Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Compose Yourself

Then Compose A Good Photograph

Moon haze on a clear night. Photograph copyright: DAVID McMAHON

There's a simple secret to photography. Be instinctive. And be happy with the camera you have. Just as you don't need a $10,000 computer to write great prose, you don't need a $10,000 camera to take great pictures. Yes, we all want a 300 mm lens or a great macro lens or the latest bells-and-whistles digital SLR. But the key to photography is to enjoy using what you have.

So you can imagine how much I enjoyed the feedback to my Photo Hunt post The Long And Blinding Road.

Carver said: "I sometimes wish I had a serious digital camera but I feel like I can't justify it until I learn how to do everything it will do. I had a much better 35 mm with several lenses but when I switched over to digital photography, I've made do with an affordable one. I can add lenses if I get a converter but that will get into a lot more money and I don't feel like I can justify it until I develop more skill. I get decent macro shots but need more work with the landscape ones."

David said: "I totally agree with you about the camera - the most important thing is not the camera, but the time. Keep a camera - any camera - with you at all times, and you should be able to capture some good moments that are far better than any set up shots."

Willard, who used to work for the Pennsylvania Game Commission and uses an "old" Canon 10D with several telephoto lenses, said: "You are right with your comments about the cameras. It is amazing what can be done with low to mid range equipment if it is shot correctly."

Les Becker said: "I have to agree with you about taking pictures with just about any camera, David. The one I'm using now was considered mid-range in retail outlets for amateur photographers when I bought it, but it's a pitiful specimen compared to most affordable cameras. Still, I have managed to get some really great photos out of it. The one I had before (the HP PhotoSmart R607) doesn't even come close to this one, and yet with that little thing, I took photos that I'm very, very proud of. Had I not drowned it in coffee, I would still very happily be using it. Proof positive that there is no such thing as a camera that's not good enough".

Blossom Cottage, who has just posted memories of her recent South Africa trip, said: "I use a Canon EOS300 and a 350D love both of them, but I still like my old film SLRs for black and white."

Kate Isis said: "I'm fortunate enough to have a photographer friend who hands me down his old cameras as he updates. But I started with a small compact camera and learnt to take my time and see the world through the lens and I eventually started producing some decent shots. I think no matter what camera your working with, once you get the hang of composition you could take shots on a Box Brownie and come out with good results."

And finally, Epijunky said: "I was green with envy while checking out a camera I couldn't afford (a good ten years back) when the camera's owner told me these words which stuck with me to this day: It's not the camera or the lenses, it's what's six inches behind them."


Gargoyle said...

Good to know you've visited my blog again!

Well I got mine off Amazon and it cost a hell of a lot more than 8 dollars - but then they had to ship it to Dubai and I never qualify for any of the free stuff they offer! Haven't read it yet, but I'll make sure to let you know when I review it on my other blog, shilo70.blogspot.com :)

Epijunky said...

I love having the last word. It's the wife in me, I suppose :)

Thank you for including me, it's an honor.

Ms. Tuesday said...

Excellent shot Dave!

Can I come to your Christmas Party? =)

Maddy said...

Don't get me wrong, I like the idea of trusting my instincts I just have to instinctively resist!

This is my calling card or link"Whittereronautism"until blogger comments get themselves sorted out.

Vic Grace said...

"classy and ageless" Oh David you can come over any time.

Good advice about the camera. I tried to take some shots yesterday as we had spectacular colours on the lake but it disappeared into a hazy on the photo so was not worth putting up.

Cariboo Ponderer

Portia said...

Very true. My husband is researching a new camera for us and while I look forward to it, I love my old chunky 4MP camera because I know it so well. As an amateur, I play the numbers too. I figure if I take a thousand pictures, I'm bound to wind up with a few good ones:)

Craver Vii said...

You said, "the key to photography is to enjoy using what you have." That's great, because I discovered that pressing the shutter button releases endorphins! I am having WAY too much fun.

Blossomcottage said...

Thank you for including me, I love taking photographs, pressing the shutter fills my heart and my mind, the joy I get when I see what I have taken is something I cannot really explain, good bad or indifferent each picture tells me something. I shoot from my heart not from my hip!! One thing I am sure of you can never take too many photographs.


Kimberly said...

Some great advice here, David. Thanks!

Seamus said...

In my opinion, the shot isn't in the camera, but in the eye, skill and good fortune of the photographer.

Corey~living and loving said...

great post DAvid! I have missed you! :)

I totally agree. I really really really loved and used each of my cameras as I have progress. I often find that when people jump to the bigger better more expensive camera too soon, they are so over whelmed they don't know what to do with it, and then lose the love of just taking the pictures.

Salty said...

Excellent advice!

I used a little Canon S2 IS for two years and loved every minute of it. Some of the best digital photos I’ve taken were with it.

Oswegan said...

Ain't that the truth.


Anonymous said...

wonderful night capture and light

Stacy said...

All my photographs have been taken with less expensive point and shoot cameras.

I think about getting a nice dslr and I stop myself, because I just get confused with all the settings and I know I wouldn't use them.

David said...

Wow, I got published! :)
Nice to see the advice of all, hopefully lot's of people will benefit from this advice.

The Christmas party looks very interesting, I'll see if I'm free at that time. I don't know of anyone doing this before.