Keys To Being a Pro: Predictability

Predictability of your results, and of your ability to deliver these results in the first place, is one of the most important key factors that determine whether you can legitimately call yourself a “Pro”. It’s not whether you get paid, or even whether you can shoot a pretty picture: it’s whether you can be relied upon to do this when needed, instead.

Take this photo, for example:

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A pretty picture, taken under bad circumstances: harsh sunlight at noon. But it works:

  • The sky is blue, not white;
  • In general, colours are saturated;
  • It has red, green and blue in it;
  • The subjects are the “bright pixels”;
  • The drop shadows are hardly noticeable and are not annoying where they are;
  • The composition is good;
  • The focal distance is spot on;
  • Exposure both of the ambient and of the flash part of the photo is good;

…and so on. Yes, a lot goes into the making of a good photo, and those of you who have taken one of my Dutch Masters courses, workshops or seminars, or have attended my Sheridan College courses, know all about that.

But there’s more, namely predictability.

Quick, solve this:

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OK: assuming your shutter speed is under your fastest flash sync speed, leave the ambient part alone, since it is already good; just add an off-camera flash:

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Yeah, that can be done even unmodified, as it is here (a couple of hours ago). As a student of mine you will know the recipe: 100 ISO, 1/200 sec, f/8 and then vary only the aperture (here, to f/11). And after you do this a bunch of times you will even know (without metering) to set the flash at 1/4 power if it’s a couple of feet away from the subject.

Quick, solve this:

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Not enough ambient. You could solve this by increasing ISO or opening the aperture, but then you’d have to also set the flash to a lower power level. There’s no time for all that. So instead, you slow the shutter, from 1/200 sec to 1/100 sec:

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Bingo, a brighter background (by one stop) without varying the flash picture at all.

My courses and one-on-one coaching teach you this. But they cannot teach you the essential additional requirement: predictability. The ability to come to the above conclusions within a second or two, by yourself, while shooting.

Only practice can teach you this. I’ll hand you the tools; now it’s up to you to practice using them until you are comfortable. That will make you a pro, and this ability to handle any shooting situation that can be handled means that you will face shoots with a lot more confidence.

And don’t worry. This is all, in fact, very simple. When the metaphorical light bulb in their head turns on, a lot of my students say things like “but I thought this was supposed to be complicated?!”. Nope, once you know it, it’s simple. A bit like brain surgery, really.

 


Schedule a workshop with me now. A one-on-one, or come with a few friends and make it a group thing.See http://learning.photography or if you prefer, call me, to schedule an appointment. Finally, the ability to confidently translate your vision into a photo!

Rockwood

Today, Rockwood conservation area in Guelph, a field workshop I taught for www.digitalphotoacademy.com:

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This type of walkaround course is very good at helping you put theory into practice. If you want to learn, really learn, consider coming on one of my get out and shoot courses!

 

Walk With Me

Saturday July 16, I am doing a Photo Walk “Composition In The Field” for Digital Photo Academy, in Rockwood Conservation area in Guelph. This will be fun, so if you are interested, sign up and see you there. Contact me via email if you have questions.

Go here to register, and do it soon:

digitalphotoacademy.com/event-registration/?ee=4474

 

Hope to see you and your camera on Sunday!

A snap or two: Walk!

I do courses and walks, and I organize them using Meetup: see here and check back regularly. New ones to be posted very soon.

My “Dutch Masters” courses and walks are designed to really help you get creative. To allow you to develop a creative vision and to translate that into a photo.

Here’s a few snaps from a recent walk in Oakville, Ontario, with my Sheridan College class:

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See how there’s many styles in any area? See if you can spot the compositional techniques I used.

Once you know the technical side of your camera, you can get creative in the way you want. Stay tuned, or contact me for private training, which is very effective in quickly getting you up to scratch,

 

ISO guideline

FROM SEVEN YEARS AGO: What ISO setting to use? High is good for shooting without blur or shooting in the dark but gives you noise (“grain”). What is optimal?

The following may help.

If you do not use AUTO ISO, my rule of thumb for starting points is:

  • Outdoors, or when you are using a tripod: 200 ISO
  • Indoors: 400 ISO (whether or not you are using flash)
  • Problem light, such as museums or hockey arenas: 800 ISO

You can vary from there of course, but you will not be far off.

Here’s an 800 ISO handheld image (200mm, non-stabilized lens). It won me a media award:

TODAY: so what has changed? Only that you can now shoot, on a modern camera, at higher ISOs before you start no notice grainy noise. What worked then works now—but you can now go higher, sometimes much higher,  without noticeable noise. Life is good.