Composition Rule #3

Leading Lines! 

Here are some examples of leading lines

The third rule of composition is "Leading Lines". The idea is to use defined lines in an image to make the viewers eye follow along from one area of the image to another. The line can be anything, roads, trails, fence line, rivers, train tracks... These are some of the more obvious ones. Try useing shorelines, tree limbs, a cresting wave, a crack in a rock, or maybe a row in a beautiful garden to carry the viewers eye through the shot.

Leading lines work very well portraying depth in your image. A diagonal line across your image will make the viewer feel distance. In the night shot above taken in Reed Bingham State Park in GA you can tell exactly how much distance is between each of the trees because the line gets thiner as it gets farther away. As the line weaves in and out of the pines it adds depth.

DIY Cable Cam

 Watch the video below to see how to assemble and rig this great little DIY Cable Cam!  

 GoPro or Cell Phone Cable Cam

GoPro or Cell Phone Cable Cam

Supplies you will need

5ft - 1/2 PVC SCH 40 Pipe ( cut 3-12inch 2-1  1/2inch and use what's left to roll your cord on)

3 - 1/2 PVC Male Adapters

2 - 1/2 PVC Female Adapters

1 - 1/2 PVC Coupling

1 - 1/2 PVC Tee SxSxFPT

2 - 1/2 PVC Caps

1 - 1/2 PVC Plug

PVC Primer  

PVC Glue

1 set of 1 1/4 patio Door Steel Wheels

3 - Flat Corner Braces 2 1/2 inch  

6 - 1/4-20 x 1 1/4 inch Machine Screws with nuts

1 - 1/4-20 x 2 1/2 inch Machine Screws

1 - 1/4-20 Wing Nut

4 - 1/4-20 Nylon Lock Nuts

2 - #6 5/8inch Sheet Metal Screws

1 - 1/4-20 3/4 inch Machine Screw with nut

2 - Carabiners with key rings ( see picture below)

1 can of Spray Paint that Bonds To Plastic you pick the color

150 feet of 550 cord black

10 feet of 550 cord any color

2 - Aluminum Carabiners

1 - Figure 9 Carabiner

 

 Found this at my local Home Depot.  

Found this at my local Home Depot.  

 DIY Cable Camera  

DIY Cable Camera  

I designed the rig to break down into 4 pieces that could easily be put in my backpack. If you did not need this feature you could omit the male and female adapters and get a standard 1/2 tee that could be glued on all three sides to save some money also the break is a nice feature but can be omitted as well.  

If you are mounting a GoPro, the standard tripod adapter screws directly to the bottom.

 

 GoPro mounted to Cable Cam

GoPro mounted to Cable Cam

If you want to mount you cell phone they make a tripod cell phone holder that works great.  

 

I always love to see your work, email me photos of your completed rig and videos from your projects using the cable cam!  

Click here to contact me 

Composition Rule #1

Composition is the most important thing in photography. What is Composition? Simply put it is the Layout or structure of your shot. Have you ever looked at a photograph in a magazine or a painting in a gallery and though to yourself this is an amazing picture. But what makes it amazing? Well the answer is Composition. Artest have studyed what it is that makes an image pleasing to the eye for centuries. You can see the rules of composition in the paintings, architecture, potery, and clothing of our ancestors. Composition is the foundation that your image is built on and without a good foundation you will not have a good photograph. These rules are absolutely fundamental, knowing them and understanding them is what separates an amateur from a pro. There are many rules of composition, I like to focus on 10 rules that are the most important and widely known. Starting with rule #1 the Golden Rule of Photoagraphy, The Rule Of Thirds.

 

This is a very simple rule and when applied you will have great results. When setting up your shot imagine your viewfinder divided up into 3 equal parts vertically and 3 equal parts horizontally. When you do this you will be left with four intersections. These intersections are the main focus points for your eyes, and this is where your main subject of the shot should be located. It does not matter witch point you choose but keep in mind the story and movement of your shot. See the example shots below.

