One a Day Project Complete

My One a Day project is done… DONE, I tell you!

The complete list of thumbnails is here.

The short list of my favs is here with descriptions here.

In no particular order, here are a few things that I’ve learned over the last year:

• Flowers make good subjects: they’re colorful, usually hold still, and don’t complain when you point a camera at them.

• It’s not the equipment; it’s not the photographer; it’s not the subject; it’s all three.

• Really good shots take planning, sometimes luck.

• Use a tripod.

• Abstract art, patterns, and textures are cool.

• Shoot like you know what you’re doing, even if you don’t.

• Don’t use the on-camera flash unless it’s in direct sunlight.

• Off-camera lighting rocks.

• Photoshop is great; but doesn’t make up for poor shots.

• Cameraphones are convenient for emergencies but take absolutely horrible pictures. [Me from the future: Just wait for the iPhone 4 through the iPhone Pro line. The future of photography is amazing.]

• Point and shoot cameras are also convenient and take mediocre shots.

• Shoot in Av, Tv, or Manual; never fully automatic modes.

• DSLR is the only way to go.

• To capture your subject, get close. Are you close? Now get closer. The picture of your wife and kids 30 feet in front of the camera and the neat mountain background would be better if you either 1) got as close as possible to your wife and kids or 2) removed them from the picture and took a shot of the mountains.

• For cool landscapes, get low — on the ground or half an inch above the water.

• Take your shots from unexpected angles.

• Unless you’re shooting street-photography, don’t just stand up and take a shot — that’s how everyone sees everyday.

• Shooting toddlers? Get down on their level… now get a bit lower.

• Wide angle lenses rock.

• Tele lenses are great when you have a tripod and a stationary subject.

• If you’re on a public sidewalk, street, or park, nobody can tell you what you can or can’t shoot. If you can see it, it’s fair game.

• If you’re traveling, take an extra memory card and battery.

• Read Strobist and any other photography periodical, magazine, blog, or website you can find.

• If people tell you your photos suck, they probably aren’t the best judges of photography.

• Shoot continuous.

• Shoot RAW when possible.

• Never, ever, ever, use a flash directly into an infant’s eyes — even that small on-camera flash can do serious damage to their eyes. Use an off-camera flash instead.

• Double-check your camera’s settings after a day’s shooting and set them back to your personal defaults so you’re ready to shoot generic stuff as soon as you pick up your camera tomorrow.

• Auto white balance never gets it right.

• Buy and use a WhiBal card.

• Process on a Mac — iPhoto is included and more than capable for the majority of photographers.

• Learn the rules of photography then learn how and when to break them.

• HDR is nice when not overdone.

• Blog your photos — Flickr or .Mac are both good for that.

• Landscapes are better in HDR.

• Learn about your white balance, which one you should use for each environment, or how to work around it by shooting RAW and using a white reference card like a WhiBal to post-process the balance.

• If you’re working in an ultra-dusty environment, be prepared to either throw out your point and shoot camera afterwards or clean your sensor on your DSLR.

• Learn how to clean your own DSLR sensor (actually its low-pass filter).

• Use a polarizer for your landscapes.

• Shoot black and white once in a while.

• Make time to shoot — if you already have a very busy lifestyle, maybe a One a Day project isn’t for you. You might find yourself simply taking shots of nothing more than your daily routine.

• Find a friend to shoot with.

• If you see somebody else’s photos that you like, it’s okay to reverse engineer them, but…

• Do your own thing: don’t constantly try to mimic someone else’s work.

• The Nikon D40 is a great first DSLR for someone moving away from pocket-sized point and shoot cameras.

• Shoot your subject, not the scene.

• Shooting pets takes patience, especially if they’re awake and want to play.

• Dog snot will wash off of your lens.

• Autofocus will almost never hit what you’re looking at.

• Security guards and property managers cannot take away your camera, its memory card, or force you to delete any photos.

• There are no laws on any books that make it illegal to photograph any buildings.

• There are copyright laws that, in very few circumstances may carry some weight in your shooting, but the copyright holder must prove that you’ve actually infringed on their copyrights — in other words, if you’re on public property, keep shooting.

• Traffic accidents are fair game.

• Shoot more photos than you think you want or need.

• Change a few settings and shoot a few more shots.

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