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Anne McKinnell’s Excellent Photography eBooks Part 2

Updated: Jun 17, 2019

Book 4


8 Ways To Accelerate Your Photography   How To Speed Up The Learning Curve


Contents:


Today’s Photographer           Exploring Subjects

Composition                    Developing Your Portfolio

Exposure                       Sharing On The Web

Processing Your Images        Making Money

Natural Light                    Conclusion  


Today’s Photographer


This opening segment outlines Anne’s background, starting with developing film into photos in her early career. Her experience in software development included teaching which is where she developed the skills to teach photography in her unique way.  And how she gave that up for a life on the road as an RV nomad, concentrating on her photography skills and taking lots of images. These ebooks are her experiences being put forth to help you get your photography to the next level quickly.


Composition


Anne gives you her one guideline for composition: declutter.  She bases this on her having read many books and articles on composition and finding what they usually present as being not helpful. She considers a painting to be the opposite of a photograph; the painter starts with a blank canvas and adds to it while the photographer starts with a full scene and has to decide what to remove. She goes through the steps of checking background, edges, deciding on your main subject, what you like about the main subject, etc. She touches on the Rule of Thirds and when to break the rule. As in her other ebooks, she explains each subject in clear wording and accompanies the text with many gorgeous photos visually explaining the concepts. This makes it easy to grasp the ideas on the first reading, and that drew me to her teachings.


Exposure


This chapter is about the technical details of making your vision into a photograph, and to do that it must have a good exposure. Your camera can do that for you but to take control you must understand what it is doing. This understanding starts with Anne’s explanations on aperture and shutter. She asks the viewer to do 2 exercises that will lead to, in her words, the “aha” moment. The teaching goes on to how your camera measures light, what is exposure compensation and how she uses it. Next explained is the important workings of the histogram. You must know histograms to get the exposure right; you can not rely on the LCD. It is battery powered, and  you set the brightness level in your camera’s menu. With 3 colorful graphics with a paragraph of text next to each one, she quickly leads you through histograms. She finishes this chapter with a short discussion on polarizing filters.


Processing Your Images


Anne points out that the modern DSLR camera is a powerful machine that puts the power of making dramatic images in your hands. You are now the photo lab technician, a person who would take in your film negatives and process them the way they thought was best. She uses an unusual method of teaching processing; she gives you the short answers and the long answers to 6 processing questions she proposes. What is RAW, what software should I use, do I need to adjust the colour, etc.? At the end of this chapter, Anne gives you the link to a video she made on processing images. Also, read the review of her video course " Launch Into Lightroom" at the end of this outline/review.


Natural Light


This chapter is about the quality of natural light; 3 types of direct light and 2 types of indirect light. Anne explains that direct light can hit the subject from 3 directions: Back-lighting, side-lighting, and front-lighting. Indirect light is reflected light or diffuse light. She then explains each of the 5 types in text and gorgeous images. Using your histograms and exposure compensation are reiterated. She offers an option for when the lighting isn’t conducive, such as under a bright white sky.


Exploring Subjects


This chapter is about exploration of new things, of different types of photography. She encourages you to face those you are uncomfortable with and try them. And, in doing so, to stretch yourself as a photographer. Anne covers 7 areas of photography: landscapes and seascapes, close-ups, architecture, portraits, still life, using blur, street life, and animals. The information she gives on each area is quite in-depth, enough to get you well started in whichever area you wish to try.


Developing Your Portfolio


This chapter is about sharing your photos, and which ones you should share. Anne points out you should only share your best photos, not all you have taken. You want to be the photographer with 10-20 great images that will wow the viewers. Otherwise, if you put out there a mixed bag of images, you will be just another photographer that does not stand out from the crowd. She states “Showing a portfolio of images that are consistent quality collected in a unifying theme will make you stand out in peoples’ minds….”.  Quality is far better than quantity when showing your images to others.


Sharing On The Web


Anne has a wide range of experience sharing her photos on the web but for this chapter she has narrowed it down to 4 goals you must decide on.


1. Do you want to share with your family and friends with no intentions of sell?

2. Do you want to share and sell your photos?

3. Do you want to have a blog where you can share stories with your images?

4. Are you ready to have your own website with your own domain name and either take on the technical aspects of this or hire someone to do this?    

         

She then embarks on an in-depth discussion of each, laying out the pros and cons. Each section has very specific information; sharing websites, blog platforms, etc. It is a long list, and she passes along her experience with them, such as Redbubble. On the last 2 sections about starting your own blog or website, I confess I should have read this information before I started my website. It would have been much headache avoided.


