There are times when the moment captures the photographer. When this happens, savor the reality, close your eyes, see the vision, embrace it, then take the shot…Sanny Leviste
Pressing the button is the easy part of photography. Like in hunting, bagging a trophy involves your whole being. You should see the canvas in your mind and compose it with all the elements of the masterpiece you envision. You must have, at the very least your weapon of choice. Do not rush. Know your camera well and practice using it often until it becomes like an extension of your body. If you know your equipment well, your camera will respond consistently and be a dependable ally. It will treat you well.
Make sure you have all the battery power you need. Often, two batteries will not be enough particularly when you use the external view finder/ monitor. They consume power. Lenses on automatic mode and image stabilizer functions left on consume battery power at a higher rate. Having three or four batteries is a good thing, so long as they are charged. If you also use video (for cameras that have the function), be prepared to have more batteries and memory disks. In our excitement, it is easy to forget those little but essential components of the camera. When these components are missing during a shoot, it will be like driving without gas and really mess up the shoot.
Two very important accessories to have are tripod and remote timers. The tripod will hold your camera steady for long exposure shots while a remote will allow you to take pictures without the usual camera shake. Some remote timers can be programmed to trigger the camera hundreds of times at specific intervals so you can make a video of clear images in succession for time lapse photography. The remote will also allow the photographer to be in a blind for wildlife photography.
Digital Single Lens Reflex (DSLR) cameras have interchangeable lenses. It is advisable to have both wide angle for short and medium distance shooting, and a zoom lens for medium to long range shooting. Point and shoot cameras often have most of the range of the DSLRs but mostly operate on automatic mode. This is acceptable for many photo situations but lack the creative options that are readily available for the DSLRs. They are however less expensive and will do a decent job in many photo situations.
In any situation, it is best to know your camera like an extension of your body. It is important to understand the different functions of your camera, specially in relation to manual operations and speed of adjustments. This knowledge will make the difference between ordinary pictures and exceptionally fine ones. Familiarize yourself with the camera so that you can make full and efficient use of it when opportunity presents itself or for remembering and documenting situations. In many cases, the combination of the camera and the telephone or the portable computer has allowed many business and social opportunities to unfold.
Be aware of your surroundings. Knowing what to look for and where to find it is essential. Since photographers deal with light and shadow, ask yourself constantly what it is that you want to see in the photograph. In composing photographs, take note of the effect of items and colors that may distract the potential viewer’s eyes, unless of course, that is the objective. Photography to me is a form of digital painting. The screen is my canvas and I set my camera on manual mode to get the hues, the play of light and shadow that unleashes the vision that I want to share. Paint that image in your mind and constantly seek opportunities to improve on that image. You will find many possibilities in the field, usually within a few feet from where you stand.
Often I am asked what camera I would recommend for beginners. It really depends on what the user needs it for. There is no need for a fancy camera with all the bells and whistles if it will only be set aside for display purposes. A cell phone with a camera function will do and will often create opportunities to capture images that the user wants or needs to share.
We can spend hours and days, even years discussing the benefits of one camera over another like hobbyists compare their toys, We can talk about lenses, accessories, equipment, techniques, experience etc. but in the end I really believe the photograph is a document and it indeed speaks more than a thousand words if well taken. It is like a passport that is neither real or fake – only efficient or inefficient. It can be like a flyswatter used on a fly instead of a 45 caliber that would punch a hole through the table but would still miss the fly, or a martial artist using a chopstick efficiently against an aggressor having a knife or a gun. The document produced by the camera can be the source of affection or the source of hatred…or simply annoying. But I know also that the same document called the photograph can be a source of education, of pleasure, of joy. In the right hands, with attitude and disciple it can be one of the most creative instruments that can change lives, communities even nations. That document called a photograph can inspire people to correct a past and create a future. In the right perspective the images produced can raise funds for a cause and manifest the vision, creativity, ability, discipline and foresight of a leader who can share in the universal language of visual communication dreams and inspiration for all.
So, go out there and seize the world through your photographs. Join contests. Share ideas. And when your first photograph is requested for a fundraiser, purchased for a home, featured in a publication, wins a contest or even gets stolen…celebrate with pure joy in your heart…and an ice cream cone…Because you have proven beyond doubt that there is a demand for your creative genius, appreciation for your passion and honest admiration (by those who steal your work) because imitation is said to be the sincerest form of flattery.
Then go out and take a difficult image using manual settings until you capture one that will make you smile from within. Whisper to yourself with a grin and say “It wasn’t the camera folks”…