The Digital Photo Guy

Checklist for Better Photography

by on Jul.21, 2009, under Articles

One of my favorite pithy sayings is, “Flitting like a fly from one cow patty the next without a plan or direction.” My point is that one needs a plan and a direction to produce good photos. Knowing your camera is an important first step but developing a smooth workflow is crucial. Just as you do certain tasks in order in Photoshop or Photoshop Elements, taking photos is the same.

For example, how many of you have started taking photos before checking ISO and discovered that it was still set to 1600 from Grandma’s birthday party the night before? For those who shoot JPEGs, how many times have you taken your camera to an indoor party and discovered afterwards that WB was still set to Daylight from the last time you used it?

Another dSLR phenomenon is Raw format. On some forums, there’s an almost reverence for Raw as if it will magically transform all photographers into the next Ansel Adams or Galen Rowell. My students hate it when I remind them that it’s just as easy to make a crappy Raw image as it is to make a crappy JPEG image. If you don’t capture a good image to start, expecting to “fix it in Photoshop”, you’re just a PS hack, not a photographer.

With all the above in mind, I set out to create a “cheat sheet” for new dSLR shooters to help you develop good habits when practicing. Developing Good dSLR Habits can be downloaded here and printed or, if you want a fancy one printed on plastic coated paper, send me a self-addressed, stamped envelope and I’ll mail it to you. Keep it with your camera and review it before and during each shoot.

This is version 1.0 so feel free to leave comments on ideas to improve it. For the fancy plastic coated paper version, my mailing address is PO Box 463043, Escondido, CA 92046-3043. You may post the PDF on a club website or newsletter but my copyright must remain with it. You may not sell it or use it for any financial gain.


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