re old (from the 70’s) but talk more about how to shoot than a lot of the more technically focus works today. Don’t sweat the technical bits too much, they’ll come with time. Contentrate on framing, holding the camera steady and level. Try and remember the Rule of Thirds when framing:

  2. Don’t give up yet! Getting used to not shooting on Auto is half the battle, once you stop thinking about those things you will find your composition falls into place better. The photos you have shown are great, just keep on practicing and in no time you will forget that you ever used it on the Auto mode 🙂

    1. I am committed to making it happen but OH MAN, it is going to take a long time. My kids were getting so used to the camera in their faces all the time – they are really losing patience with my, “Hang on…one second more…just a few more minutes…okay! No wait! Okay!” and snap :).

      But I’m determined. I’ll get there!

  3. these are great pictures, and if you develop this support group i’d love to be a part of it. i am finding that my dslr is proving to be too much camera for me. i can’t get the damn thing to even take a picutre, let alone take a crappy picture, and it is driving me absolutely looney.

    i think i like the original the best. and with the crayons, maybe if some of them were in a softer focus, it might be interesting? but what do i know, i’m talking out of my butt.

    1. I would definitely recommend Anna’s course, it’s just one day and I learned a whole lot. She is planning a nature walk for May to wander and snap pictures – I’ll let you know when it is and maybe you can tag along illegally :).

      In the meantime I am considering uploading some stuff to my Flickr account because apparently I can make it private…I’ll let you know if I get around to that and we can friend each other or whatever you have to do.

  4. sinnick

    Not that this is the solution for you or anything, but if you post on Flickr, you can set up privacy so that only certain trusted people can view photos. They have to be flickr members too of course.

    As for your photos … they are very cool! My advice is just keep going. Look at lots of other photos online and find ones you like, and eventually you’ll start to decide what you like and what you don’t like.

    1. Hm, I will look into this Flickr solution. It sounds very promising…and thanks for the kind words of encouragement, Nick!

  5. Karen

    I took Anna’s class last fall an finally started using manual. I’ve hardly switched to automatic at all in 5 months! (so proud of that.) I love how much thought you’re putting into your pictures. The changes you made make a big difference to my inexperienced eye.

    I would love to follow you on flickr if you join. I will web get around to uploading some more pictures soon! 😉

    1. Are you on Flickr? I have an account there – I think it is called turtle_head. Everything in it is private right now, I think. How do you find someone else?

  6. I have no idea how to take a decent photo and just the thought of not using auto makes me feel confused and frightened! 🙂 So, needless to say, I have no idea what to suggest for the swing photo but I do love the bright colours and very real feeling of “life with kids” from the photos at the end. Keep it up!

  7. always remember….. the photos don’t have to be “perfect” but they should make you feel something. they are the footprints of our lives. your daughter on the swing is absolutely wonderful… who cares about the background etc.. IT’S YOUR WONDERFUL LITTLE GIRL SWINGING HER HEART OUT AND HER TINY LITTLE SHADOW COMING ALONG FOR THE RIDE.

  8. … THAT’S THE MEMORY, and that (in my professional opinon) is the most important part of a photo. forget about your settings… capture those moments.


  9. No feedback on photography is hard. Flickr isn’t much for feedback either as it seems that most groups are dump and leave. Also in my experience most people do not want to give one negative criticism which is what you need the most to improve in any area.

    I do participate in a really great forum which is really helpful. I do post a lot of pics to flickr, but do my 365project at

    Thanks for your comment on my other blog about go trains in Toronto, was really helpful.

  10. I don’t know jack about photography (I love Julie saying her dslr is too much camera for her – I know I would be the same) – but ‘crooked is better’ is something like a general philosophy of life for me. I love the swinging picture.

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