Saturday, January 26, 2013

10 Photography Mistakes We Have All Made - Part I

I like reading lists. They are an easy way to organize your thoughts, and if each point is short the point (!), they are easy to memorize. And so, today I'm offering you the gift of knowledge.

Joking (sort of) aside, when I look back in the days I made my first steps as a photographer, I am amused. Not because of the mistakes I made, but because it took me time to learn from them. But most of us learn in time. I thought to help you a bit with that. Make no mistake (!), you have to make your own mistakes in order to learn. But maybe this article will help you understand some things a bit better.

1) I need lens X or camera Y to be able to take good photos
Absolutely not the case. What lens X or camera Y does (compared to what you have) is that it might make it a bit easier to take a certain kind of photo - provided all other things are equal. If you don't have the basics covered, it does you no good to have another lens or another camera. My first digital camera was a 4MP Hewlet-Packard. My second one was a Nikon D40. My third was a Nikon D80. Then a D2x and a D300 - the two cameras I'm currently using. The only reason I'm taking better photos today is because of the experience I gathered using all the previous cameras, including the Hewlet-Packard.

2) I need lens X, because the lens I have is not sharp enough
The chances that there is a problem with your lens (such as fungus or some other flaw) are very, very small indeed. Chances are, you're referring to a lens you purchased recently (as a kit with your camera, am I right?). It is almost certainly the case that there is nothing wrong with your lens. It's your technique. Lenses are sharper when stopped down couple of stops; they are sharper when the camera is on a steady surface - or the shutter speed is sufficiently fast; they are sharper when not shot in lighting conditions susceptible to flare (say, against the sun). But they are sharp generally speaking on all conditions. First you have to eliminate the most probable cause (that's you!), and then look for other options.

Sharp enough for you? This photo was taken with a lens which cost me less than 50$ - I won't tell you which lens it is

3) I need to protect my lens, I need to put a UV filter on it
I have seen "serious" (please, insert many quotes there) gear owners (can't call them photographers) paying several hundred euros for a fast aperture zoom, only to put a 5-euro chinese-made low-quality plastic UV in front of it. And the opposite: I've seen Multicoated Hoya UV in front of a humble 18-55! Neither of these make sense. Personally, I am against UV filters. They are meaningless, unless in very specific situations - say, carrying a very expensive lens (>1000euros/dollars) near breaking waves.

4) Oh no! There is (I think..Maybe...Perhaps) dust on the sensor
Yet another thing I never worried about - that's a lie: I used to fret over it constantly when I had my D40! But I never care nowadays. Granted, some cameras are more resistant than others, but seriously...Unless you start noticing plenty of dust spots in everyday photography, you don't need to do anything. If you need to take photos of a blue sky at f/22, that's not an everyday scenario. And if you have one or two spots, it takes literally 3 seconds with the Photoshop spot tool to remove them.

5) I'll go take photos in the forest, I'll take all of my lenses with me.
Like I mentioned before, this is also a mistake almost all of us have made. It's senseless to carry 4 lenses for a walk in the forest, unless you plan to do 8 specific things for which you need all of these lenses (that's not the case now, is it). Many beginners believe that it's better to play it safe and carry them all "just in case". The problem is, not only will the weight tire you and remove your motivation, but when you are out looking for 10 different photos, you will miss the one great you could've taken. If you know what I mean...

Click HERE for the Second Part

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