 

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The best way to describe the Rule Of Thirds is to show you what it looks like in real world images. These two shot show the rule in action.  I have divided them up into thirds,  so you can see the four focal points of the photo. 

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From the images you can see the points and how the shot was framed using the rule. But you can also see how I tried to convey a story and movement as well. Take the first shot of the snail. In this shot I wanted to show this snail making his way across the road, with so much out in front of him as he slowly goes along inch by inch. His journey is there in front of him. The next image of the bird in silhouette, I framed this image with the bird leaving the frame, almost escaping the frame. As if I came upon him sitting on the shore and he took flight to get away. He is exiting.  

Using the empty space in the shot as a way to convey movement and story, just another way to use the Rule Of Thirds to take great images.  

Did you like this post? The 10 rules of composition posts started on the GO Newsletter. If your not a member of this FREE Newsletter, join today! 

National Trails Day!

June 06, 2015

 34 hikers turned out.  

34 hikers turned out.  

A Friend of mine and Gillette Outdoors, Jeff Sparks (find Jeff on Twitter) invited me on a hike this weekend for National Trails Day.  

What is National Trails Day? 

"American Hiking Society’s National Trails Day® (NTD) is a celebration of America’s magnificent Trail System, occurring annually on the first Saturday in June. NTD features a series of outdoor activities, designed to promote and celebrate the importance of trails in the United States. Individuals, clubs and organizations from around the country host National Trails Day® events to share their love of trails with friends, family, and their communities. NTD introduces thousands of Americans to a wide array of trail activities: hiking, biking, paddling, horseback riding, trail running, and bird watching and more. For public and private land managers alike, National Trails Day® is a great time to showcase beautiful landscapes and special or threatened locales as thousands of people will be outside looking to participate in NTD events.

National Trails Day® evolved during the late ‘80s and ‘90s from a popular ethos among trail advocates, outdoor industry leaders and political bodies who wanted to unlock the vast potential in America’s National Trails System, transforming it from a collection of local paths into a true network of interconnected trails and vested trail organizations. This collective mindset hatched the idea of a singular day where the greater trail community could band together behind the NTD moniker to show their pride and dedication to the National Trails System" (Nationaltrailsday.org)

 

 

 Joshua Creek Trail Head, Charles Bronson State Forest. 

Joshua Creek Trail Head, Charles Bronson State Forest. 

As we made our way into the forest from the Joshua Creek Trail Head we followed the Blue blazed connecter trail over to the familiar Orange Blazed Florida Trail (FT) the photo above is of a small section that was blanked in fern. 

 Damp and humid, this is the perfect home for ferns of all kinds.  

Damp and humid, this is the perfect home for ferns of all kinds.  

As the FT twisted and turned we went from scrub, to pines, to hardwoods, and even a low grassy flat where we found a rare Pitcher Plant in bloom. 

 These carnivores plants growing in clusters. 

These carnivores plants growing in clusters. 

 Here is the oddly beautiful bloom of the Pitcher Plant. 

Here is the oddly beautiful bloom of the Pitcher Plant. 

These strange plants are just off of an old access road that the local hikers have named Hog Trap Road.  How did the road get that name? Our trail guide was the one who named it! Here is her story.

 

All alone the trail from beginning to end grew wildflowers. When I could, I tried to stop and snap a few photos to share.

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I am not a plant expert, if anyone is please let me know the names of these in the comments below and I can go back and caption them properly. 

 Here is Jeff and the group checking out a Butterfly Orchid way up in this tree. 

Here is Jeff and the group checking out a Butterfly Orchid way up in this tree. 

In all 5.5 miles hiked and some new friends and memories made. I would like to thank Jeff for inviting me on this awesome hike and for celebrating National Trails Day with me! I would also like to thank the Florida Trail Association (Follow the FT on Twitter and Instagram) for putting on this great hike.

 

Highlands Hammock

 Just one of the many beautiful boardwalks in the park

Just one of the many beautiful boardwalks in the park

Located in Sebring Florida, Highlands Hammock State Park is one of my favorite parks in Florida. This park is best known for its thousand year old oak trees and amazing boardwalks, but it has so much more to offer such as more than 9000 acres of the most biodivers land in the state. A hiker can go from sandy pines and high grass land into hardwood oak hammocks full of palms and old florida fruit trees, and then find them selves atop beautiful Boardwalks that meander through old growth Cyprus swamps. 

