10 Photography Myths Unraveled

Top Ten Photography Myths

  1. "Nude photography is art." - Give me a break. Men like seeing women without their clothes (or some combination that strikes their fancy). No more depth than that.
  2. "Use a sunset filter to obtain dramatic sunset shots." - Keep your money in your pocket and alternatively take your shot using a shorter exposure. The orange effect will be free, and without resorting to Photoshop which is not genuinely white either.  

  3. ""How to Use your Camera to Make Money." - If you need to read an article about making money with your camera, then you just don't have the wherewithal to do it on your own. Sorry. Your best way of making money with your camera is by selling it.

  4. "Always protect your lens with a skylight filter." - The number one camera accessory at one time, although no longer. It's rumored to protect your lens and while it does just that, the odds of injury is so remote you'll be ahead by saving on the filter cost (pricey at one for each lens; plus a good skylight filter will set you back more than a number of lenses) over some odd ball repair. Meanwhile your photos will be clearer, sharper with more contrast and you can go ahead and use your skylight filter as any other - at the time it will make the photo better.

  5. ""Polarizing filters turn the sky into a pleasing dark blue." - Sometimes they do, although at other times they turn it a drab grey color. I haven't found out some way of indicating in advance, however I suspect it has to do with the different wavelengths that are polarized at varying amounts. Shoot a second picture without the polarizer just in case.

    Sunset on I-5 Channel Bridge

  6. ""Use your depth of field scale (DOF) to ascertain what is going to be in focus." - Focus doesn't just jump in-n-out; the focus is gradual and you can only be in focus one distance at a time. However, at some a point where you will have reached limits: of the film,, for resolution diffraction, your lens, etc. Thus a range exists over which everything seems to be in focus and there's a term related with this appropriately called the "circle of confusion". Regrettably the people who calculated the scale for your lens reside in a fuzzy world where everythings a haze, prints are the size of postage stamp and "sharp" is a cheese genre. Always focus precisely on your subject and in in particular on the eyes. If you're anxious about including objects at different distances in relation to the camera go ahead and use the DOF scale on your as your only remaining option..

  7. ""Films have some exposure latitude." - The overwhelming majority of circumstances the subject's contrast ratio far exceeds the film and there's only one most advantageous exposure. You might get "satisfactory results" (whatever that happens to be) when you're off a stop, although why not do it right to begin with?

  8. "Brand X lens outdoes brand Z lens." - You know what you never see? A magazine running a test more than a single sample for each lens. Therefore any perceived variation between lens brands may be as likely a variation among samples; there is no way to tell unless you test variations.

  9. ""Looking into the Sun using a telephoto lens may cause damage to your eyes." - The Sun can't tell whether you're viewing it using a telephoto or a wide-angle lens. It constantly puts forth the same degree of energy. Your can injure your eyes if the energy reaching them is greater than usual and there are a couple of ways to do this using a lens. First by using a large aperture that collects large amounts of light - however telephoto lenses typically have small apertures.

    Secondly and more importantly is the concentration of the energy of the Sun in a reduced image area (such as a magnifying glass) - a telephoto lens behaves the opposite by spreading the energy out over the frame. By now you've probably surmised that the wide-angle lens is the harmful one by making the Sun appear in a small spot. Your eyes do not have nerves, so they can't warn you when you are burning a hole into them. Fortunately when using a SLR you're really seeing an image upon a screen; that's the reason "20mm blindness" is not listed in the medical books. But there is still risk if there is a clear prism point in your viewfinder.

  10. "Fisheye lenses cause a distorted picture." - When talking about telephoto lenses people say they "compress perspective". A fisheye being an extremely short lens does exactly the opposite and inflates perspective. Take a look at a fisheye photo of a building and take a hard look at it. The wall near the picture's edge curves over - "Is this distortion?" Now find a ruler and balance it upon your cheek-bone at your eye's side. Although your eye can see the ruler, it's very fuzzy, and it curves. Short-sighted people can look at fisheye pictures from a distance of just a few inches and they appear relatively normal from that short distance. OK some distortion is there however the fundamental curved straight lines are only a perspective effect. However presenting straight lines as being curved might be considered distortion?

New Article Oct 14, 2011

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