Upgrade the Photographer

We all know that the first step to better photography is buying that new camera with more megapixels. Or is it the one with higher ISO? Probably both. Actually – for 99% of us it’s none of the above. We have met the enemy and he is us (Pogo).
In order of importance, the three key ingredients to capturing a good image are (capturing; not fixing in Photoshop) –

  1. The photographer
  2. The lens
  3. The camera

If the photographer is lacking in any of several areas including –

  • Technique
  • Knowledge and understanding of
    • Basic photography principles (exposure, focus, color, ISO, etc.)
    • The equipment in hand (not on some wish-list)
  • Vision (the ability to “see” photographically)

all of the fancy equipment upgrades in the world won’t help much – if at all. For example,

  • If you shoot landscapes and don’t use a tripod but, rather, lust after a stabilized lens to compensate for your shaky hands and more megapixels so that you can crop your poorly composed images – you’re on the wrong track technique-wise.
  • If your images often are poorly focused or exposed, you need to work on your understanding of the basics.
  • If you cannot make routine adjustments to your equipment (such as aperture, shutter speed, ISO, WB, exposure compensation) instinctively within seconds without removing your eye from the viewfinder, you need to learn your equipment better
  • If you can’t tell with a glance at a captured image in the monitor
    • What is wrong with it and
    • Knowing what’s wrong, how to fix the problem(s)
    • Then you need to work both on photography basics & knowing your equipment better
  • If you routinely take snapshots and not make images that are creative and show a personal style, the equipment hasn’t been made yet that will help you. Photography and the Art of Seeing by Freeman Patterson (or any of his other books) is highly recommended.

Once you’ve “upgraded the photographer” it may be time to consider equipment upgrades. Do you currently own the best “glass” that you can afford? If not, most likely a better lens used with your current camera body will yield greater image quality improvements than will a newer body coupled with your “less than best” glass. And – best of all – good lenses are forever while your latest digital camera will be obsolete sooner than you think.

Oddly enough, many of us spend more time and money upgrading the least important element, our camera, and less on the most important – ourselves. Hope springs eternal and, besides, upgrading the photographer takes lots of time, work and practice. Who wants that? 😉

Just something to think about.

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