Learn How To Make Great Photos

A classic street scene of an ornate shop front in the La Boca district of Buenos Aires, Argentina.

To be able to make great photographs, on a consistent basis, we need to be familiar with our camera equipment and understand how to employ it - quickly and creatively. The same is true for folks who like to continue the creative journey on the desktop. It’s here where a good image can be turned into something quite remarkable.

But to do so you need a fairly deep understanding of one or more photo editing applications. This would normally take many years of dedicated pursuit. However, when well taught, it’s possible to dramatically reduce the time it takes to master the most fundamental aspects of image processing within just a few sessions. All you need is the right software, the right teacher and the right frame of mind. Add in a reasonable amount of practice and you’ll be amazed just how quickly your photography will improve.

Adobe Lightroom and Photoshop are key to my workflow. Unlike most folks I photograph in RAW, though not always in a state of undress.

What Is A RAW File?

All digital cameras (including mobile devices) record images in RAW mode. It's basically the raw, unprocessed data. The problem is that RAW files look pretty ordinary displaying low contrast, weak colors and a lack of sharpness. They simply need to be processed before they look any good.

RAW Or JPEG - What’s Right For You?

However, just as it was in the days of the darkroom, most folks don't want to spend their life at the desktop processing each and every image. To resolve this problem cameras are pre-set to JPEG mode. This means that, within a split second of releasing the camera’s shutter, the RAW file is automatically converted into a reasonable rendition of the subject or scene in question. Your digital camera is now operating as both a recording device (i.e., camera) and a photo lab. 

Mobile phones, until very recently, automatically converted the raw data into a JPEG file. There's now at least one phone where you have the choice between holding onto the RAW file or allowing it to be converted into a JPEG. Larger mirrorless and DSLR cameras, while they're preset to JPEG, do give you the option to photography in RAW mode.

While JPEG is the most appropriate mode for the vast majority of folks it's not for me. I come from the darkroom and want to make the best image I can. The Master American landscape photographer Ansel Adams said the following:

"The negative is the score. The print is the performance."

Of course, once you have control over how the image is processed, either in camera or on the desktop, you are freed from the constraints of the reality of the scene and can now concern yourself with the needs of the image, and the meaning that can be derived from that. Built in apps on your mobile phone are a basic example of this concept.

Photography - The Future Is Now

Photography freed painting from the constraints associated with mere documentation of our physical world. The darkroom and, to an even greater extent, the desktop has freed photography in a similar way.

There's reality and there's abstraction. I'm fascinated by such dualities and am mostly concerned with the space and ambiguity that exists between the two, which I refer to as suggestion. When looking at my photography it's up to the viewer to create their own meaning, their own story and their own reality from the viewing experience.

Street Photography - Documentation and Discovery

The photo at the top of this post features a classic street scene showcasing an ornate shop front in the La Boca district of Buenos Aires, Argentina. If you look closely at the photo you'll see there's a lot going on, with heads and faces dispersed throughout the image. It's really quite a surreal photograph, which you’ll be able to appreciate by doubling clicking on it.

Do you have an upcoming trip planned? Are you unsure how to use your camera and, as a result, feel your creativity is being held back?

Perhaps you want to Master Lightroom. I can help you, and I can do so in one or two sessions.

If you’d like to dramatically improve your photography, almost immediately, contact me regarding one of my one-to-one private photography sessions. It’s amazing what you’ll learn in 3 hours and how much that new knowledge will improve your photography and enhance you own travel experiences. 

Glenn Guy, Travel Photography Guru