Chat 011 – The Basics of Photography with Uncle Rob

It was a pleasure getting to have my uncle on the show. He shared a lot of the knowledge he has learned over the decades about one of his favorite hobbies. Photography!

I took several photography classes at UMHB when I was in art school having the time of my life and meeting fun lifelong friends. And those were some of my favorite classes. They taught me a lot about taking a good picture and developing it in a dark room. That is a fun artstyle and I was happy to learn it.

But Uncle Rob was talking more about digital photography and all he has learned about it. I took in a great deal of new information and am happy to share that with you too.

And for those of you that prefer reading instead of watching videos, here is a summary of what we talked about.

What are the Basics of Photography that I Learned from Rob Keeney?

Uncle Rob taught me a whole lot about photography. He also explained difficult concepts in a very easy to understand way. This episode was full of helpful information for someone new to photography and wanting to try it out.

Concepts like…

Dynamic Range and Why it’s Important in Photography

Dynamic range tells you how many stops of light our eyes can differentiate. The human eye can tell the difference between 20 different “stops of light”. Each stop cuts the amount of light in half from the previous stop.

Most cameras in 2019 can only do about 16 stops of light while a cell phone camera can do about 12.

In music for example, dynamic range is the different levels of “loudness” your ears can hear.

Different Types of Cameras

There have been several popular types of cameras over the years that saw a lot of use from photographers. Cameras such as an:

  • SLR (Single Lens Reflex) or ILC (Interchangeable Lens Camera)
  • Point and Shoot Camera
  • Polaroid Camera (creates prints within minutes of shooting a picture)
  • Cell phone camera

Uncle Rob discussed that most cell phone cameras in 2019 are actually powerful enough to take a great picture. However, He said they compensate for their tiny lens by digital enhancing the image. You lose some dynamic range and other functionality a bit when the cell phone camera does these enhancements. But overall it’s a great place for beginning photographers to test out since most people have a cell phone now.

Focus on composition of your photo. How close/far away your subjects are. Different forms of light along with changing where the light source is coming from. These concepts are very important for photographers to learn no matter what camera you are using.

What Camera Setup a Beginner Should Buy (and What Beginner’s Don’t Need)

I was curious what uncle Rob would suggest for beginners wanting to take up photography as a new hobby.

Here are the 3 important abilities he suggested your new camera would need (and you don’t have to get the best camera to take amazing pics!).

  1. ILC (Interchangeable Lens Camera) – Make sure your camera simply has the ability to change lenses. You don’t have to buy a fancy lens at first, but having the ability to change lenses is important as you develop your photography skill.
  2. The camera must be able to shoot “raw” – Shooting images in a raw file format is important. because the raw files stores ALL of the data that is taken in when the shot is taken. Versus an edited file format that throws certain data out of your file to compress the file (making it smaller and easier to share with others). A “raw” file is equivalent to having all the ingrediants to bake a cake. As opposed to an edited file which is the baked cake itself. Raw files are different based on the brand of camera you purchase. (Note: Also make sure you set your camera to shoot in “raw”.)
  3. Make sure the camera can shoot in “manual mode” (Most camera have this ability). Shooting in manual mode is great because it allows you to choose how you want the picture to be shot. You choose how much light you want to let in for example.

Other than that, just practice taking pictures. No reason to spend a lot of money on a camera ($300-500 range should be more than enough). Any brand should be perfectly fine for taking an awesome photo. Focus on composition and just learning what makes a great picture and what doesn’t.

How to Sort Your Photos Online so You can Find Them Easier Later (Using a Digital Asset Manager)

Sorting photos using digital software can be very useful for finding specific photographs even years later.

When you sort photos using a D.A.M., or Digital Asset Manager, it makes it easier for you to search for photos later.

How does a Digital Asset Manager Work?

When you upload a set of pictures from your camera to your computer using a D.A.M., you will “tag” each of the photos with keywords. For example, if I have a picture of me coaching a sports camp, then I would tag that photo with keywords such as “Calvin Keeney”, “Coach”, “Pickleball”, “Camp”, “2019”, etc.

Then when I am feeling sentimental in 2025, I can open up my D.A.M. and ask it to show me all of the pictures with “Calvin Keeney” where I coached “Camp”. I will quickly be shown all of the fun times I had coaching those sports camps.

It’s a lot of work up front when you upload your pictures, but uncle Rob thinks it’s much worth the initial investment. He has been happy to have the ability to search for all his pictures of a certain person or place and have those at his disposal. And it’s also easier once you develop a consistent workflow.

A bonus feature is that the D.A.M. makes it easier for him to upload his pictures to SmugMug where he sells his photographs.

What are some popular Digital Asset Managers?

There are several useful D.A.M.s that came to uncle Rob’s mind that are helpful for photographers to sort their photos. They are:

Let us know if you have a favorite digital asset manager in the comments below!

Turning a Photography Mistake into a Masterpiece

Uncle Rob took a picture of a steam locomotive (train) one day. He had took awhile to setup the camera and prepare for the train to take off.

His camera had something off though so the photo he took was highly out of focus. He almost deleted it immediately but kept it because it wasn’t a complete mistake (like when I took a picture of my shorts pocket with my phone. THAT was a “complete mistake”.)

When uncle Rob uploaded the photo he thought “eh, that’s not bad!” The image grew on him and now it’s one of his favorites.

How My Uncle Rob got His Photo Displayed in a Gallery Many Miles Away

I’m fascinated at how life works. Uncle Rob went on a cruise for vacation. Many miles away from his home he met another artist on this adventure. They so happened to have their own gallery (many miles from uncle Rob’s home).

After chatting it up for a bit and working out some details, uncle Rob soon found himself creating a large print of one of his favorite photos and having it shipped to their gallery.

Pretty neat huh?

What Questions do You Have About Starting Photography as a New Hobby?

Uncle Rob was amazing on this episode. I was glad to get to know him more through this. I don’t actually get to see him very often because we live far away. But it was so cool learning from him.

Let me know any questions you might have about learning photography. I will do my best to help you find answers to them.

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