Sunday, September 8, 2013

Sunday Sunlight

After a week of nothing more than grabbing some quick iPhone shots, when I saw the pretty fog this morning and heard sheep bells chiming signaling the sheep were headed out, I headed out...with the "big girl" camera.  I snapped pictures of Hank, pictures of sheep grazing in the fog, foggy sheep with neat trees in the background and then the sun crested the hill behind Stella's house.

I took a lot of pictures.  I frequently do.  Sometimes because the sheep move or expressions change or just because I have shaky hands and I mess up the focus.  Many times it's strictly because I am not getting the picture I want and have to stop and think about what's wrong and how to fix it. 

I'm proud of many of my pictures and I'm so flattered that other people like them too.  When all this started and I just had a simple point and shoot camera, I had no idea how important photography would become.  Kind of like how when I rescued Punkin so many years ago, I had no idea how important sheep would become.  Life is full of gifts.

The most important photography tip I've received (so far ;-) is the importance of learning to use my camera's manual settings.  All cameras have at least some photographer controlled settings, even the simple point and shoots.  I'd like to encourage everyone, once again, to go read your camera's owners manual.  Even better, go look for a "Dummies" book for your specific model.  Here's a good example of why:

Even my "big girl" camera has a basic "automatic, the camera is doing all the thinking for you" setting.  It's P, which stands for Program Mode.  You may have noticed P, M, S and A on your camera as well.  Worst case scenario, especially BC (before coffee) or when something's happening fast, I lean on this crutch and at least get the photo, even if it's not an especially great photo.  I'd rather have a fuzzy picture of Maisie "smiling" than no picture at all.  The picture above was taken in Program Mode.  

It's sort of a neat photo.  I mean, how wrong can you go with sheep in the mist while the sun is coming up?  Still, it's pretty dang dark and almost dreary looking and there was nothing dreary about the sunrise this morning.  What's happened here is that, with the camera doing all the thinking, it's trying to balance out the entire photograph, from the super, super bright sky to the not quite as bright sheep.    I decided it was time to switch to M (Manual Mode).

Manual means that I'm doing most of the thinking.  Specifically, in these pictures, I am controlling how much light I want to let in.  The sunrise was beautiful, but I decided I really wanted to showcase the light and shadows on the sheep, so I just took the sun out of the equation.  By setting my exposure for the sheep only, the sky is completely blown out (compare the sky in the picture above with the picture just below) but the trade off with the sheep, at least to me, is worth it.

Within this series, I took four quick shots changing just my shutter speed for each one in hopes of getting exactly what I wanted.  I'm going to share the settings on two of the pictures below, not to say they are right or to tell you that if you set your camera exactly the same way...  They are just an example of how you can affect your photographs and hopefully encourage you to learn a little more about your own camera.

 ISO 800    f/13    1/250 sec (slower speed lets in more light)

ISO 800    f/13    1/320 sec (slightly faster, slightly darker)

At this point everyone decided to make a run for the barn. 

As I followed them with my Manual Mode...and they ran out of the bright sunlight, the camera maybe should have been back doing the thinking ;-).  Sometimes she's way faster and smarter than I am, even AC (after coffee).

Keep learning!



lisa said...

Wonderful shots!

Tombstone Livestock said...

Great shots all of them ... VDC .... viewed during coffee ... first cup.

Would love to wake up to the sound of sheep bells gently ringing, but my sheep would use them to find a way to get them hung up on fences.

Unknown said...

Very informative post. And beautiful pictures, as always. Love the foggy-morning sheepie pictures! Thanks!

Unknown said...

p.s. good idea about going back to the camera manual. When I do that, I definitely take better pictures.

Kellie from Indiana said...

What a great post. I never read my manual, and so its no wonder my camera and I are estranged!

Rae said...

Wonderful photos. I am trying to learn how to use the manual settings on my new camera, but I seem to have a brain block or a really slow learning curve because my photos never turn out well. I will keep trying - I would be pleased to be even half as good as you.

Alice said...

Wow! I love the pink drama in the first picture! And the lovely pastoral scene in the third picture.... seems like the lighting is just right for the mood you captured.

You have a good eye no matter it be manual or automatic settings.

Alice said...

okay.... so I can't count, #2 and #4 :-0

Unknown said...

I counted 24 sheep in the pictures. Am I correct?:-)

Eva said...

Great series and explanation. I prefer using the manual settings too. I like being in charge and at least there's just myself to blame when I get it all wrong.
Now I'm also learning how to use RAW-files and software to salvage at least some of the shots were I got my settings wrong. :-)

Sandra said...

Beautiful Pictures!
Sheep in the pasture always make great subjects :)

Andee said...

I love you pictures and sharing your tips!

Michelle said...

Simple and oh, so beautiful.

~Kim at Golden Pines~ said...

I am one of your fans of the photos you take, they really are amazing and always have a story to tell. I have 2 cameras that I use, and my 'big girl' camera is a learning process, but thankfully I/we don't have to worry about film! But it is fun to see the differences in the same picture when I do the thinking and the camera does--For me at least right now, the camera is right, at least most of the time!e

Far Side of Fifty said...

I need to spend more time in Manual mode thanks for the reminder:)

Maureen said...

Beautiful, beautiful shots! I was just thinking the other day that next to good writing, the other essential for a blogger is a good camera. I have been slowly learning my DSLR I bought last winter; thank you for showing the differences in settings - I really need to learn a lot more!


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