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10 Realizations of a DSLR Newbie

Image by bizior

It’s been almost 10 months since I bought my first DSLR. The days so far were both beautiful and challenging as well as immensely educational.

The time I spent juggling with my camera have given me some insight into the intricacies of this business. Given below are a few realizations I had in the last few days.

  1. What you see is not what you get.
  2. To get what you see you need to understand light. That takes a lot time, effort and patience.
  3. The best asset a photographer needs is anticipation and readiness to capture a moment.
  4. There is time and place for all gear.
  5. Some of the best photographs you see are not accidental. They are the end result of careful thinking and planning.
  6. Overcoming the inertia of using a DSLR is not enough. Always remember to keep learning and try for improvement.
  7. Possessing a DSLR doesn’t warrant you to be in manual mode always. Importance should be given to capturing the moment. Explore your creativity only if the situation permits.
  8. Even if you don’t realize it, most of the photographs you see online are post processed. Take time to master some techniques. It will pay off in the long run.
  9. Be gracious about your success rate. Only a few among the many photographs you have clicked will be useful.
  10. Costly gear does not necessarily equate to better photographs. Know your existing gear like the back of your hand.

What do you think about them? Tell me what was your experience in the comment section below.

anees k A is a photography enthusiast who likes to explore the wild. He calls his clicks ‘clickography‘ – all of them ‘clucked’ using his d90. He tweets as @aneeskA.

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  • BFeldman

    What is it with people thinking you’re not a ‘good’ photographer if you aren’t using manual mode? A ‘good’ photographer gets the shot, period. Are you really going to be more impressed just because you set ALL settings correctly in manual mode? If you want to play the ‘it only counts if it’s manual’ game, then I challenge you to this: stop all post-processing. Since you’re so good, you shouldn’t need to PP right?

  • Alexander Rose

    I have another one!
    When shooting in RAW (you always should!), do NOT use AWB in difficult light situations.
    I switch on life view briefly, go through the non-AWB presets and pick the one that looks closest to what I see.
    Then I stick to it.
    The reason is that with AWB, every shot will be newly evaluated which makes color correction in ACR, LR or AP a pain in the rear end.
    When I have taken all pictures with the same preset instead, I can correct the colors for one picture from that shooting and apply these settings to all the other pictures as well.

  • http://antzfxway.com Aneeska

    @Marilyn – good suggestion. Also i think #12 could be, keep the lens hood on all times.

  • Marilyn Armstrong

    Alexander: That’s a really good idea!

    Aneeska: Also, if the viewfinder is dark, probably the camera is NOT broken. You should take the lens cap off and check again!

  • Lou

    Some thoughts I have……..everyone is different…..learns differently and shoots different things.
    One post said the key was understanding optics..”great for you bud, i’ll probably die before I do. That guys probably good at physics too.

    Manual learners……shot now figure later. Some can read a book and gol
    For me the owners manual may have been in martian for all intense purpose….but once I took a class I was able to back and read. Fornme and various books I get ‘ah ha’ moments and for me that is the most important. Each one opens up new possibilities.

    So really I think both how you learn and what you like to shoot determine what the best first few things are.
    Shooting in manual and understanding the built in exposure meter has pretty much been a game changer for me. I always have the confidence that at the very least the exposore will be good…..then go from there.

  • Lou

    Oh wait…….my number 1 tip would be to lose the bad aperture zoom and buy 50mm f1.8
    TOTALLY changed my understanding of DOF and how to compose.

  • Marilyn Armstrong

    @Lou- I so very much agree with you except to suggest that bad documentation provided by everyone these days is the result of conscious corporate decision to not bother to hire real technical writers to produce quality documentation. They have engineers write it. Sometimes it is really computer-generated and not even written by a human. This results in documentation that is totally useless to pretty much everyone except whoever wrote it. And he/she doesn’t need it. I was a tech writer for 30 years, before there was even a name for the profession and I was good. But sometime during the past couple of decades, there was a universal decision that writers are a waste of money based on the assumption that no one reads manuals anyhow, so why bother? The problem is that while very few people will sit down to read this kind of thing like a novel, virtually everyone will sooner or later need to find some piece of information. They will then turn to the much maligned and oft ignored manual. Too late now! If you all would COMPLAIN to the companies involved at the lack of usable manuals, they might just take notice. They might just decide it IS worth the cost. Sorry, but you hit a nerve there!

  • Alexander Rose

    The manual that came with my Canon is great!
    I read it in a few hours and knew exactly how the camera worked, technically.
    That doesn’t mean my pictures were great but I knew how to handle it.

  • Marilyn Armstrong

    Mine not as bad as some I’ve seen, but neither well organized nor complete. It’s disorganization combined with the absence of an index is the most annoying, making referencing a simple piece of information strikingly difficult. Instead of simply looking up an item, you have to read through an entire tutorial in the hope of finding it … with may or may not even be there. The lack of an index, the single tool that makes using the manual possible is a sure indicator that the writer isn’t a pro. Although the vast majority of people will not read a manual sequentially they WILL use it to find specific piece of information as needed. A good writer knows this. An amateur will rarely either know or care. Indexing is not fun work, and thus the most obvious sign of corner cutting is the lack of this tool. I was trying to figure out how to download the pictures and there was absolutely nothing in the printed or online manual to explain how to do it. it was really simple as it turned out, but it took me a ridiculously long time to figure it out without a single guideline to tell me how.

  • http://antzFxWay.com aneeskA

    @marilyn – Ha ha! very true. But once the moment of panic, I have realized that, we will be more oriented in assessing and understanding the damages.!

  • Lou

    @ marilyn and alexander

    both perfect examples of learning.
    What alexander did I could never do no matter who writes it.
    I’m a contractor……give me a picture of anything and I can build it, ornate moldings etc
    Yet I could not build a 4×4 box from instructions.

    I hit youtube a lot for tips. after I see it done I can do it. or when someone explains.
    instruction reading just baffles me. I read all the time too, just don’t ask me what the chapter I just read was about.

    But to those people that can read a manual before picking the thing up and then do it amaze me.
    Too though…when a home owner shows me a picture of something and then I build it I amaze them.

    I have liked the way Scott Kelby writes. That style works for me.

  • KP

    @danny

    just to point out that most of the things that article tells apply more to DSLR than it applies to film photography. For instance #1 is much worse in DSLRs with no live view. For instance, in film photography the dynamic range is much higher, so it is closer to what you see. I mention live view, because when in live view, you see the dynamic range of the sensor, so no disappointment there.

    Also #post processing was always done in photography, even in the film era. It is not new to digital media, but it is certainly easier now.

  • gerald soh

    Photography is a miracle that has changed my life. Having mild red-green colorblindness does affect a photographer’s life (it affects most during editing in photoshop). This is because sometimes I cannot differentiate simple colors such as pink/purple. Nevertheless, I believe that photography is all about passion. I bought my first DSLR back at Dec 2008 (canon 450d) and he is still my baby! Every photo tells its own story. Photography is more than just colors….most importantly, the person who sees the photo can “feel” it and appreciate what’s captured.

