I’ve always had a secret desire to learn how to take better photos. My senior year of high school I took a photography class. I spent my senior year, capturing fleeting moments, observing life through my view finder. I wasn’t the greatest photographer, it definitely wasn’t my calling, but I loved it. I was horrible when it came to knowing how my camera worked, I was clueless about f-stops and shutter speeds, but I was pretty decent when it came to composition and finding interesting subjects to capture, or how to pose someone so an interesting shadow fell across their face. I made up for my poor technical skills in the darkroom where I would play with chemicals to make my photos appear the way I should have been able to make them appear if I properly knew my camera.
I left photography behind for other creative endeavours– acting school, sewing, cooking, writing… but I continued to capture moments here and there, preserving memories on film and then digitally. When I started blogging I received a fairly nice camera as a gift, but I went back to my senior year ways– I used the camera on automatic, didn’t have the slightest clue how to use it on manual and made up for my poor technical skills by using photo editing programs.
Recently Fuji gave me a gift, a brand new Fuji X-A2 camera, and then an even bigger gift– access to their Fuji Guys to teach me how to use the camera. I had my first call with Jerry, “my Fuji Guy” two days ago, and in one half hour phone call my outlook on photography changed.
New Year’s is right around the corner, and with a new year, comes new year’s resolutions. I’m resolving to learn how to take better photos by doing this:
- Learn how to properly use a camera in 2016
- Play with my camera and experiment
- Study composition and what appeals to me about the way people lay out and frame their photos
- Improve my photography skills as much as possible
A few (of the many) reasons I love my Fuji X-A2:
-The Adv+ mode lets me easily play with different preset styles. From color pop (Which pulls out one color in the photo and makes the rest black and white- see below), to toy camera (which creates a shaded boarder like when using a toy camera) to high key and low key (which plays with the brightness and highlights in an image either brightening them or darkening them).
-The automatic macro which lets us get up close with our subject without having to worry about complicated settings. The Hubs got pretty up close and personal with this snake at the aquarium. Because he didn’t have to play with macro settings he was able to get this great shot.
-The size and weight of the camera. This camera has a lot of power, but it’s light enough that I can slip it into my purse and carry it around when I’m out and about with the kids so that I’m always prepared to capture the perfect moment.
-The different dial modes which allow you to learn while you play! The camera has a ton of modes that you can photograph in. I find that the S and the A mode are great modes for learning in. The S mode allows the camera to be in automatic mode, but the user selects the shutter speed. The A mode allows the camera to be in automatic mode but the user selects the aperture. In the past, I’ve gotten lost when putting my camera into manual mode because I don’t know what I’m doing, but playing in one of these “semi-automatic” mode lets me play around with how either aperture or shutter speed affects my photo while letting the camera do the other half of the work.
-A tilt screen that can flip all the way up and around so you can use the phone in selfie mode, which is awesome for shooting videos and taking family self portraits.
-The color options. It might seem silly to like a camera because of the way it looks, but I love that this camera comes in 3 different color options. I got the camera in brown, and I think it has a fun, unique look. People have stopped me to ask me about the camera and that opens up a door to talk about photography. Every extra opportunity to chat about creativity is a bonus to me!
-The ability to wirelessly transfer photos to my phone. This is AMAZING for those of us who love social media. With the FujiFilm Camera App and a click of a button you can wirelessly transfer photos and videos from your camera to your phone (or ipad) to share on social media.
With the idea of doing a photo challenge in mind, I asked Jerry, The Fuji Guy, what his tips would be for someone who is interested in getting better at photography. He said:
- Experiment and play. The beauty of a digital camera is that you can delete images if you don’t like them. Set up a scene, take out your camera and PLAY! Try all the different settings on your camera, see how each time you change the shutter speed, aperture or film speed it changes the photo that you take. Get your camera off of automatic mode and have fun with it.
- Experiment with film mode and your depth of field. See how it changes the feel of your image when the background is blurred and the subject is in focus. Play with shadow and how that changes the look of your photo.
- Take a closer look at composition. Look at photos that appeal to you and analyze why they appeal to you. What are they doing in their photo that draws your eye to the picture? How does your eye travel around the photo? Take note of what you like and what you don’t BUT don’t change your style because you think that other people’s photos are better than yours. Once you are trying to fit inside someone else’s box of what makes a good photo, it will stop being fun.
With Jerry’s tips jotted down in my notebook and fresh in my mind, I set up two scenes in my house, next to our front window on an incredibly overcast day. I took an hour or two and I played with my camera.
I took some AWFUL photos that day, but that’s ok, because each photo I took, taught me a bit more about my camera and was a step on my journey of becoming a better photographer.
The day before my call with Jerry, I shared this photo on Instagram of my gluten free ginger chip cookies, shot on my iphone, which at the time I thought was pretty decent.
After getting to know my Fuji X-A2 camera a bit better, I shot this photo:
This is the photo of my chocolate sunbutter cups that I planned on sharing on instagram, which would have gotten a filter applied to it… but still:
And this is the photo I shot on my Fuji X-A2 after chatting with Jeff about camera settings and composition:
So who is with me? Who wants to learn how to take better photos in 2016?
I’m going to be awarding one, insanely lucky reader a Fuji X-A2 Camera! Talk about a very merry Christmas right? Enter below.
For the rest of you, I’d love for you to join me on this crazy adventure to learn how to be a better photographer. I’ll be checking in over the upcoming months with tips and tricks from Jerry and the rest of The Fuji Guys on how to take our photos from ho-hum to AMAZING!
I’d love for you to share your photos with me either here, or on social media. You can use the hashtag #HCFPhotoChallenge and tag @hellocreativecrystal on instagram, or @hellocreativef on twitter. We’d also love for you to share your photos on our Facebook wall.
And please remember, don’t be afraid to play! Share with us the good, the bad and the ugly. We’re right along on this journey with you.
I’ve also created a pinterest board of beautiful food photos which I know will help me broaden my composition skills:
Ready for the crazy good stuff? Enter to win a Fuji X-A2 camera below and tell us what is the feature you’d most like to try on the Fuji X-A2 camera and/or what photography question would you like for me to ask The Fuji Guys for next month’s post?
Must have a Canadian shipping address to win.
Disclosure: Thank you to FujiFilm for working with me on this post. As with all articles on Hello Creative Family, all thoughts and opinions are 100% our own. a Rafflecopter giveaway