How to practice

Discussion in 'Photography Beginners' Forum' started by kpizzle, Dec 20, 2017.

  1. Gary A.

    Gary A. Been spending a lot of time on here!

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    One does not learn from success.

    There are two advanced tools you need to think about and develop. But firstly, you have to take your time, slow down and think about the shot. Take your photo book with you and reread a lesson and think about how it is applied to your situation. A DSLR can be so easy to shoot fast, just slap it on Auto Everything and boom, boom, boom ... fini. Put the camera on single frame, even for action, single frame it as a learning technique ... then wait for the peak of action.

    1) Previsualization: Before you even raise the viewfinder to your eye, think about the final image. How does your mind's eye see the final photo? In B&W, shallow DOF, stopping motion, blurring motion, low angle shooting up, wide angle, tight cropping on the subject, back lighted, side lighted, et cetera. See the final image than adjust the camera to capture said image. (Camera placement, lighting angle, lens choice, aperture, shutter speed and ISO.) Think about it all and most importantly, previsualize the final image.

    2) Harmonize with Your Gear: Shoot, shoot some more and when you think you're finished, shoot again. Harmonize with your equipment to the point where the camera is an extension of your eyes, the camera settings an extension of your hands to the point where you don't have to remove your eye from the viewfinder to make adjustments. Through usage learn how the different focal lengths and apertures affect the image.


     
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  2. ceemac

    ceemac No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    All the above is good advice, but read books on exposure and composition or you won't know what a bad shot is. I'd suggest using a tripod. It will give you time to think about your picture, looking for things that don't belong or just moving a few feet for something better.
     
  3. vintagesnaps

    vintagesnaps Been spending a lot of time on here!

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    I find the same thing, my camera feels like an extension of myself. Of course I've been a photographer for a long time but it's so natural to hold it comfortably it might as well be a teddy bear, I forget sometimes I'm still holding the thing.

    It sounds like you're enjoying it, so go with that - roam/wander around and think about what looks like a good subject for a photo. I'd say learn to see everything in the viewfinder or on the viewscreen and think about how that will look as a photograph. Try changing your vantage point (I think people forget their feet move!) and take another picture from a little different perspective, is that better or worse? After being out taking a series of photos go thru them later and see what worked and what didn't - absolutely you can learn from what didn't work and why and try something different.

    I'd try looking at photographs by famous photographers from the past and see why their work has been good enough to pass the test of time. I don't think I've seen a video yet that was anything I'd necessarily recommend! lol Some are OK, some are giving suggestions that people might do better to unlearn. I wouldn't bother too much starting out with some of what you mentioned in your post - I'd say learn how to frame shots well, how to focus well, and how to get a proper exposure.

    It would probably be good to learn about composition (elements like shape, line, size, tone, etc.) and how to have those in balance in the frame. Make sure you've got an image sharply in focus. Learn how to meter a scene to have a properly exposed image. Keep having fun with it and I hope you experience the enjoyment of photography.
     
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  4. TCampbell

    TCampbell Been spending a lot of time on here!

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    I often hear the "get out and shoot" -- and it's true... if you just buried your head in a book and never took the camera out to practice, you wouldn't become proficient. But I think it's important to learn with a purpose.

    By this I mean... if you just shoot stuff randomly, you'll get the occasional shot you really like, lots of shots you don't really like, but since you didn't really have a goal when you took the shots you can't really compare the shot with how close you are coming to achieving your goal. So are you really "learning"... or just getting lucky?

    Suppose I wanted to work on composition. There are lots of different ways to achieve composition... composition by rule of thirds is extremely popular... but there's composition by symmetry. Composition by birds eye view. Composition by worms eye view. Composition by contrasting textures. Composition by contrasting or complimentary colors. Composition by ... and the list just goes on and on. So if you said... "I'm going to go out looking for strong textures"... and learn to shoot them in a way where the photograph conveys the texture to the viewer... that would be an example of a specific goal.

    There are loads of topics and goals... you'll never run out (and it's one reason why you should never get bored. If you ever DO get bored, you're probably shooting the same old stuff and not pushing yourself to learn new things.)

    You'll certainly want to learn the fundamentals of exposure (that means learning to put the camera in manual exposure mode and use the built-in meter to meter and set the exposure... and learn how you can trade off aperture size vs. shutter speed vs. ISO setting, etc. to get roughly the same amount of light delivered to your image... but with different effects based on the settings you used. I'm not a strong advocate of telling people they should only ever use manual mode, but I am a very strong advocate that everyone should LEARN to shoot in manual mode because it will force you to learn a lot about exposure. Once you understand how changes in exposure affect the image, you can use the semi-auto modes such as aperture or shutter priority, etc.

    With that aside... the camera is just a box. One camera is a lot like another. Some cameras get some advantages... but the BIGGEST advantage is in YOUR ability to "see" things.

