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10 Things New Photographers Should Know
10 Things New Photographers Should Know—04/12/10
What I wish I had known when I got my first camera
1. Carry your camera a lot. There’s an old adage that you should carry your camera all the time. That may not be practical for everyone, but if you can carry your camera as often as it’s convenient you’ll find yourself seeing like a photographer better and faster. And that means you’ll start taking better pictures sooner.
2. Keep it simple. Be it compositions, lenses, special effects and any number of things, remember that photographically speaking, less can often be more. Don’t just take bad photos and then apply every photo filter you can think of. Concentrate on doing one simple thing well in every photo.
3. There are rules. Learn them. Then learn to break them. My suggestion for breaking rules doesn't mean you should skip the “learn the rules” stage. It’s a crucial one, as with practice it will help to understand composition and visual storytelling more intuitively.
5. Don’t think, “I’ll fix it in Photoshop.” This mistake is easy to make. I still find myself doing it all the time. But if you can fight the urge to make due in a later step, you’ll find yourself making better pictures too. Think of it this way: If you settle during shooting and spend your post time “fixing,” you’re a step behind. A great photographer makes it as ideal as possible during shooting, then uses that postproduction time to make the image even better.
6. Learn the digital stuff. You don’t have to become a computer master, but you do need to understand the basics. It may have been that you were very comfortable with film photography, and even the techniques that went into making analog photographs. But times have changed, and if you don’t get comfortable with “the digital darkroom” you’ll spend way too much time fighting with the “digital” parts and not enough time working with the “photography” parts. Plus, much of the power of digital comes from empowerment; the tools have the capabilities to create the images we envision—but only if we know how to put them to use.
Choosing a Camera
Choosing A Camera For...
What inspires you?
We may share a passion for photography, but we don't all shoot the same subjects or like to work in the same way. Camera manufacturers understand this, and as most digital cameras now have ample resolution for excellent output, manufacturers are distinguishing their models by designing them for a variety of uses.
∗ People & Portraits
Five ways to use flash attachments and accessories for pro lighting effects
The word is finally out: TTL flash is a powerful tool to improve your photography, and easier to use than ever before. Modern TTL flashes are loaded with useful features and can even work wirelessly from your camera.
One obstacle that has kept many photographers from embracing TTL flash is the lack of accessories available to modify TTL flash. One photographer may need a snoot for a hair light, while another needs a softbox for a portrait. The fashion shooter wants a ring flash for his style of shooting, and the wildlife photographer needs a tool to project the flash long distances. Today, there’s a host of accessories available for TTL flash, no matter what your needs.
Current TTL flashes have the ability to narrow the angle of light by zooming the flash head. Some TTL flashes go all the way out to 200mm, which significantly narrows the angle of light. But some situations require a very small shaft of light, something only a few inches wide, or even smaller. Imagine you want to shoot a narrow shaft of light across a subject’s eyes in a portrait. The only way to accomplish this is by using a snoot. Snoots are flash attachments that narrow the beam of light down to a very small area. Two snoots that are popular with TTL flash are made by LumiQuest and Honl Photo.
LumiQuest makes a wide variety of flash attachments, including a snoot. Their snoot is a flexible plastic tube that uses Velcro® to attach to your flash and comes with a removable Velcro® strap or Velcro® with adhesive that sticks permanently to the flash head. The flash beam is significantly narrowed using this snoot and can be further narrowed by pinching the front of the snoot.
Honl Photo also makes a variety of TTL flash accessories, all very functional and well thought out. The Honl snoot comes in two different lengths, and consists of flexible material that wraps around the flash head and attaches with Velcro®. Honl Photo supplies Velcro® speed straps that are wrapped around your flash head to accept attachments. I prefer the eight-inch Regular snoot from Honl over its five-inch Shorty model—the eight-inch narrows the light more.
With both brands of snoots, I use the removable Velcro® strap to attach accessories to my flash. This keeps my flash head clean, and I’m able to use other accessories that don’t require Velcro®.
What about those times when you need a narrow flash beam, but not as much as a snoot? Honl Photo also makes TTL grids. Grids are flash attachments that narrow the spread of light using a honeycomb cell pattern of metal or other material placed in front of the flash. Honl Photo makes two sizes, 1⁄4-inch and 1⁄8-inch. The 1⁄8-inch will give a narrower beam of light. These grids are useful when you’re trying to create dramatic portraits or control background lights in a mult...