  • Andy

    #9 is critical. With my old film SLR, I probably averaged one or two worthwhile shots in a roll of film — call it 1-in-12 worth keeping. The DSLR was slightly easier to use, and I was willing to take more chances and experiment more; pretty soon I was keeping 1 in 10.

    These days, on a good day, I keep maybe 1 in 4, and my best are better than anything I ever shot with that old film camera.

    So another realization: Experimentation is what makes you better. Try to learn something from every failed shot.

  • Anoop

    Nice writeup! Yes, we are still learning all the time. I’m an year into DSLR and started trying out the manual mode just last week. Also trying to find out the sweet zones of my new telephoto lens.

  • http://www.stephencogbill.com stephen

    I think a key area is WHY are you taking the photograph. So, 1. start with who the audience is, then 2. what are you trying to say with the particular subject, then 3. what technique best communicates that idea. And do all these in a compelling way so that you grab attention.

  • Mark

    Digital sensors ARE NOT film and even film had to be developed. The dynamic range of digital sensors is much less than our eyes. They tend to not have the color saturation either. Every image you take from your camera is POST-PROCESSED!!! If you take a shot in RAW you must convert it to an image before it can be viewed and RAW captures always need sharpening and usually need some adjustment like WB, Highlights, Shadows, Contrast, and/or Saturation. If you shoot JPG’s, the camera does all of this for you and does not always make the best choices. You can compare this to using film and then taking it to the drug store to be developed!!! For real photographers, you used a CUSTOM DEVELOPING LAB or did it yourself. Drug store developing was great for cheap family snapshots —- not for professional photographs. So custom labs used all of the tricks in the book to make your shot look it’s best — dodge, burn, custom chemical baths, etc. These compare to basic post processing in every way. And professional photographers used custom films for different purposes and chose different papers for their attributes. Most great landscapes in the color film era used Velvia film for its greater color saturation!!!! Does anyone remember the “enlarger” in film labs??? You always had to use one to print from a negative and how you zoomed the enlarger impacted the “crop” of a shot!!! Why would photoshop be different??? The question of PP or not is a false one in every way. The real choice is to let the camera do it for you or to take control yourself since they both use the sensor data as the basic starting point!!! I for one like the control so I shoot in RAW+JPG in case the camera’s choices do not suit me. A Canon 7D often gets it right, but if it does not for some reason, I have the RAW data to start over!!!!

  • Mark

    For the “MANUAL MODE ONLY” crowd, I will say that you should know how to shoot in manual and learn it on stationary items until you are good at it. However after you have it down, that can be THE WORST ADVICE EVER!!! I shoot wildlife and nature. In wildlife photography I try very hard to catch the action shot. There is no time to adjust the camera when things suddenly happen. I might sit for 45 minutes watching an eagle in a sycamore tree and then in less than a minute the eagle would dive and grab a fish from the water. This is no time for messing with exposure. I set my camera on Program or Av and set it for the fastest burst setting I can get in continuous drive mode. On my Canon 7D I will typically get 10 to 12 frames or more in the eagle diving scenario. You cannot get good shots in Manual Mode for this type of photography. At most you would get one or two shots off and most likely miss the “critical shot”. Every one has lots of shots of stationary Great Blue Herons. They are a dime a dozen! But the shot where the GBH lifts a fish from the water is much harder to get and sets you apart. I suspect that all of this would apply to action sports photography as well. So much for MM only.

  • Marilyn Armstrong

    @Mark – I totally agree with you! I tried to say this earlier, but you just said it much better than I did! You cannot divide photography into with or without post production. There has never been such a division. There never can be. The two are part of one process wherein we make pictures. How much or how little you do in the lab or on the computer is a matter of taste. Judging people as “real photographers” or “fakes” because they use more PhotoShop techniques than you do is unfair. I would use a stronger word, but we are all being civilized here.

  • Marilyn Armstrong

    As for “manual only,” well. There’s a time and a place for everything, no? If you are in a studio and you have all the time in the world, not to mention optimum shooting conditions, a tripod, and a handheld meter to double check your results (that gazillion dollar Hasselblad isn’t a bad addition either!) … go manual by all means. Most folks I know shoot on the fly. Conditions are rarely close to optimum and most of us are not close to optimum either. I’m getting on in years. My eyes are not accurate in the way they were back in the day. I wish they were, but they never will be again. I bless auto focus every time I use it! Yes, even I still occasionally switch to manual when AF seems to be labouring, but otherwise, I use AV or TV and (gadzooks!) sometimes … iA! Oh my God, shoot that granny! She is corrupting our ART! Well. Am I really? Shouldn’t I be judged by the quality of my pictures rather than the settings on my camera? If the eye is The Critical Component, isn’t all the rest of it just tools? Think about it lads and lassies. Just ponder.

  • RJ

    i really had a fun time using my DSLR camera! :) i had it since April 2011 and i’ve been having great results with my photos. everyone likes my photos (even if i think it still looks ugly :P). the only problem im having is that when i see my other friends having DSLRs with telephoto lens-simple ones like 50-135mm i think-i get jealous cause they get greater focus on subjects. in this article at no. 10, it brought me a great impact and inspiration to stick to my lens for a while (18-55mm). maybe a little lens hood will do great; and i’ll just get a new lens probably when i get better with my photography skills. like they said, “great photos are taken not by great cameras, but by excellent camera users.”

  • Kathleen Mekailek

    i am a newbie to owning a dslr- 4 months- and while i have to admit, i get greater clarity and sharpness, i don’t think it has made me a better photographer. i spend more time trying to figure out lighting and understanding the whole process, which i know in the end will improve my work, but so far i’ve had 2 photographs published, one received an award in a juried exhibition and have had 4 hung in galleries- all done with a point and shoot. I am really hoping all the money i am spending on equipment will eventually come in handy and make my pieces stand out more. But, really at this moment, I have taken a step back, brought out my father’s old 35mm film camera and learning more about lighting and exposure through that. If it wasn’t so expensive to develop the film…..

  • Stellage

    Strange that you go back to 35mm to learn about lightning and exposure Kathleen.
    I think one of the big benefits of DSLR is that you can experiment freely without the added development costs. Instant results, so the settings are fresh in your memory. :)

  • Michael Croteau

    I just got my first DSLR during the holidays. Main reason for wanting it was to shoot family events, nature, landscapes and ice hockey.. I had a Canon sx120is which worked well and I fiured this would take my shots to the next level. Boy was I in for a surprize at the learning curve. I have spent more time reading then I ever thought I would have to. My camera came with two kit lenses and found these did a poor job with ice hockey. Looked to get a lense that would work great and was shocked at the prices to upgrade. Picked up a Tokina 50-135mm f 2.8 for resonable money and it works well. Still struggle in full manual mode but get good results in TV or AV. All I can say is read, watch video’s and shoot tons of pictures. Don’t be afraid to experiment. Sometimes I will put camera in auto mode just to see the settings and try to duplicate in manual mode. Gone to local water fall and played with shutter speeds, that was fun to see how the same picture could look so different. Have placed camera on hard surface and used 2 second delay to take long exsposure because I don’t have a tripod. So get out there and shoot,shoot shoot. The only bad picture is the one you didn’t take.

