There's better things to worry about than mastering your camera

cgipson1

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sooo, auto only works on landscapes? or composition on works on landscapes?

It's a good image that woks because of the composition, not because of carefully selected camera settings.

I should post the originals that AUTO created... but I doubt that I kept them! They were nothing like the finished image, I can assure you!

Any image in my Flickr without EXIF was either shot on Manual, or in Aperture / shutter priority... and I would be more than happy to post the exif on any image you question that on.
 

Overread

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I can definately see a lot the sense in what your saying, but i'm not sure that consistently getting bad results builds confidence in a tool - it tends to teach you that your mastery of the tool is what is at fault (as where this may not be the case), which is what results in "what settings do I need for".

I would argue that a beginner who cannot see improvement, at the very least at a technical level, in their photos when shifting to taking control over the camera as opposed to using auto mode - hasn't actually yet learned to control the camera. Yes there are certainly many ways you can affect the quality of a photo and the camera settings are but one of the components, however its the core building block off which the others are based - its the foundation of the process itself.

Perhaps the placement of my argument is too far from centre, but the main point of writing it, and demontraitng that reasonable results are achieveable in auto was to open peoples eyes to the idea that camera mastery alone will get you no-where, and if your photos are bad, it is important that you learn lighting and composition to get better, not just hammering away at trying to master the tool.

No one is saying that lighting and composition are not important, and indeed as raised above anyone learning photography is going to pick up bits of lighting and compositional advice all the time. The core of the debate though is what to learn first; learning the camera first isn't in any way saying that its the "Most" important part. It's simply showing that its the core foundation and that once you've learnt to control the camera you can then build toward focusing upon learning other aspects.

Yes once the person can control their camera, once they are at a point where if they get underexposure or overexposure they know what has gone wrong and how to correct it (and indeed how to avoid it in the first place) then they are more than ready to dedicated more of their time toward other elements.
 
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ralphh

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Any image in my Flickr without EXIF was either shot on Manual, or in Aperture / shutter priority... and I would be more than happy to post the exif on any image you question that on.

Haha, i wasn't accusing you of being a secret auto shooter - i have no doubt your camera skills are excellent - I was pointing out that you managed to created quite a nice photo in spite of using auto, and more speciffically, it is not blury and DoF looks appropriate.
 

cgipson1

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I can definately see a lot the sense in what your saying, but i'm not sure that consistently getting bad results builds confidence in a tool - it tends to teach you that your mastery of the tool is what is at fault (as where this may not be the case), which is what results in "what settings do I need for".

I would argue that a beginner who cannot see improvement, at the very least at a technical level, in their photos when shifting to taking control over the camera as opposed to using auto mode - hasn't actually yet learned to control the camera. Yes there are certainly many ways you can affect the quality of a photo and the camera settings are but one of the components, however its the core building block off which the others are based - its the foundation of the process itself.

Perhaps the placement of my argument is too far from centre, but the main point of writing it, and demontraitng that reasonable results are achieveable in auto was to open peoples eyes to the idea that camera mastery alone will get you no-where, and if your photos are bad, it is important that you learn lighting and composition to get better, not just hammering away at trying to master the tool.

No one is saying that lighting and composition are not important, and indeed as raised above anyone learning photography is going to pick up bits of lighting and compositional advice all the time. The core of the debate though is what to learn first; learning the camera first isn't in any way saying that its the "Most" important part. It's simply showing that its the core foundation and that once you've learnt to control the camera you can then build toward focusing upon learning other aspects.

Yes once the person can control their camera, once they are at a point where if they get underexposure or overexposure they know what has gone wrong and how to correct it (and indeed how to avoid it in the first place) then they are more than ready to dedicated more of their time toward other elements.

Exactly! And it could be said that learning the camera itself is easier than the somewhat abstract concepts of lighting and composition, especially when you have no clue of why or how they apply to an image... which is something you learn while learning what setting does what on the camera. Learning the camera settings (exposure triangle, etc...) gives you something to tie the lighting and composition aspects to to... and makes them easier to learn!
 
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cgipson1

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Any image in my Flickr without EXIF was either shot on Manual, or in Aperture / shutter priority... and I would be more than happy to post the exif on any image you question that on.

Haha, i wasn't accusing you of being a secret auto shooter - i have no doubt your camera skills are excellent - I was pointing out that you managed to created quite a nice photo in spite of using auto, and more speciffically, it is not blury and DoF looks appropriate.

With LOTs of photoshop for color and contrast correction....

I have been shooting since the early 60's.. so yea, maybe I can even shoot in AUTO occasionally and get something decent. Where does that put the average noob who just started shooting?
 

jake337

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sooo, auto only works on landscapes? or composition on works on landscapes?

It's a good image that woks because of the composition, not because of carefully selected camera settings.

No, what I'm saying is auto will work most of the time for snapshots. When it doesn't what does one do? A basic understanding is needed to understand what auto is doing. Like why is auto making the decisions it makes.

Like with my cell phone. I don't really have any control. But I understand why and can take advantage of it.

8516142492_03188e2fcb.jpg
 

jake337

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sooo, auto only works on landscapes? or composition on works on landscapes?

