cartoon courtesy : What the Duck
I thought I would start a page with questions that I am frequently asked.. just so I can save time on typing out the answer every time.
1. The question I am emailed about at least once a week is : “I love your photos, what kind of camera do you use?“. Now I try not to tense up my muscles and get a little miffed. Yes a great camera makes a difference. But learning to use the camera takes a lot of practice. Learning to see the light and frame a good composition takes experience.
2. The next question I hear a lot is : “I want to buy a GOOD camera, what should I get?” . I can try and answer this but there are too many variables. It is like asking someone ‘Which car should I buy?’. I don’t know your budget, your level of expertise, for what purpose you will use the camera. So it is very hard for me to answer. Definitely check out places like cnet.com etc. for reviews.
3. “Canon or Nikon??“. This is like asking me ‘Mac or PC?’. My answer will always be Mac. And Nikon. That does not mean PCs are terrible (okay a little) or Canons suck (never used one).. but its just my opinion.
4. “Should I get an SLR?”. My question back to you is twofold:
a. Will you commit to learning how to use it? Or are you going to stick it in AUTO mode, use the kit lens, and let the pop-up flash come up when there is plenty of ambient light? Be truthful. It takes time and commitment to learn to use your camera. Or rather to learn how to use all those features that you paid the $$ for in the first place.
b. Will you take it with you everywhere? SLRs are bigger than point and shoots. They are not as easy to throw in the diaper bag or purse. So sometimes its easier to just leave the buggers at home. Believe me, I use my cell phone camera a lot when out and about. Way lighter. Mostly I get blurry images… since the shutter lag is like two days long.. but I am not looking for portraits or anything.
Think about it. If you are going to spend that much money on a SLR.. make sure you use it and use it well!
4. “ I have decided to get an SLR, what lens should I get?“. First up, just buy the body. Don’t buy the kit lens. Do NOT buy the kit lens. Instead, spend a $100 and buy the 50mm 1.8. Its a fixed lens.. which means you cannot zoom. But you have feet, so you can go further away or closer by walking. Brilliant! I use the 50mm 1.4 for 90% of my photographs. However, I very rarely open up the aperture to 1.4 . I used the 50mm 1.8 exclusively when I started this business. Its a VERY sweet lens. BUY IT!
5. “Okay I got the 50mm 1.8, and I am loving using it, but its not wide enough for me to use indoors, what now??“ (Or alternatively, “I have money burning a hole in my pocket, what should I buy next??“).
My answer is a question : “Do you REALLY need a new lens?”. Why? Can you really not back up enough in the room? If yes, I understand your frustration. If you want to stick to a prime, the 35mm is great. Or the 24-70mm 2.8 is a great lens too. Always spend your money on GOOD lenses. Camera bodies come and go.. lenses you can use for a long long long time.
6. “What shutterspeed are you using?“. I hear this question a lot. This tells me something. That you don’t yet know what you are doing. That is OKAY. Get the book Understanding Exposure and well, understand exposure! You MUST understand the relationship between ISO, Shutterspeed and Aperture. Yes you can use the camera in Aperture mode… but you still need to understand what is going on.
7. “How do you memorize all the camera settings?“. With experience I have come close to knowing what my readings will be given a particular light but I always use my in-camera meter and the histogram to check my exposure. It is instant feedback in the camera, telling me what the light is like. If the terms in-camera meter and histogram are making your head spin, it means you have a little bit more to learn. And that is okay.
8. “You have such a great eye, I wish I could ‘see’ like you“. Thank you for the compliment. I appreciate it. But I want to be completely truthful here. Yes there may be some ‘eye’ involved, but much of it is practiced and learned and pure experience. Which means, you don’t have to be born with the ‘eye’. You can learn it. I promise. Just promise to practice lots and know your camera inside out.
9. “Can you give me a couple of tips to get good photos?“.
Sure! Here are some come to mind:
a. Get down to the child’s level. At a session, you will often see laying on my belly. Try it. Get down to the child’s level.
b. Open up your cameras aperture. This blurs out all the stuff at the back and brings the subject into focus. It is called Depth of Field.
c. Watch the light in the given situation. LIGHT (photo) is perhaps the hardest thing to learn in photography… you will often hear photographers talk about ‘good light’, ‘bad light’ etc. This is a long topic.. I will address it at another time.
10. “What is in your camera bag?” . Currently I use the Nikon D700 . The lenses I have are 50mm 1.4, 85mm 1.4, 35mm 2.0 and 24-70mm 2.8. I have a Jill-E camera bag (medium size) and I love it.
11. “Can you show me your BEFORE and AFTERs?” . Sure. Look here.
12. “What software do you use?“. I shoot in RAW and use Lightroom 2.0. It is brilliant for organizing and editing photographs. Once I have finished my tweaks in Lightroom, I open the files in Photoshop CS2 and make some small tweaks (boogers, scratches) etc. I don’t do too much to the photos. I try and keep it simple.
That is it for now… I will come back and add here whenever I think of something. Or if you have questions, ask me and I will answer them here. Hope this helps somewhat.