Photography Lesson 2: Practice…

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Photography Lesson 2: Practice…

Sounds obvious I know, but people don’t practice photography, generally speaking, even people who have a casual interest in photography.  

Plenty of people do take plenty of photographs, or should I say, billions of people take tens of billions of photographs everyday, but they’re not really practicing photography.  Typically, they are just pressing the button without giving much else any thought.  

We finished up ‘Photography Lesson 1: Why Take Pictures?…’ with the message, ‘if you enjoy photography, get out and practice it.’  I was also bleating on about the importance of practicing photography in another blog post, ‘The Great Debate: Canon or Nikon?…’.

Photography Lesson 1: Why Take Pictures? Photography Lesson 3: Invest In Lenses Not Cameras

Smartphone Snapping

Sselroc Photography blog, Photographer Matlock, Photographer Chesterfield, Photographer Bakewell, Photographer Mansfield, Photographer Cromford, Photographer Belper, Photographer Castleton, Photographer Ashbourne, Photographer Eckington, Photographer Carsington, Photographer Wirksworth, Photographer Winster, Photographer Baslow, Photographer Rowsley, Photographer Ashford, Photographer Tansley, Photographer Clay Cross, Photographer Alfreton, Photographer Pilsley, Photographer Tupton, Photographer North Wingfield, Photographer Stretton, Photographer Shirland, Photographer Mansfield, Photographer Ashover, Photographer Crich, Photographer Bonsall, Photographer Winster, Photographer Darley Dale, Photographer Youlgreave, Photographer Chatsworth, Photographer Dronfield, Photographer Hathersage, Photographer Tideswell, Photographer Eyam, Photographer Matlock Bath, Photographer Hassop, Photographer Derbyshire, Wedding Photographer Matlock, Wedding Photographer Chesterfield, Wedding Photographer Bakewell, Wedding Photographer Mansfield, Wedding Photographer Cromford, Wedding Photographer Belper, Wedding Photographer Castleton, Wedding Photographer Hope Valley, Wedding Photographer Ashbourne, Wedding Photographer Eckington, Wedding Photographer Carsington, Wedding Photographer Wirksworth Wedding Photographer Winster, Wedding Photographer Baslow, Wedding Photographer Rowsley, Wedding Photographer Ashford, Wedding Photographer Tansley, Wedding Photographer Clay Cross, Wedding Photographer Alfreton, Wedding Photographer Pilsley, Wedding Photographer Tupton, Wedding Photographer North Wingfield, Wedding Photographer Stretton, Wedding Photographer Shirland, Wedding Photographer Mansfield, Wedding Photographer Ashover, Wedding Photographer Crich, Wedding Photographer Bonsall, Wedding Photographer Winster, Wedding Photographer Darley Dale, Wedding Photographer Youlgreave, Wedding Photographer Chatsworth, Wedding Photographer Dronfield, Wedding Photographer Hathersage, Wedding 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Hall Hotel, Darwin Lake, Risley Hall Hotel & Spa, The Lion Hotel Belper, Alfreton Hall, Guides for Brides, Haddon Hall Weddings, Tissington Hall, Cressbrook Hall, Eyam Hall, Codnor Castle, The Cavendish Hotel, The Sitwell Arms, Hardwick Hall, The Maynard, Aston Hall, Fischer’s Baslow Hall, Fischers Baslow Hall, Peak Edge Hotel, Peak Edge Hotel Red Lion, The Whitworth Centre, Bakewell Town Hall, The Morley Hays Hotel, Callow Hall Hotel, Breadsall Priory Hotel, Sselroc Photography, Designer Wedding Dresses, Portrait Photographer Matlock, Portrait Photographer Chesterfield, Portrait Photographer Bakewell, Portrait Photographer Mansfield, Portrait Photographer Cromford, Portrait Photographer Belper, Portrait Photographer Castleton, Portrait Photographer Ashbourne, Portrait Photographer Eckington, Portrait Photographer Carsington, Portrait Photographer Wirksworth, Portrait Photographer Winster, Portrait Photographer Baslow, Portrait Photographer Rowsley, Portrait Photographer Ashford, Portrait Photographer Tansley, Portrait Photographer Clay Cross, Portrait Photographer Alfreton, Portrait Photographer Pilsley, Portrait Photographer Tupton, Portrait Photographer North Wingfield, Portrait Photographer Stretton, Portrait Photographer Shirland, Portrait Photographer Mansfield, Portrait Photographer Ashover, Portrait Photographer Crich, Portrait Photographer Bonsall, Portrait Photographer Winster, Portrait Photographer Darley Dale, Portrait