  • Brian Hahn

    These 10 points spoke to be. I appreciate this. It explains why we have cameras with high shutter counts and only a handful of photos we ourselves approve of.

  • http://acorner.net/blog Alexandra’s Corner

    Yeah I have a few:
    1. Don’t work for free or ego; that is ALL you’ll ever work for. Know your worth. Re-search your market before throwing out prices out of nowhere. Calculate your cost of doing business.
    2. When offering work to be published, make sure you get compensation. Once your work is published, it becomes content for whomever is publishing it.
    3. Your photos become content that promotes a product or a business, (for them to make money), don’t undercut yourself. If your camera wasn’t free, your photos shouldn’t be either!
    4. Copyright your photos BEFORE they are published online or in print anywhere if you want to have a case. Otherwise, it will be expensive to fight infringement.
    5. Don’t take a million photos nobody is going to look at, take 20 photos that nobody will EVER be able to STOP looking at!
    6. Don’t mix your portfolio online; find a specialty and stick to it. When people spend money, they go to specialists/ If your dentist is not operating on your knees, then you shouldn’t post work less good just because your camera can shoot it!
    7. Work through nepotism has no value.
    8. Word of mouth trumps all forms of advertising.
    9. Don’t post crap online unless you’re ready to be criticized.
    10. “Likes” don’t count for quality.
    11. Professionals are NOT looking to get it right on camera, because they know there will be things to address in editing because the camera cannot see what our eyes can. So, never discount post processing, it’s a really bad idea.
    12. Don’t fight the learning curve.

    Here are a few VERY useful guides everyone should read:
    Photojournalism pricing:
    http://acorner.net/pricing-your-work-photojournalism.pdf

    Magazine pricing:
    http://acorner.net/pricing-your-work-magazine-photography.pdf

    Corporate pricing (this includes but is not limited to real estate/architectural photography, products, food, etc).
    http://acorner.net/pricing-your-work-corporate-and-industrial-photography.pdf

  • http://acorner.net/blog Alexandra’s Corner

    A photographer’s learning curve. I made this graphic a while back, because I am a believer that if you add “education” to creativity/talent, your work can skyrocket in quality.

  • http://about.me/jasonbrewer Jason Brewer

    Learning on film makes you slow down and think about what you are doing before taking the shot. Yes DSLR lets you experiment easily but being able to just fire away and think/figure out what went wrong afterwards can work against you when you don’t take the time to make sure things are set and you understand why and how before pressing the shutter button.

  • Kathleen Mekailek

    that was exactly what I was going to reply- film makes me slow down, understand my settings and makes me think long and hard before pressing the shutter button. Once pressed, I can’t just look at a screen and delete if I don’t like it. Someone (my mentor) once told me that I had a natural eye and I want to understand exactly what I am seeing and how to recreate it, if I should choose. That is the other thing about my work- I make one print of each piece I consider acceptable-I feel my soul is in my work and if I make multiple copies, that decreases the meaning to me. I wants someone who appreciates it and is moved by what I do.
    As far as practice and learning settings that way- I have already taken over 6500 shots on my dslr- when you figure in the three weeks I took off for wrist reconstruction surgery and the fact that my left arm is in cast from knuckles to shoulder, you can tell I practice a lot. To me, this might be detrimental, where others will get more out of shooting constantly.
    I hope this explained my thought process of “going backwads” better.

  • Ralph Hightower

    I got my first DSLR two and a half months ago; but I’ve been shooting film for 34 years. The only new variable that I have to consider is White Balance since the choice of film dictated that (there are no more tungsten balanced films). So far, I haven’t chimped one of my photos on my DSLR. The exposure triangle, zone system, …

  • Mario Oostendorp

    after purchasing the E book Natural light photography I have shot in Manual mode occasionally in Aperture priority but mostly Manual. Manual allows you to create the image and not the camera where in Auto the camera want to turn everything to the grey end of the spectrum. Its not the camera that creates the image it’s the 6 inches behind it. Manual setting allows you full control of your camera not the other way around. Invest in good quality glass for lenses,a good sturdy tripod and not some inexpensive one that is to light. Read your camera manual put in your camera bag so its with you all the time. These are some of my images http://www.flickr.com/photos/feedwagon/ I took up photography 2 years ago and I am still a newbie. Take a photo a day every day, join up with online groups such as Blipfoto highly recommended and join a camera club if you want to get the best out of your camera and yourself. A very good article from a new photographers point of view

  • http://www.etsy.com/shop/TheMogShoppe Mog

    Yes to all of these. And it took me so long to learn. It wasn’t until I committed myself to just learning, just trying to get through a workbook and do the best I could, that I got over most of them.

  • Dave Brown

    Take the time to really learn your camera! When the moment comes you must be able to operate your camera without thinking about it.The moments we might want to capture are fleeting, and stopping to think about settings or really just about anything and the moment is gone. Operating the hardware must be second nature! Always reset the camera, back to your stored settings,and remember to have fun!

Some older comments

  • RJ

    September 7, 2011 11:58 pm

    i really had a fun time using my DSLR camera! :) i had it since April 2011 and i've been having great results with my photos. everyone likes my photos (even if i think it still looks ugly :P). the only problem im having is that when i see my other friends having DSLRs with telephoto lens-simple ones like 50-135mm i think-i get jealous cause they get greater focus on subjects. in this article at no. 10, it brought me a great impact and inspiration to stick to my lens for a while (18-55mm). maybe a little lens hood will do great; and i'll just get a new lens probably when i get better with my photography skills. like they said, "great photos are taken not by great cameras, but by excellent camera users."

  • Marilyn Armstrong

    August 26, 2011 11:53 pm

    As for "manual only," well. There's a time and a place for everything, no? If you are in a studio and you have all the time in the world, not to mention optimum shooting conditions, a tripod, and a handheld meter to double check your results (that gazillion dollar Hasselblad isn't a bad addition either!) ... go manual by all means. Most folks I know shoot on the fly. Conditions are rarely close to optimum and most of us are not close to optimum either. I'm getting on in years. My eyes are not accurate in the way they were back in the day. I wish they were, but they never will be again. I bless auto focus every time I use it! Yes, even I still occasionally switch to manual when AF seems to be labouring, but otherwise, I use AV or TV and (gadzooks!) sometimes ... iA! Oh my God, shoot that granny! She is corrupting our ART! Well. Am I really? Shouldn't I be judged by the quality of my pictures rather than the settings on my camera? If the eye is The Critical Component, isn't all the rest of it just tools? Think about it lads and lassies. Just ponder.

