Get Off Auto

Photography is an art. The balance between light and dark is important to becoming a better photographer.  Cameras are becoming smarter and smaller.  Cameras have the ability to figure out how much light and for how long light can enter a camera to get a photo.  This is a great idea because computers work so much faster than any photographer.  So do we still have photographers? One thing that separates a person with a camera and photographer is the ability for the photographer to understanding lighting well enough to make their photos.

This is the beginning of lessons on photography and the three pillars needed to make great photos.  Aperture, Shutter, and ISO.  That’s all you really need for photography.

Photo taken of Rose during Chapel c2018

About Me


I am a freshman student at Howard University. I’ve studied photography for four years and have recently worked more on becoming a freelance photographer. In addition to working on Portrait and Event photography, I also plan on providing quick photography tips and tricks that I have learned from my time.


My name is David Robinson and I am a photographer who wants to teach others about how to tell stories with light. Photography has been an important part of my life and the world of photography is changing every year as phones are bridging the gap between DSLR(Digital Single Lens Reflector) and mirrorless cameras. I’m going to try to provide weekly lessons on how to understand and improve your photography, primarily focusing on basic DSLRs, but also focusing on using a cell phone.

The biggest thing I want to stress about photography is that it is always about light. Its the photographers job to know how much light is entering the photo and when to stop. Too little light and every image looks like same black void. Too much light and the void is filled with the light that doesn’t tell a unique story. This balance between too much and too little is what allows for the photographer to tell their own story to the world.

Everything else is secondary as cameras have always been built around this balance of light and dark, a constant struggle that the photographer has to understand

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Photo Taken at Hawaii Beach c2017

Read Your Manual

Look to improve yourself everyday.  The basic fundamentals of a camera are similar across the board.  Cameras have lenses which lets the light in, the light enters through a shutter and hits the sensor(or film), the shutter closes and the photo has been taken.  IPhones, DSLRs, Film Camera, SLR, etc follow these rules.  

Your camera is special. This device is what you use to make your photos.  The camera is just there to help you make your photo.  Understanding your specific camera, inside and out, allows you to spend more time understanding what matters most, telling your story.

I got my first big camera in fall 2014, I spent too many hours watching videos on Youtube about this Nikon d3300 camera.  I knew how to adjust manual settings with one hand, the size/weight of this camera, and I wouldn’t be caught dead with my camera set on “Auto”.  By the time I actually got my hand on the camera, I was excited to go through the menus and learn how to use everything I spent time learning.  

The reason I had a camera was for a high school photography class for beginners.  This class was popular to complete a fine arts credit, but I came in to class with enough technical knowledge to be a teacher’s assistant.  Despite all of my studying, I forgot to fall in love with taking photos.

I had spent all this time understanding the mechanical processes without going out and understanding the personal side of photography.  Working with people was uncomfortable, they distracted me from the camera.  Photography is so much more than the amount of megapixels a camera has.  Storytelling and other intangibles make a photographer better at their craft.  The pursuit for bigger, faster cameras doesn’t get you the shot, the photographer does.

By the time I had finished my first year using a DSLR, I had a lot of photos that lacked story, but were technically sound.  Learning your camera is very important, but just make sure you don’t focus from the story you’re telling to yourself and your audience.  So my advice for getting a camera is to read the menus and how to operate your camera, but to never forget that it’s your job to get the photo.

Behind the Lens

I’ve noticed that one of the first things beginners consider becoming a photographer is the gear.  I remember the days when I wanted to consider myself a photographer and I imagined that I had the lights, the studio and of course the massive camera.  While these things turn heads and still produce quality images, the development of technology has allowed for the title of photographer to be more commonplace. Inventions came up throughout this decade that claimed to be “Death of Cameras” which have failed in their initial claim, but have introduced new ways to make images of the world around them.

This MLK day, I decided that I needed to head over the memorial to pay my respects.  The cold weather didn’t faze me or my camera as walked from the metro station.  Once I got the memorial, I learned a valuable lesson about photography in the world today.

I’ve been to this memorial many times in my time at Howard University, but I have never seen a crowd that size since I had been there before.  This crowd featured many people who had cameras in their hands.  Men, women and children all wanted to have their photo taken in front of the giant slab of stone that featured MLK’s face.

The photos the took and posted on social media weren’t professional, but the person behind the camera felt obliged to share their moment with the world.  Their smartphones guess the settings to make sure the photo isn’t too bright or too dark, leaving story-telling job to the one with the camera.

Of course, not everyone there was taking photos with smartphones.  I saw many expensive chunks of metal made by Nikon and Canon that could produce crisp photos much faster than any smartphone could.

The world of current photography is starting to blur the lines between the two devices.  The only thing that would remain a constant in the equation is the person behind the lens.

That observation I made while I was taking my own photos with my Nikon, really struck me as interesting.  If people think that big cameras are the reason an individual is a photographer doesn’t make any sense.  The decision to selecting the time, place and subject of the photo creates the visual story to share with the world.  Quality cameras can make quality photos, but doesn’t mean anything if the person behind the camera fails at telling their story.

Those were the main takeaways I made from spending my Monday morning watching the MLK festivities.

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Photo of DC Street c2017