We all started somewhere. (fairly image heavy)


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Jun 1, 2010
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This post is NOT aimed at anyone in particular and my intention is show an example. I first bought a DSLR in 2008, a Canon 400D and built up some lenses from the basic 18 - 55 kit lens plus a nifty 50 f/1.8. As I gained experience I bought the Canon EF 17 - 40 and a 70 - 300.

These weren't my first shots with it, but I went out on an evening on a trip to Las Vegas and took some night shots. No tripod, and these are the best of the ones I had. I had plenty of shaky ones:

las vegas Feb 08 by singingsnapper, on Flickr

vegas etc 08 by singingsnapper, on Flickr

How would I critique them now? They were both shot with the 17 - 40 L lens so plenty of potential, but they are way too dark. Composition is pretty poor too, I'd cut off buildings, and just way too much black space.

So why was this? I didn't know my camera and I was just firing from the hip. They're not terrible, ok yes they are! I didn't read one page of the manual and shot too many dark shots without a tripod. Also all shot in jpeg.

While I was in the states for a while, I grabbed a few books and read them cover to cover. I wanted to improve, and continued learning through trial and error. I knew nothing about post processing at all, still shot in jpeg for another 18 months.

The next three were shot just over a month later from Queenstown in New Zealand. They are of Lake Wakitipu and The Remarkeable mountains

queenstown 1 2008 by singingsnapper, on Flickr

queenstown2 031 by singingsnapper, on Flickr

queenstown2 030 by singingsnapper, on Flickr

Now they are no masterpiece. I still wasn't sure why I picked the settings that I did, but I believe that the compositions are far better. Since then, I have made a lot of progress, both in terms of exposure and composition. I have much still to learn, and I still don't read the manual from cover to cover as I am too impatient to try a new beast out.

This forum, is a testy place to be sometimes, and I think that there is an unwritten contract required. The regulars should have more patience with new people, and recognise when someone is struggling to get to grips with things. It is, though, a two way contract. Those that ask for guidance must have the respect and humility to give suggestions a try, and learn to step away and take stock occasionally. The current situation is not caused by one set of people or the other, but by both. We all have a responsibility to each other, but it is a voluntary one, and that is what makes it all the more difficult.

We need to make a commitment that we don't disrespect each other. Do I mean respect? No. Respect is earned, but disrespect is uncalled for. We should have more patience because we were all at the 'newbie' stage at some point. But those that want guidance need to be realistic about their abilities and be willing to take criticism on the chin provided it's not disrespectful. How else can one learn? I learned by someone telling me very firmly but not disrespectfully that what I thought were photographs were no better than snapshots. I was gutted. I wanted to give up. But I dusted myself down and had an OBJECTIVE look at my pictures from their point of view, and they were right. So I started taking less photos and took more time over them. I still take snapshots sometimes. We all do. We just have to acknowledge that we all have a need to learn. The journey starts by recognising the need to learn. That need has to be put into action.


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Dec 4, 2011
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Well said! BTW..I think those are lovely shots. Yes, as a beginner I'm trying to learn and practice..taking shots when I can and trying to work on improving my composition, etc.

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