Tag Archives: Research

Three easy photography time savers

Making time by saving time.

We would all like to spend more time with our camera. If we can save time on our shots we will have time to take more of them. It is about being photographically efficient.

1. Plan your shoot

Most photographers find out the hard way. They go to do what they think is a great location to do a shoot. When they get there they find out that all is not as they thought. Here are some common problems encountered because of lack of planning…

  • No photography allowed – eg. public buildings, churches, malls and private offices.
  • Area is too large to complete everything you wanted to do.
  • You cannot find what you want. Wild life is especially difficult to predict.
  • Did not check the weather at the destination before leaving.
  • Failed to check up on local information with local people/camera clubs.
  • Do a little planning and you could save your whole day or get more shooting done.

    2. Use a tripod and work sharp

    The aim of great photography is to do as much as possible to create sharp images in camera. Sharpness is much sought-after among those who are trying to improve their photography. Oddly enough most improvers are too anxious to move onto the next shot. In their haste they sacrifice sharpness, or fire off a machine-gun-like series of shots in the hope that one of them will make the grade. During a day you will get hundreds of shots of not very many subjects.

    OK… here is the news. After the shoot you will spend hours going over all those shots choosing the sharpest and doing the post processing. Professional photographers know that they want two things: a sharp shot and a good composition. Consequently they take a little more care and time making the shot in the field. They use a tripod and follow a procedure for checking their composition and ensuring sharpness. Check these posts out for some ideas…
    An old sailors trick to improve your photography
    The fifteen second landscape appraisal
    Three Tips for Pin Sharp Shots with a Tripod
    The Zen of sharpness – 12 easy ways to improve
    Here is the trick. If you learn to do sharp shots at the outset you save time two ways. First, you will be able to efficiently arrive on the scene, set up, get the shot, move on. Secondly, you will save hours of time on your computer trying to find the right shot and then spending time cleaning it up. You will have fewer shots of more subjects.

    Know how you are going to shoot your subject

    Every photographer has to learn what works and what does not. You can save a lot of time on that learning curve by researching the best way to take particular shots. Online photographs are perhaps the best way to do that. When researching a new shot Google Images is a great resource. Go to Google and select images, then enter the subject you want to shoot. There will be thousands of images to choose from so you can get some great composition ideas for your subject. Look at the angles of the shots. Check the point of view. Look at backgrounds… all these give you great ideas. It is not cheating. It is doing what every artist has done for centuries – getting a great understanding of their subject and then adding their own creative touch. Not only does this save you time on the shot, it helps you develop your creativity. That’s a win:win situation.

    Saving time is cool and gives you more creative time on the shots you want. Spend time on these points and you will earn the time back later hundreds of times over.

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    By Damon Guy (author and Photokonnexion editor)

    Damon Guy - Netkonnexion

    Damon Guy (Netkonnexion)

    Damon is a writer-photog and editor of this site. He has run some major websites, a computing department and a digital image library. He started out as a trained teacher and now runs training for digital photographers.
    See also: Editors ‘Bio’.

    Shedding Light on Family History

    When you take a photograph or video do you think about the use future generations will make of your work?

    Photography was one of the first ‘new media’ that enabled people to see a place they had never physically visited. Together with sound recording it enabled barriers of place and time to be broken down.

    It also does rather more than that. One of my particular hobby horses is that family history needs to be viewed as more than a list of names, places and occupations. We should also consider the times in which they lived. The photograph, and latterly the video, provide a method to give us this extra information. As camera equipment became cheaper, and more people were able to take photographs, it enabled us to see how all levels of society lived. Before photography, and in its early years, it was the wealthier members of society who were depicted.

    By opening a window to the masses the photograph can also show “true” history rather than the popular view of history we tend to take for granted.

    Two proud mothers...

    Two proud mothers…

    Take the picture to the left. At first sight it is nothing special. It shows two women, we assume the proud mothers of the children in the picture. It was obviously taken, like many such photographs are, to show off their children to friends and family. It is little different to the many millions of snaps taken over the years.

    To the family historian photographs like this add a little colour to the family. They also show a little of how people lived. I asked a member of the family being researched about this photo. I found out the picture was taken around 1959-60 in Dartford, Kent and that the doors behind the women are actually outside toilets. From the picture we also see the type of everyday fashion worn in the early 1960s. We can also see that despite much work to remove slums and modernise our towns even by the 1960s people still lived in houses without the basic facilities we take for granted today.

    The popular view that everyone in the 1960s was a hippy and spent all their time lazing about and listening to Grateful Dead albums in a haze of naughty smoke is a little off the mark. That will certainly shock my eldest niece. She is convinced I must have known The Beatles and met President Kennedy!

    Baby and book

    Baby and book

    The photograph on the right demonstrates how a picture can show information on interior decoration. Not to the standard you would see in a Design Magazine, it sheds light on decoration in ordinary homes of the period. If you look a little deeper into the picture you might infer that conditions in this house were a little cramped.

    It goes without saying that this process works in reverse. I remember spending a happy hour or two indexing photographs of the building of Basingstoke town centre. They were donated to the library some years ago. Most were helpfully catalogued. A few were not and a rough date could be worked out from looking at surrounding buildings, fashions and other objects like cars. In some cases this took some time and I’m sure my mutterings and wanderings round the reference section in Basingstoke library were a subject of some speculation for staff!

    Suburban House in Basingstoke

    Suburban House in Basingstoke

    The picture on the left illustrates this. It is not one of the photographs I referred to above but shows a house in the suburb of Basingstoke. This picture may be roughly dated by the car in the foreground. This may be done by looking at the date identifier on the registration plate. Alternatively, you can check when this model of car was in production. This would give the date range during which the picture might have been taken.

    One final area in which pictures can help is in jogging the memory. When the occasion demands a picture can act as an aide memoir and open up the memory. This is something the family historian finds invaluable when trying to find additional information for a family member.

    Remember, your photographs are a record of the people and places that are in them. They are much more than a simple picture.

    Have fun with your photographs and researching your family history.

    By Terry Firth (contributing author)

    Terry lives in Hampshire UK. An experienced reference librarian, he did research for the public, business and the and local authorities. Later Terry managed the Hampshire County reference and local studies services. He was a Board member on the Sense of Place South East External link - opens new tab/page which managed a digitisation/website project for five local authorities including ‘Hantsphere’ External link - opens new tab/page. Terry now runs ‘Terry Firth Research Services’ External link - opens new tab/page using his experience doing family history research for clients worldwide.

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