Steadman's Tips for Better Photographsf (Part 1)

Started Dec 1, 2002 | Discussions thread
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Steadman Uhlich Senior Member • Posts: 1,123
Steadman's Tips for Better Photographsf (Part 1)

This thread is really aimed at a beginning level photographer or someone who is new to the SLR camera operations and yet wants to learn how to become a better photographer.

At the same time, some folks have been taking pics for decades and yet still wish their photos of family, friends, dogs or whatever were..."better." So...consider this addressed to you if you want to make 'better pics" and you are not sure how to start doing things differently.


My main point here is that before one rushes out to purchase a new lens in order to make better photographs, there are some other things to consider which may not cost you a penny and yet may make a bigger difference in how your pics appear to others.

NOTE: IF you are a person who likes to debate or take a contrary view...just for the fun of it...just remember my main point before you reply. (thanks)

What usually is communicated on this forum and others is a request for "how to make my photo better." Usually this comes after the photographer thinks their pics just don't look 'as good' as some others.' Their pics may appear dark or blurry or boring. Sometimes the easy "answers" they receive in reply are suggestions for different lenses, different gadgets and such.

For the sake of this thread, I suggest that the keys to overcoming some of these obstacles may be both easier (in some cases) and more difficult (in other cases) than what is often suggested as solutions.

Let me put it another way by example. If one takes photos inside using a slow lens, and using "auto" as the exposure setting, one may experience the camera choosing relatively 'slow' shutter speeds. If the photographer is taking hand-held snaps of family members, they may see the effects of camera shake during the slow exposure. They may not realize what is causing the camera to operate so slowly...they just know that the shutter goes slowly "ker....thunk" instead of a quick "snic." Not knowing what caused this may lead to frustration and dis-satisfaction with the camera/lens due to blurry pics. Knowing more about aperture setting (something that takes a little 'study') can quickly make it clear what is causing this and how to adjust accordingly. Otherwise, the taking of low light pics just seems to be an 'obstacle.'

In order to start your brain cells clicking, I provide you with a few observations/opinions. You may or may not agree, or you may think of many others to add to the list. If so...just repond with "Add This (x)" in the subject line of your response. We may end up with quite a long list.

I think the greatest obstacles to making better photographs (or learning better photography) are (not in any particular order or ranking):

1. Lack of an open mind (preconceived notions, lack of originality) which generally leads to 'common looking' or possibly 'boring' images.

This is not restricted to amateurs as some "pros" also fall into this trap. Mostly this is an 'esthetic' limitation, but sometimes it is also linked to hardware use too. A simple example is when a photographer feels that all portraits have to be taken with a 'portrait' lens (most often a short tele lens) or all portraits have to use three strobes, or all portraits have to be posed a certain way...etc.. Another example is when all the pics are obviously from the same POV (such as pics of kids taken from six feet up looking down on them). TIP: Try taking pics from different levels and different angles.

2. Lack of experience with and understanding how aperture affects DOF and light capture.

This may be seen as a shortcoming of some photographers who have just started as a hobbyist or others who may have been taking pics for decades. TIP: Experiment with short (shorter than f8) DOF shots.

3. Dependence on "slow" consumer grade zooms (hard to explain succinctly here).

Essentially, if one's only experience has been with 'slow' and 'soft' lenses, there is a big improvement possible by switching to another lens which is sharper and faster. This does not mean the photographer has to buy the most expensive lenses to see a big improvement. TIP: Buy at least one fast and high quality prime lens or fast high quality zoom lens.


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