Excellent Photography Tips from Contest Judge SilverGenes

SilverGenes is one of the best photographers on HubPages. In addition to taking and sharing gorgeous pictures, SilverGenes has published several Hubs containing tutorials on editing photos to help Hubbers improve their own photography skills.

We are therefore privileged to have SilverGenes as one of the judges on the photos panel of the HubPatron of the Arts contest.  In the following interview, this fabulous photographer shares some excellent tips and advice.  Have a look!

HubPages: How did your get started with photography?

SilverGenes: My dad put a camera in my hands when I was two years old. He took me on photo treks and taught me how to look through the viewfinder to tell a story. Besides the camera, he took along sketching pads and charcoal. He believed photography and sketching went together so I learned about all the local flora and fauna along the way. One thing led to a better understanding of the other. A good photograph should elicit a feeling, a response in the viewer. The only way to achieve that is to have part of oneself invested in the image; otherwise it does not ring true. That was my start to a lifelong love of photography. In college, I had the opportunity to study with an instructor who had once been a protégé of Joseph Karsh. There is nothing quite like learning classic disciplines.

You create some amazing tutorials on photo editing- how many of the photos that you take do you edit? What are the primary reasons why someone would use special software to edit a photo?

Thank you. My workflow is camera, Lightroom, and Photoshop if I want to take it somewhere more creative. I shoot in RAW, use Lightroom, and edit every one of my photos to some extent. Usually, it’s a quick adjustment in Levels, Curves, and Sharpening. I also use burning and dodging for emphasis. Editing is necessary even if you shoot in Jpeg. Unlike film, digital images lose information when they are taken from the camera. You have probably noticed a difference between the image you see on your camera display and the one on your computer screen. There is no way around it. It is simply what happens as a result of the technology so in order to get a proper representation of the image as shot, you need to edit. Most digital cameras have their own software for editing and that’s just fine. A program like Photoshop or Lightroom is not a requirement but it certainly is nice to have. One quick tip: for better detail in light areas, slightly overexpose rather than underexpose. It goes against what seems logical but it works. Digital images are based on math and there is a lot more information in the light zone (white is 255) than there is on the dark end (black is 0). Just don’t allow blowout. You will be amazed what appears when you process the image.

What sort of camera do you shoot with?

I use a Canon Rebel, have used a Sigma SD-9 in the early days, a Fuji F-10 point and shoot, and covet a Mamiya. I’ve had great results with all of them except the Mamiya. It’s still a dream only.

As a judge on the photos panel of the HubPatron of the Arts contest, what will you be looking for in entries?

The photo should be technically correct and have good tonal balance with no blowout at either end, except for an extreme highlight like a direct light source. The rest is artistic so hit me with your best shot. (Sorry, I had to say it.)

Good image structure is critical. It’s the backbone of your photo. Balance color, pay attention to composition. If it looks great when you close one eye, it probably works. Take your time with this one. Think of it like a collage and don’t be afraid to change your angle. Keep the eye moving through the image where you want it. Pay attention to lighting. That is what makes the shot – or not. Unless you are a pro, stay as far away from HDR as you can get. There is no better way to completely flatten an image than using HDR. Yes, it looked interesting in the beginning in the same way oils on black velvet looked interesting. Just don’t do it. Above all, be passionate. Be intimate. Touch the image and let it touch us.

What advice would you give to folks on HubPages (and beyond) who would like to take better photos?

Take lots of photos. Experiment. Take your camera off Auto. With film, we had to wait for processing to see the mistakes but with digital we can see problems immediately and reshoot. If you are new to photography, look for an evening course at your local college and learn with others. There is nothing like peer input to speed the learning curve. Read. There are some excellent books available and I highly recommend those by Scott Kelby.

Another word of advice: Once you play with your settings, remember to put them back. There is nothing quite like finding those fast photo-op moments are adjusted for an experimental white balance. Yes, I learned that one the hard way. This is when an advanced software program comes in pretty handy. Unfortunately, this is also when you see the limitations of software when compared with shooting it right in the first place.

And finally: Get up early and stay late for the best light. Most importantly, play and have fun!

[Thanks, SilverGenes!]

For more information about the HubPatron of the Arts contest, visit the official contest page.

 

8 thoughts on “Excellent Photography Tips from Contest Judge SilverGenes

  1. Thanks for the tips SilverGenes. Photography is an old love of mine that I have been wooing again. It is nice to know you better and to see what you will be looking for in the upcoming weeks. Creating Hubs for the contest has been fun and I appreciate the awesome you judges have before you. Regards,Hyphenbird.

  2. Well done silvergenes. Very informative and the tips for budding or for that matter more experienced photographers will be very useful. I am not much of a photographer, my pictures appear in my mind and I lay them down in words trying my best to paint what I see. They are most in black, white and various shades of grey. You are a true artist, you capture the essence with your focused eye. I have see much of your work. Thank you for sharing your expertise with us all here at the hubs.

  3. Thanks for the practical tips and specific examples of what makes a photo great instead of passable. I loved how your father gave you a camera and took you along on his photo shoots when you were so young. Your love and passion for photography shines through in this interview.

  4. Thank you all very much. I’m looking forward to this contest because it gives me a chance to enjoy other people’s creativity behind the lens and see the world through different eyes.

    Hyphenbird, I’m so glad you are finding photography again! Saddlerider, your word paintings are always a pleasure to read, regardless of hue 🙂
    Hppyboomernurse, my dad was amazing. It never occurred to him that children couldn’t do things and so it didn’t occur to us either 🙂

  5. After doing couple of photo gallery hubs as contest entry I learned that there must be at least five hundred words to describe the pictures. I’m aspiring photographer, aspiring in a sense that I have leaned photography but my photos have not been published except on hubpages. There is so much to learn for this interview. Next time I’m doing a photo gallery hub I’ll try to remember all the points.

  6. Very insightful. It is refreshing to get something of a different perspective on what contest judges look for when judging photographic works.

    Sure, some things like the fact that the shots should be technically sound and that the more photos you take the better you will get, seem rather obvious. But, all in all the little nuances provide a lot of useful information.

  7. Vinaya and Jay, thank you so much for taking the time to comment here. I’m very glad you are finding a few tips that will help you create images that say what you want. Seeing the world through another person’s eye is as interesting as reading their words in poetry or books.

  8. I am also into photography that’s why I created a website for beginners. I am not an expert but I know some stuff that I can share with newbies. I also believe in what you said about taking a lot of photos. That way, we can easily identify where we went wrong so we can improve our future images. Thanks Simone for this article, I enjoyed it.

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