View Full Version : Is photography becoming less skilful?

Kiwi Paul
21st November 2015, 02:53 PM
With all the technology in modern cameras it's becoming easier to let the camera do all the work and less user interaction is required.
Back in the good old days when I was lad and cameras were cameras not these wang fangled complicated gadgets they call cameras these days ;) we had to pretty much do it all, manual focus, manual mode (had to adjust the aperture and shutter speed), wind the film on manually, no IS so had to hold the camera steady by what ever method possible, fixed ISO unless you changed film and you didn't just rattle off hundreds of photos and pick the best one, you had 36 shots in a roll of film so tended to be more picky and try to ensure the shot was right first time.

Roll on to the digital age and all those point above are pretty much the opposite, high speed multi point auto focus (and even pick the shot with the best focus from 10s of shots taken as per IanB's recent post), full auto exposure etc, virtually unlimited shots written to memory cards so you can just rattle off as many shots as you like and pick the one that's best, 5 stop IS and you can select whatever ISO you want to keep the shutter speed up etc.

So it's easier than ever to get a good photo now than it used to be and as such has the skill of photographers diminished or is a different type of skill required now?


21st November 2015, 03:49 PM
Probably why I enjoy studio work more than most other types & styles of photography.

I also use my Digital Body on an OM Bellows unit, then once set up and lit as i want, I swap to the slide film body to make a transparency. So, I'm using digital in a somewhat similar way to when we used a Polaroid back on the 35mm body.

I will admit the camera is always set on iAuto in the bag, just in case something pops up and I need to work fast, but more and more I find myself leaving it there.

I also use Instant Coffee, rather than growing, harvesting, roasting, grinding & brewing it myself. ;)

21st November 2015, 04:15 PM
I probably don't benefit from all the available technology in my cameras, all set to f8, Iso 100, Centre weighted exposure and Auto/Manual focus. Gives me the starting point from which to work.

The only innovation I use a lot is the articulated screen as old joints and bones are not as supple as in former years :rolleyes::rolleyes::rolleyes:

21st November 2015, 05:45 PM
Judging by my results it's still damn difficult. I'm having hells own tear trying to get a decent print of a swan for a club competition. I can eventually edit a shot to look great on screen and it's lousy when printed!

Kiwi Paul
21st November 2015, 05:54 PM
Personally I think all this technology is excellent, it has encouraged people who possibly couldn't be bothered with photography in the "good ole days" to take up the hobby. More photos are shared online so we get to see what other folk from all the world do and get online critiques of what we do from our peers.
I do have some reservations about some of the new technologies making things a bit too easy but I guess thats good for folk who just want a snap shot and are not into photography as a hobby etc.
I think the skills have changed, a good photo still takes consideration and knowledge to get the best shot during composition but also requires skill on the computer to post process and bring the photo to life.
So while the old days required more skill and knowledge with camera techniques I think the current days still require skill but just in different areas.


21st November 2015, 06:18 PM
It depends on how you define the word "photograph"

If it is a drawing with light - ie has no artistic or creative value, then yes technology has made it easier and more prolific

If it implies artistic merit or displays an emotion then it is just as difficult as with film because it is the management of the subject is the photographers challenge.

21st November 2015, 06:22 PM
Judging by my results it's still damn difficult. I'm having hells own tear trying to get a decent print of a swan for a club competition. I can eventually edit a shot to look great on screen and it's lousy when printed!

Often the problem with swans is they are white. ;)

On screen it's virtually black and the white has to be produced by turning the pixels on, but with printing the paper is already white and if there is any base white showing within the body of the swan the different reflective index of paper surface and ink, makes for a messy looking picture, when viewed in some lighting conditions.

Try using a polarising filter on your swan shots.

Harold Gough
21st November 2015, 06:39 PM
It is also easier to corrupt all the images on the card by a failure to eject a card reader after a download or, worse, after just viewing the card's images on the computer screen.

If you conscience bothers you, try high magnification macro with manual focus and manual diaphragm legacy lenses.


21st November 2015, 07:13 PM
It certainly has become less skilful, Harold, indeed no skill other than an ability to depress the first finger is needed to produce photographs, even "award winning" ones I dare say.

The evidence being that since the advent of digital cameras the-world-and-his-mother has one. TV stations invite viewers to "send us your pictures", and so on. What happened to the photo-journalist? The answer is nothing happened to the photo journalist, nowadays everyone IS one! *shrug

+ The camera produces the dough; it's post-processing that bakes the bread and therein lies the skill.

21st November 2015, 07:51 PM
If using a light box is what you mean, then yes I suppose modern technology has made it easier, but seeing photographically hasn't.

21st November 2015, 07:57 PM
Hmmmmm. Not sure about some of this!

