It must be true because I read it on the Internet – or so goes the lead in to hundreds of emails, Tweets, etc that I receive telling me that I must be wrong about this or that.
It’s inconceivable to me that the Internet has grown into a place where there’s absolutely no curation when it comes to comments and opinions. My strong belief that not everyone’s opinion about everything matters makes people mad. But I can’t defy common sense and pretend I think a 13-year-old kid who’s never been to high school can know as much about brain surgery as a Board-Certified brain doc. Experience matters. Context matters. Don’t believe everything you read on the Internet.
So here you go – some of your favorite myths – dispelled by a guy who actually knows something about photography. (Rathole: I won’t be telling you anything about sewing, cricket, Australian Rules football or anything else I have no experience with. I’ll leave that to the 13 year olds who seem to know everything.)
1. Despite what you’ve been told: You do not need a “pro” camera to make “pro photos. I have sold pictures made with $500 point and shoots.
2. You do not need a full-frame sensor camera to get a great photo. Full-frame sensors became the holy grail mostly because for years we didn’t have anything but crop sensor cameras. People want what they can’t have so – hence the meme that only full-frame images are worthy. Most of the images I’ve sold were made on crop-sensor cameras.
3. My favorite: If you tell someone your “settings” and they make a photograph based on the same meta data, their photo will be perfect every time. Sorry – this couldn’t be more wrong. You can set your shutter speed, ISO and f-stop to the same position as I did and photograph at the same place 100 times or more, but unless the light and other conditions are identical, it won’t help your photo. Not a bit. Not even a little bit. Period.
4. Only cameras that perform well in low-light are worth owning. Sigh – my pet peeve. We’re all about light as photographers so you who are of the religion of low-light are going the wrong direction. Run towards the light. (Unless you’re on your death bed then come back this way.)
5. If you do anything to a photo in Photoshop it’s no longer a photo. Opinion – if it started its life in a camera it’s a photo. Ansel Adams never used Photoshop, but he manipulated the Hell out of his pictures. There is no reality in photography. There never has been. It doesn’t exist.
6. Some people say (where have I heard that line?) that unless you shoot in full manual mode, you’re not a serious or professional photographer. Well I guess that leaves me out. I shoot in aperture priority mode or shutter priority mode 95% of the time. Should I un-cash all those checks I’ve collected over the years for my pictures?
7. We need more megapixels! No we don’t! Really. We do not! We need bigger sensors. That I agree with. More megapixels crowded onto a small sensor equals more noise or less detail. Period. Fact. Not controvertible. Not debatable. You can’t change physics. Now you can use digital back-end processing to cover this up so the result appears satisfactory, but you are making a compromise. Plain and simple. Depending on the sensor size, anything between 12 and 18 megapixels (Micro Four Thirds/ DSLRs) is more than enough. Bring the hate Nikon D800 users. I won’t even notice.
8. Color managed work flows do not guarantee perfect color matches between your monitor and your final print. They guarantee CONSISTENT results. Meaning, if you see a photo that’s 10 points too blue on your monitor it will translate that way on your print.
9. “What’s the perfect exposure?” As with all things in photography the answer should start with “It depends…” There is never one single perfect exposure for any given scene. There are always compromises, trade-offs and taste involved. There IS only one correct exposure if you have a firm vision of what you want to accomplish before you press the shutter, and know which exposure will deliver that exact result. But that’s between you and your camera. The rest of us don’t need to know.
10. Shooting JPG is just as good as shooting RAW. Mostly not true. Unless you’re NEVER going to edit your photos and you’re ONLY going to display them on the Web, shooting RAW is almost always a better choice. The more data you have to work with before you go to post, the better. JPG bakes in changes you may not be happy with later and there’s no non-destructive way to fix those.
I’ve written this hoping it will help at least one person avoid making these mistakes. Everyone else is free to continue on as they see fit. Thanks for reading.
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