Mastering photography takes years of practice and knowing your equipment.
The article that I have written is something I feel very strong about and want to share with you. I will try and keep it straight to the point. A lot of photographers from beginners to experienced, can fall into the downward spiral of spending too much money buying products they think they need to become a better photographer, when really they do not need it. Or the fact they should really master that particular piece of equipment before buying something else.
It is that time of year, when you are likely to be treated to a new camera, lens or other accessory; whether it is a Christmas/birthday present or an item in the January sale.
When you receive or purchase such an item (such as a Camera or Lens) it is very important to know your item inside out.
* Know how it functions.
* Know your item’s strength.
* Know your item’s weak points.
* Know what your item can do.
* Know what your item can not do.
Know how it functions:
You may be just too eager to get up and running and what to see the results right away. However it is very important to really know how to use your item properly. Read the manual, watch on-line tutorial videos and read blogs. Try not to rely on automatic settings but get to know the true soul of your camera, lens or both. If you let the camera or lens do the thinking and decision making you will never deeply connect with your equipment. You want to be fully in control, so get out of your comfort zone and switch your camera to manual settings. Study up and learn your ISO, Shutter Speed and Aperture settings and how they relate and effect each other, and practice, practice, practice getting your exposures correct using the “M” manual setting. You want to get to be at a level where you know what you are doing without thinking, even turning dials and listening to the clicks without looking, just using your senses, knowing if you are under exposing or over exposing. Once this becomes a reflex then you are on your way of mastering that particular camera, lens etc.
Know your item’s strength:
*You should know exactly what your camera or lens was designed to do:
*Was your camera designed for high image quality studio work?
*Was your camera designed for fast action and sports?
*Is your camera highly capable in low light situations without a flash.
*If your camera is capable of RAW files, then capture all the information and provide post-production flexibility.
*Is your camera designed to be small, light, travel friendly for day to day use.
*If your camera and lens has weather sealing, you can shoot with piece of mind in the weather elements.
*If your lens is wide angled, it should be for landscapes, cityscapes, architecture, street photography, documentary.
*If your lens has a fast aperture (F0.95 to F2.8), it will be fantastic in low light without a tripod or flash.
*If your lens is normal (45mm to 50mm) you will not have any destortion / compression in your image.
*If your lens is telephoto (above 50mm) then you with have greater magnification and an ideal lens for flattering human portraiture work.
*If you camera has a full frame sensor then it can capture a larger field of view, better in low light, better bokeh and better image quality.
*If the film you use in your Analog camera can handle low light?
Know your item’s weak points:
While this might seem like a pointless heading and thought, a lot of photographers can overlook the weak points which can lead to problems later on.
*Is the lens cheaply made, will it survive being used every day, can you rely on it?
*How many aperture blades are in your lens? As it affects the quality of creamy smooth the bokeh is (out of focus blur).
*Does your lens not have image stabilization? Could that affect your photo or video if using a telephoto lens?
*Will your lens work on a full frame camera body, should you upgrade in the near future?
*If your lens is not weather sealed, it will develop fungus over time if exposed to rain, snow or high humidity elements.
*Are you using the correct lens for the project? (yes it may be the best and most expensive lens) however taking a photo of persons head with a wide angled lens will make the human head look distorted.
*If your lens is not fast enough, it will not be good in low light if hand held (such as F3.5 and above F4, F5.6 etc)
*If you are using a compact camera is there a delay in capturing action? (shutter lag).
*Is you camera to large for places that are sensitive about being filmed or photographer. Should your camera be more inconspicuous?
*Does your camera use the battery juice to quick? Do I need back up batteries?
*Is my camera too noisy at high ISO settings. Then think about buying a more modern camera or one with a larger sensor.
These are just some of the things that come to mind, and i am sure you could come up with more strong and weak points (pro’s and con’s) too. The important concept to grasp however is knowing what your camera, lens or whatever photography equipment you buy (tripod, flash, modifiers, filters, type of film etc) You you should know what your equipment can and cannot do. Once you know what is was purely designed to do then you are on your way to mastering your photography.
So try not to buy lots of lenses, but use the same lens for as long as possible (a year or more), know it’s personality, know it’s strengths and weakness. The same applies to the camera and other photography equipment.