Photo Essay

Fun with Photos: Effect Settings and Travel Photography


I just got back from a fabulous two-week trip, about which I will be writing extensively.  And the second best thing about the trip–other than its inherent fabulousness–was the fact that just before I left, I got a new camera.

Cue jumping up and down with glee.  

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: give me a camera and a new city and I’m good for hours, if not days.  I was great for two solid weeks–and came home with over 1,400 photos.

Why so many?  Several reasons.  First, because I’m a bad photographer.  And bad photographers take many, many shots hoping for one good one (out of 1,400, I have maybe 140 ‘good ones’).  Second, I took so many photos because my new camera has wifi–which means that I’m not taking any iPhone photos anymore.  If I want to Instagram something, I can easily transfer a shot from my camera directly to my phone and Instagram away.  And third, my new camera has several neat effects that are totally useless in the real world, but that I’ve been having fun playing with.  And I learned several things over the past two weeks while playing with the ‘HDR’ effect.  Those lessons include:

Busy photos are more interesting.


Placement of people matters (and when they move, it is freaky).


There’s always a new way to shoot an old scene.


Mundane objects become funky-cool–and light still matters.


When I started playing with the effects settings, I just wanted to see what they did.  When I found the HDR-ish setting, I decided I’d collect a whole bunch of Seattle and Portland HDR-ish images, print them out, and decorate my office (or bathroom) with them.  I probably will still do that; because they are all similar in tone (very yellow) I feel they would look good grouped together.  But I’m honestly pretty surprised by how much I learned just by playing with this feature.  And, more, I’m taken by how quickly I picked up on what would make a good HDR-ish shot (and what would not.  Nature, for example, is best left un-effected.)  I compare it to how quickly my iPhone photography techniques changed when I started using Instagram (I only cared about the square-ish part in the middle, and I pretty much entirely stopped taking iPhone photos in portrait orientation.)

How about all of you?  Do you use funky camera settings?  And if so, why?  And what have you learned by doing so?  And, most importantly–did any of you ever print them all out and decorate your bathroom with them?  Because I can’t think of a good reason not to do just that.

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