 Her discussion on social media covers the big names we are familiar with: Twitter, Google +, Stumbleupon, Pinterest, Facebook, etc. Some of these have changed since she wrote about them, Stumbleupon is now Mix, Google + is now just Google I believe. The web is an ever changing entity and some research on your part will lead you to current social media outlets. Instagram comes to mind. Redbubble still seems to be a thriving website. The chapter concludes with 5 questions anyone who considers sharing their photos on-line will want to know the answers.


Making Money


Anne begins this section with an honest assessment on making money with your images. Yes, you can but probably not a lot. She covers 5 money streams a photographer can consider and gives the details on each. They are: selling prints, stock photography, blogging, real live clients, and writing.


 Anne closes this ebook with some simple advice. You must always make images for yourself first. That is the only way to stay passionate about photography and without passion photographs cease to be art.


Book 5


22 Landscape Photography Mistakes And How To Avoid Them


Contents:


Crooked Horizons                     Not Using A Tripod

Everything In The Center           Poor Camera Holding Technique

Eye Level Perspective                Aperture Is Too Wide

No Focal Point                        Not Focusing In The Correct Place  

Cluttered Backgrounds              Not Using Auto-Focus

Lack Of Dimension                   Not Using Manual Focus

No Breathing Room                  Using The Incorrect Focus Mode

Empty Skies                            Junk On Or In Front Of Your Lens

Bad Light                               Poor Lens Quality

Blown Out Highlights               Not Processing Your Images

Shutter Speed Is Too Slow        Not Evaluating Your Images


Anne’s introduction contains her statement:

“Every Landscape photo needs to be carefully crafted with the final image in mind. But, there are many problems we run into along the way that can prevent our overall impression of a scene from shining through in the final image.”

As you can see from the list above, Anne has carefully delineated what these many problems are and for each one has a 2-5 paragraph discussion. She states what the problem is, how it can affect your images, and then offers advice on how to avoid the problem in your images.


I am not giving a separate review on each of the segments. But I am a landscape photographer primarily so I will give you my opinion on this book. I have made each of these mistakes many times over, and have had to learn by repetition, writing notes on my hand, making up mantras to myself, (One More Look before pushing the shutter) etc. But if I had been smart about it, I would have ordered this ebook sooner, studied it harder, and memorized Anne’s advise. I suggest you do the same and enjoy your beautiful landscape photos.


 Book 6


Before The Shutter   Planning Your Next Travel Photography Adventure


Contents:


Research The Location                             Scouting The Location     

Your Purpose And Creative Vision                 Getting Ready For The Shoot

Planning The Trip                                     On The Scene

Consider Hiring A Guide                              After The Shoot

Packing                                                Conclusion


 Anne’s introductory remarks addresses how great photographers do not have a “gift” so much as they plan, research, scout, prepare, etc. That gets them in the right spot at the right time for “that” photo.


Research The Location


Anne explains that when picking a location, sometimes the image you have in your mind picks the location. And sometimes the location you choose picks the image you make. She points out several good internet resources for helping you pick your location: National Geographic, tourism websites, photography blogs, photo sharing websites, Google Earth, etc. For night shots she talks about the Photographer's Ephemeris and how useful a tool it is. There are lots of great images with explanations of each shot accompanying it.


Your Purpose And Creative Vision


This chapter starts with encouragement to think early about your goals for the trip. What types of images do you want to take? Consider your creative options. Do the research on the particular type of image you are considering. You will need to think out what gear you will need for that type of image taking. Anne suggests writing your image goals for the trip in the form of a shot list.


 Planning The Trip


Once you have decided on a location, consider what time of year you want to go. Do you want wildflowers, golden fall aspens, etc. Research images of your location taken at different times of the year. Get the maps you will need of the area; plan out how you will get to a specific place at a specific time. You must plan out the contingencies of where you will stay. Anne gives the example that it is more expensive to stay in a National Park, but you could save time and gas when compared to staying outside the park. And if you plan on taking your pet, many National Parks and Monuments do not allow pets. (I have a whole blog post on the details of taking a photo trip with your dog.  www. sharetimsphotos.com/post/fido-goes-on-a-field-trip-or-not)


Consider Hiring A Guide


Anne discussed how sometimes it is advisable to hire a local guide when you are in an area you are not familiar with. The example she talks about is the Everglades. She hired a local talented photographer who had grown up in the area.


Packing


Anne’s first rule is “to take everything”. It is critical to have everything you might need at your home base. This may be your motel room, van, RV, etc. You don’t have to carry it all with you on your outings. She discusses at length the advantages of renting lenses. Some of these expensive lenses you might not use often but it is nice to have the right lens when the situation arises. Plan ahead if this is an option you might consider. She also stresses how important it is to take a spare camera body and its manual along with you.


