I’m sitting here processing a few photos ready for publication and deciding which ones are ‘keepers’: Always the most difficult part of post production because I tend to be very hard on myself and ultra self-critical of the images I’ve created. Stepping outside of yourself and trying to see things as others might see them is, I think, the hardest part of photography. But it has to be done. I say ‘has to be done’ because otherwise we spend too much time gazing at our own navel and becoming immersed in our tiny world of self-gratification. The upshot of which is that we stop seeing our images objectively and see every photo we have taken as the best we could have done…and better than anyone else might have done. Which reminds me…A couple of years back I was out on a personal assignment to get some shots of dolphins when I met this lovely guy who asked for a few tips as he was relatively new to wildlife photography. Like all good photographers I shared a little knowledge which was gratefully received. The guy then proceeded to tell me of some images he had taken of otters earlier in the year, commenting that his images were better than those of a lot of ‘pro’ photographers who were at the same spot taking images of the same otters. I was then treated to him showing me the pictures. Oh! Dear! I then asked to see the image information on the LCD screen and everything seemed to be set correctly for the images he had taken… but there was something radically wrong with the photos. Either out of focus slightly, composition weak and/or image blur. So what would you do in these circumstances? Tell him they are rubbish? Tell him the images were unclear, blurred with some out of focus? Tell him that the images were plainly not level? Nah! I bet you wouldn’t…unless you’ve got a heart of ice. An neither would I. The guy was proud of what he’d taken…and why shouldn’t he be? And I’d only just met him. Bursting peoples’ bubble can often have consequences that don’t bear thinking about.
We’ve all done it…overcome by the moment and forgetting the first rule of photography: Think Like a Photographer….
Here’s the scenario: Right Subject, Right Camera Settings, Rubbish Photo! What? It’s gotta be something to do with the camera. Right? But the settings are right so it can’t be that. And the light’s right and the composition seems right so it can’t be those. So what the heck is causing the rubbish image? Where the heck do I start to try to solve the problem?
In a former life I used to be a very competitive angler determined to win competitions at any cost. One of the most important things for me at the time was to wear the same hat at every competition. It was my ‘lucky hat’. When I wore it I generally won or at least finished in the top three. If I left it back home then I ‘knew’ that I’d never even get placed in the the top ten, never mind score a win. Yea, yea I know. Bonkers right? I suppose so… but there is definitely something to be said for having the right mental attitude. Which leads me to the idea of ‘Thinking Like a Photographer’. Say what you like but I can almost guarantee that if your head’s not in the right place when you’re out on a shoot then your images will reflect that. So…get your head straight and switch off from everything else when you’re taking pics. And before you start worrying about your camera taking rubbish photos ask yourself what are YOU doing differently to what you normally do. I guess I’m saying that we should ask ourselves whether we are doing something wrong rather than our gear. Things like, is my breathing correct? Am I holding the camera correctly? Is there some temporary problem with the way I’m seeing things? eg. do my glasses need cleaning? Have I cleaned the lens on my camera recently? Am I calm and relaxed? Am I rushing things? And here’s the BIG thing…
DON’T ROCK! What I mean is that just as we go to press the shutter button, especially if we are shooting in single shot mode, we may move very slightly backwards or forwards which results in an out of focus or soft image. This all comes back to stability and breathing ( which I’ve talked about at length before). Nine times out of ten this fractional rocking movement will result in poor images. SO STOP ROCKING! Try it. And try again until you get it right. I guarantee it’ll solve most of your image issues.
There’s a moral here: Check yourself first before you check your kit. You may surprise yourself. You should always be number one…not your camera.
Stay Calm and Think Like a Pro.
Have a peaceful Christmas folks and let’s all hope for better times to come.🤞🏻🎄✨