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Photo myth busters

Photography is full of second hand advice and half-truths. In an attempt to shed some light on what’s right and wrong, we’ve debunked eight of the most common misconceptions surrounding digital photography…

Do not shoot into the sun

Beginners are told to shoot with the sun behind them, so you get nice, even lighting, however in doing so your images are probably going to be flat and boring. While it might be trickier to meter for, backlighting is a great approach for capturing images with depth and atmosphere, especially when there’s mist, fog or rain in the air. It’s also good for portraits as you’ll void squinting eyes and harsh shadows – simply spotmeter from your subject’s face.

Camera brand X is best

Have you ever heard two builders squabble about which brand of hammer is best? Of course not – they’re tools that do a job in the right hands. The same goes for your camera. While some models are better at some things than others (for example, top-end pro DSLRs excel at sports, while mirrorless models are great for street shooting), your chosen brand of camera or lens quite often comes down to which you prefer using. Can’t we all just get along?

Photoshop is a bad thing

You often hear photographers brag about how their images contain ‘no editing’ or are ‘straight out of camera’. If that’s true then they’re completely missing out on getting the best from their images – all digital files need tweaking and boosting to reach their full potential. Every single professionally produced digital image in circulation will have been edited in one form or another, just the same as every image shot on film was developed and printed at some point.

Pros use manual mode

Rubbish. Professional photographers use the mode that gives them the most consistent results for the job in hand. Wedding, lifestyle and press photographers will often use aperture priority, whereas sports and action photographers might switch between aperture and shutter priority. Studio photographers, or those regularly using flash are one of the few that use manual mode a lot, because it gives them complete control of the lighting.

There’s a ‘right’ exposure

Strictly speaking, if you metered from an 18% grey card in any given lighting scenario then that’s the ‘correct’ exposure, however we’d bet all of our camera kit that doing so doesn’t always create the best-looking image. Digital photography is about delivering your vision – you have to capture an exposure (or exposures) that portray the scene or subject as you want it to be seen, whilst understanding the dynamic range limitations of image sensors.

You can’t change the white balance of JPEGs

Did you know that JPEGs can be loaded into Lightroom or Adobe Camera Raw and processed in almost exactly the same manner as Raw files? That goes for adjusting the White Balance too. You won’t be offered the presets that come with Raw files, and you can’t push the files as far, but you can still adjust the temperature and tint of your images, as well as using the WB eyedropper to pick a neutral tone.

You need to use a UV filter

This might come as a surprise, but UV filters do absolutely nothing for your images. Modern optics are treated with clever coatings which negate the use of a UV filter completely. In fact, they will probably degrade image quality ever so slightly over the same lens without a filter. What they do offer, however, is some protection against damaging the lens’s front element. So if you’re the clumsy type, then it might be worth keeping your UV filter on.

I need better gear

Photographers often get caught up in the notion that upgrading their kit will miraculously allow them to become better photographers. Poppycock! A good photographer can use almost any equipment to create compelling images. Money invested in continually updating your gear is better spent on workshops and excursions to use your camera. Only once you can outperform your hardware should you look to upgrade.

Tags: photography