Oxford School of Photography

insights into photography

Why Good Photography Isn’t About the Gear

It is an often used phrase, “all the gear and no idea” It comes from the process that finds people who are dissatisfied with their photography buying more and more equipment in an attempt to get around the basic premise that learning how to use a camera is the only way to be a photographer, you cannot buy experience and so much about photography is the experience that is in your head. In class, when teaching our Understanding Your DSLR course I tell my students that if they don’t like their pictures it is not the camera’s fault and buying a better camera/lens/etc will only mean that you make more expensive mistakes.

© Keith Barnes

This article by on Lightstalking covers similar ground but with an interesting twist. I don’t agree with his contention that having a camera which offers a fully manual setting of aperture and shutter is the answer. I don’t understand why photographers who have been trained in the days of film, often without aperture and shutter priority, insist on students using manual, “because that was the way their tutors learned the process”. The idea of control, complete control is essential but the fully manual mode just slows you down (sometimes no bad thing), I always explain to students that understanding aperture priority and the ability to adjust exposure using exposure compensation or better auto exposure lock when time is tight is the most important lesson I can teach them. The same of course applies to shutter priority. Back to the author ‘s twist, he eschewed his own pro camera and went out with an entry level dslr to see if he could still get good pictures.

Phil Hill, a travel photographer from the UK based in Australia. You can see more of Phil’s great work at his travel photography blog or follow him on Facebook or Twitter.

“With the release of the Nikon d800 and the Canon 5d mk3 many people will have no doubt begun checking their bank statements a bit more carefully and thinking about increasing that credit limit by a measly few thousand.

This got me thinking, how many bells and whistles do you actually need to take a great photograph anyway? Too many cameras are now available with enough fancy settings to give the geekiest of technology nerd’s nightmares.

Lets face it, these days 99% of photographs will never see printed paper, ending up on an innumerable amount of social networking sites, converting a large file from a full frame ultra mega pixel machine into web ready kilobytes and a pixelated 72dpi. Shooting poor images wont change from mobile to DSLR, your rubbish (and mine) will just be higher definition.”

With this in mind I decided I would go out and shoot some landscapes with my girlfriend’s entry level and well-used Canon 1000d and its bog standard 18-55mm f3.5-5.6 kit lens. I figure as long as any camera can go fully manual in ‘M’ mode, I should be able to capture good images without having to resort to using the bell setting or even it’s whistle feature.”..…MORE

Canon 1000d

………The bottom line of course is that to become technically proficient at taking photographs all you really need is the ability to control aperture and shutter speed and you can do that for far less money than many of the cameras on the market will openly admit too. Think of it as if learning to play football brilliantly barefoot, then going out to get a gleaming pair of boots – bells and whistles will only complement a solid set of skills.”

Click Here: Why Good Photography Isn’t About the Gear

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