 We found this guy on the Fern Garden trail. 

We found this guy on the Fern Garden trail. 

With all of these divers landscapes also come an abundance of wildlife. Thousands of birds fill the forest, swamps, and grasslands all year. The black bear and Florida panther also make the lush habitat home. Don't be surprised to see alligators and turtles sunning on logs in the swamps or deer and raccoons passing along side your tent.  

 The trees here are so magnificent  

The trees here are so magnificent  

The park offers an informative tram tour that takes the visitors to some beautiful locations in the park that are restricted to the public. Also the Civilian Conservation Corp (CCC) museum takes you back in time to show you how and why conservation is so important to our history and future. 

Camping at Highlands Hammock is the best way to experience everything the park has to offer. But I will warn you that this campground stays full most of the year so plan early and make your reservations ASAP! The campground has 143 sites available ranging from RV to tent sites offering electric and water on site. Restrooms, showers, laundry, and dish sinks are located in the campground and are all wheelchair accessible. 

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The first time I traveled to Highlands Hammock I was Geocaching . This is a global treasure hunt that you can do on your smartphone. If you have never done it I highly recommend it, it is free! This park has some amazing caches and is a part of the CCC Florida state park caches. This is another great activity that you can do with the whole family at this park. 

 My dog Emit taking in the amazing views!   

My dog Emit taking in the amazing views!   

Pets are also welcome at the park so bring your best friend along for the fun!  

If you have any questions or would like to know more contact 

William@GilletteOutdoors.com 

A Journey Home

I went out for a drive this morning to find some golden-hour beauty. With my DSLR in hand, I found myself down back roads and trails I had never been before. Fog hung lightly in the air; the fresh dew on the grass seemed to glimmer in the warm golden light. 

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Along the way I met a few friends. I sat quietly, listening as they ate and put on their show. They made several loud outbursts; the sound cut through the forest like a knife. Their calls where answered a few moments later from the other side of a swampy cypress head. An early morning conversation. 

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When I reached my destination, the air was still and the forest quiet. The swampy creek was a looking glass, reflecting the golden light of morning. A warm glow surrounded me as I sat, concentrating on the sound of dew dripping from the branches and moss hung high in the trees of this peaceful sanctuary. This was my first time in this place but, somehow, it felt familiar. It felt like home. 

Just A Thought

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The people that really know me would say that I have a great relationship with nature, not that I am a tree huger but that I am at home anywhere I go as long as its down a road less traveled. To some people a 15 mile walk up and down hills and valleys sounds like punishment. To me it's relaxation, meditation, it's truth. I want to know what is around this next corner or just over that hill. Most trails I walk have a purpose like a waterfall, overlook, sinkhole, or an old fort wall eroded away by time. Some are just a small loop in a public park that was put there to allow you to get away from the city for just a bit to clear your head. What ever the reason for the trail to me the outcome is the same. It was an adventure, it was a bright red bird landing on the trail in front of me, or the loud crack of a stick just off the trail that freezes you like a statue in hopes the animal that broke it does not see you. It can even be slipping on a slippery mud bank into a small stream completely soaking your cloths with mud. Someone once said " if you had a dollar for all the trails you walked you would be a rich man" to which I replied "I am a richer man for having walked them"

Editing On The Go

Here are a few of the apps I use every day for retouching, color correcting, watermarking, and titles. These are great for editing on the go and for easy, quick posting to all your social media sites. 

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PS Express:

Most photographers will be familiar with this program. Photoshop Express comes from the leader in photo and video editing software: Adobe. This is a go-to app when you need to adjust color, temperature, exposure, tint, ect. This versatile app gets the job done and is as simple to use as it gets. edit and crop your photos for Instagram and really pull out that rich color with this app!

