Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Want better images? Just turn this dial..


The best advice I was ever given in my photography career came from a man that many of us in the area knew very well. Tim Leary (the teacher the influenced many lives until his passing in June 2009, not the drug guy) told me, "Learn the manual settings and you will be a better photographer for it."

The automatic settings on a DSLR is like buying a car that will go 300 mph and taping a block of wood to the bottom of the gas pedal. You have a great machine, but you are not using the full potential. The automatic settings (Sport, Portrait, Program, Landscape...) will give you a nice image, but it can also give you bad images too. The problem comes in when you get mixed results you won't know why.

Learning the manual settings can be the most difficult thing when you are starting out. Count yourself lucky though, a lot of us learned these settings while shooting film. Without the instant feed back we had to wait until images came back from the lab. Digital makes it easier to learn these settings and how the work together, but don't take the easy way out and shoot hundreds of images and hope you get one or two good ones. Take your time and focus on getting it right in the camera. I see too many people take the attitude that "It is digital so I will shoot 50 images and fix it later in Photoshop". This will not help you become a better photographer, it will make you log numerous hours in front of an image. Are you an aspiring photographer or Photoshop professional?

When I am shooting I have all three cameras set to manual. I know how film speed (ISO), shutter speed, and f-stop work together. I know that when I press the shutter button what to expect. As a result I spend very little time screwing around in post production.

More to come in the not too distant future about post production though.

Until next time: Take care of yourselves, and each other.

~Mike

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