by Kathy Krant
I first attended a meeting of the Cookeville Camera Club in 2013. Eagerness to meet new people with similar interests, and owning a digital camera that I never really got around to learning, were my motivations. From my first visit, I was encouraged to join classes and attend photo events with other members where we shared ideas and learned ways to improve our photographic skills.
The Camera Club hosts a variety of interesting guest photographers and speakers. To my surprise the information that was offered was more than just the art of photography and camera operation. Yes, composition, leading lines, lighting, shooting in black and white, and the selection of equipment available for all skill levels were some of the subjects discussed. In addition, I’ve also learned about native wildflowers, state parks, the caving systems, wildlife photography, shooting at night, the art of fantasy photography and interesting places to visit and photograph. Each time I learned something new, it inspired me to go out and visit new places and practice taking more photos.
The biggest piece of advice I can give someone interested in photography is to find a way to tie it into another hobby or passion and this will give you motivation and purpose. My passion is gardening. It’s relaxing to work in the dirt: planting, weeding, fertilizing and caring for my flowers. Each year, I look forward to photographing my plants, tracking their progress and planning for the following season. The best time to photograph flowers is on an overcast day in order to bring out all the true colors. Use the macro setting and get as close as possible to the subject, which in my case means getting down on my knees at plant level. I shoot several photos of each plant; shoot at different angles, and place the subject at different positions within the frame. I pay attention to white balance, which affects color, and use a tripod to keep the camera steady. When wind is a factor, and it always seems to be when I shoot flowers, I block it with a simple board. An umbrella works very well too.
Hiking is another hobby I enjoy and I always bring a camera along. I never know what I’ll discover on a hike and I love to capture the beauty of the Tennessee countryside. In a photography class, I was amazed to discover all the settings available on a cell phone camera, so I decided to try out my phone camera when I didn’t want to pack a big camera. My sister shot 600 pictures with an iPhone on a recent trip to Washington, D.C. and got some incredible shots, so I no longer underestimate the power of a cell phone camera. The internet is full of photo websites and apps to prove it. If you use your phone camera and want more customization and editing features, I recommend VSCO Cam or EyeEm, both great apps for editing and sharing photos. Others popular apps are Open Camera and Google Camera.
Whatever your passion or interest, it can provide many opportunities to work on your photography skills, while doing something you absolutely love. If you love to cook, consider photographing your favorite dishes to create a family cookbook. When I think of needlework or art, I think of the different textures that are involved. How great would it be to capture those textures in a photograph? Get in close and use side lighting to capture all the details. Photographs can create a story about your art.
I hope you’ll consider some of these ideas, go have some fun and learn more about your camera along the way. The Cookeville Camera Club meets at the First Presbyterian Church, on the second Monday each month at 7pm and guests are always welcome!