When I first began my photography journey, I made a lot of mistakes. It's those mistakes, though, that have helped me develop into the photographer that I am today. I believe that a person can learn a lot by making mistakes. I also think that mistakes can be avoided by listening to others who have been there and solved these issues. I want to make your photography journey a little easier and share with you some of the mistakes I made as a new photographer in the hope that you can skip these challenges.
Choosing a slow shutter speed is probably the biggest mistake I made when I jumped from photographing in auto to manual mode. I didn’t quite understand the importance of a fast enough shutter speed. Shutter speed controls motion in your images. It is essential to ensure that you maintain a fast enough shutter speed to freeze not only the movement of your subject but your camera shake.
Playing around with shutter speed can be extremely fun and will introduce creative elements into your images. You can try panning and other creative slow shutter techniques, like long exposure, as a means to feed your creativity.
Here are two examples of shutter speed. In the first image, the shutter speed was fast enough to freeze her motion and the movement in the drapery. In the second image, the shutter speed was slow. This blurred the movement in the water and clouds in the sky. A tripod is a necessary tool when capturing long exposure landscape images.
I remember how exciting it was to purchase my first brand new pro lens! I rushed out to purchase a Nikkor 50mm 1.4 the moment I had saved up enough money. The lens that I was using had a variable aperture of 3.5-4.5. I could hardly wait to open up my aperture wider, and so I did. At the time, though, I did not understand the relationship between aperture and depth of field. I ended up with many images in which the narrow focal plane of photographing with f1.4 resulted in out of focus areas in my images that should have been in focus. Just because your lens opens up to f1.4 does not mean that choice in aperture is best in every situation.
One of the reasons I was shooting at an aperture of f1.4 was because I was concerned that a higher ISO would ruin my images. Yes, a higher ISO will indeed add some noise, or grainy texture, into your image. However, noise is preferred over an out of focus or blurry image. There are noise reduction options in post-processing that can help clean up unwanted noise. Today DSLRs handle high ISO well, and you can photograph at very high ISOs before even noticing the noise at all.
I had a big moment of learning when I realized that there is a significant relationship between light and mood. I’ve always been fascinated by light, but it was a long way into my photography journey before I understood that light impacts mood within an image. Brightly lit images are more likely to evoke happy and energetic moods, while low light is more likely to evoke peaceful or tension-filled moods. It’s not only important to find and use good light within your images, but it’s also important to think about the mood within the light. A smiling, happy and energetic child might seem out of place in a low and minimal light situation.
Actions and presets can be incredibly useful in post-processing. They can help a photographer cohesively edit a series of images, maintain a style and speed up workflow. However, many times, actions are not one click and will likely need some tweaking.
Gear does not make you a better photographer. Don’t get caught up in thinking that a different camera or a different lens will make result in you taking better images. Practise and learning the technical side of your camera is more valuable than new gear.
Putting yourself out there is hard. I understand this. However, asking for critique will help you learn and grow as a photographer. Take the advice or leave it. It’s up to you. Being open to the opinion of another photographer can certainly help you see differently.
Theodore Roosevelt was right when he said, “Comparison is the thief of joy." Comparing inhibits you from infusing yourself and your unique artistic vision into an image. It’s impossible to create an image just like that of someone else. In the end, you’ll only be doing yourself harm if you compare. Capture what you love in your own unique and beautiful way.
If there is one take away from this article, I want it to be this: Always remember to capture images for you and in the way that your scene speaks to you. In the long run, this is what will make you happiest and fulfil you.
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