Photographer Youlgreave, Portrait Photographer Chatsworth, Portrait Photographer Dronfield, Portrait Photographer Hathersage, Portrait Photographer Tideswell, Portrait Photographer Eyam, Portrait Photographer Matlock Bath, Portrait Photographer Hassop, Portrait Photographer Derbyshire, Event Photographer Matlock, Event Photographer Chesterfield, Event Photographer Bakewell, Event Photographer Mansfield, Event Photographer Cromford, Event Photographer Belper, Event Photographer Castleton, Event Photographer Ashbourne, Event Photographer Eckington, Event Photographer Carsington, Event Photographer Wirksworth, Event Photographer Winster, Event Photographer Baslow, Event Photographer Rowsley, Event Photographer Ashford, Event Photographer Tansley, Event Photographer Clay Cross, Event Photographer Alfreton, Event Photographer Pilsley, Event Photographer Tupton, Event Photographer North Wingfield, Event Photographer Stretton, Event Photographer Shirland, Event Photographer Mansfield, Event Photographer Ashover, Event Photographer Crich, Event Photographer Bonsall, Event Photographer Winster, Event Photographer Darley Dale, Event Photographer Youlgreave, Event Photographer Chatsworth, Event Photographer Dronfield, Event Photographer Hathersage, Event Photographer Tideswell, Event Photographer Eyam, Event Photographer Matlock Bath, Event Photographer Hassop, Event Photographer Derbyshire, Commercial Photographer Matlock, Commercial Photographer Chesterfield, Commercial Photographer Bakewell, Commercial Photographer Mansfield, Commercial Photographer Cromford, Commercial Photographer Belper, Commercial Photographer Castleton, Commercial Photographer Ashbourne, Commercial Photographer Eckington, Commercial Photographer Carsington, Commercial Photographer Wirksworth, Commercial Photographer Winster, Commercial Photographer Baslow, Commercial Photographer Rowsley, Commercial Photographer Ashford, Commercial Photographer Tansley, Commercial Photographer Clay Cross, Commercial Photographer Alfreton, Commercial Photographer Pilsley, Commercial Photographer Tupton, Commercial Photographer North Wingfield, Commercial Photographer Stretton, Commercial Photographer Shirland, Commercial Photographer Mansfield, Commercial Photographer Ashover, Commercial Photographer Crich, Commercial Photographer Bonsall, Commercial Photographer Winster, Commercial Photographer Darley Dale, Commercial Photographer Youlgreave, Commercial Photographer Chatsworth, Commercial Photographer Dronfield, Commercial Photographer Hathersage, Commercial Photographer Tideswell, Commercial Photographer Eyam, Commercial Photographer Matlock Bath, Commercial Photographer Hassop, Commercial Photographer Derbyshire, Sselroc Photography Matlock, Sselroc Photography Chesterfield, Sselroc Photography Bakewell, Sselroc Photography Mansfield, Sselroc Photography Cromford, Sselroc Photography Belper, Sselroc Photography Castleton, Sselroc Photography Ashbourne, Sselroc Photography Eckington, Sselroc Photography Carsington, Sselroc Photography Wirksworth, Sselroc Photography Winster, Sselroc Photography Baslow, Sselroc Photography Rowsley, Sselroc Photography Ashford, Sselroc Photography Tansley, Sselroc Photography Clay Cross, Sselroc Photography Alfreton, Sselroc Photography Pilsley, Sselroc Photography Tupton, Sselroc Photography North Wingfield, Sselroc Photography Stretton, Sselroc Photography Shirland, Sselroc Photography Mansfield, Sselroc Photography Ashover, Sselroc Photography Crich, Sselroc Photography Bonsall, Sselroc Photography Winster, Sselroc Photography Darley Dale, Sselroc Photography Youlgreave, Sselroc Photography Chatsworth, Sselroc Photography Dronfield, Sselroc Photography Hathersage, Sselroc Photography Tideswell, Sselroc Photography Eyam, Sselroc Photography Matlock Bath, Sselroc Photography Hassop, Sselroc Photography Derbyshire, Photography Tuition, Photography Training, Photography Classes, Whether it’s smartphone snapping for facebook etc, using a point & shoot camera, or even using a DSLR in auto mode, most people most of the time just point & shoot.  Now O.K. I know that’s a wee bit harsh but you get the point….and we can all be guilty of doing it to a greater or lesser degree… shooting off without thinking that is!  Even pointing and shooting is of course photography, but it is not quite what I would describe as practicing the art of photography.

