Petra Sittig Photography - Vienna, Austria
Petra Sittig Photography - Photoshoots for Artists and Professionals
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My Journal

We all have to start somewhere, doesn’t matter what it is we do, and every start is the beginning of a process that we can never predict. I am writing about how I started photography, the initial inspiration and encouragement by my friend George, and the on-going learning process, by just doing.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

You have to fail to improve

It was wonderful when spring arrived, and the days became warmer and longer. When the sun shines and the skies are clear and blue, there is such a nice vibe and it’s a great time to go out and take photographs. Lily, my little Yorkshire terrier, accompanies me every day. Lily socialises while I looked for people to photograph. For me, Stadtpark is the most beautiful city park and during spring and summer, it’s the place to go to spend some time under the lovely big trees and relax and for Lily it’s the place to get a lot of attention in the form of cuddles.

 

Light and shadow

Spring is typically known as the time for love and so there are a lot more couples to photograph. What I had to learn is that the light of the midday sun is a force to be reckoned with. What I saw with my eyes and what I captured, were not always the same, especially when I download the images on my computer. The wonderful green grass doesn’t always look the same, people’s faces are over lit, and some of the scenes in the shadows are just too dark to correct. The harsh light and dark shadows can ruin so many of these scenes if you don’t know how to have the correct settings on the camera. I must admit, I feel I have lost some quite beautiful scenes just because I did not take the harsh sunlight into consideration. At this stage of my learning process, the only editing software I had was the free software, Gimp. I was still learning the basics of editing and did not understand the benefits of shooting in Raw. I have tried to keep my photographs as natural as possible, without much editing, but here I really needed something to save these photographs by correcting the exposure.

New situation, new measure

This felt like the times when I had my babies. There were times when everything went well, they were in their routine, slept well, ate well, and you lay in bed that night thinking that life just can’t get any better. Then, when you wake up the next morning, suddenly discover your baby is teething and your whole word is upside down. New situation, new measures. It was the same feeling I had when the light suddenly changed from the grey skies of the winter to the lovely sunlight of the spring. I had to learn how to adapt my settings again and how to use shadow and light to my advantage. What I also realised was that it was so difficult to see the pictures on the camera’s LCD screen and up to this point I was relying on what I saw there. In bright sunlight this screen is really not reliable.

 

Learn from failures

Years ago, I read the biography of the brilliant Irish dancer, The lord of the dance, Michael Flatley. He talked about how he spent hours practising for the competitions he used to take part in. He did not always end up winning but what he said about losing, has stayed with me since then. He said that winning was great but a short-lived feeling. Losing on the other hand, made him think more about his dancing and how he could improve his technique. This is really so true about most experiences in life. Maybe we should not only be be glad when we achieve or win, but also when we don’t, because it’s through the failures that we learn the most.

Conclusion

In my case, I had to rethink everything I have learnt so far and go and look for the new information to learn and apply. I discovered how to read the histogram of the camera to know if the exposure is correct, so no more relying on the image on the LCD screen. The effects of the midday sun also taught me to understand the right settings for when shooting in manual. Now I was beginning to understand these things much better. Failures are sometimes needed to bring about improvement.


“If you're not prepared to be wrong, you'll never come up with anything original.”


― Ken Robinson