“You don’t take a photograph, you make it.”
– Ansel Adams
As I make my way through some new interior church shoots I wanted to apply some of my new-found techniques to an older photo of my church. I discovered it’s not ALL about techniques and post-processing (actually I knew this going in). This is in direct response to that pocket of folks who believe that all the post-processing work that’s all the rage now is cheating. I’m here to say that the post-processing will certainly bring out the best in an image, but if you don’t start with a decent image (tack-sharp, great composition, interesting subject matter, etc.) you’re not going to get very far. I’m satisfied with the edit of this image, but I wish I had a better image to begin with.
Sunny 16. No, that’s not a forecast for the weekend – although, I think that’s pretty darn close for this Saturday (in Celsius, that is). Nope, this is a widely-accepted photographer’s rule for shooting in manual mode. By the way, it’s kind of a myth that all pro photographers shoot in manual mode. It’s an absolute must for photographers to know what all the settings are for and how to control each and every one of them, but I’d venture to guess that most photogs shoot quite a few of their shots in Aperture Priority mode with some exposure compensation thrown in on top to adjust for the scene. Anyway…
Given that this is, after all, a photography blog I figured I’d throw in some tips for good measure. All my photographer friends may already be aware of this, but for those of you who want to start shooting in manual mode – read on.
The Sunny 16 rule states that for any scene outdoors (during the day) with the camera set at f/16 all you need to do is set the shutter speed to the reciprocal of the ISO setting. Simply put – ISO = 100 then shutter = 1/100; ISO = 200 then shutter = 1/200 and so on. This is the very basics of the rule and, by all means, shoot how you want to shoot and stray from this rule as needed. But this rule will get you close if your goal is an evenly or properly exposed image during the day.
Here are my shots using the Sunny 16 rule. I color corrected and sharpened each image using the exact same adjustments without touching the exposure or levels. And, no this is not just the same shot posted 7 times.
What Have I Learned?
It’s been just over a year since I began dabbling in HDR so I’ve decided to go back and see if I’ve improved since then (September of 2012). This was one of the first images I ever processed using HDR techniques and I look at it now and think “what the heck was I thinking?!” There are so many things that make me cringe about this image and it’s a good thing that I still have the original RAW files so I can try again. If there’s one thing I’ve definitely learned, it’s don’t process/post-process too soon. Be patient with the images and take my time. Possibly to the point that I don’t even look at the images that same day.
Shoot what you want and how you want. That’s what I would say to people just getting into photography. Sure, you should look at what others are doing and possibly see if you can recreate it. But in the end, you’re not shooting for them. You’re really not shooting for anybody except yourself. You’re going to be your biggest critic in the end so impress yourself. After all, does everybody like the Mona Lisa? Will everybody get a Jackson Pollock? Some will, some won’t. Some people will like your photography. Some won’t. If some people like it, great. If some don’t, accept it and move on. Gotta remind myself sometimes.
The goal is to shoot every day – not “have something interesting to say” every day. I’m literally taking my camera with me everywhere I go now (sometimes I bring the entire bag). Kinda crazy. I know. It’s the only way I’ll get better though.
Want to know how to take amazing pictures? Read on…
I’ve done a lot of self-guided learning in my life and have heard and read lots of advice – good and bad. It’s a daunting task to learn new things especially as you age. Get over yourself and accept the fact that there are others who are just as qualified as you are and even more qualified in many cases.
One gem I’ve heard over and over again in a variety of ways is that it’s not about your camera. It’s not about your computer or latest software. It’s all about you. It’s about your ability to see new things or to see mundane things in a new light. It will never be about your camera.
The key to taking amazing pictures is simply this – put yourself in front of amazing things.