The Questions to Ask When Looking at Other People’s Photos


Editor’s note:  The following article was originally posted on Katrina Kennedy’s blog:  CaptureYour365

“What were your settings?”

You’ve probably asked the question before. You had really good intentions, I’m certain. But maybe, just maybe, you weren’t asking the right question.

I know, your intention was to dial my settings into your camera and shoot, hoping to achieve a similar result.

Why is that logic flawed?

You’ve missed the most important question!

What was my light source?

You can snap away for days with my formula, but if your light is different than my light, you just aren’t going to get the same results.

  • Time of day.
  • Angle of light.
  • Source of light.

They all help come together to determine those numbers I’ve dialed into my camera.

I most likely chose the aperture for creative effect, so that is a safe one to copy.

I more than likely chose the shutter speed to avoid camera shake and motion blur, but the light made a tremendous difference.

And ISO. Well, it is all about the light. And the ISO, becomes that critical part of my Exposure Triangle to help me set the other three. Not enough light and my shutter speed is going to be too slow. Too much light and I may not be able to get the creative effect with my aperture that I was looking for.

So, ask me about my light source.

Did I use a flash? If so, where was it? Off camera, on camera? Bounced off the wall, beside me, in front of me, over me?

Ask those questions and you’ll begin to see something transform with your photography. You’ll begin to see something maybe you’ve been missing up to this point. And that is light.

It’s a magical thing and quite frankly, the most important element to great photography. We are benders and users and seekers of light. That is what it is all about.

No matter the time of day, I’m looking for light. Beautiful light.

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One thought on “The Questions to Ask When Looking at Other People’s Photos

  1. What a great post! And such an obvious yet overlooked point about using someone else’s camera settings when the light source would more than likely be VERY different! Loved this article from Katrina!

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