Saturday, November 7, 2009

Really bad advice

The Internet is full of photography Websites which offer advice, but many have incomplete, misleading, confusing and even bad advice on photography. They cover cameras, photography techniques, photo/image production, and so on. Hell, even I occasionally make mistakes or offer bad advice, but it's always based on my personal view and experience, and I try to note so readers can judge for themselves.

And I'm always open to corrections, especially when said with a smile and humor. But there are some Websites, where you read the advice and just go, "Huh?" You really wonder what the writer is saying. Not just the content and information, but the writing is so obscure or different, you have to read it several times to sort out what they're saying.

It seems to me sometime, it's either the writer wants to see their words out there, regardless if it's good or even useful, or they want to pretend they're better than us as photographers, and they'll show you with their advice. And sometimes it's both. I just sit there and wonder, what are they thinking, because I have to sort out their writing before I can discern the information.

And I have an example? Well, not to link to it, but I was reading, among other posts, the advice on landscape photography. The other advice posts have problems with the writing and information, but the landscape one just struck a (bad) chord. And that is?

First, capturing the spirit and mood of a place in the image(s). Kinda' a statement of the obvious but sometimes the image is just a nice picture. I won't disagree with capturing a story, but it shouldn't stop your photography. There are lots of images in a place, it's just seeing them. Examples are simple things like a lock, a door, grain in the wood, etc., or the larger views of the place.

The idea of using raw format only. Ok, useful, but don't let it stop you. I've talked at length about raw versus jpeg, see the photo blog list. If you have the settings right in your camera, meaning nothing automatic (ok, argueable point), such as white balance, mode, picture style, etc., then the image(s) will be more than adequate to use and produce.

Just plug in your brain when you're standing there. Ok, it's a hint, don't get lazy. Be a photographer who thinks in the field holding and using your camera and equipment. Don't just think about composition, but also your equipment. Be a whole photographer. And yes, I'm far from great there.

The advice about not worrying about the white balance, picture style, etc. while shooting raw is totally wrong. You should choose the right exposure and setting to get the initial image right or at least close and reduce the number of adjustments you make in a photo editor. Relying on your photo editor to correct for problems with the images in the field isn't being a photographer but a photo editor.

And sorry, negative film is not the equivalent of a digital raw file. Flim, either negative or positive transparency, is film. Digital formats have different characteristics to capture images, and there are photo plug-ins which replicates film, but it's not the equivalent. Similarity isn't the same.

You can put the subject in the of the image. It's about the surrounding area of the subject. There's an example on my homepage. Don't be restricted by rules of composistion, but my suggestion is to consider learn and practice getting the composition in the whole image in the field. You can always crop the image latter, but try to capture complete images at the time. And for what it's worth, 95% of my images aren't cropped.

Tripods. Hmmm... Well, for one, you shouldn't be restricted to 50-100 ISO. Use what works for the conditions. Most new cameras are low noise throughout the ISO range, even at the high speed, and even then the noise or loss isn't enough to worry about. I do agree to have a level in the tripod or use one, but it's not essential if you simply watch the horizontal and vertical lines in the image. He just could have said it better.

Filters. Yes, carry a neutral density and polarizing filter, and some folks like a clear or UV protective filter. They're handy, but they're not a guarratee a better image. Also, use the image filters built into the camera settings. Some have red, yellow and green filters for black and white.

Aperture. Most 35mm camera lenses have their optimum aperture at f8, and most photographers use f5.6-11. If you want to move your depth of field, then use the hyperfocal distance before you simply crank in more aperture.

Time. This is the standard recommended time frame for "best" photos, but it's not always the best for many other types of landscape photography. Shooting near sunrise and sunset is a challenge but othter times easily will produce good images, especially during the midday (10 am to 2 pm). In many forest scenes, this light is often best for getting the color and exposure and capture some interesting scenes. Don't be restricted by time and light. Be creative.

As for, "Okey? Prepare everything, put all your gear into a bag, do not let anyone behind." What is this? It's just an example of the writing style which confuses the reader.

Overall, the advice has some good stuff, but it simply has too much confusing or misleading information and a confusing writing style to be worth the time. Find a better Website for advice.

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