Now don’t get me wrong, taking snaps with smartphones, point & shoots and any other camera in ‘auto’ is perfectly fine and again, it suits most people most of the time…but if you’re reading this, you are not most people, you have an interest in photography.

When I refer to practicing photography, I mean controlling what the camera does, by dictating the relevant settings according to the prevailing conditions and your desired outcome, which you will have already visualized.

In other words, you can either take a snap, or you can create an image, developing your skill and interest in photography is all about the latter.

Read Your Camera’s Instruction Manual…Maybe

So, you’re interested in photography, you’ve bought a fancy new camera?…what next?…read through the camera’s instruction manual?… Well, you could do depending upon your level of knowledge on cameras and photography in general, and even more so on whether you are the kind of person pre-disposed to reading instruction manuals.  You will either benefit much from reading the camera instruction manual, benefit a little from reading it, or be blinded and switched off because you read it.  You’re not alone if you have been demoralized by a camera instruction manual!  

Keep this in mind: Camera instruction manuals are not designed to teach you anything about photography, they are designed to explain the functional capabilities of your camera…and if you think that’s more or less the same thing, you’re in trouble.  This is one reason why buying yourself a better camera, does not automatically make you a better photographer.

I believe absolutely, that every day is a learning experience.  Some days you learn more than others.  I mentioned this in my ‘History…’ blog post and on my ‘photography tuition’ info page, and it is absolutely true that, …reading theory is a great way to learn about new techniques, but the only way to master them is to get out and practice.  If you do want to develop your photographic ability, consider spending an occasional hour or two out in the field with us.

History Photography Tuition 

Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying don’t read up on theory – you absolutely should, but reading up alone will not make you a master photographer, practice alone could do if you’re talented, but both practice combined with study, is the way to go.  The emphasis should be on spending most of your allocated time practicing though, supported by complimentary study as you go, at your own pace. 

Once you have put into practice, the theoretical techniques you have studied, then done it again, and again, and again….you will soon master them and the learning becomes embedded permanently.

I love reading about photography, I read magazines, journals and authoritative online writings constantly.  I love writing about photography, bla bla bla, blog blog blog!  I love reviewing other people’s photography and imagery, it’s always a great source of inspiration… but most of all, I love participating in photography…How much do you love it?

Practice

In terms of your participation and practice, I would suggest that firstly you:-

DON’T TAKE YOUR CAMERA OUT WITH YOU TO TAKE PICTURES…

Are you mad?…how can I practice if I don’t take the camera out with me to take pictures? (I imagine you may ask, possibly!).  If you are serious about learning, instead of taking the camera with you when you go out, you should start to set aside and allocate time to go out to do nothing other than photography, therefore you:-

GO OUT TO TAKE PICTURES WITH YOUR CAMERA…

Do you understand the difference?

Just tell yourself, right, today I’m heading off to wherever to do some, landscape photography or street photography, or wildlife photography etc between 7:00AM and 10:00AM…and just do it.  Then put another date in the calendar, and do it again….and again…and again.