Scouting The Location


Once you have reached your location, Anne says that is when the scouting begins. The places you have researched may not be as you envisioned. She uses the example of a “beautiful lake at sunrise” shot she had planned. After a 2 hour hike, she found the lake was dry. So not only do you scout the location, you go there to plan out the composition of your shots. She lists several details you need to determine ahead of time so when you arrive there the next day in the dark, you have a plan. Anne mentions the use of Google Earth for finding locations for your shoots; I tried this on a recent photo trip and it impressed me with how well it worked.


Getting Ready For The Shoot


This chapter is about preparation; proper clothing for the weather you will face, having enough nutrition so your blood sugar doesn’t plummet, making a list of all the equipment you will need to carry with you, a list of the potential shots your scouting has produced, etc. And she mentions turning on the camera’s “blinkies” and explains what they are.


On The Scene


Anne’s advice here is simple; be early. You do not want to arrive at your location and feel rushed. Twilight is the time before sunrise; she suggests using it to check out different angles on the subject. Set up your tripod and shoot some trial shots. Check out the composition, be creative, make adjustments. Anne puts forth that you “need to be flexible, see what is in front of you at the time and be ready to change your technique to match”. Check and re-check the foreground in your image. She states you must be patient and wait for the perfect light. She provides a long 3 paragraph discussion of things to pay attention to once the shooting begins,: your histograms, making small changes in your composition, moving closer to the subject, shooting at different F stops and more.


After The Shoot


Anne is a big advocate of backing up your files; your files are not safe until you have them stored in 3 different locations. Her examples are your laptop, external hard drives, the Cloud, and possibly your website. She gives an in-depth insight to her methods for keeping her files safe while traveling. She explains her quirk of not reviewing her images until the next day and suggests you learn your quirks. Figure out what works for you and what doesn’t.


Conclusion


Anne ends this book with some words of wisdom and encouragement. “Proper preparation probably prevents poor performance,”. And “By planning and being as prepared as you can, when the time comes you can focus on making your trip an act of creativity.”  Words to photograph by.  


Book 7


8 Types Of Natural Light  That Will Add Drama To Your Photographs


Contents:

Backlight                                 Diffused Light

Sidelight                                   Dramatic Light  

Frontlight                                 Twilight  

Reflected Light                        Night

Conclusion

I am not going to review each type of light but will give descriptions pertinent to all. Anne gives an in-depth explanation of each type of light, where it is coming from, how it affects your compositions and exposures. She lists the special considerations of each. She also includes tips such as protecting yourself and your equipment when the dramatic light results from a storm. Anne presents the two main problems of shooting at night, camera stabilization and focusing, and provides the solutions.


The exceptional photographs Anne includes provide the most dramatic descriptions of each type of light. Throughout this series of ebooks the photographs have been striking, but I think in this ebook on natural light, they complement the text at another level. It is one thing to talk about this type of light, or that type of light. But to see the light being described is so much better.


 Her conclusion re-affirms the importance of light in your photography with her statement “To continually improve your photography become a student of light”. And she ends this book with a quote from one of the most famous students of light, outdoors photographer Galen Rowell.  “My first thought is always of light “



$ 29.00 https://annemckinnell.com/courses/


Launch Into Lightroom


Launch Into Lightroom is Anne’s video course aimed at people intimidated or overwhelmed by Lightroom. It is 22 short videos that show you on a live screen view the essentials to get you using Lr. It covers every aspect of editing your photos from importing, rating, using folders and collections; Anne goes through each of the develop modules and ends with Lr exporting of your photos and presets.

It is 2 hours of video tutorials which Anne suggests you watch one, practice the teaching on your Lr program, then go on to the next video when you are comfortable.

I ordered and used this video course when I switched from my DXO editing software to Lightroom. Lr intimidated me because I am not a computer person, I have never owned a smartphone, most of my computer experience was from working in a hospital where we used computers for very specific tasks. But I bought Lr, ordered this video, watched it and practiced. The way Anne explained everything was easy to follow and understand. And when I forgot something, I could just go back to that video and re-watch it. Now with several thousand photos edited with Lr, I am comfortable with the basics and still learning others.

If you are in the position of wondering if you can understand and use Lightroom, this is the video you need to get you started off quickly and without the stress you might have expected. I heartily recommend this video course, no doubts in my mind. You can order Launch Into Lightroom at Anne's website, https://annemckinnell.com/courses/

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