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Photo Technical

Use your brain; don’t let the camera take photos for you – A64

Welcome aboard photo enthusiast.  I would like to begin this article 64 by inviting all of you who read my column and are eager to raise their level of photographic expertise to send questions  would like answers to.  I’ve covered a lot of ground over the past five plus years, but only your feedback will be helpful to find questions or topics I may have overlooked. I look forward to receiving them.  Send them to james@jamesschotgallerystudio.com.

Lately I have had several people I know report their horror stories to me.  They were all the same, “my hard drive crashed and I lost all my photos that I’ve taken over many years.” The bottom line to this story is that all hard drives will crash sometime, we just do not know exactly when.  Once it crashes there are services available to recover the lost data most of the time, but not all the time.  If you are lucky enough to be in the position where data can be retried you are a lucky person.  All you need is to pay a $1000 more and not much less to get your lost files back.

Why not make this possibility of a crashed hard drive a non-issue at a far lower cost by buying at least one back-up hard drive.  Today you can buy small drives powered through the USB cable that have a capacity of 1 Terabyte and more for under a hundred dollars. They are hot-swappable so removing them from the computer is fast and easy.  They are easy to use.  You can simply copy and drag a set of new photographs taken from your primary hard drive to your back-up drive and sleep well.

You can research for more about hard drives on the Internet, just do it. You absolutely have to back-up all your work of a second hard drive. Now if one of those drives crashes, replace it and copy all the files from the active hard drive on to the new hard drive.  There you go…easy and relative to a recovery process, very inexpensive.  One more time, because I tell this to all those I know and work with, but people seldom want to listen or otherwise put it off…you must without question or delay always back-up all your files.

Changing subjects let’s talk about digital photography vs. film photography and the person behind the camera.  Photographic artist Louis Davis mentioned to me today as we were leaving the Las Olas Art Show, that digital photography is in general making camera owners poor photographers.

With film things were different.  To take photographs, new rolls of film had to constantly be purchased and processed at additional cost, in other words it always affected your pocket book.  When money is spent there is the tendency to make sure you did not waste any film, and the best and only way to avoid this from happening, was by knowing what you are doing. Keep in mind you would never be 100% sure of your results until the film was processed and for this you also paid a price.

Digital photography changed all that.  Once you purchased a (inexpensive) memory card and processing computer software you could without further expense theoretically take and process and endless number of photographs.  Camera technology making things easy allows you to place your camera in “auto” mode and you’re off taking what look like fine photographs that can be quickly viewed on the LCD screen.  Incredible how this way of taking photographs is simple and inexpensive.

There is only one major drawback in this photographic approach, and that is it doesn’t take a brain.  Yes, we may have photographs, but they lack all the knowledge and understanding of the variety of functions available to take really creative photographs. In conclusion, the ease of operating a digital camera to give us a suitable photograph makes us lazy and the illusion of being photographers, but without true credentials. Building credentials takes time, efforts to learn the many aspects of the equipment used, an expanding understanding how equipment functions to creative ends, and practice.

It doesn’t end with the camera and flash.  Great photographers know about light and color.  Photography means painting with light.  There are many types of light sources with unique color temperatures, and many ways to control it.  Color in itself has a variety of emotional  attachments associated to them.  The last two articles I wrote talked about compositional aspects.  There is much to learn to be a great photographer, but the ease of digital equipment can have us believing that the knowledge necessary in no longer needed.  This will never be true, unless you are happy with robotic, software controlled results.

If you have studied, implemented and practiced the many lessons and tips I’ve provided in the previous sixty three articles you will have come a long way to mastering all the basics of photography. Remember to send me your questions for the next article.  Until then I take leave to go ashore.