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Thread: C&C please

  1. #1

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    C&C please

    I seem to be stuck taking photos like this. I don't know if it's the boring winter we have been having weather wise or what, but I keep doing the same thing over and over. I sorta kind of like them but then on the other hand they are kind of boring.

    I need some brutal C&C here. Does anyone else like this kind of thing, and since I seem to be stuck on taking them, how can I improve the general look. Any advice on composition, PP - whatever is appreciated.

    BTW Thanks Dave. You were right on the filesize problem, quality somehow got set to 12. I'm sure I had nothing to do with it though.

    C&C please

  2. #2
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    Re: C&C please

    Wendy,

    Don't get discouraged with your limited subject matter. I am still after that perfect shot of the moon. I have been trying since February 5th and have only had a crescent moon to work with when it's not to cloudy to even try. I like the photo, you have two or three difficult subjects you are working with, blindingly bright snow, shapeless clouds, and limited color contrast. How many of these did you shoot and did you change the white balance through out the photo session?
    Quote Originally Posted by ScoutR View Post
    I seem to be stuck taking photos like this. I don't know if it's the boring winter we have been having weather wise or what, but I keep doing the same thing over and over. I sorta kind of like them but then on the other hand they are kind of boring.

    I need some brutal C&C here. Does anyone else like this kind of thing, and since I seem to be stuck on taking them, how can I improve the general look. Any advice on composition, PP - whatever is appreciated.

    BTW Thanks Dave. You were right on the filesize problem, quality somehow got set to 12. I'm sure I had nothing to do with it though.

    C&C please

  3. #3
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    Re: C&C please

    Cor; is that brutal because I can't in the first instance think of anything to improve it.

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    Re: C&C please

    Don't get discouraged with your limited subject matter. I am still after that perfect shot of the moon. I have been trying since February 5th and have only had a crescent moon to work with when it's not to cloudy to even try.
    Ahhh yes, the moon, I almost forgot about that, I must get out the calendar and see what's going on up there and if it coincides with my work schedule and the weather. The results should be humourus if nothing else.

    I like the photo, you have two or three difficult subjects you are working with, blindingly bright snow, shapeless clouds, and limited color contrast. How many of these did you shoot and did you change the white balance through out the photo session?
    I took quite a few and was going to post a few more, but I've found that all my resizes are a bit over the max allowed 700 pixels because of the frame so now I can't post them without a lot of trouble. It's always something. I had trouble with this one because the filesize was too big. Dave helped me get that figured out, but when I went to upload some that I had edited previously they are OK for filesize, but a bit over 700 on the long side.

    LOL, I'm very bad when it comes to changing settings when I'm out shooting. Bad eyes, cold hands, bad photographer White balance I change in PP. Couldn't quite get white snow on this one without totally washing out the sky.

    Thanks for the comments and reminding me about the moon. That might be more interesting. Maybe same shot but moonlit Actually, I think I'd like that.

  5. #5

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    Re: C&C please

    Cor; is that brutal because I can't in the first instance think of anything to improve it.
    What, for us Canucks, is Cor?

  6. #6
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    Re: C&C please

    Cor is better than amazed; gobsmacked. Fantastic, wow.

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    Re: C&C please

    I really like the picture. After studying it a bit, if I had any kind of criticism, it may be that the sky looks flat. Did you take this with a long telephoto or zoom? You may try getting closer to the subject and taking a more wide angle shot to allow the sky to 'pop' out, and let the clouds show some shape. The compression of a zoom will make the foreground blend into the background, causing it to appear flat.
    But that is not to take away from the shot. I like the warmth of the sun on the cold snow.

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    Re: C&C please

    Quote Originally Posted by ScoutR View Post
    I seem to be stuck taking photos like this. I don't know if it's the boring winter we have been having weather wise or what, but I keep doing the same thing over and over. I sorta kind of like them but then on the other hand they are kind of boring.

    I need some brutal C&C here. Does anyone else like this kind of thing, and since I seem to be stuck on taking them, how can I improve the general look. Any advice on composition, PP - whatever is appreciated.


