The most important decision ...

... is whether to take a photograph at all!
I am sorry for this overdone title. No decision concerning photography is REALLY important. However, for the pursuit of your passion, photography, pulling the trigger is an act with many implications.
Photographs take up space on your memory card and computer and need to be transferred, evaluated, labelled, organized and developed. Eventually you likely want to publish or even print your oeuvre. If your life is just remotely similar to mine, time is scarce and it is challenging to keep up with all of these tasks (and many photography-unrelated ones; I contemplate petitioning for 48 hour days...). I  assume that many of you face similar problems and would like to spend more time taking photographs and less time processing them.
The solution is simple: Spend more time composing each photograph and take less versions of each photographs. 
The more photographs you take, the more time you will have to spend processing and comparing all your digital files. You can quickly take a gazillion of captures in a few superficial minutes with your motif (after all, your camera boasts 4.563 FPS) and then spend countless hours in front of the computer dealing with your prey. Alternatively, you could also slowly approach and inspect your subject from different angles before taking any photograph at all. Once you have contemplated and envisioned the final photograph, just one shutter release might suffice to capture the composition you want. The result: You interact much more intensely with your motif, spend more quality time with your camera and reduce the gigabytes of image files that you have to process. In addition, I am convinced that you will end up taking much better photographs. I would call this at least a triple-win situation!

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Autumnal underwater maple leaf, Cunningham Falls State Park, Maryland, USA
(I have only taken 2-3 expsures of this motif and only kept this one)

The digital revolution has dramatically changed the photographer's chores. When I started with photography, I used color slide film that was sent in for development and prints were arranged to be done by a lab of confidence. As a pupil, slide film was expensive and development and printing color slides myself was way beyond the possible. This past may explain my still enduring stinginess with slide film (ehhh, memory card space). Nowadays, memory card space is hardly limiting, photographs are recorded digitally, developed and printed out at home and published on the web. These developments open up endless possibilities but also raise the standards and demand a whole new set of skills that are largely unrelated to photography. Try not to get overwhelmed by them!

2012/09/24 by Florian Freimoser
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