I always knew my new camera was smarter than me, today at the National Geographic (NatGeo) Traveler Photography Seminar on Light and Color, I learned why. Today’s session was held in Philadelphia and was complimentary as the previous seminar I attended on The Art of Nature was mired with technical difficulties. NatGeo Photography received many complaints (not from me – I enjoyed the last seminar) so they sent attendees an apology, a photography book and the next session free. Their response was beyond generous and I was thrilled to go back to learn more about travel photography. With a new eye, I’m more critical of what I thought was good could have been better in all of the photos below.
A bit of quiet before our adventures in Paris at Atmospheres Hotel
So back to my camera, I never understood why on a bright, sunny day, the flash would pop up. Why did the scene need a flash? Well, today, in the four hour lecture I learned why and will just let my camera do it’s thing next time and see what happens. Thankfully, cameras don’t have the GPS voice otherwise it would be snarky (just like my car) when I think I know better.
The Louvre outside corridor in light and dark
The session today had examples of people and portraits, something I shy away from as I’m not comfortable capturing people quite yet. So while I understood the concepts being shown, I would have liked to see a few nature examples for it to really click in my head. One of the first takeaways is to pay attention to the problems and decide how you will eliminate it or keep it in.
For the past two years I’ve had my fancy camera, I’ve been playing with light with good and bad results. I’m finding that I enjoy the shadows created in the light. I’m cupping my hand over the viewfinder to block the sunlight and then also crawling on the ground for angles and perspectives that use the light differently (my niece pretended not to know me in Paris when I did this). This was all before attending the light seminar today. For a few of the light topics, I felt good about myself, my knowledge and my technique and then I quickly felt like an imbecile recognizing that I’ve become lazy with some features of the camera. I learned black and white with darkroom eons ago and had more decisions to make when composing and shooting film due to the limited number of pictures. With digital, I haven’t jumped all in – I don’t edit my photos, I play with manual here and there but it has become so much more work after the fact, that I’ve let it go, accepting my photos as they are – rationalizing that I saw it this way so no touch ups required. Is it better to show what I saw? or to make it how I wish it was? Tough questions.
One of my favorite memories of the park – colors, action and shadows
Love the statue, love the shadow puppet too
I did smile when she said things get interesting in the rain and in the snow so go outside and see what you find while everyone else is inside. See how the light changes the shot, how the reflections bounce and play with technique to find the shot your want. I had many opportunities in Sydney to play in the rain after my few hours chasing the sun.
Each visit, I’m still amazed by the Opera House – it is iconic Sydney know around the world
Sydney Opera House in clouds and rain
Color can be powerful, passionate and provide personality. Simple color choices can convey so much and yet we often pass by the opportunity to use color differently in photos especially when affected by changes in light. For the color part of the session, the vibrant colors of festivals, celebrations and tradition were shown. Examples included group photos (the baseline) and then subsequent photos picking at different parts to illustrate the number of ways to get the right balance of light and color. A key is knowing the color wheel better with contrasting and complementary colors to help see the photo differently as you compose and frame the shot.
Layers of colors in the garden add to the photo rather than isolate complementary colors pink/red
Colorful garden of glass at Chihuly in Seattle
We were also reminded of the absent of color, via black and white as well as infrared. I wasn’t familiar with infrared photography but was intrigued by the application and will look further into this (I will need to learn photo editing software with this though).
The last topic was the one that had no relevance to me as my camera has a pop up flash, which I rarely use. Much time was spent on flash and all the accessories that can be used as a secondary source of light. This was very technical with priority, exposure compensation, zoom and sync. All concepts I understand but no longer need to worry about with my current camera. Use of gels and filters were mentioned as well with examples.
Vivid example of the ageing process at Jameson – let the backlighting work it’s colorful magic
I continue to be impressed by the 1/2 day (4 hour) NatGeo Photography seminars for travelers. I still have so much to learn and see. The photos shown were pretty amazing – some I liked, others I would have deleted if that was my capture (this is why I’m not the professional), so it’s nice to see that there is value in what I deem unworthy – I need to see better. A shout out was given to the IPhone and two apps – Hipstamatic and Camera Bag, both of which I’m going to look at later tonight to see how I can enhance my Iphone photo skills. The seminar generally costs about $110 which I feel is a great value (you can save a few dollars if you find a B&H code online).