Week 2 / Project 1
Photography FRESH START
Week 2 / Project 1
Welcome to our second week of Fresh Start 2022…
Your Action Item for this Week:
- Leave a comment on something I covered in the video that resonated with you when it comes to practice….
- And / Or – Please leave a comment if you have a way you’ve learned to practice that has really helped you.
Week #2 / Project #1 – Practice or Not?
This video is about a topic I think we don’t talk enough about – practice. Anyone who has learned an instrument has spent countless hours alone… practicing. But how much time have you spent with your camera just practicing, and not actually going out on a shoot. For most people the “official” shoots are not frequent enough to get really good at your camera. So practice is as important here as anywhere else.
All good points as usual. Practice or at least regular photo shooting is probably my biggest limitation resulting from being a busy retiree. Just no time for all that I would like to do. So, what I end up doing so that I don’t lose all of my skill/knowledge is to watch Matt K videos and read new photo material to be able to learn. Nikon DSLRs have deep menus which require practice so you can make the changes you need when you need them. Without knowing where to make the change, I run the risk of not getting the result that I am looking for. Thanks for your work, Matt. BTW, I had to chuckle when you were talking about perfection and golf at the same time. Ha, not gonna happen but enjoy the walk on the golf course.
Thanks Matt for some more great tips. I like your idea about try something first then ask questions. This way you will at least have an opinion on the subject. I do a 365 project with a group and that is a great way to practice daily as well. Thanks again for this class
I like to practice with shots on my phone around my neighbourhood when I’m out walking and then play with them in editing -I’m a week late because I was on vacation but I love this video – encouraging self-learning and practising. thanks for the suggestion of using our computers for a controlled environment to learn. I have never tried this, but I will! I’m still learning LR, but practice is the key!
I am one of the many who only use my camera when I go out on shoot, so very guilty. And I do get frustrated as I know what I want to do, just not how to do it. I am definitely going to use some of your ideas to practice. Next week I get my new 2nd hand camera, so need to learn how to use that plus I am going on a Landscape Photography workshop next weekend. So it will be good to be prepared.
Matt, thank you for this staring message of practice and practice….I am a fan of the adage Practice makes a man perfect. i practice focusing a new lens or learning a new setting…by clicking the running TV images.
That helps. I make my oblivious husband’s tv zoned expressions and practice. again. I still am very bad at portraits.
Thanks again. You are a sincere instructor in your tutorial here.
Something I have always wanted to do is set up an area in my backyard with nice perches and backgrounds with a blind for bird photography. This is the year that I will make it happen. I can practice in my own yard and not have to travel.
Thanks, Matt, for your suggestion of pulling things up on our computer screen and photographing them from there. I never would have thought of doing that, but I’m going to give it a try. I’m finding this Fresh Start series to be very helpful!
You can practise very well at home, for example with macro objects or still lifes. Photograph a cup in special light, photograph it from a completely oblique angle, photograph a detail, photograph it minimalist. You can apply this to many objects.
Try double exposures or Intential Camera Movement. You can get great results. And if you’re disappointed, just keep trying.
I admit, I hardly ever read manuals. I try out a lot of things. But to master certain functions of the camera, you should have the manual at hand. I’ll definitely have to take that to heart.
Thanks, Matt, for another great video! For my flower photography, especially when I bought a lensbaby lens, I set up a desktop practise shoot using an Elmer’s Tri-fold Foam Display Board to put a vase of grocery store bought flowers inside and then set up the camera and lens to practise shooting. That way I could regular the light as well as the macro filters used and make a note of each change to label the photos in LR later and view the results to learn from. Also, with respect to long exposure practise, I would copy the page from a book I bought to take with me or have settings cards, to go to the local waterfront and practise. I love your suggestion to use the computer and landscape shots or action on YouTube to practise shooting as where I live we have Winter for a good part of the year and sometimes unbearably hot Summers, so it is good to practise at those times. Thanks again.
Make an ‘event’! Go downtown and create an event in your mind and you are capturing celebrities as the enter and exit the red carpet!
I really needed the “pep talk” about practicing. Will definitely put into practice your ideas about using the computer to experiment with birds in flight and landscape. I have also made a list of different techniques/settings/subjects that I want to learn, since sometimes I draw a blank when it comes to practicing.
Practice, practice, practice…… so true. I have been doing a 365 project for several years, which really helps with practice. But at times I get stagnant. Love your idea about 30 minutes of reading the manual daily. Great tip, thanks
I like your comparison with golf. I was practiced every chance I could when I was golfing. Not so with photography and why not. I’ll be setting some up in my home. Our weather has been nasty, which keeps me in.
As a macro photographer, I am constantly trying new approaches, especially what I see online.
I shoot in manual mode most of the time so I rarely take the time to learn all the features of my cameras. This tutorial made me realize learning to create custom menus would allow me to keep the setting I use most often in one place instead of scattered throughout various menus. This would be very helpful with my night photography where it’s important to know how to adjust my camera settings by feel.
I used to practice so much more when I took classes to learn photography because there was weekly homework. Now that I know the basics, I don’t practice new stuff very much – but your suggestion to practice every day will certainly will motivate me. Most of my photography was done during traveling, but that was curtailed during 2020/21. During the past two years, my camera club suggested themes that could be done right at home. So a new skill set was practiced right there.
Thank you for voicing my exact thoughts.
Thank you for talking about how to practice using ones camera. I never thought about going to You tube and working with the bird videos. Wow! It’s makes it easier to concentrate on the subject. Thank you!
For the idea of practice… focusing on birds in flight, I go down to the waterfront… and focus on the seagulls , flying, landing going back and forth. This way when I do my Trip to Conowingo Dam in Maryland, I will have my focus abilities.. up to par…
Focusing on birds and sports is something I want to get better at.. so I practice on the little things to make the important ones great.
Your so right about people expecting a detailed recipe on “how to” do something. There are simply too many variables in photography for that to be accurate. You can have a documented process, but getting down to details like aperture , shutter speed etc is really not practical. It all depends on the conditions you are experiencing. That is where practice comes in.
Practicing in different conditions, reviewing the results to see what works best for you and adjusting when needed will reinforce the process and get you ready for when you are out in the field and things start to get hectic. I must do this more!
I never seem to have time to go out on random shoots or to practice enough to feel really comfortable with my camera. Your suggestion, Matt, that I practice in my home is brilliant- will implement right away.
Its funny how relevant this is as I just started doing this within the past few weeks. Love the idea of taking pics of computer screen. I will be doing this more often. Thanks
Great video Matt.
I don’t practice – just go on a shoot and learn as I go but I love the idea of 20-30 mins a day plus putting your camera on a tripod and bringing up a photo on your computer and checking out the various settings and how it alters the image.
This is what I’m going to concentrate on this week.
Thanks Matt – another great video! What resonated: just do it! Spend 30 mins a day practicing something – either reading the manual or using my camera’s features – in a controlled environment if necessary. I’d never thought of photographing my computer screen – will give it a go! And back button focus – I’ve heard about it, looked into it briefly and gave up. I just googled it for my camera and will now set my camera up and practice.
In terms of ways I learn: shooting the same place or thing repeatedly, trying new methods and comparing results. For example, I go back to the same waterfalls, in different conditions and try different techniques. Same with the beach down the road. It’s interesting to gauge progress over a period of time.
Practice shooting in manual so I’m comfortable in turning dials the right way to change aperture and shutter speed.
Before Covid I would take my camera out regularly even if only to practice on some flowers in my garden. When Covid hit I lost my interest and thought about selling off my gear. Then I developed some health problems and needed surgery on my eyes. I am healing and soon will be able to see so much better. I am also a Type 2 diabetic so I am doing what I call Keep Sharon Alive photography. Camera and phone camera are coming back out to keep me moving around and engaged. I may never be a great photographer, but who cares. I’m just gonna enjoy the ride.
I can’t believe I never bothered to program my camera bodies to do back focus– So this week i practiced shooting some birds at my feeders (it has been cold) and getting used to not pressing the shutter, etc. Dang. I was forever doing single focal point and moving it around- so much easier- and i have been shooting practically my whole life- just didn’t want to CHANGE dedicated buttons on my camera- FACE PALM time…Thanks!
Practice more is definitely my goal for this year, both taking photographs and editing them to bring up my knowledge and skills in both areas. That includes going out to take pictures at least once a week, and picking a monthly subject/topic/genre that I want to get better at. Thank you Matt for the words of encouragement!
Feeling good about – practicing with my camera and manual. I have done that frequently. Then – wham what a great idea to practice focusing on moving birds by taking photos while a video playing. What a great idea
I really want to upgrade my camera but realize that my knowledge of the one I have is very superficial and that’s holding me back from shopping for an upgrade. I like the idea of sitting down for 1/2 hour a day with the manual and the camera to learn about more than just the basics.
This talk really hit home with me and I fully agree that it is essential to use your camera every day, if possible, to get familiar with the controls and experiment with different settings, etc. I just find it hard to put aside time every day to do this. I have other things I do on a regular basis so I am going to put aside 30 minutes in the middle of the day during the week to use my camera. On the weekends I am always out if the weather permits and always have my camera with me. Your comment about trying something instead of reading about how to do it is fine but when I first got my camera i really needed help to understand all the menus. The names given to various functions are often cryptic and it wasn’t clear to me what they meant. I also prefer to read something or watch a video about something new I am going to try, like bird photography, to learn the basics before I go out and spend a day in the field.
I committed to do a Project 365 starting on January 1. That’s where you commit to taking at least one intentional photograph every day. I told myself it didn’t have to be every day, but that I would aim for that. So far, it’s been 13 days out of 16 and I am completely re-sparked about my photography. I have fallen in love with a Lensbaby optic I have been putting off using, and learning to take decent photos in dark, flat northwest winter light. It’s not so much the time I spend ‘practicing’ — it’s the regularity and the intentionality, I think, that’s working the magic. I’m even actually making some interior still lifes, something I’ve wanted to learn about for years.
I mainly practice when learning a new technique required for competitions in my photography club. I read about the technique, go out and practice , come back and evaluate the results, while now taking detailed notes. Then I go back out and shoot applying my recently acquired knowledge. I do try to practice to also acquire muscle memory required my repeat photoshoots on the topic. During the past week I have learned how to shoot low key images.
The idea of setting up your camera aimed at a picture on the computer is a great one. Seeing the differences made by changing settings is very helpful when you aren’t under pressure to “get the shot”. I also like to put my camera up to my eye and find each and every control without looking for them. Being able to FEEL each button, wheel, etc. is very useful when out on location. Thanks, Matt
This was very helpful for me. I don’t practice and then I get frustrated when my pictures don’t turn how I want them to. I will definitely start practicing.
While I try to get out and practice, I know I don’t get out enough. I love to shoot wildlife and never thought about trying to setup a video on my computer to practice on.. but it’s a wonderful idean
As far as my camera functions… I only use a few of the settings but will now take Matt’s suggestion and try to learn the different options.
Love the idea of finding out for yourself. I’ve spent too much time with the manual only to forget it because I’ve not put it into practice
I go for walks daily and to local parks on Sundays. I always take a camera with me whenever I go out. You learn what focal length is needed for a given composition, exposure, when A or S, and basic camera functions. It also gives you an opportunity to take photos of the same subject in different lighting and different seasons, which helps to develop when the composition you’re looking for needs to be taken.
Thanks Matt for the suggestion of try first, then ask questions, along with a 1/2 a day with the camera’s manual.
Thanks for another insightful video, Matt. I loved the idea of practicing by pointing your camera to a scene or video on your computer screen and testing the settings and seeing how different settings, focusing, etc. change your shots. That’s especially good advice for what to do during freezing cold Maine winters! 😉
I also liked the advice about reading about a setting on your camera and then practicing that ONE setting. When I first got a non-point-and-shoot camera, I was devouring the manual and then quickly forgetting everything I read once I got out with the camera! I like the idea of taking just one setting and practicing that to see all it can do so you get comfortable with it and the how-to sticks with you longer since you worked on it and experienced it.
I really got interested in Macro photography with my first digital camera and I would go out to our garden and photograph flowers, insects, etc. I then started to focus in on just elements of those flowers instead of worrying about capturing the whole thing. This is why digital is so great – you can take so many experimental shots and not worry about wasting film. I tried all kinds of different things and while not all of them worked, there were some that really turned out quite well and got me thinking differently about how to compose my shots and what to focus on.
Now – off to practice!
I know I don’t practice enough nor am I familiar enough with my camera. It is definitely underutilized!
On the other hand I have joined a club where I am free to post (and sometimes not) and get feedback on what I’ve submitted – although not all have been current shots. I have also recently joined a 52 week challenge. I’m forcing myself to go out and shoot each week for each challenge – no photos from the past will be used!
I love bird photography and I am always trying to nail a flight shot, sometimes with success but mostly not. What you said about practising on your computer with birds flying is something I had never thought about but will definitely give that a try. This is the 5th year that I have been doing a 365 project and the second year that I have been doing a weekly project. It can be really challenging to do a 365 project – some days are good and some days are not but I am committed to getting my camera out and taking a photo and sometimes practicing something new. Even though I’ve been taking my camera out every day for the last few years, there is still so much more that I need to practice and get familiar with. I really like your idea about trying something out for yourself before asking questions about it, that really makes sense and resonated with me.
I did an exercise to see depth of field. I set my camera on a tripod and focused on the midpoint of a yardstick set at a 45-degree angle. Then I took a series of photos, incrementing through the f-stops. I repeated this with different focal lengths. After I uploaded the images to my computer, I looked at then in sequence to see how the depth of field changed with each step. This is helping me to develop an intuitive feel for the depth of feel at different f-stops.
I always have my camera with me. I do have to remind myself that, yes, I do have time to stop and take that photo.
I also built a black box to create still lifes indoors for those days when the weather is just no fun.
Great suggestions – I tried the bird flying you-tube suggestion and it was a perfect way to try different settings. Thank you. I also agree that our cameras have more features than we typically use. Thus before I travel I review a training video of all my camera’s features and invariably find something I can try out before traveling. Finally, a best practice I’ve learned the hard way on vacations is to reset basic ISO, Aperture, F-stop and focus in the morning before departing on an outing. Too often previous day/night settings were incorrect to begin the next day.
When COVID first hit and we were all stuck indoors I immersed myself in online courses and subscribed to a lot of training videos. I challenged myself to learn something new about my camera and challenged myself out of my comfort zone. To this day, I try to pick up my camera every day and shoot “something”. Life gets in the way and sometimes the camera isn’t picked up every day, but I’m okay with that.
Like Matt said, shoot something in your house or in the yard. Not confident with still life or food photography – try it at home! I have also embraced shooting in all types of weather – harsh light, night, rain, snow, cold or warm.
Last year I got out of the habit of practicing, so this is timely. I have now set my camera back up near the back door. I’m also committing to practicing shooting underwater in the pool so I’m not fumbling when I’m on vacation! I will also set up a hummingbird feeder again – I went a little nuts last time and had 10 feeders and no time for photography. This time – 1 feeder.
Never thought about using YouTube….have to try that. I should also practice changing settings so that I can do it fast without thinking….
Living here in New England can be challenging when it comes to the “weather”. As I sit here today the wind chill factor is 15-20 degrees below zero. Am I going outside today to capture a few landscapes? I think you know what my decision is and this is pretty typical that if I get out 3-4 times between January-March I’m doing well.
What usually happens is during these down months I turn my attention to the computer and try out new editing and processing techniques, dig up some old images and re-work them etc. However, when the weather breaks in April and May and I start heading out again, I find myself forgetting some of the settings and fumbling on shots. It takes perhaps a couple outing to get back in the swing of things.
After watching this video, I will be taking Matt’s tips and “practice” and stay current so that I will eliminate all that beginning of the season fumbling. Thanks Matt!
Fortunately, I received a new camera for Christmas. I will learn with my manual in practice sessions. Also, I do shoot around the house but not enough. I really liked the idea of setting up your laptop and tripod and experimenting. Finally, I live near a small airport and planes make a turn near my house. I want to try to shoot them to learn the how. Thanks Matt, for rewiring my brain or at least trying to make me work on it!
