My #1 Photography Pet Peeve!

Having only taken travel photography seriously for the past two and half years I have to admit I already have a number one pet peeve. When somebody takes/shows/displays a great photo it’s the tendency for others to immediately ask the following question: “What camera are you using?”

It’s not that the particular camera and its feature set had nothing to do with the final image being shown – it certainly did. What really is annoying though is that it is likely the least important factor in terms of getting the shot. Before I delve into this further I think a few humorous analogies will help break the ice and better explain what I’m talking about here.

If you’re lousy in bed and your girlfriend/boyfriend is complaining about not being able to achieve an orgasm would it make sense to go out and switch your brand of condoms from Trojan to Durex? Would your significant other suddenly start moaning with pleasure and begging you to not stop what you’re doing? Would you instantaneously become the next Casanova? Maybe. Most likely not though :P

How about a golfer that slices the ball into the woods off of most tee shots – would it makes sense for he/she to go out and purchase brand new shoes, a comfy glove and possibly even a new driver? Would they stop slicing the ball into the woods? Again, maybe. Most likely not though :P

The ball will still be hit into the woods and the significant other will still be left wanting more until something has shifted in the TECHNIQUES being used. If the conditions are no different in other pursuits/hobbies why would it be any different when it comes to taking better travel photos?

Upgrading your camera or switching brands might makes sense under certain circumstances, but it’s only when…(A) You’re not able to achieve the exact photo you want because of some limitation in your cameras handling ability B) You know exactly what is missing with your current system and what it is that you need to upgrade in order to take that photo) that it makes sense to consider upgrading. Otherwise, (although this sounds like a blanket statement) it’s the lousy techniques, lack of compositional skills and technical knowledge about obtaining a proper exposure, that is limiting you from taking the photo that impresses both yourself and your audience.

If you’re shooting in auto and pointing the camera at objects from chest or eye level, chances are you’re taking lousy photos. Don’t worry, we’ve all been there :P  

As an example, let’s rewind to the opening paragraph and examine this situation from another angle. When you see a great photo being displayed here are a few things you may consider enquiring about instead of wondering what camera he/she used to obtain such a masterpiece. Factors such as the time of day, direction of light, in-camera adjustments (exposure compensation, shooting mode), f-stop, shutter speed, ISO, focal length, filters, compositional considerations, pre-visualization techniques, and post-production editing are far more likely to reveal something about the photograph than what brand or camera was being used. If you don’t know what many (or any) of these things mean right now there is no reason to panic. I didn’t know either. Until I started studying photography I wasn’t privy to many of the technical or compositional techniques that make a photo pleasing to the eye.

One resource I highly recommend for putting yourself on the fast-track towards improving your travel photography is Beans Getting Out of Auto. It’s written by Bethany Salvon, a professional photographer of a top travel blog than I admire and feel as though it’s the resource that is going to help somebody just getting serious about their travel photography take the next step without having to spend hours scouring through photography manuals, online tutorials and other websites just to find a few useful pieces of information – which is what I did. I won’t lie to you, there are enough free resources out there for you to find a ‘portion’ of the information found in this book; however, you’ll be spending hours researching and running amok to find what it is that you’re looking for. With this guide it’s the best way to expedite the process.

Getting Out of Auto = Taking Better Travel Photos.Thus, instead of wondering what camera somebody else used to take such a wonderful photo you’ll be able to use the one you’ve got right now to go out there and take it yourself. For a reasonable price of only $9.99 it is far more appealing than spending hundreds or thousands of dollars on new camera equipment without even knowing how to use it. Moreover, the advice and travel photography tutorials offered in this book are global skills that can be applied to any camera you are using now or in the future. It’s an investment that will be teaching you foundational skills that will last you a lifetime. That in my opinion is invaluable.

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{ 37 comments… read them below or add one }

Christy @ Technosyncratic September 12, 2011 at 12:04 pm

Haha, I love your comparison between cameras and condoms. Neither one will make the owner better at what they’re doing! =P

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Nomadic Samuel September 15, 2011 at 5:41 am

LOL, I”m glad you enjoyed my twisted sense of humour. I think it does come down to skills as the biggest equation :)

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Sophie September 12, 2011 at 12:08 pm

Love Bethany’s Getting out of Auto book! Buy it, everyone!

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Nomadic Samuel September 15, 2011 at 5:41 am

Sophie, that’s great advice :)

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Micamyx|Senyorita September 12, 2011 at 3:07 pm

Haha nice comparison! I am currently using LX3 and my only complain is the zoom part :| I don’t really think it all relies to which camera model you’re using. It’s the photographer’s eye for awesome shots and yeah, luck too!

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Nomadic Samuel September 15, 2011 at 5:42 am

Mica, that’s exactly my point in this article – it comes down to the photographers skill as the most important factor and as you mentioned luck as well! You have to take a lot of photos to get a few good ones IMO :)

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Kris Koeller September 12, 2011 at 4:24 pm

I’ve heard that one a number of times. “You take wonderful photos. You must have a really nice camera…” Funny story.

