Working With What You Have
Today I’d like to do something a little different and talk about the importance of finding value in what you have. I feel so hypocritical even has I type this, however, because I am the worlds worst about thinking that if I don’t have the latest and greatest technology that my photography will be sub par to everyone else. I took my good sweet time conquering this mind set, but in the end what I found was that the only way I could get over this was to really take my time and learn the basics of photography. When you start to look for composition, colors, contrast, and elements that make a photograph unique, that’s when you truly realize that the camera is nothing but a tool; a way to output the image you saw and share it with the world. Once you realize this its simply a matter of learning how to use the tools you have to suit your purposes. For example, here are a few images I captured the other night right before the sun went down.
What did I used to take these pictures? Nothing but my plain old iPhone. I couldn’t help but notice how spectacular the sunset looked, and since I didn’t have my DSLR with me I used the only camera I had: the one on my phone. Now, could these pictures have been better if I had set up a tripod and my DSLR and spent a fair amount of time capturing the sunset? Absolutely. But if I had gone back and gotten my camera and tripod these pictures wouldn’t exist. Which brings me to my next point, sometimes it’s okay to let the camera make the decisions for you. In this case I had no choice, the iPhone was going to decide what my exposure was and how to process the image afterwards. But at least I have the photo. It’s always frustrating and a bit sad to see photographers fiddling with their cameras while a beautiful shot is unfolding in front of them. Two of the most neglected settings on your camera are undoubtedly Shutter and Aperture Priority (AV and TV). If you don’t care about the depth of field why are you setting your aperture? Set your shutter speed and let the camera pick the appropriate aperture. You might be surprised by the results you get. The same can be said of shutter speed. If you’re not shooting any action shots and you want to make the background nice and creamy, set your aperture to the fastest setting and let the camera pick the shutter speed. If you have the time to really set up your camera and get the best photo possible then great, you should do that. But also be aware that some moments are fleeting and it’s better to get the shot than to wonder how awesome that picture would have been if you hadn’t been trying to get your exposure right.
But of course, these are just my opinions and thoughts on the matter. If you asked ten photographers how to do something you’d get twenty different answers. I also must admit that I did do a little retouching on these. As much as I vouch for the power of the almighty iPhone camera its native color profile is a little too drab for me. Here’s the before and after.