I’ve been shooting mostly with my phone the past year and learning the ins and outs (there’s a surprising amount of control and options you can access with the right camera apps).
Soon, though, I know I’ll feel the desire to use my mirrorless camera again and I think I’ll need to practice some muscle memory — such as practicing how quickly and accurately I can change ISO, shutter, priority mode. This time I think I’ll practice it like I used to practice free throws or fielding.
What a great tip to practice indoors with images and video on your computer screen. Focussing is an area where I struggle and never know what is ‘right’. Now I shall find out for myself using your simple but brilliant tip. Thanks Matt
I learned how to shoot indoors because I have taken thousands of pictures of my granddaughter, who is 6. I was terrible at first and afraid to boost my ISO high enough to get good shots. But I have learned to use natural light and to position myself to take advantage of whatever light I have. And to boost my ISO enough to get clear images. Now it is one of my favorite ways to shoot, and I have great shots of this beautiful little girl. I had to learn by doing.
I’ve started leaving my camera on a table in my home office that’s also right near a door to the garden. That way if I hear a bird call or something catches my eye or I just need to refresh my mind, it’s easy to grab the camera and get some practice in. It doesn’t get me out there daily, but it works at least weekly.
I’ll also take my camera with me when I go for a walk along our rural road. The landscape changes with the seasons and the images I get also change with the different lenses I chose.
This video has been a good motivator for keeping up these habits.
This past year has been a hard one. I am just now getting to where I feel like getting out and doing anything. So I have been getting outside and photographing birds in the area I live in. However I find I only get a few pictures that I am happy with. Need more practice.
I’ve made a practice plan for using my new gimbal head. I go to a barn every day where there are lots of birds, and live near a Pacific Flyway area, so taking the camera and tripod out the next few weeks to develop my technique is going to be fun!
I like that you did a video encouraging practice. You seem to be able to hit the things that I don’t want to be reminded to do. Without having a specific photographic goal, I have difficulty picking up my camera. Walking around the house looking for things to shoot, just doesn’t work for me. To help, I joined a photo club. Even though we only meet once per month, there is a monthly challenge and that gets me planning and shooting where I probably would not have otherwise. Also, even though I may not like the subject matter of the challenge, sometimes it’s surprising how much fun it turns out to be.
Great reminder session. I have not been good about practicing but will now try to use one technique at least twice a month just around where I live (no pressure to get great photos). Also, its very cold where I live – historically a great excuse for me.
This week will be bird shooting (birdfeeder in back yard), then second is photo stacking at lakeshore, strong foreground, etc.
I recently found my manual in the glove box of my car! So excited I began studying something I didn’t know my Fuji could do (B&W with one added color out of choice of 6). It was such fun to practice. Yes – I looked at the manual online, but there is nothing like having it in your hand!! I am committed to study the odd bits and pieces I do not know, for I do use the camera quite a bit. I’ve joined two photo groups, both of which have differently paced challenges so that taking photos very regularly is a must.
Loved the suggestion of practicing birds in flight using computer screen – brilliant! Will definitely do that.
I walk frequently around our 100 acre retirement community and always have a camera with me – yup, it’s usually an iPhone!
Thanks, Matt – another terrific group of reminders and tips.
Great reminder to practice! I try different settings while taking photos in and around my house but I know I don’t do it enough.
Great video full of good advice! I like the analogy of practicing with your camera is like learning an instrument, practice, practice, practice!! So true! I have been out in the field and struggled finding the right settings…and by the time I find them, the wildlife subject has moved on. So frustrating! I will make it a habit to spend time every day learning new features of my camera, thanks for the inspiration!!
I never thought of putting up a photo on my computer screen to practice, may have to try that. At times when I can’t (or don’t want to) get outside, usually due to weather, I do like to practice with different still life set ups and natural light. I have a small table I put near a large bow window with sheer curtains. I try different items with black or white foam core as a background. My other go to practice inside is with light painting, the room doesn’t have to be pitch black, just be aware of items in the background that may reflect light you don’t want reflected into the image.
I have gone through my manual and tried various options with my camera in the past, might be time to do this again as well.
With a broken knee keeping me more homebound than usual, I’ve finally picked up my copy of David Busch’s manual for my camera and started reading about the controls and settings. Then I set the manual down and without getting off the sofa, I practice what I’ve just read. This I started before Matt’s Fresh Start class but I wasn’t doing it every day. Now it’s time to become more consistent because, without practicing every day, I do find that I’m not retaining the material.
Catching up Matt. Thanks for these videos.. inspiring stuff. I have a pond with ducks and gulls on it near my house. I try to take my camera whenever i go out for a walk and practice getting better at birds in flight. I do have to keep telling myself that the subject matter (a common gull) is irrelevant.. it’s the practice that matters.
I have practiced using my camera around the backyard but never thought of practicing by taking a photo of a screen. Great idea.
Are you reading all these comments?
I haven’t been using my camera ,been relying on my cellphone camera.
I recently took my camera out to take fog pictures. Discovered I couldn’t remember quickly how to operate my camera! 😬 Yikes
I have been practicing indoors. My toddler is put to work as my assistant instead of being the usual distraction. We took light writing pictures in the in my bedroom! He moved the lights. I’m very happy with how they turned out.
I will try the computer for setting practice. Never knew it could be done. I’ve used the screen for background before.
I need to plan for some practice and really make the time. But first thing is getting my manual out and going through the features and capabilities that my 5D3 really has – maybe I really don’t need all that new gear after all and my excuses can go away…. and what’s wrong with still life!!!
I am in a 52 week challenge and try my best to submit a photo each week. I can see that each year I am getting better with my photos. I like the idea of taking one part of your manual and practicing on your camera. My camera has more features then I use.
Thank you for these practice ideas! I especially like the idea about taking pictures of videos of birds. I never thought of that. I will try it!
We put up a bird feeder in our yard and feed the birds. I can practice shooting the birds while they are sitting on the feeder, in a tree or flying.
Love the suggestion to use flying bird videos on the computer monitor to practice!
I’ve been shooting as a hobby for over 50 years starting with my brothers Graflex 4 x 5 Speed camera. In all those years this was some of the best tips!! Matt always hits it right on the head!!
Thank you for another great video. I am very happy that unlike a lot of supposed photography videos
I am not subjected to a 30 minute sales pitch with a special offer if you stay till the end.
I first tried back button focus about 1 month ago, with the swivel screen it is very useful and with the camera on a tripod and remote shutter release you can set up your focus and get a good picture without sitting or standing in an uncomfortable posture for extended periods waiting for the bird or whatever to look the way you want.
My understanding of my camera was greatly enhanced by shooting in manual and learning to read the information my camera is telling me and adjust as necessary , adjusting the ISO or shutter speed or aperture and sometimes all three to get that little dot at the bottom of the viewfinder to sit in the middle of the scale.
If I am shooting birds I often use Shutter Priority as birds can cover a lot of distance quickly and the settings required for good exposure can change in a heartbeat .
If I am trying for a more portrait style of photo I use Aperture priority , usually a small f number to blur out distractions in the background .
When I was first learning photography I would give myself assignments. For example, I would read about shutter speed, then I would go out and photograph different things using different shutter speeds. Back at home, I would review the photos and the shutter settings so I better understood what they mean. I still give myself assignments to get me out there shooting.
Matt, I had signed up for for The Fresh Start 2022, 3 weeks of projects. I’m on my 8th day of Covid :(. I’ve not been able to get started yet. Hopefully tomorrow.
Sending healing thoughts…..
To get better at photographing birds in flight, I have a place where are lots of sea gulls flying around. Not the most interesting bird to photograph, but they fly. I practice all kinds of shooting with them… and sometimes another bird will show up while I’m practicing… Someday I will be good at photographing birds in flight thanks to those sea gulls
thank you ,that is a great tip.
That’s exactly what I do – not only bird in flight practice, but exposure compensation practice too when white gulls are alternately against sky / trees/ water… and families come to feed them and the ducks (well the ducks – the gulls just spotted a free buffet!) so there’s always a swirl of action going on!
Week 2-1, video is not up and working.
I love your flying bird practice technique. Brilliant! I am always trying to improve on that – I practice on the little backyard birds. They are there all day long, and I don’t even have to go outside in the cold.
I take my camera pretty much everywhere I go. When Covid hit, I set up bird feeders in my backyard and spent many happy and frustrating hours learning to photograph birds.
Being that wildlife photography (especially birds in flight) is where I’m really focused on (no pun intended). When I go out for eagles, herons, egrets etc… many times they’re no where to be seen. However, on one of the rivers I go to by a dam there’s always basic sea gulls. I will take the time to shoot those boring guls to try to improve my panning skill and to build muscle memory into changing settings quickly (usually focus point settings). When I get home I load them in lightroom and look at them and then just delete them off the drive to reclaim the space.
I liked the idea of using the manual 30 minutes a day. I have a new R5 and I know I’m still not comfortable with all the new features that it offers.
I used to be an infrequent photographer and then joined our city Photography Club (rhcameraclub.ca) 4 years ago. We meet every week, have evaluation groups, field trips, competitions, guest speakers etc. This has truly brought joy of photography back into my life and I feel energized and creative even outside of photography activities, except when golfing season is on.
Good advice Matt – without doing anything physically, it’s simply an uninteresting intellectual exercise.
I love the idea of practicing shooting at photos on your monitor. Many times I have come across photography situations while traveling, but I haven’t practiced enough to know exactly what to do in that situation. Sometimes my guesswork works, but quite often it does not. Thank you for your great advice!
I bought a new mirrorless camera last Christmas, and for the first time I have been going through it diligently learning as much as I can about the things that I feel I need to know. I keep finding new things to learn also. I have set up my custom settings on user dials and on buttons I don’t normally use, and have been learning more about the newer focus systems the mirrorless cameras offer. I have learned a lot, and have a lot more to learn, but it is exciting. I read my manual (online only) and watch videos from people with my camera. I also purchased the Quick Start Guide through Creative Live that is a good first overview for new cameras.
Profound advice” so simple and yet concise. My first boss said to me when I was an apprentice- “Man who never made a mistake , never made anything” (he was always my mentor ) that always resonated with me and I heard that all through your weeks advice.
Changing how we act, practice …all life skills – keep it simple’ I have so much to take from this week, so much more to try, and you nailed being worried about opinions’ – I’m going to use those thoughts. and practice along. with my passion’ -Photography
I’m a firm believer in practicing. I try to learn as much as I can about my camera and equipment before I go into the field. I also try to review things before I go out to photograph. Doing so reminds me of trying other possibilities when I’m having trouble getting a shot.
Matt, since I have been taking some of your courses for a while now, I started taking my camera and zoom lens with me every day as I make some deliveries in a town 10 miles away, giving me some rural landscapes to drive through in hopes of seeing some kind of wildlife. Almost every day I get to travel past a bald eagle nest and that provides some great opportunities, but almost always I’ll see something else to shoot. I apply things I learned in the Bird Course and have gotten WAY more proficient at using my camera set to Manual and making adjustments on the fly, something I would never have attempted before……practice really does help—a lot!
I am guilty of not taking my camera everywhere like I used to and only shooting regular events. I have made an honest effort to learn the new camera and get out and shoot
When I was starting to play with Long Exposures (LE) in photography – I decided to learn what a 2 second exposure looked like. So I sent my camera to 2 seconds (2”) in Shutter priority mode and then started playing with apertures, ISO, bracketing, and Neutral Density filters to create abstract images. I really got a sense of what 2 sec feels like to create Motion Blurs or capture images in low light. By setting one item as a fixed point – I learned about it and how to work with and around that setting with all the other options available to me.
Thanks Matt! Great advice. Mid last year I set up a pseudo studio in my home ‘work office’ where I spend hours playing with natural light, exposure, and exposure compensation. I have learned a ton but there is still more to learn. By spending all the hours at home, it has made the experience of taking my camera out so much more enjoyable.
I joined a small FaceBook group where we take a photo a day. I think the small group has helped me stay consistent with my daily submission. I have been doing it for several years. The subjects and techniques are varied so I have practiced and learned a lot. I have committed to doing it everyday.
Accurate – as always
Great advice on focusing modes. I will have to practice that at home along with changing settings quickly. This will help a lot when out for night shoots.
Thanks Matt, some of your tips and advice go beyond photography and are very helpful in general.
I often practice on how to shoot blind (without looking through the viewfinder) and still keep your subject in the frame.
This helps when you can’t shoot at eyelevel.
I am totally guilty of using my camera for an event and then leaving it packed away until I get through downloading and processing the photos. I need to re-learn my camera since I went from Canon to Sony. These tips are great. Now…to do it!
The best class so far. Practice in your home is a great idea. Sometimes when in the field I have to stop and think about a camera setting, but, on the other hand, I don’t want to waste too much film :)…
Years ago, I purchase a used macro lens and started using that for practice around the house. It can get pretty challenging, has opened up a different perspective, and produced a few wall hangers. You don’t have to leave your house or yard to find a lot of great opportunities to play with the camera.
Great suggestion on using a screen to practice AF!
I love that my local camera club and the group (52 week type thing) I have joined are active in shooting and sharing. We have at least 2 outings per month and a challenge or challenge and competition participation. I use these events as my practice to try new things like camera functions and shooting styles.
I always carry a camera with me, whether it’s my big DSLR, or my cellphone camera. I’ve learned that I can develop a “photographers eye” by just noticing everything so right now, I practice on creating the best composition. Absolutely everything is interesting to me so I don’t have a specialty when it comes to photography. But I’m getting a lot of practice. I’ve signed up for a few photo challenges that keep my mind sharp in looking for things to photograph.
I do not practice enough, and will be in doing so immediately. I have set up my tripod in my backyard at a birdfeeder and practice focusing techniques. But I do need to work on exposure and your suggestions Will be very helpful. One thing that I do that I feel has been helpful, is to look at you tube videos for my camera. There’s one in particular photographer that goes through all the settings and options, He provides excellent details on the counter. Every time I re-watch the video, I seem to find more information that is helpful. I find the manuals difficult to read and very limited.
My husband was in ill health for the last few years of his life. Therefore I was not able to go far from home or stay out a long time. I would revisit my favorite places over and over and try to get different images. I would go out with a prime lens, and not take any other lenses with me. I have fun doing that and it has helped my compositions a lot.
I’ve wanted to shoot star trails but thought I had to find the right night, right phase of moon, and right location. Nah. I set up my camera in my backyard, figured out the settings, and started shooting. Great practice for when everything is right. And the picture I ended up with was more than I thought I’d get. Lesson learned is to practice even though it isn’t the perfect setting. It helps for when you do have that special location and moment.
Diane, what a great point. I always think I need to have some beautiful destination before I can work on landscape photos, but I should be practicing locally and may surprise myself with what I find.
Since last summer, I have a regimen where I go out shooting at least once a week no matter what even if it’s for an hour or so and, if time and weather permits, another shorter shoot midweek. That has worked wonders. But I like your idea of practicing the craft part in your home, both in terms of how the camera works and trying stuff in your backyard so that you are more ready to get the shot when you do go out for a shoot. Great idea.
I also include every week some editing of photos and at least one print in my practice regimen. That has helped quite a bit keeping me honest with the quality of my shots: Do I have a photo worth printing?
You’ve offered up some great examples on how to practice in and around the home. I’m going to work on my focusing techniques as well as explore the variety of auto focusing options. I find myself using the single focal point the majority of the time. I also attended an online training session provided free of charge through Eventbrite, sponsored by my local camera store – Canon presents – What to Shoot When There is Nothing to Shoot. It was very informative and got the creative juices flowing again, and I feel I learned a great deal from it. So great topic this week and I’m sure all of us will benefit in some ways.
Thank you Matt
Since focus is one place I don’t have alot of confidence, I practice by watching focus videos and then playing with the modes on my camera.
I’m throughly enjoying the video and comments being shared. I’m struggling a little with practicing at home because I get distracted frequently by the pile of papers on top of the bookcase, the dust bunnies turning into dust elephants on the TV stand or dogs needing water or quick private moment outside. Lol. Minus 18/f doesn’t help much either. It seems my only photoing is done via iPhone to/from doctor appointments, etc. I’m looking forward to getting “out” turning off life’s distractions and recharging my soul taking photos. So I’m trying to challenge myself to make practicing part of my daily routine and turn off/ignore those other distractions. Because I’m pretty sure they’ll still be there later today.
