I have to admit that although I really love Beth and Randy of Beers and Beans, I have to admit that I wasn’t doing summersaults of happiness and joy when they asked me last week to do a review of their new eBook, Getting Out of Auto.
Not to be more selfish than I already normally am, but I have had really marginal internet access for the last couple weeks and haven’t been able to get much work done; I am trying to get scads of last minute things done for the Ultimate Train Challenge; I still don’t have my passport back for the visas needed for the train trip and I am slightly freaking out; and I have about 5-6 other website projects I really need to spend a lot of time working on.
But out of complete love and admiration for their work, I reluctantly agreed to do a review of Beth’s new eBook on photography, on a short turn-around schedule.
Then I started reading the damn book and couldn’t stop.
What was supposed to be just a cursory scan of a couple pages and then a quickie post (yea, suppose I can be a bit too honest sometimes) showing one of my photos using one of her techniques, turned into a couple hour’s worth of reading. Then re-reading.
The frackin’ thing is that good.
So, I was going to highlight just one technique, but after spending so much time with it, you are going to get the bonus version. So here are a few of my shots that help highlight some of the techniques she goes into, though I must admit that my photos really don’t do justice to how good the examples and tips are in the book.
Beth is one of the best photographers I know, especially in somehow catching the exact mood of a scene, which is one of the things I need a vast amount of improvement on. I have a lot to work on after reading this book and will hopefully be getting some personal lessons from her and some other great photographers I admire in SE Asia in just a few months.
Shooting Into the Sun
This is a technique that I just randomly stumbled into on my RTW trip. A good friend of mine from Ireland that I traveled with on two different occasions took these amazing shots sometimes directly into the sun, which is supposed to be a photo no-no. She didn’t know her settings on her camera, so she didn’t know how she was doing it, but I toyed around until I sorted it out myself.
As Beth points out in Get Out of Auto: “Silhouetting can be a fantastic way to add instant drama to your photo. It’s also a fairly easy technique to learn. Simply speaking, if you put light behind your subject (called backlighting) and expose for that light instead of the subject, the subject will fall into darkness.”
Black and White verses Color
Beth talks about color verses black and white in a couple sections, most tellingly when she says: “I don’t think there is an easier way to pay attention to light & shadow than to shoot in Black & White. In Black & White, light & shadow become the stars of your photo. This is why I advocate switching to Black & White in camera if you are learning how to shoot, learning how to study light or simply trying to take get over a hurdle. I also recommend it if you are bored or feel in a rut with your photography.”
You choose which one of those two shots you enjoy more and will remember. Although B&W is most frequently used for portraits of people (where it really is a fabulous tool), it isn’t limited in use to just that situation. As Beth points out, the play of shadow and light sometimes works best in B&W, instead of color, even for landscape or other types of shots.
Tips for Shooting a HDR photo
HDR stands for high dynamic range and it is a bit of a controversial method for processing and editing your photos. I have only recently starting using it on some of my photos and am just in the beginning stages of sorting out the do’s, don’ts, and times to use it and not use it.
As Beth says, “HDR can be used to make a range of different looking photos – from a slightly enhanced natural looking photo to a completely surreal image that is more fitting for a Dr. Seuss landscape. Although not everyone enjoys the look of HDR photographs there is no denying that it is a unique and intriguing photography process.”
And you can click on this link to see one of my other photos from Cartagena that “is more fitting for a Dr. Seuss landscape.” It is an interesting tool to be sure.
The bottom line on Getting Out of Auto is that it would be the best $9.99 you are going to spend this year, if you want to improve your photography. An equivalent book in the bookstore would cost you more than twice that and with this purchase, I bet you also make a great photography friend in Beth herself, who is wonderful about replying to emails, posting ideas on her website and more.
Click on the banner ad above or this one below to go order this great book. It is a bargain at $9.99, if you want to take your photos to the next level.
Just don’t go buy it and then come back here and tell me that she’s a hell of a lot better photographer than I am… I already know that!