Thomas Hawk’s 10 Tips for the New Digital SLR Photographer

After writing this article I have invested in a Canon EOS400D with some nice optics. So now I guess I have to make an illustration to tips number 7 as well… 🙂

Original article:
You don’t find many articles in this blog that is simply a link to a post in another blog. I try to add something when I write about interesting content from other blogs and web sites. Thomas Hawk had an excellent article about digital photography a while ago. And if I am going to link to it I also want to add something. The thing that I immediately missed when reading the article on Thomas Hawk’s blog was the illustrations. I know that Thomas has a huge archive of excellent pictures that could illustrate many of the 10 points. But I also know how much time it takes to find and include the illustrations. When Thomas has spent the time writing the excellent article I can spend a couple of minutes digging for some illustrations. Read the article over at Thomas Hawk’s digital connection and use this post for some illustrations. All the pictures can be clicked to bring up a larger version.

Changing ISO changes the time of the exposure and the amount of noise in the picture. The two pictures below are taken at the same time, in the same lightning conditions but the one to the left is ISO 50 and the one to the right is ISO 400. At ISO 50 the exposure time was simply too long to give me a sharp shot with a hand held camera.
ISO 50 and ISO 400
Now if we go in a bit closer we can also reveal the other factor. Noise.
Noise at high ISO
Steady shot2. Find something to brace the camera on.
Use your creativity. When using a digital compact camera you also have the possibility of not having to look into the viewfinder. When using the LCD on the camera you have very good possibilities of holding the camera against something when shooting.
3. Don’t cheap out on a tripod.
I am not fortunate enough to own a Manfrotto, so I don’t have an illustration for this one… 🙂

4. It’s all about the glass.
Revealing bad optics are best done when examining the edges of a picture or sharp contrasts. Bad optics to the left and better optics to the right. An obvious difference in sharpness.
Going into some more detail it is easy to see some of the other problems with bad optics. The green colour along the sharp contrast between the sky and the metal angle.
Optics detail

5. Join Flickr.
I could add a screenshot from Flickr. But really. Just go there.

6. Know your rights.
This can only be illustrated by Thomas himself. Whit this story and this photo:
Know your rights

7. Shoot in RAW.
Photo. Video. Audio. Always obtain the best quality possible when out in the field. The better the original is the more you can do with it. Personally that means full resolution, higest quality JPG because I don’t own a camera that can shoot in RAW format. Something I would consider the biggest drawback with my Canon S2 IS. That’s why I could not make a nice illustration to show how flexible and sharp an uncompressed RAW picture really is.

8. Photoshop, Photoshop, Photoshop.
I have used Photoshop since version 2.5 It was truly amazing back then and is even more amazing now.

I really hate el-cheapo crippeled scaled down versions of professional software. With one exception. Adobe Photoshop Elements. It is really amazing value and contains all the functions that you really need. I wouldn’t bother considering anything else if you want a relatively cheap but extremely powerful way to organize and edit your pictures.

So for the illustration. Original to the left and slightly photoshopped image to the right.
And some serious Photoshop magic here and here.

9. Take lots and lots and lots of photos when you shoot.
Could have illustrated this with lots and lots of photos. But I won’t. Just follow the advice.

10. Change your perspective.

Boring perspective Better perspective

Simple as that.

Thomas Hawk’s 10 Tips for the New Digital SLR Photographer

5 thoughts on “Thomas Hawk’s 10 Tips for the New Digital SLR Photographer

  1. Hubert Kay says:


    thanks so much for that article! I have some advice for #2 and #3: have a look at “The POD Camera Platform” (you can see all about it on the manufacturer’s website at It’s basically an inexpensive (~15$) small bean bag (~12cm in diameter, weighs less than 100g) with a screw that fits into the tripod socket of your digital camera. You can use this to set your camera eaven and give it a steady hold on the hood of a car, the railing of a staircase, a wall, a treebranch, the ledge of a window … whatever you find. It’s ideal for those scenarios when you would like to take a shot of a fast moving object, or in low light conditions, and you don’t have a tripod handy.

    I came across this in an outdoor magazine, tried it, loved it, and since then have purchased 3 of these. One is always with me, no matter where I travel. Small form factor, but extremely practical.


  2. Cool. That looks like one of those extremely simple yet very useful products. Thing is that very often you have what you need to get the camera in position, but you miss that last piece for securing the camera at that spot.

    There are lots of cheap small “pocket-tripods” out there, but The Pod looks like a very flexible and useful solution!

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