The idea of using a screen to practice focus settings is really helpful. I currently only use a couple of settings but if I practiced with a screen I might find others that would be useful.
Another great video with lots of useful things to take on board. One of my Christmas presents was a new bird feeder for the garden, so I’m hoping that when that goes up (pretty soon I’m told), I’ll have plenty of feathered subjects to practice on.
I use the camera on a tripod shooting the TV to learn the subtleties of the Sony system coming from 40+ years of shooting the Canon system.
Yesterday, I took my new ultra-wide lens out to the beach and took 120 images just to learn about the lens. Came home and reviewed the images and took a few baby steps forward in learning how to use that lens effectively for landscapes.
I recently purchased a very wide angle lens (24-24mm) for landscapes which I haven’t used enough. So yesterday I went to a local beach which was nearly empty and shot 120 images changing the settings for various landscape shots. Returned home to view them in Light Room and realized that I learned quite a bit. Practice, practice, practice. By the way I also set my camera up and shoot images on my TV, it has been a great help in learning the Sony system — coming from a long time Canon shooter.
I probably take more ‘practice shots’ than I take serious shots. One of the things I do with ‘subject’ photos is to consciously take note of the background that will be included with the main subject, and I am at the point now, having practiced this process to the point where I will automatically reposition myself to not have the proverbial post sticking out of someone’s head. On rare occasions I will forget to check the background but this may only occur when ‘the decisive moment’ situation occurs. I have a reasonably new Pentax KP slr camera, and it is much more complex to operate than my older Pentax K5-IIS. There is a pair of dials that need to be rotated when adjusting some of the operating parameters, and there was one recent occasion when I was unable to set a batch of parameters because I was in daylight! I had been out the previous night practicing moon photography and working at getting some additional detail in other than just the moon. In doing that I had set the rear screen to ‘night mode’ (with the dual dials) so that I could look through the viewfinder and also be able to read the darkened display. The next day I went to photograph some model yachts on a local lake – and I had forgotten to take the screen out of night mode, and I could not even see a photo I had taken. I had not familiarised myself properly with the dual dials to work out which positions was night mode, and as the screen information was not visible I was unable to correct the settings. There were no buildings around I could look for a dark corner in, and after about 15 minutes I managed to crouch under a tree for some shade and then put the camera inside my shirt to get thing dark enough to just make out details on the screen, and finally turn off ‘night mode’. The possible combinations for these 2 dials is mind blowing [3x6x4x5x5x13]. In future when I do night photography I WILL remember to reset that dial to day mode.
Good thoughts, Matt, thanks! I will be practising changing settings blindly (still working through the Bird Photography course, and I’m sure that practising that will help! What I also did, was practising focusing quickly, just on a random spot on the wall. Will have to take it further with greater distances; a bird in the sky is the ultimate target but for now a branch in a tree will do 😉
I loved the idea of practicing how to change your shutter speed or iso with your eyes closed. That is bound to help to do the same routine things faster in normal conditions. Another great tip is to practice shooting with YouTube videos as a “model”. I believe it might help with the composition skills as well. And if you are practicing with movies you might even get better at catching the elusive “decisive moment”.
As far as my personal experience with practicing goes, I’ve found the book “Picture Perfect Practice” by Roberto Valenzuela to be extremely valuable. He gives great tips on how to practice deliberately.
I have been shooting on program but thanks to information in your classes I am changing and learning more about how my camera works, and some of my photos turned out great. But then there are the others. I have much to learn but it was interesting to learn I don’t have to take photos to practice photography. So back to the manual with the camera to learn more new things.
Very good points, Matt. I generally try things on my own first (to avoid embarrassment) and then look for help if needed.
Regarding practice, I had not thought of it in that context but recently, I arranged to go out with a photographer friend of mine probably once per week “to keep our hand in”. Unfortunately, with Covid and the pretty low temperatures recently (-30 deg C/-20 deg F) we haven’t made it out yet. Depending on the subject we choose and the location, it could be for an hour or for a day.
I have practiced with my camera at home (need to do more of that), but also need to remember to practice with my filter system. I have the Nisi filters, so it would be really useful to practice installing the rings and polariser, and the filter holder and filters into the filter it BEFORE I get onsite to a pre-dawn seascape shoot and try to get it right in the half dark (or by head torch) with the sea raging. Better to be automatic!
Thank you for the reminder. I have used the computer screen to practice many times but lately overcoming inertia seems to be the hardest part.
Thanks Matt for the motivation!
I never thought about shooting the tv/computer screen to practice. Thanks for that idea😉
I have a lot of small birds around my back yard so when I take my dog out back, I try to get shots of the birds or the squirrels. I also watch a lot of videos of how tos re: PS or Lr to get better with short cuts and to make my work flow better.
Thanks Matt! One way I like to practice is when I watch TV at night especially on Commercials which change exposure, etc so quickly. It has become a game to help me build muscle memory with my new mirrorless camera. I wasn’t expecting the differences to be so drastic from my DSLR to mirrorless since both are Canons. My fingers are already adjusting without looking at the camera. I feel the difference with some of the settings, but there are still many more left to work on to build muscle memory for those. I keep at least one camera near the back window in order to practice thru the window, the open door or from the back porch when birds come in to eat at my feeders and flowers. I’ve built bird friendly gardens in my yard and usually take more than 500 ‘real’ pictures each day outside. The plantings and feeders have brought birds, insects and flowers right in front of my lens. Practice is definitely helping.
I started 40 years ago with a film camera so today shooting 100 photos in a day is nothing, you can view them as soon as you get home delete the bad ones, look at your mistakes and start over again the next day. 40 years ago, you had to wait to get your film back. Sometimes I will take my camera to work and shoot a bit on my lunch break. Still need to learn what all the buttons do on my camera and the focus modes that is my homework.
I really appreciate the motivation to practice this video gave me. Tomorrow I plan to get out and shoot and quit waiting for a perfect photo opportunity. Practice now and stop waiting.
Practice, Practice, Practice… Birds in Flight is my downfall. Yesterday, I focused only on birds in flight at a near by bird preserve. My issue is panning and trying to get the bird tack sharp. Practice, Practice, Practice… I will not give up :-). Thanks Matt for your inspiration, motivation and encouragement.
Hi Matt, Thanks for another wonderful video full of suggestions to “Jump start” us in 2022!
Practice is definitely important in photography as it is in anything we might endeavor to do!
However, knowing that and doing it are two very different things! I am working on going out
to photograph, even without any real plan or agenda, just to see what I might see and shoot…
more often. I love sunsets, so with stormy clouds leading to gorgeous sunsets, I’m out there
more often. What I should do though, is rehearse various settings before I go out, since often
time is of the essence! So that’s one thing I’ll work on.
Secondly I like your idea of taking 1/2 hour a day to read your manual or camera guide and
learn how to do whatever it is automatically…I have a Z6ii and still don’t know how to
change many settings, or even find them in the menu! Lots of work to do there! Thanks Matt for the push!!!
Thanks Matt for a excellent video. Here is one of my methods. Inside I will use Lightroom tether for stills for flowers or anything that don’t move. I get instant views of every shot with camera settings. I like the idea of shooting computer screen.
Perhaps I have spent too much time looking for just the right subject, angle, lighting conditions, etc. so I don’t even bother. I think what I will do now is simply mount my digital camera on my tripod when I go out and sit on my deck to read. Then, hopefully, I will spend more time experimenting with all the functionality instead of reading depressing news. It might even help my mental state which is not so good these days. I have done something similar in the past when shooting film and was keeping notes about every shot with things like the exposure triangle settings as well as location, time of day, cloud cover, etc. I stopped doing that with digital because of all the metadata.
Excellent ideas and advice, Matt. All of which I need to follow more. My wife practices all the time, but I tend to use the excuse that “I don’t have anything to shoot.” You convinced me that I need to change that.
Thanks for the kick start!
Great video & thank you for the inspiration. Because I love macro & flowers, I have set up one room that I can leave lights out and bought a backdrop. I continually set up plants or random junk and have a great time just trying out different settings and white balance or apertures, just to see how they look. Can’t get out due to covid so just use this time to take classes and get better at indoor & tripod work. Look at art books for inspiration and read. Always have to fight the perfectionist idea or the tendency to compare my work to others. I remember I’m doing this for fun and if I’ve created something I enjoy, that’s the payoff. There’s always going to be people that are better, more creative, etc, but my work is about my vision and my fun and it doesn’t have to be anything more than that.
My wife wondered what I was doing as I sat my tripod and camera up in front of my desktop : )
I certainly never thought of practicing my focus modes while watching a birds in flight video. Great tip as I have at least an idea what to expect when shooting birds next month in Florida…Thanks!
Great advice! When I look at my old negative files there are notes everywhere about exposure, weather, etc. Digital has made me lazy.
Just wish my manual didn’t read like the results of a game of ‘Telephone’. — Thank you, Youtube!
Matt, this seems to be a common theme to your courses — get out there and practice. My problem is that I’ve never been very good at practicing, whether it’s learning to play the piano as a kid (my poor piano teacher, getting the same thing week after week) or just using and reusing a new skill. I think it helps me when you frame it as getting out there and just doing photography with some intention. It isn’t “practice” then. It becomes something much more interesting. And keeping interested is key for me. Thanks for another great video.
I have the perfect subject to practice my camera skills, a 5 month old grandson, a subject that I want to photograph continually not to miss his development. At the moment he is still static, so basic skills like changing camera settings quickly, effect of different settings, depth of field, natural light versus bounce flash, camera position, prime lens versus zoom. Hopefully I will have that sorted before he starts moving I have to move on moving subjects and focus tracking!
He is certainly is rekindling my photography and in a different direction, I’ve not done a lot of portraits before, mainly landscape and travel. After two years of not doing much it is good to back behind the camera! 😀
At home I usually have one of my cameras handy. Nothing is safe from capture. My cat, the TV, the living room, the bird feeder, or flowers in the garden. No particularly great shots, but I have learned when and where I have the wrong settings. I usually mumble a bit, correct the settings, and try again and achieve a better shot. The camera manual has to be read slowly, and with Google handy, when the description becomes muddy.
Your video inspired me as I have not made the time to practice and have been frustrated when I can’t get the shot I want. Knowing I do well with structure and ‘assignments’, I went to a number of wildlife workshop sites and on one, found a comprehensive checklist of camera skills the leader suggests an attendee be proficient in prior to attending. I thought I’d start with that, focusing on a skill per day, while quickly refreshing from the days prior, so stacking the skill building. I loved the idea of using online videos to practice and plan to do that as I work through the list.
Would you be able to share that comprehensive checklist of camera skills?
Great idea. Would you be willing to pass on that comprehensive check list to me as well? I would
greatly appreciate it! Thanks in advance!
Your checklist of skills sounds like a great practice tool. Would you be kind enough to share?
I would be interested in the checklist also.
Thanks in advance
I have recently switched to a newer camera that has more options/settings/capability than my old gear. I’m having no trouble spending big chunks of time each day going over the settings, then seeing how they work. Trying to get “muscle memory” for shooting while waiting for the endless rain to finally end. The advice about practice is timely and spot-on for me.
I go out and try capturing birds or any critter I may see. And cool skies.
Thanks, Matt. I tend to forget my learning style has always been through action! With photography, breaking things down into small steps and then trying is very effective for me. But I also need to get out there and practice the whole process of taking a picture which is multiple steps. Those are: setting up, going through a check on all of my settings, taking practice shots and then be ready,FAST. These things can be easily forgotten when that Prairie Falcon appears out of nowhere, swoops right passed you, and you miss the shot. The more automated these steps are the more competent I can become.
Great video! I know I don’t get enough practice but I do reread parts of the manual often. Although not real practice, one thing I’ve found helpful as I have created a note on my phone with settings that have worked for me. I always have this with me. for example: I like to photograph re=enactments. When they involve propeller planes, they are very hard to photograph as if you use too fast of a shutter speed you freeze the propeller and the plane looks like it will fall from the sky. On the other hand too slow will blur the plane. Through experiments, I’ve found 1/60 and 1/125 work well so I’ve recorded this in my phone.
Thank you Matt. I think you just restated the “just do it” slogan. I’m going out to do it right now….
Love setting food out for the birds (and squirrels of course) on back porch and take pictures of them. Not great pictures but many with all different settings. It is great practice. Thanks for the tips.
I enjoyed this video Matt. I have already started the year by taking your course! I want to learn more about my camera and photography. I love the idea of reading the manual for half an hour every day. And the idea of getting out and practicing at least two or three times a week. I need to spend more time (even when I don’t have the camera with me) paying attention to things that could become a photograph.
Thanks for the idea of setting up a shot on the computer screen, I am most definitely trying that this week. I work a full time nurses job and find it hard to get out and practice. Most of my practicing falls before or after I have a scheduled shot.
Thank you for reminding us to practice! It seems when we get a new camera, we look at the camera manual with the camera and learn. After that initial period, we tend to forget to keep doing that so your half hour per day suggestion to do that is a great idea. Your creative ways to practice such as practicing at home plus going outside to try things out are also motivating ideas!
Excellent video! I know that I should practice, but I’m very good at finding excuses! I should play your video every week until I take your comments to heart.
Thank you for reminding us to practice! It seems when we get a new camera, we look at the camera manual with the camera and learn. After that initial period, we tend to forget to keep doing that so your half hour per day suggestion to do that is a great idea. Your creative ways to practice such as practicing at home with the photos or videos on the laptop and using your camera plus going outside to try things out are also motivating ideas!
Your video was a reminder that I do not practice enough. It’s something that I will choose to be committed to doing. I even know which settings on my camera that I need to practice. I would say that I have been lazy and would like to change that.
After recently purchasing the Topaz Bundle, I was going to start googling and asking Photography Club members for help concerning how to do better masking inside of Sharpening AI. Your video message got me on the clue bus to go figure it out myself. Thanks for the push.
I also found some value add in the effort going back through all of my 2021 Photos as I realized that I like a 1/4 second shutter speed for waterfalls and other moving water.
Never thought about practicing photography with images and videos on my computer screen. Thanks for the tip.
Matt, thanks for the video and discussion on practice. I have been trying to practice by shooting still life that i set up indoors, and it has helped me with learning my camera settings and lighting issues. Now I need to get outside and start using what I’ve learned in a whole host of other settings.
I took your bird in flight course, but in Ohio in the winter their are very few birds to practice shooting. I like your idea to shoot moving object such as cars, bicycles, and animals to get in focus moving objects at various setting. By the way, I had to learn a lot of new things about my camera because of your BIF course.
Excellent Idea Matt. I need more practice on my Mirrorless camera. I do water drop Photography so I am doing this type of Photography at least 3 days a week so my 850 is in action with this. I have added this to my work ethic now and will make time with the manual and I so like the idea of using the computer for shot Patrice
Thank Matt, I’m a Wildlife, Birds, Travel, and Culture photographer. I have been practicing different techniques of photography and post-production for several years. It has differently help me improve my photography skills, but there are still areas I need improvement. So I keep practicing. I recently took a page out from the video playbook on storyboarding. I read an article about making a storyboard for still photographers using Apple’s Keynotes. I have been experimenting with developing a system that will help me prepare for the three stages of a photoshoot: before, during, and after. I also use it to remember camera settings and track what I have and have not photographed. I found it very convenient to use in the field on my iPhone and Ipad for when I’m doing fieldwork. I led and arranged safari and photo tours to Africa, Costa Rica, and South America. I could have more than one client for the same trip this system has been very helpfull.
I was lucky enough to purchase a new Fuji 33mm f1.4 lens and having very good weather these days in Colorado to get out in town and in a park and try everything about this lens. If not, I go and buy some flowers at Costco and take some macro of these flowers. And if I have nothing else, I get a pot from the kitchen and take picture of the name of the manufacturer…
I liked what you said about being “perfect” and only shooting to “win”. Sometimes this is hard, because you want to be noticed in your photography. People think to do this you must “win”. Also, I liked the part about how to practice, lots of good ideas
I spend time in my little studio downstairs and practice lighting with a manequin head. Gave her some shoulders and now she can wear a jacket and scarf. I love doing it and keep a book of what my lighting settings were during the session so I can try to pound that info into this old brain of mine.
