I would like to air some thoughts on getting better pics. Imagine that Granny has left you some lovely lolly and you now want to rush out and SPEND! Most thoughts flash to a new lens or camera but there are other items which may prove to be much better in reaching that goal as expensive equipment does not always mean better pics. Consider these.

1. Training Courses-rather obvious but it is absolutely essential that one not only knows how to use all of the camera settings but equally importantly which to use under what circumstances. Hands on workshops also accelerate the learning process. Also use the internet to learn. There is no end to the learning process.

2. Editing Software.The large majority of pictures can be significantly improved by adjusting the lighting and by cropping- particularly using the former with images shot in RAW. Most brands now have their own package for doing editing (eg Canon supplies DPP)- there are also free software packages such as GIMP2 which does much the same as Elements. And of course the specialist packages such as Photoshop. I use LR3 as do many professionals and it is easy to learn. It also is among the best packages to sharpen and reduce noise. In addition ir can remedy inherent problems in a lot of lenses--viz vignetting, chromatic aberration and distortion which are common in kit and zoom lenses.

3. Tripod. An often neglected piece of equipment but essential for lots of scenarios such as when using tele lenses, macro, low lighting and long exposures.

4. Reflector and External Flash. These pieces of equipment really softens shadows and one can achieve excellent results in difficult lighting situations where otherwise the pic would be very poor. Circular fold up ones cost around R450. One can also easily make one with a sheet of white polystyrene board with cooking foil fixed to the reverse side. Just try a piece of white board to see the effect.  Also one can soften the light when using an external flash by firstly carefully trimming the neck of a half litre milk bottle so it fits snuggly onto the front of the flash. 

5 Join a camera club as this very rapidly helps one advance. Also get competent friends to crit your pics objectively and offer advice such as you get on Photocritic. Examine other people's pics and try to understand what makes the excellent ones.

6 Shoot and shoot-experiment!!

PS.  If Granny was very generous then consider a  high quality lens and a camera as second choice depending on what you already have.


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Well said Mike and quite informative. I also think that too many people make too much of the camera. A great camera is useless without the right lens. Even if you have all the right equipment you will still need to know how to use it and then how to get the best output (i.e. prints etc)



Thank you for the VERY good advice!
Sound advice, Thank you.
Thanks for the reality check. I have a great camera and software packages, but still have a long way to go. For me training and buddying is very valuable. I really do enjoy Photo Critic as a soundboard and enjoy looking at the photos displayed with comments as this is truly a website where we learn from each other.

Thanks for the reality check.  I have a great camera and software packages, but still have a long way to go and a lot to learn. I truly enjoy Photo Critic because this is a website where we can share our photos and learn from the comments given by fellow photogs.



Hi Elaine. You are doing very well for a "novice"!. have you been on any training courses?. m
I have got Lightroom and went on the course with Danie just before December, but believe it or not have not had time to play around with it and have to start all over. I travel around a lot and just don't allow myself sufficient time to "practice" - guess I will need one on one training to really get to grips with some of the software I have.  Thanks for your enquiry.

Hi Elaine. I use LR3 on virtually every shot I take-adjust various light settings and crop. Can really change a "chuckout" into something with merit. It is easy to learn and I am sure a bit of practice will get you up to speed- and some 1-on-1 is a good way to go-would help but I am far away.. Have you had any other training? I ask because I had several "students" on another site and ended up developing learning material on the basics of light ,composition, camera settings etc-I also scanned quite a few appropriate training articles from several mags I subscribe to. If interested I could fwd to you.

Looking at your profile pic I guess to fly possibly commercially. regards. mike

Mike we offer a full one day workshop on Lightroom. Have a look at http://www.digitalphotographycourses.co.za/photography-courses/ligh... to see what we have on offer. For a summary of all the workshops / courses we offer, check out http://www.digitalphotographycourses.co.za/photography-courses/


See you guys after the weekend. We're off to Schoemanskloof for a photographic breakaway!

Hi Danie. thanks for this-i did a very basic course on lr3 here given by a member of our small club so i have some way to go--however we have formed a small interest group and should learn more..i will keep an eye open for your courses and if one coincides with a visit to jhb would like to join-hands on weekend away seems the best for me. mike
Thanks for the good advice!


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