Monday, August 17, 2015

Thoughts and Shots: August 15, 2015

About three months ago, I attended a Photography 101 workshop. It was great! I learned how to use my camera and shoot in manual. I took my SLR to Puerto Vallarta over the summer and took some photos, but I had an issue loading them into Lightroom and never really edited them. Recently, I had a chance to walk around locally and shoot some pictures. In the time since both the workshop and my vacation, I've read--and pinned--lots of photography articles and tips. I'm learning that too much reading can be overwhelming though. I've realized that I won't improve my skills, unless I put down my phone/iPad, pick up my camera, and shoot!

I spent a week in a dark house (which I'm sure affected my mood) recovering from gallbladder surgery. My boyfriend insisted on airing me out during the weekend so we hopped on  the train and headed to LA. We went to my alma mater first, then to the Walt Disney Concert Hall and later Hollywood. Finally, we stopped at the Claremont Village before returning home. (No pictures from the Walt Disney Concert Hall made the cut for this blog and I didn't take any pictures in Hollywood.)

I took 165 photos. I thought 49 of them were decent. I chose 21 of those to possibly share on FB, but I haven't yet. (I edited 12 of those.) From those 21, I whittled it down to these photos. I wanted to arrange them in a grid but I guess I'm not very well-versed in HTML. At any rate, here are my top five photos (plus a bonus one because I originally wanted my grid to be even). I guess it worked out because I was able to blog a little before each picture . . .

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Getting around LA is so easy when you "Go Metro." I read some articles on street/city/urban photography while we rode the train in and one suggested using a long exposure to capture public transportation that is coming or going. I had a hard time finding the right exposure length but I ended up liking this one because it has the yellow poles that clearly aren't going anywhere and you can see "through" the train. I'm not exactly sure what's going on here photographically speaking, but I'm proud that I tried something I read about.

I learned ballroom dancing in the building that surrounds the fountain below. (I was constantly being scolded for leading instead of following. Go figure.) I don't think I ever really noticed how pretty the fountain was or the quote along the perimeter of it. In the photo below, I adjusted my aperture because I wanted some bokeh. I used the rule of thirds to put the actual fountain off to the side, and then while I walked away, I started second-guessing myself and wondering if I should have put it in the center. At any rate, I'm pleased that you can see the arches in the background because I wanted some of the architecture to be in the picture too.

I absolutely love the Cinema School building at USC. It wasn't there while I attended but I think it's gorgeous! I took this picture because I wanted to capture the architecture AND have diagonal lines. (After reading the aforementioned articles, I got the sense that lines can make for really good pictures.) I have a 35mm lens and I want a 50mm or 55mm one, but I'm forcing myself to make it work with the lenses I have for now. (The other is a 55-200mm one that I bought for my boyfriend's son's t-ball games.) At any rate, I'm learning that it's okay to cut things off. I'll be taking a 201 workshop later this fall where I'll learn a little more about composing so until then, I'm just shooting first and figuring out what questions to ask later.

I LOVE this next picture. Heritage Hall at USC has been completely remodeled and it is amazing! Before every football game, the drum major marches to the center of the field, stabs the ground and poses like this. I love that it's been incorporated into Heritage Hall and I'm hoping that my sports lens (see above) will help me capture an image of it this season. I did some major editing on Lightroom in this photo. I used a filter to emphasize the cardinal and gold colors and then got rid of some letters by the SC. It says "Hall of Champions" twice around the panel, but I thought the letters that were in the shot would be too distracting. Doing all this, was only a few clicks so it wasn't really that bad. (I haven't formally learned how to use the editing software. I just leave my left hand ready to press Ctrl+Z at all times.)

The commons area at SC was redone (after I graduated, of course) and my favorite part is the staircase they added. The Steps of Troy are more than a staircase though. Unfortunately, I don't have time to wax metaphorically about them. The photo below is the top of the stairs. I tried to compose my shot so that it had movement (read: diagonal lines?). It was hard to get all 5 qualities of a Trojan in the shot, but I'm wondering if I should have gone up a step to make "faithful" a little bigger. Then I would have gotten more of the blank landing though. Or maybe I should have cropped that out while editing. More questions to ask during the 201 workshop, I suppose.

The final picture below was my last shot of the night. To access the eastbound trains at the Claremont Metrolink station, you have to walk across the tracks on a small concrete walkway. I shot a  photo facing east that I liked a little better because you could see a bunch of red lights and only one green light down the track. That spoke to me (must be the English teacher in me), BUT I ended up including this shot facing west because of what I did to take it: I knelt down. On the train tracks. I know that probably doesn't seem very exciting or groundbreaking but nearly all the articles I read that morning mentioned changing your elevation in some way, either getting down or going up to take pictures from different perspectives.

Something else I love about that final shot is that it captures where I am at this point with my photography. I know enough to be able to start asking questions about what I don't know.

That's a pretty good place to be.

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