Feedback from a recent teaching session, along with many of the comments I get, has made me realize I have a lot of knowledge and I need to share more on this website. I do feel, however, that I want to convey my belief that the technical side of photography (aperture, shutter speed, ISO, etc) is less important than the aesthetic, meaning, and artistic sides.

Of course it is much easier to teach aperture, shutter speed and ISO. Which is one reason there are so many tutorials, lessons and videos on the web[1] (not all of them correct, but that is another story). The point of some courses is to enable you to shoot your camera in manual mode. My argument is that, especially in terms of simple exposure, most cameras can do a very good job automatically choosing those variables. 

My first “good” camera (a Canon TX) was fully manual, with only a match needle metering system. I did learn manual exposure techniques, but as I bought subsequent cameras, I tended to rely on automatic more and more. Today I shoot the majority of my photos in Aperture priority mode[2]. I find this much quicker than full manual mode, while still permitting me full control. Most modern cameras can also be configured to give full control in shutter priority or program modes. Using your camera this way enables you to concentrate on the subject of your image, rather than get tied down with technical concerns[3].

So how do you learn (or I teach) the aesthetic, meaning and artistic sides of photography? That is the fun part, and the frustrating part, and the part that is never “done”.

Footnotes    (↵ returns to text)

  1. One good interactive demonstration is here
  2. I choose the aperture with the front dial of my camera, and the camera chooses the appropriate shutter speed. I can easily override the exposure (lightness or darkness) by using the rear dial for exposure compensation. If I am just doing a walk around shoot, I will even let the camera choose ISO.
  3. Yes it is important to understand that a slow shutter speed will blur motion, a faster shutter speed will freeze motion, and a small aperture number (f-stop) will have less foreground and background in focus than a larger aperture number. However this sentence contains 90% of the content of many photography courses.
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