It’s my anniversary! Woo hoo!
A year ago today, I purchased my first DSLR, and then started a blog about it for two reasons: first, to keep myself motivated in learning how to use the camera; and second, to document what I was learning so I could use it for reference later. And the blog has worked on both counts. The first time I picked up the camera, I was scared of it! It seemed too big and it had so many moving parts. And I think those first few posts are a good indication of just how much I had to learn. (In case you missed it, I posted my favorite shots from the year a couple weeks ago. I’ve improved a little.)
For this anniversary post, I’ve put together a short compilation (extremely condensed) of the things I’ve learned about photography in this past year. And I know now that for each item on this list, there’s an infinite number of things to learn still.
So here goes:
Always carry a camera
- Check off the mental list: camera, correct lenses, card, charged battery. You’d be surprised at the number of times, early on, I’d forget an essential component.
- Mechanics – ISO, Aperture, shutter speed, white balance, etc., etc., etc.
- Depth of field
- Lens choice – close up wide-angle vs. far-away zoom
- What metering is. Why shoot in RAW.
- EXIF data – the camera settings are all documented in the image file!
- It’s all about the light – off-camera lighting, dawn & dusk, backlighting, seeing where the shadows fall, there’s actually such a thing as too much sunshine (still to be documented: filters!). This is still an area to explore.
- Calibration – printing and monitors. Another area where I have a LOT to learn.
- Composition. Is it possible to master this?
- HDR – or, combining pictures to deal with too big a variation in light.
- Picasa. Each of the above has its special niche.
- The Photographer’s Ephemeris – critical in helping me get this shot of the harvest moon. Now all I need is a full-frame camera and a much better tripod.
- GPicSync for geotagging photos (adding latitude / longitude to the EXIF data, so you can match them up with a map)
- Awareness – I can’t say enough about how being out with the camera has raised my awareness of my surroundings – the rising and setting of the sun and moon; where the shadows are; movements of tiny critters; the sounds that are everywhere
- Discovery – I discovered that spiderwebs are iridescent when the sun is low; there’s magic in water drops; in a thaw after a frost, the leaves snap-crackle-pop as they fall off the tree; the sky is most colorful before dawn and after sunset
- Identification of bugs, flowers, trees
- Indoors – when it’s nasty outside, there’s plenty of fun to be had indoors. Most of it involves flash of some kind or another, so I expect to stay busy working on that learning curve over the winter.
- Outdoors – zoom burst and panning and any number of other ways to stay entertained.
- Everything else – it’s all entertaining – why do it otherwise?
- Good critiques are essential for getting to that next step
- Personal style – everyone has, or develops, a personal style. I’m still working on it, but I get the biggest charge from capturing the things that other people overlook
- Flash photography – there’s way too much to learn!
- Silhouettes – I love them
- Timing – you can’t always capture the same moment. Grab it while you can. (Sometimes this is easier said than done!)
- A little bit of Photoshop is not cheating
- Photographer’s rights – the best source I’ve found (in the US anyway) is here: http://www.krages.com/phoright.htm
It’s been a great year of learning! A GREAT BIG THANKS for all the fantastic support and encouragement that you’ve given me during this process. Here’s to another year of photos and fun!