Just beginning photography or want a gut check – some helpful Guides…

Broken Window, Lake Logan, Cold Mountain, NC, Bob Grytten image
Broken Window, Lake Logan, Cold Mountain, NC, Bob Grytten image

Early photography, for me, was more out of curiosity than trying to become a master. Today, while I have found ways to use photography to help make a living, I’ll be the first to admit that the education part is a continuing process. People ask me, “What do you photograph?”

“Where I happen to be,” I say. I love being in nature so shooting there becomes a delight. That’s where  the connection between what goes on in nature and my purpose was first made. When I travel I make images there. When I’m home, I shoot how light takes an it’s own energy. Normal looking things take on a stunning look. They beacon to be photographed

That includes our dog Taco – even the neighbors house or fence line. They all take on a different look as light passes over – and it changes throughout the day.

Tacoordinary subject and turns it into something special – be it a tree, a pond, a flower, my dog, a rabbit – whatever is being featured. Even the neighbors house or fence line – for light or how it shows off a subject becomes the subject itself.








This image, Broken Window, was made while on my way to the Blue Ridge Parkway in North Carolina, USA – not far from where I live. I did not have to do anything but point my camera and shoot. It was taken with my very first Digital camera, in 2003 – a 3.2MP, Sony CyberShot 24mm focal length, f/5.3, 1/400 sec. Wow, I did a google search and can’t believe it’s still being sold. I must have a collectors edition.

Incidentally, you won’t be able to photograph this subject today. The tree has been removed. That changed everything. The image could have been made with a smart phone, iphone or DSLR . What makes it is the way the light is playing on the scene.

If wishing to make stunning images – light is one of the first things to learn  – to see, to appreciate — it’s a wonder all it’s own.

But that was probably the second thing I discovered.

Here’s the first formula…

The first thing I discovered, when just starting, was the suggested order of setting up for an image, before pressing the shutter button.


Aaperture, set the aperture for depth-of-field (more on this later)

Sshutter speed, set to assure proper exposure

TThink. Check the frame for any distracting things, spots of light and composition.

Here’s an alternative to this formula. It also eliminates one step: If you set your camera on Aperture Priority the camera will automatically set the Shutter Speed.

Today, I set my camera on Aperture Priority and open the lens all the way to the largest lens opening. The DSLR camera is designed to show what the images will look like when you view it through the view finder. This way if you like the image, you just release the shutter and WYSIWYGwhat you see is what you get.

The camera automatically sets the Shutter Speed, so in effect you are now doing photography in the F A T  mode.  Of course, we still have to THINK.

Adamasco Lilly, Lake Junaluska, NC, Bob Grytten image
Adamasco Lilly, Lake Junaluska, NC,  Camera settings: 300mm lens, Aperture Priority, f/4.5, !/320 sec. Bob Grytten image

The benefit is that we can operate more quickly in the field. If doing nature photography, light can change rapidly, animals can move quickly, or tilt their head in just the right way – at that instant you press the shutter button.

Or, if shooting flowers, the second a breeze stops, we are all set to release the shutter. As side benefit – with lens OATW, you automatically have the fastest shutter speed available at that moment – that’s nice.

Incidentally, AP is the favored setting for the majority of photographers, according to Digital School of Photography, the popular newsletter by Darren Rouse What Mode Do You Shoot in Most? [POLL]. While on that site you can sign up for free Subscription – worthwhile.

One note. When you open up all the way, if you want more of the image in focus simply dial the aperture to a smaller opening. The numbers go up; but, the Actual size of the aperture will reduce. Check your manual under “aperture.”

So yes, I shoot where I happen to be, but I do use the proven and true F A T approach. With my mind off my equipment I’m free to follow the Light …

Happy shooting.

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Comments/questions appreciated…

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