Shoot­ing it all

Conor Hil­ton has only been shoot­ing for 18 months, but is al­ready hooked – so what now?

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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 [01] 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 [02]. 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.

N-Photo Says…

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 [03] 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

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