This Week's Tip from Rob Sheppard!

A Difference in Seeing

One of the things we do very well is see all sorts of detail in a scene in nearly any light except when it gets very dark. So as photographers, it is very easy to see the subject.

Unfortunately, the camera does not work that way. The camera sees and emphasizes light and contrast. This different way of seeing is a challenge we all face as photographers. Often photos are unsuccessful because what we see and what the camera sees are two different things. We want the camera to see the subject as we do, but it doesn't.

Image by Rob Sheppard © 2011

Image by Rob Sheppard © 2011

A good way to see what the camera is seeing is to focus on light, not on subject. That does not mean you don't think about the subject -- that is only what gets you started. Then you try to photograph the light. That makes me remember a really eye-opening exercise, too. Go out for an afternoon and photograph the light and its effects, including shadows. Don't photograph "subjects" at all, just light.

It also helps to check your LCD and see what is emphasized -- the light helping your subject or the light fighting your subject. Remember that bright areas in a composition will always attract a viewer's eye and so they can be very distracting if in the wrong place.

Image by Rob Sheppard © 2011

Image by Rob Sheppard © 2011

Finally, realize that sometimes you just have to say "no" to a subject in a particular light that just will not work. As Steve Jobs said once, "It's only by saying no that you can concentrate on the things that are really important."

-Rob Sheppard


For more of these great tips from Rob check out the new iPad app "Rob Sheppard's Digital Landscape" developed by our very own Juan Pons! Based on his recent book "The Magic of Digital Landscape Photography" this app delivers essential tips on how to capture better landscape photographs and is paired with fantastic imagery.

Rob also has a great new eBook "Selling Photos" available for download through the Kindle Reading app (can also be download to your home computer or laptop)

Rob Sheppard and Juan Pons are both part of our incredible line-up of instructors at the California Photo Festival, October 12-16, 2011. See who's coming, the schedule of our awesome events, and last year's highlights at