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New Re: How to take good photos for under $1000.

The bit about kit lenses is complete and utter balls.

The 18-55 that comes with low-end Canons is a good, useful lens that has effective image stabilisation, fast and quiet autofocus, and is sharp. The maximum aperture isn't great, and it suffers from diffraction when stopped down a lot, but still. It works, and it works well. This is exactly true for the equivalent Nikon lens.

A 50mm prime on a crop body is a great solution, but you'll need a 35 or 40, too, because 1.6 * 50 = 80mm, which is too long for candid photography. You'll point the camera at someone, and then have to take two steps backwards.

And a 40mm is more expensive than a 50, and a 35 more expensive yet.

Not only that, but if you shoot the cheapo Canon 50mm wide open (i.e. at f/1.8) you need to know that at short range, the DoF is just a few centimetres. At 5 feet - a not unusual distance for candid photography - it's two point four inches. You've got to focus precisely to achieve good results. It's noticeable when you miss, and not just to pixel-peeping photonerds. What I'm leading up to is that the nifty fifty is a great lens, when you understand what you're doing.

The bit about high ISO is balls, too. Crop sensors produce great images at low ISO, but you need a full frame sensor to reliably go beyond ISO 1600, and realistically you'll want to stay under ISO 800 if you don't want to be managing excessive noise in your images (or turning them into B&W, where noise is grain is art). Some luminance noise is fine, and can add to an image, but colour noise always looks awful.

I don't like the article. It doesn't tell you how to take good photos; it just promulgates the writer's gear predilictions.

You take good photos by seeing things; angles, contrasts, juxtapositions, spaces, whatever. You see something and want to show it to people, so you steal it with your camera. You think about the scene in front of you, and how it makes you feel, and what story you want to tell, and you let that guide how you frame the shot.

You take good photos of people by engaging with them and forming a connection, even if only briefly; alternatively, you see them engaging with each other, and you capture a glimpse into other peoples' lives. An unengaged subject can make a good photo - but solitude is hard to capture without the photo coming off as voyeuristic. There is something to be said for pictures that take us to uncomfortable places and try not to satisfy but rather to challenge us, but that's probably not something people reading an article about "how to take good pictures" are going to want to do.

One piece of technical advice for taking pictures of things that breathe is "get the eyes in focus".

Yet he never mentions this, and prefers to talk about Lightroom presets instead. Which you can buy for just $20!

Notwithstanding the fact that this piece is a giant piece of clickbait designed to sell his presets, this, to me, misses the entire damn point of photography.

Ken Rockwell talks a lot of nonsense, but I'll be damned if he doesn't have a point when he says "it's not your camera". Proof - go onto Flickr and use the Camera Finder to find a nasty P&S camera, and look at the pictures people can take with it.

Example: the Samsung NV7 is an awful camera with hideous ergonomics, aggressive in-camera noise reduction that only makes things worse, and an autofocus system that is frankly on drugs. The white balance is essentially random, and because it only shoots JPEG, you're stuck with it. (There's one in my desk drawer at work. I can't stand to use it.)

But just look at what some people can do with it:

New TL;DR: learn how photography works. :-)
That is worth so much more than a potted buy-this equipment list.

I agree with almost all your points. I actually like shooting at roughly (35mm equiv.) 80mm for portraits and candids. Nikon had a fast 85mm lens some while ago that was very popular.

Back when 35mm automatic SLRs started becaming a lot more affordable, Nikon and Canon actually both made serious efforts to make the kit lenses "not-crap"

Just Add Story http://justaddstory.wordpress.com/
New Re: How to take good photos for under $1000.
Yep, some of his stuff is hyperbolic, etc. But will the right-er parts galvanize any learning (from better sources, later?)

It would be silly to argue with your points as, none is 'wrong'. But you are hardly an 'average photog', either; maybe you are not his audience.
My take is that the intended audience for his quick & dirty 'fix' for bad snapshots: is someone unwilling (yet) to invest the time and effort to Understand
(a great many) basics, starting with some physics and optics. Can no longer presume today, either: a random person can grok elementary algebra.

Ex: those awful presets? ... might could get a neophyte introduced to that and a range of increasingly powerful (and complex) alternative Apps.
Could.. or might stay in 1st gear indefinitely.
(Nor probably, could he (or you) tell a random person how to See.. a scene for its potential) nor how to decide which
--if any, of the possible manipulations is more apt to enhance/more apt to over-do or mangle the output image.