Thanks, Matt. I will commit to once a week for learning my camera settings, but I do shoot every day. p.s. Love Seth Godin too.
Matt, thank you for a good swift kick in the life list.
A number of things you suggest used to be a regular part of my photography life but ever since home and community were altered to the extreme by Cat 5 Hurricane Michael (Oct 10, 2018) and the fallout and consequences thereof, getting back into the rhythm of the ‘life list that was’ has been a slow, time consuming challenge. I sincerely appreciate the internal response your video brought out of me; “Oh, yeah! I used to do that!” Here’s to the joys of the life list!
A great book on practice is “The Practicing Photographer” by Ben Long.
To me it is all about the journey. While I do some occasional printing I much prefer the process of taking the photo and then post processing. While I, others like to have image that is “wall” worthy, it is all about getting to that point which is the “enjoyment” for me.
But while I like the process, it about practicing “that process” and all that it entails, not just taking photos. Learning about my camera, scouting or finding out about locations, and seeing how others “do” their photography is apart of my practice.
As the Nike commercial states “Just do it.”, or as the Wendy’s commercial states “You don’t know, until you go.”
I have tried practice autofocus and camera holding technique by sitting in the garden with sight over an open field, and trying to take photos of swallows flying and catching insects. When I found this too difficult, I switched to gulls; they are generally more cooperative (slow moving). This is insufficient, so I also tried house sparrows, jumping around in the garden.
I admit, I need more practice and will try taking photos of birds in flight (videos) on our TV.
Thank you for the reminder that “you become what you do.” My “To Do” list clearly needs to be re-examined to include more things like photography practice.
You are so right Matt, you have to do to learn. I started this 11 years ago on FaceBook it is called 365 Days of Photos. It is not my idea I got it from somewhere and I can’t remember. So I keep my camera with me all the time and everyday look for a photo to take. I live in a small town and have been doing this long enough that people come up to me and thank me for the photos they say that they look forward to what photo I’m going to post. When I go back and look at my older photos I can see how my work has change. You can take a look at my photos on FaceBook at “Lifetime Visions Photography” and you don’t need a Facebook account. Tell me what you think.
Great ideas for practice. My strategy for the past two years has been setting a goal to make at least one good image per month so that I can create a calendar at the end of the year for family and friends for the upcoming year. This gets me out to shoot on a regular and continuing basis and forces me to think about what images might best represent that particular month. It’s a good motivator, and because covid has limited everyone’s travel for the past couple of years, it forces you to think more creatively about shooting closer to home in territory you might feel you have already covered. Plus you get a nice calendar to share!
Thank you Matt. This is just the ‘push’ I needed. I have a new camera and it is very different – different manufacturer – than my Nikon. I’m excited to try this approach.
Great video! I have been much too lazy and have used Covid as the excuse. The fact the you made this video showed me that I am not alone and now has encouraged me to pull out the camera with the manual and get going. Thanks.
Since the earliest pandemic restrictions and now as a habit, I take my camera on my walks. I limit myself to one lens each time . I have learned a lot about my lenses and I also decided to return the camera I had “ upgraded” to as I was swearing all the time and not having fun. I went back to a my original brand, but mirrorless, and the ergonomics are again natural for me. Practice each walk fine tuning and learning it and trying different techniques and increasing confidence w no pressure.
I can set up a YouTube video on my tv and sit back and work on autofocus stuff. Can’t wait to try this out!
I wish I took notes about my work more. I hike and bird most days, but aside from some eBird lists, I just do not take notes. I’m going to start doing that this year. What the weather was like, the area, etc.
I’ve been using this to practice, but the two biggest factors for me this year were these: I made a commitment in August to take five pictures a day – of anything. My cat, birds thru a window, the same beautiful rock formation off our front yard, moon, stars, even water drops from a faucet. Anything at all.
The second was taking Matt’s class last September helped me move towards a set-it-and-forget-it mentality towards some of my camera settings, leaving me with fewer settings to play around with. So now I practice with speed and aperture on most images just to see how it changes even on the same shot – and bonus, I’m better at changing settings without looking.
Thanks for the great tip on practicing focus modes on a monitor, tried this with my new R5 and the set up from Ron of Whistling Wngs Photography
Lots of great ideas here Matt. I have belonged to a 52 week photo challenge for 3 years now and it has taught me SO much! I always thought I would have to read through a daunting manual to learn how to use my camera and it turns out that just taking photos every week with a specific theme or technique in mind has made me learn through practice. I feel like I know enough now to take some ownership of what I’m learning and you’ve just told me how to do that. I intend to get out that daunting manual and find a something specific to work on that I find myself struggling with. I take some notes while I watch your videos and I found a star beside “can you quickly make changes to various settings?” because the answer is “no”. I take some pretty good photos but do not feel like I really know what I’m doing and you’ve just given me some great ideas to fix that – thank you…
Practice: I have recently started taking my camera out to our riding ring and shooting maybe 30 or so photos daily. I shhot raw and check to see how the image on the back of the camera displays and then adjust as needed. Then I compare the basic settings and the auto settings so I can get the best OOC images. Images are strating to get back to where they were before the pandemic!
Second thing I have started to do is get out my camera’s manual and have begun to review the bunch of settings that I don’t normally fool with.
Matt, I enjoyed your video and have not considered using my TV for practice and with the temps below freezing that is a great idea. I have enjoyed photography all my life and now am retired so can get out every day if I want.
I love bird photography as a hobby. During the last two years, I went out in my backyard and took pictures of my backyard birds in order to practice with my camera. I tried to find creative positions of my “ordinary” backyard birds when I took photos.
Fantastic ideas Matt! I love the idea of practicing with your computer screen! Other commentors also have some great ideas to help keep your head in the game.
Love the idea of practicing with the PC screen. Am off to set something up now!
Usually take my camera out with me when I walk and take anything that looks interesting.
Thanks for your tips. I like the idea of learning about camera features by “punching” the manual.
I practice by taking my camera with me on my daily walk. When I find something “interesting”, I take a photo of it, sometimes multiple photos from different perspectives, always thinking about subject, lighting and composition.
Spending time reading the camera manual and focusing on an area is a great suggestion. Usually I refer to the manual when I’m having difficulty with a setting – especially those that shut off others. ie. Silent mode disables the Bulb mode and other settings. Accidentally touching a button then not knowing which one is responsible for the issue.
Matt, I know that this happens but I have not taken the time to learn and practice how to use the manual and camera settings to avoid these issues.
Practice to set up and photograph macro images is something I want to do but haven’t done much lately. I have some of the ‘toys’ and lighting. Just noting a few things I can do will hopefully get be motivated just as others have commented.
Wow! This video you made about practice had some great ideas! I am one who has ready my hundreds of pages of my manual and I have tried some new things, but I don’t remember it all. There are several features on my camera that I do not use. I am going to work on setting up some custom settings. I like your idea for working with the computer to try to use focus tracking on things such as birds flying. I definitely can improve!
Thanks again Matt for your very clear, engaging and helpful advice. “Trying it” and practice simply by using my camera more, plus using images on my computer to practice are all things I’ll do (or do more of) now
I loved the idea of taking pics of images on my computer! Great way to practice
Matt … I totally agree … Life is not a spectator sport … you need to be a participant … and the same is true for photography … nothing beats experience … even if the experience is less than we wanted or desired.
Olympus has a bunch of mini-webinars on how to use your camera and I find that a much easier way to learn and practice than their really confusing manual. This summer, because I am at high risk for Covid, I used planters with little wildflowers and my landlord’s garden to practice. It was great because I would take shots and look at them that night and then try something different the next day.
More than a year ago, I took a photo class mainly for the purpose of forcing myself to learn about all my camera settings which I did, but I keep forgetting what does what and tend to stick to the same settings most of the time. I am afraid if I mess with them while I am shooting , I will miss important shots. Going back and reviewing them again is a very good idea. Since I like to take photos of everyday stuff (for example, pickle jars) & my neighborhood, I actually have been taking alot of photos.
My camera manuals are from Mark Galer, no way will I attempt to go through the Sony manual. 😎
For the year 2021, between the events I have photographed and my hobby photos, I have over 40 thousand images stored. I did not realize how much I pressed that shutter button. And I never used 30 fps. 😛 2022 is supposed to be a busy year for me but good grief now I’m concerned on how many photos I will be taking this year. 😬
Photography is a hobby for me and photographing these events have taught me that I never want to be a professional. 😵💫
The idea of using a video on the computer to practice is genius. In 2021, I only used my Nikon on my trip to Iceland. But I took as many photos with my iPhone as I did with the Nikon. I practice a lot around the neighborhood and with my pets. With the iPhone, I practice on creativity. Making a commitment to myself to practice practice practice.
So obvious that practice would lead to improvement…and yet I don’t. I am one to “practice” during an actual photo shoot and then am disappointed when my pictures don’t turn out like I hoped. Sometimes it just takes the information to be coached in a certain way for it to resonate and I think you just did it! Thanks so much Matt – obvious, but I think I may now be able to take it to heart!
Thanks for this one
I’ve been thinking lately that I’m not getting out enough, and this give me an Idea on something to work on,
I can use my New Puppy to practice on, I usually do landscape but any subject will help me get better using my camera. Then when I do get out to shoot landscapes I can put more energy into my compositions, instead of fusing to adjust my camera.
I can never seem to find the time to practice & I am retired. I have no excuse. I will make it a point to go down to the lake in my community to practice on the Ibis & great blue herons that are here year round. Thank you for the wonderful ideas.
I sit on the couch or porch swing and change the main program dial. Then take a photo on each one to see the difference.
I also do this with the white balance settings.
The best photos I have ever taken was when I shot at least 4 days a week. I need to go explore the world again.
I’ve used the time over the past couple of years when I’m not outside taking photos to photograph from my balcony. I take photos throughout the day, using different camera settings. For certain options, I add the photographs to a collection set called Camera Tests, with collections named upon the object or topic I’m focused upon.
This really resonates with me this year. I have been trying to take photos every day just for practice. I had to replace a lens last year and I felt I need to work more with the new replacement. I like the ideal of shooting from videos on my laptop and will probably include using that as well.
Wow! Such simple and effective ideas. It’s -28°C and windy today so trying to practice outside is a no go. I am definitely going to try some of the suggestions, starting with re-reading my manual.
Definitely struck a chord when you talked about picking up your manual every day for half an hour and learning something new about your camera. Something I always say I need to do yet I don’t do it! And then I am on a shoot and get frustrated because I can’t find a setting or know how to change it. I spend a lot of time playing games which is good for the brain too but so will be picking up the manual and figuring things out, that too will be good for the brain! Another thing I do for practice, not often enough, but I do go out to the Botanical Gardens and select something to work on, ie. macro photography of the flowers or such, the zoo to practice shooting animals in motion, or just walk around the city and ‘look up’ to see what there is that most folks don’t see , there is so much architecture and interesting things, its fun to find and photograph it . Thanks for the motivation to get more practice in!
I think the bottom line is using your camera frequently – it might be practice or it might not but either way get out there and take those pics. Then evaluate and adjust.
I typically don’t make time to shoot on a regular basis but my favorite subject is wildlife. I love the idea of using videos as a way to practice and learn my camera. I am going to start doing this immediately!
As a pet photographer, I try to practice with my own pets. The cats, well, they are iffy. And the dogs don’t have the patience to sit still. I do have stuffed animals that I use. But I’m lucky enough to go to the local shelter once a week to photograph the animals that need a good adoption photo. I do studio lights… which I prefer over natural light. When I get a paying client, I will practice at home using different softboxes, different lenses, and different distances from the subject to see what I get. Having said all that, it’s still challenge to actually start doing it. I always think I’m all alone, but I see there are so many of you with the same challenges.
I personally love reading manuals. However, I hate that the new cameras only come with a PDF file of the manual. I find that harder to “flip” through. As I read, I have my camera handy and try to use most of the functions I will typically use. My new camera (Canon R6) has tons of menus. I have found “video manuals” to be of great value. I have learnt quite a bit from John Greengo’s videos in particular. Then I go out and play with the camera. Another point is learn from your mistakes – I make lots of those, and try not to repeat them. But sometimes you make that one “mistake” only to find out it “works” for you. Go beyond your comfort zone. I also am a student of YouTube University. I don’t know if I am ever going to graduate.
One thing I did this year was join the local camera club during COVID. Best thing I ever did. We use Zoom sessions, and have had some amazing speakers. I’ve even got up enough courage to enter some of my photos in the latest critique, which is on January 20. By listening to the critiques on others photos, you are practising in your head for your next photoshoot!
I read (flip through) manuals, too, to get an overview of the organization and operation of the equipment and the terminology used to describe it. I dog-ear the physical pages and insert bookmarks in the pdf file for topics that I may want to return to. I also copy pdf versions of manuals to my iPhone Books app so that I have it in the field where I can search for specific topics when and where needed.
You struck a chord with me when you talked about picking up your manual every day for half an hour and learning something new about your camera. I waste more time than that playing “Words With Friends”l….saying good-bye to WWF and hello to my manual. Thank you!
I normally watch videos and then try to duplicate that process with my camera. I like the idea of playing a video of birds in flight to practice my auto focus process.
I do a lot of practice on my back patio, especially with new lenses just to see how focus changes, lighting and focal length. Since I’ve only had my current camera a couple of years and it is much smarter than I am, I found that night time photography has really helped me learn my camera as you need to know how to be able to find and do settings in the DARK and by FEEL. I did a bunch of evening test runs with crappy results ahead of the actual star workshop I took. I ended up being proud that I knew where to find my settings easily and adjust as recommended for perfect exposures as guided by our teacher. So, definitely prepping ahead of the actual class is very important to get the most out of the experience and to not waste your precious time on wrangling with settings rather than the glory of trying to frame a shot! — But do I practice enough? — No, I don’t. I am taking to heart the idea of committing to weekly practice sessions, even if just on my neighborhood walks, rather than leaving it to my usual how-do-I-feel-today haphazard approach! Great advice. Thank you, Matt!
Thanks Matt, I definitely fell into this category when I was a Nikon shooter. I believe in 2016 my friend and I went out for a photo walk. He took my Nikon and gave me his Sony a7rII. I was sold that night on the camera. I bought one and went about learning as much as I could about the camera. I now also have a Sony a1. I spend a lot of time looking out my kitchen door trying to focus on the birds that are around. I didn’t really get good until I was willing to up the ISO. I have made a point of learning the new camera. It was really important to hear that this is the right thing to be doing.
I relied heavily on the Aperture Priority mode of my camera. And then I changed to shooting in the Manual mode and it changed everything in the way I shoot these days. The advantage of digital photography is the instant feedback you get when you hit the Play button. I started messing with aperture, shutter speed and kept practicing to see how the scene is captured differently with and now I always am shooting in Manual mode and sometimes with the Autofocus off.
Two things I’m taking away from this lesson – though one is already a goal for 2022:
– Get out and shoot more! I typically wait for a photo workshop to do most of photography each year. This might be as few as 4 times a year, and as many as 6. I want to push myself to go out on my own and simply accept the environmental conditions in play wherever I choose to go, and make the most of it.
– Secondly, I like the idea of going through my camera manual (or other literature about camera features and functions) and start to learn more about how my camera operates. I’m reasonably familiar with its functions, but there are things I would like to know more about.
Point #1 – Reminds of the best parenting advice I got – listen to others, but find what works for you.
Point #3 – Last March I forced myself to take one macro shot a day and post it on Instagram, regardless of if I thought it was good or not (echos of last week’s “perfection” comment!). I was surprised by how much better I was by the end of the month with a 30 min to 1-hour investment of trial-and-error each day.
(I forgot before I hit “submit”…)
The idea of using a photo or video on a screen for practicing is a great takeaway!