    I have gone out with a goal of "I'm going to look for examples of composition by complimentary colors across the color wheel." So I'm looking for combinations of Blue with Gold... or Green with Pink... you get the idea. I'm not so much worried about how to operate the camera... the goal is to train my brain to notice things that are photo-worthy. Your shots will look better because your brain will start to notice subjects that other people aren't seeing. Another aspect is to train your brain to consider lots of optional possibilities in how to shoot the same subject. This is basically a form of artistic training and it really has nothing to do with the camera. You're trying to develop an eye for seeing things artistically.

    You'll also want to learn about light... a lot about light.

    Light is probably THE single biggest influencer in the quality of a shot. It can make a much more dramatic difference than lens selection. It can be used to convey emotions by using light to make something look desolate & lonely... or serene... or energetic... or... the list goes on. I mentioned "textures" earlier and if the lighting is flat, you wont notice the texture. To make something appear to be 3-dimensional, your eyes are looking for cues based on highlights & shadows and you can't have good "light" without good "shadow"... and to get either of those, you'll want to learn about light ... and how you can control the light.

    A lot of people tend to put though into their subjects... but not so much everything else in the image. If we can see it in the image... it matters. It's almost depressing when I see someone shoot a great subject... but the background is lousy. Had they simply moved to a different angle or moved the subject, etc. the whole shot could have been so much better. Everything in the image counts. I am guilty of re-arranging the furniture and furnishings in a room to get better composition and better light. You don't have to shoot things "as they are".

    This is a lot of information and it's ok if you don't remember it all... my goal was to get you thinking about photography as an art... not just about the technical details of operating the camera.
     
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  5. TheLibrarian

    TheLibrarian TPF Noob!

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    Reiterating to pick some particular thing and focus on that each time you practice. In the assignments and challenges forum you can find some good challenges to force you to think about one aspect and play with that concept.
     
  6. Jamesaz

    Jamesaz No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    One thing I recall from student days is to pick a word (or have someone else suggest a word) and shoot a picture story around that word. Example: preparedness, or sudden or silliness. Try to limit the number of exposures
    needed to illustrate the story as if you were using film, so say 50 frames. Plan where you want the story to go (you can kind of make it up as you see images). Next time out, with a different word, try to limit the time to maybe 2-3 hours for capture. Have fun
     
  7. limr

    limr Moderator Staff Member Supporting Member

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    The way to do it is to start a new thread in one of the appropriate photo gallery forums here: Photography Forum They are organized by subject, though if a picture doesn't quite fit in any of the other categories, just put it in General Gallery.

    You also might want to read this thread about how to ask for critique: How to structure your posts to get critiques on your work (C&C)

    Folks generally post images they've already edited, though it depends on what feedback they're after.
     
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  8. Fred von den Berg

    Fred von den Berg No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    Less is more.

    Don't spray and pray even though digital tempts you to. There is such a thing as the law of diminishing returns and this does apply to photography.

    Be selective and exclusive: that means not only making choices about what to shoot but also about what not to include in the frame. If something doesn't add to the shot, it shouldn't be there - especially if it distracts the eye from what you want to show.
     
  9. flyin-lowe

    flyin-lowe TPF Noob!

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    Which boom did you read? "Understanding Exposure" is the best recommendation I can make for a beginner.
     
  10. kpizzle

    kpizzle TPF Noob!

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    Yep that is the book. It has quite a bit of good information. One goal for 18 is to work through the authors exercise about lighting!
     
  11. BigJason

    BigJason TPF Noob!

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    Agreed...the Bryan Petersen book is great. I have the 4th edition out all the time. You can save a bit of dosh by buying an earlier edition.

    Mike Browne on YouTube is also approachable and a good explainer. There are many others but it's best to find someone whose style you appreciate (ie. maybe not too cocky? FRO I'm looking in YOUR DIRECTION lol--lol I watch the guy, though...)

    So you probably know you want to learn about composition and exposure. Those are the two main things. Light is critical BUT I think composition is more important for a beginner. What you want to start learning is "How to think like a photographer." That means seeing the image in your head before you take the picture. That's the end goal here.

    Pick a topic, maybe by watching one of Browne's videos, whether it be depth of field, shutter speed, aperture, ISO, framing or whatever, and concentrate on that for this session. Focus on that one thing and see what happens when you change the related settings on your camera or lens. Take notes. When you get back to your computer, have a look at the images on the big screen and ask yourself: "What worked as I expected? What turned out differently? What do I need to learn to get the effect I want?"

    Clear questions of the type that will arise from asking yourself these questions will help you learn faster. You'll be specific and so will be able to search Google and YouTube for answers.

    This is an informal process. Expect learning will take time. It took me a good 6 months to start figuring out composition and exposure with DSLRs, and that was after some experience with SLSrs in the early 2000s to provide a foundation. After a year, I was still making a lot of mistakes, but I could see what the mistakes were and define them so I could search for specific answers.

    If you're used to zoom lenses, one day put a prime lens on. You'll be surprised how it makes you think. You can't just zoom in...you have to walk! Great for learning composition.

    Remember, despite what we know...we don't know what we don't know. And what we don't know is like 7/8ths of the pie and always will be. Keep at it and give yourself a feedback loop like the one I've described.
     

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