Things I Wish I Had Known in 2007

Let me explain the “2007:” this was when I bought my first digital camera, a Canon 30D, and became, as we now describe it, “an enthusiast” photographer. I spent a lot of time and effort teaching myself and, in the process, produced predominately mediocre images. I have recently been looking back at these early digital files carefully, very carefully, so I know what I’m talking about. Lack of sharpness, trash around the edges of the frame, wrong kind of light (or wrong time of day), less than good composition, lack of clarity as to subject, etc. As I look back now, how I wish I had had somebody to drum a few things into my head when I started out.

  1. Just last week, I heard somebody say that photography is a team sport; I wish that somebody had told me that 11 years ago. Had I hooked up with other photographers and gone out on shoots with them, things might have been different. It just didn’t occur to me that I was not required to figure out things on my own.
  2. Back in 2007, I believed that my 30D was going to make me a better photographer after long years using film and knowing that I wasn’t much good at it. (I have boxes of slides to prove it!) You know what? I did not then know that blurry slides, sun flares and improper exposure are human and not mechanical issues. When the Canon 40D came out, where do you think my mind went? What I did not know in 2007 was that I needed to master the camera I owned before I bought another. “Great gear doesn’t equal great photography.”
  3. In 2007, nobody told me how crucial it was in digital photography to shoot in RAW and to go to the effort to learn to post process effectively. The following year, my wife and I had a lengthy tour of Italy…Rome, Sorrento, the Amalfi coast, Florence, Venice…you name it, and we were probably there. For some reason, I decided to shoot only Jpeg. I did not realize how difficult it is to correct some problems when you do not have the actual “negative” which Raw is with which to work. I botched some of my best opportunities. What a loss.
  4. In 2007, I had nobody to tell me what “chase the light” means. I knew about the Golden Hours, but not that you can make good images any time of the day if you choose the right subject matter and adapt to the lighting. (Bright sun, work inside or use shade, or focus on buildings. Cloudy days are good. Don’t let bad weather keep you and your camera away.)
  5. Finally, and what means so much to me now: I had nobody to tell me that there are times when you need to leave your camera in the room and just drink in an experience. “Enjoy a sunset without even trying to photograph it” probably sums this point up as well as anything else I could possibly say. There is a time for everything.

Brentwood Photography Group, Sam Abel, Bill Fortney, where were you when I needed you?

5 thoughts on “Things I Wish I Had Known in 2007”

  1. Ed, I think this is one of my favorite articles you’ve recently written. I was thinking about many of the things you describe just the other day. Do you remember Bill Fortney saying he shoots exclusively using jpeg format? He is clearly an excellent photographer, but I have to say that once I started to appreciate the benefits of RAW format I started to improve. I think this was because I began to understand more about things like dynamic range and how that can affect whether areas are blown out or too dark. I wonder if I went back to shooting just jpeg whether my images would be as good? Maybe they would be.

  2. My biggest fault was #1. By the time I realized that it is great to do it in a group it seemed to me that everyone were in their “group”. I was in fact told by someone that their group had all they wanted in it.

  3. Excellent article Ed, it is so true that if you don’t master the art of photography it doesn’t matter how expensive and good your equipment is.

  4. Martin, Bill works for Fuji. The Fuji X Series are well known and respected for the really terrific JPGs they can produce. Many Fuji shooters who shoot high numbers of images (weddings, etc.) have switched to shooting JPGs.

    Very nice blog Ed…

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