  • Marilyn Armstrong

    August 26, 2011 11:46 pm

    @Mark - I totally agree with you! I tried to say this earlier, but you just said it much better than I did! You cannot divide photography into with or without post production. There has never been such a division. There never can be. The two are part of one process wherein we make pictures. How much or how little you do in the lab or on the computer is a matter of taste. Judging people as "real photographers" or "fakes" because they use more PhotoShop techniques than you do is unfair. I would use a stronger word, but we are all being civilized here.

  • Mark

    August 26, 2011 04:44 pm

    For the "MANUAL MODE ONLY" crowd, I will say that you should know how to shoot in manual and learn it on stationary items until you are good at it. However after you have it down, that can be THE WORST ADVICE EVER!!! I shoot wildlife and nature. In wildlife photography I try very hard to catch the action shot. There is no time to adjust the camera when things suddenly happen. I might sit for 45 minutes watching an eagle in a sycamore tree and then in less than a minute the eagle would dive and grab a fish from the water. This is no time for messing with exposure. I set my camera on Program or Av and set it for the fastest burst setting I can get in continuous drive mode. On my Canon 7D I will typically get 10 to 12 frames or more in the eagle diving scenario. You cannot get good shots in Manual Mode for this type of photography. At most you would get one or two shots off and most likely miss the "critical shot". Every one has lots of shots of stationary Great Blue Herons. They are a dime a dozen! But the shot where the GBH lifts a fish from the water is much harder to get and sets you apart. I suspect that all of this would apply to action sports photography as well. So much for MM only.

  • Mark

    August 26, 2011 04:29 pm

    Digital sensors ARE NOT film and even film had to be developed. The dynamic range of digital sensors is much less than our eyes. They tend to not have the color saturation either. Every image you take from your camera is POST-PROCESSED!!! If you take a shot in RAW you must convert it to an image before it can be viewed and RAW captures always need sharpening and usually need some adjustment like WB, Highlights, Shadows, Contrast, and/or Saturation. If you shoot JPG's, the camera does all of this for you and does not always make the best choices. You can compare this to using film and then taking it to the drug store to be developed!!! For real photographers, you used a CUSTOM DEVELOPING LAB or did it yourself. Drug store developing was great for cheap family snapshots ---- not for professional photographs. So custom labs used all of the tricks in the book to make your shot look it's best -- dodge, burn, custom chemical baths, etc. These compare to basic post processing in every way. And professional photographers used custom films for different purposes and chose different papers for their attributes. Most great landscapes in the color film era used Velvia film for its greater color saturation!!!! Does anyone remember the "enlarger" in film labs??? You always had to use one to print from a negative and how you zoomed the enlarger impacted the "crop" of a shot!!! Why would photoshop be different??? The question of PP or not is a false one in every way. The real choice is to let the camera do it for you or to take control yourself since they both use the sensor data as the basic starting point!!! I for one like the control so I shoot in RAW+JPG in case the camera's choices do not suit me. A Canon 7D often gets it right, but if it does not for some reason, I have the RAW data to start over!!!!

  • stephen

    August 26, 2011 12:49 pm

    I think a key area is WHY are you taking the photograph. So, 1. start with who the audience is, then 2. what are you trying to say with the particular subject, then 3. what technique best communicates that idea. And do all these in a compelling way so that you grab attention.

  • Anoop

    August 26, 2011 05:08 am

    Nice writeup! Yes, we are still learning all the time. I'm an year into DSLR and started trying out the manual mode just last week. Also trying to find out the sweet zones of my new telephoto lens.

  • Andy

    August 26, 2011 02:11 am

    #9 is critical. With my old film SLR, I probably averaged one or two worthwhile shots in a roll of film -- call it 1-in-12 worth keeping. The DSLR was slightly easier to use, and I was willing to take more chances and experiment more; pretty soon I was keeping 1 in 10.

    These days, on a good day, I keep maybe 1 in 4, and my best are better than anything I ever shot with that old film camera.

    So another realization: Experimentation is what makes you better. Try to learn something from every failed shot.

  • gerald soh

    August 26, 2011 12:05 am

    Photography is a miracle that has changed my life. Having mild red-green colorblindness does affect a photographer's life (it affects most during editing in photoshop). This is because sometimes I cannot differentiate simple colors such as pink/purple. Nevertheless, I believe that photography is all about passion. I bought my first DSLR back at Dec 2008 (canon 450d) and he is still my baby! Every photo tells its own story. Photography is more than just colors....most importantly, the person who sees the photo can "feel" it and appreciate what's captured.

  • KP

    August 25, 2011 02:59 pm

    @danny

    just to point out that most of the things that article tells apply more to DSLR than it applies to film photography. For instance #1 is much worse in DSLRs with no live view. For instance, in film photography the dynamic range is much higher, so it is closer to what you see. I mention live view, because when in live view, you see the dynamic range of the sensor, so no disappointment there.

    Also #post processing was always done in photography, even in the film era. It is not new to digital media, but it is certainly easier now.

  • Lou

    August 24, 2011 10:31 pm

    @ marilyn and alexander

    both perfect examples of learning.
    What alexander did I could never do no matter who writes it.
    I'm a contractor......give me a picture of anything and I can build it, ornate moldings etc
    Yet I could not build a 4x4 box from instructions.

    I hit youtube a lot for tips. after I see it done I can do it. or when someone explains.
    instruction reading just baffles me. I read all the time too, just don't ask me what the chapter I just read was about.

    But to those people that can read a manual before picking the thing up and then do it amaze me.
    Too though...when a home owner shows me a picture of something and then I build it I amaze them.

    I have liked the way Scott Kelby writes. That style works for me.

  • aneeskA

    August 24, 2011 03:52 pm

    @marilyn - Ha ha! very true. But once the moment of panic, I have realized that, we will be more oriented in assessing and understanding the damages.!

  • Marilyn Armstrong

    August 24, 2011 12:12 pm

    Mine not as bad as some I've seen, but neither well organized nor complete. It's disorganization combined with the absence of an index is the most annoying, making referencing a simple piece of information strikingly difficult. Instead of simply looking up an item, you have to read through an entire tutorial in the hope of finding it ... with may or may not even be there. The lack of an index, the single tool that makes using the manual possible is a sure indicator that the writer isn't a pro. Although the vast majority of people will not read a manual sequentially they WILL use it to find specific piece of information as needed. A good writer knows this. An amateur will rarely either know or care. Indexing is not fun work, and thus the most obvious sign of corner cutting is the lack of this tool. I was trying to figure out how to download the pictures and there was absolutely nothing in the printed or online manual to explain how to do it. it was really simple as it turned out, but it took me a ridiculously long time to figure it out without a single guideline to tell me how.

  • Alexander Rose

    August 24, 2011 11:29 am

    The manual that came with my Canon is great!
    I read it in a few hours and knew exactly how the camera worked, technically.
    That doesn't mean my pictures were great but I knew how to handle it.

