In today’s digital world, good photography seems almost synonymous with good Photoshop skills. When someone takes a look at a brilliant photograph, they often assume that the photographer made the photograph look good in Photoshop. And then there’s the problem of “gadget envy”. This is the belief that having the latest and best gear will make your photographs better. That leads to the belief that the equipment is somehow responsible for capturing the image. One of the most common questions we get… What equipment do you use?
While proper equipment and photoshop skills are definitely helpful… what matter the most is creativity and workflow.
Take a look at this shot of sea anemones from Olympic Nationa Park in Washington. Jay took this shot with a macro lens, a crop-factor camera, and a tripod. It required minimal processing in photoshop.
What it did require is a solid in-the-field workflow. First, he spent a bit of time searching the shoreline for sea anemones with brilliant colors. But not just any pretty anemone would do. He needed to find one that was in a tide pool not too deep and not too shallow. Too much, and the water would distort the creatures and dull their brilliant colors. Too little, and the tentacles would break the surface, which would add a distracting element to the photograph. The water around the anemones mattered too – for the best results, Jay wanted still water that was free of floating debris.
When he found what he was looking for, he positioned his camera so that light reflecting off the surface of the water bounced away from his lens… leaving him with nearly perfect view underwater. There was no need to use a circular polarizer. Without a circular polarizer to block the light, Jay was able to take this shot with with higher shutter speed and a narrower aperture.
Field work is important – and so is creativity. Technical skills are important – there’s no doubt about that. More important though, is the ability to think through a situation, consider the problems you might run into, and find solutions to them as you work.