Fine Art Photography By: Carolyn Mickulas


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To be, or not to be a Natural Light Photographer

October 5th, 2022

To be, or not to be a Natural Light Photographer

Natural Light Photography, what does that even mean? Lately I’ve heard a lot of photographers say “I’m a natural light photographer” and it got me thinking about what this term really means to me and how it’s applied to photography. It sells the idea of authenticity but I suspect it also allows some photographers to work within their comfort zone.

Light....The key ingredient to absolutely everything I do as a photographer. Without light there are no photos. Knowing how to find the light to tell your story - or create it when and where it doesn’t exist - is perhaps the most important element that separates top-tier photographers from the rest of the pack. At some point along the way, I found myself noticing light, it’s color, quality, and direction - sometimes before I even noticed subjects. While “finding the light” might sound like I’m only talking about natural light photographers, the same thing absolutely applies to any studio or location photographer who introduces light into their scenes. When a good photographer has a story to tell they don’t let bad light stand in their way. They know how to create it, shape it, direct it, and conquer it. So, natural light photography is simply to record an image using daylight. This can be direct sunlight, reflected sunlight or ambient sunlight. By using the light already naturally occurring around us we can create and sculpt images that lend a natural feel to what our eyes are used to seeing every day whether we are aware or not. Natural light conditions are actually preferred by most photographers. I don’t think it would be much of a stretch to say that every photographer learns to photograph with natural light first.

But... why stop at natural light? What happens when you don’t have natural light or enough of it at all? Bad weather... then what? I think there are two schools of thought on this. One is, you continue to use whatever light happens to be available and you capture the moment as it happens and hope it comes out. Or two, you create or add light to help you. Having a few lights on hand can save the shoot. My honest opinion is that a photographer should be able to adapt to any situation and still capture an image. Flash is not a dirty word but an unbelievably important tool in enabling me to capture moments that I would otherwise miss. It’s the difference between confidently knowing I am prepared for anything vs. only being prepared to photograph as long as there is daylight. As a photographer I need to be ready for anything. What if it rains and your shoot get’s moved indoors? What if your venue is a ballroom and it is candle lit? What if you want to have portraits taken at dusk but it’s too dark outside to only use natural light? These are just a few of so many reasons why I have needed to learn how to take control of an unfavorable situation. From a client perspective they are trusting me to be professional and to capture their memories no matter what. It’s important to remember while we all have our styles and visions at the end of the day we are at their service. I feel that capturing memories is not merely a stylistic preference but my responsibility. I pursue natural light as much as possible, I love it! And I also love to add light when needed. In short, I am a photographer of light, natural or artificial, they are both tools and without them we would not have a photograph.

Of course, some won't agree. And that's okay with me!

One Hundred Things I Learned About Photography

May 30th, 2015

As part of an assignment for a photography course, I had to complete a list of 100 things I learned about photography. Here's my list. How many of you would agree with me?? I would love to here your top picks.

