Beyond Settings, Gear and sharpness

Knowing the correct tone of blue won’t help us paint like Picasso. So why in photography we focus so much on gear and settings?

It’s more than natural that we want to improve our technique to create more impactful photos. But rarely we looked for the ideal settings or had the ideal gear. Yes, the settings are important because blown out highlights and/or blurred subjects are completely undesirable. But learning those fundamental settings can be easily found in internet and quickly applied.
And if you hear that a great photo was shot at 16mm, ISO 100, 2 sec, f/8 on a lens of $2500 with f/2.8, why you try to apply the same settings the next time you photograph the same place with the same equipment? But what if there’s a close foreground that isn’t conductive to focus stacking or the ideal light is fleeting and you opt for high ISO to capture the scene handheld rather than waste time to mount a tripod? It’s nuances like these that are often overlooked, when the priority it’s the sharpness.

When we focus on the sharpest lens or on the most sturdy tripod and the hyperfocal distance, we pay less attention to the environment itself. Our attention is a limited resource. Save it for the most important, the light and the compositional elements.


Instead of spending hours reading pages of gear reviews, upgrading your camera every three years and  salivating about the new prime lens, invest in your own development.

Watch video tutorial to see how photographers control light and composition, consider paying for a book from a photographer you admire, or go on a dedicated photography adventure you’ve been dreaming. See these purchases as investments in your learning that will benefit you for years.

Use that time to broaden your own vision as an artist because when we broaden our knowledge base, we expand our creative horizons. NNext time you’re photographing a busy forest scene  opt to include blurred leaves to act as a soft frame around the subject rather than stressing to get everything sharpness. Or consider to photograph at midday and not just at sunrise or sunset because someone told you there was only good light at golden hour.

Final Thoughts

Gear and tech specs are clearly important but that’s not the point. The point is to stop viewing these tools and settings as the keys to get great photos.

It’s the location, the framing, the light, the season, the angle, and much more, are the elements of a great photography. Instead of asking a photographer for the exact location of an image, what aperture they used to make the entire image so sharp, ask if they returned under different light or seasons or ask why they included those foreground elements in the first place.

When we stop asking beyond the gear and settings, we learn more about how the image was created, we find that the answers are infinitely more interesting too.