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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

Wow, Nancy.  Thank you!

Ditto wow! Thank you so much!

Ahhh....I'm inspired to get out there and can't wait!   BTW....I never knew the Command/Shift/4 trick!    Thanks for that and these great videos!!!!

I am so excited! On pc's you can also just hit print screen (PrtSc) on your keyboard, then in photoshop go to new>from clipboard>paste (ctrl v)

glad to have someone with pc experience chime in. 

Thanks. I know it's a lot. I struggled with narrowing it down, but people are on different levels.

Take your time. Use what you want. And more importantly try some of this stuff out and post photos. If you don't feel comfortable posting photos, please post questions or comments on the videos in the lesson. 

My main objective is to get you all thinking about this stuff before you press the button on your camera.

And honestly, they all make it look so easy in the videos and it's not. Especially when you add the non-cooperative dog into the mix.

Uncooperative to say the least. Haley has big beautiful eyes but to get an image with them open is next to impossible. "Oh, she has the camera - I need to squint. And, then there is anything that moves to pay attention to, cars, logging trucks, tractors..... : (

This is great. Thank you doing all this for us. Can't wait to get started this weekend.

This is a good example with a dog of what the histogram can reveal. Chance is in the shade, with light in front of him and behind, about an hour and a half before sundown.  The histogram shows that a small portion of the image will be totally blown out, and indeed, as the photo shows, that is the case.  No editing other than actions such as cloning or cropping can fix the problem.

I fiddled with the exposure but the light was simply too intense in that spot to exposure it properly without significantly underexposing Chance.

I also needed  F/8 or more to get the ears and hind legs sharp.

I will enjoy continuing to experiment.


Cute image, DJ.  I hate those blown out spots of which I get a lot of.

This is very nice. You can easily clone out that hot spot. (as I'm sure you know!) I find shooting in shade with sun in the background quite challenging but at times you can get some really nice bokeh. And if you shoot raw it is easy to pull up the shadows.

I've definitely been in this situation! The photo is adorable, Chance always looks so cute!

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