The comments that resonated the most for me was winning contests and getting accolades for my photography is not enough to sustain the passion. You need to dig deeper.
I also “woke up” my camera from it’s slumber in the camera case and it is now ready awake, available and ready for practice. I started with the dogs while they were doing their morning zoomies, this am. (Terrible. They hate their pictures taken.) I will keep practicing.
This video plus reading some of the comments does gets the juices going. I have an upscale m4/3 camera and a great hard copy of it’s 400 odd page manual which gets quite a bit of use as I run into roadblocks with this “computer” that takes pictures. Regularly poking my nose into it randomly makes a lot of sense to me. Problems like how to avoid changing focus points on the touch screen with my nose are solvable. I do photoshoots at our church which require low light high ISO situations, a fundamental problem for m4/3. Never before did it occur to me to simulate the poor lighting situation right here at home both to better use the camera and to couple this with better post processing.
In a similar vein to trying something before asking for opinions, while I was still working I asked my teams to consult with me when they had a potential solution to a problem that they wanted my thoughts on, as opposed to simply bringing a problem to me and asking what they should do…
I have gotten used to taking my camera with me everywhere. but when I have not been able to take it, I use my phone. I love exploring different angle and even if it does work I learn from my mistake.
I’m always trying to practice when I have and don’t have my camera and try to imagine the shots. Most of my day is spent in a boring office with little to shot or do.
Good point Matt – practice. In winter and with restrictions on travel, I bring in flower bouquets to practice macro, set up still life arrangements to practice lighting, both natural and flash, I strategically placed bird feeders to have pleasing backgrounds so I can photograph backyard birds from inside my house, we take road trips to see what winter looks like in my locale, we visit a local park to photograph wildlife. It takes work and motivation, that’s probably the hardest part.
“Waiting for a feeling is a luxury we don’t have time for” is a potent message, especially for those of us past the first flower of youth. Very motivating comment
Practising focus on the television screen is an interesting idea which I will pursue. Thank you Matt.
Thank you for the reminder of the need to practice, Matt. One of the the things I learned in a recent photo workshop, and which does not even require a camera, is to practice paying attention to different lighting conditions, particularly early and late in the day and even midday when clouds or shadows may affect available light. When you do this with your camera, you will eventually get good enough to judge the amount of light in stops or even half-stops, which you can then apply to make more intuitive adjustments to your settings such as ISO. The other skill I have practiced without the need for a camera is arm and body positioning to maintain a steady handheld shot. I have found that if I don’t practice this and reinforce my muscle memory my handholding tends to get sloppy over time. Since I mostly shoot birds, the other thing I have practiced with my camera is being able to quickly change between portrait and action settings for perched birds versus birds-in-flight.
Thanks Matt, good points, people do not spend enough time learning the various things their cameras can do, Beyond that they do not practice enough. I am guilty of not practicing landscape, although I do practice other genres.
i will review settings and how to all the time. If i have not used a feature for a while i will try to review before using I also review videos for ideas. try to be specific when buying new or used equipment to make myself better. the trick is to use the equipment to get better
I keep hearing “don’t just find out what your gear can do, but find out what you can do with your gear” bounding around in my head. The depth and breadth of items in many camera menus is overwhelming. Many camera have boundless options to customize controls. What I like to do is read a bit in my manual about a feature then think about why I would try that and in what situation. I then go out and try it, first in a simple location so I can take my time looking and thinking, then someplace else where I believe I can put the approach to good use.
I make it easy to practice by keeping my DSLR and favorite lens out in plain sight at all times, and its twin is in my car. So when I see something of interest, it is easy to grab the camera and take the shot. I recently responded to a neighbor’s request to take night photos of a flower arrangement and table setting she had created. It was waaaay outside my comfort zone, but I got to pull out my flash, and we played with various modifiers – some of which I had bought but never used – to get the effect and the shot she wanted. It was a spontaneous and fun learning experience that 3-5 years ago, I would have turned down due to lack of confidence.
Very good thoughts. My camera settings/options are complex. 1/2 hr/day learning more deeply about a camera setting sounds like something I definitely need to do.
Well said, great advice! Thank you!
Practice: exactly what I need and what I find easy to skip. And it shows. Watching the video reminded me of something I did years ago when I got my first computer. Once a day, I opened the manual at random and learned one thing. What haven’t I thought to do that with my camera? I am starting today!
Thanks for the video; a very timely subject. I was already thinking about going out and doing more camera work (practice) and will definitely do so tomorrow morning!
I will try pulling up landscape/flying birds on computer and use my camera.
I work through the book I bought for my camera (Sony a7R iii), practicing each point using a 70-200mm lens out on my deck when the weather is good. This has been quite helpful. I will start this up again as a refresher course. A particular area that I skipped was back button focus, which I will not look at seriously.
Thank you for the video.
Having been out on a shoot, I try and take notes on the things that I have forgotten or don’t know how to do. I then try and follow up with research/you tube clips so that I can go over that area in the hope that I will remember next time! I am not so good at being systematic at trying new things and working out what works better, that is, problem solving for myself……but it is a new year and so now I have another resolution! Thank you Matt.
Thanks for your video Matt. I like the idea of using videos of flying birds for practice. When I initially got my telephoto lens I practiced with it daily. It didn’t matter what I shot (in fact I ended up with lots of blurry shots of the bird house at the edge of our yard) I just practiced handling/lifting it/focusing it. It helped me to become comfortable with it (and conditioned my muscles :)). I also belong to a weekly photo challenge (52Frames) which keeps me practicing, sometimes something new and sometimes not so new but it gives me a weekly goal to work towards and ensures I use my camera gear at least once a week.
There are so many good ideas here and in your video, Matt! I love the idea of using the computer screen or a stuffed animal. I like to practice by setting up a still life or buying flowers at the supermarket and using different settings, lenses, or lighting.
When my camera was new, I sat with the manual and my camera to learn the settings, etc. I still do that whenever I’m not sure of something.
Another excellent video. Thank you. Practise is the key. I am so frustrated if I’m standing watching the action go by and trying to remember the access to the setting I need. I have been able to set up some function buttons for things I use but not too often, like silent photography or Multiple exposures. The menus on cameras are so deep these days, I find this really useful.
Our local camera club has started a weekly challenge – not a competition – with a new subject each week. It helps me to keep picking up the camera so I can participate. A more publicly accessible similar set of weekly challenges can be had at 52frames.com. (It’s free.) A new challenge every week. They provide a way to think of something to photograph.
Love your ideas about practising with bird videos and stuffed animals.
I live in the greater Montreal region, in Canada, where the winter months can be very cold. I took a course a few years ago about macrophotography with small objects (jewelry, gems, old stamps, etc.). The purpose of the course was to give us options to take photos in the comfort of our homes when the weather is too cold. I now realize I can apply what I learned not only to take photos, but also to simply practice taking photos and to better know my camera. Thanks Matt for that epiphany!
Practice using the computer is a great idea for all sorts of genres. I see more since starting taking photos, I’m more observant of my surroundings and notice so much I’d have missed before. I definitely need to practice more – I had to smile at the back button focussing segment as I swear it’s never in the same place twice!
I try to walk 20-30 minutes each day. I always bring my camera. Most of the pictures I toss, but not all of them by any means. And I’ll play with different themes – tree bark one day, flowers the next, and sometimes pictures of dogs being walked!
Thanks for the ideas! I loved your last idea about practicing bird photography on the computer screen! That one I’ve never thought of. Also, I do occasionally get the manual out and go through it with camera in hand. I especially do this on the plane to a vacation where I’m going to shoot pics. It’s a great reminder for when I get there.
One other thing I have done is go out in the back yard occasionally and practice taking pics of back yard birds, or my dogs. Not pics I do much with, but it helps me practice with tracking or using the back button focus, or seeing the focus tracking…
Good reminder video, Matt. I shoot Sony A7C. I love the camera but the menus are pretty brutal. Sometimes I just go through the menus and submenus, change settings and see what they do. Usually have the online manual nearby so I can get an explanation of what each setting I’m not familiar with is intended to do. I also play around with changing the Quick Settings on the camera based on what I actually need rather than what I thought I needed when I got the camera.
And lastly, I recently picked up the new Ricoh GRIIIx which is a fixed 40mm equiv focal length and take it everywhere. See something…take a photo. See something else…take a photo. Get to practice quick changes of settings. I end up deleting a lot of crappy images, but it’s really fun just shooting stuff that looks to be cool at the moment.
Thanks again for all the wise advice.
I appreciate your gentle prod. There are functions on my camera of which I have little knowledge. I do keep a copy of my camera manual on my desk in a 3 ring binder that allows me to lay it flat as well as temporarily remove selected pages. The original manual I keep in my photo backpack in the event that I need a reference when in the field. Your suggestions are sound. Thanks.
Good points in this video. I just switched over to a mirrorless camera…. I have been sitting at my computer, camera in hand manual in front of me trying to learn this new camera. Just getting down the muscle memory of the placement of the buttons and dials has been a challenge.
One great way to “practice” is to demonstrate or teach others how to use the camera. They will always have a ton of questions that cause you to remember and demonstrate (which is a form of practice).
Great video Matt. It is such an important topic and you covered it so well. I recently retired and rewarded myself with a gear upgrade with the goal of improving my wildlife (especially bird) photography. What helped me greatly was buying a PDF version of a book specifically for my camera model. I then used it with the camera extensively in my home prior to my first ‘real’ usage. I’m fortunate to live in the Tampa Bay area so I have many locations to practice my bird photography. I also have several feeder stations in my yard along with some custom perches. This gives me many home opportunities to practice, especially with focus considerations. Another thing that helped me was panning landing planes.
Got a new camera in 2020 before going on a wildlife shoot and put my camera on a tripod (also new) and watched YouTube videos on how to change different setting in the menu options and practiced shooting in the house. Also, living in a warm climate year round is nice to be able to go outdoors at any time.
A few thoughts following on Matt’s excellent suggestions:
The best camera is the one you have with you. Not original I know, but still the best photography advice I’ve ever had.
Following on from that, don’t pack your camera away after you’ve finished. Keep it (with your favourite lens attached) handy, perhaps next to your computer so it’s in line of sight, ready in an instant to practise using the computer as Matt suggests, or to pick up and take with you when next you go out. This is what I’m going to do from now on.
I often practice macro photography indoors with a lkightbox and my camera mounted on a tripod with a mcro lens. This is great for seeing how the depth of field changes depending on distance to subject and f stop. By taking secveral shots at different focal points it is also a good way to practice focus stacking.
That’s exactly what I’ve been doing with my new Macro Lens! I don’t have lkightbox, I’ve been using my Kelby Westcot training light. Are you using Live View for focusing or Autofocus?
I have infrequent assignments to photograph residential interiors for real estate agents. In order to improve both my techniques and efficiency in camera setup, lighting, etc., I regularly take photos in my own home to simulate a photo assignment. This has really helped, since I often only have a limited time (and maybe only one chance) to photograph a client’s home interior. Then I practice processing these images so that I’ll save time when I actually have dozens of images to process under a deadline for a client.
Great session, Matt. Three excellent points. I am lucky that I can practice bird photography in my back yard so I don’t need the indoor setup you describe. I have just changed camera system so I will be doing these activities on a weekly basis so I am ready for a major photo expedition in the summer.
This is groundbreaking – yet it is staring us in the face. I play flute and I would not think of letting a day pass without spending three hours practicing technique and repertoire. But you have made me realize how little I really practice photography. YES, It is a long time in between formal shoots. No wonder I often forget how to do things with my camera that I should know in a second. THANKS>
Hey Matt, you are right on with practice. I taught skiing for 30 years and with out practice you will never get to the double black runs. For every Camera I have purchased I have read the manual from cover to cover with my camera in hand trying each function, very few of my photo friends have even looked at their manuals.
My thoughts have already been expressed in the many messages that preceded this one. I’ve been fooling with photography for 50 years and frequently feel lost when I am on a shoot and am not proficient enough with my camera to get the photos I want. Practicing with the computer screen is a fabulous idea and one I will begin using immediately.
Thanks for such a practical video.
My commitment to myself in 2022 is to get out with the camera at least once a week mostly in my local area rather than plan long trips that might fall through.
I like your idea of practicing how to set the camera up at home so the muscle memory kicks in when out on location!! I’ll add that to my weekly routine.
As far as ‘practice’ goes I found that I sometimes need a bit of motivation. So for the past few years have participated in online photo challenge groups. Am in two for this year, one is weekly, the other bi-weekly…both serve as a kick in the butt to keep me thinking photographically and makes sure that I pick up the camera more often. They are not competitions, just fun. Great pointer by the way about breaking out the owners manual every now and then to freshen up with, particularly over the dark winter months….I know for myself that I do not utilize all the features and abilities the cameras have to offer.
yup – practice is my downfall. Do I do it NNNNOOOOOO. Should I yes 🙁 I have limited myself many times. What little “practice I do do is in the form of photowalks with friends, sometimes by myself, in person workshops, in person classes, and meetups. But not a lot of that going on these days.
So I am going to try to be more deliberate and get out and play(practice) more. Thanks for the kick in the pants Matt 😉
I do a lot of bird photography and the best practice I ever did was going out for a long weekend of shooting at a bird sanctuary and shooting the whole weekend in Manual mode only. That got me totally comfortable in Manual mode and it got me familiar with changing all the settings without having to take my eye from the viewfinder. I’ve also gone to the closet water hole and practiced flight shots on Seagulls. They are large enough to make it fairly easy and they are plentiful enough to provide lot’s of opportunities.
I also have PDF copies of all my camera and lens manuals on my phone so I always have them with me.
Thanks Matt for your empowering lesson today. I have been stuck in a swirling mess of perfectionism, fear and overwhelm. I am starting to feel the light.
I’m scheduling “time with camera and manual” right now.
Thank you, I know I am guilty of not practicing enough. But I live in a shore town in NJ and winters can be too cold and windy. You motivate me to do inside practicing. My dog would be perfect for tracking.
I try to practice several times a week by experimenting with different settings and lenses while observing (through a window) small birds at on of my several feeders. I also experiment with using window or led lights on a variety of subjects indoors. I’m going to have to try your suggestion about using my monitor for landscapes or birds in flight.
Lockdown was a pest but thinking “outside” the box had me and a bunch of photography friends challenge each other to photograph genres we never did before. Still life, macro in the garden, soap bubbles, water drops and other stuff.
For learning your camera’s abilities, this was so eye opening. We all found settings we had never experienced before.
I don’t practice enough. I mostly learn by reading (mainly) and videos.
The practice using the monitor for action is a great ideal. If I try to practice on cars or people outside, I get nervous thinking that they may not like me photographing them. Practicing indoors like this is a great solution.
I know that it will be hard to memorize my settings but with a lot of redundant practice, I should be able to remember most.
My biggest problem is that I learn about setting up camera settings and then later I try something else. So, I change a setting or two. I forget about my changes and everything is not the way I expected. So, I do know that I must keep notes on my changes and memorize how to get back to where I need to be.
Great reminder, Matt. Have been concentrating on learning software, but need to make sure that I know all the functionality of my camera, rather than sticking to the basics that I usually shoot with.
Im in the same boat, Natalie..I used the time at home during the pandemic learning software, and moved away from learning the functionality of my camera.
I really hate the P-word. I do. I know I need to practice, but for whatever reason it feels more like torture to me. So, I do practice but definitely not as often as I should. I am much happier Practicing with software programs than the camera, but I do use things around my house (my dogs and husband) and my office (various figures and the view from my window). I also watch a lot of Creative Live videos and play with the settings I have learned.
I would have never thought about shooting the screen for landscape and movement practice though! I think that is something I will definitely try! I did a little work this morning on exposure compensation and since it is actually beautiful here today, I’ll be venturing outside to give it more of a real test.
For me, nothing replaces actual physical practice. Great suggestions with the computer sim, and dummy birds. Keeping the manual close at hand to look a few extra things up is also a good idea. With cold temps and more COVID closures in my area of Canada, these are things I can implement right now. I also like to practice out my window focusing on the backyard birds (forgiving myself for the extra blur 3 panes of glass and overcast conditions cause). I also like to set up a macro station inside for the winter. I must get on that today!
