Digital Photography Tips
The web can steer you toward a myriad of digital photography tips that you can pick from and practice, depending on your level of practice and experience, but first what I want to do is show you how my second biggest mistake of my career led me to...
...one of the simplest and best, but hardest photography tips to accept...
This is a beautiful little ghost crab from a tiny rock island way up on the Kimberley coast.
Let's start with my worst ever mistake....
...Mistake 1 - Lesson 1
It was when I was a young, fresh out of film school, cine-camera assistant at the ABC. It was a Monday morning and Jim McFarlan the senior cameraman I was working to pointed at a magazine for his ACL cinecamera and asked me to reload it for him.
No troubles. I walked over and picked it up and opened the mag...
...see full 400 feet of film in there already...
...on the..uh oh!...exposed side Slam mag shut.(too late) "Uh? Jim - there was no tape on that mag, but it had film in it."
"Did you open it in the black bag?!?" ."...uh...there was no tape on the mag..!??" .The problem here was that Jim had returned from a job in Kununurra which is about 2500kms north of the Perth TV studio we worked at. Fortunately Jim's professional reputation was strong enough to handle the expensive loss and he graciously smoothed things for me as his subordinate. - so 400ft of 16mm exposed film at 25frames/sec is about (11minutes*60secs*25 frames/pictures) so 16,500 lost precious pictures. and if we were to get the pictures again it would entail somebody flying a 5000km round trip again...blah, blah - oops.
That was lesson 1:
...know where your precious pictures are and protect them...
That remains my biggest single mistake to date, and if you get to read this Jim: "Uh...sorry...again!?......and I carried that lesson with me for over 20 years until I had to learn the next stage of the lesson with ...
...my second biggest mistake...
...which taught me one of the best digital photography tips you will ever get. If you have the courage and determination to learn and implement it...
...this tip will dramatically improve the quality of your photography immediately and continuously for the rest of your career in photography
The story goes like this:
I was heading out to a place called the Maret Islands about 700 kilometers north of Broome on the Kimberley coast. It entailed a three hour small plane journey to a remote strip and then about forty minutes in a helicopter out to the islands. I was to camp there for three days and do extensive filming and stills photography of the islands marine life and some aerial imaging work from the helicopter. A very expensive exercise for the client. The cost of transport and logistics outweighed my fees considerably - so on this kind of assignment...
...you get good fees but errors are not acceptable.
Aerial shot of one of the Maret Islands which is one of the 2500 islands on the remote Kimberley coast.
My greatest photography lesson...
...and thus the first of my digital photography tips lesson began in the helicopter as we were being ferried out to the islands.
I reached into my camera backpack to get my small bag where I keep my camera data cards and the small laptop I use to download cards. A frantic search and I realized the bag was definitely not there.
I had four camera bodies and just two data cards and no way of downloading once I had shot pictures and HD video.
I wasn't about to advertise my stupid mistake...
... to the client representative in the helicopter seat beside me.
To cut to the chase: I was forced to spend three days carefully and critically choosing a camera to put the cards in and then choose which pictures and videos I really needed to bring home for this job, but in the longer term...
...it was one of the best things that ever happened.
Instead of arriving back home in Broome with 10 or 20 gigs of stills and HD video...
...I only had two one gig cards of data to sort through
...and all the files were absolute gems, because I had to make the very hard decisions in the field at the time of shooting.
From that trip onwards, I always delete brutally in the field and return from any photography expedition with just the pictures I need to keep with almost no surplus to clutter my files.
The real trick is to delete unnecessary pictures in the field - whether it is a short trip down to the local mangroves or a major journey.
This has taught me how to critically decide which pictures really work and which are just clutter.
So the first of the digital photography tips is...
...Always delete unnecessary pictures in the field.
The more brutal and serious you are about your critical judgement - the more improvement you will get in the pictures you have to grade, present and store. This is hard to do and even scary, and you have to do it brutally and critically to get real improvement.
The day you start using this first critical one of the digital photographic tips - is the day your photography will start improving.
And the improvement will continue for the rest of your photographic life
If you think you will lose pictures that might be useful later - just think of those photographers who can tell you how many great pictures they have 'somewhere' but they are buried amongst so many duds they can't find them. You can learn to just have good pictures on file - that you can find.
I believe that this digital photography tip is a courageous step for any photographer, but for the brave few who want to improve their photography...
...the rewards will continue for a lifetime.
And you get a lot more time to spend with family and friends rather than wading through hundreds of 'almost acceptable' photos when you return from a photographic expedition.
Just do it - try coming back with as few as three pictures on your card when you next go out photographing - be brave.
This is a tiny Mudskipper photographed at Cygnet Bay. And that's the second of my digital photography tips but it is only for for anyone who is lucky enough to visit Broome and the Kimberley coast - Cygnet Bay has a Marine Science Research Station and it is by far the best starting point to photograph the Kimberley marine environment.
Here is a series of links to pages for more technical information:
DIGITAL SLR CAMERAS - my thoughts
PAGES UNDER CONSTRUCTION
HOW CAMERAS WORK
LEARN WILDLIFE PHOTOGRAPHY
PHOTOGRAPHY TIPS - TECHNICAL
MORE DIGITAL PHOTOGRAPHY TIPS
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