Whenever I met and had the pleasure to chat with people from a photography club and beginners in photography, I was sadly struck by the lack of basic knowledge they had in the field. Some was already members for a year, or twice!
The observation is recurrent, as systematic a shutter release precedes a photo:
- All were enthusiastic about photography and wanted to advance.
Many working in manual mode! And yet:
- The relationship between aperture / shutter-speed / exposure was not mastered or even unknown;
- Same for the aperture / depth of field relationship;
- Composition? This funny word had been discussed at a session… one day…;
- Incidentally, the B&W photography seemed to be the ultimate achievement, some people were already in this shooting mode on the camera! As if the photo “was” only through the Black and White!
Who are these oddballs animating such clubs? Because if after two years of photography club, members are at this level, it's alarming! And before that tickles the lips, these people I met were quite able to understand and assimilate. After a few hours spent together, their eyes expressed a real enthusiasm, mouth pursed on the side showing how much they realized having wasted their time. I do not know those clubs, but my observations and these “confessions” worries me…
There are probably among these “trainers” a kind of unconscious desire or not to cheat, so they will always be “superior”. They're always using a lot of technical terms to appear “pro” in the eyes of a naive public, who just try to learn. Their technique of smokescreen is simple: what could be more normal, more human than wanting to feel competent, a little more “Photographer”?
We flatter our ego, we impress even the most novice, everyone have more or less done this. We think we are ready, ready to manipulate the settings and even more absurd, “at the Club”, it was suggested that using immediately the manual mode was the ultimate way, the paroxysm of the Photography and… if in addition it's in B&W (!)…
Unfortunately, those leaders
of clubs appear to have fallen into their own bag of powder and such small greedy never satisfied of the image they produce on their audience, they do not build any foundation.
Therefore, arriving on a photo forum, the questions asked by these beginners are often bad, but worse, with our answers always too specific, we do not improve things!
It's an excuse that clubs doesn't have; but gauging the photographic level of someone in this “virtual” world is particularly complicated. When asked, “What setting should I do when there is a lot of sun?” Answer are multiple and dependent on a large amount of factors. While the guy of the club say, “Do this”, users of the forum will answer with their own vision of a scenario (not necessarily explaining it), speaking of ISO, aperture, ND filters and whatnot. But the beginner probably did not even identified the most basic bases of the photography, and it's not his fault!
We — because despite being careful, I indeed include myself in this remark – should pay particular attention to our answers. I'm afraid that somehow we may — on the Internet, and therefore the same way that some of these clubs poorly animated — misdirect people truly beginners. Our answers deal with advanced technical points that should only be addressed later with beginners. I'm convinced of that. To push too early novices out of the automatisms of their equipment, we make the mistake they misunderstand concepts as capital as aperture, shutter speed, exposure, or even the role of the composition. The result is often the same: in real life, there is frustration (kept for oneself), pictures that are believed to be correctly taken are not, because they tried to tweak everything wrongly and any remark (negative of course) made on the forums never being welcomed. Ultimately, nothing moves on.
The four main steps of learning
The process, guided autodidact, simply follows the direction of the dial modes.
- 1Use the full automatic mode and do photography! If you like the photo of someone, try to reproduce it without ever deals technically; yes, it's difficult, we all want to do the invert, but it's far too early. On this basis, the game of the seven differences is a great start! What's on the photo of Mr. X's so different from yours? No matter if you don't know the technical terms, find the differences, describe them in your own way. Is it the subjects positions? Is this pleasant blur in the background, the light, etc.? Anyway, repeat the operation with multiple topics that appeal to you. Post the pictures on a “real” forum can help (if on our side, we do not lose our way in technical term). Gradually, you will discern more and more clearly the most recurrent differences between your own shots and those you're enjoying. This will push you to go to the next step. It may likely tool some months before turning the dial modes, but you should not care, this will not lower your pleasure while doing photo and you'll understand in the good way!
- 2The P mode (Canon). Basically, this mode works exactly like the automatic one, but before taking the photo, you can decide to slide (change) the setting chosen by the camera to suit your aesthetic desire of the moment (mostly). This mode necessarily implies that the concepts of exposure, aperture and shutter speed are clear in your mind. I am convinced it is totally useless and anticipated to go further as long as those three concepts are not fully known.
Wide open aperture = small ƒ number (2.8, etc.) = More light going through = a reduced exposure time = shallow depth of field ≈ your eyes with large pupils in dim light.
Small aperture = big ƒ number (8, etc.) = less light going through = increased exposure time = a wide depth of field ≈ your eyes looking at the sun with small pupils.
That must be learned by heart and above all test, test, and test again!
After only, if necessary, move to the next mode.
- 3Av mode (aperture priority). Now that the concepts of aperture and speed are known, this mode will probably be yours nine times out of ten.
- 4To go further once the concepts entrenched, you can add the ISO in the process, enrich your experience with new modes (Tv, Manual, Bulb), etc.
I take 80% of my photos in Av mode with evaluative metering and automatic ISO! Enough to say that I enjoy many of the camera assistance to concentrate on the essential: my picture. Does these automations can be felt on my photos? We must stand back from manual/advanced modes and the “I make my adjustments” stupid concept. All this, too early, will push you forward to the greatest darkness, without counting the number of missed shots and decisive moments precisely because of personal settings. I take my hat off to the one who has never missed a photo while using its own settings by a strong outdoor light, before entering a place very dark, taking a new picture and forget to switch the setting…
The previous question, “What setting should I do when there is a lot of sun?” is completely different from the question: “I have problems when I shoot with lots of sun. I tried such and such a technique to reduce this and this, but I always encounter this problem Y. Here's an example […].”
The first formulation suggests that the person doesn't know the reason (setting) that may impact on the amount of light, etc., while the second formulation would rather gives the feeling that he knows the concepts of exposure, speed and aperture, even if it remains stuck.
Difficult as I said, to feel the proper skill level of someone, but I think we should use P or Auto modes and try to master the concepts right before anything else. We too, on forums or clubs, have to ensure guidance to beginners so they do not burn steps.
Who are these oddballs animating such clubs? Because if after two years of photography club, members are at this level, it's alarming!
Those “trainers” […] are always using a lot of technical terms to appear “pro” in the eyes of a naive public, who just try to learn. Their technique of smokescreen is simple: what could be more normal, more human than wanting to feel competent, a little more “Photographer”?
I'm afraid that somehow we may misdirect people truly beginners.
Our answers deal with advanced technical points that should only be addressed later with beginners.
To push too early novices out of the automatisms of their equipment, we make the mistake they misunderstand concepts as capital as aperture, shutter speed, exposure, or even the role of the composition.
I take 80% of my photos in Av mode with evaluative metering and automatic ISO! […] Does these automations can be felt on my photos?
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