  • Marilyn Armstrong

    August 24, 2011 10:44 am

    @Lou- I so very much agree with you except to suggest that bad documentation provided by everyone these days is the result of conscious corporate decision to not bother to hire real technical writers to produce quality documentation. They have engineers write it. Sometimes it is really computer-generated and not even written by a human. This results in documentation that is totally useless to pretty much everyone except whoever wrote it. And he/she doesn't need it. I was a tech writer for 30 years, before there was even a name for the profession and I was good. But sometime during the past couple of decades, there was a universal decision that writers are a waste of money based on the assumption that no one reads manuals anyhow, so why bother? The problem is that while very few people will sit down to read this kind of thing like a novel, virtually everyone will sooner or later need to find some piece of information. They will then turn to the much maligned and oft ignored manual. Too late now! If you all would COMPLAIN to the companies involved at the lack of usable manuals, they might just take notice. They might just decide it IS worth the cost. Sorry, but you hit a nerve there!

  • Lou

    August 24, 2011 09:09 am

    Oh wait.......my number 1 tip would be to lose the bad aperture zoom and buy 50mm f1.8
    TOTALLY changed my understanding of DOF and how to compose.

  • Lou

    August 24, 2011 09:04 am

    Some thoughts I have........everyone is different.....learns differently and shoots different things.
    One post said the key was understanding optics.."great for you bud, i'll probably die before I do. That guys probably good at physics too.

    Manual learners......shot now figure later. Some can read a book and gol
    For me the owners manual may have been in martian for all intense purpose....but once I took a class I was able to back and read. Fornme and various books I get 'ah ha' moments and for me that is the most important. Each one opens up new possibilities.

    So really I think both how you learn and what you like to shoot determine what the best first few things are.
    Shooting in manual and understanding the built in exposure meter has pretty much been a game changer for me. I always have the confidence that at the very least the exposore will be good.....then go from there.

  • Marilyn Armstrong

    August 23, 2011 03:51 pm

    Alexander: That's a really good idea!

    Aneeska: Also, if the viewfinder is dark, probably the camera is NOT broken. You should take the lens cap off and check again!

  • Aneeska

    August 23, 2011 02:48 pm

    @Marilyn - good suggestion. Also i think #12 could be, keep the lens hood on all times.

  • Alexander Rose

    August 23, 2011 02:23 pm

    I have another one!
    When shooting in RAW (you always should!), do NOT use AWB in difficult light situations.
    I switch on life view briefly, go through the non-AWB presets and pick the one that looks closest to what I see.
    Then I stick to it.
    The reason is that with AWB, every shot will be newly evaluated which makes color correction in ACR, LR or AP a pain in the rear end.
    When I have taken all pictures with the same preset instead, I can correct the colors for one picture from that shooting and apply these settings to all the other pictures as well.

  • BFeldman

    August 23, 2011 11:52 am

    What is it with people thinking you're not a 'good' photographer if you aren't using manual mode? A 'good' photographer gets the shot, period. Are you really going to be more impressed just because you set ALL settings correctly in manual mode? If you want to play the 'it only counts if it's manual' game, then I challenge you to this: stop all post-processing. Since you're so good, you shouldn't need to PP right?

  • Marilyn Armstrong

    August 23, 2011 11:48 am

    Actually, that should be rule 11. Keep the strap around your neck. Cameras don't float or bounce.

  • Marilyn Armstrong

    August 23, 2011 11:42 am

    I discovered that a camera's fall to the cement floor of a parking garage in New Orleans produced some dramatic results too. I think it was total disintegration of a camera. First (only) time I ever saw one actually explode. I immediately sensed a new camera in my future.

  • danjdavis

    August 23, 2011 02:01 am

    Don't drop you camera ona granite rock in the Grand Tetons. It's not good for the lens!

  • Craig Ruhl

    August 23, 2011 01:54 am

    I agree that the best way to become a good photographer is to learn everything there is to know about the equipment you possess now. The only way to see how light interacts with your equipment and subject matter is to take photos. To me the glory of digital is that I can take as many shots, play with as many settings and variables and explore as much of my creativity as I want without worry about additional costs of film and developing. Digital allows me to be intentional about my learning and with the instant feedback on my shots, my learning curve is less steep.

  • Major

    August 23, 2011 01:35 am

    The one that took me awhile to realize is #8. I would look at images online and if they had tutorials I would copy the technique as a learning tool so I could improve my skills. But after time and time again of frustrating final images, in watching post processing tutuorial I learned that most images go through quite a bit of post processing. Once I realized that I did two things. I bulked up on my photoshop skills and I started to truely study and work towards trying to master my understanding of light. The ladder is because, yes, many images are put through post process but that was also after the raw image had all the necessary parts in place. Photoshop is not a shortcut to getting stellar images. Knowledge of your craft: light, your equipment, photoshop and tool/tricks of the trade, are key. When all the pieces come together, you have a great image. The only advice I can give starting photographers is this is a craft like any other that takes time to master. There are no shortcuts, just hard work and patience.

  • smartybones

    August 22, 2011 11:46 pm

    I would say less than 1% of all my photos ever see the light of day !!

    In more recent years I have got so fussy over pictures. I may take 30 pictures of a subject and maybe one will see the light of day.... sometimes I find myself going back to retake shots....

    I have found the more fussy I have got with images, the more my photography has improved.

  • Steve

    August 22, 2011 11:43 pm

    I'd be willing to say that most professional photographers are always learning. The field of photography is one that will always require thought, patience, and commitment.

  • Marilyn Armstrong

    August 22, 2011 10:59 pm

    True enough and no argument. But that is WHY even back when I used film, I -- like pretty much all photogs -- bracketed shots. You didn't then and you don't know depend on taking one single shot unless you have no choice. If you DO have a choice, especially if you tend to work quickly, the chance of something not being exactly perfect are always there. Which doesn't mean that I don't see what's in the picture. I do. Oh, I do indeed. I cannot control stuff that happens ... like the passing cloud, the blink, the elbow. That is NOT in my (or your) control. That's just life happening to art and I don't care if you ARE Ansel Adams come again, reality bites you in the ass anyhow. How many exposures you figure the great masters tossed in the trash? I'll bet a lot more than ever saw the light of day.

    We are all human. I don't claim to be perfect because good grief, I KNOW I'm not. NONE of us will ever be. If we were, it would be so terribly boring, wouldn't it?

    Live a little. Let it hang out. Have some fun. Screw up. Fix the screw ups. Shoot too many frames. What the heck, at least you're not paying for the film!!

  • smartybones

    August 22, 2011 09:23 pm

    @Marilyn Armstrong,

    I believe you argued your point to the point you disagreed with yourself !

    I believe you dont get what you see in the viewfinder. As you yourself said, your brain discriminates in what it sees and just because you are looking through a viewfinder does not stop this discrimination. The bins, the twitch, the passing car, uncle whasisnames elbow... all filtered out by your brain until you review your photographs.

    In the past with expensive film the photographer had to train his brain to look for those things pre-shutter and could not review the picture until after it was processed. These days you have a choice of taking a dozen or so shots hoping to get a good one in the mix, or reviewing each shot on the camera screen and deciding if another shot is needed.