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Pixlr Express:

Another app that has some great features for editing on the go is Pixlr Express. While slightly less user friendly than PS Express, Pixlr Express is a bit more in depth when it comes to tools. Now, this can be both good and bad, so try both apps out to really see what features you will most use from each. 95% of the time, I turned to PS Express as it is simplified and more straight forward than Pixlr Express, but there are times when I need that one filter or some funky thing PS doesn't have. This is the app I turn to to fill the gap.

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IWatermark:

IWatermark is the app I use to add watermarks to the photos I post online. If you are looking for a watermark program to protect your photos, this is the best I have found. I have tried many different apps for this task, but nearly all of them cut your picture quality in half. As a photographer, that is the last thing you want. IWatermark maintains photo quality and integrity while also being extremely easy to use. Once you've made your watermark, just load an image, select your mark, place it where you want and save or upload directly to your social media sites. It's that simple!

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TitleFX:

For simple, clean and high quality titles on the go, I use TitleFX. Again, quality is key when working with photographs. You don't want to slap a grainy, fuzzy title on your photo and call it a day. TitleFX may not offer a ton of fonts to choose from, but what fonts they do offer are among the cleanest and most commonly used. Many apps will tout "2000 fonts," but who uses DingBat or half of the crazy fonts out there? TitleFX gives me the good ones on the go and lets me get the job done right.

Wyoming

Mountains, planes, rolling hills, rivers, lakes, and streams, here in Wyoming there are so many different types of topography all in one location. On this trip we visited a beautiful section of Wyoming called Seminoe State Park. As we exited the interstate we passed a small sign that read Seminoe State Park 30 miles ahead. That 30 miles of open road went from pretty to beautiful to amazing into unbelievable. The drive in was full of wildlife, antelope herds of fifty or more ran along side our car. Their bright white and tan fur blended together as they ran, so well that you could hardly tell where one antelope stopped and the other began. In a few locations along the roadside I stepped out, camera in hand to get a shot of the passing herds. The antelope quickly let me know that having that many friends watching your back makes for a quick response and an even quicker getaway! 

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About half way in we came upon enormous sand dunes! No rocks, no trees, just the softest finest sand in many shades of red, tan, and white. I am told it is an ATV'ers Dream! My sister in-law, brother in-law and my nephew trailer their ATV's into Seminoe whenever they can to enjoy the endless riding trails and magnificent mountain views. They have told me so many great stories about the trials and dunes. We plan to come back in the spring to do some back country rides with them, I can't wait. 

As we rounded a bend I caught sight of an enormous valley and down at the bottom was a beautiful lake. This lake is man made and it was made by damming up the Seminoe River. Along side the lake sits the boat club, a group of small cabins next to the docks and launch that gives access to this recreational boaters paradise. 

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A bit farther down the road we came to the camping area, a well maintained small group of sites with all the hookups and comforts you need. As we toured the campground we noticed a small group of wild horses grazing by the roadside. There were all different colors from white, tan, painted, and an all black horse that's fur was so dark it looked as if it was velvet. My wife Nancy and I jumped out of the vehicle and slowly made our way down the road toward the horses. As we approach they did not seem to mind us in their space. I snapped a few shots from a distance and a few more as we got closer. We watched as they slowly moved along and crossed the campground road in front of us. The large painted horse turned toward us and slowly came in our direction he stopped about 30 feet in front of us and seemed to pose for a few pictures before going back to his group. 

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Over all our trip to Wyoming was so amazing. But as all trips, it was way to short. So much to see and so much to do, Wyoming we will be back for another ride next year and we can hardly wait! 

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Deer it's COLD.

This week we are out west! Rawlins Wyoming, a beautiful little town on the edge of the Continental Divide 7000 feet above sea level. The snow and cold weather are a great change of pace, highs in the teens and lows in the negatives. 

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There have been a lot of firsts on this trip so far. This is the first time I have been to Colorado, and Wyoming. The first time I have been in weather under -20 degrees, and the first time I have seen a Mule deer in the wild! What amazing animals, large groups of them walking across vast, open snowy, wind blown landscapes. It looks to me like the community group is strong with these animals. As I watch them you can clearly see the mothers walking along with there little ones tow. As the dominant buck sits quietly watching the heard. 

