How to take Photographs (2 – The Software)

A lot of what I do has nothing to do with camera settings. It has to do with the way that I approach photography and what I do with the pictures afterwards.

Okay. My software is very important to me and yet I don’t ever mess about with my pictures. I do two things, I throw them away and I crop them, sometimes I lighten or darken them but generally if it’s not what I need then I throw it away.

This is the software that I use. Picasa

Why Picasa? It is free and it does all that I need it to do and it is very easy to use. I find it a good way to organise all of the picture on my hard drive.

The first thing that I do is, I throw lots of pictures away.

Tip number one: Take lots of photographs. I know that professional photographers don’t have to do this but why not do it?

I grew up in an age when you had to buy a roll of film with twelve or twenty four exposures and when you had taken your pictures you had to send them off to the chemists and pay again to have them developed. We don’t have to do that any more. Photography is free.

I am quite happy to take a hundred photographs like this…

Bad HoverflyTo get this one.

Marmalade HoverflyThat’s cheating!

Yes it is. I told you that I was a cheat and that I would show you how I do it.

I want to photograph the animal because it is beautiful and I want to know it, I don’t care how I achieve that.

Close your mouth Fizz, we are not a fish.

Not a fishI don’t want to give the impression that I go out and take ten photographs and come back with ten beautiful pictures. On a good summer’s day I have been known to come back with a thousand pictures and some of them have been very good.

I throw the other nine hundred and ninety away 🙂

This is where my software starts to come into it’s own. Picasa allows me to select as many pictures as I want and then right click and “Delete from disk.” A thousand gig hard drive isn’t as big as you might think.

Now I am sorry about this but I am trying to show my friend how to be a brilliant photographer, like as wot I am 🙂

The next bad thing that I do is that I crop photographs mercilessly.

Professional photographers can’t do this, they have to spend a lot of time framing their picture and getting it just right. Why? because if you want to sell your photograph then you want it to be as big as it can be and you don’t just want to cut a little bit out of the middle and sell that.

I do want to cut a bit out of the middle. I use Picasa to resize all of the pictures that I am going to post anyway. We have a storage limit on WordPress, mine is already half full. So I post my pictures at 1024 x whatever. There is no point in posting full size pictures to WP.

So this…

Peacock ButterflyBecomes this.

Peacock ButterflyPicasa handles these simple tasks very well.

Now my friend, I have told you enough. If you go out and take lots of pictures and apply these skilful techniques that I have divulged then tomorrow you will have a set of excellent photographs to post.

It is very simple. If we take enough pictures then some of them will be good. Neither of us is capable of messing them all up. I have been taking pictures on this basis for many years now.

However there is a bit more to it than that. You have chosen a very good camera (Panasonic FZ40) and on intelligent auto mode it will take some good pictures but there are some simple ways to make it do better.

It all has to do with light and speed and we have to mess with our aperture settings and stuff like that. It is very easy and I don’t change mine much. That can be another post, I must go and play ball with Poochy now or she will cry.

The main thing is that you have to want to take photographs. You have to love your subject and you have to be loved back.

Common NewtThe rest is easy 🙂

Common Newt

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26 thoughts on “How to take Photographs (2 – The Software)”

  1. Picassa is an amazing program, the crop feature being one of the best parts. Your camera must be great and then there is your interest, which is also great. Don’t cry, Fizz, he’s teaching us and I bet he’ll play ball in a bit.

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  2. My understanding is that professional photographers take lots of pictures to get the perfect one. They just click, click, click then go back and look at the photos later. Then they too do exactly what you are doing to get the right picture. It takes a lot of patience. The difference between a professional and you….none.

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  3. That is my approach to what I will dignify with the word ‘photography’ but is really me walking around pressing a button. I don’t go out with any intentions; it is all serendipity. Echo Don Royster. This is probably apocryphal but I heard a story once of a tourist complaining to a famous photographer … she said she liked only one in a hundred of her shots. The photographer replied that he would be delighted to get a good picture out of a hundred. For him it was more like one in a million.

