Many of you are just beginning your journey in photography with cameras you received or bought for yourself over the holidays. 2011 may not go down in many record books as a banner year, but it was a great year for discounts on high end camera equipment. Many of you are now carrying in your hand some of the most advanced and sophisticated optical imaging devices ever created!
Starting out is an exciting time. Every photographer remembers their first really amazing image the same way romantics remember their first kiss.
So, from those of use who have been in the business for many years, here are some suggestions for your first steps in your new passion of photography.
Learn About RAW
While many of you may have a fantastic new camera, you may not have an editing program capable of handling RAW images. It’s okay if you can only work with JPEGs at first but, if your camera supports it, do shoot RAW+JPEG even though it will burn through your card storage space like wildfire. Even if you can’t work with RAW images right away, save copies of your images in RAW format so you can revisit them in the future.
RAW images are everything your camera sensor records while capturing an image and much of that data is discarded by the compression to JPEG. Once that data is gone, it’s gone forever if you don’t have a RAW backup.
Compression artifacts are not the problem they were a few years ago. JPEG compression has improved dramatically over the years but it’s still a good idea to keep those RAW image copies around in case new imaging technologies arise in the future.
Read The Manual
I know I sound like a broken record when it comes to reading the manual, but cameras are so sophisticated today, packed with so many features, that it really is time well spent. You don’t have to memorize where every feature and menu item is located, just know they’re in there. You can always drag out the manual later if you need to look up a particular feature.
Get A Skylight Filter
Look on the barrel of your lens or check the manual (wink-wink, nudge-nudge) for the filter size of your new lens and order a skylight filter right now. It’s really just a clear piece of glass, but it can save your lens.
Every photographer in the business very long has a cracked or crushed skylight filter on a shelf somewhere that would have been their lens without the sky filter.
Get a Rain Sleeve
While you’re ordering your skylight filter, add a rain sleeve like this or this and keep one in your camera bag or jacket pocket at all times.
Weather happens and, even though most new DSLRs have fairly good weather sealing, the amount and quality of that sealing can vary widely. Why risk your camera when rain covers are so cheap? Some day you’ll thank me for that advice when you get back to the car soaking wet but your camera is safe inside its rain sleeve.
Now get out there and take pictures!