It's a good image that woks because of the composition, not because of carefully selected camera settings.

I should post the originals that AUTO created... but I doubt that I kept them! They were nothing like the finished image, I can assure you!

Any image in my Flickr without EXIF was either shot on Manual, or in Aperture / shutter priority... and I would be more than happy to post the exif on any image you question that on.


My images without full EXIF were shot with old manual lens were no metering or connection to the my D90 were available. I had no choice but to understand the basic to get a good exposure.
 

Overread

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Just another thought to consider here:

Pre-visualisation - you mention this in your post as a key component for the photographer to start to learn. However I would argue that if a photographer is going to pre-visualise then they need to have experience with the camera in order to be able to have some degree of ability to know how to pre-visualise. Ie they need to know what fast and slow shutter speeds look like; what wide and small apertures look like - how distance affects the shot etc...

Now if they base this understanding off what Auto mode gives them then their ability to pre-visualise and the number of variable they have is significantly limited. Indeed they are in effect training themselves to work only with auto-modes concept of exposure and settings selected and thus their pre-visualisation will be hampered by that process. Their creativity will be sharply limited even when they progress to controlling the camera they'll still end up "thinking" with the same exposure concepts and visual concepts that auto-mode will have taught them.
 
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ralphh

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QUESTION!!! If you have a painter, who is a MASTER of light and composition... really exceptional (this IS what you are suggesting, right?). But this master has NEVER touched a camera in their life (just a noob in photography)! And you hand that "master" a D4, with top end lenses, and a couple of strobes.... what kind of shots are you going to get?

You will
get well composed and framed, underexposed / overexposed, ... SNAPSHOTS (with blur, poor WB, and lousy DOF! ANd a very frustrated master!)! At least until the "Master of light and composition" learns the settings on that camera, and the basic concepts of photography! :)

And yet.... the only photo I could find on your photostream with exiff intact was shot on a compact in program AE with no exposure comp, and auto WB, and yet it wasn't blurry, DoF was appropriate, and the white balance looked fine ;)

BULL... which photo? if you are referring to a landscape taken with an old canon point and shoot while hiking... yea, that was shot in in program (with a LOT of correction in POST!). I NEVER use a DSLR in Auto.. and I strongly resent the implication.

I noticed you DIDN'T answer the LAST question I put to you? Care to do so?

I was implying nothing.

I do find it very interesting that you seem to consider yourself an authority on something that you've never actually tried. Generally if i'm sure enough about something to start writing about it in block capitals i have at least done it once ;)

As for answering your question, my appolgies, I thought i'd already done that - i believe your hypothetical artist has a fairly good chance of getting something reasonable.

You state they will, not might, but will - get blury photos and inappropriate depth of field. Only reason for mentioning your photo is that clearly that didn't happen to you on this occation, and apart from your knowledge of cameras telling you not to hop up and down during the exposure, I can't see how it was relevant. You knowlqge of composition shows, but i'm pretty sure anyone could have pressed the shutter button without changing any setting in a pretty similar way to you did, once the composition was lined up.

I never shoot my DSLR on auto either - i simply have no reason to, but I do shoot my wifes compact on auto. Why? cause with such a small sensor the question of DoF is a bit of a moot point, and it gets the exposure right most of the time, so theres really no point in me having control (also, i then forget to put it back on auto, my wife then can't work it and i get shouted at). Does my knowledge of photography allow me to step in when it struggles? sure. do i need to do it often? nope.
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@overread, your points are again well thought out and well made. I have no answer for you as I simply can't proove you right or wrong, and it makes no sense to be arguing based on assumptions or guesswork.. I certainly learnt settings first, light later, as most people do, but it took a long time that way around. Could that be shortened by jumping ahead to the light part? I had hoped so, but hoping for things doesn't make them true so I'm not going to argue the point.


I know my conscious previsualisation didn't include DoF and shutter speed but maybe that's because I can do these things without needing to put in a lot of thought for a simple portrait.. or maybe just because on a plain white background, it's not desperately relevant beyond enough of both, and given I know that, I don't bother to think about them much.

It would be interesting to take two groups of complete noobs, spend a day teaching one composition and light on auto, and the other exposure triangles, spot metering and DoF control and compare what they were able to produce at the end.

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Either way, if the article helped anyone move on with their photography or opened their eyes to the differnce that thinking about light can make, then i'm happy.
 
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rexbobcat

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The people who would benefit from this discussion...probably don't care enough to pay it mind.

Why should we feel qualified to tell someone what they should be learning?

If someone asks how to make the background blurry who am I to tell them that they should learn about lighting first. This concept does not make sense to me.
 

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I really think that good photography is a combination of camera technique, composition, and light control. They are all 3 equally important. The thing that I have been guilty of in the past is constantly upgrading my equipment. I end up spending more time testing and playing with the equipment than I do making good pictures...... At this point in time I am not lusting for any new lenses or new camera bodies and I'm really comfortable with my kit. Hopefully I can get some time now to take some pictures........just as soon as I can get that 70-200 f/2.8 Nikkor......lol
 

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The people who would benefit from this discussion...probably don't care enough to pay it mind.

