Would you like to bet money that you’ve read your camera’s manual? A significant number of beginner photographers never do, so they would lose the bet and one of the best opportunities to become better photographers. Yes, it does take time and a camera manual is not the most compelling read; however the first step to improved photography is to know how your camera works. You don’t have to read it at one sitting. Read two chapters/sections a week, learn the contents thoroughly, and practice what you learn with your camera.
Some of the concepts and techniques you should learn while reading your camera manual refer to the various shooting modes. A common mistake for beginner photographers is to shoot only in Auto mode. The marvels of electronics has made it possible to build cameras that work automatically, giving you good to acceptable pictures without much work on your part. The flaw in this approach is that the auto-mode technology in your digital camera is still very basic, very rudimentary. It can only read a scene or subject in a general sense and capture the best overall image. In most cases, creativity in photography occurs outside the range of “basic” or “general.” If you want to do more with your camera and photography, then you must learn how to control and set a camera with the other shooting modes (Program, Aperture, Shutter, etc.) as well as manual.
Once you know the contents of your camera manual, assign yourself one new concept or technique to learn every month. Understanding and using your camera’s shooting modes can be January’s. Other concepts for study include depth of field, bokeh and the exposure formula. You’ll find many more in PhotographyTalk.com’s article section.
As you learn how to use these concepts and techniques, apply them first to the type of photos you shoot most of the time. For example, you probably take many pictures of groups of people. Read the PhotographyTalk.com article, 5 Common Mistakes Photographers Make When Taking Group Pictures, to improve the kind of pictures with which you are already familiar.
You probably also shoot many casual portraits of individuals (family members, friends, etc.). Instead of the typical picture, position the person near a bright window and learn how to capture more interesting portraits with light coming from one direction.
Another excellent method to learn more techniques and practice them with your camera is to take your camera with you wherever you go. This will allow you to shoot some pictures every day. You don’t have to shoot for hours, maybe the only time you’ll have is a few minutes during your lunch hour. Improving your photography is much like improving your golf or tennis game: You must hit millions of balls (or shoot thousands of pictures).
Schedule some shooting time at dawn and dusk. Professionals call these the magic hours because the light is soft and not harsh, as it is during the middle of the day. Drive into the country and look for interesting sunrises and sunsets. Invite a friend or two and create pleasing portraits with the lower, subdued lighting.
As you begin to shoot according to specific photography concepts and techniques, start a photo gallery on PhotographyTalk.com. The feedback will help you improve even more.
Your final beginner photographer’s New Year’s resolution is to subscribe to the free PhotographyTalk.com Newsletter. Every week, it includes more techniques to learn and advice about becoming a better photographer.
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A beginner photographer is typically a person who has only recently become interested in photography. He or she may shoot pictures with a cell phone camera; a compact, or point-and-shoot, camera; or an entry-level DSLR. Most of the photos he or she takes are of family members and friends, vacations and casual images of the events in their lives.
If this describes you, then it’s the perfect time of the year to establish a few photography resolutions to help you improve your picture taking. Your primary goal is to learn how to shoot the best photos possible, whether you are a beginner, serious amateur or professional.
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Image credit: rnl / 123RF Stock Photo