Like others have said, I practice by taking pictures inside my living room or around my house. This has been helpful as I learn to transition from shooting almost solely with aperture priority mode to manual mode. I like the idea of focusing on something on my computer, or even a stuffed animal, as a way to understand how the different autofocus area modes work.
One more comment. When my Nikon Z7 was new, before I looked at the manual, I went to UTUBE and found camera review videos which went over “How to set up your camera”. These gave a great over view of the menus and settings so that when I started to set up my camera, I could find the correct menu and how to change the settings or set up the imenu for quick changes.
Great video! Thanks for the reminder. I watch youtube videos a lot but my camera can sit there for months over winter! I like a lot of the ideas here and will set up a weekly “pick up the camera and do something” session as well as regular reading.
Great idea of searching for Birds Flying videos and practicing camera settings and shooting them on the TV or computer screen!! Fortunately, I can walk out my back door or down the street and find subjects to photograph. Most of my best bird photography has been on morning walks within a mile of my house. Not only practicing photography but getting some exercise too!
You are so right that shooting once or twice a month is not enough to get to know your camera and use it to best advantage when on a special photo trip or workshop. I switched to a mirrorless system (Olympus) over a year ago and I have struggled to learn the features of my camera because I don’t do it often enough. I do go into my backyard to practice on occasion but not enough. I’m making a commitment to work indoors with the camera and manual every day for at least a month. Hoping I can form a new habit that will help me practice.
I have a number of wild bird feeders on my deck so to practice I set up my tripod by the backdoor and shoot through the window. Good action practice to try and catch the birds coming and going to the feeder.
Keeping in practice is tough when your usual subjects (mine are kids in schools and families) are not easily available in pandemic times. So I keep in practice by being alert to light in my house as it changes throughout the day and then make composition, light, and shadow studies. I’m startled about how much fun it is and how it makes me see in different ways. I keep the camera on a table I pass by often so I can grab it when a new play of light catches my eye.
One form of practice of mine is looking at other people’s photos, and figuring out why I like them or not, in other words trying to critique them. This helps me decide what I would like in my pictures, and if they pass as good enough for me once I’ve taken them. Another is to have my camera always ready to take with me somewhere, even if it is for a short walk. It might be the same thing you take photos of time after time, but you will always be looking for something fresh to capture. So it teaches me to be aware of surroundings and a changing environment.
I shall begin practicing…something on my camera daily. Very inspiring video, thanks!
Loved the idea about pulling up videos of birds in flight and practicing in your living room! I’m going to pass that tip along to some high school photography teachers I also work with.
Another tip I just read about in a book specifically on the topic of practicing photography, when out walking without a camera, try snapping your fingers every time you come across a potential photo. I did that recently on a walk with my wife, and it changed the way I saw thing, even though I didn’t have my camera.
Thank you, Matt. I liked your recommendations and will practice more every day. So I may manage my camera easier and without thinking much when changing parameters.
I often practice in or or around my house. One issue: my D500 has so many options…….
‘Sometimes you’ve just got to leap and grow your wings as you fall!’ I like the idea of exploring something and then seeking opinions; at least that way you have some, albeit limited experience of the issue. I have also been able to incorporate photography into my work. This has enabled me to practise a lot more often that current opportunities would have to offer.
At this point in my photography journey I do best with external structure so I sign up for a course at the community college or something like Matt’s program. In the process of doing the assignment I always run across something I don’t know so I go to the manual or search online. For example, this week I had trouble with my tripod which has resulted in learning more than I even knew you had to know about tripods
I for one do not follow the “experts” when it comes to some types of photography. Case in point was the last comet visible in the Pacific Northwest. Many said to get out to the eastern part of the state away from city lights. I took my photos from my deck and equaled those who traveled away from the city. I also practice around the house when repairing my car or an appliance. I try to take photos as I disassemble the item. Sure helps when reassembling. Lighting and focus can be a challenge so learning how to adjust for the best exposure is helpful when I’m out in the field. For some photography, I go back and check the metadata on similar photos to give me a baseline on where to start. Thanks for the video.
This video was excellent. And I could not agree more. When I went from my one camera, one lens, shooting on presets to deciding I needed to be more and learn more for myself, I had an excellent teacher. He sat with me and said, we take our cameras out and I will have you shooting in Manual and raw in a couple of weeks. And he did. I had to take on that challenge and then PRACTICE, PRACTICE. Almost three years later, my photography is 90% Flowers. So here on Long Island winters prevent me and my old arthritic hands from shooting outdoors. So I buy flowers from the supermarket or flower garden centers and shoot indoors. I can totally agree, not being outside and contending with flowers that I cannot place, wind and sun made me able to slow down and work more with the settings on my camera and which lenses to use. So I take days and just shoot inside and experiment. Now I have even more ways to practice so thank you Matt for your suggestions.
I have lost opportunities for a shot by not being fast enough changing a setting. I imagine every photographer can say that at some point. As Nike says, “just do it”, because by doing it your abilities become smoother and more efficient.
Sometimes I practice by going on a photo shoot that I call “Lost Treasures.” Just go for a walk and photograph anything you find just laying around. Maybe an old glove or hat that got lost along the way. This way I can practice different settings and the “lost treasure” gives me a subject to concentrate on. I keep these images and the meta data in a file for reference.
Great idea !!!!! Lost Treasures.
practicing that is something I have never done in over 40 years photographing. With our current lack of travel and lock downs I have hit a real dry spell unlike anything I have experienced previously.This was a good wake up call thanks for the great advice.
To practice, I use my front room and take photos of items in my house. I buy fake flowers and take photos of the, I try every day to use my camera and take photographs.
These are some of the things that have helped me practice.
Go through camera menus with your manual open and get to know which features are important to you. Change them and take an image of anything. See the difference and decide.
Find a challenge to photograph.
Long term – capture something new on your property and start a collection.
Medium term – one photo for each theme, all done in 6 weeks.
P – Pair
I – Isolated
C – Collection
T – Technology
U – Uniform
R – Rain
E – Event
S – Shadow
Short term – photograph your precious items, in case they ever go missing.
Over the last couple years covid has caused me to walk in nature more and I started always taking my camera. It became habit and I have started taking it other places, I have gotten used to having it with me. The other evening I was shooting night shots and realized I knew where the buttons were with out needing light. I think this has made my photography better, I know I am able to try things and make adjustments I was never able to make in the past.
Great hints on practicing by photographing pictures on your computer! I have been taking pictures for several years and for the most part use my iPhone rather than my camera except for ‘photo shoots’! I still don’t fully understand my camera settings so this will certainly help.
Agreed I use my iPhone for the most part for images. I have also suggest to novice photographers to set their camera on auto ,look at settings, reset their cameras in manual and start from there
I am finding that I am trying to only take “good” or unique images rather than practicing by taking a lot of photos. I need to start practicing more so that I don’t miss the good shots.
that’s what I did at first, then I joined a few photo groups and I was shooting for a ‘theme’ or a new way of taking a photo. Helped me a lot.
Thanks Matt for a very inspiring video. Last autumn I traded my Nikon D850 and D500 in for a Fujifilm XT-4 and promised myself I would master my new camera. Needless to say, I haven’t. Oh, I’ve read parts of the manual, watched lots and lots of videos on the camera but have I practiced with my camera, No. Even with the Nikon I only used them if I was going out specifically to take photos or going on expensive photography trips so I was never totally familiar with the cameras and had to look to change settings, my fingers didn’t have the muscle memory. So, after watching your video I have resolved not to do the same with my new gear, I will practise for 30 mins each day and have started today. I particularly liked the tips of photographing photos on-monitor and using YouTube videos of birds etc. Thanks again, keep up the good work.
Matt, a very interesting presentation this week. It is interesting because it hit home. This past weekend I spent some tme reviewing a number of fold out field guides from past issues of Digital Camera, UK publication. The review led to some questions as to whether my camera could do these things or did it have certain functions. It turns out my camera had them all, however, some were never used or rarely used. i found the following: a button that allows me to illuminate the LCD panel on the top of my camera, I made use of the exposure level indicator in my viewfinder and adjusted the camera for proper exposure, i also played around with selecting different configurations of AF focal points.
I liked your suggestion relating to using images on the computer monitor to practice different exposures etc to see the resulting effects created. Great idea!
Great advice and something I don’t do nearly enough of. If I am trying to learn something new I do find that if I make notes I remember things that much better and quite often do not need to refer to the notes afterwards!
So true… I am a “manual” person. I did not go true the entire 200-page manual for my camera but… did read quite a number of sections ! And re-read them once in a while; not a problem. What I do NOT do enough, I know, is practising… Especially that I am a “multi-interest-photographer”: I do Macro, Wildlife & Birds, Landscape, anything but Portrait. So everytime I am a few days before I leave for a destination I know I will do Landscape and long-exposure photography for instance, I wish I would have taken the time to practice before leaving… Great lesson.
“We become what we do”; that’s resonating a lot to me.
Great advice for all things in life we want to learn and/or achieve. I am very guilty of not practicing and then going on the big shoot. I have no special tips as I am so bad at this. Thanks for the kick start.
I don’t practice enough anymore. The idea of going out daily either in my yard or studio helps a lot. How can I get better if I don’t shoot? Good subject.
Sometimes if I have a lot of work on I don’t pick up my camera just to play. This year I’m trying a different approach to my daily journal practice and typing to shoot something everyday. I intend to make sure this isn’t always just on my phone so I can experiment with the cameras!
I also have a new space in my home, built last year, and I haven’t quite worked out where the light is so I’ll be setting up a still life type shoot to find out over the coming weeks.
Like a few others I take mental photos when I either can’t take a photo or choose not to have a camera with me – tunes the brain for possibilities.
HUMONGOUS GRIPE: I can’t argue with your suggetion to practice with your camera, ( I was surprised by the number of people who don’t, ( USE IT OR LOOSE IT, old but true ). But back to my gripe, you say grab your manual and camera and page through it, WHAT MANUAL? for years now we havn’t got a printed manual when buying a very expensive camera/product, so we have to sit in front of our computer, find what we need then write it down ( which we will probably loose ) it is certainly not condusive to practice. I would sooner pay a little more to get a printed book in my hands even if it was offered as a seperate item. Oh well I know this won’t make the slightest difference but I’m gald to have had the rant. ( I’m sorry you have told not rant but what the hell are we to do ? )
Hi Ron, you can download a pdf file for most any manual these days. Then you will have the printed book for your personal use and notes.
I don’t know what camera you use but you can get a printed, bound copy of most Canon manuals from https://www.eos-magazine-shop.com/canon-camera-instruction-manuals-c102x3058213.
Hey Ron ~ Download the entire manual to a thumb drive…take it to a UPS Store…have a conversation and understanding of exactly the size you’re wanting and they will print it as a page by page manual. Personally I prefer a saddle stitch bind rather than the spiral bind they offered. Days before Christmas I had two such manuals done for grandsons’ new cameras they got as gifts ~ total for two $11.00.
Hi Kathleen. It would appear that here in the UK we seem to have UPS access points but not stores, or they did not reveal themselves on my search. I have tried getting the PDF manual printed in book form without success. thank you anyway for your reply . Ron.
I wanted to learn more about studio portrait photography and have wife who hates having her photograph taken. So I bought a £50 Mannequin off Amazon and I can practice lighting set ups, camera settings and even the catch lights in the eyes. If I get a set up that I like I can get my wife in for two minutes to try and finally get a portrait of her that she likes!
Good advice on trying before asking. Having seen lots on Back Button Focus and even including switching focus modes between spot and eye detect I thought I would give it a go for a while. Absolutely hate it!
My wife and I moved to Panama eight years ago. We have a “rainy’ season and a “dry” season but no snow. I keep two cameras handy for a quick trip outside. If I see a certain butterfly on a beautiful flower (we have many) I grab my camera with a “macro” lens and take a image that I have done many times in the past but sometimes it may be better. The same with visiting birds…repeating what I have tried in the past frequently gives me a better image and sometimes one better than I thought that I could achieve.
Yes, Matt, practice, practice and practice….
I am a little stuck at home but just puchased some lighting stuff (not expensive!!) and I intend just to sit at a table and basically play with the settings to develop ideas on how I might gat some meaningful images — The more I listen to Matt the more commoin sense I hear
Thank you another great session. I guess the buzzword for me will be practice and them practice some more. You are so right I do not get my camera out enough. I like your idea of sitting down with the camera and manual must try it. Also I am liking the idea of taking moving targets using the computer.
Again many thanks
Great video full of inspiration and good tips. I stopped using my Fujifilm mirrorless camera a few years back in favor of the latest iPhone for ease of portability (and really good results). My favorite genre is travel and street photography — and I really enjoy the editing process.
Funny(?) story: After watching the video, I was inspired to pull out my camera and give it a try again. I knew enough when I stopped using it to remove battery so I inserted the battery … unfortunately, being out of practice with the camera, it went in the wrong way. Now it’s stuck and I can’t get it out to reinsert it and I can’t close the compartment so that experiment will wait I get it to a camera store for help.😀 Meantime I will do some experimentation with iPhone functions.
Thanks for this Matt. Another title for your talk is “Stop waiting for someone to hold your hand!” I must admit, it’s easier to be spoon fed. But I do do my own work most of the time…. And it’s been a while since I played with my camera- a good reminder to do just that. It’s so much easier these days to snap a photo with the iphone.
I loved the quote from the Practice book. Applicable for all of life. I practice for autofocus with wildlife by attempting to photograph my active young grandchildren, and my little dog, who moves as fast as an animal. I practice understanding lighting and posing by taking photos of myself (the most patient model). I practice for travel landscapes by going downtown and taking cityscape photos. I practice bird photography when it’s really cold by taking photos through the kitchen window. They are subpar, but I learn a little more about my camera and lens each time.
I learned a long time ago (back when I was teaching math in college) to push buttons, change settings, you can never break anything. I did that with math software, calculators, computers, you name it. When I recently got my R3, I started changing settings, then googling how to fix what I did. I even had to reset my camera to default about twice now. 🙂 Nowadays, I want to shoot birds, but have such a difficult time finding them in the viewfinder, that I will sit out by my bird feeder, trying to catch birds as they flit here and there. Or I will let my two Gordon Setters out to run and try and get some action shots of black dogs in white snow. I live in WY, where winters can be brutal, cold and winds blowing around 35 – 40 mph, I bundle up and get out and walk every day along the river near my house. Sometimes I come home cold and miserable, other times I may come home with one great shot out of about 100. This video just reminds me that what I do is practice every day, whether it’s catching a deer or bird or the elusive fox, sometimes I fail and other times I may succeed, it’s the ‘doing’ that counts. I’m almost 70, and hope to be out there trudging along the river for the next 20 years.
Hi Susan – I always enjoy seeing your nature photos and am grateful that you get out and shoot in that beautiful setting around your home on a regular basis…and share that intimate view you have with the rest of us.
thank you, I think it’s what is keeping me young.
The idea of using the computer screen is outstanding; never thought of it.
I have done much of what you suggested while sequestered, limited in getting out. Also because I switched from Nikon to Sony, I had to go through the learning curve. Fortunately, I was able to do much of what you suggested through the window or out on the deck with fixed objects like structures and trees on the opposite side of the lake. As a result of all the time available at one location, i also was able to practice during different light and weather conditions.
Now that I am across the state from you and getting out daily, being more familiar and comfortable with the camera certainly has improved my keeper rate.
As always, your suggestions are right on target.
Thanks for the videos. I really like that they are brief and easy to listen to yet full of good ideas! I try to get out and practice every day in my back or front yards. However I tend to take the same pictures so I need to expand on that. I do use different lenses and try different apertures to see what difference that makes. Some things I don’t do often enough are getting down low and moving around for a different perspective. That is definitely something I will start to practice more. A photographer friend once compared learning photography to learning to drive. First you have to practice the technical aspect so that it’s automatic. Then you can move on to feeling comfortable enough to focus on driving without having to think about those things. In the case of phototherapy that would be focusing on composition and I have found this is very true. One of my goals is to get good photos of flying birds so I really like your idea about using a video to practice. One of your other ideas that really made me think was about going through the manual. I tend to wait until I need to know something before I look it up. Going through the manual and practicing things makes a lot of sense so it’s something I will start working on.
