Be a little creative ... just a little bit every day


I read recently in a blog post about photography, that you should photograph your chosen subject matter at least once a day. Even if you just take one photo on  your phone.

I think these words of wise advice are equally important for artists. Draw, doodle, journal or write about your art, just a little bit a day.,While this blog post is primarily about my learning my photography techniques, I feel the advice definitely applies to all creative platforms.

Practice makes perfect

I have found that a daily creative routine, even if it is just for 5 or 10 minutes, keeps your abilities fresh. It is also why I enjoy participating in InkTober every year.

Whether you are drawing, painting, making ceramics, sculpture, jewelry or taking photographs, keeping your eye and hand in the habit of seeing, and executing what you want to say via your medium is key to getting better. 

By doing just a little bit every day you keep your brain trained to look at lighting and composition. This habit also will encourage you to find different ways to express yourself.

As most of you know, I have been doing a lot of photography this year.

I went on safari in Tanzania in March. In June we went to the Discovery Islands in Canada. We kept our skills up with subsequent small excursions and tasks we set ourselves. 

You can see the photos I took on my excursions on my Through the Lens page.

Then ... we had a bit of hiatus over the summer, because we were playing golf, and visiting our first grandson.

And Now...

We are off on a new adventure in a week, to photograph whales around the San Juan Islands in Washington. 

Time to brush up on our wild life photography skills.

So off we went to our favorite Nature Reserve in Ridgefield to remind ourselves how our cameras work.

It is amazing how quickly you get a bit rusty.

My first photo opportunity was of some turtles sun bathing. I decided I did not need a fast speed to capture them as they were sitting still.  However.... I forgot an important rule.

I use a Fujifilm X-T2 mirrorless camera. My zoom lens was at its max with the 2x teleconverter, of 800mm. The theory/rule says that your shutter speed should not be less than the length of your camera lens.

So - I was shooting at the max of my 100 - 400 zoom lens, i.e. at 800mm.Therefore my minimum speed should have been 1/800s. NOT 1/125s!

Which explains why the photo is not really crisp. You can see by my settings in the photo to the right, that I had settings that will not work.

This also is a good example of why I should do a little bit of photography daily.

Turtles in the sun

Ridgefield Wildlife reserve. My camera is a Fujifilm X-T2 with a 100 - 400 zoom, a 2x teleconverter. For this photo I used auto ISO (1250), my speed was 1/125s (quite slow) with aperture at f11. The zoom too my lens to 800mm.

Remember to reset your camera settings

One thing I have learned, in my brief time learning to be a photographer,  is that once you are finished with your current subject, and you are ready to move on to the next one, you really should be in the habit of resetting everything to a default setting. That way you will be ready to quickly capture the next experience. 

This is a basic rule really! And I made the rookie mistake of forgetting it.

Slow speed = missed action shot

In the photo below on the left, we came across a whole brace of mottled ducks bobbing and ducking in the water and having a good cleansing moment.

A perfect chance to catch some frozen water cascading over the duck's head.

Fantastic! Off I went - snap, snap snap.

On review of the first 6 or so images in the series, they did not look right in my camera playback. Just a little off. Why?

Oh! I had forgotten to increase the shutter speed to accommodate all that movement. I SHOULD have been shooting at at least 1/1000s!

The photo on the right, illustrates my mistake beautifully. Nothing is crisp.

  • Splish Splash!
  • Out of focus duck

Adjustments made

So now I surreptitiously looked over at Nick to see if he saw my mistake, and fiddled with my speed settings. I upped the speed to 1/1250s. Probably still not enough.

Our pro photographer on our Tanzania trip, told us this: 'Remember to get your shot first, then you can mess with different settings, compositions and exposures'.

Umm, I seemed to have temporarily forgotten that rule as well.

Back to basics

Once I had upped my shutter speed I had far more success at capturing the ducks in motion as well as at rest. My camera setting for the shot of the sitting duck is:  Fixed ISO 1600, 800mm zoom, aperture f11 and shutter speed 1/1250s.

The shots with the wings on display, my setting was: Fixed ISO 1250, 800mm zoom, aperture f11 and shutter speed 1/1250s.

We had such beautiful light too. I am quite pleased with these next three shots of the mottled ducks. Could I do better - absolutely. I think I needed even more speed.

Next step

Once this little shoot was over it was on to the next photo opportunity. I did check my speed and upped it a bit for a sequence of a Norther Harrier Hawk in flight. My default settings for flying birds, leaping deer and breeching whales is a shutter speed of 1/2000 s.

You can find the Harrier Hawk pictures in my Birds from the NW portfolio.

Let me know which of the last 3 images you prefer and why in the comments below. If you click on an image it will open in a lightbox gallery window with more information about the photo.

Thanks for spending some time with me.

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