17 May 2021

A Mildly Complex View of a Few Things You Can Do LESS of to Get MORE - Update


Art Model, Susan ©2013 Terrell Neasley

"It’s not the daily increase but daily decrease. Hack away at the unessential." 
 –Bruce Lee
Check this out. I wanna cover a few details of some things of note that I believe can help transform you into a better shooter. It may not make sense right off the bat, but stick with me. I think you will be helped by do LESS of these things:

Ignore TV... Less!
What you see on TV is the final product of someone's content creation efforts. You can learn a plethora of information by observing what images made the final cut. Check out all the lighting schemes, posing, and final edits that you see. How effective do you think they were? What message do they convey and how successful do you feel they were at getting your attention at evoking an emotion in you to act on whatever they were selling, promoting, or entertaining you.

We often times get left in the dust with recent trends. TV gives you an idea of what some of the latest technology is doing and how its being creatively implemented. You succeed when you can begin to backwards engineer what you see. Figure out how its done and get ideas on what techniques or best practices you can employ in your own work. At the very least, you can see what the everyone else is doing and how you might differentiate yourself. Know what's happening around you and do something different. You don't always have to follow what the latest favorite is doing. In fact, I highly recommend it.

Art Model, Susan ©2013 Terrell Neasley

Watch TV... LESS!
All to often, the thing that can hamper us most is Television. We'll have at least 3 TV's in the house to keep us updated on our favorite shows, like the Walking Dead, Game of Thrones, or Dragon Ball Super. People can go nuts over these programs. Sheesh... Back Away From the Idiot Box! I say that in jest, but don't get caught up in TV, too much.

If you can back away from some of the ad-laced content for a while, check out a book on photo for a change. Learn about some new night shooting techniques. Go watch an educational video on Lightroom. There are plenty of free stuff out there, but I'm sure you've heard the old adage... "You get what you pay for". Maybe try a paid subscription service to up your game a little bit. I've always advocated pulling out your camera's manual and familiarizing yourself with features you had no idea existed, right there at your fingertips. And then go practice with it.

Study... LESS!
Here's a new one. Get your head out of the books and go SHOOT! Study long...Study wrong is what my Uncle Sly used to tell me when playing basketball. The more you contemplate your shot, the more likely you're gonna miss it. Never more true. Paralysis by Analysis. There's only so much you can fill your brain with at one time. Most of the time, what you really need is to put the books down and go pick up the camera and just shoot! Experiment. Who learned to ride a bike with a book? What person researched the mechanics of swimming before jumping in the water? Some things you learn by doing.

Yes, some research, study, reading, and observation is good for us. But at some point, you have to put it all down and let your mind and muscles work together with repetition and effort to finally learn something new. Go shoot! I can't emphasis that enough. Studying something too long is a huge contributor to procrastination. I know for fact this is speaking to some of you out there. Its time now to put to practice some of the brilliant things you've learned. Go for it.

Art Model, Susan ©2013 Terrell Neasley

"Simplicity is about subtracting the obvious and adding the meaningful." 
–John Maeda

Shoot... LESS!
You got that right. Shoot a whole lot less! I've worked with some students that I tell to shoot MORE. The vast majority of you, however, should shoot LESS. This is one case where LESS is truly MORE. The spray and pray concept of photography is only applicable in sports and other jobs where capturing the decisive moment requires advanced anticipation and a fast shutter. Shooting at 14 frames per second to capture the money shot of Russell Wilson escaping the clutches of a NFC West defender showing the look on the guy's face as that split second passes where he KNEW he had the sack, then nothing but air. Yeah...you can't try to time that shot and expect to get anything. No way. You select the drive mode for Hi-Continuous and you roll like Rambo.

When you come back with 30,000 images from a weekend camping trip, just know that you have a problem. Stop friggin' shooting so much! If you want to immediately have an impact on better photography, shoot less! Limit yourself and become more selective about what you are taking a picture of. And there's no need to get 12 versions of the same shot. All you're really looking for are a few good shots that tell the story or deliver the message. Personally, I'm a 10%er. It roughly averages out to editing a tenth of whatever I shoot. I come back from a gig with 300 images...I'm netting about 30 edited shots. I believe I usually shoot about 100 shots an hour when I'm doing constant shooting. That means I'm on a gig or have a photographic purpose in mind and when I'm finished shooting, I go home. So that's different from going on a day trip with my girlfriend and we're on the road for 15 hours. I may only come home with 200 images total because we are shooting, but we're also hiking and exploring and shooting between locations.

Art Model, Susan ©2013 Terrell Neasley

It saves you some time having to cull a million shots, but more importantly, WE DON'T WANT TO, NOR DO WE HAVE TIME TO LOOK AT EVERY-FRIGGIN' SHOT YOU TOOK! So just calm down a bit. Play the roll of a sniper instead of Machine Gun Freddie. Take some time to look at your composition and understand what makes it a good shot vs a snapshot by a tourist. You didn't buy that expensive camera to come back with the same kind of shots you've always been taking. Get to know the camera. Take if off automatic and get creative with it. Shoot less, but maybe more often. How's that for a compromise. Now, you have some things to mull over. Get to it.

05 May 2021

Why the Camera You Already Have May Be Better Than You Think: Updated Repost

Anonymous Model, Copyright 2014 Terrell Neasley

"Start where you are. Use what you have. Do what you can."

