What Don’t You Know?

The real problem we all face when coming over from the film or point-and-shoot (P&S) world is a simple thing:

We don’t know what we don’t know.


There is so much to learn when coming from the camera-does-it-all world, or the film world. White balance, RAW vs JPEG, postprocessing, workflow, color spaces, histograms, software, etc. In the beginning, we know that we don’t know, but we don’t know what we don’t know. The only way to know what we don’t know, is to be exposed to something new and realize we didn’t know that. Only then do we know we didn’t know that before. This may sound silly, but it’s actually quite profound.

When I first started shooting digitally in 2002, I felt overwhelmed by what seemed like a huge amount of required information. However, I spent time at Nikonians.org, talking (arguing) with other photographers over the film vs. digital idea. However, I soon found that no one thing in digital photography was especially difficult to learn, it was merely different from what I was used to in the film days. I remember that I had to learn how to make cameras with film work, and I was able to apply most of that knowledge to digital. The learning curve was actually quite fun and I discovered that I had much more control over my photography, with no dependence on processing labs to make images the way I envisioned them. Instead, I processed my own images in my digital darkroom and was much happier with the outcome. Today, years later, there is no way you could drag me back into the archaic film shooting methods. I am fully digital. I learned what I didn’t know that I didn’t know, then I studied until I knew what I needed to know.

When I first started learning about the video standards in HD-SLR cameras, I had no idea what I didn’t know, so I bought an extremely complex book for a lot of money so I could peer into what I don’t know and figure out where to start. Once I did that, I started learning what I needed to learn right away, and added to it new things as I went along. Learning what I didn’t know, by looking through a book, helped me tremendously. The bottom line, if one has no idea something even exists, then one doesn’t know what one doesn’t know.

Never be ashamed to hang it all out there in front of experienced people. They will look upon your plight with understanding, remembering the time that they didn’t know what they didn’t know. Make mistakes, screw it up good. Post your errors. Only then will you learn what you need to learn.

Once you’ve learned the new things you must now learn, you will be way ahead of the game.  All of us went through this. No matter our backgrounds, we all haven’t the foggiest idea of what we need to learn first, until someone helps us. If you are in a position to help a newbie. Do it! Someone helped you, you weren’t born with the knowledge you have now. You know what the new shooter doesn’t know. Help ease the transition!

Keep on capturing time…
Darrell Young

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