1)  When ready for more creative control, get out of ‘Auto’ or ‘Program’ mode and into ‘Aperture Priority’.

2)  Learn to control and use depth of field. Don’t let the camera choose that for you. Make aperture choices based on how much depth of field is needed for your vision in the photo.

3)  ‘Shutter Priority’ (Time Value) is good if and when you want to introduce or control movement.

4) To prevent blur when hand-holding your camera, use a shutter speed as fast as your lens is long (in mm’s). Example: a 24mm lens needs at least a 1/25th of a second while a 200 mm lens needs at least 1/200th. Using a vibration reduction or image stabilization lens will help reduce the shutter speed needed.

5)  In any automatic mode, changing your aperture or shutter speed does not change your exposure!!! The camera automatically compensates for any changes to one with an opposite change in the other.

6)  Using “Manual” mode is not better than automatic if you are merely doing what it tells you. Learn to interpret the information based on what you want or for creative effect.

7)  When you buy a lens buy the best one you can afford. I think it’s better to have one good lens than several mediocre ones.

8)  Always use a lens hood. It’s the cheapest equipment upgrade you can make. It prevents flare, improves contrast, color saturation, and detail. It also protects your lens from impact damage if you bang your lens!

9)  When you change lenses point your camera downwards to avoid dust settling on the sensor or film.

10)  If shooting digital, don’t overexpose the highlights (opposite of film), it is easier to brighten the shadows later. If shooting film, don’t underexpose as that will make a very hard to print negative.

11)  Watch the contrast ratio. On digital cameras, look at the histogram and make sure it doesn’t go off the right side if you want to preserve highlight detail.

12) Bracketing is for sissys! Find the best exposure and use it. You’ll save a lot of time in editing later. The exception is when shooting tricky exposure situations like dramatic skies with clouds or strong backlight

13) Long telephoto lenses are for cowards! Get in close to create connection and intimacy. Long telephoto lenses are very good at eliminating background distractions and can be very flattering but the tradeoff is that you often make more anonymous photos from further away, avoiding intimacy and connection with your subject.

14) If it is a portrait, focus on the subject’s eyes. If the eyes are sharp the photo will be perceived as sharp. If the eyes are not sharp the photo will be perceived as out of focus.

15) Unless absolutely necessary (and it’s usually not), turn your on-camera  pop up fill flash off. Or dial it way down. Instead raise the camera’s ISO, use a larger aperture or slow down the shutter speed in low light situations.

16) If you need flash, learn to control or diffuse it. It’s usually better off camera or bounced off a wall or ceiling. You can also use accessories to enlarge the size of the light source, creating more flattering light.

17) Learn the difference between quantity of light (amount/how much light) and quality of light (type of light).

18) Learn from your mistakes. Explore why it is that your photos didn’t work as well as you had thought they would. The ones that aren’t good have much to teach you…

19) Make sure that your vision is serving your technique, rather than technique driving your vision.

20) Without vision and creativity, all the camera equipment in the world won’t make you a better photographer. You will just be the same photographer with more stuff.


©Douglas Beasley 2018

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