As a new year is approaching I figured that it would be a good time to go over some things that every photographer should be doing or know. Maybe they will come as a reminder to some and maybe some will learn something. Unfortunately it has taken me years to learn these things that seem so simple now. Here's a list in no particular order.
1. Use a tripod. Using a tripod when you can does a few things. The first thing it does is to keep camera shake to a minimum keeping shots Tac sharp. I believe that it also helps with framing especially if your using live view. Lastly it slows you down! I like this element the best it slows me down so I can think about all aspects of the shot. I know you can't use one all of the time but try to use one more.
2. Use a Polarizer Filter. The polarizer filter is the only filter that you can not be duplicated in Photoshop. A polarizer reduces glare and reflections off of surfaces like windows, water or any slick surface. A polarizer filter also saturates colors. They are like polarizer sunglasses. If you notice how everything pops when you put on a pair of sunglasses this is what a polarizer filter does.
3. Use Camera on Manual. Camera's are very high tech now. When I started they were completely manual. Using the Auto modes on you camera can help you take photo's especially in sports or wildlife photography. But when you use the auto settings the camera is making decisions for you. As photography is a art I want to make the decisions whether they be good or bad. I still think that I can make a better photographic decision than a computer.
4. Sunny 16 rule. The Sunny 16 rule came about early in photography's history when camera's were first starting. When camera's didn't have light meters built into them. The Kodak company did the research to come up with this rule. If your shutter speed is the same as your ASA(ISO) on a sunny day your Aperture should be f16. For example Shutter at 1/100 at ISO 100 and aperture at f16. This actually works every time. The aperture changes when it gets cloudy or in snowy conditions. Knowing this rule can help you when your camera is in manual and your starting from scratch. Something every photographer should be familiar with.
5. Always have a camera with you. To me this goes without saying . You never know when a photograph will appear in front of you. It doesn't have to be a Fancy DSLR it could be any camera. We have cameras all around us from Smart Phones to DSLR's and we should always have one with us. I take a Sony A6000 almost everywhere I go. Its small but a very good quality camera. Cell phone cameras are getting so good now that everyone should have a camera with them .
6. Have photo projects. Photo projects are a great way to be inspired. They can get us out of the rut that we sometimes get stuck in. They can be anything from farm houses, to baseball stadiums. I've done Christmas photo's to 50 shots with 50mm lens. Always try to have a project in the back of your mind.
7. Shoot out of comfort zone. For any growth in your photography you must do this. Shooting out of ones comfort zone really helps us in the long run. If you are a Landscape photographer shoot portraits and vise versa. Shoot city scares, Still life or use Strobes. Whatever is out of your comfort zone do it. It will make you a better photographer!
8. Know your Camera. The best advise that I can give a beginning photographer is know your camera and what it will do. All the settings the you can figure out. It is almost overwhelming what settings you can have on your camera. Your camera is your paintbrush , your clay if you will. To be an artist in photography you must know your camera and how it works.
9. Think like a photographer. This is not original phrase I saw it on a video. It makes lots of sense. We as photographers are problem solvers. Its too light , too dark, composure , camera settings all of these things come into play when taking a photograph and we must think like a photographer to solve the challenges that we come upon.
10. Exposure Triangle. This is the basis of what we do as photographers is the manipulation of the exposure triangle is what makes a photograph a photograph. Knowing the relationship between Shutter Speed , Aperture and ISO is essential to taking good photographs. Learn to use a Light meter! Light meters can be scary but they are fantastic when you master them especially when using strobes.
11. Shoot Everything. When your in a slump and you don't know what to shoot , Shoot Everything! This usually gets you artistic juices flowing and you start getting really good photographs.
These are just a few of my thoughts on photography and photographers. We must be educated in what we do to be any good at it. After equipment (and you don't need the most expensive) photographic knowledge is the most important thing you should invest in.
So for now Keep Shooting!