As I recently promised, I'm going to answer some reader questions regarding photography for today's Photography Friday post.
• Do I have to take a class to improve my photography? No, you don't. Some of my favorite (and some very famous) photographers are self taught. By the way, self taught doesn't mean they just did whatever when shooting – they made a concentrated effort to learn and improve. There are all sorts of ways to learn photography and a classroom is just one of them.
Photography is a journey. Even the best photographers never stop learning. By the way, photography is an expensive journey. (Just warning you!) Picking up good condition, used, lenses, etc., is a great option.
• What do I need if I'm just starting out? I get asked this question repeatedly. I would start off with a basic DSLR (digital) camera. Learn the camera inside and out, and add a beginning software editing program as soon as possible.
Ahem, it bears repeating, learn your camera inside and out. It does no good to have tools you never use, right? Good photographers can operate their cameras on different settings at night in the dark, without thinking twice about it. Can you?
(Also, Photoshopping something to death doesn't begin to make up for a bad photo.)
• Do I have to shoot in RAW? No, you don't have to. You don't have to do anything. The majority of professional photographers shoot in RAW though, and wouldn't consider doing otherwise. If you don't have photo editing software, jpegs are the way to go. There are other situations when jpegs are helpful too, but if you're trying to learn and improve you should understand RAW and the benefits it brings.
• Why do I need photo editing software? To answer that question, you need to understand how a digital camera works. In film days, the photos were taken and then developed in a dark room. How they were developed impacted the final look of the photo. The same is true today with digital cameras. The camera does some of the work, but not all of it. If you really want to "finish" the process, you need photo editing software.
• Do you ever use manual focus? And if so, why? Yes, I use manual focus frequently.
It isn't possible to take photos like the above purple flower on auto-focus. Manual focus is your friend – acquaint yourself with it. It's really very easy, I promise.
• Can I use Lightroom if I don't shoot in RAW? Yes, you can. Lightroom is a great tool for organizing and sorting photos. It also allows you to do some basic photo editing adjustments. It doesn't allow you to do everything Photoshop allows you to do, however.
It's a limited tool, but a good one.
• What do you use to edit your photos? I use Lightroom and Photoshop CS5.
• People say I take nice photos, can I make money off of them? Possibly. A lot (!!) of people take "nice" photos though. In fact, there are many amazing, spectacular, photographers making no money.
Be your own biggest critic – how can you make your photos better/special/different? Start noticing photos you love – in magazines, in the newspaper, in books, on the Internet … and then ask yourself why you like them.
• Nikon or Canon? Either.
Photography is art – find your own style and have fun!
© Twenty Four At Heart