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Be Your Own Model

19 Sep

One of the worst things to happen when you think of a new idea for an awesome photo is that you don’t have a model to help carry out the idea. I encounter this problem much too often, so instead of holding back my creativity, I throw myself in front of the camera.

I’m not a very good model when it comes to other people taking photos of me, but when it’s me, myself, and I in front of and behind the camera, I am much more relaxed. Nobody else will see the awful experimental poses I come up with, so there’s nothing to be embarrassed about.  Sure, it takes quite a while to capture your ideal photo when you have to switch back & forth between model and photographer, but it gives you practice on being both. If I end up with even a couple good pictures, I’m happy with myself.

All you need is your camera, a tripod, and yourself.
Give it a try and share one of your photos with us :)



Shutter Speed + Water Movement

13 Dec

Although I previously posted a lesson about shutter speed, I also want to include a more specific lesson on how to control the outcome of a photo with moving water.

Now that you have learned the basics about shutter speed, this skill should be easy to comprehend and accomplish.

How you set the shutter speed depends on how you want the water to look in the photo.

Like all fast-moving objects, a quick shutter speed is needed to capture a specific movement without blurring it. The same goes for water.

For a clearer image of the water and to show a specific motion, set your camera to a quicker shutter speed:

1/90 shutter speed

1/90 shutter speed

1/60 shutter speed

1/60 shutter speed

1/45 shutter speed

1/45 shutter speed

For a smoother, flowy look, set the shutter speed to a slower setting to allow the camera to pick up more movement.

1/30 shutter speed

1/30 shutter speed

1/20 shutter speed

1/20 shutter speed

1/15 shutter speed

1/15 shutter speed 

Make sense? :)

The faster the shutter speed, the less light the camera lets in, so you may need to change the f-stop (aperture) to a larger circumferance to let more light through for a well-lit image. You can also use outside light sources, like lighting equipment.

In these photo examples, I had to make the f-stop larger for the faster shutter speeds because the sun was going down.

Make sure to use a tripod or hold your camera as still as possible so as to only catch the movements of the water.

Good luck with your water photos! Feel free to let me know if this blog was helpful and share your finished product with me.

Photos taken at the Capital University fountains in Columbus, Ohio.
All photos copyright Tori Metzger ©

The Rule of Thirds

25 Nov

One of the most important rules of composition in photography is the “rule of thirds.”

To put it simply, the photographer must divide the photo into three equal sections (horizontally and vertically) to create 9 equal boxes in the frame. This can be done by changing the settings to view a grid on the camera screen or simply by picturing it when looking through the lens.

Once you have this grid in sight or in mind, place the subject of your photo at an intersection of two lines or parallel to one of the lines.


I drew this grid over one of my photos quickly, so the measurements are not exact, but it explains the process.

Having my subject and her footprints near the right line and right intersections of the grid gives the photo a more interesting and unique look. It also gives room for more background imagery, in this case the ocean and sand, on the left side of the photo.

Both of these characteristics keep the photo from boring the viewer.

Though one might think the viewer looks directly to the center when first seeing a photo, this is incorrect. Studies have shown that viewers are more likely to look toward the areas of the photo where the line intersections occur.

Here are a few more examples of the rule of thirds.

Here are a few examples of boring photos without using the rule of thirds.

Although these are both boring subjects, they could have been used to create a more unique photo by using the rule of thirds and changing the perspective.

The rule of thirds does not always have to be used to create an awesome photo.

Here is an example of an interesting photo without using the rule of thirds.

This photo is filled with different colors and objects and shows different depths. Although it could be altered to be presented better, it is still a fun photo.

The trick to the rule of thirds is to learn how and when to use it, so you can then learn how and when not to use it.

Photo Editing Tip – Contrast

1 Nov

Many photographers take editing a little too far and end up ruining what was originally a great photo. Contrary to popular belief, you do not need to edit your photos so much that they end up looking like a graphic design. Sometimes we get excited about a new editing program or a new trick we learned, but that doesn’t mean it needs to be used for every project.

One tool I always use on my photos is the contrast setting.

Contrast determines the separation of light and dark colors. High contrast makes the darks and lights stand out from each other. Low contrast makes darks and lights less noticeable and gives the picture and gray over-tone.

I always always always bump the contrast scale up a few points to give my photos that extra pop.

