Will I Ever Take a Good Picture?

My journey trying to take good photos.

Back from the New England Camera Club Council (NECCC) photography conference.

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Last weekend I attended the NECCC photo conference held at the University of Massachusetts in Amherst MA. This was my second year attending and I had a great time. I went to a total of 13 talks plus the keynote speech by Nevada Wier. The keynote speech was definitely the high point of the weekend. What an amazing life Nevada has had.

My favorite talk was Chance, Necessity or Insipiration- the Why’s of Composition by David Akoubian. I liked his definition of a picture vs an image:

“A picture is nothing more than capturing a moment in time, a fraction of a second possibly. An image is capturing a memory of a moment in time, capturing the feelings and emotions of that moment in time when the photographer releases the shutter. ”

I have struggled with how to describe pictures that I post. I have used the terms picture/shot for something I just took quickly and photo as what David defines as an image. To give an example of (using David’s definitions) a picture.


In this picture I wanted to capture that I saw a cat on my hike. Nothing fancy, just something I could put in a post on my hike.

An image is something I spend time on, I look at the subject and try to figure out what is the best angle to shoot from, do I need a diffuser, should I use a tripod… Then I can spend anywhere from 5 minutes to an hour trying to get everything just right. Here is what I consider is an image.


Might not look like it but I spent quite a bit of time getting this image. As I learn more I think of more things. I like printing my images and have found I am not leaving enough room at the edges to be able to properly frame/crop the image. So now I think “Am I leaving enough room for cropping or to change the aspect ratio (ie 4×6 vs say 8×10).

I took many other classes including two on macro photography and another couple on printing your images.

I borrowed a 16-35mm f2.8L II USM lens from Canon. One of the classes I had already taken by the time I borrowed the lens was Wide Angle Magic – The Good, The Bad, and Ugly by O. Truman Holtzclaw so off I went to take some photos. I had a difficult time with this lens. When  I borrowed a 300mm lens last year I took quite a few good photos. I came to the conclusion using a wide angle lens is harder than I thought. Here is my best image from my walk about with this lens. The background isn’t nice but the flower looks great.


Here is another one. I think using my macro lens would be a better lens choice:)


In the class we were told you need a foreground element in the picture. FOREGROUND, FOREGROUND, FOREGROUND is what the instructor kept telling us! And by foreground he meant real close. Well this duck didn’t take the same class because he wouldn’t let me get close:(


The lens was nice (expensive at $1699). I don’t think I’ll be getting one though.

Here are some more pictures I took while at the conference. Heading back to the dorm at the end of the day on Friday I came across a rabbit who posed for me. This is hand held at ISO 6400 for .3 seconds. Not bad if I do say so myself.


Here is the picture straight out of the camera with a bit of a white balance problem.


I have found that using the white balance tool on a rock is almost as good as a grey card. I clicked the white balance tool on the rock on the bottom right to correct the white balance. I bet using any of the rocks would work. Around my house just about any picture that has the ground in it has a rock that you can use as a built in grey card!

I did my picture taking either heading back to the dorm at the end of the day or early in the morning before breakfast so I took most of my pictures as a bracket. I have a Canon camera which takes a braket of three shots. I usually take +1ev, 0ev, and -1ev but I mixed it up a bit just to experiment. Then I downloaded the NIK bundle package which includes HDR processing and came up with some nice images. My first one.

ImageNot bad but I don’t like the grass.  In this series I took +-2/3ev and I liked the grass in the +2/3ev photo so I took the grass from that photo and replaced the grass in the above picture and ended up with this.


I like this. Then I thought what would I have ended up with if I just took one photo and manipulated it in Lightroom. I did that and ended up with this.

ImageI decided I liked the HDR version with the grass replaced better than any of the other versions although I have to admit the Lightroom edited version only is a very close second. The Lightroom version took all of 2 minutes to do while the HDR version was much longer.

My next picture is also HDR.

ImageI like the way it came out.

Another HDR version with the grass replaced with one of the bracketed shots. I don’t like how the grass comes out in the HDR versions!


A shot of a new building.


Here is a picture of the Durfee Conservatory.


One last HDR image. I think this one came out the best since it has a bit of color from the sunrise.

ImageOk that is it for the HDR images! I came upon this house in the middle of campus. Not something you expect to see.


I found this interesting. I think the curb here is protected from skateboarders. That is the only reason I could come up with for the black things on the curbs.


Well that is all for this post.


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