Tag Archives: Quick-Tip

A Secret Tip to Becoming a Better Photographer

This little tip has nothing to do with your camera or post-processing your images. In fact, it has nothing to do with your images at all. Over the last several years of blogging, I’ve come to realize a very important method for improving your photography skills.

BECOME A PHOTO EDITOR

The type of editor that selects photos for publication. Anybody that has been in such a position knows how difficult it is. They should also know how important it is for indirectly sharpening your own photography skills.

SAY WHAT?

Here’s the thing… when you’re forced to select a few photos from a large possible set and show them off to a public audience, you put your artistic eye to the test. Here’s the other thing… it’s hard as hell to do. You want to be “nice” and select over half of the possible photos to show off? Information overload for your audience. You want to be “stern” and only select the best of the best? You’ll have 3 or 4 photos to show off — who cares? Seriously, putting on the “photo editor” hat is a difficult task, but a very rewarding one.

WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS?

Over time, you’ll learn a few things about yourself as a photographer. If you do enough of this stuff, you should start to see that you gravitate toward certain types of photos, styles, and genres. Personally, I’m a fan of film, street, xpro, portrait, and quirky images. I like things that stand out from the norm. The images that you like most ought give you a clue as to which types of photos you should be shooting. You like flowers so much? Go take some flower photos! Curating galleries and publications with other people’s photos will also give you a hint about the quality required for a photo to be “interesting”.

On that note, you’ll also raise your bar for quality control. If you see enough amazing photos, you’ll start to desensitize yourself to the “ho-hum” photos — including your own. This should lead you to improving your quality and trying harder.

One other benefit of being a photo editor is the “feel good” aspect of promoting other artists. It’s always nice to have somebody else recognize your work as a photographer, but it’s just as nice to have other photographers recognize your recognition of them.

HOW TO BECOME A PHOTO EDITOR

This part is easy… online publishing is simple and accessible to just about everyone with an Internet connection.

One method for trying your hand as a photo editor is through Flickr. They have a feature that allows you to curate a gallery of photos from other photographers. Flickr galleries are usually created with a specific topic in mind and you’re limited to 18 selections. This method is great because it’s quick, easy, and very open.

Another method is to publish photos on your blog. Just be aware of copyright infringement and look into the Creative Commons as a way to publish photos.

Once you have a method for publication, just pick a topic or theme and start searching for some photos. See what you come up with, and share it with your audience.

EXAMPLES!

I do the photo editor thing every day, every week, and every month in one place or another — mostly on my blogs.

At the Fine Art Photoblog, we opened things up for guest contributors. I get several new submissions each day and I have to choose whether or not to publish them.

Here on Epic Edits, I’ve been doing the PhotoDump feature for a while. I cut it back to once every other week, but I still have to go through several hundred photos and select about 30 to show off. I also started up the Flickr Challenge thing recently, so that’s a theme based evaluation. And then there are the infrequent posts that exhibit certain types of photos along with some occasional tips (see here, here, here, here, and here).

I do the same type of stuff on Feeling Negative with our Flickr pool photos, and with random theme-based exhibits (see here and here).

NOW YOU GO

Feel free to share some links in the comments below — Flickr galleries, blog posts, and any other publication that you’ve put together as a photo editor.

Use ISO AUTO… Why Not?

ISO AUTO

I think I’ve gone through full-cycle with my preference for ISO settings on my camera. As a newbie, I primarily had the camera set to ISO AUTO because… well, it was just easier. As my skill level increased, so did my utilization of the camera controls. For some time now, I’ve been setting the ISO value manually while shooting in aperture priority mode. Manually keeping your ISO as low as possible is a great way to ensure high quality images, and I’m not disputing that it’s totally necessary with certain types of shooting.

But very recently, I went back to shooting ISO AUTO to evaluate the trade-offs between convenience and quality. What I found was that my camera limits the ISO value to 400 or lower when in AUTO mode. A comparison of an image shot with my camera at ISO 400 versus ISO 100 tells me that there are very subtle differences in quality, sometimes unrecognizable (especially with black and white conversions). But convenience alone isn’t the real reason I’ve gone back to ISO AUTO.

The camera sets itself to the lowest possible ISO value based on the lighting conditions — so with bright scenes, I’m still shooting at ISO 100. I also found that the camera won’t let the shutter speed fall below 1/60 seconds as long as it has enough room to bump the ISO value up to the next level. This is nice because it keeps me out of that 1/15 to 1/45 area, which most of us would still shoot at but is very prone to producing soft images. Another neat thing about ISO AUTO is that the camera will set the ISO value to things other than 100, 200, or 400. I noticed some of my low-light shots coming out at ISO 100, 125, 160, 200, 250, 320, and 400 — so it’s actually giving me a finer control over the exposure.

What do you guys think? Is ISO AUTO just for newbies, or is it actually useful for the skilled photographer too? I’m curious to hear how other cameras deal with ISO AUTO, so if you’ve messed around with it drop some insights into the comments.