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Dronfield, Commercial Photographer Hathersage, Commercial Photographer Tideswell, Commercial Photographer Eyam, Commercial Photographer Matlock Bath, Commercial Photographer Hassop, Commercial Photographer Derbyshire, Sselroc Photography Matlock, Sselroc Photography Chesterfield, Sselroc Photography Bakewell, Sselroc Photography Mansfield, Sselroc Photography Cromford, Sselroc Photography Belper, Sselroc Photography Castleton, Sselroc Photography Ashbourne, Sselroc Photography Eckington, Sselroc Photography Carsington, Sselroc Photography Wirksworth, Sselroc Photography Winster, Sselroc Photography Baslow, Sselroc Photography Rowsley, Sselroc Photography Ashford, Sselroc Photography Tansley, Sselroc Photography Clay Cross, Sselroc Photography Alfreton, Sselroc Photography Pilsley, Sselroc Photography Tupton, Sselroc Photography North Wingfield, Sselroc Photography Stretton, Sselroc Photography Shirland, Sselroc Photography Mansfield, Sselroc Photography Ashover, Sselroc Photography Crich, Sselroc Photography Bonsall, Sselroc Photography Winster, Sselroc Photography Darley Dale, Sselroc Photography Youlgreave, Sselroc Photography Chatsworth, Sselroc Photography Dronfield, Sselroc Photography Hathersage, Sselroc Photography Tideswell, Sselroc Photography Eyam, Sselroc Photography Matlock Bath, Sselroc Photography Hassop, Sselroc Photography Derbyshire, Photography Tuition, Photography Training, Photography Classes, OK, once again I’m making a point, you can still take your camera out with you whenever you go out, in fact consider having it with you every time you go out.  

The point is, dedicate time to the art, rather than just squeezing in the odd snap of convenience here and there.  Your technique will not dramatically improve through unless you put the effort in….and it’s no effort at all if you enjoy it.

I have a principle that usually works with most things, and photography is no exception: Keep it simple… In this case, my simple approach in the earlier stages of learning is; one-camera-one-lens….and if you have one, make it a prime lens.  

Indeed, even now, unless I am on assignment whereby I know which, and how many lenses to bring along, I usually pick the one appropriate lens, bolt it to the camera, and head out.

A Bag Full Of Lenses

One of the common ‘mistakes’ (note the inverted comma’s here!) fledgling photographers make, is to rush out and spend a ton of money on expensive kit.  They must have a bag full of lenses to look the part etc.  Now if you’ve already done that, fine – I did! (…but not to look the part).  The real mistake however, is to go on photography outings with all your lenses, irrespective of whether you are trying to impress others or not, and be changing your lenses every other shot!  Fledgling photographers love to do this…’look at me, I’m changing my lens again, don’t I look like I know what I’m doing!?’… Well erm, NO YOU DON’T.

Just don’t change your lens!  One of the great versatilities of the DSLR is the lens interchangeability…but DON’T DO IT…at an early stage of learning photography, it is just an unnecessary distraction. 

If you need to satisfy your lust for fiddling about changing your lenses, do it in in a darkened room, on your own, in the comfort of your own home.

Improve Your Photography At Your Own Pace? The Best Photography Quotes 

One-Camera-One-Lens

For this exercise, it doesn’t matter if your chosen single lens is a short, wider angle lens or a longer, telephoto lens.  However, it is better if it is a prime lens, so it has no zoom feature, which is another unnecessary distraction when you’re learning photography (almost as bad as changing lenses!).  If you don’t have a prime lens, by all means use a zoom lens but decide from the outset, what focal length you want to select, either the long end or the short end is probably best, than leave it set at that length…no fiddling with it…tape it in place if necessary!