    ...and even then, until you have your picture ether on your enlarger or on your computer screen you really dont know exactly what you have. most often its not quite what you seen in the VF.

    With the age of digital, that skill of looking for what you dont want in your shot has been lost on the newcomers to the party. fixing it post production has become all to easy. even though I believe PP is where the artwork begins with digital, it should be about enhancing what you have and not fixing what you missed pre-shutter !!

  • Sangeeth ramanunni

    August 22, 2011 07:34 pm

    I'm not only new to DSLR,but also to photography itself..These are much encouraging tips for me. thank you

  • Marilyn Armstrong

    August 22, 2011 04:21 pm

    So ... what about sharpening a picture up a bit? Or correcting a color cast? How about dodging and burning in a darkroom? Exactly where do YOU draw the line? How about cropping? Does that count too? Or changing the dpi? Altering the native size of the photo to fit the format used by the magazine ... is that tampering? How about converting from raw to jpg? I don't mess with anything that stands nicely on its own legs ... but everything needs something, even if it's just cropping, converting, brightening or sharpening ... something that I used to do by hand in a darkroom. No one can say a shot is phony because I did that because these processes are as much a part of photography as developing the film and printing on the right paper was when I was using a film. Once it leaves the camera, every single thing you do IS post processing. It is impossible to produce a usable picture without post processing.

  • aneeskA

    August 22, 2011 03:29 pm

    @jason - The #7th point was supplied to me by a friend of mine ( Urvesh ) who was going through the list I sent him. Turned out to be the best one.

    @all - thank you all for the support and the active discussion. I appreciate this.

  • Danny

    August 22, 2011 03:18 pm

    Many nature and wildlife photographers still allow no post processing... Many magizines including Audubon, will not accept post processed pictures...It must be the real deal.... Audubon admits though that it is getting very hard to tell the difference, but they are very dilligent in trying to weed them out.

    If you have added color to a sunset, or made the clouds stand out more than they did in the original, it no longer is a photograph...It might be beautiful, and it might have taken a lot of talent and effort to get the changes just right, but it still ends up being a phoney... It can be called art but not a photograph.

  • Jason St. Petersburg Photographer

    August 22, 2011 01:51 pm

    #7 is the big one....improving one's in the field shooting skills go hand in hand with improving digital editing skills. You need both to improve simultaneously in order for one's finished photos to steadily improve.

    I just added a new technique to my digital editing toolbox last week, where, especially for HDR interior shots, I still take one of the single frames to use to mask in better whites.

    Any photographer out there making steady money (i.e. every month) either full or part-time delivering any photos to clients with zero out of camera processing?? Any handing clients just JPGs from basic processed RAWs (i.e. what Aperture 3 does to them on import)? I would be very surprised if anyone was, unless the client handles the editing part, or possibly a sports shooter.

  • Bob F

    August 22, 2011 01:20 pm

    I shot a lot of film on manual focus, needle match SLRs, stopped serious photography for a while, then came back with DSLRs. Actually, it's Program mode, not Manual that's been both a challenge and a revelation. Even on a low end SLR like my Nikon D60, autofocus/program mode almost always gets it right. What they miss is the depth of field. It's taken a bit of experimenting to get used to shifting program mode to keep the right exposure while altering DOF. Anyone who initially stays with Manual with a DSLR is making a big mistake-he's spending time fiddling with exposure instead of looking at the picture in front of him.

  • Marilyn Armstrong

    August 22, 2011 10:52 am

    As to number 1, What is see really IS what you get ... IF you are seeing the entire picture. You will get exactly what is in your viewfinder, including the trash bins you didn't notice, the passing car you missed, the elbow Uncle Louis poked into the frame, the blink, the twitch, the cloud that briefly passed over the sun. The camera, unlike your're brain, doesn't discriminate. It gets it all ... exactly as it really is and not as you may choose to see it. Therein lies the rub.

  • Angelica

    August 22, 2011 08:46 am

    Definitely agree. I've had mine for less than a year and don't often get to play with it. But when I do, it's a learning process. Like today, I was trying my hand at couples photos with my sister and her boyfriend. It was fun and I learned :) It was also very hot, so it didn't take long :/

  • Danny

    August 22, 2011 07:05 am

    Keep at it Bekah. You will be rewarded...You will eventually find that mastering the camera is the easy part... Developing and eye for the picture and learning the properties of light and how to apply them to your photography are the hard parts..

  • Bekah

    August 22, 2011 06:40 am

    I can totally relate to this. 100%.
    I've owned my DSLR for about 6 months now, and have in no way mastered it

  • Alaine Reyes

    August 22, 2011 05:57 am

    Using and mastering the functions of DSLR really takes time. I'm also a newbie. I've been exploring the use of DSLR in capturing better quality photos for about 8 months already but every new picture taken also tells me that there will always be room for improvement on the photos.

  • Danny

    August 22, 2011 05:21 am

    I believe my response earlier was not stated correctly or misinterpreted by some..

    At no time would I say the Post Production is not art.. It is art in every way, and I enjoy seeing much of it.. My comment is that it is and art unto itself, but it is not photography...its an adjunct to photography. And comparing dodging in the darkroom to being able to produce something from almost nothing, or the many others things possible today does not hold water.

    And everything up to the releasing of the shutter as smartybones replied cannot be learned from books or other photographers any more than a person can paint like Van Gogh just because you looked at some of his paintings...If true, where are all of the other Ansel Adams or Gordon Parks? We should all be able to produce these works of art, but we cannot.

  • George Dewey Powell

    August 22, 2011 04:17 am

    I try desperately to get better, and looking back 3 years ago when I got my Nikon D40, I honestly believe I am improving, finding creativity, getting quicker in choosing settings, knowing where the knobs and buttons are, and opting to go to the "green A" if I have to in order to not miss a rapidly developing shot.....

    I moved to a D90, and when finding myself dealing with low light more and more, I put the D90 in the bag and bought my D7000. Did I say that I love my D7000? Taking a class on off camera lighting and portraiture.

    Because I shoot a lot of floral macro, I shoot in vivid most of the time. I have learned that this is far more subjective than I would have imagined, so I try to make sure I'm honest and happy with myself first.

    It has became a passion.

  • Alexander Rose

    August 22, 2011 04:07 am

    Amen to 7!
    Depending on what I want to capture, I usually stick with aperture or shutter priority and adapt exposure accordingly.
    That's pretty much the same as manual mode yet faster since the initial setting my camera gives me is usually very close to what I actually want and makes fiddling around much faster.

  • smartybones

    August 22, 2011 04:05 am

    just a point to add to the debate regarding post production.....

    Given identical equipment and identical conditions, two people can produce exactly the same photographic image. would you call that art? no.. its a photograph. once you get into post production, with either film or digital, that's where the artwork is created from a photograph.

    You could give two people two Identical RAW images and the two people will come up with two very different images.

    The artwork begins when the subject is composed. but right up until you press the shutter release you can learn everything from books or other photographers. post production is something you learn to do but is very subjective and is of personal taste. How much you do depends on current acceptance. how bright or how blue can you make eyes? over saturated blue eyes was very fashionable a few years back, but now it is near enough giggled at... getting it just right is the art !

