Little Things Make A Big Difference

by | Jul 8, 2014 | Updates & Opportunities | 3 comments

My brother Jonathan, a friend Clayton and myself are taking a trip through California this week! I’m calling our little vacation “The California Loop” because we are traveling down along the coast from Sacramento to San Diego, and then back up again to Sacramento on the east side of the mountains. It’s going to be awesome!

But I’m doing more than just taking pictures. Jonathan is taking video for a series of photography short-courses that will have to do about “Making the Most of Your Vacation”, which I hope will help budding photographers do exactly that, learn to take better pictures with whatever camera wherever they are! So many times I am blown away with a beautiful sight, snap a picture of it while I’m there, and then ask myself (back at home sitting at my computer reviewing the pictures) something like “That was a beautiful place?” Well, that can be fixed. It takes thought before the snap. With these short-courses, I want to show you how I take the pictures I do when I’m on vacation so you can learn to do the same.

On the first day of our road trip, we stopped in San Francisco. First time for all three of us!

3199_--_Canon EOS 5D Mark II, 165 mm, 1-800 sec at f - 8.0, ISO 2003198_--_Canon EOS 5D Mark II, 165 mm, 1-400 sec at f - 8.0, ISO 200

What’s the difference between these two pictures? While there may be many things different between the two, the number one thing that I notice is that in the second image, you can see the full silhouette of the man standing on the beach. There are no waves obscuring him. You can tell it is a person standing there. He’s tiny, but he’s exactly what the picture needed to keep balance. In the first picture the wave interrupts his silhouette just enough that your eye really doesn’t see it as a recognizable object. It was just a matter of taking more than just one picture of the same composition.

3102_--_Canon EOS 5D Mark II, 82 mm, 1-80 sec at f - 11, ISO 1003104_--_Canon EOS 5D Mark II, 70 mm, 1-60 sec at f - 11, ISO 100

The difference between these two images is obvious. The ever-present mist surrounding the Golden Gate Bridge is covering it in the first shot. The second shot still includes the mist, but it is now an important element of the composition. What did I have to do to get the second shot? Wait. It makes a big difference.

And here’s a few more shots from the day I just had to post. It’s beautiful out here! There’s a lot of variety.

3077_--_Canon EOS 5D Mark II, 32 mm, 1-50 sec at f - 11, ISO 100

3215_--_Canon EOS 5D Mark II, 70 mm, 1-10 sec at f - 5.6, ISO 800

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  1. Ernest Witmer

    Beautiful work, James!

  2. Bethany

    Wow! California is beautiful!

  3. James Staddon

    You’re right! It is beautiful. But the more I drove around, the more I realized how normal a place it was too. Like, I only took pictures of the colorful, beautiful things. It wasn’t like walking through a postcard every place I turned. There were a few times I felt like I was in a postcard, but I feel that way at my house in West Virginia sometimes too.


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