incremental improvements

A brief discussion of incremental improvements


Milky Way over Clingman's Dome
Milky Way over Clingman’s Dome

Image Quality. Us photographers are just obsessed with IQ. I admit to pixel peeping at 400% on a 24-inch monitor. I am sure that you have done it before, admit it. I started my journey with a 35mm camera and the skills to process my own negatives and prints. Ever since that time, I have been trying to squeeze the most from my modest collection of cameras and lenses. I have seen the transformation that digital has brought to our industry. And, the thing that most people forget is it is all based on incremental improvements.  I can look back at images that I shot a year ago, and I usually think they are still pretty good – images that I am still proud off…. If I start going further back in my catalog… well, then things start to change. I look back at older portfolios and think to myself.” What the hell was I thinking!” Most of it is just terrible.
I realize that these little incremental improvements, that we can’t even see as we grow in our art from are the reason. There have been very few “ Aha Moments” for me. One of them understood the relationship between aperture/shutter speed/iso. Almost everything else that I have learned was a slow and continual learning, I would learn a new technique that would build on the techniques that I knew already. Followed by, practice to generate the muscle memory that gives me the ability to operate the camera without even thinking about it. I tend to operate in “clicks” rather than stops. By that I mean, when shooting, say for example, a bride in bright sun, I need to underexpose by a stop or two to keep from blowing out a white dress, I drop my exposure compensation by 4 “clicks” of the exposure dial (I have my camera set up in ½ stop clicks). These improvements happened so slowly that from shoot to shoot I could not notice them, but over a longer period of time, it is quite noticeable.
I hear people talking about getting the newest/greatest {fill in the blank} that will take their photography to the next level (and to be honest, I have said that once upon a time), and it is not going to help. There is no magic bullet that will make you better at photography. You may buy a camera that is capable of being sharper than what you have now, but if you don’t use proper technique you will not realize the extra sharpness.
What is the solution? Keep shooting. Keep looking at other photographers work. Learn everything you can about the craft of photography.

Setting Sun near Clingman's Dome
Setting Sun near Clingman’s Dome

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