First, if you looked at the 50-year projected set of images at the Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2014 at the Nat History Museum, the improvement in image quality year-on-year was startling. Yes, some of this was from people trying harder to win, from learning from each other, and being able to travel to unusual places more easily; however a lot of it was down to technological improvements during that period.

Secondly, you only have to look at the wonderful reportage images right now coming from the Magnum photographers in Paris and the Middle East, and compare them with the humdrum crowdsourced shots splashed all over the web and the cr@p tabloid press, to see that true skill and quality shines out. It has been devalued, but that in my view has been fuelled mainly by the race to the financial bottom rather than because every Tom, Dick and Harriet can now become Don McCullin with their smartphone.



21st November 2015, 08:12 PM
No, no and thrice no!!!

Getting a technically sharp and accurately exposed photograph may now be easier, but making a great photograph is about much more than that. From a weekend workshop in Glencoe a couple of weeks back, I was reminded there is no substitute for immersing yourself in the scene, really working out what image you want to make, and thinking very carefully about the composition - a skill that no amount of machine gun trigger pressing will help with. My best photographs from the weekend probably took between 20-30 minutes each, even with very capable kit, and only about a minute of that was spent on the technical stuff, the rest was all about the composition.

21st November 2015, 08:33 PM
Taking a picture or making a photo there is a difference. All the tech is helping a lot but still you need to add the final touch. It's just the amount of images - when before you went out and had only 36 frames then now everyone can go out and make 360 frames easy, so it's very likely someone gets a good photo out of of thousands.
I feel myself that as I haven't had time to make photos last several years then the skill of taking a photo is lowered a lot.

David M
21st November 2015, 08:53 PM
If you take 5000 photos of your cat one of them may be half decent.

Harold Gough
21st November 2015, 09:22 PM
If you consider the Delete button on your camera, that is a significant advance.


21st November 2015, 09:25 PM
If you take 5000 photos of your cat one of them may be half decent.
Only if you like cats :)

This is analogous to an infinite number of monkeys, each having a typewriter...

David M
21st November 2015, 09:47 PM
Only if you like cats :)

This is analogous to an infinite number of monkeys, each having a typewriter...

Given some editors pay peanuts these days you can give the monkeys cameras.

21st November 2015, 11:45 PM
The skill is seeing the picture in the first place. Cameras can't do that yet!

22nd November 2015, 12:19 AM
Agreed. In fact you don't need a camera to see a picture in the first place.
Many seasoned photographers suggest practising without a camera and only when you become attuned to the compositional skills, pick up the simplest device so it doesn't distract from the task in hand.

22nd November 2015, 11:49 AM
I've always worked on the principle that if you take enough pictures you're bound to find a reasonable one amongst them that can be improved to acceptable in Photoshop then cropped, resized and sharpened to make it seem quite good on the web. Now where did I put that spare 256GB SD card.....

22nd November 2015, 12:01 PM
Has modern automotive technology made it easier to drive or just made it easier to concentrate on the important aspects? ;)


ian p
22nd November 2015, 12:06 PM
I was just saying on another thread, when the EM5mk2 gets 4K timelapse next week, I'm going to try it out for street candids. Run it at 0.5 second interval and carry it around a busy street, vacuuming up those fleeting moments that I mostly miss. All I'm doing is removing some of the luck aspect. That's creative use of technology.

22nd November 2015, 04:01 PM
The technical, side (exposure, focus and so on) gets ever easier. But these are all easily to learn. The hard part? Being there, seeing the photo and getting it right. I've still not gotten around to getting the exposures I took, a couple of weeks ago, off the camera. There are one or two of those I pray I got right, in spite of having the wrong IS mode dialled in (and one of those is a once in a lifetime moment, for a documentary photographer like me).

Naughty Nigel
22nd November 2015, 11:28 PM
Has modern automotive technology made it easier to drive or just made it easier to concentrate on the important aspects? ;)


Cost reduction, sorry, 'value engineering' means that modern dashboards aren't cluttered with coolant temperature, oil pressure, battery voltage and other 'comfort' gauges any more, (although I'm told you can find all of this information and more via the SatNav screen if you know how). And modern cars are boringly reliable. So yes, you can concentrate more on driving.

The reverse is true of digital cameras, the viewfinders of which suffer from information overload in my view. Which is why I love getting my OM4Ti and Mamiya medium format cameras out, as they are plain and simple, but with beautifully large, bright, clear viewfinders.

Yes; modern cameras have made photography easier. You no longer have to think about which film to take with you, whilst modern zoom lenses do away with the need to carry a bag full of glass. Exposure is a doddle too under most circumstances, with auto-bracketing and HDR if you want it; and there is a big, bright screen to view your image on. But none of these things help composition, (indeed, many detract from it), and that is where I find many photographs lacking nowadays.