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7 Steps to Fastrack DSLR Photography
Feb 24, 2012 06:47 PM 14435 Views

Nevermind the caption and the mismatch with the Review topic. Truth is both of them are too vast in scope to compress within the ambit of a "5000 characters" Review. So without wasting more space on a lead-in, let me start with the prerequisites that might help you in your quest for better DSLR photography :-


1) Interest - Photography requires a bit of magazmaari and more than a bit of sustained effort, so you'll be able to make headway only if you have an intrinsic interestand time to spare. Rest of the Review is only of academic interest if you are not sure on this count.


2) A bit of Money - More than a bit actually. Good DSLRs start upwards of 38-40k and good lenses upwards of 15-20k. So for a good starting kit we are talking of something above 100k (at least 60k if you want to 'branch' out into portraits/Macro/telephoto at the outset).


3) Photography has essentially two aspects. One that of capturing a given detail and two that of highlighting a detail. Its important to appreciate the difference as this determines the kind of photography you'll be doing. Capturing detail is the ability to do as much hi-fidelity cramming as your frame/sensor will allow. So its all about sharpness and megapixels, eg., a fashion guy trying to


capture a dress design for reproduction. However, here we shall be talking about the 2nd aspect - that of highlighting a detail. Photography is about capturing light in a manner so as to reproduce with/without accentuation a given detail.Its the ability to play with 3 variables (there are umpteen


others but these are the most important ones) of Aperture (size of the hole which allows light in a camera), Shutter Speed(length of time for which the aperture is open) and Point of View (POV is the creative perspective or the angle of capturing a photo that separates the 'men' from the 'boys'). With a bit of effort its "relatively" easier to learn the first two variables. The 3rd i.e, POV is more of God's gift


that mortals like us can do little about.


4) The Camera - Contrary to popular belief, Camera isnt the most important equipment in Photography. Its the Lens. In most cases a 35-40k DSLR would give you the same results as a 100k one unless you are shooting sports with frame rates >4/sec. However, if you are yet to buy a camera, here's what you should look for when you get one :- (1) Liveview (with zoom) in addition to Optical viewfinder (2) pentaprism instead of pentamirror (3) Ability to handle High ISO speeds(4) Good Battery Backup (5) Compatibility with older lenses (refer aside in Comment 1) (6) other useful features like TTL (Through The Lens) metering (measuring light), in-body stabilisation, weather proofing, etc. Naturally you wont have them all in a modest budget but you must understand the significance of these to ensure that you dont compromise on the ones that are important to you.


5) The Lenses - Guess I wouldnt be wrong if I said a third of award winning photos are pure lens work. There are some fantastic lenses out there (some at astronomical prices) which make photography look like a child's play. You couldnt go wrong with them. Obviously most of them are "fast" prime lenses. For a list of lenses that offer great value for the buck spent refer aside in Comment 2. As a thumb rule avoid zooms/slow lensesuntil you are sure you cant do without them, eg., an 18-105 zoom will give you poor pictures if the subject at 15 meters distance is poorly lit. Oh BTW lenses can be great instruments of Investments too. I bought the Tokina 11-16 a couple of years ago for 26k. I can sell it for 33K now !


6) The Practicals - You have the gear but you are loath to start ! Well, its quite one thing to own beast of a camera/lens, quite another thing to understand how they work in theory and still another to understand how they work in practice. And the best way to start is to go Manual! If you want to learn quickly, dont shoot in 'Auto' mode. You may bang your head hundred times trying to figure out


the best aperture/shutter speed combo but you'll get it right the 101th time and when you do there will be no looking back !! So go ahead and experiment with your camera/lens until you get a reasonable idea how it will behave in a given environ. If you have a large screen plasma/lcd, your job is easier. You can try photographing the same subject under various permutation/combination of aperture/shutter speed and compare all photos on big screen (using USB/HDMI connector) simply by comparing


the EXIF information (focal length/f stop/speed) that is captured by your DSLR.


7) A few general suggestions which you might find useful :-


(A) Avoid using flash. Its not required with DSLRs most of the time. It tends to make the subject unrealistically golden/bright spoiling the photo, especially if you are not good at the art of illuminating a subject. If you are into studio portraits you might have to buildup a light system though.


(B) Make a habit of mentally taking note of the direction of the source of light everytime you are photographing in new surroundings (just like Kapil Dev used to look at the Sun everytime he went out to Bat). The angle of the subject with the source and the camera will be a big determinant on the quality of photo.


(C) Accessorise but dont excessorise. Shopkeepers will try to sell a lot of gear to you, most of it useless. eg., avoid filtersof all kinds, especially cheap quality filters. They might protect your lens from dirt/scratches but will degrade the photo quality drastically. What use is a 30k lens that is 'clean' but cant give you good pics ?Instead use caps and learn to protect and clean your lenses. Same way dont fall into the trap of buying a tripod if you wont be using it (remember the heavier ones can be awkward and sapping to carry). Its a good idea though to carry spare memory cards/batteriesas backup.


Lastly, remember POV. Its not as much about the picture as its about how you see it !Bringing in perspective to your photos is the most important and the most difficult art in Photography. So go out and shoot from as many angles as you can. Who knows the knack might come sooner than you think.


(Disclaimer - Since I shoot Nikon and Canon, my suggestions are also Nikon/Canon based, though most of them are equally applicable in case of Pentax/Olympus and its counterparts. Also, familiarity with basic photography lingo is assumed. Although I have tried my best not to use technical lingo, if required terms may be googled for better understanding.Would recommend the Review written by


@aniltulsi ji on the subject. Very informative and extremely useful.)


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