Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Avoiding Beginner Photography Issues and Mistakes Revisited

The Canals of Bruges, BelgiumTravel photography requires versatility and knowledge of a variety of photographic genres. Beginners must be serious about learning the craft if they want to produce solid travel images. When engaged in travel photography, beginners have two major issues to overcome; a lack of confidence and a lack of basic photo knowledge.

It's hard to study and learn from practical experience when you have little confidence in your equipment. Often, when I'm leading photowalks or workshops I hear, “If only I had your gear.”

Just about every beginner I've worked with has gear capable of capturing magnificent images. Today's consumer Digital Single Lens Reflex (DSLR) and Digital Mirrorless Interchangeable Lens (DMIL) cameras are excellent. I've proved this to more than a few beginners by swapping cameras with them, then making some great shots with their gear, better than they've produced with my pro gear.

Beginners often opine they'll never make photos like pros. They forget, the pros started as beginners themselves.

Too many beginners believe the myth that every shot pros make are “keepers.” It's true that after a day's shooting I'm going to have more well exposed, nicely focused photos than beginners. It's also true that when it comes to “wow” images, I'm really pleased if I've made just a couple of them by the end of the day. It takes time, practice and study but it doesn't take too long for beginners to produce more keepers than duds.

I see beginners often down on themselves because they can't seem to completely get away from automatic exposure. It takes everyone time, effort and lots of practice to learn how to use the exposure triad of ISO, aperture and shutter speed well. Believe it or not, pros aren't born knowing how to use shutter and aperture priority, plus manual exposure modes.

Here are the three top problems I see in beginners' images. They're relatively easy to correct. Once corrected I've seen photographers' confidence soar as doubts of their ability melt away. With that comes better and better photos.

1. Blurry photos – Blurry photographs often occur when beginners first move from automatic exposure to manual or one of the “automatic-manual” modes, as I like to call Aperture Priority and Shutter Priority. When in these modes the photographer is responsible for ensuring the shutter speed is fast enough to overcome camera movement and freeze any subject movement in the scene, to the extent desired.

So-so handholding technique by beginners also blurs images. Taking time to hold the camera steady using one's body to help is essential. Beginners must understand that to prevent blur, they must use higher shutter speeds when using long focal length lenses compared to short lenses. A great rule of thumb is one's minimum shutter speed should be at least 1/focal length of the lens used. For example, the shutter speed for a 300mm lens should be at least 1/300 sec.

2. Too many tops of children's heads – Obviously, children aren't as tall as most adults, yet too often, adults photograph children from their own eye-level perspective, not the children's. Standing straight and tall, shooting downward, adults are surprised when their children's images show mostly hair and the top's of their heads, not their eyes or faces.

For great photos of children, get down on your knees, or sit on the ground. Make your eye-level perspective the same as the children you're shooting. Sometimes getting even lower than that will give a wonderful perspective and a pleasing image.

3. Always using Auto White BalanceWhite balance refers to the color cast of the scene being photographed, due to its lighting. Generally, humans see light as “white” or colorless, unless there is some special lighting such as at golden hours outdoors, or filtered light indoors. Experienced photographers realize there are subtle differences in light color often unnoticed by beginners, such as the difference in the color of a scene caused by warm vs. cool fluorescent lighting.

Cameras' auto white balance, while not as good as the human system of eyes plus brain, is great most of the time, but has critical limitations.

Color temperature describes the color of a light source and is measured in degrees Kelvin (K). Photographers use the measurement to get the color right in their images.

Auto white balance generally works well from about 4,000K to 7,000K or from most fluorescent light, through sunny skies, to moderately overcast skies, which is a wide range.

Auto white balance falls down in scenes lighted with candlelight, incandescent light, shade, solid to heavily overcast skies, and when a scene is lighted by multiple varied light sources, as happens often indoors.

My rule of thumb is to use auto white balance when indoors with my electronic flash as the scene's predominant light source, and when outside while it's sunny to lightly overcast. Otherwise I dial in a setting specific to the lighting of the scene, or measure the color temperature and set a custom white balance.

If you're a beginner, remember we were all there once, but improved through study and practice.

1 comment:

James said...

Though everyone should be aware of the common mistakes as the beginners, still I feel like sometimes its ok to do mistake. One mistake can make you know about the solution of that mistake!

Post a Comment