Becoming a Better Photographer

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It seems spring is taking its time getting to Long Island this year. Although I like taking winter photos – they are some of the most interesting in my collection – I am ready to move on to warmer and greener pastures.

If you are like many people I know, your camera has been hibernating all winter just waiting for a warm, sunny day to make its emergence. Well, it’s April and it’s time to wake up that camera from its winter slumber and let some sunlight in that lens.

Like most of us, you want to take good photos, and you are always looking for ways to improve your photography. In this article, I would like to offer you several ways to instantly improve your photography. I am not talking about running out to the camera store and buying thousands of dollars’ worth of new equipment, or signing up at the local college for a degree in photography. I’m talking about inexpensive and quick ways to have immediate impact using the equipment you already own.

Read your manual – this is photography’s version of “eat your vegetables.” Your camera’s manual is a book written specifically for you and your camera. Your photography will improve in direct proportion to your knowledge of your camera, so learn it.

Review all your past photographs. Go back and look at all your past photographs (even the film-based ones). Look at them with a critical eye; find the ones you really like and why you like them. Make a note of what you did right so you can bring that forward to your current photos. Also, identify the ones you are not impressed with and try to make note of what you would have done differently given the chance to take them over again.

Attend a couple of photo exhibits. Local museums and galleries are numerous and always offer photography exhibits. A quick afternoon into New York City also offers endless photo exhibit possibilities. While viewing the exhibit, pay special attention to what these artist have created with their cameras. Look at what they have emphasized and de-emphasized in their images. Pay special attention to their use of sharpness (focus) and blur. Most professionals are masters at crafting images that guide your eyes through the image, making it easy for you to “see” their subject matter.

Get up at sunrise one day to take photos. Actually, get up prior to sunrise so you can be at your chosen location and ready as the sun first rises. You will be amazed at how differently average scenes look when they are awash in the golden rays of the day’s first light. Also, many people will not be up and moving around yet, so it is great opportunity to get clutter-free photos.  Late afternoon light is nice too, however there is a good amount of traffic in popular locations.

Teach someone else about photography. There is always someone you know that can benefit from what you have learned, so pass it on. You will be surprised how slowing down and explaining a concept to a new photographer can help you grasp the concept better. By teaching others, you may increase your own knowledge. You may even gain a new photo partner. Photography knowledge, like many things in life, can be enhanced when practiced with others.

Take three photos of every subject – but make sure the each one is from a different perspective. You must learn to look at your subject from all different angles. This includes people, if that is your subject. Get down low or high up to see what angle offers the most interest.  You will be surprised how just a change in perspective can totally change the power and emotion of any object.

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