I’m trying to improve my woodland photography and over the last two years I’ve got better at going out with the expectation, or even objective, of NOT capturing a great image but to improve my composition and technical skills. That way, if/when I do get a great image it’s an added bonus!
The suggestion of practising using images on the monitor is intriguing and I’ll give it a go.
Excellent ideas! Super idea to use the computer monitor as a practice vehicle.
Other ideas for indoor practice shooting are
product shots (using cans and bottles from the fridge
flowers learn to use light and focal length also use water droplets on petals to develop another skill
I tend to wait for the perfect block of time to shoot.
Hi Michelle. I took a workshop recently and one piece of advice was used over and over. Learn to say no! No to anything that might prevent you from taking time for your photography. We may not be able to get a block of time every day, but take one day a week to start and call it your photography day! And say NO to anyone or anything that may distract you from it. You will find it actually relaxes you and you can then practice!
In 2020 when the pandemic started I made the effort with a very supportive spouse to get out and shoot every 10 days. Often we drove the countryside of my home state of Maryland-learned a lot of backroads that way. For the day trips to be more satisfying to my spouse, we sometimes had a destination, a local farm, a local creamery where there was ice cream!, a battlefield or a cemetery. We visited Antietam three times then. In 2021 with more freedom I took less trips. Now in 2022 we need to get back to that. It serves several purposes- one-practice shooting, two-getting outside, three-spending quality time with your pandemic mate, and four-learning new things.
Recently I started playing around with intentional camera motion. In 2020 I got a Lensbaby and took that on several outings where that would be the only lens I used. I was asked by a local camera club then to do a Lensbaby presentation!
Matt- I like the manual idea. I used to do that more, and will get back to that.
You’re absolutely right and I know that. I don’t practice. I take out my camera to shoot. It struck me as I was listening that when I was a kid taking piano lessons, I practiced every day. I don’t do that with my camera, but I’m going to try.
One of the best practice programs for studio photographers is a program called set.a.light 3D. Of course manikin heads or full bodies can also help.
Photography like any form of art to be enjoyable requires development of your own style. If you concentrate on the technical aspects you inhibit moving forward. Practice allows you to experiment and try new things which aid in discovering what works for ME.
Hi Arnie. Yes, it is very important to develop our own style. But in so doing, you also need to know the mechanics of your camera. That is the tool that allows you to create your own style – with or without further post work on the PC
Matt could you use close caption in your videos? I am hard of hearing and lose some info.it will be very helpful for ne and probably others too
I have been thinking the same thing. I too have lost much of my hearing and closed captioning and speed control would be beneficial if it’s possible.
I am an amateur portrait photographer. I went out to a wig store where they had “heads” for sale and got a male and female bust. I use these to practice lighting techniques and color change. I got a new camera for Christmas and I am finding It also helps me develop muscle memory for the buttons and I am trying back button focus. Works for me.
Where I live in the Uk, we don’t have the exotic birds that Matt has in Florida but to practice bird photography I installed some bird feeders in the garden. It means i can practice anytime, using the techniques Matt teaches. I have been amazed at the results, small birds but beautiful colours scrambling for food. Im also interested in practicing Depth Of Field with different lens, changes in Aperture and distance, easy to do if your stuck indoors.
Hi Joe. Check out Google or YouTube. I follow many bird photographers that I’m jealous of for the birds you have in the UK 🙂 It’s not that you don’t have them, but finding them may be the challenge as is the challenge in just about every genre.
Developing ways to practice on my own is something that I struggle with. Being a busy mum already takes time away from my photography that I know i can be putting more into it. So coming up with ways to keep doing photography and keep me moving forward is something i will be putting more work and effort into achieving.
There is a reason for the saying practice makes perfect.
One cannot wait for inspiration or a feeling to learn and create.
You have to do the work make the effort and do what you want to accomplish. Often you get surprised by the result of an “uninspired event”. It is work what leads to imspirstion and creativity and then they lead to more work.
When I have questions I go to the manual and practice what it says. They find more about it and practice ..this is how one finds the little tricks.
Great tutorial Matt
When I can’t go somewhere awesome to take landscape photos, I practice pet photography on my 4 cats here at home. I think that helps me a lot but the video really got me thinking about what more I could do. I remember I used to take photos around my yard or set up little still life scenes in the house, just to test some new concept I was learning or to get used to a new lens. Now I’m wondering why I don’t do this anymore! I could try to improve my flower photography (which I’m terrible at) or experiment with more shallow DOF in the outdoors or finally figure out what that 90 mm macro lens is good for!
Thank you Matt!! Your suggestions using the computer or stuffed animals for practice are good. I practice in my living room or back yard before shoots or if I’m trying to apply a new strategy. The hardest thing for me is the muscle memory for speed of changing settings . (Maybe age?). I do so many different types of photography that I always have to change how or what I practice prior. I need to make a choice to practice more consistently even if it’s just a half hour every day with a very specific task or goal per week. I may need to make a list of those to structure my time.
Thanks Matt. So many times I think that I must go down to the river and practise using my camera. And how often do I do it? Rarely! It takes time that I haven’t got at the moment. However, without the travel time and being able to choose a time that suits me, there’s every reason to follow your advice and practise at home. I’ll do it and then when I have the time to go to the river and other beautiful places, my photos will benefit from my improved skills.
I have found over the years that I learn not by just watching or listening but by the doing.
When learning a new skill with my camera I will play around with settings etc in my backyard. When I am happy that I have a reasonable grasp of the technique I will go somewhere close by that has more inspiration for me and practice the technique. Usually, I will take the same composition repeatedly just making small changes so that I can compare images and see what effect I like.
I usually make notes on what works and so I don’t forget I have small, laminated cards with bullet points that I put in my camera case to refer to when out on a shoot if I am likely to forget something. Once I know what to do I don’t take the cards anymore.
The thing that taught me how to change camera setting automatically using muscle memory was astro photography. I didn’t want to be that person with the torch on, looking for how to change my camera settings and disturbing other photographers around me.
Hi Cheryl, I love the idea of the cards that you make and carry with you. There are some settings that I love but can often not remember how to get to them or use them. I will make cards to carry with me! Thank you for the suggestion.
Thanks Matt, guilty as charged! I hardly ever set out on definite “photo shoots”, more usually shooting what takes my fancy at the time. This means that very often I am not prepared for the current conditions so rarely have the ideal camera settings and have to perform some corrective work in Lightroom. I’ve had my current camera for 2 years and did purchase and read (once) an ebook detailing its uses and settings, but have forgotten a lot of it so definitely need to start again, plus practising (UK).
I love watching videos on photography. I usually get on my stationary bicycle and while cycling, I watch my videos. It’s a good time to learn and time passes on quickly.
I’ve never thought of watching a bird in flight on a tv screen. Thanks for the thought.
Hi Matt, great topic, we all need motivation to get out and practice, it IS the only way to improve, love the idea of using google however I am very fortunate in that I have some beautiful birds in my back yard garden and would get out at least 2 to 3 times a week 🙂 mostly weekends 🙂 sometimes more sometimes less but definitely probably need more hahahaha… and I think your point about trying something before asking is very valid!!! Thanks 🙂
Fantastic videos, I agree 100% with the practice comments. I have practiced panning by shooting moving cars on a road near to where I live. You get some funny looks from the drivers but it works, it doesn’t matter if the light is poor as you are looking to keep the pictures and It’s free.That said I could always get better so I will practice some more.
thanks for the video, When I get a new camera I spend time reading the manual, watching you tube but after while I no longer explore what the camera can do. I must admit my basic settings remain the same. so this year I will try and explore and learn about my camera
Good video Matt. Like a typical man I just get on with using an item and don’t read the manual/instructions. Normally get confused and finish up just leaving things for another day and just use basic settings until I stumble over what I need.
Now I can see that I need to spend a bit of time getting to know an item and how to do things. I’ll use this for all sorts of things not just photography.
I fully agree with you. I have a “normal” way of shooting; is my default mode, and 90% of the photos I take are set up the same way. But it had happened to me that, when I want to change something out of my default mede,I don’t know how to do it. Your proposal of reviewing the manual and perform some “dry run” on different situations is really what I need to do.
Being able to quickly and blindly adjust settings is so important, but also depends so much on the camera. Some models are definitely better for this than others.
I bought my current camera partly because it has one switch that can be programmed to switch between any two settings, and that was something I had wished for on my previous camera so many times. I’ve got it set to switch between single focus spot and all focus areas, which is brilliant when you’re dealing with birds on perches and against the sky in the same location.
One other thing i would add is that figure out the settings for specific situations beforehand, maybe while sitting down with the manual. Say, one for birds, one for landscape and one for astrophotography, then once you’Re out and about, you already know what to dial in.
I have an excel file where over the years I wrote down a lot of tips I found reading books, looking at tutorials etc. I worked on this file because I hoped I would remember the tips when I was out in the field shooting photos. But….I didn’t go out enough. I waited untill I had enough motivation and enough time to go out. But there was always a reason to not go out and do other things, or the weather didn’t help etc. So in the end I didn’t get what I hoped writing down all the tips in the excel file. So your tip in this video is very helpful for me: sit down with your gear every day for an half hour, open your excel file and go through one or two of the tips I wrote down and now DO it and PRACTICE it. Doing it in my cosy room will motivate me more to go out and use it in the field and enjoy being there and experience it in real life. Thanks Matt!
Ive spent a lot of time in lock down with my camera in hand .. I have a lot of trees that I can shoot from my balcony so they have been shot with long lenses, short lenses, in different light, foggy rain, hand holding, using a tripod. Ive picked interesting things up and tried using a macro lens with natural and artificial light. Played with settings. I think I’ve improved my understanding of my camera and composition skills. I used to mainly do seascapes at sunrise, but I think I have diversified a lot over the 2 years through circumstances. I’ve also picked up my Lightroom skills, but still learning and I have also started to dabble a bit with photoshop. Photography wise I think I have put my lockdown to good use and I certainly feel I am going to see an improvement in my more varied shots thanks to practice.
Spot on Matt.
I do read my manual. When I get the camera. And then once or twice afterwards. Like your idea of doing it more regularly.
Also love your ideas of practising at home. On a wildlife photography course I did last year we were tasked with learning to control the camera without taking your eye from the viewfinder. Did not practise this enough so takes me a while to get used to it.
Practise makes perfect. Or well, damn close to it.
Thanks for this Matt. As many have said, this is a really key topic and something I need to work on more. I get pretty busy and don’t get the time to go out and shoot as much as I can, and I find that my skills can get a bit dull due to that. I really like these ideas of what to do in the meantime — read manuals, play with settings, memorize your camera and the settings. All such important things to keep you fresh and make your shoots all the better. Thanks for this important topic!
This is a very helpful video on suggestions for practicing. I don’t practice enough, but I am practicing more than I did a few years ago.
This is because in the first lockdown I signed up to a free 1 year photography course which made me use & go out to take photos. In that year I learnt so much more about my camera, settings I had no idea I had or what they were for.
I’m now doing a 2nd year, but also taking part in a 52 challenge, belong to several Facebook groups which often have daily/monthly challenges, all in the hope to motivate me to take photos & practice. As ‘practice, practice’ is the only way to get better.
I am also going to try the things suggested in your video. I definitely need better practice with my camera functions & how to find them etc. So your idea to spend some time with the manual finding/using 1 setting/function is a great help. I will also be trying the video method, especially for practicing & experimenting with the different focus settings.
There really is no excuse to not practice due to the weather, as you have said it’s possible to do this in your own home. Thanks Matt
Living near a beautiful park with Exmoor ponies, highlanders, sheep, small animals and all kind of birds I get out a lot to photograph from early in the morning until sunset. Exploring all kind of lighting.
I also love practising in a zoo. I can spend hours of shooting and trying different settings on my camera, especially the toggling. After a day in the zoo I am full of ideas that I use in my portrait photography.
Perfection is the enemy of the good. An old saying
I recently switched to a mirrorless canon camera with eye tracking. To get an understanding of how it worked and what to expect it I tried it out on our cats first, since they don’t move much and then practiced on the birds using our bird feeders as well as the squirrels scurrying around the yard.
Also, as other have mentioned, while traveling or visiting places I’m always noticing the light and imagining what kind of images I could create.
OK, when I do go out and practice…which isn’t nearly enough, I started keeping a log of the settings I would use, in order, so when I looked at the images I could see that increase any one setting didn’t really do what I thought it’d do. But, I can find so many reasons why I can’t practice…oh my, they are endless! This time of year it’s too cold (live below Lake Tahoe; and it’s actually snowing!). Wind is a difficult thing we have here…LOTS OF WIND! I just need to practice and use a really quick speed; and, remember the next time what I did.
A couple of years ago, I started subscribing to 52frames.com . We get a recognizes “framers” that have submitted 52 weeks in a row, but recognizes that most of us have various reasons that we haven’t yet reached that “goal.” My weeks that I’ve missed have been when I’ve been off the grid; this means I’m out shooting those weeks, so I haven’t gotten too hung up on that.
Bullseye Matt! I’ve always wanted to practice but I haven’t really considered ways to do it at home. Great suggestion with running the manual for a half hour a day. I do that for my work so you’d think I’d do it for my photography, but nope! Going to try to do what you suggest more.
I practice by joining food photography challenges or collabs (as they are called) through Instagram. The theme of the collab often forces me to try a photography style I might not have tried before or use artificial light in a way I had not thought of.
Matt, your comments this week are right on the mark. My back yard with the roses was has been my practice area but I was not consistent and that’s a down fall. Your suggestions to take manual and camera and learn is something I did when I first started photographing but some where along the line I stopped. Thank you for reminding me as I will be back with camera manual and relearning and this time with a little note book making quick reminder notes to keep in camera bag. If you do not use it you loose it. I like shooting multiple exposure or intention camera movement them trying both as one photo is a challenge.
Most important concept – TRY IT! Great idea to use computer to practice focus on moving objects. Never thought of that. Must try it.
I love wildlife and nature photography. I am very fortunate to have a botanical garden a short walk through a woodland in my neighborhood. During the first year of the pandemic I had a flower picture a day project going. It got me off my butt and out in nature every day, sometimes I only went as far as my front yard, and often up to the botanical garden. It was really freeing and I tried different lenses. One week I would shoot with a zoom, and another week with a fixed lens. No expectations of greatness, just getting out and playing with my camera … and sending my mom a new picture every day. A favorite place I go to practice wildlife photography is the great 40 acre off leash dog park by me. I don’t have a dog but there are always lots of happy dogs racing around the trails and fields, and fetching balls tossed in the river. When I got my mirrorless camera last year I spent a lot of time there playing with the different focus modes. Great place to practice and be entertained at the same time.
Excellent advice for any activity, not just photography. Something I know I should do more of, like exercise. Now tell us how to make it fun.
Hi Marcia, I think the fun is when trying out some new settings or shooting something not used as a subject before. Then you review the images you have and discover something wonderful! That is the fun for me. Trying out and discovering something new that I love.
Hi Matt, I’m a professional real estate photographer, although my passion is landscape and travel photography. When I don’t have a real estate photo shoot, I often take my little Sony point and shoot camera whenever I attend an event or go hiking. I’ve been able to capture some very decent photos on the spur of the moment that I would have missed if I had relied upon having my Nikon DSLR. Although probably none of the photos on the spur of the moment with my point and shoot camera would win any awards, they are still precious moments in time! I consider this a great way to “practice” and enjoy photography! Thanks for your “fresh look”!
Your ideas are awesome. I’m going to try using my computer to practice. I need to go through my camera manual too. I usually just look up what I’m trying to figure out, usually wasting lots of time. Another photographer buys herself flowers every week to practice.
Now off to practice.
Good suggestions on practicing. Better suggestion on not trying to look for the perfect instruction. Instruction can be more meaningful when you have tried to accomplish the task. I am one who has always looked for the perfect video that answered all of my questions in detail. Still looking for it. Probably won’t find it because it does not exist. Thanks for this feedback.
