Progression of learning photography??


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Jun 15, 2011
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Farmington Hills, MI
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Just a question for those out there that are mostly exactly did your photography skills progress? I got my DSLR back in June. Admittedly, I know that I haven't spent as much time learning my camera as I should have. Besides that, I'm a slow learner in general. So far, I've taught myself how to shoot in ISO, aperture and shutter speed work to create proper exposure. I think I've got a pretty basic handle on it. It's not 2nd nature yet, but I can figure it out in a decently short amount of time. I'm wondering what the next natural step is to take in learning photography. Every time I think I have an idea of how things go, I read a thread that leaves me reeling because of the huge amounts of info that I can't even comprehend yet. So, I'm wondering what makes the most sense to learn next?? I'm not at the point where I can afford a Nikon brand flash right now, but I could probably afford something around $75-100, just to learn on. Should I be trying to learn a flash next? Or is there another step in-between that I'd be skipping? Thanks in advance for any input!
I'm probably around the same point as you (shooting in manual and able to adjust iso, aperture and shutter speed to get what I want out of a pic). The thing I've really started paying attention to lately that's helped it become A LOT easier is my light meter. Also, have you started using your histograms? They've given me much bigger awareness.
Honestly, I bought an sb700 about a month ago, but haven't used it much yet because I've been so focussed on really improving my exposure awareness. Hopefully I'll get to it soon though!
I'm a fast learner....I'm just too lazy to watch you-tube videos, read books or instructional video...I have tried but get bored too fast. There's a lot to learn and I'm far from knowing anything other than the more I learn the more I know I need to know more....

It may seem like there's an overwhelming amount to learn and there is but there's no time schedule. Have fun, experiment, learn from feedback. There's no single route to achieve nirvana, choose your path and see where it takes you.
I really need to work on getting proper exposure when there's snow on the ground...unfortunately, we haven't had any for me to practice with. I haven't learned about the histogram...what is a good resource to use to learn about my histogram?? I also need to learn about manually selecting focus points. I kinda know how, but I'm SO SLOW at it.
My progress was something like this.

Initial confusion.
(works through)
Oh. That's what happens.
Hey, I get it!
I figured it out! Yippee!
(reality crash)
Damn. I thought I had it.
(work really hard, get some decent images)
Hey, maybe I'm good?!
('nother reality crash)

What actually happens, is that you master a certain amount of technical stuff. That allows you more creative options.
Then the creative options seem to peter out... because you keep running into certain (new) technical problems.
Work a bit (ok, a lot) at the technical challenge, overcome it... and new creative horizons open up.
Until you hit the next technical problem. or problems.

It's a spiral of increasing knowledge and mastery. You'll probably never really "get" there. But each turn of the crank gets you to cover more ground, and give you more competence.

What's right for you? Only you can tell. Do something you like to photograph. Figure out who the master are in this area. See how your efforts compare to the masters. Not there yet? no problem. Just turn the crank one more turn...
I learn things by myself with trials and errors. I say maybe because I'm a fast learner at everything so it wasn't too long to catch on. Once I learned the exposure triangle, it's just practice to see what setting works and what doesn't. I go on here and learn from other people mistakes, and also from people critiques. I read somewhat, just the important things since I do get bored of reading so much. There's some things you need to read and learn, some are just doing it yourself to learn.

You just have to get to the stage where it should be automatic as in what to adjust right away. If you want sharp images, you want to limit yourself depends on the lens, what's the lowest aperture (f/4, f/4.5) that you wanna go and adjust to smaller aperture if you have to, then shutter speed, and ISO. Shutter speed if you use longer lens, make sure the shutter is twice as the fast as the length of the lens. Let's say you're shooting a 50mm lens, apply the crop it's almost 80mm, so you want to shoot at 1/160 or faster. I know you can get sharp images with a slower shutter if you're taking picture of someone standing still, but just learn to be safe first so you won't go home and wonder why the image is soft.

Most of my lens are prime lens, but I don't always shoot wide open. Try to have someone to go on a shoot, ask them to walk and you just go around them taking photos. You will see each step to a different direction, maybe they walk in a shade, you have to keep adjusting. Once you are able to walk with that person and just adjust on the fly and nail the right exposure, sharpness, and etc, then you know you're ready to move to the next stage. Next stage is composition, learn when they walk which angle to shoot, if they're in the shade you want an angle to shoot into the shade, not shoot them in the shade and the background is sunlight because it'll be overexposed outside. This is not the only way to learn. You can put a can on top of something outside in the sun, walk around it and take photo from different angles. When you go home you will see a bunch of photos of the same thing, but why is one shot looks better, the angle...and etc. That's how you learn composition. There's just so many, you just have to try different things to learn new ways to be better.

