It’s all about technique!

I learned a lot over the weekend (which was one of the reasons I went, actually). I learned that my beloved Sony Cybershot DSC HX200V’s zoom lens – a digital zoom – does not make for good depth of field - the item in focus may be sharp but the surrounding area may not be so sharp. Ordinarily that wouldn’t matter but in the world of professional or even semi-pro photography, it does. So I’ll keep in mind getting a good zoom lens for my Canon. I learned more about my macro lens – why my extreme close-ups were over-exposed.

Most of all, I learned more about composition.  You likely have seen photographers set up and examine a scene from every angle, and take their time before snapping that shot.  They’re composing. For someone who sees something she likes and snaps away, this was a real exercise.  If my gut instinct tells me this is a great shot, I go for it – but I’m learning to take that “gut shot” and then start examining the scene and looking at it from various angles. Cropping is a most useful tool, too. Let’s take this angel watching over two gravestones.

Angel 1

Too much detail, the wooden thing is distracting, and it’s just not working by itself.

Angel 3

First crop – it’s over-balanced on the left side with nothing to anchor the angel from the right side.

Angel 4

Second crop – much better; she’s balanced by the gravestone on the right. Not much I can do about the rock, though, and there’s nothing to make her stand out. If I were to return, I would do this from another angle where the rock doesn’t show up. Lesson learned.

Angel 2

Now here is a more dramatic picture of the same angel, covered in snow. The trees are cut off, although she’s pretty well balanced between the gravestones. The hint of red peeking out from the rime ice just pops.


After cropping the trees and gravestones out of the picture, this snow and ice-rimmed angel comes into her own, and the eye is drawn to that hint of red. I still would try for other angles but this one suits me.

Gravestone 1

This shattered gravestone within the enclosure was taken a few paces away. The photograph looks cluttered, with too much linear competition.

Gravestone 2

This was taken as I leaned over the fence. I wish I could have given more space above and below the headstone but even so, it is less cluttered than the preceding photograph. Simplicity.


More simplicity. It looks almost as if it is floating – would it help to anchor the picture with other details? I didn’t think so when I took it.

That’s why I appreciate all the pictures I’ve taken – because I can study each of them and learn from them, hone my eye. I’ve also looked at the websites of some of the other attendees:,,, to name three, for the purpose of studying (and admiring) their photographs.


  1. Hi Sue:
    I know so very little about photography and found this post to be soooo informative and sooooo much fun to read! Thank you for sharing your expertise!
    -Amy Kathleen

    • Oh my gosh, Amy, that means a lot to me! Thanks! I have SO much to learn about photography but it’s such a fascinating journey.

  2. WOW. I love looking at all the cropping that you have done. The photos of the gate outlined in frost are fantastic. I have never seen Mono lake, and the moodiness with the fog is so beautiful!!

  3. Thank you Sue for sharing the wisdom of your photographic skills. I love the Angel photographs. How beautiful against the snow… even if it is in a graveyard. I never thought of visiting a graveyard in the winter time. xo

  4. Love what you are doing here with the cropping. I’m seriously thinking of taking a photography course so that I can figure out how to effectively use my new-fangled digital camera. {Since my little ol’ 35mm is becoming slowly extinct.} Winter is my favorite season, though we don’t get real wintery here in So Cal. :/ When my daughters and I were in Paris, the graveyards were some of our favorite places to visit.

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