    I think there are few things you might take into consideration:

    1. I think you underexposed the scene.

    My guess is you are using an Automatic Mode with the TTL meter and it is most likely an “averaging” matrix – basically you are taking a shot of sheep in a snowstorm – ALL WHITE – and your camera is thinking “18% Grey Card” and exposing for that.

    It seems you played with the colour balance and maybe the contrast a little to get some “guts” into the shot, but a muddy image with little or no mid-tone contrast is typical of an under exposed, high key shot.

    2a. The texture and movement is in the snow / (or for that matter sand if it were a desert scene) – so consider making that the attraction.

    2b. this leads to FL selection and also Av selection . . . assuming the EXIF is correct a 56mm lens on the D3000 with and Av = F/4.8 is not going to give you a wide DoF, to get all that beautiful shadow detail in the snow.

    You are basically shooting an high key, but slightly backlight scene . . . and you need to play on the strengths of the snow’s shadows to create depth in the scene (and viewer interest).

    I would suggest you consider using a wider FL (like 18mm – 20mm on a DX camera) and also about F/8 to get a crisp DoF across the Snow's shadows – a slightly lower camera viewpoint would be in order also.

    3. Cropping – (given what we have to work with with this image only) I would make the sky less dominate and the snow more the main feature – also I have changed the Colour Correction in the High and Mid-tones and attempted to increase the exposure – these are roughs only – as the original JPEG file has already been manipulated . . . and is also a small file. - so these are kind of two ideas only . . . to shoot for next time and these are not a Post Production "solution", for his image.


    C&C please


    But my bottom line to critique and for improvement is all about:

    1. the initial conception and execution of the shot (FL selection, Camera Viewpoint and Aperture selection)

    2. and also (I strongly believe) not understanding the basic principles of TTL metering and how to get correct exposure in relation to white on white / high key scenes. - hence the gross underexposure, which then lead to a downward spiral in the Post Production as you attempted to salvage all the "guts" of the image, which was never there in the first place.

    WW
    Last edited by William W; 20th February 2010 at 04:28 AM.

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    Re: C&C please

    if I had any kind of criticism, it may be that the sky looks flat. Did you take this with a long telephoto or zoom? You may try getting closer to the subject and taking a more wide angle shot to allow the sky to 'pop' out, and let the clouds show some shape. The compression of a zoom will make the foreground blend into the background, causing it to appear flat.
    But that is not to take away from the shot. I like the warmth of the sun on the cold snow.
    Thanks Brian: It was taken with a telephoto zoom, but at 56mm. Interesting point about the wide angle though. I did take some others on the same day set at 18 mm and the wind patterns in the snow did show up a lot better. I know I had the aperature settings wrong for this shot, but never took into consideration the zoom as i did not realize the effect compression would have on the textures in a shot like this.
    Thanks for your feedback, it sounds like you have the same reaction as myself. I sort of kind of like it, but it's just not quite there.

    Thanks again for your feedback.

  10. #10

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    Re: C&C please

    1. I think you underexposed the scene.

    My guess is you are using an Automatic Mode with the TTL meter and it is most likely an “averaging” matrix – basically you are taking a shot of sheep in a snowstorm – ALL WHITE – and your camera is thinking “18% Grey Card” and exposing for that.
    I think you are right. I was getting pretty good at getting white snow, but I messed up on these.

    It seems you played with the colour balance and maybe the contrast a little to get some “guts” into the shot, but a muddy image with little or no mid-tone contrast is typical of an under exposed, high key shot.
    Yes, I did have to play around with colour and contrast. I kind of like the soft high key look, but I think in this case it was too far gone to start with. Maybe that is why it is just not sitting right with me.

    2b. this leads to FL selection and also Av selection . . . assuming the EXIF is correct a 56mm lens on the D3000 with and Av = F/4.8 is not going to give you a wide DoF, to get all that beautiful shadow detail in the snow.
    56 mm and 4.8 are correct. I have to remember to post the EXIF. I think some people can get it and others cannot. The one thing I noticed for sure on this shot was that shutter speed was 1/1000 and ISO 200 so I really could have stopped down (a lot) which could have improved the shot.