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The photographer in me wants to spend hours and hours following and patiently waiting for the perfect moment. And the photographers wife next to me says lets go it's cold!

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Friend Me! It Will Be Fun!

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Over the next 6 days I will be doing some traveling to a great American city. One rich in history and beauty. What will I be doing? Geocaching, hiking, photography, history, celebrating my wife birthday, visiting some beautiful places and so much more! Where are we going? You need to follow along to find out! I am going to be posting all photos from the trip on Facebook this time. So if you would like to come along for the ride friend me at www.facebook.com/gilletteoutdoors i will see you there! 

William Gillette

Share It

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 It's worth sharing. What is better than witnessing something amazing? Sharing that moment with someone else. Have you ever had something happen when you were totally alone and thought to your self they will never believe what just happened? Most of the time you tell your story later but it just doesn't have the same energy or excitement. That memory goes by the wayside even if it was amazing. Now take that same event and ad one friend seeing it with you, Wow the stories you will tell, bouncing that emotion back and forth between the two of you. your friends and family listen to your story start to get excited and it becomes a moment. Years could go by and your friend will say remember that time we... And you will laugh and get to relive it again and again, that moment will not only live on but that relationship is stronger because of it. Me and my best friend A.K.A my wife do this often, a silent car ride one minute. The next minute we are both laughing so hard we have tears in our eyes, one "hey remember when.." Will create hours of open conversation. So go on an adventure, do something new, bring your friends, and family, create some "remember when..." Moments. Life is worth sharing!

life

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Sitting by a small stream on a cool spring day in the middle of the forest takes me back. The time spent by the waters edge is short but the good it does last a lifetime. When I was just a boy I remember camping trips with my mother, our site always on the water. Or trips to Formar,a nature reserve in MI with my sister to go on short hikes. know matter what we would always stop by a small babbling creek just long enuf to take it all in. Or try to cross it on a large fallen log. Why do we as humans have this deep connection with water? To me it is because it is ever changing, like life. Rain up stream means high water and a faster current, the creek will surge to life taking with it sand and debris that will forever change its banks. Over time it will change the landscape, it will change corse as rocks or trees obstruct its flow. All the time pressing onward never to be held back. But for this one moment in time as I sit closely by it feels familiar, it is never the same yet it is always the same. I know that there will always be obstacles to overcome. Adapt change corse and all ways press onward never giving up, this is life.

Depth Of Field

 Photo by William Gillette

Photo by William Gillette

One thing that separates a DSLR camera from your standard point and shoot is the dramatic range when it comes to Depth of field. 

depth of field (DOF): is the distance between the nearest and farthest objects in a scene that appear acceptably sharp in an image.

TRY THIS

Put your camera on a tripod, go outside and find a fence. Set up yor camera so the legs of your tripod are touching the bottom of the fence and rotate the camera so it is looking down the fence line. Set your DSLR setting to "A" (Aperture Priority mode) and adjust you the dial on your camera that controls the Aperture setting or the F# on your cameras readout. If you have never adjusted these setting on your camera dust off the manual or search your cameras model number online for info on your specific cameras adjustments. 

Adjust the apriture (F#) to the lowest possible number for you camera, each lense has a different range of apriture so this number will be different depending on you lense. Take a picture down the fence line.  

Now without moving your camera adjust the apriture (F#) setting to the highest possible number. Take a picture down the fence line.

Compare the images.  

 

You will see that they are very different. Let's talk about the first image you took, with the lowest apriture (F#) setting. In this image the section of fence closest to the camera should be blurry and out of focus, as the fence gets farther away it should become clear and in focus and than as the fence goes on it will become out of focus again. This is short or shallow Depth Of Field.

Now in the second image the fence should be almost completely in focus the entire way. This is a long Depth Of Field.  

