Food for thought : to shoot is to chose.

Discussion in 'Open Discussion' started by nianys, Nov 16, 2012.

  1. nianys

    nianys TalkEmount All-Pro

    Aug 23, 2012
    As a reasonably proficient photog I very often get approached by friends, colleagues or relatives for advice.
    Everybody seems to be after the magic bullet that will bring them great pictures without having to learn photography first.
    I'm sorry to say, there is none.
    The Auto green dial and the "idiot" scene modes are the budding photographer's worst enemies.
    Before mirrorless or translucent existed, I admit they had their use. But with the rise of full time live view, the best thing one can do is take control of a maximum of settings.
    Think about it. Everybody lives the commodity of Auto. Auto ISO, auto WB, auto exposure, auto distortion compensation, long exposure noise compensation, you name it.
    Worst yet, for the past 3 or 4 years HDR has been all the rage. Folks routinely bitch about any camera not offering 7 exposure bracketing options on the fly.. People, How much crutch do you need ?!?

    For me, on an almost philosophical level, photography is all about choice (part of the reason I love it, as somewhat of a control freak, LOL). Do I want a camera, dumb piece of plastic and a bunch of electric connections, to make decisions for me ? (to be continued)
  2. nianys

    nianys TalkEmount All-Pro

    Aug 23, 2012
    Heck no ! When you rely on a meter, you let the camera in charge of where exposure will be. The digital DR being inferior to the human eye's (and still to film so far), you're gonna have to make compromises, somewhere. Wouldn't you rather be in charge of where that compromise will be ? Blown highlights. Ok, big deal. Sure a completely burned sky is pretty ugly, but a reasonable blown area with a well exposed subject makes me perfectly happy. Or maybe I'm ok with under exposing my subject a bit because environment is equally important to the story my picture is trying to tell, and I want the background properly exposed. Either way, I'd rather be in charge of what is exposed and how.
    Same goes for focus point. Holy cow I don't even know what twisted mind invented auto AF point selection ?!! Whatddya mean the camera will know ?? The camera doesn't know squat, and certainly not where it's best to focus ! The very first thing I do when a noob hands me a camera never broken out factory settings is switch to center AF point and give them a quick explanation of the above, and focus recompose lesson.
    Ultimately, the NEX has turned me into a full time manual shooter. Yes, A mode works well with the camera picking up shutter speed once you've selected your aperture (arguably THE most important setting you'll decide of) and letting you fine tune it's automated response via Exposure Compensation. Except exp comp is a PITA with button press/enter annoying little screen with virtual scale/turn wheel/return to shooting mode and only THEN take the shot. I don't know about you, but the fast moving toddlers or pets I routinely shoot don't wait for my adjustments to be done to take off running. Be quick or miss the shot.
    In M mode you lose absolutely nothing, and just gain speed and efficiency. With your aperture selected towards how much DOF you want, just turn the wheel to adjust shutter speed and see the screen give you REAL TIME feedback of what you're doing !!! That's the ultimate safety net, you'll never take a over/under exposed pic ever again, unless you want it that is. High key, low key, night photography, at your fingertips.
    The 5N automatically boosts the LCD after so many EV stops that'd make it unusable, the 6 let's you chose wether you want your settings faithfully showing or not. I have to jump back and forth between both options whether I'm shooting in sailing or in low light with flash. Not a huge deal either.
    Same is true of WB, if you're a Jpeg shooter like me you want to pretty much nail that. Custom or Kelvin with fine tuning works very well, though Auto is usually good in daylight.
    Anyway I guess you get the idea, and MF is the ultimate in taking charge of your photography.
    Let's get in control folks, the NEX let's you do it ;)
  3. nianys

    nianys TalkEmount All-Pro

    Aug 23, 2012
    I forgot to mention manual only robs you of auto ISO. Another kicked crutch. Picking ISO for a specific lightning situation is easy enough that it shouldn't stop you.
  4. applemint

    applemint TalkEmount Veteran

    Sep 20, 2012
    There is no magic bullet, but you often see non photographers (as in people who just say use a compact for snapshots of nights out, trips away, days out, kids at home, birthdays etc) making quite basic errors - not checking everything in the frame (background etc), not getting close enough (or using the zoom to do the 'work'), always putting the subject very centrally in the frame, always shooting from the same standing position (never crouching down or kneeling for example), always using the camera in landscape mode even for all portraits (of course portraits can work in either landscape or portrait but it's usually best not to do all your portraits in landscape, using the built in flash when taking photos of something far away (like at concerts were they end up with an overexposed picture of the back of the heads of the people in front of them).

