10 ways to drive photography snobs mad

10 ways to drive photography snobs mad

We’ve all met a photography snob at some point. Invariably it’s the person who likes to wear their camera around their neck on a permanent basis, despite the lack of photo opportunities.

10 ways to drive photography snobs mad

They also tend to bang on at length about which settings they used to take a shot and explain in real time how long it took them to get everything ‘just right’.

If you’ve found yourself grinding your teeth listening to one of them droning on at length, then this article is for you. We’ve put together 10 ways to drive them crazy.

01 Blown-out highlights

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Photography snobs are a bit retentive about highlights (ha!), they like lots of detail and don’t like things burned out.

So if you shoot nice, bright high-key shot they’ll start to twitch. It may look good (which means it is), but there’s no detail in the background, it’s clean and white.

They’d really prefer you to make sure that no pixel goes over a brightness of 254, even if nobody can tell the difference between that at 255. They’re also likely to start waffling on about the tonal range of film.

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As well has having better regard for what works aesthetically, they need to be realistic and bear in mind that if there’s a naked flame in a dark room, the brightest part of it is probably going to be burned out if there’s going to be any sense of atmosphere or detail in the rest of the shot.

Expose to create an image that works rather than to slavishly preserve the highlights.


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02 Soft images

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Henri Cartier-Bresson once said that sharpness was a bourgeois concept. While HCB is one of the great photo snob heroes, this is a real puzzler for them.

After all, if an image is soft it means that you’ve not set the right shutter speed, or aperture, or you’ve or missed the focus doesn’t it?

If you’re going to create a soft image, or an image with some soft areas it’s important to make sure it looks deliberate rather than accidental.

A little bit of movement blur that leaves the subject looking almost sharp usually doesn’t really cut it. It needs to be sharp or blurred to good creative effect.


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03 Visible noise

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If you always follow the ‘rules’ of photography and use a tripod, select a low sensitivity setting and focus carefully, you’ll be rewarded by sharp, grain-free images (unless the subject moves).

Photo snobs consider high sensitivity settings to be a worst-case scenario when there’s no other option but to hike up the ISO rating to allow a faster shutter speed to freeze movement.

They can often be heard saying ‘I never go over ISO 200 unless it’s absolutely essential’. It’s worth pointing out to them that the average modern DSLR or CSC produces far better results at ISO 6400 than ISO 1600 film ever did.

As well as texture, noise can impart atmosphere. To get the best results shoot raw files so that you can really bring out the grain if you want when you process the results.

In-camera noise reduction systems tend to soften or smudge details to hide noise. Alternatively, add some grain post capture.


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04 Shooting portraits from below eye-level

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There are lots of old school rules about portrait photography that some photographers still cling on to. One is that portraits should never be shot from below eye-level.

To be fair, there are times when this will produce an unflattering result that draws attention to extra chins and flared nostrils.

But it’s also possible to produce exciting, dynamic portraits that often convey a sense of power emanating from the subject. Don’t be constrained.


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