Read the Manual.
Create Lists of Techniques to Learn.
How to hold a camera correctly, control camera shake.
Exposure: aperture, shutter speed and ISO.
Depth of field.
Autofocus and manual focus.
Understanding RAW and JPEG images.
Using a flash.
Shooting indoors with ambient light.
Don’t Always Rely on the Auto Mode.
Join the Local Camera Club.
Practice in Different Environments.
Request a Free Course Catalog from the New York Institute of Photography.
Volunteer you and your Camera.
Check your Equipment.
Protecting and Cleaning your Camera.
Participate in the PhotographyTalk.com Forum.
The Rental Route.
You may have recently purchased your first digital camera, or a replacement. It could be a light, take-anywhere compact or maybe your first DSLR. Whatever you bought, you made a substantial investment to record family events and fun with your friends or to pursue your passion to experience the artistry, creativity and fulfillment only photography offers. PhotographyTalk wants you to become more than just another person with a camera; and the following 12 ideas should help you achieve more with your new camera, and become a true photographer.
Don’t take another picture until you’ve read and studied your camera’s manual thoroughly!! You can learn more about your camera faster and from a single source when you take the time to read every page. Don’t just read the manual; study it like a textbook. As you learn about each feature and function, find it on your camera. Turn the dials, work through the menu, open and close the flip-up flash, etc. Memorize the positions of the controls on the exterior of the body, so you are able to reach and activate them with your eye to the viewfinder.
One of the benefits of reading your camera’s manual is that it will stimulate your curiosity about various photography concepts and techniques. As these attract your attention, create a list and schedule a couple of evenings a week to study and practice a single technique each evening. Here is a good starter list:
The Auto mode on digital cameras is a wonder of technology, but don’t let the machines take total control! Don’t assume the attitude of too many beginners and amateurs that “digital” and “Auto” mean they don’t have to participate in the process of taking pictures. As wonderful as the technology is, “Auto” is not “perfect.” It may be capable of selecting exposure and focus automatically, but it doesn’t work that well under all conditions. Learning how to use a digital camera manually is necessary if you expect to achieve more with your new camera.
Photographers (especially professionals) are often portrayed as “lone wolves,” plying their craft by themselves and communing one-on-one with their subject matter until their Muse silently inspires them to capture an image at the precise moment. Yes, many photographers work just that way, even in a studio; however, when you are new to photography or have a new type of camera, one of the best ways to learn is to work with other photographers. You’ll find them at your local camera club. It was founded for the purpose to increase interest in photography, so the members are committed to helping someone just like you learn how to achieve more with your new camera. A local camera club is apt to have workshops and joint photography sessions and host presentations from camera company representatives.
It should be unnecessary to state, but when you schedule regular photography sessions or periods, you will definitely increase your proficiency and enjoyment of your new camera. Schedule one evening a week and/or a few hours every weekend. Don’t just shoot pictures; examine them when you return home to learn from your mistakes, and then take notes, so you can try those same photos next week and improve your results.
As you schedule your regular shooting sessions also choose different environments, so you can broaden your photography experience and practice the various concepts and techniques you’ve learned. It may be fun to take pictures of the family members and the activities you enjoy together, but don’t make them your sole subject matter. Try as many of the major types of photography as possible with the equipment you have: portrait, landscape, nature, sports, macro, events, food, fashion, etc.
Schedule photography sessions at different times of the day too. Shoot during the “magic hours” of the day: sunrise and sunset/twilight, when the light is low and diffuse. The pros consider these the best times of the day to shoot outdoors. Record the hustle and bustle of the city as well as the serenity of the wilderness.
You’ve invested a considerable amount of hard-earned money in your new camera, so the next best investment is some basic education. As the world’s largest and oldest photography school, New York Institute of Photography has been educating photographers at all skill levels since 1910. You can request the school’s free course catalog anytime by visiting http://www.nyip.com/requestinfo/. Not only will you receive a link to the online version, but also receive a printed version in the mail and an email with course details and offers.
As a new camera owner, the best NYIP education for you is its four-week, home-study course, Fundamentals of Digital Photography.
As you gain confidence and improve your skills, consider volunteering your photography skills in your community. Even though it may be as simple as a photo to accompany a press release for a local non-profit organization (which can’t afford to hire a pro), you’ll be thrust into the reality of what it is like to work with a client, plan and manage a project and satisfy deadlines.
You’ll also achieve more with your new camera if you acquire the excellent habit of checking your camera and other equipment before leaving for a photography session. You’re less likely to forget the small items, such as memory cards, batteries or filters. You could find yourself far from home and without the necessary supplies to shoot even the first picture. Don’t hesitate to make a list of what equipment you’ll need for any particular photo session and check the list against the equipment you place in a bag or your pockets.
To achieve the maximum value from your new camera, make sure you learn how to protect it correctly, during transportation and storage, and the proper cleaning method. Follow the guidelines in the manual. Cleaning your camera regularly is like changing the oil in your car: by doing so, it will last longer and operate correctly and accurately.
The world is full of other photographers with new cameras, and certainly the same camera as you just bought. You’ll find many of them on the PhotographyTalk.com Forum, where you can ask questions, learn from other photographers’ experiences…and mistakes…and help others too.
You probably weren’t able to buy an armful of lenses, or even a tripod or separate flash, when you bought your camera. Equipment rental is a great option to expand your opportunities to learn and achieve more with your camera. The rates are quite affordable and you can rent a telephoto lens or a studio lighting kit for an entire weekend, providing you with plenty of time to study and practice techniques.
Image credit: jackf / 123RF Stock Photo
People who read this PhotographyTalk.com article also liked:
Your feedback is important to thousands of PhotographyTalk.com fans and us. If this article is helpful, then please click the Like and Re-Tweet buttons at the top left of this article.