I noticed a few questions on the Photography exchange that ask very basic questions, yet receive fairly lengthy and technical answers. A lot of us ask these basic questions and get even more confused with the depth of the answer, so we simply have to look elsewhere. (For example, one person wanted to know how to focus on three different items, instead of perhaps the closest.) All these technical 'depth of field' answers appeared, when perhaps all that was needed was a suggestion to change their 'auto focus' setting. No one pointed that out. I've noticed a few answers on this exchange from a guy who likes to feel very superior to us beginners. (You know who you are.) Shouldn't there be a section in Photography for 'Beginners'? Where we don't have to feel like it's an insult to ask a simple question?

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    "Changing the 'auto focus' setting will accomplish nothing if all the cats are at the same shooting distance as the OP in that question insisted. THAT is why no one suggested that answer. Even if all of the cats are not at the same subject distance "changing the 'auto focus' setting" won't do any good. If the cats are all the same distance as the OP insists (even though the example did not demonstrate such) and one is in focus then all will be in focus. If some are sharp and some are blurry at the same distance from the camera it can't be a focusing problem at all. – Michael C Jul 6 '16 at 17:40
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    Could you perhaps explain which "auto focus" setting should be used to accomplish this? – Philip Kendall Jul 6 '16 at 18:14
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    Why are answers so technical? Because photography is technical. – scottbb Jul 7 '16 at 0:08
  • @MichaelClark - I didn't explain myself very clearly. I should have said 'focus area', not just 'auto focus'. By 'auto focus' setting, I am referring to the option of selecting the "Focus Area" between either the closest object, or a dynamic area, or a single object. No one suggested even trying to change that setting, and maybe that's all it would take. Something simple. – Bobbie J Jul 8 '16 at 19:25
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    Your last comment to @MichaelClark suggests you aren't sure about what you're saying, and are hoping there's a more simple "just set this" setting answer. But the simplest answer in this case is to control Depth of Field. In photography, it's one of the core, basic, simple concepts. If you need help with DoF, there are several questions about it on this site. The tools are here, the info is here – scottbb Jul 8 '16 at 19:39
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    @BobbieJ Again, the reason no one suggested "adjust the focus area" is because that would not solve the problem. Regardless of how many focus points are active a lens can only focus at a single distance at any one time. – Michael C Jul 9 '16 at 20:45

The basic answer to the question you reference was "Increase the Depth of Field". The OP insisted that was not the solution when it clearly is the issue that needed to be solved. So the answer not only had to tell the OP to increase DoF, but the answer also had to explain why that was the issue that needed to be solved and the correct approach to solve it.

  • can you explain how to adjust the Depth of Field? – Bobbie J Jul 8 '16 at 19:28
  • Simply, you increase depth of field by making the hole where light enters, smaller. This is called the f-stop or aperture. The larger the aperture number, the smaller the hole, and the more depth of field (more of the scene in front of, and in back of, the focus point will be in focus). So, f-stop 22 is a very small hole, and f-stop 1.4 is a large hole. To get more of the scene in focus, use a smaller f-stop (larger number). You can see this effect yourself (if you wear glasses) by taking off your glasses, and looking through a very small hole made with your fingers. – Andrew Sharpe Jul 12 '16 at 23:52

It seems the basic problem is that there are considerable technical aspects to photography, but you find discussing them annoying since you don't understand them and apparently don't want to. Your question here reads a bit like "I don't understand the technical parts, so I don't want to see them discussed here.". There are several things you can do about this:

  1. Get a better attitude. Seeing a lot of technical details you don't understand seems like a opportunity to me, not a reason for annoyance. Instead of skipping the technical answers, try to understand them. Don't try to learn everything at once since that will only lead to frustration at being overwhelmed. Pick one thing you don't understand in each answer, and look it up. Most technology in photography only takes high school level physics, geometry, and math to understand, so you already have the basic framework (unless you're a high school student, but then you'll get it soon enough).

