7 Things I want to do to improve my photography in 2016
Last year, my goal in improving my photography was to finish my NYIP Complete Course in Professional Photography. I completed that project. What will I choose for my project in 2016? I haven’t decided yet, but I’m leaning towards a weekly or monthly challenge. There are many ideas from which to choose: PAD (photo-a-day) Challenge, 52 Week Challenge, 30 Day Challenge, there are even challenges for beginners. A Google search will turned up many challenges. (Search “2016 Photo challenges” if you want to choose a project for yourself) I want to choose what’s right for me; something that will challenge me, but not overwhelm me or cause me added stress. Challenges should be fun and there’s enough stress in every day life! If you feel you need it, join a social media group for a little bit more motivation. It will also get your work out there being seen by others.
The allure of the latest and greatest is very real in our ever-changing industry of digital photography. Sometimes, it’s good to just know the gear we currently own well enough to use it in the dark, if necessary. I upgraded my Canon EOS 20D (to a Canon EOS 70D) in the last couple years, and there’s a lot to learn using today’s digital camera’s and all of their settings. I’m still learning how to use it to it’s potential. Though I will most likely upgrade to a faster lens this year, (a Canon 70-200mm 2.8 L series) I will stick with this camera for now and just learn to use it more efficiently to turn out the images I want to capture.Warmth in the ColdThe warm light of the sun shines on a snow-covered field in Southwestern, Idaho.
*I took this image on a VERY COLD day, recently. I love how the sun warms even the color of the snow just before sundown.
I want to see more of my work…BIG and in print! The tendency with digital, at least for me, is to let my work remain in a digital format. After all, it’s cheaper that way, right? However, I love to see my work (and others’ work) in print. It’s a good exercise to know the true quality of the work I’m turning out; it’s one thing to see an image on a computer screen and yet another on a piece of photo paper, canvas or metal surface.
Even though I’ve finished my schooling for photography, I want to keep learning. As I mentioned in my last post, by studying the NYIP course, one of the things I have learned is that I have a lot to learn. Continuing education is important, both in the essentials of photography as well as keeping up with knowing what’s going on in the constant changes and improvements in the photography industry. There are many online photography workshops and courses, like NYIP, an excellent way to learn and improve on your photography. (I had studied photography on my own for several years and I still learned so much from NYIP) There are many photography workshops you can take in person, as well, where you actually go into the field with a professional photographer for a guide and you can visit beautiful places in the U.S.A. or around the globe. Another thing I do is listen to a variety of podcasts on photography. (Tips from the Top Floor, Martin Bailey, Tripod: the Nature Photography Show, Improve Photography to name just a few) I love to get the perspective of other photographers and learn from their knowledge and experiences, and yes, even or maybe especially their mistakes; I make enough of my own! I also subscribe to several photography magazines and visit their sites online for more inspiration. Photography blogs are another great way to learn more about photography. I learn best by doing, so this year I am going to try more of the things I read about for myself so it will stick with me in the long run. Perhaps this is from where my project prompts will come.
*I took this image during a recent snow storm. It's tempting to stay inside when the weather is bad but you may miss some nice images as a result. Notice how this image has a very different, cool, color temperature compared to the previous shot.
This point relates to the previous point. Learning about photography doesn’t do much for you as a photographer without practice, just as your tools don’t do much for you if you haven’t learned how to use them. Lights and a studio for portraiture are great, but if you have no knowledge of how to light or pose people for portraits, those things won’t do much to help you turn out pleasing, well-lit portraits. You may have the most beautiful landscape in front of you, but if you don’t know how to compose or what camera settings to use, you will come away with a disappointing photo rather than a truly special scenic image. There’s always something to improve upon, and I hope to improve on several aspects of my photography this year.
Another thing I will do to improve my photography is to study the works of those that have come before me, as well as those whose work I admire and respect which is an inspiration to me. There’s even something to learn from critiquing the work of beginners. In the past, I was the judge for a photography class at a private school, and that was a learning experience for me. So don’t just ignore images from beginners or perhaps images that aren’t your style, that you don’t like or think aren’t technically perfect. Study them and discover what it is you like or don’t like about the image. What is right or wrong technically about the image? What would you do differently to improve the image, if you had the chance to do so? What is the subject and how did the photographer draw attention to it? Where is the light coming from and what type of light is in the image? Does it have enough DOF (depth of field) or is it shallow enough to deliver an emotional reaction? Asking and answering these types of questions can teach you a lot. Studying photographs is another way to get ideas for images to take in the future. Keep a list and use those in your project, if you want.Off-SeasonAn old boat rests between gate posts during an Idaho winter.
*I found this shot on one of my recent "free-style" drives. You just never know what you will find.
A photographer’s eye can get rusty without regular use. I’m going to shoot something every day, if possible. It could be inside my home or outside. It’s a good idea to always carry a camera with you, whether it’s on your phone, a small point-and-shoot or a larger camera. Just knowing it’s with you can keep your eye sharp and ready to see images in a scene, whether you take the shot or not. I do what I’ve dubbed drive-by-shooting or free styling. To me, that means driving around and looking for shots to take that day or at another time, or taking found shots (images that your photographer’s eye sees and everything is already in place; you’ve not really thought about it before that moment). It may be a bird perched in a tree, on a post or in flight. It may be a landscape, or something newsworthy that’s going on. This is another way to get to know your camera settings and practice changing them for different scenarios. In 2016, I want to shoot often and always be ready!
What things will YOU do this year to improve your photography? Let me know in the comments. Happy New Year and keep on shooting!
Keywords: 2016, Canon, NYIP, New York Institute of Photography, PAD, challenge, digital photography, goals, landscape, photography challenges, practice
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