Tips you wished everyone knew

(darix) #21

many people dont want to learn photography. they want to get the photos of their family, their pet. or the nice view of the landscape in front of them.

Or let me rephrase that … sometimes it is much much more important to have the photo in your camera than being able to claim “yeah I did that all in manual mode” … nobody cares about this if you missed the shot.

Personally I have my camera in aperture prio like almost the whole time, as the DOF can have a big influence on the look of an image. i rarely fiddle with iso and shutter speed can have a big impact on the look but those moments are rare for me.

(Glenn Butcher) #22

Isn’t this what you’re doing here?

You’re not showing any consideration for how those who do know ‘manual’ who then use ‘auto’ in an informed way.

(Jim Donelson) #23

No, I am giving a practical way to learn this. An actual practice that will help you learn manual, as opposed to just telling you should learn manual then launching into to yet another explanation of the exposure triangle.

If you know how to use manual, then yes I am not giving you any consideration, but do you need any?

(Mica) #24

The exercise you outlined is too terse; “Go out and use manual or give up” doesn’t really help anyone learn anything.

This is essentially what you’ve done, “use manual mode or stick to your phone camera,” with a side dish of “get of my lawn you digital kids!”

I’ve been making photos for 20 years, so this isn’t for me. However, people learn by (1) being curious and looking into things more or (2) seeing a problem (with their photos) and figuring out how to fix it. I don’t think your suggestion is verbose enough to encourage either.


If you do “action photography” (things that move fast in front of you), manual will get you more under/overexposed shots than automatic (not speaking of blurry ones :).

(Ingo Weyrich) #26

Use a lens hood. Especially when using fast primes with large front elements.
If you use a full format (FX) lens on a crop (DX) camera, it’s preferable to use a longer lens hood than the one recommended by the lens manufacturer.

(Jim Donelson) #27

“For one week shoot only using the Sunny 16 rule. Set the shutter speed to 1/250 and the ISO to 200.
Use the sunny 16 rule to set the aperture. Only shoot jpeg set all picture controls to off or neutral, no chimping allowed. Always have a subject but just shoot anything. Keep a log of which rule you used and why.”
Ok, you have 20 years, please explain it better than I have. You could really help out.

(Jim Donelson) #28

This rule will work for camera shake, but not motion blur on a fast moving subject. Two different animals. It’s not really possible to have a motion blur rule because it depends on speed of the subject, distance from the subject and angle to the subject.


I don’t understand why you would disallow checking the histogram periodically (“chimping”) in your “all manual” exercise. Surely this provides for more immediate feedback and a quicker learning process than shooting for an hour, getting home, and realizing you underexposed everything by a stop.

I agree that shooting manual is a good exercise, though.

(Mica) #30

Chimping is absolutely crutial to learning how to expose properly. It gives immediate feedback about the exposure obtained. Immediate feedback = quicker learning. Just because you and I spent way too much time with an exposure log doesn’t mean the current generation has to. Also, what does the sunny 16 rule actually teach you?

I’d say, shoot manual mode once you know how aperature and shutter work together. Turn on live histogram if your camera has it. Chimp your histogram after every shot. Think about what tones you want exposed and make sure you get them. Shoot in all the different metering modes and see how they effect the outcome. Shoot jpg + raw, because you never know when you’ll need the latitude because you captured something awesome. Know that the learning process is slow and you’ll screw it up a lot.


I like your list overall, but I would amend this for crop-frame cameras to use the reciprocal of the effective focal length. (So 1/52 for a 35mm lens on a Nikon DX camera, for instance.) Also, as noted above, I think this only works for camera shake from photographing stationary subjects and moving subjects may require a much faster shutter speed to freeze motion (which in turn depends on the speed of the subject and direction of movement relative to the camera).

And of course, one can purposely blur motion for artistic effect.

(darix) #32

Added a note about exposure compensation in my initial post.

(Jim Donelson) #33

The assumption is that if you come here, better than even chance you DO want to learn photography.
The reason to use manual is to get better exposures not bragging rights.
Attempting the LEARNING EXERCISE I outlined is to get better in camera exposures.

The “missing the shot” excuse is one I have heard often for refusing to actually learn how to make a correct exposure. If auto allowed you to never miss a shot I doubt any would care about learning manual - just stick with your cell phone - no worries you will never miss a shot.

But since you are an expert at this, I would not expect you to be interested.


Evening, Jim,

Hm… May I, please, express another opinion?
Of course, it all depends on what you mean by “learn photography”.

For me, gives me a superb source of information for learning more about development :slight_smile:


Have fun!
Claes in Lund, Sweden


and it would really help me to take the sunglasses off before looking in the view-finder.
But then, that’s a lot of trouble and also leads to loss of a good pair of shades.

I have one of those big tear-drop shaped rubber eye-pieces on my viewfinder that works fine with a naked eye; however, pictures I take with the sunglasses on that look perfectly composed badly miss the mark when I get them in the computer.

I don’t know if it is a conflict between the sunglasses and the eyepiece, or just the glasses period, but some part of the equation is fooling my eye.

(Jim Donelson) #36

Well, you obviously you have learned photography. In the film days you were much more inclined to do so, as you did not have immediate feedback, you only had so many shots and it was more expensive. What I see happening now is jumping right to RAW, and “fixing things later” without ever actually learning photography.

(Jim Donelson) #37

“Better than even chance” means 50/50 I suppose. Probably more than that come here to learn photography. Of course I might then inquire what it is you are developing. Software?


But what if being able to improve/change things later belongs to today’s photography?

Have fun!
Claes in Lund, Sweden

(Shreedhar Inamdar) #39

Hej @Claes! For me a definition of learning photography will be as follows
If one has a vision of how the captured image (of whatever is in front of you) should look like and if your camera is capable of producing it, then you should be able to produce it in camera. Consistently.
Secondly, if one doesn’t have any vision about outcome, but still instinctively feel like taking a picture, then one should be able to take a shot that maximizes the number of visions one can get out of the shot. Consistently.

What you say about this attempt of defining without any technical terms? Cheers.

(Aurélien Pierre) #40

My only tip here is shoot less, draw more.

When you shoot, you are supposed to compose the frame. When you draw, you need to decompose, isolate the shapes, analyze the graphic structure, see the what lines are principal, what are details. Drawing teaches you to see far better than photography, and trains you to compose the frame in your head before pressing the shutter.