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Thursday, September 15, 2011

Questions and Comments To Not Say To A Photographer

Have you ever come across a photographer while you're traipsing your way (quite possibly walking your dog) around a park. He's got a nice camera (a DSLR from the looks of it); and a rather large lens mounted to the front of the camera? So you think? "Wow, he must know what he's doing. And maybe he might be able to give me some pointers." Y'know what? Chances are, he isn't going to be solicitous if you interrupt him in the midst of his photography.

When the camera lens is UP...and attached to his face...THAT is NOT the time to bother him with questions. Wait until he gets the shot and brings his camera down.

And there are several things that you needn't touch upon:

That's a nice camera (or lens)
Yes he knows that's a nice camera and/or lens, he bought it as a tool and he uses it to get the photos he creates. When he's not using it, it sits in his camera bag and not in some sort of shrine dedicated to the God of Photography or something. And another variant of this is "Nice photograph, you must have a nice camera..." That to a photographer is like my telling a hunter who has made a great kill and saying "Hey, nice shot, you must have a great rifle." It's not the camera, it's the vision of the photographer.

Will you shoot my wedding?
If he's shooting animals with his camera, chances are you've stumbled across a wildlife photographer, especially if he has an extremely long lens. And most wildlife photographers are solitary animals, much like the prey they stalk. The last thing they want to do is hang out in a smoke-filled room filled with boisterous, loud people who use this wedding as a way to socialize. Most Wildlife photographers don't socialize; we're out tracking. And frankly, I'd rather shoot an irritated king brown in the Outback with an 18-70mm f/3.5-4.5 than shoot a wedding. NO thanks.

Oh...I see you've got such and such a brand and model of camera; I've got this brand and's so great; I'm sure it'll get me just as good shots as you create... I've spent 26 years working on my photography skills. And chances are 9 times out of 10 my shots turn out. Again, it's not the brand and model of the camera you choose, it's whether or not you can make use it or not and have results come out of it.'re using a digital? Well, I use a film camera...
See above. The other corollary to this is "I use film, any person who knows photography knows they really learn when they have to use film. Uh...OK...whatever. It just so happens that visual learners learn the best when they see immediate results, not results 2 weeks down the road (such as were developing times when I was growing up unless you wanted to pay $$$ out your nose for 48 hr turnaround) by which time, you forget every damned setting you used. Hence I learned best on a digital SLR. And like one of my friends, Paul Burwell, said "Digital has far surpassed the quality of film cameras nowadays." You don't need to worry about exposing your film to light when you have to chance film speeds or carry around a black bag with you to swap out your film rolls when you have to make a film speed change. All you have to do is flip a dial and up your ISO. So frankly when I hear a film user complain that you can't learn "true photography" off a digital camera, I say they're sucking sour owl s***.

What do you think of my photos?
Look, if I give you an honest critique of your photography, 9 times out of 10 you'll be annoyed unless you're a serious amateur photographer who is looking to advance in your photography. If you're just a person who likes picking up your camera and taking shots once in a while to have're probably just expecting me to blow sunshine up your ass. Unfortunately, I'm a photographer who takes his work very seriously and I don't spend my time blowing adulation in anyone's direction, so frankly, I'm the wrong one to ask. I can usually tell if someone is serious about their photography. They take the time to study online, read up everything that they can possibly get and they'll usually have a photography magazine (subscribed to, of course) in their camera bag that they've got their nose in if and when they don't have their camera attached to their face. Real serious amateurs live and BREATHE photography.

Did you Photoshop that?
Yes, all photographs require some post-processing. The most I usually do is amp the colors up some and do some slight sharpening, but other than that, most of my work is pretty much straight out of camera. I will not remove a branch with the clone tool...I will more than likely just reposition and reshoot. Better to get it right in camera and have to do the least amount of post-processing possible.

I just bought a $1,200 DSLR...why are my pictures blurry?
Your minimum handheld speed is 1.5X the focal length of your lens. So if you are shooting a 200mm lens. Your minimum shutter speed at ISO 200 would be 1.5x 200mm= 1/350th of a second; and frankly, the higher the better. On a sunny day, I'm shooting somewhere in the neighbourhood handheld at 200mm 1/1000th of a sec. That's more than enough to freeze moving objects.

Do you do selective coloring on your photography?
No ma'am...that is strictly in the realm of "faux"tography. I generally call it "bad taste".

Hey, do you think I can get the same shot with my 12.1 MP P&S?
You have a 12.1 MP point and shoot, your sensor is half the size of mine. Do you know what light-bleed is? Do you know what happens when you cram 12.16 million pixels into a space 1/2 the size of a postage stamp? You have absolutely no control over your ISO, shutterspeed and aperture. Let me put it in this way: You have a Lilliputian idiot inside your camera selecting your shutterspeed and aperture as well as ISO by putting numbers on a dartboard and throwing darts at it BLINDFOLDED. In other words...NO.

Yes, this article is incomplete. I don't think I have run across ALL the questions that I have gotten asked yet. I'm sure I will probably think that I will have run across all of them in the course of my photography over the next few years, but then someone will come up with another chart-topper.

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