Wednesday, May 1, 2013

How to Take Better Photos --- The Best Camera

Sometimes, a lot of amateur photographers get into a gear-mindset --- in order to take a good photo, you need the best possible camera/lens. The photography forums are filled with people asking minute details about the technical specifications of this or that camera or this and that lens. They get so caught up in the technical details about their gear that they have forgotten that photography is about light.

Camera gear isn't a guarantee that you'll take better photos. Yes, good gear can always help a good photographer who knows how to see light. But if you don't understand the fundamentals of photography and how to see  light, then what good is your gear?

It's like buying a several thousand dollar sewing machine with all the bells and whistles and not knowing how to sew.

You can take excellent photos with a simple point-and-shoot camera (or even your smart phone camera) if you understand the fundamentals of using light in your photography.

Real World Example

Take a look at the following two photos. Using things I found around my house (sunlight and some ecru-colored fabric), I set up a simple photo shoot with a skein Manos del Uruguay yarn that I purchased at my LYS.

One image was taken with my big expensive camera and one was taken with my smart phone camera.**  Both images were taken within minutes of each other. Can you guess which is which?

They look pretty darn similar, don't they?

Are there differences? Yes there are some slight differences, but both of these photos are essentially the same.
  1. The colors in both photos are very close to true, which is important to most crafters who want to take a good representation of their work.  (And, interestingly enough, the color of the background of the rightmost photograph is actually more true than the left.)
  2. One photo is a little bit more saturated than the other (i.e. a little bit extra deeper color), but not by much. Saturation is a matter of taste, and the left most photo is actually a little too saturated in comparison to the actual yarn.
  3. There's a matter of depth of field, but that's also a matter of taste
(A good photo editing software or app can easily remedy #2-3)

If you haven't guessed yet,
LEFT: Canon 5D with a 24-70 mm lens.
RIGHT: iPhone 5 camera.

Are the differences extensive enough to quantify spending several hundred to several thousands of dollars to essentially get the same exact photo? Well...

  • If you're selling your handmade crafted items online as your own business, it might be worth the money to invest in photography gear (not necessarily the top of the line, but a decent camera/lens that you can afford).

  • If you're simply taking progress shots for your blog or maybe for your Ravelry project/stash page, then these differences aren't probably worth spending the money.
And, here's the BIGGEST difference, at least to me, especially if I'm only taking photos for posterity
  • On my iPhone, it only takes me a few minutes to grab my phone, take a photo, make sure that I like it, then upload it to my blog, Flickr, or wherever I want to host it.
  • For my big fancy camera, it takes me about 15-30 minutes to:
    • Drag out the camera & lens
    • Take a few photos, 
    • Take the card to my computer
    • Download the images
    • Open up my photo editing software, crop, tweak, etc
    • Upload to my blog, Flickr, etc.

For just general blog posts, Ravelry project/stash photos, etc....guess which camera I grab the most often?

The best camera isn't necessarily that fancy expensive camera that you have sitting in the corner.

The BEST CAMERA is the one you have with you and the one with which you take the most photos. And, if you understand the basics of photographic lighting, then you can take equally good photos with any camera.

Check out my previous posts on photographic lighting:

** No post processing was done on either of these images. I did crop both photos to make them approximately the same size for comparative purposes.

Let me know. I'd be happy to help you answer any questions.