“Which of my photographs is my favorite? The one I’m going to take tomorrow.” -Imogene Cunningham
So, this week we’re turning the tables a bit with a set of lists that sound as though they might be something that would appear on a clickbait site, but we promise you won’t have to keep clicking in order to see all the information. In fact, depending on how you view our page, we’ll even try to keep scrolling to a minimum. Some of our list, such as this one, are silly. Others, such as tomorrow’s, are quite serious. Either way, we hope you are informed and/or entertained without all the hassle of clickbait.
Now, for today’s topic: there are a lot of people running around out there trying to take pictures. Unfortunately, there are a lot of people running around taking lousy pictures. We have five reasons why that might be happening.
Your camera arrives from the factory with an auto setting. This is a lot like the little Instamatic film cameras of the 1960s and 70s. It’s acceptable for snapshots under well-lit conditions, but vary away from those conditions and the quality of the pictures degrades quickly. The solution: take the damn camera off auto and set the ISO, aperture, and lens speed manually! What, you’re camera doesn’t have a manual mode? That’s the manufacturer’s way of calling you stupid. They don’t think you’re smart enough to figure out how to work your own camera. You should suit them for defamation of character.
Your camera is really a phone
I already know I’m going to catch some shit for this one because there are a bunch of people running around who think that taking pictures with a cell phone and then manipulating them in Photoshop or some other program is a form of art. Bullshit. You’re still just taking a snapshot with your damn phone and I don’t care how many filters you apply it’s not going to make up for the fact it’s still a shitty picture. I mean, you can’t even hold it still enough to take a selfie without 37 tries! Come on! That’s not a camera! It’s more like a digital crayon. Get a real camera already!
You don’t have a clue what aperture or ISO do
This is the reason your camera’s manufacturer didn’t give you a manual mode. They make image capturing devices for people like you who look at the ISO setting on a camera and think it’s pronounced EE-soh. No, it’s not. I. S. O. Think International Standards Organization. It’s a globally agreed-upon standard for how digital media responds to light. Aperture is how large the hole is in the lens that lets in light. Those are pretty fundamental settings for any camera and are critical to taking a good picture. If you don’t know those then there are probably a host of other things you probably don’t know. Consider taking a class or better yet find a professional willing to mentor you.
You think a frame is what goes on the wall
Ever notice how you keep cutting off people’s heads in your photos? Or that people look much smaller and further away in the picture than they did in person? There’s a reason for that: bad framing. Or maybe not framing at all. Framing is the ability to accurately get the things in the picture that you want in the picture at the size and in the position you want them. Framing takes practice, to be sure, but more than anything it requires actually looking through the viewfinder, not that preview screen on the back. The preview screen is an estimate and does not give you the framing accuracy that comes from looking through the viewfinder. Beyond that, practice, practice, practice!
Sight is fundamental, people. If you want to take good pictures, it really helps that you’re able to actually see what it is you’re photographing, unless you’re just really into for the abstract value, which you’re still not going to appreciate if you can’t see the finished photo, either. Vision is perhaps the most critical element of taking a picture!
I realize that seeing may seem inherent, but I can’t begin to tell you the number of people I’ve seen hold a camera up to their face and then close their eyes before snapping the shutter! Over and over, no matter how much I might try to help, they would close their eyes every damn time! I’m sorry, but if you’re not going to look at your subject then you shouldn’t be surprised or disappointed if the photo comes out looking differently than anticipated.
Of course, if you’re blind, you wouldn’t know either way, would you? So maybe it’s not such a big deal after all.