I'm a Sony shooter. I started out years ago with Canon. And when Canon no longer suited my needs, I sold about $25K in Canon gear...all of it...and switched to Nikon. Three years after that, (#switchhappens) I made the plunge again into the Sony line of camera systems and will likely be here a while. I welcome the moniker, "gear-head", but I can objectively say I made all my changes based on need. When Canon's next line of cameras came out and it didn't give me what I needed, I had no qualms about dropping that line and investing in another. Nikon's switch had more to do with dropping the DSLR line because I was sold on mirrorless systems, namely Sony, but originally Fujifilm (XE-2, remember...).

Anonymous Model, Copyright 2014 Terrell Neasley

But here's the deal. Not everyone wants to drop camera lines like that, especially if you have a huge investment in the lenses. Or, getting another camera simply isn't in the budget at the moment. It's sorta like a used car that you've put so much effort, money, and time into that you gotta get the most you can out of the car you have. I think it might help a few of you to know that the camera you have right now, is probably better than you think. You may not have the same photo demands or feature needs as I do and if you don't require all that then here are a few things you can look into.

If you have purchased a camera in the last 10 years, even a DSLR, then chances are, it's actually a really good system for general purpose use. I've met PLENTY of people complaining that they can't get a good picture from their camera, when in fact, all they need is a little bit of knowledge on how the camera works. Take a look at Auto Focus. I think this is likely the most frequent issue I encounter. Blurry images account for the chief complaints, but incorrect AF is only one probable cause.

Anonymous Model, Copyright 2014 Terrell Neasley

With the Auto Focus situation, its usually a case where the camera is set to full auto. So in this setting, it's automatic everything. The problem here is that sometimes the camera will automatically focus lock on the object closest to the camera or to a subject that is moving. The camera operator has an image with SOME things in focus, but not the thing or subject that they wanted to take a picture of. In this case, taking the camera out of Full Auto mode should be the first step. If anything put the camera in Program or "P" mode. Then take out your manual (download it from the net if need be) and look up how to use center-point AF. This allows you to point at whatever you want to focus on and the camera locks on that one thing. If you're brave enough, check out Manual Focus. Camera manufacturers my call each thing something different. Canon is AF-Single and AI Servo/AI Servo-Continuous. Nikon is AF-S, or AF-C. Then they may go into autofocus zones or groupings in some way.

The other blurring I mentioned is when the subject is blurred or the entire picture is blurred because a slow shutter speed setting than AF. There are two things that might determine this. First could be the shutter speed itself. If the camera perceives that it doesn't have enough light, it will extend the amount of time the shutter is open and expose the sensor to light for a little longer period of time. Well, unless everything is absolutely still, there will be blurring. A single second is actually a LONG time when we're talking photography. Its nigh impossible to hold your camera still that long and not get blur just from camera shake, much less have your subject be still enough. Try shooting a baby with a one-second shutter speed.

Art Model Que, Copyright 2020 Terrell Neasley

If this is the case and you are in Program mode, look to your ISO speed and raise it till your shutter speed automatically moves at least 1/60th of a second on shutter speed. You'll usually have this issue when it begins to get dark and you're still trying to shoot pics of the kids outdoors. Sometimes, if you're in full auto, the flash will pop up and blast everything with light and that doesn't look good in most cases. Raise that ISO to 800 or maybe even 1600 and try again. Go higher if need be. But there is a catch! The higher the ISO, the more grainy or noisy the image looks.

I had to make my first camera upgrade from the Canon 40D (2007) to the full frame 5D Mark II (2008) for this reason. I required better low-light performance. The 5D Mark II had a bigger sensor which means bigger light-gathering pixels. It also had the ability to handle higher ISO much better resulting in high-ISO images, but with less noise in the image. Today, I work in much darker situations that still require speed and I can reach ISOs of over 100,000 and still look clean in my Sony systems.

Art Model Que, Copyright 2020 Terrell Neasley

Sometimes, a better lens can be your limitation. If you still rock with the kit lens your camera came with, its likely not going to be the best quality and is likely not fast glass. If you're Canon, try the Nifty Fifty, the 50mm f/1.8 lens for a little over $100. And for zoom lenses, I absolutely love Tamron's line-up whether you are Canon or Nikon. Tamron makes a 17-50mm f/2.8 (for crop sensor cameras) or a 28-75mm f/2.8 (for full frame or crop sensor cameras) of which both are excellent pieces of fast glass. Those lenses have wide maximum apertures that help let in more light. If you have newer cameras, I'd even suggest the all in one Tamron 16-300mm lens (not made for full frame cameras). Just make sure you get the Tamron lens specific for your camera, either Canon or Nikon.

In any case, learning a little bit more about your camera outside of the full auto mode can work to your favor and get you better shots. When your demands surpass the camera's capabilities, THEN look to a better system. Getting a camera with numerous Phase-Detect Auto focus points because you often shoot moving subjects is a reason to upgrade. Having a system with superior low-light performance because you do a lot of low-light work is a reason to upgrade. Or maybe convenience features like built-in WIFI for the ability to control the camera or download your images from your camera straight to your smart phone, swivel the LCD screen around for selfies, have a touch-screen LCD, you have a 4K TV and want to shoot 4K video, or you want to be able to continuously autofocus while doing video. It could be that you like your friend's ability to autofocus using Face-detect/Smile-detect/Eye-detect. Or you love shooting manual focus and heard how cool the Sony system can use Focus Peak to assist with manual focus. These are all reasons to upgrade. If your camera is simply not taking good pics, then chances are you could benefit from reading the manual, because cameras these days are actually bad ass.

Art Model Que, Copyright 2020 Terrell Neasley