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As I mentioned last week, the next step in my 2013 goals is to improve my photography and really learn how to make the most of my camera. I’m doing a chapter a week using the photo book “Nikon d700: From Snapshots to Great Shots” by John Batdorff. And I’m dragging you along kicking and screaming with me very grateful to have you join me, because I’ve learned there’s nothing quite like stating a goal publicly to make me actually do it.

The first assignment was to dust off your camera manual, get familiar with your camera, practice proper camera posture and grip (which makes for less blurry shots) and learn about white balance (which is how your camera compensates for different types of lighting – such as sunny, cloudy, flash, incandescent, flourescent, etc).  Done! Check! (<– Oooh! Checklist endorphin!)

But, first let me introduce you to my photo model, Art.

Hello! My name is Art.

Hello! My name is Art.

My friend Art, is amazingly flexible and, unlike most photo models, able to stay in one position for infinite periods of time (unless there’s an earthquake or high wind). Best of all, he’s always patient no matter how slow I am. (Which is very slow…)

Now, let’s see what happens to Art when I use the different white balance modes while shooting indoors without flash. (Notice the difference in the color of the white backdrop.)

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Now, shooting outdoors in bright sunlight with various white balance modes. (Notice the difference in the color of the white backdrop.)

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As you can see, changing the white balance setting on your camera has a noticeable impact on your pictures. And, in an amazing bit of synchronicity, my favorite photo site, Photojojo.com, posted this week about how to use the wrong white balance setting on purpose to create great effects in your pictures. Of course, they included an awesome tutorial, too. Take a look!

How about you? What did you learn this week? Feel free to link to your pictures in the comments or ask questions and I’ll do my best to find the answer for you. Ready for next week’s assignment? (Yes? Me, too!)

Assignment #2 – Exploring your lens:

If you have a zoom lens, take photos at different focal lengths (in other words, zoom in and out) – from widest to longest – to learn how much of a scene you can cover and what magnification you have. Then, photograph the same subject with a variety of focal lengths – notice how the subject looks and how it relates to the other objects in the photo.

P.S. Art reminded me to tell you that the life of a photo model is not as glamorous as it seems. And that you too can have a “high-end studio” experience if you own a white pillowcase, some clip magnets and a metal filing cabinet or metal chair. Proving once again that necessity really is the mother of invention. Here are the behind the scenes studio shots:

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I should also point out that having a photo shoot with an art manikin on your front porch is a great way to give your neighbors another reason to talk about you and/or scare the bejeebers out of the mailman.

P.P.S. – Did anyone else notice that Art has a heart-shape on his face and a smile? I’ve known him for years and never realized that until I was taking his portrait this week. Proof that art=love. 🙂

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