Shooting it all
Conor Hilton has only been shooting for 18 months, but is already hooked – so what now?
I started doing photography with a D-SLR roughly a year and a half ago. Before then I was simply using the camera on my phone to take photos, but I wanted to get serious, so I invested in a Nikon D3200.
The first photo here  is of a plant in my garden. I looked out and the sun was setting, so I grabbed my Nikon and went outside. I wanted to see what kind of sunset photos I could take just from my garden, and the plant just caught my eye. I feel I shoot most types of subject equally well, but if I had to choose, landscapes and macro photography would have to be my strengths; I struggle to photograph people and creative abstract images more than anything else.
The long exposure was taken on Westminster Bridge in London . When the cars came to a stop, I decided just to mess about with a slow shutter speed. I was feeling tired, and as I packed up and headed back to my hotel, I decided to take one more shot, and walked along the bridge with shutter of my camera open for eight seconds.
It’s difficult to get used to all the features that I didn’t have on my phone camera – like shooting long exposures, and also using manual exposure mode, which I just couldn’t get my head round at first.
I think the only way I can improve my photography is to use more expensive/professional camera equipment. Although the kit I already own is amazing, there are still limits to what I can achieve, but for the meantime I will continue to push those limits.
You clearly have a love of photography, Conor. Your images are widely spread across multiple genres, which tells us that you’re interested in everything. This is great when you’re first starting out, as you are, but we quickly find that those new to photography spread themselves too thinly, and often the quality of their
images suffers. Sometimes they rush into buying gear when they haven’t mastered what they have already.
What you might want to do is focus on one genre of photography at a time. The macro of the water droplet on the leaf looks great – you have nice light (that golden time during sunset is always beautiful) and the focus is spot-on. Maybe focus on macro for a few months and really master depth of field.
The owl macro  has great colour, and I like the framing of the eye, but you’ve missed the focus point here. There are lots of ways to focus when you’re shooting macro images, but our favourite method is to switch the lens to manual focus and then physically move the camera forwards and backwards until the focus falls exactly where you want it – then rattle a few shots off in continuous drive mode.
If you wanted to try more light painting, you could check out Jason’s tutorial in issue 54 to attempt something a bit different. The long exposure light in your photo looks good, and is clearly produced by moving the camera during a long exposure, as you mention. Putting your camera on a tripod, though, gives an entirely different effect, and so forces you to be more creative with your composition.
Overall you have some good skills here and your shots are all well exposed and framed, so keep up the good work, and don’t feel you need to upgrade your kit to improve – you definitely don’t!
01 One drop (below) Nikon D3200, Nikon AF-S DX 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6G VR II, 1/400 sec, f/8, ISO800
02 westminster bridge (above) Nikon D3200, Nikon AF-S DX 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6G VR II, 8 secs, f/11, ISO100
03 OWL (below) Nikon D3200, Nikon AF-S DX 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6G VR II, 1/10 sec, f/5.6, ISO800