A few years ago I rekindled a love of photography that I’d first discovered as a child. With my brand new Fujifilm FinePix S1730 I started taking photographs of practically anything that caught my eye, eagerly posting them on internet sites and awaiting praise or ‘likes’.
Not long afterwards I purchased a Fujifilm FinePix HS10 because, at least in my mind, it was the next ‘must-have’ camera. Did it improve my photographs? Well, no, not really. Since then I’ve purchased quite a few must-haves including a Nikon D90, a Nikon D5100 and my latest camera, a Nikon D7100.
Yes, my photography has improved no end, but I hasten to add, not because of the cameras. Instead, it’s because I’ve studied photography in more depth. I recently looked back with embarrassment through hundreds of photos I’d taken with my S1730 and all the other cameras I’d owned, when I realised something important: was the fact that most of the photographs were poorly composed actually due to the camera?
Was it the fault of the camera that most of the pictures were incorrectly cropped or horizons weren’t level? Was the camera to blame for the noise in the photographs, or was it the fact that I knew nothing about setting the ISO? The same applied to many other aspects of the pictures that I once thought were great. Closer examination of these, now ready to be deleted forever images, showed a lack of basic photographic skills – not at all a fault of the camera.
The secret isn’t in owning a fancy new toy. Rather it’s in using all available resources – whether magazines, books or the internet – to gain the knowledge and inspiration you need. It’s about knowing enough to get the best from the camera you already have. Learning how to control camera settings, lighting, depth of field, composition, and the many other aspects of photography, will combine to produce better photographs. As Ansel Adams said, ‘The single most important component of a camera is the twelve inches behind it.’
Yes, a nice DSLR like the one I currently own (another must-have I couldn’t resist) does produce better quality images, but only if you know what you’re doing with it. It’s a bit like having a top of the range sports car in your garage and not knowing how to drive.
If only I’d taken the time to master the basics with my first camera before rushing out to buy the next best thing, I could have saved a fortune. In fact, I’d probably now be able to afford that Nikon D810 I really must have.
Dave Bloor has worked as a professional photographer for over three years. He’s an avid AP reader and is based in Cheshire.