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Becoming a better photographer: How did you do it?

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  • #413
    Gobsmacked
    Participant

    I have taken a 35mm class, learned the darkroom basics, and I am now using my first digital SLR. How do I progress from being a novice? I understand (in a ‘book’ sense) photography, and I have experimented with my camera. How can I learn to determine, relatively quickly, the settings for my camera in a given siutation? What did you to go from novice to intermediate and beyond?

    #3964
    Anonymous
    Participant

    I have taken a 35mm class, learned the darkroom basics, and I am now using my first digital SLR. How do I progress from being a novice? I understand (in a ‘book’ sense) photography, and I have experimented with my camera. How can I learn to determine, relatively quickly, the settings for my camera in a given siutation? What did you to go from novice to intermediate and beyond?

    practice practice practice! bring your camera everywhere. be ‘that guy’ – the guy who is always taking pictures. your friends will get used to it. as you shoot more you’ll start to get a sense of your style – what it is that you really like when you see the end result. and the more you shoot, the better sense you get of what the results are when you try different things – great DOF, shallow DOF, second curtain shutter, long exposures, etc. set up tests – same subject with all different type of exposures. what does it look like at f2/8? how about at f32 with a shutter speed of 1/8? practice and play, you’ll start to figure out what you like and how you want to shoot. and it’s digital, so you have all your exposure info in the metadata and you have no worries about wasting film! have fun!!!

    #3965
    monkeybort
    Participant

    argh, that last post was from me (monkeybort, in case it logs me out again)

    #3966
    veruca
    Participant

    Just wanted to echo what monkeybort said.

    I’m still such a n00b, but I still go out and try, try again, and then try to remember what worked last time and what didn’t.

    There’s one photo in my collection taken in the Skagit Valley tulip fields where there’s a single red tulip in a field of a bajillion yellows. I walked through 5 tulip fields, in the rain and tromping through mud, and probably took 250 pictures that day (thank jebbus for digital). When I got home and unloaded the camera there were maybe 5 photos I really liked. Out of the 250, probably half were me playing with the settings on the camera.
    My friends thought it was a nutso way to spend a Saturday but I had the best time that day.

    I also read a lot – have this awesome National Geographic Photography Field Guide which has gotten a lot of use. I study other peoples work.

    I also think there’s a natural eye for photography. Do you ever look at something and frame it in your mind? Like taking a closer look…maybe seeing something in an object a little diffferently? There’s a game I play with my eyes – I can’t explain it but I see what I want and then try to recreate it with my camera.

    Sorry for the winded response – just personal observation.

    #3967
    monkeybort
    Participant

    Just wanted to echo what monkeybort said.

    I’m still such a n00b, but I still go out and try, try again, and then try to remember what worked last time and what didn’t.

    There’s one photo in my collection taken in the Skagit Valley tulip fields where there’s a single red tulip in a field of a bajillion yellows. I walked through 5 tulip fields, in the rain and tromping through mud, and probably took 250 pictures that day (thank jebbus for digital). When I got home and unloaded the camera there were maybe 5 photos I really liked. Out of the 250, probably half were me playing with the settings on the camera.
    My friends thought it was a nutso way to spend a Saturday but I had the best time that day.

    I also read a lot – have this awesome National Geographic Photography Field Guide which has gotten a lot of use. I study other peoples work.

    I also think there’s a natural eye for photography. Do you ever look at something and frame it in your mind? Like taking a closer look…maybe seeing something in an object a little diffferently? There’s a game I play with my eyes – I can’t explain it but I see what I want and then try to recreate it with my camera.

    Sorry for the winded response – just personal observation.

    oh yes, second on the reading bit. and go to galleries, shows….look artists up on the internet. find a style you like and see if you can recreate that same feeling.

    and shoot a lot! more than you think you need to. the smallest variation in composition or lighting can really make a big difference in the final product.

    have fun and play around!!!

    #3968
    Anonymous
    Participant

    Write down your aperture and shutter speed for each shot in the roll. You can log this information in a little booklet. Then, when you have developed and are reviewing the photos, you can more accurately guage what works best in differing situations

    #3969
    ch4r7ie
    Participant

    sunny f16 rule, rule of thirds, join a photography club with judging

    #3970

    Taking lots of test pictures to compare results is great. Also, be sure to take multiple shots of real photo subjects to ensure that at least one is what you hoped for.

    I don’t really bracket exposures, but I do try to get a couple of slightly different angles on most nature shots.

