Keeping Photography Simple

by Josh Odonnell February. 12, 2017 1818 views

You Know I'm All About That... Shutter Speed... no blur.

"Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication" -Leonardo da Vinci


Sometimes it's good for us as photographers to go back to basics.  And, of course, if you're just getting started in the world of photography and want to learn "the ropes", the basics are a natural start.  But you probably want the basics of what the professionals know about the craft of photography. 

Anybody can take a picture.  I attended a wedding reception where the wedding party left a disposable digital cameras on each table for guests to snap photos.  Before the evening was over, it was the children who were running around taking pictures of everything from the dirty dishes, to carpet, and even their own underwear.  These were not photographers and while those pictures will no doubt get a few laughs, these are not necessarily the kind of professional pictures people want for their long-term memories. 

Obviously, the cornerstone of the basics of photography is the camera.  When you see a camera geek walking around with enough equipment on his neck to launch a space shuttle, you get the impression that cameras are phenomenally complex, more than mere mortals can grasp.  But look at the professionals and you see them working with portable, relatively easy to operate cameras.  That is because the basics of running a camera come down to aperture and shutter speed. Now don't get nervous about fancy terms.  Aperture is just a term for how wide your camera lens is open to let in light.  Shutter speed is just how long you let the light come in to affect the picture.  For getting a shot of a fast moving subject, you want a wide aperture to let in a lot of light but a fast shutter speed so you capture the subject quickly and close the window so the picture is caught before too much light hurts the quality. 

Photography is really all about light.  You can and will learn a lot about lenses and settings, which will help you control lighting in several different situations.  

So add to your core skills of photography a willingness to never stop learning.  The better and more sophisticated you get in your ability to work with the equipment, the more you will learn and the more you will want to learn.  

  Making the jump- You can get a greater control over these basic controls of the camera such as aperture and shutter speed by learning how to make the jump from automatic settings to manual settings.  The automatic settings of any camera are just there for the general public who aren't necessarily interested in learning the basics.  So they give you some basic settings like landscape, portrait and sports settings.  By switching to manual, you can learn what settings work best in different situations.  Since I began in photography, I forced myself to not use auto, so that I would be forced to learn the essentials of the "big three"- Aperture, Shutter Speed, and ISO,  Most of the time I'm in full manual or one of the priority modes.  

 That brings us to the most important basic about becoming a great photographer and that is, practice. Practice. Practice. Practice. There are no shortcuts. Take some time with your gear and play with it.  Take it to situations and take photos with different aperture and shutter speed settings, in outdoor and indoor settings and different orientations to light.  Don't get upset when some shots don't work.  That's part of the learning curve.  

Much of photography is problem solving.  If you learn by doing, you will build your confidence in your work and eventually become a great photographer.  But don't get cocky, there is always more to learn.  And that is one of the fun things about photography, isn't it?

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There are 10 comments , add yours!
Kasia Urynowicz 3 years, 7 months ago


3 years, 7 months ago Edited
Josh Odonnell Replied to Kasia Urynowicz 3 years, 7 months ago

Thank you, Kasia!

3 years, 7 months ago Edited
Daniel Morse 3 years, 7 months ago

You make an excellent point, "... add to your core skills of photography a willingness to never stop learning."

I believe your photography is proof of that!

3 years, 7 months ago Edited
Camellia Staab 3 years, 7 months ago

Very nice photo. Bet the hardest part of capturing this photo was the timing.

3 years, 7 months ago Edited
Josh Odonnell Replied to Camellia Staab 3 years, 7 months ago

The way I set it up was to use no fill light. So, yes. timing was key. I went through four runs before I was able to capture this one. The hard part was the room was completely dark so I couldn't see where to drop the grape. It was fun though. I have another one with fruit that I'll be posting soon.

3 years, 7 months ago Edited
Camellia Staab Replied to Josh Odonnell 3 years, 7 months ago

Thanks for giving me the details. It sounds like a lot of fun and worth a try on my part. :) Looking forward to seeing your other capture.

3 years, 7 months ago Edited
Goshaa 3 years, 7 months ago

WOW! I like this picture and place where you live. Greetings. Maggie

3 years, 7 months ago Edited
Josh Odonnell Replied to Goshaa 3 years, 7 months ago

Thank you, Goshaa! Alaska is a beautiful place to live.

3 years, 7 months ago Edited
Pam Brighton 3 years, 7 months ago

This is great. I've tried this but it was a great deal messier!

3 years, 7 months ago Edited
Josh Odonnell Replied to Pam Brighton 3 years, 7 months ago

Thank you, Pam. What you're not seeing, is the many others that didn't turn out so well. I would encourage you to keep trying till you get it. I'd love to see you post a blog about one. Is there any way I can help you accomplish it?

3 years, 7 months ago Edited