I guess that I expect little anyway--of such Intros; at best they can help a neophyte progress, but cannot make a Good photographer out of a person who cannot See a scene and its possibilities.. instinctively. For one who can See: there will be enough enthusiasm next, to bear the delving necessary to realizing what was seen--in the finished print. Including using some math and experimenting with what it tells you.

Maybe there are better Intros at this level; I haven't scanned enough stabs at it, recently. I think a tyro can grok DoF on the level of looking through the lens and Noticing the effect; stop-down and see: it's larger! (They were right.) But basic formulae follow, if one wants to grasp any Whys. The audience drops-off ~ there.
(Hell, as a tyke I learned the Need for [sq. root]; via ƒ-stops needing to be grokked! Ever thus?)

You could write a better one (even sans much math.) There seem to be lots of folks with Ferraris out there now, coming off a Morris Minor, all unaware of gears 4 through 7/8? Damn few shall become Tazio Nuvolari.
New Re: How to take good photos for under $1000.
Oh, I know I'm not his audience. It's not that. It's that I don't think his article is helpful at all, to anyone. It basically says "take loads and loads of pictures, you never know, you might get a good one, and while you're at it, buy my presets for a piece of software you don't understand!"

The problems beginners have aren't camera problems, they're composition problems. Trees coming out of peoples' heads. An unwillingness to get close. Everything taken from eye level, instead of getting down low or up high.

Composition is 90% of photography, yet he doesn't talk about it at all.

His presets? Well, they might be brilliant, they might be shit - I have no idea - but I'll bet you a pint of foaming ale that they're not significantly better than the stuff you can download off Adobe's site:


The best advice is "think about your picture, and that means understanding a little about aperture, shutter speed, and ISO".

Seriously, an hour spent reading the opening chapters of Understanding Exposure will do more to lift a beginner's photography than any amount of farting around in Lightroom or taking bad advice about kit lenses.

tl;dr: Don't invest time and money in software, invest it in understanding.
New Last sentence: mandatory for every Pol on the planet! (too)
     How to take good photos for under $1000. - (Another Scott) - (30)
         GMTA. - (Ashton)
         Re: How to take good photos for under $1000. - (pwhysall) - (4)
             TL;DR: learn how photography works. :-) - (static)
             Re: How to take good photos for under $1000. - (Ashton) - (2)
                 Re: How to take good photos for under $1000. - (pwhysall) - (1)
                     Last sentence: mandatory for every Pol on the planet! (too) -NT - (Ashton)
         One more thing - (pwhysall) - (19)
             Wait, *that's* what he's selling? Holy crap -NT - (drook)
             On Bryan's book... - (Another Scott) - (17)
                 It's got many, many more glowing ones. - (pwhysall)
                 On "imprecise" explanations - (drook) - (15)
                     Yes. And no. - (Another Scott) - (14)
                         How is that "wrong"? - (drook) - (11)
                             It invites confusion. - (Another Scott) - (10)
                                 Yes, and no, and yes again - (drook) - (7)
                                     You've brought up another important issue - (Another Scott) - (6)
                                         Re: weeding out - (drook) - (3)
                                             Fun. :-/ - (Another Scott) - (2)
                                                 Why would you expect pure rotation with an edge hit? - (drook) - (1)
                                                     Ah, ... - (Another Scott)
                                         Belated comment to (this, buried-in 'Hardware'.) - (Ashton) - (1)
                                             Thanks. I remembered the wrong book. - (Another Scott)
                                 Bingo! Max Jammer's 'Concepts of Force' gives you a qed - (Ashton) - (1)
                                     Gotta move it up my reading list! Thanks for the reminder. -NT - (Another Scott)
                         NO!! ... keep-on 'being sensitive' - (Ashton) - (1)
                             :-) "... of course, you learned this in kindergarten..."!!1 -NT - (Another Scott)
         Re: How to take good photos for under $1000. - (pwhysall) - (3)
             Neat. - (Another Scott) - (1)
                 But they won't, though. - (pwhysall)
             350D and the 18-55mm kit lens - (Bman)

Too late, some of us have already taken offense.
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