    You are basically shooting an high key, but slightly backlight scene . . . and you need to play on the strengths of the snow’s shadows to create depth in the scene (and viewer interest).
    Good point, usually what attracts me to these scenes is the patterns in the snow, but then when I start processing them, I end up taking out all the detail, because in some ways I like them better that way, but that's where the missing part comes in and I suppose why I'm sort of happy with them but not quite...

    I would suggest you consider using a wider FL (like 18mm – 20mm on a DX camera) and also about F/8 to get a crisp DoF across the Snow's shadows – a slightly lower camera viewpoint would be in order also.
    Sounds like a good plan and seconded by Brian above.

    3. Cropping – (given what we have to work with with this image only) I would make the sky less dominate and the snow more the main feature – also I have changed the Colour Correction in the High and Mid-tones and attempted to increase the exposure – these are roughs only – as the original JPEG file has already been manipulated . . . and is also a small file. - so these are kind of two ideas only . . . to shoot for next time and these are not a Post Production "solution", for his image.
    Interesting, what you have done is actually very close to one of my crops. I was going to upload more samples for comparison, but had some trouble with photo sizes, and not being able to put them in my albums, so I ended up keeping it at 1 shot.

    But my bottom line to critique and for improvement is all about:

    1. the initial conception and execution of the shot (FL selection, Camera Viewpoint and Aperture selection)

    2. and also (I strongly believe) not understanding the basic principles of TTL metering and how to get correct exposure in relation to white on white / high key scenes. - hence the gross underexposure, which then lead to a downward spiral in the Post Production as you attempted to salvage all the "guts" of the image, which was never there in the first place.
    Points taken, and thank you for taking the time to provide such detailed feedback. It is appreciated and noted. I'm with you on the exposure. I always have trouble with this particular area. I was getting pretty good with the snow, but then I get off on other things and forget EC. One of these days it will all come together. I hope

    Thanks again
    Wendy

  11. #11
    William W's Avatar
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    Re: C&C please

    Thank you for coming back with more details.



    Quote Originally Posted by ScoutR View Post
    I kind of like the soft high key look, but I think in this case it was too far gone to start with. Maybe that is why it is just not sitting right with me.

    I think you have to differentiate between HIGH key . . . and what is HARD and SOFT lighting.

    You can have (relatively) HIGH KEY capture, as on this Caucasian woman’s face, yet the lighting can still be SOFT:

    C&C please

    But what you have with the ripples on the snow is HIGH KEY and HARDER lighting – by virtue of the shadows.

    You are painting with the light you have and it is as it is a scene shot – you cannot take the snow into the shade under the tree (like I did with the woman) and soften the light and still shoot in an high key – you can only be patient and wait for more clouds . . . to soften the shadows.


    Quote Originally Posted by ScoutR View Post
    The one thing I noticed for sure on this shot was that shutter speed was 1/1000 and ISO 200
    Yes - I hoped if I drew your attention to the EXIF you would notice that . . .


    Quote Originally Posted by ScoutR View Post
    usually what attracts me to these scenes is the patterns in the snow, but then when I start processing them, I end up taking out all the detail, because in some ways I like them better that way, but that's where the missing part comes in and I suppose why I'm sort of happy with them but not quite...
    Well I think you are putting too much emphasis on Post Production to make nature do what you want to see. I think Colin Southern might reconnoitre the scene and then sit for hours, just waiting for the light to be right for the shot

    ***


    On cropping generally - I think there is always a lot of scope to think beyond the 7x5 or 5x4 format.

    On the matter of EC (exposure compensation) - why not try shooting in manual mode – still use centre weighted average (Nikon might refer to this as “Matrix” – I haven’t used Nikon for several years) . . . and when shooting snow just “over-expose” what the meter says by 1½ stops – hell maybe even 2 stops - its only digital it doesn’t cost an arm and a leg, and then bracket up and down in 1/3 stops – by one full stop each way – you will have seven exposures of the same scene.

