Can you take a better picture?

Do you remember when photos were printed on paper, from film that had to be developed by someone that was not you? Opening the package of prints was always a surprise — often not a happy one. On my best days, 1 print out of 10 might be good. The rest never did match my memory of the moment.

Fast forward to now. Digital photography has advanced to the point that we take pictures all day long. The results are immediately available and we can see if the picture is good, or not. But here’s a question: Do you apply a critical eye to your photos? Are you taking the best photo that you could?

Three years ago I signed up for Ricky Tims’ 52-Week Photo Challenge Class. I had no idea how much I didn’t know! The dials and buttons on the camera are no longer a mystery. I’ve quit relying on autofocus!

I’ve learned to pay more attention to the image before I actually take the photo. What needs to be in the photo, and what does not? Every photo gives you the chance to play with light, color, and scale — and the relationships between them. Happily, the same rules of design apply to quilting!

Much of the class is about image editing. Ricky teaches how to use both Lightroom and Photoshop, both of which are powerful editing tools. I had never used Lightroom and now can’t image working on photos without it.

After I finished the 52-week class, I signed up for the Critique class. Even when I’m busy, I do my best to take my weekly photo. Maybe that’s why it feels like a gift! Taking time to do something that makes you happy is the best gift you can give yourself.

Ricky is starting his 4th 52-Week Photo Class. If it sounds good to you, click here and sign up. You will be glad you did!

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Here are a few of my photos…

Taken near the Hudson River, NYC. This was a quick photo, lightly edited.

Taken near the Hudson River, NYC. This was a quick photo, lightly edited.

My granddaughter offerred to help out by posing which was very nice.

My granddaughter offerred to help out by posing for my Wonderland photo assignment which was very nice.

For the Mirror Mirror challenge.

For the Mirror Mirror challenge.

Looking at art…

Amy and I visited the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art last weekend. The art was wonderful but, as always, I had at least as much fun people watching the people as I did looking at the art.

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This girl was posing for her friends (and me) on the other side of the atrium.

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This couple looked so good together!

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I am drawn to art with faces. The more you look, the easier it is to see the beauty in everyone’s face.

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by Thomas Schutte

by Thomas Schutte

I also enjoy the way museum guards inhabit the spaces — they are there, but they are also part of the space they inhabit.

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Amy posed for me :-).

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Shopping for wedding dresses…

I went to San Francisco last weekend to visit my friend, Amy. One of the things we did was to go shopping for ‘the dress’ with the daughter, Laura, of one of Amy’s long-time friends. I took my camera and shot nearly 300 photos. I didn’t really know any of the wedding party so I did my best (with limited success) to be quiet and just take photos.

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This place is full of one-of-a- kind runway dresses. It’s first come first served and Laura was the first bride of the day. She was given a little bag with 8 clips to mark the dresses she wanted to try on. It’s a good system.

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She let others in the party make some choices as well.

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(I took lots of photos with peoples faces but I’m not posting them because that is a choice to leave up to the bride.)

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The dressing room began to fill, with a well-used dress form standing guard.

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I did my best to stay out of the shots but there were so very many mirrors! I didn’t exactly dress to fade into the background (what was I thinking?!)

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All 8 dresses were lovely, but Laura did not find ‘the dress’. However, if she has as much fun looking for it as I did taking pictures, she is sure to enjoy the hunt!

FYI: Laura is an actress, stand-up comic, and she has some hilarious videos on youtube. Click here to find GinBlo Productions on youtube.

More from St. Maarten…

My selfies are getting better. I’m not sure if that’s a good or bad thing.

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We went on a snorkel tour on boat with Octopus Diving. The fish were pretty, the water was warm, and the Dramamine kept me from getting motion sickness. All good.

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We snorkeled out by that rocky island. IMG_8055

When I wasn’t snorkeling, I was visiting with Captain Kyle who is 27, has lived all over the world, and who can put all he owns in a small duffle bag. His life sounds really interesting, probably because it is so different from my own life. Just thinking about how to live that way and still quilt was enough to make my head hurt.

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Shadow selfie…

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I’ll sign off with these two beach photos. St. Maarten was wonderful, and the vacation shared with friends made it even better!

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I took this with the iPhone Camera+ app which is a very cool app. I used the in-app editing tool that is a whole lot like Lightroom. I’m visiting St Maarten and I thought I’d have my big camera out and about with me but it’s not working out that way. My iPhone is turning into my camera on this trip and it’s working pretty well.

Hiking on St. Maarten…

There is a zip line course at Loterie Farm near the high point of St. Maarten. Julie and Wayne have ‘zipped’ before and while it sounded like (dangerous) fun, we decided that hiking was more our style. Julie opted to read a book on the beach and Steve, Wayne and I set off for the jungle.

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It was hot and humid and sort of jungle-y.

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It was uphill mostly going in, and downhill mostly going out. In some spots it was very rocky. I’m not sure how far we hiked but we all felt like we had accomplished something when it was over.

There used to be a sugar plantation on the property and this is a ruin of a well…

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This was one of the overlooks on the trail…

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We got to the top and were stopped by this gate. We did not try ringing Nils Larsen, the name by the buzzer, to see if he’d let us in.

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The view beyond the gate:

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I got the guys to stand by this blue pole…

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And then I got them to strike a pose. Wayne and Steve were very good sports about the whole photo thing.

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The trail back down started here, just to the right of the concrete wall. Look close and you can see the arrows pointing us down the trail.

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It started to rain as we walked the trail out. We spotted a monkey who didn’t seem to mind us but took off when the thunder started and the rain began to fall in earnest.

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And that was the end of the hike picture taking!

St. Maarten, continued…

There were lots of photo ops. In fact, I could turn into one of those people who makes little forward progress because they are too busy taking pictures. That used to drive me crazy with other people, so I try not to overdo it.

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Sometimes I like to play with filters or other editing options. (Camera+ has some really great built-in editing features.) There is never only one perfect choice so it’s hard to know when to stop..

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This photo in color is not nearly as good…

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The same is true with this photo. In black and white is looks very retro.

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There was one wall with a broken glass bottle ridge along its top that looked like dangerous flowers.

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It was more interesting in black and white.

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Stuck in place…

My photo assignment this week is ‘stuck in place’. This is an exercise where you pick one spot and stay in it for an hour taking photos. I went to the Austin College campus and planted myself here:

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I took nearly 300 photos! I have to choose my top 3 images (excluding the image above) to turn in late Saturday. I’ve narrowed it down to 11 images. I think that this photo will make the cut:

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Click here if you’d like to see my other photos and leave a comment on the blog to tell me which ones you like the best!