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Tips For Bad Photography

With modern cameras getting so good, it can be easy for people to think that photography is easy. Sometimes this can be true, but consistently good results can take effort. But what if you did have something else in mind? Just as a thought experiment, suppose you actually wanted to take bad photographs?

First off, don't bother to read that thick instruction manual that came with your camera. All that technical mumbo jumbo isn't needed. It's all just part of a contest between camera makers to see who can create the thickest instruction manual. Computer makers started this contest years ago, but camera companies are holding their own of late.

If you're shopping for a new camera, prices have come down a lot over the years. It used to cost quite a bit for a six megapixel digital camera but you can get one now for cheap. If you didn't need more then you probably don't now either. You may not even need to buy a camera if your cell phone came with a camera.

Remember, photography is easy, so find something else to keep you busy while you shoot. There's really no need to pay much attention to your photography and you wouldn't want to get bored while you're out. If you go shooting with someone else, swap stories along the way. The wildlife in most areas is used to people these days.

Never use a tripod. They're big and heavy and just slow you down. Setting one up to hold your camera takes time. Carrying one any distance can give you a sore shoulder anyway. If you feel you must use one to impress your friends, you can buy a small, lightweight tripod at the camera store in most shopping malls or in the hardware aisle of some drug and department stores.

When shooting, focus in on your subject. Ignore everything else in the frame. Most people who look at your images probably won't care about other stuff since they're used to how their own images look. Try to get your subject perfectly centered like a bulls-eye. If you position it too close to the edge of the frame you risk having the camera shift in your hands before you shoot. If it does, you might cut part of it off inadvertently. There's never been a way invented to hold a camera still.

Try to shoot with the sun over your shoulder so your subjects are fully lit as evenly and directly as possible. Side lighting can leave parts of your subject in shadows while direct front lighting makes sure everything always looks the same. Flat, even lighting is well suited to photography. Since photographs are two dimensional they should look that way.

Shoot everything in fully automatic exposure. Your eyes and brain may think that some things are light and some dark but your camera knows best. After all, there is only one correct exposure for every shot. If every shot wasn't supposed to come out medium toned I'm sure camera makers would create cameras that worked differently.

Take all your photographs from eye level. You can develop bad posture by always bending over to change your vantage point. You can hurt yourself crawling around on rocks. If you do own one of those cheap, lightweight tripods I mentioned earlier, it's probably shorter than you are so hold it up off the ground to avoid bending over to see through the viewfinder.

Never shoot at night. You need your sleep, and anyway, it's dark and scary at night. Try to avoid being out too early or too late also. For a healthy diet, you need to eat a balanced breakfast before going out shooting, and that takes time. Plan your photography outside of meal time rather than just eating when you can.

Everything outdoors has a weird pinkish color cast or yellowing glow right at dawn and sunset that can be completely avoided by timing your photography for midday. Adjusting your camera white balance can help to neutralize it so it doesn't show on your images if you are caught out at the dreaded "golden hour."

Put a good thick UV filter on your lens to protect it, but don't spend too much for it since it's just a piece of glass anyway and you have to save your money for other things. If that filter costs enough that you're worried about protecting it, put another, cheaper filter on top of it for safety. Your lens will shoot right through whatever you put in front of it anyway since it will be focused further away.

Lens hoods are a gimmick to make people think your lens is bigger than it actually is. Don't worry about stray light getting in your lens, glare and lens flare. Most of that won't reach the camera sensor anyway. And if some of it does you can always fix it later in Photoshop.

Leave your camera at home as much as possible. If you take it with you, the batteries may run down and you risk getting it dirty. And packing everything up for a trip takes time anyway. Your camera is much safer sitting at home on a shelf or in the original manufacturers box.

After you shoot a while, don't back up those images. They're perfectly safe on your memory card. These things never fail, and who could possibly lose something so small?

Of course, as much as I've tried to convince you otherwise here, perhaps you'd like to get take good photographs instead of bad, in which case you should probably do the complete opposite of what I recommended above.

Date posted: June 2, 2013


Copyright © 2013 Bob Johnson, Earthbound Light - all rights reserved.
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