Sammie_Lou said:
I really need to work on getting proper exposure when there's snow on the ground...unfortunately, we haven't had any for me to practice with. I haven't learned about the histogram...what is a good resource to use to learn about my histogram?? I also need to learn about manually selecting focus points. I kinda know how, but I'm SO SLOW at it.

Make a post on here about it. I had some great recommendations but they're saved as favorites on my computer and I'm on my phone right now. Plus, as helpful as the sites were I actually found I misunderstood a few things that were cleared up by the explanations members here gave.
I'm not really sure how my photography skills have progressed since I started a year ago. I know I learned a bit about the manual settings on a crap digital camera and read some stuff online. But then I abandoned it, slowly bought 35 film cameras and just take photographs as often as possible. I learned enough in a month or two to take a decent photo in the sense that it wasn't over exposed and was in focus. But to me, it's more about who I'm photographing than worrying about a histogram or light meter. I don't shoot thing (buildings, landscapes) because they don't interest me. I photograph people on a regular basis, and everybody has something worth looking for. So if I have any progress at all, it's simply in how I see people.
Pick one thing at a time to learn, move to the next thing. It can be very overwhelming and take the fun out of it if you try to do to much at once and put pressure on yourself to learn is a journey and it takes awhile.

The learning never stops. I have been doing this a long time and still learn new things and the work changes constantly.

Unless you need advice is to master natural light first. Flash is difficult and better learned after you already have some knowledge.

The heart of exposures and color is the histogram, learning to do levels adjustment and use the eyedroppers. I started with Photoshop Elements and it is a great program to learn on.
I am a self taught photographer and am still learning and will always continue to learn. Photography isn't just about learning how your camera works. It is also about learning what makes not only a good photo but a great photo. You have to learn about composition, exposure, style, shadow and light, white balance. There is a lot that goes into making a great photo. I taught myself by reading tons of books to get a basic idea, by studying other people's photos to learn the difference of an ok photo and a great photo. But most importantly I learned by just going out and practicing. There is a great project you can try that many pros still do and it is called 'picture a day'. Basically the idea is that you shoot a picture a day or a series of photos a day for roughly a month. You predetermine a set theme, lens, subject whatever you want, but you have to stick with whatever you choose for the whole project. It is a great way to get you thinking out of the box and do experiment new and different things. Beause after the first few days you will start running out of ideas. The most important thing to remember though is that a good picture doesn't come from photo shop it must first start in the camera.
You just got to find your passion and interest. Photography can be subdivided into many sub categories such as portrait, nature, macro, landscape etc. Different niche required different set of skills. No doubt the basic foundation is the most important. Most beginners start shooting with P mode. After mastering this, then proceed to A (aperture) mode. Then to S (shutter speed) mode, and then finally master the manual mode. Learning photography is a lifelong journey. Passion is what we all need =).

If you prefer self learning, youtube videos, dvd trainings, magazines, e-books etc are good. Better still if you have a group of photography friend. You all can go photo shooting trips regularly. You will learn faster in this way. Correct me if I'm wrong, but I don't think there is a blueprint have to learn this first, then learn that. Different people understands a certain thing at a different pace. If you love flash photography, then go ahead and get a flash gun when you can afford one in the future. If you love macro shots, then get a macro lens (don't suffer with some fisheye lens shooting macro shots).

In my honest opinion, I think identifying your passion is important. Focus on one. You will learn faster this way. Don't be afraid to make mistake or take "ugly" shots. Hope this can help you =)

As the saying goes,

“Your first 10,000 photographs are your worst.” – Henri Cartier-Bresso -
In my honest opinion, I think identifying your passion is important. Focus on one. You will learn faster this way. Don't be afraid to make mistake or take "ugly" shots.

I agree with this - and most of Geraldsoh's post. Learning the fundamentals of photography is important, but alongside that you've got to have your own subjects and focuses of interest. These will have drive you forward and are especially important when self learning - otherwise you'll find yourself learning random bits of info that, whilst valid, are not helping you get closer to the shots that you want to create.
Plus when you learn things that you're directly using it helps to reinforce what it is that you learn. Learning general theory can help a lot, but if its not being put into practice its info that you are likely to forget or not focus as much on as you should.

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