(© Ian Plant) By now, most of you have had plenty of experience with the sometimes maddening “auto correct” feature built into most smart phones and tablets these days—you know, that annoying second-guessing your phone does when you try to send a text message or email. Some of my personal favorites include when my phone tried to change “Muppets” into “Killers” (really, Killers is the closest word to Muppets?), the name “Conor” into “Comoros” (I didn’t even think it was a real word, but it turns out it is the name of a small island nation in the Indian Ocean), and all of the times my phone turns swear words into something harmless and unrelated (“duck you” just doesn’t cut it when you are trying to express righteous indignation).
When engaging in photography, it is often all too easy to fall victim to auto correction, letting your camera make all of your exposure and white balance choices, and just retaking the compositions that have been done over and over again by others. The results are often the same as with the auto correct feature on your smart phone—you end up with something that is not quite what you intended. If you want your artistic message to be clear, then you need to turn your personal auto correction off, and be prepared to make subjective choices on your own.
For example, with the image above from the Patagonia region of Chile, I ignored my camera’s suggestions for exposure and white balance. My camera wanted to warm things up too much, getting rid of the twilight blues that dominated the scene. If my camera had its way, the end result would have been flat, and would have lost the color contrast that had made the scene so magical to the eye.
My advice is to learn to master exposure compensation and white balance, so that you are the one making artistic choices, not your camera. Step outside of the well-worn tracks laid by others to the famous over-photographed photo icons of the world. Try something new and different, and always be on the lookout for fresh and unique perspectives. And above all, don’t be afraid to tell your personal auto correct to “duck off.”
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