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Our first lesson is 2-fold. One is technical, and one is visual. I hope this to be a theme going forward, but for now I only have the first class mapped out.

1. TECHNICAL—The histogram.
This month is all about the histogram. Knowing how to read and work with the histogram is SO important for both taking pictures and editing them. I have to emphasize that if detail is lost while taking the pictures it often cannot be fixed in photoshop. If you shoot raw there is the ability to recover more. I would highly recommend shooting raw. Some think it is for more advanced users butI think the pros can shoot jpg easier as they know what they are doing. If you are like me and make mistakes, raw is so much better as you can fix mistakes way easier.
I’m assuming people know how to adjust the exposure compensation on your camera. Most of you indicated that you understand how to do this even if you don’t practice it. If you need advice on this let me know. For this lesson I won’t go into the specifics of aperture, shutter speed and ISO. If you are seriously looking for help on this there are some really great tutorials by Camilla in the tutorials at the top of the photography group page. If you have questions on any of it please let me know. I will go into details about some of them at a later date as they pertain to the topic.
VIDEO 1. The quick explanation of a histogram and why you want to use it when shooting. (2 minutes)
VIDEO 2. A bit more detail about the different histograms, and how the ideal histogram is may be different for various scenes. (9 minutes)
VIDEO 3. If you know the basics you may want to skip the others and just view this one. It is a seriously detailed explanation. It covers editing aspects as well. It is very good but 20 minutes.
VIDEO 4. This is how the histogram can get you into trouble. It’s a good "to be aware of video". Probably more geared to those that shoot raw. (5 minutes)

2. VISUAL–Learning to shoot in shade, open shade, and overcast lighting conditions.
I’m sure you noticed the absence of sun. Well, I feel the need to start simple and shooting in sun is probably the most challenging condition so I will save it for another date. Shade/overcast is great in that it’s easier to take a good picture if you don’t know much. But if you do want to know more, the below videos will really challenge how you look at this seemingly simple concept.
The next 3 videos have amazing advice on shooting in this environment. Honestly, I’ve learned so much just researching to find the videos.
VIDEO 5. Shooting in shade and open shade. (4 minutes)
VIDEO 6. This is about shooting on a cloudy day. He has a great explanation about horizontal light and vertical light. I’m not sure his explanation is clear, but I have heard about this before and a light bulb went off when viewing this. If you are still in the dark please post and I will give a detailed explanation but too much to post here.
Our doodles don’t encounter raccoon eyes like the model, but getting light into the eyes is always a challenge, which is the same issue. I wonder about the photographer’s relationship to the model as she looks really pissed at him. (9 minutes)
VIDEO 7. Love this video. I passed over it the first time as it gets off to a slow start. But his explanation regarding shade, and the line between shade and non shade make it a must view IMHO. And the before and after is great. (17 minutes)
3. THE ASSIGNMENT—Photograph your dog in shade, open shade, and overcast light. 
Go out to a park, or any location with your dog and practice the different lighting options… as many options as you can. Basically I want you to look at light, see what it is doing. Look at how moving even a few inches or changing your angle can affect things. Try things, make mistakes, run into issues. That’s the only way you will learn.
Use the videos above as your inspiration, and pay attention to your histogram as you shoot. 
I am asking that you also post your histogram with your photo(s). I think if we see histograms along side photos for a month, it will force us to pay attention to them. It also help others to trouble shoot problems. So you can post photos straight out of the camera, or photos that you have edited. I’m sure some people would like to see both, but the histogram must be for the version of the photo you are posting. 
Helpful info: Taking a screen shot of your histogram:
If you are on a mac:
Hold down command + shift + 4 and then draw a rectangle around the histogram. You should hear it click.
If you are on a pc: it print screen (PrtSc) on your keyboard, then in photoshop go to new>from clipboard>paste (ctrl v)  (thanks Camilla)
I hope this is fun. I look forward to seeing your photos. Please post questions or issues as we can all learn from each other. 
ADDENDUM I forgot to include that I would prefer that the entire image be in shade, open shade, or overcast conditions. No background or dappled sun. If you would like to take a few with sun in the background in addition to this I think it would be a great idea. I highly recommend shooting in the same location from different angles. The goal for this exercise is not to walk away with perfect photos, but to practice seeing what light does. Think about it like practicing the scales on a musical instrument.

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Replies to This Discussion

Just an additional reminder to folks. The creativelive.com website has an episode playing for free tomorrow morning on photographing in natural light. I have no idea about the content, but it looks promising. It plays tomorrow on PST at 9am. you do the math. The days schedule replays at the end of that day's recordings. I work during the recording time so it I may have to catch it later.

Ok, I got home from the doctor at 1:05 PM EDT which should be 9 AM PST.  He was in the middle of rim light.  Was there more on this before the rim light?

there is a 3 hour difference so it would be 10 PST. Rim light was towards the end.

It is replaying shortly. Very en"light"ening. I am about to watch it again. I didn't grasp all of the points this morning as I could only listen to part of it during work.

I won't be able to watch it tonight. I was impressed with the little I did see. Do you think it would be worth paying for unlimited access?

I do think there is a lot of information there. It's only $29 right now, but often they have sales that could give you more of a discount. How much are you going to miss $29 if you don't like it? Also they always have sales so don't feel the pressure of buying it immediately.

I found it very informative, and I know a bit. It is more geared towards wedding photography which is his specialty. But many of the principals apply.

Let's see if others watched it and get their input.

I will be buying it after my computer finishes the System Restore that it is doing now. Thank goodness I had done a backup Sunday. Have only lost my edits of Haley images taken Sunday.

Raining today...all day....completely overcast. This was on a bench in the shade. 

my edit

I applaud your effort of even thinking about it in the rain.

Your histogram is perfect! I'm trying to figure out why it's so hard for you to get the catchlights in the eyes. I can't see your overall landscape, but there needs to be open space or light in front of Vern, and his head has to be up a little more.

Did you watch the natural light session on creative live this morning? If not it's replaying soon. I would highly recommend it. I listened to it while at work and am preparing to watch it. He says always have the model with their nose turned towards the light. I'm sure Vern would understand that direction.

I am watching it now, but I went ahead and purchased it, so I can stop it and get back to it later! I had him in shade. It was very dark and dreary out, but I thought I got a bit of catchlight in his eyes. I will continue to try and get him to turn his nose towards the light. Thanks!

Vern definitely has catchlights n the edit. Lovely portrait.

It is impossible not to love this big guy, Laurie.  And the DOF seems great with the soft bokeh.

Vern has long eyelashes like Finn and it looks to me like those interfered with the catchlights in one eye. It's almost impossible for me to get good eyes unless Finn is looking up. His eyes are shadowed from above and the sides unless I trim him way back around the eyes ... and then there are the eyelashes. Nice portrait of the Big Guy though. I didn't get to watch the video. Have to look at the site.

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