Slowing Down


Photographically speaking, we live in a genuinely fantastic age because technology makes us better photographers than we could have been otherwise. While we can do many marvelous things, like cloning out clutter, rescuing poor exposures perhaps the biggest advantage is the low-cost of taking a picture. After paying for a memory card, every photo shot occurs at almost no additional cost unless, of course, you print it.

Digital photography offers a very quick feedback loop since a picture appears on the back of the camera after taking a picture. This is very handy to helping the photographer make adjustments to camera settings and how those adjustments affect the outcome. In the old days it wasn’t until weeks after a shoot that the photographer could see the results, and by then good luck remembering what you did.

The low-cost of pictures affords us the ability to take risks. If you are paying for both film and processing, you are much less likely to wildly experiment or to take shots just in case one might work. This is a boon since a key to improving one’s photography is taking many, many pictures.

While on one hand digital technology is a boon, but on the other hand it can be a bane to our improvement as photographers. The ability to shoot so many photos combined with the knowledge that we can “fix it later,” often leads us to take pictures of poorer quality than if we took a little more time.

Pained Oil Tank

I found this little “gem” by walking around at a slow pace. I wonder, how many wonderful things do I overlook because I am in too much of a hurry?

Below is list some things that have gone wrong because I rushed:

* Shooting with unnecessary clutter in the background. Either repositioning (the subject or me) or even picking up the litter (sticks, cigarette butts, etc.) would have saved me a lot of time  later in Photoshop cloning out stuff. If you are shooting portraits take the time to look at the subject for stray hairs, food on the face or strange folds on the clothing because they can easily go unnoticed until you pull the photos up on the computer.

* Not paying attention to my aperture settings. Early in my “career” I shot a family portrait session  but I selected an aperture that was way too open for the way the multiple subjects were positioned. Keep in mind that one of the most important things in doing portraits is to make sure that the subject’s eyes are in focus. If you have multiple subject is a good idea to get them all in focus.  Well, given the aperture and the positioning, I got one person in focus but the rest weren’t.

* Not getting the camera properly on the horizon. If you have camera tilt it is very easy to fix in Lightroom or Photoshop. Ensuring horizontal horizons is especially important if you can see an actual horizon. When making tilt adjustments, parts of the original image will get cropped. The more the tilt, the more of the picture that gets cropped out, thus creating limits to your photo since it is no longer the same dimensions at which you shot. It is quite possible that the forced cropping will either ruin or greatly diminish the impact of the photo.

* Not getting the best shot. Getting in too much of a hurry to move on may also mean that we haven’t considered other options available to us. Sometimes the slightest adjustments to the subject, and the subjects positioning, makes the difference between a good shot and a great shot. Also, by taking the time to wander around may bring about  subjects or backgrounds that were not initially considered.

When your photography counts most (like for a paid shoot or event) it is critical to get it right which can create a lot of stress. When under stress, it is too easy to hurry things along, much faster than you should.   When you are feeling your nerves getting worked up, that is the time it is most important to slow things down.

But even when not under stress, take the time to get it right and in the end your photography will improve.


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