Staffer offers tips for aspiring photographers

Willie Brown

Willie Brown

My friend Steve called me last week and it was all talking about his daughter getting a racing go-cart, then he asked the question, “How do you get pictures at the racetrack without them being all blurry?”

Well, that is a loaded question, first because I need to know his camera, and second, because if I’m just talking to him on the phone, he will never learn. So I told him I would go with him sometime and look at his camera to see if I could make a few suggestions to help him out.

With all the new digital cameras out there, increasing numbers of people buy an expensive camera but never learn how to use it. My first camera, back in the days of film, was set on “program” until I decided I wasn’t getting the kind of pictures I wanted. I set it on “manual,” and I’m still learning.

There are a few basic steps to learning any new camera, but I know I’m like a man asking for directions. I don’t like to look at instruction manuals. One of the most important tips I can give you, though, is to get to know your camera. After you know how your camera works, take it off automatic and learn to drive it in manual.

Back when I started in photography, we used to have to carry around different speeds of film but with digital you can change ISO (film speed) any time during the shoot. Start out with 100 or 200 and watch your meter, and when your shutter gets below 30, bump your ISO up. I figure my friend was getting blurry pictures because his shutter was too slow. That means camera shake can make the photo blurry, and camera shake and out of focus shots are in the same category.

If you’re serious about photography, I recommend you take a class. Missouri Southern’s communication department offers photojournalism I and II, and the art department has classes in digital photography. I know Franklin Tech has a few classes as well. Even though my hobby has been photography for years, I have to admit I’ve actually learned quite a bit here at Southern.

My final tip for today is to ask questions. If you see a photographer who has time to talk, ask him about photography. Whether doing it for a hobby or professionally, photographers love their job so they will be glad to give you tips of their trade.