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  4. Brilliant, Colin! I don’t call what you do cheating at all. Some people pay thousands of dollars for cameras to make their photos beautiful. So I don’t see the difference. Beside, who doesn’t want their images to be the best they can be? I love taking a not-so-great image and making it a piece of art. That’s what programs like Picasa and PaintShop Pro X6 are for. And it takes lots of practice to learn these programs. I’m still learning PaintShop Pro, and I’ve been using the program for years. Keep doing what you’re doing, Colin! You’re an artist and each artist has their own technique. And I love yours . . . especially when you give Fizz center stage. I love the little frog, especially the one showing all his glory! Happy Trails!!

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  5. It’s also about understanding your camera is a tool. Not a toy. It needs to be cared for, respected. And I find that when it’s in my hands I seem to see more things that need to be photographed. As if the camera affects how I see things.

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    1. Thank you Barb 🙂 I agree that the camera is a tool but I have few tools that I feel such affection for. My camera allows me to see detail that my old eyes would never see unaided.

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  6. Don’t know if it’s relevant, but it matters a bit if one is taking JPGs or RAW photos.

    JPGs are invariably processed inside the camera before you ever get to them for additional processing (some cameras let you control how much processing).

    Different cameras will give you different in-camera processing (warm, cold, saturated, etc.).This site: http://www.dpreview.com/ is very good for showing comparison of the same shots from different cameras.(as well as rating them).

    If one has a bit more money, one could get into an SLR (or DSLR), and then my advice is to shoot RAW. A RAW picture gives you an amazing amount of control over the post-processing because it has a LOT more information.

    See examples here of the latitude of shooting RAW (many links to other articles at the bottom debating RAW versus JPGs)
    :http://disperser.wordpress.com/2013/01/05/the-raw-deal/

    And while Picasa is great (I do use it myself) Relatively cheap and powerful tools can do better.

    There are a number of photos I took ten years ago that I had given up as useless, but shooting RAW, and new post-processing advances let me not only salvage them, but have them look great.

    Note to Tramp in the Woods: it is neither my desire or intent to hijack your post or blog. I am providing this as additional information. If you rather not have it here, I will not be offended or put out if you just trash these comments (they should go into moderation because of the links, so no one would ever know. Thanks).

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    1. Thank you Emilio 🙂 Raw takes up a lot of memory and I am not really interested in processing, I leave that to the photographers. I am just trying to catch animals. I would catch them in a net but they would get damaged, maybe die and change colour, bit’s would fall of them as they dried out. A camera is better than a net 🙂

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  7. Ditto to this, Colin.

    Practice, practice, practice. I’ve certainly shot over 70,000 in 4 years, but I’ve only kept about 13,000 on my Mac Pro in about 1000 folder which are named in accordance of subject. So as I take better images of a certain flower, I delete the other poorer shots. I still have some very poor photos of birds, because I’ve seen them only once and never again, but I keep those few poor images, in the hope of seeing the bird again and finally identifying what it is.

    Once again, I crop too, but my images are not as sharp as yours. I have to crop as I don’t always get the subject exactly where I want it in the frame. Sometimes its as little as 1/4″ on two sides. I used to take 1-2 good photos out of about 650 shot in an afternoon. Now I get about 20-50 keepers out of about 250-300.

    I think you have made a most important point to all photographers out there and that is to take your camera on all your walks (unless the weather is dreadful) and take as many shots of a subject from all angles.

    There sure to be a few good shots that make for a pleasing composition to share and in your case, help you identify the nature around you. There are just so many varieties of the one species and as I’ve noticed, its no good taking a nice shot of an unknown flower without the leaves, seeds or other parts of the plant. Once I’ve identified a flower, then i might start getting a bit more creative with a flower shot. You have a great eye and brain for details and that is what makes you the great Naturalist that you are.

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    1. Thank you Vicki 🙂 It is very rare that I step out of my front door without my camera. I did have it on me when I walked Fizz yesterday but hidden under my coat. Well,, you never know when a Wild Boar might come wandering down the track. I so agree that when it comes to identification you have to try and record everything.

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  8. I think my keep rate is below 5%. Sometimes only 1 or 2%. Today it was 10% – because the bird flew after 10 frames and I kept one. And I shoot RAW. A 2TB external HD is relatively cheap nowadays and will hold about 100,000 RAW files. I reckon that’s good value.

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