Overcoming Photography Ignorance

After reading my cousin Scott Troyer’s guest post on David Santistevan’s blog ‘The Ultimate Guide to Overcoming Musical Gear Ignorance‘, I decided to make up a similar post on overcoming photo ignorance.

There is a three tiered scale when it comes to photography. Where you fall on this scale determines your ability. You are forced to balance your technical ability, people personality, and artistic flare. There is no right or wrong way to shoot. It’s all based on your personality. However, regardless of how you approach your day-to-day shooting, at some point in the day you are forced to think or act technically. (There will be other posts about shooting emotionally and working with clients in the future!) So many of us aren’t even aware of the science going on behind the lens. Being able to answer the following questions at the drop of a hat will force you to memorize some technical facts, and by doing so will give you a better understanding of the limitations of your gear. The more you study, the more the information will be stored in your subconscious. All of this subconscious thought will surface on a shoot without you even thinking twice about what you are doing or why you are doing it, giving you more time to think about interacting with your talent or focus on your artistic side.

There are no particular order to the questions because we really need to know it all. So what if you are an all natural light shooter? The exact same principals of strobed light apply to the sun coming in the window you are using.

This will be an ever growing list so if you have a good question send it in! I would love to expand the list to cover as much as we can.

  • 1) What does DSLR stand for?
  • 2) List full aperture values between 2.8 and 32
  • 3) List full shutter values between 1/30 and 1/1000
  • 4) List full ISO values between 100 & 1600
  • 5) Define the principle of reciprocals in photography.
  • 6) How much additional light are you letting into your camera by opening your aperture from f/5.6 to f/4?
  • 7) How many stops of light do you lose if you double the distance from subject to light source?
  • 8) What are 3 ways to change your depth of field?
  • 9) Is light softer when you are closer or farther from the source?
  • 10) What gives you softer light, a large or small light source?
  • 11) What is White Balance?
  • 12) How does light from a flash differ from traditional lamp bulbs (tungsten)?
  • 13) What type of gel should you use to balance a flash to tungsten light?
  • 14) What is the 1/Focal Length rule?
  • 15) What does a cropped sensor do to your focal length?
  • 16) What is dynamic range?
  • 17) What are the color spaces and how do they differ?
  • 18) How many megapixels do you need to add to double your image size?


I love thinking about all of this data!! Its amazing how it is all connected. Like combining questions 5, 9, and 13 to shoot ambient light one shot and flash the next to produce 2 drastically different looks! Remember, I’m not saying you HAVE to know all of this. I am saying that when something unexpected happens to your gear/setup/art direction (and it will!), if you have a great grasp on these topics, you will have the technical knowledge to figure out what is happening, why it is happening, and how to solve the problem without freaking out in front of your client.

If you would like more hands on learning check out one of my workshops! I would love to sit down with you and explain anything here in greater detail! 
Keep Shooting!
-Chris W ‘WhonPhoto’

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