  • Esgi

    August 22, 2011 03:41 am

    Just to clarify, when I made that comment about enjoying the process being wrong. That's a typo. I meant to say that NOT enjoying it means you're doing it wrong. I'm not sure if the admin has corrected it yet, I sent an email off about it. I love photography and videography. I haven't found something I enjoy so much since writing music.

  • Marilyn Armstrong

    August 22, 2011 03:07 am

    Re understanding optics, but especially the comment that enjoying the process meant you weren't learning. Hey, wait a moment there. I have ALWAYS love photography, from day 1 when I barely knew how to set the dials on the old Praktika (I think that was how it was spelled) I was using along with a Weston Master 5 handheld meter I was using because there was nothing automatic about that camera, but it was a gift and, as it turned out, a great learning camera with fine Zeiss optics. I was working in black and white because I had access to a lab and could do the processing for free ... and a good darkroom at the university, also free, bring your own paper. Did I take world class pictures? A few, although to be fair, more by accident than design. I looked at a lot of pictures I liked and tried to to the same thing. Actually, you might say Alfred Eisenstadt taught me photography. I had a couple of books of his landscapes taken on Martha's Vineyard. There I was on Martha's Vineyard. I found where he took the pictures and then tried to duplicate them ... and mostly, more or less succeeded. I learned about putting things in the foreground to give perspective. I learned about crouching down, hanging off the edge of cliffs and how to almost get run over because the only place to get the shot is the middle of the road. And a bunch of pictures entirely my own that other people said were great and to which I said "huh?" because I really wasn't sure why they said that. And I loved it. Always. When I stopped loving, I stopped doing it. For years, I never picked up a camera ... then I came back to it and I love it. If you aren't enjoying it, why ARE you doing it?

  • Marilyn Armstrong

    August 22, 2011 02:33 am

    Just a thought about no amount of PP turning a bad shot into a good one. That's true on the face of it. I doubt anyone would argue the point. But sometimes there's something about a 'bad shot' that makes you think 'hmmmm' I could do something with that. I took a series of pictures of my deliciously photogenic granddaughter. It was almost dusk, so the light wasn't great and I was shooting close to wide open, high ISO (I think 800) and no, the tripod was safely in the car in its tidy travel bag, no doubt keeping the back seat nice and stable while I dealt with the camera. Anyway, she twirled around and her very long hair flew. I caught the moment, but at 1/100th, the shot was blurry. Great picture, bad shot. Throw it away? Uh uh. Is the result great art? I guess that would be a matter of opinion, but I sat and twiddled with it for hours until I got something that looked straight out of Harper's Bizarre (pun intended). Sometimes bad isn't bad. It's a matter of definition.

  • Marilyn

    August 22, 2011 02:25 am

    Sorry about the duplication. My computer and I are not always in strict accord!

  • Tilen Hrovatic

    August 22, 2011 02:17 am

    Awesome tips. All true!

  • Anna McCCullough

    August 22, 2011 12:52 am

    Good piece; I find myself agreeing with the points but would like to add the comment that this is applicable to virtually any camera that has PASM settings. I'm saving up for a DSLR but I currently shoot a Fuji HS20 - and this piece is equally valid to my own camera.

    An aside - I am commenting on a practice that I am finding extremely irritating since the advent of cell phones, and that is the contracted "cellspell" habit. Many of these posters took the time to craft long, well-reasoned comments and then took the shortcuts of "u" and "ur" instead of typing the last few letters, "you" and "your" - I'm sorry, but seeing those "cellspeak" contractions ruined your posts for me. PLEASE - if you wish to be taken seriously - SPELL CORRECTLY! I may be naive but I would like to assume the words "YOU" and "YOUR" are still known to most of us. USE THEM.

  • midwestslp

    August 21, 2011 11:53 pm

    Well said Marylin Armstrong (and twice, no less!). And I'll add that art is subjective and it's absolutely personal. No one can say that what you've done isn't art whether it's straight out of the camera or post processed. It's yours. It's what makes you happy. It's what touches a chord deep inside of you and every now and then, the art you've produced touches someone else, perhaps the same way, perhaps in a different way. That's art.

  • Tasha

    August 21, 2011 11:46 pm

    Also knowing how to use a camera really well doesn't always mean great photographs, you need creativity and patience too.

  • Karl Charbonneau

    August 21, 2011 11:44 pm

    Nice advice.

    I bought a Nikon D40x quite some time ago. With pratice, experimenting and benefits of a site like this, I think I can take some pretty decent pictures. And now I know exactly my camera's limitations and since my photopgraphy really improved and I'm event hesitant to change my camera body now.

    I would also add that learning about composition is as essential as mastering your equipment. I have some friends who bought high end equipment and seems to know how to use it, but poorly composed shoots are not really useful even hen exposed properly.

  • Yacko

    August 21, 2011 10:47 pm

    Selim said:

    "- a word of caution before I continue: pp only helps if the shot is good, it won’t turn a bad shot into a good one."

    Though I have to say, really bad shots can be creativity freeing if you are willing to take the leap and go from photo to artwork. Going gonzo with Pshop knockouts, layer mashups, art history brush tool can lead to outstanding collages or art canvases. I know photographers consider post-processing bad form but to me it's just a continuum with various stopoff points ranging from none to little processing all the way to unrecognizable.

  • Calvin Ho

    August 21, 2011 09:59 pm

    I do believe that it is good to use manual extensively, thats how u will get a muscle memory! Sometimes, we won't get to capture the experience by using manual, but it is due to this that spur us to do learn and do better next time!!

  • Marilyn Armstrong

    August 21, 2011 02:15 pm

    Just last night I was thinking that the big difference between photography "then" vs. now is that I spent a lot less time post producing ... until I remembered the hours in the darkroom, the lab, retouching by hand with a brush. So now I do it on the computer, only there's more stuff i can do & the costs -- paper, film, chemicals -- is a lot less than even the most expensive software package. I don't entirely agree that post production is not part of photography. No, it isn't part of capturing the image, but it sure is part of the process of turning an image into something special, unique, personal, exciting ... as integral to the creative process as anything could be. From clicking the shutter to the final result, printed or electronic. I always considered the darkroom work as a major part of the creative process. Remember dodging and burning, figuring out exactly which paper would make that picture really sing? Can anyone say that wasn't part of the creative process? I'm always learning. I think I'll know I'm really dead when I stop. I love my new dslr although I often feel that the excessively complex technology gets in my way rather than helping me. Regardless, picture making is a process, not a single act. The tools we use have changed, but art ... the process of creating art ... really hasn't. At least not for me! A final thought: When I look at a picture raw from the camera, After an initial sorting, I don't think merely of whether it's good or bad, but rather what I can do with it. The image is where it starts, not where it ends.