    Then analyse what is best for what you want – then remember that number for next time.

    Heavens, with a sandwich of seven frames, read the HDRI (High Dynamic Range Imaging) tutorials here – and have fun with it – use a tripod if you want to try HDR.

    WW

  12. #12

    Re: C&C please

    Wendy, I cannot see the original image/s. However I think we all have times like this. That is one reason I do not go out an hunt shots any more. I think part of the problem is that we are conditioned by other photographers as to what we think 'should' make a good shot so we sling on our camera bag and tramp around looking for it. One of the side effects of the internet is that we are exposed to millions of images and a good portion of them are pretty bland. I think our minds interpret quantity (and technical excellence) with quality so our images become stereotyped and boring which reflects on our mood. I can only say that I try to avoid shooting what is accepted as a photograhers photograph. You still get constructive criticism because the images good or bad make people think that little bit more. Try looking inward rather than outward. Your thoughts, your feelings, abstract or random flights of fancy, try to translate these thoughts and feelings into an image. The other 'easy' way is to try to put everyday objects in out of context situations. Play with angles, DoF, lighting etc. It helps exercise your creativity

    The mood will pass...promise

    Steve

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    Re: C&C please

    On the matter of EC (exposure compensation) - why not try shooting in manual mode – still use centre weighted average (Nikon might refer to this as “Matrix” – I haven’t used Nikon for several years) . . . and when shooting snow just “over-expose” what the meter says by 1½ stops – hell maybe even 2 stops - its only digital it doesn’t cost an arm and a leg, and then bracket up and down in 1/3 stops – by one full stop each way – you will have seven exposures of the same scene.

    Then analyse what is best for what you want – then remember that number for next time.

    Heavens, with a sandwich of seven frames, read the HDRI (High Dynamic Range Imaging) tutorials here – and have fun with it – use a tripod if you want to try HDR.
    Thanks William for all the tips. I really do have a lot of studying to do. My main project right now is trying to get the exposure right. I've been working at it, and understand what I'm supposed to do. I practice at home trying to get used to the camera settings and taking test shots to see the results in reality, then I get out there trying to do actual shots, and (sometimes) just start shooting away without thinking at all or changing any settings. I have to break myself of this habit and slow down a LOT. Up until this batch, I was quite proud of myself for getting white snow most of the time. but then I slipped back to my old ways again.

    I really appreciate the time you took on these. You've been very helpful. It will take me awhile to break old habits. I'd like to get beyond snapshots, but getting serious about this hobby is not so easy.
    HDR is out of the question for now. It does look like a good solution to avoid washed out skies and for trying to include the moon in a scenic shot. There are too many other things to work on though, until I attempt that.

    Thanks again
    Wendy

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    Re: C&C please

    Quote Originally Posted by Wirefox View Post
    Wendy, I cannot see the original image/s. However I think we all have times like this. That is one reason I do not go out an hunt shots any more. I think part of the problem is that we are conditioned by other photographers as to what we think 'should' make a good shot so we sling on our camera bag and tramp around looking for it. One of the side effects of the internet is that we are exposed to millions of images and a good portion of them are pretty bland. I think our minds interpret quantity (and technical excellence) with quality so our images become stereotyped and boring which reflects on our mood. I can only say that I try to avoid shooting what is accepted as a photograhers photograph. You still get constructive criticism because the images good or bad make people think that little bit more. Try looking inward rather than outward. Your thoughts, your feelings, abstract or random flights of fancy, try to translate these thoughts and feelings into an image. The other 'easy' way is to try to put everyday objects in out of context situations. Play with angles, DoF, lighting etc. It helps exercise your creativity

    The mood will pass...promise

    Steve
    Thanks Steve: I think you are spot on right. I am really bored trecking around and taking "pretty" shots. Even the ones that turn out OK just don't work for me anymore. There are zillions of them, so unless they are for a documentary purpose or something, I'm just finding them boring. Greeting card stuff. Nice but just way too much of it floating around.

