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Why You Need (A) START IN PHOTOGRAPHY
I get quite often the question of how I started in photography. Despite being my case and particular situation, it can be different than yours but there are always lessons to be learned. If you avoid some things your progression should be smoother than mine.
How do we start in Photography?
My relationship with Photography had two stages, the analog and the digital. I’m not that old but when I was a kid we didn’t have digital cameras yet. We had roll films of 12, 24, or 36 exposures, so you couldn’t spend it all at once. When you finished it you need to deliver the film roll to a photo center that will process it. I remember that in the 80s it could take a week because in my town they hadn’t a proper shop to do it with quality. Can you imagine waiting so long for 36 photographs?
The world was quite different than today in every sense. People took more time on their things and, let me tell you, that was a better way of living. So during these decades till 2005, my experience in photography was to create snapshots of things I like or wish to remember sometime in the future.
Then I got my first digital camera, a “revolutionary” Sony DSC -V1 with 5mp with a Zeiss lens that cost an arm and leg! At current prices, it surely cost way above 1000 euros. It served me well and others that came but I wasn’t into photography by any means. Just collected moments to share with family and friends, memories, since our mobile phones didn’t have cameras or the one who got, was bad.
My entrance was in late 2013 when I bought a Canon 60d. I did a trip with a girlfriend I had at the time and wanted a substitute for my Sony Alpha 100. We went several days Spain and I intended to get great images to create memories and post them online. I liked the experience and started searching on the web about it. Mine seemed so poor compared to the ones I was seeing! Still, I’m the sort of person that sees a problem as an opportunity. So I keep searching and asking photographers how to achieve what I wanted.
At the time I had a quite stressful life I didn’t stop very much to relax and needed something that could distract me from it. By chance, a friend of mine that was a photographer invited me to join him on a weekend to shoot landscape. It felt great being in nature, relaxing, and creating some form of art.
Suddenly on my mind, it become clear that this was a way for me to see the world and share it with other people. I found many blogs, sites, and forums that helped me get the proper info on how photography should be made.
So either you just want to have some fun or enter on a more ambitious career the best way is doing what pleases you the most. Try as many styles as you wish and see which are the ones that connect with you and make you comfortable while doing it.
My advice here is to try left automatic mode as soon as you can, even if it is a source of uncertainty to you. As you will see ahead, despite the many modes you have available you only could have 100% control of what you wanna do if you are in charge of it.
In my opinion, the first step should be Aperture Priority the mode with you can select the aperture (f/stop value). The camera will find the shutter speed and ISO for itself. That way you will become familiarized with the impact that the depth of field has on your images. For instance, you may shoot a portrait with an f/1.8 (subject focus and background blurred) and a landscape at f/16 getting sharpness from the foreground to the background
When you realize that photography “is your thing” many thoughts invade your brain at once. Generally, our problem is how I could get those amazing images that I see online? Is there are a shortcut to it, are there any ways to achieve it quickly?
Well dear friend, you that are in this situation, I have bad news for you. There aren’t any shortcuts! If you wanna do it well, it will take time and effort. Though I think there’s a beauty in it, You’ll feel rewarded when things become clear on your mind, because that’s when you realize that photography is the sum of many parts.
During this process, you’ll feel anxious, disappointed, and even hangry due to the lack of full achievement in your intents.
The Fear of the Manual Mode and understanding the Exposure Triangle
From the get-go, I wanted to shoot in Manual mode so I need to understand how to properly expose an image. I was some sort of scared of how to achieve it. I had some ideas but couldn’t do anything consistently.
I spent countless days trying to figure out how the exposure triangle worked… But there was like a mental block on my mind aperture, shutter speed, and ISO… how we can combine the 3 to get a perfect photo?
This is generally why we use the analogy of filling a bucket with water without pouring it. Every time I thought I nailed it something was wrong. Felt frustrated till I understood how it worked!
The shutter speed is the length of time that it takes to fill up. The flow of water is our aperture. If you open the water tap to its max it’s like having a great aperture (large opening, small f-stop number) while if you only open a little tap that’s like using a small aperture (large f-stop value).
On the other hand, the ISO is like the width of the bucket you're filling with water. If you intend to get exactly a liter or a gallon of water, you need to adjust all to get the perfect amount. If you use a huge ISO value it means that you have a very wide and shallow bucket. It will be filled up much faster than a tall and narrow bucket that is represented by a low ISO value.
Composition and the most basic rule
More than the technique, composing an image is a real challenge. The way you arrange the visual aspect of your moment will dictate what you want to transmit to the people who will see it.
In my experience, you have, at least, two ways of doing it. First see as many examples as you can, trying to learn what attracts you to those photos. Secondly, there are many “rules” that will help you create a balanced composition, or whatever you want to show. Don't see these rules as mandatory, still, if you use them in some way you’ll have more chances to have success when showing your vision.
You also put understand that Photography isn’t an exact science. It’s an art so there’s no right or wrong, instead, there’s a path that you should take to achieve an image that sends a message or a feeling to someone.
Today’s article isn’t about those techniques. But for starters, I could mention that Rule of Thirds is always a great way of framing your scene. Again this is a guideline that all of us use in many situations.
You break an image down into thirds, horizontally and vertically, getting nine zones and four gridlines. You will then position the key elements along the gridlines. It will balance your photo almost immediately. When facing a scene you should ask yourself which are the areas that you want to emphasize and where you’ll place those dots.
The Importance of the Gear
One of the wrongest assumptions and even an insult is thinking that gear is what creates great images. If that was right the photographs shot all these decades behind us would be more than awful. And they aren’t. Why? Because what matters is understanding how things are done.
Of course that a nice camera or lens can help but not as you may think. In my opinion, the only difference is that better gear can give you more latitude on editing. Besides that, the most simple combo of camera and lens can capture amazing moments!
I learned like many of us that gear has relative importance. Of course, you need a tripod, a flash, whatever you seem that will help you. Still buy it wisely and not all at the same time. Just move to something when you think that it could improve your needs.
Overcoming the Fear of Failure
No matter the level of expertise you have, there will be always a certain fear of failure. It’s natural and in some ways even good. The worst thing is thinking that you master something because inevitably you’ll fall into a spiral of invincibility that will drag you to a failure someday.
If you understand were your weaknesses then you just have to work on those areas. Try and try till you get it. Experience is the only thing that helps you in life. Just avoid doing the same mistakes over and over. It will create some vices.
If you are a beginner forget about amazing images. You’ll get there, but first, you need to understand those basic things.
In sum you need to:
. Expose and frame the scenes in the best way possible.
. Don’t expend too much on gear, buy it wisely
. Avoid shooting in automatic for too long and move to Aperture Priority
. Overcame your first expectations with serenity and calm
- Don’t mind with negative opinions
. Enjoy shooting!