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Arms Hotel, Kedleston Hall Hotel, Darwin Lake, Risley Hall Hotel & Spa, The Lion Hotel Belper, Alfreton Hall, Guides for Brides, Haddon Hall Weddings, Tissington Hall, Cressbrook Hall, Eyam Hall, Codnor Castle, The Cavendish Hotel, The Sitwell Arms, Hardwick Hall, The Maynard, Aston Hall, Fischer’s Baslow Hall, Fischers Baslow Hall, Peak Edge Hotel, Peak Edge Hotel Red Lion, The Whitworth Centre, Bakewell Town Hall, The Morley Hays Hotel, Callow Hall Hotel, Breadsall Priory Hotel, Sselroc Photography, Designer Wedding Dresses, Portrait Photographer Matlock, Portrait Photographer Chesterfield, Portrait Photographer Bakewell, Portrait Photographer Mansfield, Portrait Photographer Cromford, Portrait Photographer Belper, Portrait Photographer Castleton, Portrait Photographer Ashbourne, Portrait Photographer Eckington, Portrait Photographer Carsington, Portrait Photographer Wirksworth, Portrait Photographer Winster, Portrait Photographer Baslow, Portrait Photographer Rowsley, Portrait 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You will find that if you initially practice with the one-camera-one-lens philosophy, you will inherently focus your learning more on what you see.  You will be free of these lens-changing zooming distractions to focus on framing and composition, and positioning yourself to achieve the best vantage point.   Most of all, if you do completely free yourself from gadgetry contraptional distractions, your mind will be better able to think about what you want the image to be, before you take it.  In summary, you will be focusing more on what matters, the photography, rather than tinkering about with the tech.

Now I cannot stress just how important, (1) learning to see, (2) framing, (3) composing, (4) achieving the optimum vantage point, and (5) pre-visualizing an image is when learning about photography…Much more so than becoming proficient in twiddling about changing your lenses, and probably getting a load of contamination on your sensor and/or shutter mechanism to boot.  

Quite apart from the certainty that with wildlife, street life, or any type of dynamic photography, you will ‘miss the shot’ time and time again when things happen in front of you, if you’ve got your camera and lens in two separate hands!

Keep in mind those five aspects of photography I have mentioned, when you go out practicing your art.  I will cover each aspect plus more topics, in more detail, in forthcoming blog posts.

More on the subject of ‘seeing’ an image, in my blog posts; Photography Lesson 1: Why Take Pictures?  and Photography Lesson 4: Learning To See.

Photography Lesson 1: Why Take Pictures? Photography Lesson 4: Learning To See 

By using the one-camera-one-lens approach, you will gain confidence and capability in using your camera, and get to know the intimacies of your lens in terms of it’s performance capabilities i.e. it’s closest focusing distance, it’s ‘sweet spot’, it’s angle of view, it’s focusing speed, it’s image reproduction qualities and limitations etc.  You will find that your ‘hit rate’ improves significantly…that is the ratio of the number of images you don’t delete, to those you do.  Also, you may find that you become more considered, in the way you approach what you photograph, more selective even.

When you are satisfied, or bored, or when you think you have mastered your lens, (and this should not be after just one session!), stick with the one-camera-one-lens approach, and just select a new lens and start over again, repeating to work your way through all your lenses.  I would suggest you consider sticking with any one lens for at least a couple of weeks (yes, 14 days minimum!), before succumbing to your temptation and switching it for another.

Try this one-camera-one-lens approach, it works….Monitor your own results, or by all means send us one of your favourite images, you will see improvement in your ability.

We haven’t even mentioned actual lens selection, release modes, focus modes, colour, subject, focus, lighting & ISO, exposure, dynamic range, image motion & shutter speeds, mounting, depth of field and aperture, menus & settings, and creativity yet!….

What stage are you at with your photography?

Photography Lesson 3: Invest In Lenses Not Cameras What Future For Photography? 

That’s it for ‘Photography Lesson 2: Practice…’  Have a look at ‘Photography Lesson 3: Invest In Lenses Not Cameras…’  

Thanks for reading my blog…Let’s have your story, below….it’s good to share!

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Please note: My ‘Photography Lessons’ blog posts, are designed to ease you through the journey of learning photography, focusing on the things that matter up front.  This means I’m steering clear of delving too deeply or too soon into technical aspects of photography, which can often switch people off.  If you want to learn more of the technical specifics of photography along with gaining practical experience, then consider having a bit of practical one-to-one photography tuition with us.   I will introduce more techy stuff later as the lessons cover more advanced topics, but in the early lessons I am aiming to offer some different thinking and maintain focus on the pure visual aspects of photography…?  Anyway, the internet is awash with all kinds of  technical photography advice (of varying levels of quality)…so if that’s what you want, just search it out.

