Photo Wednesday: San Diego

As some of you know, I am totally and inescapably obsessed with my new DLSR camera (yes, yes, I know, I’m a little late joining this revolution, but in my opinion, a little late is better than never!). For the past few months, I’ve been promising to teach myself something new about photography every week, in the hopes that 1) I can learn the joys of photography on my own, and 2) that my paltry point-and-shoot photos can go from fun Facebook albums to actually publishable-quality prints. In reference to point #1, my curiosity to learn digital photography came out of the fact that I’ve been traveling with some a-ma-zing photographers lately and have been finding myself annoyingly glued to them and obsessed with the deft way they control all those buttons and accessories on their sleek black cameras. Secondly, as I am loathe to admit, I’ve been told by an editor that my photos just don’t make the publishable cut. And in this world, if you’re not a writer and a photographer, well, you’re a little bit out of luck (see my recent interview with media mogul Lisa Lubin on why a travel writer has to also be a photographer and videographer now). So, with both artistically curious and professional fires under me, I finally went out and purchased my first DSLR camera–a Nikon D3200–and a 55-200 telephoto lens. After all, if I was going to spend $700 on a camera body, I might as well just totally max out my credit card and get a nicer lens, too, right? (Downward purchasing spiral, anyone?)

To start my digital photo revolution, I took the camera on a few trips, playing around with the buttons and dials and just trying to keep my photos from being fuzzy, noisy, or just plain awful. I tooled around with Photoshop for a while, blindly clicking buttons and watching as weird things happened to my photos, and I put some on my blog to see what people thought about them. (Did you see my portraiture study from Colours of 1 Malaysia?)

And just this week, I decided to download a trial version of Lightroom, Photoshop’s companion software and excellent photo management and editing system. If you’re interested in finding out the major differences between the two programs (as my baffled self most certainly was), try reading this article, which I thought was a nice introduction to how these two powerful programs work. Now, don’t let me fool you–the only reason I downloaded Lightroom and not Photoshop at this point is purely financial: Lightroom has a thirty-day free trial before prompting you to spend the $79.00 while Photoshop is, like, hundreds of dollars. If I suddenly come in to some unexpected money, I might try Adobe’s new Creative Cloud service, which for students is $29.99/month, but I don’t see that happening any time soon. For now, I needed something quick, cheap, and easy. So Lightroom it was.

Since getting in to a discussion about the interface of the program is something for an entirely different post, today I wanted to start off my digital photo revolution with a weekly installment of the photos I’ve been working on. As I was visiting lovely San Diego last week, I thought I’d start with some lovely beach shots to start this series. I’m hoping, weeks, months, even years from now!, that I’ll be able to see what I’m learning through this visual archive. Come and join me–and let’s start a digital photo revolution of this beautiful planet we all live on.

This week’s top contenders:


#1: Solana Beach shoreline – worked on pumping up the contrast, highlighting the yellow and orange colors in the bluffs, and emphasizing the sand gradient 🙂


#2: The famous Hotel del Coronado – worked on eliminating the fog in the picture by deepening the red hue and adjusting the white balance. Also, I just noticed the half-body I forgot to crop out in the left-hand side, but, well, I’m learning!


#3: Solana Beach coast–didn’t have to do much with this one! I adjusted the white balance and that was it.


#4: Coronado Beach (with Point Loma in the background–I’m getting married on those cliffs!) — with this one, I’m still trying to figure out what to do with the fogginess in the front. Thoughts?


#5: Solana Beach – love the bird formation in this one. I probably would have left more beach in the bottom right to balance out the composition, but otherwise, I’m pretty happy with this one.


#6: A pretty flower – basically working on depth of field here. Love the colored edges of this blossom!


#7: One last Solana Beach shot – I really like this one. But, would it be better if there were more attractive swimmer bodies on the right-hand side?

Now, which one is your favorite?


Kristin, novice shutterbug maven



  1. Welcome to a very expensive hobby! Lightroom is the best. I do about 95% of my processing there. I only go to Photoshop for a few things, and now that Lightroom’s spot healing tool is more like a healing brush, I’ll probably spend even less time in PS. I am now working on improving my landscape photography with a better tripod and monopod, and by using graduated neutral density filters. The best thing about it is that it is a hobby you can have for life. Enjoy!

    • Hi Wendy!

      Whooo…you’re not kidding! An expensive hobby indeed. I’m glad to hear from an accomplished photographer that you like Lightroom–I’ve been a little confused between that and Photoshop, but I think I’m starting to see the benefits of Lightroom after watching a few online tutorials. The interface is pretty easy to navigate, but I’m definitely still feeling out of my skin!

      Would love to see some of your landscape photography! Send a link my way!


  2. Ken Mock says:

    I always am amazed at your food and flower shots — closeups. This is a great idea to gather input from your contemporaries. What didn’t that editor like about your pictures?

    • Hey dad!

      Well, the editor didn’t say, exactly, other than I should probably practice more with my camera and I shouldn’t have any travel shots that make a place look too “rustic” (by not cropping out a rusted railing or showing dilapidated storefront signs, for instance) 😉 Unfortunately, I really love texture and personality in my photos, but like taking portraits of people, photos of places in the travel industry must often reflect that place’s “best side.” I don’t necessarily agree with this practice–after all, I’m not in PR here–but I did see the editor’s point for that particular publication and audience (he works for an in-flight magazine).

      It’s motivating advice to me, though, because now I know I need to spend more time learning how light works in different settings or how to improve my night photography! And hopefully, I’ll learn how to do both kinds of photos–both the strategic ones and the beautiful ones–well!

      Your traveling bee 🙂

  3. Melinda Winet says:

    i think you are working your photo journalism as it should be one step at a time.. ilove all the pic’s but i am biased……..:))))

  4. Yay! Love that you’re dipping your foot into photography! I do love that flock of birds photo. Here’s a site that describes, for me, what are some good guidelines.

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