    When I see what you and some of the others here are doing, I'm enthused and want to try somethng different (not copy, but find somthing unique). I'm really bad when it comes to planning a shot though. The ideas are there, but implementation does not ever happen. I can and have waited for the light to change for a better landscape shot, but when it comes to setting up a shot, I have no patience at all and if it does not work the first time, I pretty much give up, put on my ski suit and go looking for pretty things.

    Thanks for your thoughts, definitley food for thought.

    BTW not sure why the shots show up sometimes and not others. On a PC Colin suggested Ctr -Click Refresh. Sometimes that works.

    Wendy

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    Re: C&C please

    Hi Wendy: Just on the positive side--I check your photos out all the time. I really like your winter farm shots. Especially the one with the cedar posts,the rusted wire fence which probably hums in the wind, the snow drifts, and the corn stalks. I can almost hear the clip-clop of the Mennonite carrige rigged for winter on the country road. I think a quick switch to portraits if you want to do it could be the Mennonites of St. Jacobs say. Or follow through on those bridges. That iron bridge is an oldie and they are no longer built. Likely because Ontario lacks the skilled iron workers and they're too expensive. Today it would be a steel reinforced ugly bridge. Regards, Boomer and philjam10 in the North.

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    Re: C&C please

    Wendy

    I know I've said what I'm about say in previous threads. And it's really just points you towards a different version of what Steve (Wirefox) is saying.

    I'm now just over 12 months in to having re-discovered photography after many, many years away doing other things. For the first 6-9 months of that period I didn't really know what I was trying to do as a photographer. I certainly had no clear sense of purpose, other than learning (which continues). You will notice that, where I have been fortunate enough to produce images that others here comment positively upon, they are all from the last few months. There was nothing before that. Not only were they probably not particularly good, but there was nothing of 'me' in them. There was nothing in them that spoke of someone trying to achieve something specific. They were just pictures.

    Recently, in another thread, I referred to 4 papers I read that 'switched on the light' for me. This has those 4 papers by Alan Briot. The first, in April 2009, is entitled Finding Inspiration. Then read the other 3 in the series in May, June and July 2009.

    The beauty of these papers is that they had me saying, 'Of course', 'That's obvious', etc. But it wasn't obvious until someone stimulated the thought process. And that's what good writing/teaching is about. And once my thinking was guided, then the bits started to fall into place and a clarity about what I was wanting to do started to emerge.

    What I know is that I run on emotion and passion (it's the Scottish/Irish Celt in me). And once, photographically speaking, that was harnessed within the framework of understanding what inspired me, the vision for what I was trying to do was allowed to develop.

    So, maybe stop pressing the button for a few moments and think, 'Why am I pressing the button? What is it I'm trying to say?'

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    Re: C&C please

    Hi Wendy: Just on the positive side--I check your photos out all the time. I really like your winter farm shots. Especially the one with the cedar posts,the rusted wire fence which probably hums in the wind, the snow drifts, and the corn stalks. I can almost hear the clip-clop of the Mennonite carrige rigged for winter on the country road.
    Thanks Philjam, I'm glad you like them. I just find myself doing the same thing all the time and really there is nothing unique about them that isn't being done by everyone else, so I guess that's what is bothering me. I'm in a rut. I know I'll keep doing the same thing sometimes because I find it relaxing and therapeutic in a way to search out something that looks nice, when in reality there is a lot of Ugly around. February blahs!!!! Time to branch out.

    Am I missing something... I don't recall seeing any postings of the Great White North yet, just a few from your albums. I'm Looking forward to seeing more soon. Don't be shy.

    I think a quick switch to portraits if you want to do it could be the Mennonites of St. Jacobs say.
    I've been very tempted. I've grown a conscience though. I grew up in Mennonite country and I know they don't like being photographed, so I have pangs of guilt even when I take a distance shot.

    Or follow through on those bridges. That iron bridge is an oldie and they are no longer built. Likely because Ontario lacks the skilled iron workers and they're too expensive. Today it would be a steel reinforced ugly bridge. Regards, Boomer and philjam10 in the North.
    The bridges were a surprise, I thought they were all long gone, and I found 2 of them still standing. It's very creepy crossing them, one lane and so open on the sides - and noisy! I would like to go back and get some close ups of the construction. I'm sure they will be replaced in the not to distant future.

