Every so often I receive e-mail via this blog complementing a photo and asking how they can improve the photos they take? But before you can take “the cure”, you must determine if the assumption that your photos are bad are your opinion or based on viewer feedback? Make no mistake that WE are our harshest critics. Photographers seldom think their work is great. If the people viewing your photos like them, accept the compliments and continue.
So to the question of “how can I improve my photos, I can offer a few suggestions. First, practice, practice and more practice. Second, stop – smell the roses – and stop trying to decide what new camera you are going to buy.
Having been into photography for over 45 years I can tell you that your photos will improve as your relationship with your camera grows. The more you use it, and the more you learn how it will react to different lighting conditions, the better the photos get.
Start by choosing one option your camera offers, that you are not familiar with. Read the operating instructions (the book that came with your camera) and try the feature. There is some truth that when all else fails, RTFM ! (Read the F$%&ing Manual) Take at least 100 photos using this feature. By this time you should now understand how it works and how it can improve your photos. When you are done, move on to another feature. Make no mistake that anything you teach yourself, you will remember. Answers to problems that are handed to you will soon be forgotten. Live by the belief “that the only stupid questions are those we do not ask.”
Next, stop looking for your next camera. Stop reading the on line forums and reviews, many of which are written by experts who bought a new camera, shot 50 photos and declared themselves an expert. If you read 5 forums you will likely get 5 different opinions. Camera evaluations should be measuring resolution, signal to noise ratios and other industry standardized parameters. If done properly the numbers for any camera would be consistent and the reviews would be generally the same – but they aren’t! The on-line forum web sites have evolved into digital camera editorials, many of which accept advertising dollars from the camera manufacturers and just might feel slightly obligated to being generous when dealing out the positive comments. I’ve found that many cameras the “experts” didn’t like turned out to be very good performers. I see no valid justification viewing any photo at 200% magnification to practice pixel peeping. I either view the photo on my PC or I print it, but I seldom zoom in on the subject’s eyelashes to count them. Look at your wife’s diamond ring under a microscope and you will find many imperfections. By eye it’s beautiful. Get my point?
For readers who snow ski, remember the first time you put a pair of skis on? They were literally extensions of your feet and they were awkward! But as time went on they became part of you and controlling them became second nature. It’s the same with your camera – use it and get comfortable with it – learn how far you can push it and it will reward you ! If you follow these simple steps I can guarantee two things – You will enjoy photography and you will see an improvement in your photos.