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Nomadic Samuel September 15, 2011 at 5:43 am

LOL, I don’t know why but it drives me nuts. You never hear somebody say to a sprinter – what an amazing time…check out those shoes :P

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Jordan September 12, 2011 at 6:08 pm

That book looks great! Thanks for the tip.

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Nomadic Samuel September 15, 2011 at 5:43 am

Thanks Jordan, I do highly recommend it :)

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Bethany September 12, 2011 at 9:33 pm

Um. Funny. Seriously. Best analogy I have ever read. The next time someone asks me if they need a better camera I’m going to ask them if they also need better condoms!

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Nomadic Samuel September 15, 2011 at 5:44 am

LOL, I’m glad you enjoyed it Beth :) Maybe that can be your official advice from now on :)

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Andi of My Beautiful Adventures September 12, 2011 at 9:59 pm

Haha what a fabulous post that I totally agree with!

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Nomadic Samuel September 15, 2011 at 5:45 am

Glad you found it humorous Andi :)

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Cam @ Traveling Canucks September 13, 2011 at 3:01 am

Hah! Love it. Switch your condoms!
And get the book, it’s a gooder! ;-)

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Nomadic Samuel September 15, 2011 at 5:45 am

Absolutely! :P

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Leif September 13, 2011 at 4:15 am

hahah, I like the condom analogy!

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Nomadic Samuel September 15, 2011 at 5:46 am

Glad you enjoyed that Leif…although I’m excited to see what you’ll be doing with your new toy

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Abby September 13, 2011 at 2:18 pm

Ha funny. And I DO think golfers spend too much money on clubs to try to magically improve their game. Uh, practice more?

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Nomadic Samuel September 14, 2011 at 11:28 pm

LOL, that’s very true about golfers. It’s an expensive sport to begin with and some people take it to an extreme. Photography isn’t the cheapest hobby either!

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Andrea September 13, 2011 at 9:33 pm

Haha – great tips and analogy – made me laugh =)

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Nomadic Samuel September 14, 2011 at 11:20 pm

LOL, glad you found it funny Andrea :P

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Scott - Quirky Travel Guy September 14, 2011 at 5:05 am

I think many of these requests might have to do with specific capabilities of the camera. Often, when I see a great video, I’ll inquire about what camera was used, because I’m in the market for a camera with good zoom in video mode, so if I see a great zoom in a video, I want an idea what camera was used so I can add it to my list.

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Nomadic Samuel September 14, 2011 at 11:15 pm

Hey Scott, that’s a great point and I think I may have come off in the article sounding a bit harsh. I actually ask others what cameras they use and stay on top of what’s new in terms of gear. It’s great that you know what feature (zoom) that you’re looking for and in that case I would never find it annoying under those circumstances if you asked what camera somebody was using. It’s the idea that some people have that good cameras take good photos that I find annoying.

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Lash September 14, 2011 at 3:38 pm

fun analogies, and great recommendation for Beth’s book!
cheers, Lash

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Nomadic Samuel September 14, 2011 at 4:40 pm

LOL, glad you enjoyed them – indeed, a great book!

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Raymond @ Man On The Lam September 16, 2011 at 4:22 am

The message I got here is don’t just point and shoot. (hee hee…)

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Nomadic Samuel September 16, 2011 at 6:42 am

LOL, well said Raymound :P

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Shilpi September 20, 2011 at 5:48 pm

LOL! Like everyone I love the condom analogy…

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Nomadic Samuel September 21, 2011 at 12:48 am

LOL, thanks! I’m glad others can share in my off-beat sense of humour.

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Kristina September 21, 2011 at 4:18 pm

Excellent post. I am guilty of asking “what camera do you use?” multiple times but it’s usually because it’s an ice breaker.

Love it and I also like Beers&Beans too!

– Kris

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Nomadic Samuel September 21, 2011 at 10:40 pm

Thanks Kris,

I’m partially joking here in this article. I also ask others what cameras they use. I just wish photographers got a bit more credit for their work sometimes :)

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Kristina September 22, 2011 at 2:26 pm

Oh yeah, I can see your frustration. I’m pretty content with my Nikon D40, though it is entry level. It’s definitely a combination of composition, color, and sometimes lens too.

But I’ve seen some amazing photographs taken with a camera phone or good ol’ point and shoot. http://www.pixiq.com/article/amazing-iphone-photos

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Nomadic Samuel September 23, 2011 at 2:28 am

Kristina, that’s a great point! Whatever camera you have it’s best to make the most of it & some great shots can come from as something as simple as a cell phone.

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Josh February 16, 2012 at 2:54 pm

What suggestions do you have for people that don’t even have a camera (I still have an 8 year old Sony that is a 4MP)?

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Nomadic Samuel February 17, 2012 at 1:54 am

Hey Josh, I think you’d do well to upgrade in this instance. I just don’t think it needs to be done annually. I just bought a Sony Alpha A65 that I highly recommend. Some standout features include 24 megapixels, 10 frames per second, and continuously autofocussing hd movie mode.

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Josh February 21, 2012 at 7:37 pm

Nice, I am particular about everything Sony, but was trying to find a deal on a Nikon D300.

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