 

 Left apriture F22, Right apriture F3.5

Left apriture F22, Right apriture F3.5

Depth of field is a great tool for telling a story in an image, it places the focal point of your shot front and center. Also the out of focus portion of the image adds mistery to the shot. Play around with your apriture setting and practice useing this setting. It's setting like this that make good images great images. 

Location, Location, Location!

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A very wise man once said "if you want to take more interesting pictures go to more interesting places". Now as a young photographer I remember running around trying to make somthing out of nothing when it came to locations, and some times it worked. But as I have gotten older I now realize that location and timing are everything in photography.

Now that's not to say that sometimes the stars don't align and you get that unbelievable shot that no one could plan for. It is more realistic that you put in the time on scouting and light mapping and timing everything out to give you the best possible chance of getting the shot you are working toward.  

Some important thing to consider when looking at a location for outdoor photography. 

 When I find a location I like, I always look at the angle I need to be in for the shot. In the compass app I take a screen cap with my phone (above) so I have the information at hand when I am planing my shoot. From this screen cap I can tell I am shooting west into a setting sun. This is good info to help plan.  

When I find a location I like, I always look at the angle I need to be in for the shot. In the compass app I take a screen cap with my phone (above) so I have the information at hand when I am planing my shoot. From this screen cap I can tell I am shooting west into a setting sun. This is good info to help plan.  

1. Location, ( literally GPS or address) I always grab a quick GPS location on my iPhone. I do this so it is easy to go back to this place in the future or if I am working with others I can send them the location in google maps so they can easily find it. I also meet a lot of other nature photographers out on trails and it's nice to be able to help them find new exciting locations. 

2. Light, look around for issues regarding light. Will a setting sun be to bright to shot in the direction you will be set up? You might need to try sun rise. Are you in thick tree canopy and need the sun to be overhead to give you the best chance for proper exposure? Again a smartphone compass is a great tool that almost everyone has on them at all times. 

3. Climate, here in FL we deal with bad rain storms almost daily. I know that between 2pm and 5pm during the summer I need to make sure I have a plan in place to deal with storms. Or that in the winter months our high water table causes thick fog in the early morning hours. Researching things like this will also help in determining the direction you want to take in telling the story with your shot. 

4. Terrain, when scouting a location take carful note of the terrain you will be shooting in and anything along the trail you will be traveling to get there. When planing  a shoot the gear you bring will be drastically different if you need to hall it 18 miles up mountains and across rivers, And being prepared when you get there is a must. Tripods, filters, lens, cards, remote shutter, rain gear, water... This stuff gets heavy don't overload with stuff you will not use, plan the shoot and shoot the plan!   

All of these factors will come in to play when out on the trail. I don't plan out every photo, sometimes they come by chance. But when you find a great location and really want to make that capture special. Take the time to plan and give you image the best chance of being the one you have in your mind.

 

Photography Basics : The Rule Of Thirds

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The rule of thirds is a very basic rule that is so simple but goes so far when it comes to its application in nature photography. 

Rule Of Thirds ; dividing an image in three equal parts vertically and three equal parts horizontally. The intersections made by these lines are the focal points of an image.    

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If you look at these images you will see that I have divided them as per the rule of thirds. When I set up these shots I purposely placed the subjects that I wanted to highlight into the intersections. By doing this I made these subjects the first thing you look at when you see the photo. Your eyes will go to these focal points first automatically without you even  knowing it is happening. 

Why? It is a natural thing that you do. Survival as a human depends on it! You have been doing it your entire life. Every day you use this skill without thinking twice about it. You first learned it as a baby. When you where a baby and could not communicate with your mom and dad you looked at there faces to get your information. More importantly you looked at there eyes and mouth. If they were smiling you knew everything was ok and you where safe, there eyes bright and wide and the corners of there mouth upturned. If they where scared  you also knew to stay close to mom and dad. If you have kids you know how this works. It is the reason a baby smiles when you smile it makes them feel safe. 

 

"Controlling Light" Part 4

This is the last video in a four part series called "Controlling Light". A photography basics video that will help you better understand the Manual (M) settings on your camera. Knowing what these settings are and how they affect your camera will help you understand how to use them