  2. Ask about what you don't understand. It's OK to ask a question referring to another question and answer, something like "I'm a beginner, and I am confused about -this- answer to -this- question. Why is it not as simple as just setting the blorf mode not "auto"? It talks about sigma-alpha-beta convergence instead. I'm having a hard time grasping that, and don't see how it applies.". Of course you need to have put in some effort trying to understand sigma-alpha-beta convergence first.

    The tone of the question is important. You definitely need to avoid showing contempt for something just because you don't understand it (That sigma-alpha-beta silliness is for technoweenies. Just set the blorf mode to auto.), or think you're the only one in the world that discovered a much simpler method (You are all stupid. Just set the blorf mode to auto.).

    Come with the attitude of truly wanting to learn, show that you've put in some basic effort of your own, and people will be falling over themselves to write good answers.

  3. Write your own answers. If you really think you know a better way, say so in a answer. Of course if you're wrong, the answer will get downvoted, just like would happen to anyone else that proclaimed something incorrect.

  4. Go somewhere else. Photography is technical, whether you want to understand it or pretend it isn't or not. We are going to keep discussing the technology aspects of photography here, since they are relevant and necessary to being good at photography. That's not going to change. If you won't change, then there is fundamental mismatch between you and this site. Constantly getting annoyed at technical explanations won't work for you, and your complaining about them won't work for us.

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    +1 for suggesting the thing that should be obvious on a Q&A site: to ask about things that are unclear. It's possible to ask for clarifications in a comment, but asking for an explanation in simpler terms can be a question on its own. – null Jul 13 '16 at 18:12

TL;DR — the StackExchange format was build by, attracts, and retains knowitalls and 'splainers.

Understand that Photo.SE is part of the StackExchange network of Q&A sites, that all started from StackOverflow.com, a Q&A site for programmers. The majority of SE sites are all technically-oriented. And the people who tend to stick around for more than a single "ask my question get my answer" -style interaction, stick around because they can contribute and answer.

There is no way in the Stack Exchange format to have different "sections" for different quality of questions. Either a question is Good for Photo.SE, or it is Bad (i.e., off-topic, unclear, duplicate, belongs on another SE community, etc.). Furthermore, there is no way to cordon off the Explain-It-Like-I'm-5 (ELI5) answers from the deep-dive answers. It is a community-moderated site, so the will of the community (i.e., the upvotes and downvotes) will separate the gold from the dross.

There are several other photography-related places on the internet that have different community vibes. Several discussion forums exist, as well as the comments section of most of the photo blogs that exist. Every forum, every blog, has its own purpose and community. The StackExchange sites value searchability, and high signal-to-noise ratio above all else. That's what they were designed for: the shortest time to search for the highest-quality answer.

If you're looking for ELI5-level explanations, perhaps try Wikihow, Ehow, HowStuffWorks, or perhaps even a ELI5 photography subreddit?

  • Thank you. Yes, you are correct. I am certainly out of my league here, (as many of you have pointed out.) I agree photography IS technical, but some of us who search for solutions are not always experienced enough to understand technical explanation. So, yes I did stumble onto a website that is apparently geared toward a more knowledgeable audience. I should look elsewhere. – Bobbie J Jul 8 '16 at 19:16
  • @BobbieJ it is not geared towards a more knowledgeable audience. It might attract and retain a more knowledgeable audience, but it is geared towards people searching for clear concise answers. If your question isn't answered here, ask a question. It will either get answered (usually quite quickly), or perhaps closed or asked for clarification because the question is subpar for the site's standards. – scottbb Jul 8 '16 at 19:44
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    @BobbieJ one possible resource: dpreview's Beginners forum. – inkista Jul 8 '16 at 23:31
  • @inkista - that's exactly the type of information I can use. Thank you. – Bobbie J Jul 12 '16 at 5:08

Photography is certainly technical, yes. However, it is our jobs as educators to present our answers so that they are consumable not only by PhDs, but by regular laypeople who do not necessarily need to know as much detail as is quite often offered. The best help we can provide is to make the complex simple. It is much more difficult to do that, but it is a worthwhile challenge.

  • Thank you for being kind to a beginner, such as myself. It is apparent you are able to offer compassion as well as advice. – Bobbie J Jul 12 '16 at 4:49

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