Photography is a two-step process: capture and post-production. Some critics unfairly suggest that you don’t need to take a good photo, all you need is a progam like Photoshop that can fix up your images. Obviously these critics have never used Photoshop as image editing software requires skills of its own.
And these critics are quite wrong when they suggest you don’t need to take a good photo in the first place. A photo can only be as good as the weakest link in the chain of processes that lead to its completion. You will struggle to make a good photograph in post-production if you start with a poor capture.
For instance, if you haven’t focused on your subject, how are you going to solve this in Photoshop? If your exposure has blown out the highlights, how do you recover them in Lightroom? If the camera has a very high ISO setting, how will you remove the noise? The capture process is fundamental to photography. When the manufacturers sell us a new camera, the advertising suggests that all we need to do is press the shutter button and to some extent this is correct. Technology has made photography very easy.
However, if we rely solely on the camera, we are also at the mercy of decisions made by faceless technicians and designers back at the camera factory! There are lots of assumptions made when designing automatic exposure modes that may or may not suit our purposes. To have complete mastery over the final result, we need to take control of every step of the photo process, beginning with capture.
On the following pages are some headline processes I follow every time I take a photograph. Generally, these processes are automatic - and they should be. What’s most important is to concentrate on the emotive and aesthetic outcomes, not the technical issues. That’s why spending some time with your camera and learning how to use it so well that it becomes a subconscious process is important. You will always struggle to create your best photographs if you’re unsure of the technical aspects.
Learn the capture techniques. Master the capture techniques. Then let your creativity shine through. It's all ready to read in the current issue of Better Photography. Subscribe at www.betterphotographyeducation.com.