By: Carolyn Mickulas

1- It takes time to be a good photographer.
2- Do - Look for inspiration from other Photographers.
3- Dont - Copy other Photographers style, be original.
4- Believe in yourself.
5- You will discover a lot about yourself through your photographs.
6- Always think outside the box.
7- This is a big one PAY ATTENTION TO LIGHT!!
8- Criticize and critique honestly and respectfully.
9- Its always better to underexpose than overexpose.
10- Learn the rules of photography, then learn how to break them.
11- Enjoy beautiful moments when you dont have a camera with you. This one is especially hard for me.
12- Always check your background before hitting the shutter release.
13- Natural light is the best light.
14- My camera is a part of my wardrobe. Leaving home without it is like not wearing any shoes.
15- Practice, practice, practice and then practice some more.
16- Utilize your flash. Adding just a little bit of light makes it possible to fill in shadows, resulting in a more natural-looking photo.
17- ISO: The cameras sensitivity to light.
18- Invest in business cards. Future clients do not want to see your name and number scratched on the back of a grocery receipt.
19- The softer light you get on an overcast day is perfect for shooting plants, flowers and foliage.
20- Be prepared. Okay this strategy isn't rocket science.
21- Histograms ARE rocket science.
22- Centering can be boring. Practice the Rule of Thirds.
23- The wider the aperture, the more light is let in brightening your shots.
24- The narrower the aperture, the less light is let in darkening your shots.
25- Blown out: Bright areas in a photo that are overexposed.
26- Hide your initials somewhere on your photos to prove theyre yours.
27- Shoot with whatever kind of camera you are comfortable with.
28- The concept of less is more lends itself effectively to just about everything, photography is no exception.
29- There is always more to learn!
30- Familiarize yourself with Photography lingo.
31- If youre seeing what appears to be ghost doubles on your images, you can be sure your problem is camera shake.
32- Slow down and take the time to frame your shot.
33- DSLR: Digital single lens reflex.
34- Post your photos online to get exposure.
35- The most fundamental element any photographer should understand is aperture.
36- If you only buy one filter, make it a circular polarizer.
37- Golden Hour: The hour or so before sunset, and after sunrise.
38- Dont get into the Nikon vs. Canon debate.
39- Enter photo contests and challenges.
40- Frame your best photos and give them as gifts.
41- Shooting in black & white can help develop your photographers eye by letting you concentrate on the relationship between light and shadow without the distraction of color.
42- Balance: Arrangement of shapes, colors and areas that complement each other.
43- Performing some very BASIC editing on a photo can help improve its quality drastically.
44- Read your cameras instruction manual trust me read it!!
45- The heart of a photograph is the position of different elements in a frame, a.k.a. Composition.
46- Memory cards wear out, replace them every couple of years.
47- In the process of learning and using your camera, you will develop a better eye from a creative perspective.
48- Join a photography Club.
49- Placing an object or person in the foreground of your photo helps give a sense of scale and emphasizes how far away the distance is.
50- Okay, I admit it I've taken a few selfies!!
51- Histograms are helpful in sunlight when it's hard to see an LCD screen.
52- Invest in a tripod.
53- Backlighting: Lighting that comes from behind the subject, causing the light meter to be underexposed.
54- You have to work for a good shot. Holding up your camera and snapping whats in front of you is not photography.
55- Be subtle when using HDR, its really easy to overdo this effect.
56- Silhouettes are an excellent way to add drama to a photo.
57- An expensive camera wont make you a professional photographer no matter what that guy at the camera store tells you.
58- Manual mode- Where you can specify everything.
59- Automatic mode- Where the camera will make a best guess.
60- Programmed mode- Where certain characteristics are pre-determined.
61- If you get one great shot out of 100, its a successful day.
62- Try using a black background to make a subject stand out. Black velvet material works great because it absorbs any light hitting it. As a result, no shadows or reflections appear in the picture.
63- Get that last shot Dont worry; your friends wont really leave without you.
64- The more equipment you bring, the more you have to carry.
65- When shooting flowers, carry a small spray bottle filled with water to add the extra effect of rain drops.
66- Take several photos of the same scene at different exposures, angles, or apertures.
67- F-Stop: Number used to indicate the relative size of the aperture.
68- Dont be afraid of getting dirty.
69- Reformat your memory card when using it in a different camera.
70- Dont be so quick to delete the images you dont like. Look at them again in a month, you may see them differently.
71- When shooting wildlife, bring a compass, we wouldn't want you to get lost in the woods.
72- Learn from your mistakes. Thats how you will become a better photographer.
73- The camera phone is the most widely used camera in the world.
74- Anticipate shutter lag. Get used to your cameras timing so youll have a good feel for the point when you need to press the shutter release.
75- Try tilting your camera, transforming the scene from the expected to something surprising.
76- Get in the habit of using a lens hood, not only to reduce lens flare; it also helps protect the lens from damage.
77- It may not be a good idea to yell STOP to a person whos driving 55mph down the road so you can get a shot.
78- Step outside your comfort zone.
79- If you notice spots appearing in your photos, try using a dust blower.
80- Take charge of your photo shoots.
81- Learn how to accept criticism.
82- Straighten out your photos by using the basic editing tool found right on your camera.
83- These days, shaking a Polaroid picture can actually damage the image.
84- A picture is worth a thousand words.
85- Photograph the effects of the rain. Look for puddles and reflections.
86- Photoshop its so powerful its actually become a verb.
87- Play around with the brightness, contrast, and temperature of a photo to really make colors pop off the screen.
88- Get inspired by studying the work of Photographers you love.
89- When photographing your pets, get down to their level.
90- Make new friends, join FAA and Instagram.
91- Dust off your old 35mm camera and take it out for a spin.
92- Not everyone is going to like your style, and thats okay.
93- Its not about what you see, but how you see it.
94- Explore the wonderful world of Macro.
95- The best photo opportunities are right in your own backyard.
96- Try new techniques.
97- Photography is an art and an adventure.
98- Take on a Photo of the Day" project.
99- Shoot your family... with your camera... of course!
100- Have a sense of humor and write your own list :)

Enjoy the weekend!!