    Give Boomer a pat for me and get him out and take some pictures for us.

    Wendy

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    Re: C&C please

    Quote Originally Posted by ScoutR View Post
    . . . and slow down a LOT.

    Up until this batch, I was quite proud of myself for getting white snow most of the time . . . but then I slipped back to my old ways again. . . I'd like to get beyond snapshots

    (. . . I'm really bad when it comes to planning a shot though. The ideas are there, but implementation does not ever happen. . . .)
    I think you have your answer



    Quote Originally Posted by ScoutR View Post
    It will take me awhile to break old habits.

    I am not so sure of that.

    In this image I think there was really only one “mistake”. That mistake made a large impact and affected the whole process, including I expect, making you frustrated during that process.

    It seems to me you know what to do.

    I think, when out in the snow with a camera in you hand you just get a bit excited about the Outcome and forget the process – that’s just the Artist in you.

    On the other hand, I am more the Technician, which comes naturally to me. I have to work harder at my artistic side. We all have strengths and areas where we can improve.



    Quote Originally Posted by ScoutR View Post
    I really appreciate the time you took on these.

    Well it takes two to Tango.

    In conversations like this to take it beyond a critique, the Artist has to engage and that makes quite a difference . . . you get out what you put in: in one way or another . . . IMO you now have the answer for this next big step

    Thank you for your time,

    WW
    Last edited by William W; 20th February 2010 at 06:15 PM. Reason: to correct spelling typos - as always :)

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    Re: C&C please

    Quote Originally Posted by Donald View Post

    . . . Recently, in another thread, I referred to 4 papers I read that 'switched on the light' for me. This has those 4 papers by Alan Briot. The first, in April 2009, is entitled Finding Inspiration. Then read the other 3 in the series in May, June and July 2009.

    Excellent Papers. Excellent Resource.

    Thanks for that link, Donald - I have filed that away.

    I can understand why you reacted to that teaching so positively - I did so too and I got quite excited and enthusiastic. . . and Landscape Work is not really my gig, at all.

    WW
    Last edited by William W; 20th February 2010 at 06:13 PM.

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    Re: C&C please

    I know I've said what I'm about say in previous threads. And it's really just points you towards a different version of what Steve (Wirefox) is saying.
    I know Donald, thanks for not doing the eye roll thingy

    I'm now just over 12 months in to having re-discovered photography after many, many years away doing other things. For the first 6-9 months of that period I didn't really know what I was trying to do as a photographer. I certainly had no clear sense of purpose, other than learning (which continues).
    Similar situation here - 6 months in after long hiatus (sp). Except for technical problems, I've been happy with what I've been doing until recently. I still dont' know what I want to do, but I know I need to do something else.

    ...They were just pictures.
    I don't know about that, I think you always had a style of your own, but you really seem to have hit your mark with the Saturday Afternoon Street Scene in Glenfarg and then took off from there.

    Recently, in another thread, I referred to 4 papers I read that 'switched on the light' for me. This has those 4 papers by Alan Briot. The first, in April 2009, is entitled Finding Inspiration. Then read the other 3 in the series in May, June and July 2009.
    Thank you for reposting these. I have had a quick look. The whole site looks excellent, and I have printed the Briot articles. I like the style of writing, and I want to get finished here so I can go and check them out.

    So, maybe stop pressing the button for a few moments and think, 'Why am I pressing the button? What is it I'm trying to say?'
    Two lessons learned from this exchange:

    1. SLOW DOWN and think about the technical (I can do that, it's not as if the snowbank is going to melt while I'm thinking about exposure settings)

    2. SLOW DOWN - Slow Down Slow Down and THINK

    I know there are still going to be times when I just want to go out and de-stress and not have to think about anything, but even then I'll try to keep the above 2 points in mind.

    Thanks for your time and patience
    Wendy

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