Lesson 10: Taking Stock

The inspiration for these lessons, my best friend Gina, reports that her photos are getting worse instead of better.  This is a common experience–there are many reasons for this phenomena:

  1. You are developing an eye and you are seeing more of the shortcomings of your photos than you did in the past.  A photo that you thought was the best photo ever suddenly looks flawed with new found knowledge that influences your taste.  You might look back at the photos you selected in Lesson 1 to see if you see flaws in them you didn’t notice when you selected them.
  2. You are learning new skills that take time to get comfortable with.  A certain amount of physical dexterity is required to hold an iPhone level and stable while you choose focus and exposure options and click the button to take the photo.  You may not have developed the fine motor skills required to do this well.  You are also learning new things to think about when you set up to take a photo.  It can be confusing to have to decide which app to choose, how to apply the rule of thirds, think about holding the iPhone with good form, and decide how to set exposure and focus.
  3. In Lesson 1, I told you there were no rules.  But in the subsequent lessons, I introduced a series of “rules.”  When we are young and learning our language for the first time, we lack the experience to know when a new rule doesn’t apply.  For example, children often add “-ed” to the end of words inappropriately when they first start acquiring the skill of forming the past tense in English:  “I goed to the store with Mommy.”  Similarly, when you are learning a new rule, it’s hard to judge when to make exceptions.
  4. If you are dutifully doing the assignments at the end of each exercise, you are probably photographing whatever is most convenient to complete the exercise.  How interesting photos are is largely dependent on the subject you’re photographing.  Although we will eventually learn how to make seemingly uninteresting things interesting, if you look back at the photos you picked in Lesson 1, you may find that they are of particularly interesting places or people.  It’s hard to make up for that with basic skills.
  5. The 9 lessons so far are not enough to take your photos from ordinary to extraordinary.  I suggest looking at the example photos I used in the lessons (included in this post for your convenience).  You might notice that none of them appear in my iPhonography Gallery page.  This is because I don’t like them.  They are not great photos–they are exercises.  We have not yet gotten to lessons that expose the power of using an iPhone as a camera.  That power is not in its ability to capture great details or strong contrasts.  The power of the iPhone is in the range of applications available to easily do really creative things with the photos you take.  Be patient–we’ll get to those lessons.
  6. In digital photography, the equivalent of developing film is called post-processing.  This means after the photo is taken, it’s adjusted using software to make it look better.  We haven’t gotten to using any of the tools available for adjusting photos, so you are looking at photos that are merely “negatives.”  We’ll get to post-processing–just know that your photos aren’t really done yet.

Your Assignment:  Take a look at the photos you created as part of each lesson.  Take stock of what you learned from each exercise.  Do you have better control of where you focus?  Are you framing your subjects in new ways?  Are you better able to control the exposure you get?  Congratulate yourself for what you’ve learned, no matter what the photos look like.