High contrast tends to wash out a person’s face and skin, so don’t over-do it on portraits. Contrast is easier to control when dealing with inanimate objects and scenery.



Original photo, before changing contrast


Edited photo, after changing contrast

Macro Lens

20 Oct

Although it is expensive, it is possible to change lenses in DSLR cameras. One of my favorites is the macro lens.

Macro lenses are used to take up-close and personal photos, usually of something small. You’ll know when you need to use a macro lens when it is difficult to fully focus your regular lens on the object. Macro lenses only work on close-up objects; if you try taking a photo more than one or two feet away, it will turn out completely blurry.

If you do not have a DSLR camera or a macro lens, you can easily change the setting of your camera to “macro.” The icon for this setting is sometimes a small flower/tulip.

Photo taken on macro setting

Shutter Speed

12 Oct

When I first started using cameras, I did not fully understand how and when to change and use shutter speed. Once I began taking photography classes, it finally clicked. Shutter speed is not at all a difficult concept to understand, especially when explained correctly.

Shutter speed is read in the form of a fraction. As an example, I will use the shutter speed 1/8. This represents 1/8 of a second, which is how long your shutter/lens will stay open and let light through. So if your shutter speed is set at 1/60, your shutter/lens will stay open for 1/60 of a second. If it is set at 1/2000, your shutter/lens will stay open for 1/2000 of a second. Make sense so far?

Most Digital SLR cameras have a range of shutter speeds that vary between 30 seconds(“) and 1/4000. There are several intervals between these two speeds. From slowest to quickest speed, the intervals might progress like this: 30″, 20″, 15″, 10″ 8″, 6″, 4″, 3″, 2″, 1″, 0.7″, 0.5″, 0.3″, 1/4, 1,6, […..] 1/90, 1/125, 1/180, 1/250, […..] 1/2000, 1/3000, 1/4000.

It is easy to realize which shutter speed is quicker when looking at 20″ and 30”, but many people get confused when it comes to the fractions. When comparing the speeds 1/90 to 1/4000, although 4000 is a larger number than 90, it is the slower shutter speed. Just as if you were to divide one pizza into 90 slices and another pizza into 4000 slices, a slice from the pizza with 90 slices would be larger than your tiny slice from the pizza divided into 4000.

Shutter speed is one of three settings that control exposure, or how much light you let through the lens. The other two settings are ISO and aperture. These three settings all work together to determine the outcome of your photo, but we will get to the specifics in a later post.

These settings all control how bright or how dark your photo is. The slower your shutter speed is, the more light you let through the lens, and the brighter your photo will turn out. You will need to change your shutter speed depending on how dark or bright the lighting is in your setting.

Here is a simple example of a scene I shot at different shutter speeds.

1/250 shutter speed

1/500 shutter speed

1/1000 shutter speed

1/1500 shutter speed

1/2000 shutter speed

1/4000 shutter speed

As you will notice, photos with the shutter speed 1/4000 is too dark and shutter speeds 1/250 and 1/500 are too bright. 1/1000 is a little too bright, but could be used with a few adjustments in an editing program. Shutter speeds 1/1500 and 1/2000 would be best for this subject in this setting.


Any time you wish to control shutter speed manually on your camera it will need to be done under the Manual (M), Programmed Auto (P), or Shutter-Priority Auto (S) camera mode. All other modes have automatic settings or automatically adjust themselves. Though this is sometimes helpful, it is not always accurate. The best photographs are taken by a photographer who knows how to manually use each setting on his camera and use it well.

Welcome, photography lovers!

4 Oct

Since this is my first blog, I will be taking baby steps in an attempt (or several attempts) to get a feel for WordPress. So if you are a beginner photographer, you are in luck! In my first few blogs I will be going over basic photography knowledge that every photographer should know. If you aren’t a beginner, I would still love your company, comments, and critique on my page. :)

Each blog will be built on lessons from previous blogs. I don’t know much about technology, so I will do my best to help you understand each blog completely by including the best explanations and examples I can provide.

I have been passionate about photography for several years now, though I have only taken two photography classes: digital photography and black & white film photography. My lessons will be based on knowledge from these classes, from practice, and from research in my free time.

My blog will focus mainly on digital photography, but most of the basic lessons are required for film cameras as well. I will have short summaries at the end of each blog explaining which information can be used with film cameras.

I look forward to reading your feedback and I hope you decide to join me in my photography blog adventure! :)