The Learning Curve, and my position on it

Discussion in 'Photography Forums' started by py6km, Sep 11, 2007.

  1. py6km

    py6km
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    I've only *really* started to get into my photography recently if I'm honest, and it's mostly been down to the inspiration and guidance I've found in this forum, so firstly thank you to everyone who takes the time to share their thoughts, experience and guidance, especially on topics which seem trivial to you.

    I'd thought I'd share some of the things I've learnt in the recent past - none of this will be new to most people here, but it might be interesting for anyone who is in the same position I was until recently - i.e. basically a noob with a camera which is, to be frank, far too advanced compared to their knowledge.

    The first thing I found out (please bear with me), is that one of the most important things is not (to a degree) the specific camera you have, but the quality of the glass you put on it, i.e. the lenses you use. I know it would seem obvious to most, but I thought that a kit lens (which, don't get me wrong, are generally pretty good) would be sufficient to see me through many camera bodies. I've come to realise that I would have been better off trying to hold off my urge to upgrade my camera body, and use the extra cash to get better glass. Some things that I simply didn't understand led me to believe that a cheaper lens could do a similar job to a more expensive one. That's not to say that there aren't some keenly priced lenses out there, but I've come to believe that you largely get what you pay for. The advice here then is to upgrade your lenses if you can before opting for a new body which only provides you with an incremental improvement on the one you already have.

    Another thing which I kind of ignored at first, was advice to read the well known "Understanding Exposure" book. I can honestly say that I've learnt an awful lot from this book so far (halfway through), and it's provided me with the knowledge (and courage) to be able to take shots in fully Manual mode. I was very much point and shoot before (in auto :rolleyes:), but as the book explains, you are the person in control of the creative effects, and a little knowledge can allow you take some great shots (quickly) which will truly outshine a similar one where you let the camera call the shots :)grin:). Again, not knocking auto mode or those that use it, merely saying that I, personally, have (re)discovered the benefit (and joy/fun) of composing and creating an exposure myself. The advice here then is to buy this book (it's very cheap from Amazon) and read it. If there's one piece of advice I've found inspirational from the book, it is that you should meter your shots yourself - look at some of the examples in the book and you'll see what I mean. Also check out Tobers recent images of yellow flowers using this approach - quite stunning.

    Another thing I've been learning about is the benefit of filters. Now I guess everyone realises the virtues of sticking a simple filter on your lens for protection, but you can also make some rapid improvement by getting some of the more common filters. For example, a circularly polarising filter will help bring out the saturation in a blue sky and/or cut down reflections. But also, neutral density filters can be used to create stunning effects - you only have to look at some of the excellent examples on here (eg Liquid101's shots) and it makes you want to try it. I just got myself a Cokin P holder etc, and am looking forward to trying all this kit out. I think some basic filter equipment can go a long way to helping you achieve the shots that you want to be able to take.

    I'm still learning lots, but believe that I am a better photographer than I was, say, 6 months ago. But perhaps the most important thing I can think of is....take lots of photos ! Now that really is an obvious thing to say, but I for one am guilty of looking at the theory behind things too much and not putting that learning into practice. It's important to have an understanding of what's going on of course, but I feel that the best way to progress is to put that little bit of learning into practice - it will soon result in a much deeper understanding of what makes a good image. It can be disheartening to spend a long time learning about a certain aspect, try to put it into practice, and then not get the results you expected - persistence is the key. For every great shot you capture, there'll probably be another goodness knows how many that are not keepers by any stretch of the imagination. By persisting, and continuing to take images at every opportunity I believe that the ratio of keepers to non-keepers will get better as you become more confident, and experienced.

    So, my position on the learning curve? Well, much higher up than I would have been without the benefit of people's knowledge here, but still with plenty of climbing to do !

    Cheers all :thumbsup:
     
  2. Tobers

    Tobers
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    That's a very good writeup actually. It's where I was about a year ago (except I hadn't read the book until last month). At the end of the day there's nothing better than getting out there and practicing. I find working on composition is one of the most challenging aspects of the process - there's so much to learn about what makes a good pic.

    Also, dont forget about light as well. Since I've been taking pics seriously, I've become very aware of the quality & colour of light and the impacts it can have on a pic.

    And lastly, a really good thing to work on is not looking at the thing you are taking the pic of, but what is behind it Getting the background right and you're a long way to getting a great pic.

    Ta for the mention on the yellow flower shot by the way - that one is gracing my desktop at the moment :smashin:.
     
  3. py6km

    py6km
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    Absolutely - the difference between some of my better images and the ones headed for the bin have been nothing more than a very slight re-composition at times.

    Knew I forget something ! I agree - if I could get my arse out of bed earlier I'm sure the sunrise hours would provide some great shots. The difference in sunlight at various times of the day is pretty astounding really.

    Definitely, as well as depth of field (blurred background, in focus etc)

    :smashin:
     
  4. Radiohead

    Radiohead
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    I think I could read every book out there and still be utterly useless at landscapes.
     
  5. py6km

    py6km
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    I've just been looking into that actually - of course a small aperture is best to maintain a large depth of field, but the trouble is that my lens doesn't have any length info that I can dial onto it, so it's not much use me working out hyperfocal distances etc.

    A rule of thumb seems to be f/22 (ish) and focus about 1/3 into the scene....but I've not tried it
     
  6. senu

    senu
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    Good write up:thumbsup:

    I must say that although these forums are perceived by some who would rather have every image critiqued harshly as " touch feely". The inspiration by gentle c and C and fulsome praise approach is to be commended IMHO

    AS for Bryan Peterson .. there is "Seeing Creatively" too.. Handy for when inspiration deserts you!:)
     
  7. Tobers

    Tobers
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    Fantastic light down here this morning at dawn. I think the current high pressure weather, giving a clear night and cold morning, results in that much sought-after mist rising off the land as the sun comes up, and that lovely golden glow. It really was stunning this morning. Did I have my camera with me - Doh :rolleyes:
     
  8. booyaka

    booyaka
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    nice write up - gives me a good idea of what i need to do being a noob at this DSLR game - already taking loads of pictures and starting to play around with the manual settings etc.
     
  9. Just call me Al

    Just call me Al
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    Wise words 'py6km' & interesting to hear others opinion.
     
  10. dfrear

    dfrear
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    Well that just convinced me to buy the book, £10.70 delivered :smashin:
     
  11. M1kee

    M1kee
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    Great write up! I am in exactly the same boat as you. So much to learn and so little time to take decent photographs. :thumbsup:
     
  12. rrfierce

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    Wheres that from?
     
  13. Scaleyback

    Scaleyback
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    Amazon.

    Look in the 'Used & New section'.

    I got it for £10.31 delivered which is a fiver cheaper than Amazon are asking:thumbsup:
     
  14. PoisonJam

    PoisonJam
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    Not had my DSLR long and I've been doing a lot of low-light shooting at gigs. This has become the norm for me and I've yet to use it at a family indoor/outdoor event!

    I haven't learned how to use metering yet... I think that's my next step!

    Thank God for digital! Makes trial and error learning a much more realistic proposition!
     
  15. Triggaaar

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    I'm wondering whether to buy this book, or if there's something more suitable for me. I've been using an SLR for 20 years, and I understand the technical aspects of exposure. I don't put in the effort to get the best natural light available for shots, and I'd like to learn more about composition and finding inspiration. What is there in Peterson's book for non beginners?
     

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