1.07.2010

The Last Mandarin



I've developed a bit of a fascination with stop motion over the last few months, and would love to make a stop motion film of my own. Since I don't have a video camera, I decided to make a slideshow. I wish I could speed it up a little more, maybe add some music, but I had to start somewhere. Baby steps.

I saw so many beautiful headers yesterday! For those of you who gave my tutorial a try and shared your results, thank you! I made a new Flickr group, Handmade Headers, if you are interested in adding your headers to the group. Someone asked why I use Flickr to store my photos, and I just have to say, I'm a big Flickr fan. There's just so much beauty, inspiration and sense of community on Flickr. It's also the easiest way I've found to organize and access my photos.

Several people asked about a three column template on Blogger. I used a tutorial via How About Orange to create three columns. Alexandra of Cabbage Moon recommended this tutorial. Amy of A Commonplace Life wrote a tutorial about editing HTML and other ways to pimp your blog.

After having my camera for two years, I just started reading the user's manual yesterday. I'm determined to get through all the technical jargon and finally learn what all those buttons can do. I don't know how much I'll actually learn from the manual, though; some of the best tips I've gleaned over the years have been random comments I've heard or read from other photographers (especially over on Flickr). Once upon a time, Alicia of Mayfly commented on one of Molly of Mommycoddle's photos: "Manual focus is your friend." That tip changed my life.

So I have a favor to ask of you: Do you have any photography tips to pass along? I figure that if I tap into the collective knowledge out there, I might just figure out how to take a better photograph. A better photograph means a better header, and you know how I love headers! I can't wait to see yours over on Flickr.

25 comments:

  1. I like to turn off my flash, I don't like the harshness it gives my photos. Though I have been thinking about getting any external mount flash that I think I could become friends with...
    i think the biggest thing is to just keep playing. Someone the other day said they sat with an apple on the table and ran thru all the different settings on their camera to just see and understand a little bit more how it worked, I thought that was a great idea.

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  2. I'm just learning, but everything vanessa said I second. I learn so much just by experimenting.

    your headers are lovely btw;) I think the most important part is having a great eye which you obviously have. your current header is really great.

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  3. You crazy lady, I can't give you tips on photography--I look at *your* photos for inspiration.

    I love your mandarin slideshow. It has its own sweet poignancy. I just took a bunch of photos of tangerines too--satsumas from our tree, which I made into marmalade. Must get them uploaded to Flickr...

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  4. Oh, and if you're into stop motion, did you see Fantastic Mr. Fox? I adore Wes Anderson; it was crazy to see a stop motion film that was still so very him.

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  5. Here's something that just clicked for me today (so to speak). Large aperture number means small opening means less light to refract and spread means larger depth of field. Small aperture number means large opening means more light to refract and bend means short depth of field.

    I'm looking forward to everyone's tips as I, too, could use some help in this area.

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  6. molly, this is fantastic. i love it! i am just reading my manual and in all honesty i just play. i have to say i like more spending time in editing and picnik is great. flickr, too, like you said, i am finding it a great community.

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  7. I was captivated by your short... keep going! And sharing!
    I gave my manual as shot but right now I just play... Taking all kinds of pictures of the same thing at different settings to see what I like and how they change the shot... not the most efficient way to go about it but that is why I love digial! :)
    I also second the flash comment... hate to use it!
    Your photos are so great now... can't wait to see what you can do!

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  8. You don't need to have a video camera to make stop motion! There is free software on the web that will capture photos from a regular camera and allow you to adjust for speed, etc. I think Zeb used Monkey Jam on his but it may have slowed down his old computer (mind you, it was a very old computer).

    It's hecka fun!

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  9. take lots of pictures. that is my best advice. I don't use flash - ever. In the low light I have been using "P" setting.

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  10. I am considering buying a new camera. What do you use and how affordable was it? Price, of course, is a consideration for me.

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  11. I love reading your blog. You're so creative! Thank you. :)

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  12. natural light is your friend. take a TON of pictures, and one of them will be super awesome :)

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  13. Very cute slide show. I especially like the little crumbs left on the table. I am no photographer, but a few tips I read that compliments the tip of using natural light is to use an ISO of 120-200, use a tripod(or other steady surface), and to use the macro setting. Those tips have helped me get a little better. I should mention that those tips were in relation to food photos--maybe it works for all stills...

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  14. Love the slide show!
    Thanks so much for the tutorials...so helpful!!!!

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  15. I love your slide show. How fun to make! Thank you for sharing all the information about headers, I look forward to checking that out.
    Photography? I never use a flash. It is hard here in MT in the winter and the lack of sun and all, but that is my way to go.

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  16. Thank you for the tutorials. I'm inspired to try harder.

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  17. Molly, you already take such nice photos, and I don't use as fancy a camera as you do, so this may be automatic on yours but...

    I like to take macro shots, and sometimes I can't get my camera to focus on the tiny or specific subject in front of me. So, I like to hold my hand right next to whatever my little subject is to create a larger thing to focus on at that specific distance. Then I move my hand away and take the photo and the focus is more often than not spot on. I do have trouble sometimes with the lighting getting thrown if my light-colored hand is totally different in color from my subject, but most of the time it's okay.

    Oh, and I also rarely use the viewfinder or even the screen. I put the camera up to whatever's my subject and shoot away. It's awesome with kids and chickens and getting into spaces and positions that would be uncomfortable for a person plus a camera.

    Also, I agree with the previous flash comments. Why do they (usually) suck so much? :P And I always shoot on "P" though I have no idea what that means, and 400ISO.

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  18. Don't forget about post-processing textures! They can take a mediocre photograph and turn it into something wonderful.

    Love your "film"! :o)

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  19. while I am still very much a beginner, I have found the macro lens (or macro setting) to work wonders.

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  20. I am so very much a figure out as I go girl for photography. When I got my camera someone told me the best way to learn was to just take a ton of pictures...so I've been doing that. I did get the instructional dvd for my camera for Christmas. I'm looking forward to watching it soon!

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  21. i loved your stop-motion slideshow! :)

    manual is definitely your friend, thank you, alicia. I have started using the manual settings on my D40 and it's opened up a whole new world. To start I sat in one spot and took the same picture over and over and over, each time tweaking the settings just a bit. I was able to really discover how each little change effected the photograph.

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  22. Not like you need any tips, your pictures are great, but I'll throw in my two cents anyway! I agree with previous commenters--natural light over flash when possible, low ISO's over high ones (high=grainy--this usually is only an issue in low light), and take a ton of pictures (for me this often is key to ensuring I get one in sharp focus; my viewing screen is not all that great so I can't always tell). And I, too, use the macro setting quite a bit, even at times when I'm not super close to my subject, like with head-and-shoulders portraits. And with smaller things, I also sometimes "fool" the auto-focus the same way Rebecca does. I think learning the basics of how a camera operates can be really helpful too--like how shutter speed and aperture work, and how they work in relationship to eachother. And one more thing, I often adjust a photo's color balance later on with a photo editor to fix any weird color casts (for example, most indoor lights cast yellow, and indirect natural light (ie, shade) can give a blue cast). There are settings on my camera that are supposed to correct this automatically, but we don't always agree!

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  23. aside from gaining a handle on basic photo techniques (shich it seem you've got down pat), a photo-journalist friend helped me change my auto-focus settings, from the trigger to the little asterisk button on the back side of my 40d. — makes a huge difference in terms of speed and control. he also showed me how to unlock the auto-focus points, for quickly selecting a new focal point.

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