No matter how much time you’ve spent as a photographer, the chances are that at some point, you’ve believed something to be true about this craft that is quite simply false. Some false beliefs have to do with the best semi-automatic mode in which to shoot, others involve always minimizing ISO, and still others revolve around the idea that you must use a tripod if you want to get a sharp, clear shot.
False Belief #1: The Best All-Around Shooting Mode is Aperture Priority
While it’s true that aperture priority is a great mode that makes many photographic situations easier, it isn’t the end-all, be-all mode for every situation you encounter. When your camera is mounted on a tripod, manual mode is an ideal way to shoot because you needn’t worry about a shutter speed that’s too slow to hold steady. Likewise, in situations in which the lighting is even and consistent, manual mode is a good choice because you can more easily pinpoint the correct exposure on your own and not rely on the camera to try and figure things out.
False Belief #2: The Smallest Possible ISO is Always Required
A decade ago, this was definitely true. Early digital cameras were not nearly as refined as they are today, and in many cases, shooting at ISO 400 or above meant tons of digital noise and a terrible looking shot.
But camera technology has come a long, long way, and today’s cameras can perform very well, even at high ISOs. In fact, with many camera systems, you can push the ISO to 3200, 6400 and well beyond, and still get a high-quality image. Yet the myth that shooting at ISO 100 at all times still persists.
Granted, there are situations in which a low ISO is ideal. For example, if you’re shooting a landscape and you intend to blow the photo up to hang on the wall, a low ISO would benefit you greatly. The same goes if you’re in a studio with your camera mounted on a tripod taking portraits of people.
However, for just about any other application, pushing the ISO is perfectly fine. If you’re on the street photographing strangers, shooting a wedding, traveling the world photographing wildlife, shooting in black and white, and so on, don’t be afraid to use a higher ISO than you’ve traditionally been comfortable with. You will find that a willingness to bump up the ISO means you can use better shutter speed and aperture settings, which can result in more technically pleasing photograph.
False Belief #3: You Always Need a Tripod
How often have you been visiting a faraway city or stopped at a beautiful spot in a national park to find people setting up their cameras on a tripod? The belief that a tripod is always necessary just isn’t true. There are times when it’s beneficial to have a tripod – long exposures and shooting at dusk immediately come to mind. Your purposes for your image will be a deciding factor as well – if you intend to create a giant print, a tripod would be helpful.