4/02/2014

Advanced Photography: Lesson 1

A friend has begun to learn photography. His journey began, as it usually does, with buying good equipment. That's a great start, but is often overwhelming for beginners as its complexity can result in sub-optimal results, making one wonder why the equipment was so expensive, where all your money went, and why one's wife left.

To alleviate these problems, I thought I would post some lessons in photography, speaking from my vast experience as a hobby photographer myself. I am not a professional, because that means I would be making money on my photographs. This is not the case, since I take and share my pictures and experience simply for the joy of doing so.

There are a myriad of things to know when you first get started, but to avoid swamping you with too much information and making you wish you'd chosen a different hobby, like knitting or smoking, I'll start with one of the simplest, yet most effective principles of Great Photography.

Lesson 1: Take the Lens Cap Off

Many people skip this step entirely and either don't think that it matters or don't even know that it's a thing. But it is: It is a thing. In fact, it's not overstating it to say that taking the lens cap off may be the most important thing you can do for your pictures ever.

The effect of this lesson is so huge, in fact, that it is a bit of an anti-climax to some people, realizing that after they have mastered this lesson, everything else they learn as a photographer pales in comparison. Other critical lessons such as Not Dropping the Camera, Cleaning Mud Off the Lens, and Focusing on Something are all important, to be sure, but once you've mastered Taking the Lens Cap Off, everything else is child's play.

On the other hand, it's gratifying to know that you can do something so simple at the start to put your entire future hobby on a better footing.

The explanation of this lesson is simple:
Whenever you take a picture, first take the lens cap off.

The details are, of course, a bit more complicated. For example, should you take the lens cap off before you turn the camera on? What is the optimal delay between taking the lens cap off and taking a picture? Should you replace the lens cap after taking one picture and then remove it again before taking the next? Where should you put the lens cap when it is not on the camera?

All of these are great questions and worthy of future articles, although it is important to just get the essentials down for now. I'll let you, the reader and (I hope!) the future photographer play with some options here to get a feeling for what works for you. But the most important takeaway is: make sure that the lens cap is off every time you take a picture.

Technical Details:
Complex explanations are beyond the scope of this first lesson, but suffice it to say that the camera depends on light to capture images, and that the lens cap prevents that light from entering the camera.

Since this is a photography article, it is obviously necessary (and more fun!) to teach through pictures.

First, here is the result of taking a picture with the lens cap firmly in place:

I think you'll agree that the picture, while interesting in some respects, doesn't offer the viewer much to look at. This is because the lens cap was on while the picture was captured.

Here is what that same scene looked like immediately after taking the previous picture. First, I Took the Lens Cap Off, and then took the picture:


Hopefully you can see the difference and tell why you, as a budding photographer, should also Take the Lens Cap Off before taking your pictures.

Thanks for reading: come back for future lessons on Advanced Photography.
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