    So if someone wants basic advice then I think there are a lot of pointers you can give, particularly on composition, but beyond that yes people need to be brave enough to step into the non auto everything modes and be prepared to take some control over the decisions rather than letting the camera choose. But then not everyone is interested in the 'photography' aspect and they are happy enough with their snapshots as the photo is a reminder of the place and/or occasion - nothing wrong with that of course.
    But then I guess the people who ask for advice do want to get better pictures and those who are happy with what they take would not be asking for advice.
  5. applemint

    applemint TalkEmount Veteran

    Sep 20, 2012
    If you think it's annoying on a Nex you should try it on an Olympus Pen - drives me nuts! I keep changing the aperture when I mean to dial in + or - exp comp and vice versa. But yes, compared to a dslr (or perhaps models with more controls like the Nex 7?), the Nex is annoyingly slow to change exp comp in a hurry.
  6. kevistopheles

    kevistopheles TalkEmount All-Pro

    Jun 18, 2012
    I agree.

    I don't have any issues with auto modes. I don't use them often (in fact I can't think of the last time I have used them). I do like shooting aperture priority and I have since film days but that's a choice to a need. When you think about it though photography isn't rocket science. The basics are simple to grasp and it doesn't take a lot of brain power to be proficient them. It simply takes practice. I think that auto modes don't help the beginning photographer and can lead to bad habits and just like the photography classes at the university where I work I think people should start with full manual, black and white and FILM. Once they get comfortable with that then they can move on to digital. That said there are some fundamental things that I think a beginner should know (about composition, focus and such) that will dramatically improve their photos. I suppose they could look at those as a sort of "secret" if they wanted.

    At issue here IMHO is also a perception (and I think it is more common than we realize) that the tool makes the artist as opposed to the other way around. It's a tricky question especially when presented to a gear centric forum like this. All of us have preferences as to what tools we like and have our reasons for making those choices. The thing is that manufactures have been pushing this idea for years. I teach technology and I see it all the time where folks think that if they by Photoshop they are automatically going to be digital artists or if they own Final Cut Pro they can edit a movie. That mindset is there because the folks that create these tools need it be there in order to continue to sell products.
  7. davect01

    davect01 Super Moderator Subscribing Member

    Aug 20, 2011
    Fountain Hills, AZ
    I kind of agree. 90 percent of the time I use "S" mode as my manual lenses all have Aperture controls on them.

    About the only Auto mode I use when the stock lens in attached is occasionally the "Sport" mode. I have used this when there is severely contrasting lighting and fast action. For example we were at my nephew's birthday party, hanging out on the patio, and the kids were out in the sun playing.

    The "sport" mode is just a time saver. Again I heartily agree that manual is the way to go, but the Automatic modes are occasionally handy.
  8. teefin1

    teefin1 TalkEmount Top Veteran

    Sep 7, 2012
    Six months ago I had never used anything but a P&S, always in auto. I did not have a clue how to use any other settingand took pretty crap pictures. I was inspired by my wedding photographer and since then have tried to learn more about photography and practise what i do learn/read. All in all, shooting in manual and learning about ISO, shutter speed and aperture primarily has made taking pictures fun, which it never was before, and has improved my pictures into the bargain. I wouldnt want to go back. I like the creativity that becomes available if you dig a little deeper into what a camera is capable of. I have a long way to go before calling myself a proficient photog, but i second pretty much all you have said, and im a noob ;)
  9. nianys

    nianys TalkEmount All-Pro

    Aug 23, 2012
    I tried two Pens and hated them with a passion, LOL. Their UI has to be the absolute worst in the camera world.
  10. NickCyprus

    NickCyprus Super Moderator

    Oct 11, 2012
    ^^This is like listening to myself
    I feel EXACTLY the same as this and I'm in the EXACT same boat as well (previous P&S shooter with everything in Auto, took crap photos - probably still do :D)
    From the moment I got my hands on the Nex, I never once used the Auto mode - Always shoot M-mode or S-mode (that was the reason I bought the Nex in the first place - to learn to take better photos).
    IMHO, my photos have improved a lot (you should see how bad my photos were before) but still a lot to learn. I guess practise (lots of it) is what makes us noobs better.

  11. teefin1

    teefin1 TalkEmount Top Veteran

    Sep 7, 2012
    Add to that, a site like this and regular inspiration and feedback from the likes of Nianys, Dixeyk and dioptrick (to name but a few) and us noobs are doing alright. :cool:
  12. nianys

    nianys TalkEmount All-Pro

    Aug 23, 2012
    My post was abolutely not to diss noobs, but to make everybody aware about how photography is about choices from the get go. Selecting what to point your lens at, and when to trip the shutter is the first and major choice that you'll make. That's where you're the boss and in charge of the end product. So we may as well take over the whole process and control as many aspects as we can.
    As Dixeyk said, photography basic are indeed very simple once you open your mind to the tri headed equation (ISO, shutter, aperture). Throw in white balance (which can be tricky but easily experienced with, or beaten in RAW) and focusing and you're toast.
    What I'm saying is, NEX's full time live view enables us to PREVIEW the result of any adjustment we make prior the shot. In this regard it's the greatest photographic learning tool I ever handled.