Please note: I welcome your comments and contributions to my blog, thank you for taking the time to read and comment.  I always publish and respond to your contributions.  Personal contact details are not made public.  I moderate any contributions as appropriate, only to ensure they are not offensive or in poor taste, I do not alter the actual message itself. 

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10 comments on “Photography Lesson 2: Practice…
  1. Chris Barker says:

    I practice all the time but I don’t think I will ever be able to achieve the standard of some other photographers I see.

    What do you think I am doing wrong?

    • Very honest of you Chris…

      …The truth is, we’d all like to be better than we are. All photographers at every level, continually aspire to capture ‘that perfect image’

      I would suggest that whilst it is good to seek ideas and inspiration from others, I would advise against comparing your ability to others. Somebody once said, ‘the only photographer you should compare yourself to, is the one you used to be’.

      Better still, don’t even do that and just enjoy your art for the sheer enjoyment. ‘What are you doing wrong?’….you’re being too harsh on yourself, that’s all.

      Thanks very much for your contribution. B.

  2. Jo Milner says:

    It’s a refreshing read for sure. Thank you Brian.

    Jo.

  3. Tim McIvor says:

    The one camera, one lens system is definitely worthwhile, to let you focus on composition, and vantage point etc. You are right. It’s good to read about aspects of photography that seem to be getting ignored or forgotten. Most articles nowadays are on how to botch photos together in photoshop etc and I just don’t see the point.

    Thanks.

    • Hello Tim,

      My approach is to try to get things right in the camera. None of us manage to achieve this all the time, so post processing has definitely become a mainstream aspect of photography for many people.

      I agree with you however that there is over emphasis on ‘photo-shopping’ at times…and it is a very different skill to photography, so you could easily be great at one and rubbish at the other!

      I enjoy my photography, and the more I’m out with my camera, the less I’m stuck in front of my computer screen, the happier I am!

      It sounds like you know what you’re talking about. Thanks for your comments. B

  4. Cat Johnson says:

    Hi Brian,

    Thanks for this post! It really does work!

    For the last couple of days, I have been out shooting landscapes near where I live, and some people around town and some wild/tame life (in my garden) with my Nikon D3200. My only fixed focal lens is a DX AF-S 35mm f/1.8 so that is what has been fixed to my camera body an I promise I haven’t had it off! I have found myself concentrating on what I am seeing through the viewfinder and moving about to get the best composition i can, and I’m now concentrating on the taking the pictures! Beforehand I was using my only other lens a DX AF-S 18-55 f/3.5-5.6 that came with the camera when I bought it, and with that although I never used to take it on an off all the time, I did find myself twiddling with the zoom all the time, and it’s amazing how this has been distracting me from actually thinking about taking a good picture like the 5 points you mention!
    My picture taking is definately improveing! I would like to send one or two to you but I can’t attach pictures on your reply form?
    Thank You x

    • Thanks so much for the reply Cat, I appreciate it.

      I’m glad the one-camera-one-lens thing is working for you. The 35mm f/1.8 is a great little lens, and is a better choice than the 18-55mm kit lens.

      I will add the option of attaching files to blog post reply forms. In the mean time, just use the contact us form.

      Thanks again. B.

  5. Cliff Vaughan says:

    I read my instruction manual and found it to be quite informative. Despite what you say, it was also quite educational when it came to the photography, with working examples etc, it wasn’t just limited to explaining the functions of my camera.

    Since reading your post the other day, I have persevered with the one lens and kept in mind the 5 points you mention. It is helpful, but I fail to see the point of have multiple lenses and the option to change them easily, if you are suggesting to not do it?

    • Hello Cliff, Thanks for your comments.

      Obviously, what I didn’t mention in my post is that there is variation in the quality of instruction manuals, some are clearly better than others. It sound like you have a good one, so if you have gained something more than just the understanding of your camera’s controls, then that’s a bonus.

      On the one-camera-one-lens exercise, I am not suggesting you never change your lenses, the main point is don’t become a serial lens changer if you are learning your art, and trying to get to know your camera and lens intimately…it is an unnecessary distraction.

      Thanks for acknowledging you found the one-camera-one-lens approach helpful. B.

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