  • Marilyn Armstrong

    August 21, 2011 02:14 pm

    Just last night I was thinking that the big difference between photography "then" vs. now is that I spent a lot less time post producing ... until I remembered the hours in the darkroom, the lab, retouching by hand with a brush. So now I do it on the computer, only there's more stuff i can do & the costs -- paper, film, chemicals -- is a lot less than even the most expensive software package. I don't entirely agree that post production is not part of photography. No, it isn't part of capturing the image, but it sure is part of the process of turning an image into something special, unique, personal, exciting ... as integral to the creative process as anything could be. From clicking the shutter to the final result, printed or electronic. I always considered the darkroom work as a major part of the creative process. Remember dodging and burning, figuring out exactly which paper would make that picture really sing? Can anyone say that wasn't part of the creative process? I'm always learning. I think I'll know I'm really dead when I stop. I love my new dslr although I often feel that the excessively complex technology gets in my way rather than helping me. Regardless, picture making is a process, not a single act. The tools we use have changed, but art ... the process of creating art ... really hasn't. At least not for me! A final thought: When I look at a picture raw from the camera, After an initI don't think merely whether it's good or bad, but rather what I can do with it

  • Selim

    August 21, 2011 01:25 pm

    The biggest lesson I learned is regarding your point about post processing - a word of caution before I continue: pp only helps if the shot is good, it won't turn a bad shot into a good one.
    However, pp is important with regards to: whitebalance (when shooting raw), sharpening (when shooting raw), color adjustments (e.g. temperature), when creating HDR, to remove "unwanted" tourists if shooting in a busy place, etc.....
    As Paracelsus said re drugs: every drug is poison if used in excess - same is true for pp!!

  • Danny

    August 21, 2011 01:18 pm

    At some point we have to get back to just calling a camera a camera.... Everything exept the post processing comment can be applied to a film cameras as well... Not just DSLRs.

    And as for being a newbie. Even if you are using a digital camera, pretend that its film and that every shot will be more expensive and you will not get to see the results till later...

    Post processing is an art in itself... It is not photography... The art of photography is everything leading up to the shot and ending with the release of the shutter..... What you do with it after that is not photography.. It can be very rewarding and relevent, but its not photography

  • Ben Sassani

    August 21, 2011 12:10 pm

    Spot on, on every single point!

  • Chip "Roket Man" Allen

    August 21, 2011 09:32 am

    I bought my first DSLR 2 years ago, taking up photography as a hobby after an accident forced me into early retirement. I now carry a camera everywhere I go and 2 when the wife and I are going on one of our frequent rides in the country, one with a medium range lens mounted and the other with a big lens since we are in the Blue Ridge Mountains and i shoot a lot of scenery and wildlife.

    What i feel is the most important lesson I've learned is what my firearms instructors in the military called muscle memory. It's learning the controls so well that using them is almost instinctive rather than having to look at the dials and buttons to set up a shot. That allows me to concentrate on framing the shot.

  • Angad

    August 21, 2011 09:30 am

    2 points I'd like to add :)
    Photography too me is not about capturing what you see. Its a about showing what you want and how you want! in order to master this u need to understand that the light range of the camera isnt close to that of ur eyes. Also you neee to know how and what to meter ( expose) for in your composition. Remember you dont take a picture u create an image
    2. The best and the crappiest photo have one thing in common - the photographer! So its not what camera u use its about knowing ur gear really well!

    Cheers
    A

  • Kathy

    August 21, 2011 08:28 am

    Rick I love your number 12 suggestion. I have spent way too much time on the internet learning about photography and looking at what other photograph than actually getting out there and taking photos!!!

  • Sherri

    August 21, 2011 07:55 am

    I've had my DSLR since last Christmas. . I shoot manual 99% of the time because it's the only way I'm going to learn and improve. I'll add a couple of suggestions to go along with these.

    1. Go out shooting with other, more experienced photographers as often as you can. It's amazing how a 10 second piece of advice can dramatically improve my shots. I've had several "aha" moments while shooting with friends who are generous with their knowledge.

    2. Join a 365 group on Flickr and get in the habit of taking and posting a photo a day for a year. I started a group in May, and I love seeing the improvements in my skills between the first day I posted and now. It's also helpful to see what others are posting and to study the photos you like.

  • Rick

    August 21, 2011 07:36 am

    #11 Bright sunlight and shadows don't play nicely on a digital sensor. Plan accordingly.

    #12 Paying somebody money to take you somewhere to shoot is not nearly as valuable as stumbling upon your secret place on your own.

  • Erik Kerstenbeck

    August 21, 2011 07:26 am

    Hi

    While I have been shooting with a DSLR for many years, I am always learning new ways how to use it, and as I upgrade, pushing what can be done. I like the comment about costly gear not making you better. As an example, I recently bought a Singh-Ray Variable ND Filter (72mm) for my Sigma 10-20mm landscape lens. It was a disaster - massive X shapped dark areas, horrible vignetting even at 20mm. I guess I should have read the disclaimer regarding wide glass.

    It however did do a decent job on the 70-200mm allowing a 10 second exposure at 11AM! (I guess I am still learning)

    http://kerstenbeckphotoart.wordpress.com/2011/08/19/the-cabrillo-formation/

  • smartybones

    August 21, 2011 07:21 am

    "Possessing a DSLR doesn’t warrant you to be in manual mode always. Importance should be given to capturing the moment. Explore your creativity only if the situation permits."

    To a point I agree with this, but on the whole I dont...

    The automatic modes only ever take a best guess at what you want and if you aspire to call yourself a photographer then you have to be in control of the camera.

    Using semi automatic modes is acceptable like aperture priority. As you are making a decision on the required DoF for what you want to capture. Shutter speed is auto selected based on what is needed for your selection. you could pull a light meter out of your bag take measurements and select the correct shutter speed, but your camera is going to do exactly the same thing, but faster allowing you to capture that moment.

    Fully manual is really for studio work, when you have the time to perfect things.

    My camera will spend most of its time in aperture or shutter priority modes depending on what I am photographing. The rest of the program modes may as well not be there...

  • Haron

    August 21, 2011 07:02 am

    This guide goes hand in hand when i got my first dslr this month. im glad this post came along. it helps sharpen some things i had already known!

  • Esgi

    August 21, 2011 07:00 am

    I just got a DSLR (550D) and I would agree with all of the above. The most important thing to do before you even use one is understand optics. How light works and how it is affected by the glass. THINK about WHY the different shutter speeds/ aperture etc affect the final image. Not just pressing buttons and thinking you're cool. It's an amazing new world to discover (I'm a musician) but appreciate it's technically because doing so will make using cameras all the more fun :-) Photography is the quantising of physics and emotion afterall. If you're enjoying it then you're doing it wrong.

  • Jay New

    August 21, 2011 06:58 am

    Great collection of thoughts. I've been shooting for just under 3 years now with a DSLR and I'm still actively learning at all fronts. The more I submerse myself in the world, the deeper I get sucked into it all. Numbers 2 and 7 on your list are the ones I've really been focusing on these past few weeks. Very difficult to get the lighting aspect under control! Great piece.

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