Actually the way the discussion has evolved the people who "need to read it" generally are reading it. Since it has evolved quickly into a discussion on the teaching methods of photography - a very valid subject to discuss on a site where imparting what we know upon others is part of the structure and intent.

Why should we feel qualified to tell someone what they should be learning?

If someone asks how to make the background blurry who am I to tell them that they should learn about lighting first. This concept does not make sense to me.

You're taking a select example, yes there are simple and short ways to answer many questions. Heck crack open Scot Kelby's Digital Photography Book 1 and that is pretty much what you get. Stock easy answers to "what settings should I pick to shoot "insert subject type"". It's the basic starting point for any advice for a very specific situation.

That said we don't just sit here answering people with settings suggestions; indeed we often aim to help people further and many who come here are also a little further on than Book 1. They want to start understanding exposure more fully and how to further their interest and understanding of photography in order to get better photos. So we push on to discuss what the best pathway for that is - the argument in the OP's post is that we should consider lighting and composition as that first step - whilst many others are countering that its better to focus first upon the settings and camera control to a point where a person can meter and expose a photo themselves without auto-mode.
 

Overread

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ralphh said:
I certainly learnt settings first, light later, as most people do, but it took a long time that way around. Could that be shortened by jumping ahead to the light part? I had hoped so, but hoping for things doesn't make them true so I'm not going to argue the point.

I think that however one approaches learning, especially self motivated and structured learning, it will take time. I think trying to find a "short cut" method through might be a difficulty. I think it works if a person has a very specific subject and focus (and indeed one often finds that many people do have a specific subject or situational focus (or a couple of them) which they tend to focus their learning around.


ralphh said:
It would be interesting to take two groups of complete noobs, spend a day teaching one composition and light on auto, and the other exposure triangles, spot metering and DoF control and compare what they were able to produce at the end.

It would be interesting to be able to more formally compare the different approaches. My personal gut feeling is that short term the person who learns the lighting and composition, but not camera control would likely do well in a controlled situation where they are under full ability to control the lighting and situation - however they would likely be creatively limited in how they vary their camera settings (lighting would vary but settings wouldn't) and I'd also expect them to struggle in getting a clear shot in more varied situations (for example any form of action photography would likely be a more difficult challenge, esp if they wanted to get crisp clear and sharp shots and couldn't control lighting).

Of course take either approach to its full conclusion and the results should be "the same" since both parties should have learned the same information block in total. The real test would be seeing how well they adapted to learning and how long each group took to learn the more complete and full picture.

It would also be difficult because when one teaches or is taught one doesn't learn facts in full isolation of others. Those learning lighting would be picking up and learning camera control at the same time - and vis versa for the other group.
 

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Actually the way the discussion has evolved the people who "need to read it" generally are reading it. Since it has evolved quickly into a discussion on the teaching methods of photography - a very valid subject to discuss on a site where imparting what we know upon others is part of the structure and intent.

You're taking a select example, yes there are simple and short ways to answer many questions. Heck crack open Scot Kelby's Digital Photography Book 1 and that is pretty much what you get. Stock easy answers to "what settings should I pick to shoot "insert subject type"". It's the basic starting point for any advice for a very specific situation.

That said we don't just sit here answering people with settings suggestions; indeed we often aim to help people further and many who come here are also a little further on than Book 1. They want to start understanding exposure more fully and how to further their interest and understanding of photography in order to get better photos. So we push on to discuss what the best pathway for that is - the argument in the OP's post is that we should consider lighting and composition as that first step - whilst many others are countering that its better to focus first upon the settings and camera control to a point where a person can meter and expose a photo themselves without auto-mode.

What I meant was that the people who place a lot of emphasis on the technical, mechanical aspects generally don't stick around long enough to learn anything else.

Learning shutter speed and aperture is easier than learning and applying artistic concepts in my experience. Why start with the harder path?
 

cgipson1

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Actually the way the discussion has evolved the people who "need to read it" generally are reading it. Since it has evolved quickly into a discussion on the teaching methods of photography - a very valid subject to discuss on a site where imparting what we know upon others is part of the structure and intent.

You're taking a select example, yes there are simple and short ways to answer many questions. Heck crack open Scot Kelby's Digital Photography Book 1 and that is pretty much what you get. Stock easy answers to "what settings should I pick to shoot "insert subject type"". It's the basic starting point for any advice for a very specific situation.

That said we don't just sit here answering people with settings suggestions; indeed we often aim to help people further and many who come here are also a little further on than Book 1. They want to start understanding exposure more fully and how to further their interest and understanding of photography in order to get better photos. So we push on to discuss what the best pathway for that is - the argument in the OP's post is that we should consider lighting and composition as that first step - whilst many others are countering that its better to focus first upon the settings and camera control to a point where a person can meter and expose a photo themselves without auto-mode.

What I meant was that the people who place a lot of emphasis on the technical, mechanical aspects generally don't stick around long enough to learn anything else.

Learning shutter speed and aperture is easier than learning and applying artistic concepts in my experience. Why start with the harder path?

Exactly.. especially when the "easier path" will lay a groundwork to help the student understand the "harder path"!
 

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