March 12, 2006

Is Photography Getting Too Technical Lately?

Is Digital Imaging Leaving Some People Behind?

I started my "career" in photography at the tender age of 13 way back in 1980. I found that things seemed to be so complicated to start with and thought is photography too technical for people these days in how it is approached?

Kitchen Interior Photography

F-Stops, shutter speeds, ASA (ISO) ratings, double exposures, depth of field and the "wet" darkroom took some getting used to. However,  it was still great fun.

Nowadays as a full time professional photographer, I spend quite a bit of time online and in photography forums. This time is spent researching digital cameras, lenses, software and new techniques among other things. I am constantly bewildered by the amount of sometimes unnecessary technical jargon.

New to Digital Photography? Is Photography too Technical for You?

Any newbie's to digital photography must feel overwhelmed these days. There seems to be added pressure to be able to manipulate your images beyond recognition before they are deemed as "quality".

Books and websites are now packed out with technical data, facts and figures that boggle the mind. Information that is really not so important when starting out. It's all too easy to become confused and put off by thinking that you need to know all this. You don't, not for now at least!

It all started when digital technology hit the mainstream buying public and even more so when DSLR's became more affordable. Everywhere I go now I see arguments and discussions for;

  • The amount of mega-pixels necessary to get a good shot
  • Noise (or grain) issues from digital sensors
  • Dynamic range
  • Purple fringing or chromatic aberrations
  • The "crop factor" of a camera's sensor
  • Menu layout, buffer/start up times, image stabilisation...endless

Does All This Really Matter?

What many people need to realise is that all of the above is simply irrelevant when beginning as a photographer. It is still mostly irrelevant as you progress too. You only really need to fully understand these things if you intend to sell your images or services.

The point of my ramblings is to let people know that all you need to do is this;

  • Understand the basic principles of photography. Exposure, composition and lighting
  • Know how to upload and "develop" your images digitally using even basic software, to the point where they resemble how it would have looked if your old film lab had done the job
  • Print, show online via a website or email to friends, family or clients
  • Simply go out and enjoy yourself

If you can put a camera to your eye, see a good picture and know how to capture it as you see it, you are half way there.

Child Portrait Photography

Back to Basics

As testimony to much of the above, most of the large professional stock libraries in the world only accept original, unsharpened, unmanipulated images. No fancy stuff.

Smaller designer-based stock agencies including Microstock companies are different. They accept both original photographic files right up to heavily manipulated digital images.

All you need to do is take your Digital SLR camera, lenses and accessories and go out and have fun. Enjoy getting "back to basics" and learning the true art of photography and worry about the rest later.

The following may be of use to those who have just bought or about to buy a new DSLR (Digital SLR). It will hold you by the hand and walk you through all the need to know areas of digital photography at grass roots level. Don't make photography too technical so that you don't enjoy it!

New Amateur Digital SLR Photography Book

All the best and good luck with this fantastic hobby!

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