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Tuesday, January 29, 2013

10 Photography Mistakes We Have All Made - Part II

The mistakes we have all made, part II! If you missed the first part, read it here

6) I have to take as many photos as possible, to make sure at least some of them are good
I still remember my first digital photos. Taken in the span of one hour at the lake. The folder consisted of over 100 photos (I guess that makes one photo every 36 seconds on average, for a whole hour). Not one - and I mean not one - of them was good, let alone great. Worse still, not one was different than the rest. I am not joking, I had 100 photos all showing the same thing: water, trees, sky. Even if one of them happened to be good, it would've been a fluke (say, because a gull did something funny while I was "spraying and praying"). No, the answer for good photos is not there. The best photos are already in your mind; the job is to materialize them using whatever technology you have. In other words, think of a shot. It's a bit like chess: If you cant justify a move, you must not make it.

7) This camera makes noisy photos. I need camera X because it has less noise.
Noise must be one of the most overrated problems in (digital) photography - I doubt it was much of an issue in film days, when ISO 400 was more noisy than what modern DX (let alone FX) sensors deliver beyond ISO 1600. In the early digital photography days, noise was uglier because it was chroma noise. But the fine grain noise most DSLRs display is seriously nothing to stress over. Chances are, there are much more serious things to consider with your photos than noise. Composition, mood, or - if we wanna get technical - tonality. I don't mind high ISO noise at all - technically speaking, I'm more bothered by loss of dynamic range. But even so, if a composition is great otherwise, even that is not a problem. Forget noise, it's not a concern.

8) I don't need to shoot RAW.
Some people might think this is not serious, but actually it is. Even for beginners (let alone bit more advanced photographers), even if you got the exposure and the white balance right, there might be shots which you could improve even further in the future, once you are more experience. The Raw file is the digital negative. Never throw that away. I still sometimes experiment with quite old photos of mine. Most of them are not very great, but a few are worth manipulating a bit, trying to get something out of them.

9) My camera isn't very snappy with autofocus; my lens isn't very fast.
This is a bit like the first two points (in part I), but I wanna say something extra about it. The biggest realization regarding equipment-related limitations is this: Stop worrying about what your camera or your lens can't do, and start focusing on how to go around the problem. Staying int he corner and sulking because your camera doesn't give you 9 fps or your lens doesn't have an aperture of f/1.2 will get you nowhere. Instead, work on the problem. Be imaginative, find solutions. If the frame rate is slower than what you think you need, that means you have to start paying attention at your subject's movements/patterns. Anticipate

I recently went to Iceland, and visited some geysers. Hordes of tourists were around them, waiting for them to go off. Once they did, the faster tourists kept their fingers frantically pressed on the shutter button, firing maybe 15-20 shots. I noticed couple of them saying that the result wasn't what they were looking for, or that the camera wasn't fast enough, and all that. Well, if they had paid attention to what they photographed, they would've seen that nature has its patterns. You can read the signs that will often tell you when something it's about to happen. I did, and grabbed this one:

I grabbed some other, more typical ones too, but this is the one I'm the most happy with. It took one shot only - 1 single frame. And about 180 patient seconds, with a finger ready on the shutter, one eye in the viewfinder and the other noticing when the geyser is about to start singing

10) I'm not happy with my photos, I just can't be as good as what I see on the net.
Let's face it. For any given one of us, there are things we just won't be good at, no matter how hard we try. I, for instance, will never learn how to draw anything past a stick-figure. Will you be the next Ansel Adams? Who knows, you might. Or, you might not. But chances are overwhelmingly on your favor for getting better than what you are now, if you work for it. Do look on the internet for inspiration, and by all means, try to learn from others, trying - at first - to see what it is they're doing and how you could replicate it. Later, you can come up with more original ideas. It takes time and effort.

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