    I took 1100 photos during a 1 week trip and 80% of them were OK, but it was the few great ones that made taking so many extras worthwhile.

    #3971
    Saldo1981
    Participant

    I’m into photographing cars and moving objects. There is a few guys that stand on the side of a well known road in NC/TN called “http://www.tailofthedragon.com”>Deals Gap (US-129) His site is http://www.killboy.com but the part I like is his http://www.pbase.com/killboy/killboycom_portfolio section because if you click “full exif” you get to see what settings he had on his camera. Just once place I look to see what different settings he uses for different things.

    #3972
    Six_down
    Participant

    Hi folks,

    Something that might be useful along these lines. I had started playing with all of the different settings in different conditions at first I did not write all of that down, I figured it was lost information. That was until I pulled up some of the photos is a program I have used for years to view image files call Vueprint. It somehow reads the information from the picture and displays the shutter speed, F and the DPI, making it a lot easier to track this information. Its a light but very useful little program. You point it to a directory and can step through each photo by hitting the spacebar. It can do quite a bit of editing functions and can do slideshows.

    http://www.hamrick.com/upg.html

    My .02

    #3973
    schnee
    Participant

    Three words: practice, practice, practice. And when you are bored with those three (you’re never really “done”), then here’s three more: exposure, exposure, exposure. Journal both – why did make a particular photograph (what caught your eye, why that composition) and what exposure did you set? As mentioned, a little note pad is perfect for this, and likely fits into your camera bag.

    I also hooked up with a local educational group headed by a topnotch photographer. It is a neat bunch of people and really helped me improve. Everyone there does something better than anyone else (except this one guy – he’s just really really good at everything). Its nice to have constant reminders that I still have a bunch to learn and people I can learn it from.

    Farktography helps with that constant reminder aspect as well.

    (oh, and that one guy? he shoots DSLRs. did a little booklet with maybe 25 images in it and when he was asked how many photos he took to assemble the book, he replied, rather humbly, “about 40,000”)

    #3974
    mini.chris
    Participant

    Just to echo what everyone said here, just shoot and practice! I like to use the auto settings and see what the camera picks then do a manual variation of my own. Im also a fan of bracketing if the situation allows.

    #3975
    renko
    Participant

    Take an enormous amount of photographs. There really is no substitute for practice. Experiment with aperture settings and focus point, learn how changes effect the photograph. Learn how to use fill flash. Learn to use the Zone System. Learn about hyperfocal distance.

    I think the biggest first hurdle is to really get a handle on the capabilities of your gear. How do your optics perform at different stops? Do you need to refer to your manual or is it all stored in your memory? Even though you have a digital SLR and can chimp your way to proper exposure, get a handheld incident light meter and learn to use it so your shots are exposed properly the first time. Use manual mode on your camera, or at the very least aperture priority if you don’t have your handheld meter with you.

    And getting back to practice, always have your camera with you. DSLRs are bulky and a pain to cart around, so invest in a simple film camera, like an Olympus XA. When I walk around, no matter where I am, I have an Olympus XA in my jacket pocket, and I’m constantly on the lookout for photograph opportunities. Don’t worry about “wasting” film. If the cost bothers you, buy a bulk loader and bulk film (100 foot rolls) and load your own cassettes, it’s easily 5x cheaper per roll that way.

    #3976
    caradoc
    Participant

    I’ll agree with practice and exposure – but for anyone who hasn’t been shooting for a decade or two, you can likely find good classes at the local community college that will focus on different areas of photography.

    Examples might include “Introduction to Digital Photography,” “Advanced Digital Photography,” “Computer Photographic Imaging,” “Alternative Photography Processes,” etc.

    Many of the community college classes are taught by semi-retired professionals.

    Any time you feel you’ve “learned it all,” go back to the course catalog. I can almost guarantee that you’ll see another class that you haven’t taken.

    “Photojournalism,” “Commercial Photography,” “Photographing the Human Form,” “Fashion Photography,” “Fundamentals of Photographic Lighting…” The list is pretty much endless because they keep coming up with additional classes as people develop their interests.

    Community college classes are pretty cheap, too, unless you want to get into some of those that deal with view cameras or other medium-format film. Then the class itself is pretty cheap, but your cost of materials just went way up.

    #3977
    powerplantgirl
    Participant

    I am also teh n00b and I have found a local camera store that offers digital classes. Granted they are for complete beginners (exactly what I need) but they are also only $60 bucks for the 6 classes. They cover basics to more advanced camera techniques. This will at least help me to get started with my SLR. I can’t really complain for that much moola.

    My $.02

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