I enjoy shooting Street with a rangefinder style camera. By seeking to get quick shots in public spaces, I try to shoot without putting the camera anywhere near my eye. I practice just by walking around my home, framing and shooting different objects and areas, with the goal to improve my hand /eye coordination. My framing does get better but it’s a constant work in progress!
I started blogging in 2015 as a way to keep myself active in photography. I do tips, tutorials, composition, location profiles, species highlights; basically anything photography. If I have to blog about something, I have to learn about it and I have to have images to accompany that blog. It’s been a win-win for me.
Hi Matt, Thank You! for stating the obvious. I think I’ve been in a covid funk of some sort and haven’t been doing what is necessary with my new camera body (learn how to use it). I’m trying to get with it now and yes your comments are very helpful. I went out today to shoot ducks in a nearby pond and try to figure out the Olympus M1X focus and tracking system, planning on doing something every day. I’m behind but back at it.
Yes to practice. I live not far from my place of work and thus can walk there. Different times of day, different seasons, a slight variety of route, all offer different photo possibilities. There are endless possibilities.
I have a lot of photos of my foot. Well my foot is in the photo where I’m setting in my recliner learning something about my camera. I take “learning” photos to understand a setting or technique.
I take my camera everywhere. A friend and I meet every Wednesday for a few hours and go and try new ideas. I am returning from Australia and took lots of bird photos. Still I have never achieved the perfect focus. However, I take the photos put them on the computer and delete a lot. Your video is timely. I have 10 days in Managed Isolation. The first day out came my camera. There are just a lot of tall buildings around. I am and have been watching the light, the reflections during the day and early evening, observing the movement of the sun and clouds and the changes. The photos are through a dusty tinted window. I am constantly observing, trying different settings etc.
After watching your video, I have set my camera and tripod up with my laptop. A timely video. Lots of thought provoking ideas and suggestions.
Thanks for the tip about focusing on videos on tv. I would have never thought of that. I try to use the camera daily, if possible. If it’s too miserable to be outside then I try to take pics indoors…flowers, plants, birds thru the windows, clouds, weather….whatever you can find. I also like to watch you tube videos on different photography genres, editing techniques, camera settings, etc….anything photography related. Always looking for something new to photograph or a new technique to try. Also follow my camera mfg videos. Whenever I’m going anywhere I generally take a camera with me. You never know when something will catch your eye or when you just want to stop by a trail and take a 15 min walk with ur camera.
“The more I practice, the ‘luckier’ I get!’
That always sticks in my mind whether for sports or for writing or for photography.
Perhaps we should make it harder to see our results. The instant gratification of the preview button doesn’t encourage you to get it right first time.
In the days of film I would carry a camera on the motorbike when I was out in the forests or the desert. No in camera metering in those days so I would take a light reading before heading out and then adjust from that for darker or lighter conditions. In those film days, of course, the lesson was harder. If you got it wrong it could be weeks before you realised.
For practice nowdays I can set the camera before I walk away from the car, or just down the street, knowing I will be focused at a distance, or close, have the exposure in the ballpark and change it as needed. I can be fairly confident of a result.
These days we don’t need to wait for the results but I like to think there is no need to ‘peek’ at the preview on the camera but I do have my camera set to give me a short preview in the viewfinder just in case of stupidity but it is the practice that counts.
I think I have used my camera more during the pandemic than I did before because I have had fewer distractions. I do a lot more nature photography now because I look for quiet places with almost no people for my walks. This has been a great way to practice. I also carry small toys with me (mostly Lego) to photograph. Not to mention that photographing toys at home is a great way to practice close-up and macro photography when you can’t get out.
For many years, my personal mantra has been “What we need to learn to do, we learn by doing.”
This clearly aligns well with Matt’s urging us all to “practice, practice, practice.”
I’ve come to realize that the first half of this mantra is at least as important as the second. Before grabbing your camera manual and picking out some unfamiliar feature to learn, I’d suggest looking carefully at some of your recent photos that failed to deliver what you hoped.
With luck, this will help you discover “what YOU need to (next) learn.” Then grab your camera and go at learning how better to do THAT.
This approach has certainly worked well for me.
Practicing was already a goal of mine for this year! I have a book on my new camera and plan to take a deep dive through the book with the camera on my lap – trying out buttons and dials as I go. If you know the mechanics, you can concentrate on the action and/or creativity when you get the opportunity to shoot.
I am finding that I am spending way too much time reading manuals and articles and not nearly enough time actually taking pictures. I bought a D850 a few years back (which for me is a beast of a camera but in a good way) and I struggle with focus and get very frustrated. When I finally put the books down, stopped my endless internet searching to solve my problem, and simply shot more…my problem lessened. Practice does make perfect or at least better!
Best thing about a digital camera – you can take practice shot after practice shot look at the settings you used and delete after and nothing lost. Just after I got my camera a friend gave me a stack of old photo magazines – it was covid and I live where we get very cold and snowy winters, so I would look at pics and then try to duplicate it – was great for learning, even if I did not have exactly what was in the picture – gets the imagination going. I love the idea, and never would have thought of it, about using the computer for the flying birds! Thank you I can’t wait to try it. Now if I could just figure out what the fuss over white balance is about – but not going to ask going to try and play first then look out google.
Being retired is great. I’m an outdoors person, and I literally go to a park or a nature preserve everyday unless I have something important to do. I go birding, I bring my camera and I shoot almost everyday. If there is great light (uncommon in upstate NY!), or fog, or big waves on Lake Ontario, or there’s no birds around, then I shoot landscapes. I’m willing to be outdoors in virtually any weather – subzero, 50 mph wind, rain, ice – I’m good. Haha. Stood on the lake the other day shooting a photo that was so rough I almost second guessed my sanity. Anyway, practice isn’t a problem for me. 🌞
Thanks, Matt. Good motivational stuff. I try to get out with my camera as often as possible. I usually aim for 5 days a week, but wish I could do 7. Even if it is just sitting in my front yard, waiting for a bird. Or, walking around the neighborhood with one specific lens and seeing what I can do.
A pro photographer told me years ago, “Be able to change your major settings in the dark.” That’s basically the same as you said in closing your eyes. My ISO and Drive buttons are right next to each other, and I often hit the wrong one. I need to work on that.
Looking forward to seeing you on Thursday.
The best thing I ever did was purchase the Tamron 150-600 lens. It taught me I HAD to practice, not only in the beginning, but every time I go without using it for a couple of months. It’s huge (for me) and my favorite subjects are wildlife & sports. I love what this lens will do. We do live in our own little paradise, on a lake in Western KY with some small woods throughout our neighborhood. That means there is always something that moves to practice on. Thanks, Matt! I’m finding this course inspiring!
I enjoy taking pictures of waterfalls. One thing that helped me understand the affects of shutter speed, aperture, ISO on moving water was take pictures of the water coming from the kitchen sink sprayer. You can change the water pressure to change the speed of the water. Change the camera settings and see what you get.
Matt, Thank you for this on point video. I also live in Fl and found getting out almost daily is what I do to practice and even after working with this camera for over a year I am still learning things. I shoot in manual because the auto settings with EC is confusing to me. So time to practice using the auto settings.
It’s been very cold in Wisconsin, so I have kept an eye out for possible images at a later date. This morning, I took time to shoot a few images. It was very cold and I only have a couple images, bt it felt so good to be out there with more than my phone.
Great ideas Matt! I’m never happy with my bird photography in particular, now I have a great way to practice at home! It’s also easy to ask questions instead of putting in the work first – you nailed the right way to go through that process. Thanks so much, you’re giving me the motivation (kick in the butt 🙂 ) I need.
I just purchased a new lightweight camera (Canon 90D) to use with my Tamron 150-600mm lens. The other camera I was using could not do the different focus modes needed for good bird photography.
I like the idea of using a computer image to practice camera settings indoors, OR going just outside the house to practice taking images of passing cars.
I will do this practice every day this week, BEFORE joining a photo meetup group at a bird wildlife refuge next weekend. Thank you Matt!
My partner and I go out twice a week for the purposes of taking photos. We may go to the country, the seaside or to the city. We quite often say ‘today we will just go out out with our wide angle lens, or maybe it will be a 50 mm or macro’. But whichever we choose that is the only lens we take. Sometimes we go out to take a particular subject for an upcoming camera club competition, but always we are challenging ourselves and learning along the way. And it is great to share an experience like photography with your partner. Thanks Matt, had never thought of using images on google to practice on, great idea.
Hi Matt, to practice I chose a subject, flower, crayons, tools.. and shoot it many times over several days and try to come up with new angles, lighting, perspectives… and usually end up with something I like.
Good idea. I like that.
I like what you said about just doing different things with your camera so you know and understand what works and what doesn’t. I switched to the Olympus system in late ’18 and been struggling with all the different menu settings and what it does. I photograph approx. 2-3 times per week and found I use the same settings every time, because I am comfortable with them, and don’t stretch myself to learn the rest of the system. I realize now that I need to stretch myself by trying
different things I am not comfortable doing and see if it changes my results. I practice but now I am going to really practice. Thanks for the insight.
I just appreciate the suggestion – and the push – to practice at home. My camera had gone dormant over the last few months, and I’ll be in Death Valley in six weeks to do photography. Without today’s video, I probably would have arrived rather rusty!
I loved your video today. What your saying works. When I first bought my Nikon Z6 3 years ago, I also bought a fast start guide video that went through every button and menu item on the camera. I do actually spend time going thru it to this day. I’m still learning things about my camera. On the practicing side I’m lucky and live in south Florida so I can always practice on the birds in my backyard, go to the beach or one the many wetlands close by. Sometimes I go and just practice with one focus setting, it does help to know what the limitations are for each.
Hi Gary. I searched through UTube videos on the menus and bottons on my Z7 when I purchased that. Then when my mentor helped me set up camera for our first shoot, the settings made sense to me.
I had bought John Greengo fast start guide off of creative live for 10$. It was the best 10 bucks I ever,spent.
I really have wanted to pick up my realtively new Olympus camera and keep learning how to use it. I became discourged with the Olympus and I see that it was because I did not practice using it.It doesn’t seem to be easy to learn. I pick up and use the Iphone because it is easier and I actually sit around and fiddle and practice with it in odd moments but I really would like to become more proficient with the Olympus and I see now what I need and have to do is practice with it too.
Hi Matt – I’ve been doing what you suggested (this past year) re: practicing with my camera; since I can’t go shoot what I normally would. I have an Olympus camera with zillions of layers of menu depth. I only use about a million of the features in the menus. Okay, so I’m being Carl Sagian, but you get the idea. What I’ve been practicing the past couple months is how to use the Oly Live Composite feature. I create tabletop setups & try different types of tools (pen lights, bigger flashlights, flashlights with cinefoil ‘snoots’, light shot thru colored get squares, etc.) to light paint the objects/setups & see what effects I can achieve as the lighting effects build in Live Composite. It’s not as simple as it sounds to get the correct aperture & not end up with tons of “messy” light squiggles. My camera, unfortunately, doesn’t support tethering so there’s a lot of run down the hall to the PC with memory card in hand trial & error. But, hey, that makes up for me not being able to go to the gym to use the elliptical …. 😉 When I feel more masterly with Live Composite I’ll next try learning Focus Stacking. Wish me luck!
Perfect idea to practice birds flying using the computer. I do practice shutter speed using the water from my sink’s faucet. The triangle can be daunting when you are not mechanical like I am.
Hi Matt, thanks for the video and your time and effort. I take onboard to use the camera more often to learn what it does, I began doing this last year as my photo shoots began to decline. Another educator in photography I took note of suggested to do 10 mins a day to learn something photography will help you better your skills and I have done this mostly watching video but after your video today understand needs to be a Theory and Practical experience to fully appreciate the process. I actually am looking forward to taking up your suggestions so thanks for the inspiration.
Thanks as usual Matt, for some great ideas. I do try and go through my manual every now and then to remind myself of all my camera features and practice with the settings, but unfortunately most camera manuals (at any rate the ones put out by Olympus) are really difficult to navigate and understand! So I have to turn to the internet to help me figure out what the settings _really_ do and what the implications are if I choose one setting over another. I do learn a lot that way, but I definitely don’t put what I learn into practice enough! Hopefully I will get off my backside more this year!
Matt I agree with you on practice. When I started to learn Studio Lighting, I was able to get an old clothing store mannequin. That was 10 years ago and I still have it. Every time I want to try out something different with lighting I pull out the mannequin and work out my ideas.
The pandemic actually caused me to do more photography. I bought and worked through courses (Matt’s and others), and went out practicing. We had total lockdown, but I have a yard and was always able to find things to shoot. Now that I have more freedom, I get out exploring about 3 times a week. I need a day for processing the photos I take, so 1 day shooting, 1 day processing. I just need to make sure I keep at it, because it has made a big difference in my photography.
Ha ha, I practice shooting in my backyard. I have two turkeys that I got when they were just days old. It’s hard to shoot these guys and they can’t leave but they don’t hold still. There are plenty of things to shoot. I do often wish that I had a model to practice with…
I got a new Canon R camera, I am having a need to practice because buttons have been moved!
Love this video….I have a golden retriever puppy that I got in February. I couldn’t wait to take pictures of her. The problem was she’s not old enough or trained for a “sit stay”. She was moving all the time…fast and erratically. I had to learn how to take a sharp action picture. I read a manual and asked bird photographers on my Nikon FB page about settings. It was pretty funny because they all said something different. I tried various settings and figured out what works for me. My “hit “ rate for sharp action shots have slowly improved. The value of figuring out things yourself by practicing is amazing. I have my camera in hand as much as possible…the dark wet and cold Northwest weather makes it a challenge but I love your ideas of practicing inside the house. Really appreciate these videos, especially this time of year when inspiration and new ways of thinking about my photography is a harder to come by.
Your thought process of trying before you ask resonated w/ me. When I used to teach the new hires at my job, I would answer their questions at first. Then when they came for the second round, I asked them to tell me what they would do first…listen and then add things in if needed, but they had to think before they asked the second time. It worked well and they always thanked me. Yet the biggest point for me you made…was to try to learn your camera or “relearn” before going out on a shoot. I got a mentor to help me and we would go out and work on a certain aspect together. She gave me “homework” to send to her and I learned a lot this way. Thanks for reminding me…
When I wanted to get better at newborn photography, I bought a doll that was potable and practiced wrapping and posing the doll as well as use it to stage lighting and practice with studio lights in my living room. I love the idea of photographing videos or photos on the computer as practice! I’ve also been advised to practice changing settings on my camera with my eyes closed as it’s helpful for night photography.
I recently bought a macro lens for my camera because I think that macrophotography is cool and that I can get unique looks of interesting subjects without traveling beyond my house or yard. Often I take multiple photos using the focus shift shooting feature of my camera for focus stacking. While practicing I noticed how the lens focus breaths. Through multiple trials, I figured out how to compose and test my photo so that I capture my whole intended subject in a focus stacked result. I’ll continue to practice this on various subjects so that it becomes second nature to me. Then on to the next challenge.
When I first got my new camera. I went to a grain elevator by the railway yard. The scenery was nothing to rave about, but there was no shortage of pigeons flying around due to all the spilled grain. It allowed me a subject for lots of practice on fast focus and following birds in flight. Most landfills would work as well. I often will stop at one of this sites to practice.
Liked the concepts. I’m a big proponent of practicing using the camera so you don’t have to think about how to do something when the action is hot.
I want to look at my manual again and review things, so this was a great reminder. The other thing I want to do this year is understand my speed lite controls. It seems every time I take it out, I feel like I am reinventing the wheel each time. So definitely more practice with it. The cold weather and Covid make it a perfect time to use the speedlite indoors and practice. Thanks Matt!
Thank you Matt. I pretty much think that every time I go out it is a practice session! I’m lucky to live very close to a Riparian Preserve so I have lots of opportunities to practice birds in flight. I don’t have to wait for the hawk to appear, I can practice on the ducks coming in for a landing or taking off. When I practice I feel free to experiment and make mistakes. I love hanging out with my camera.
These are great tips to practice. I have been able to get out as there are many wild life areas near where I live. I also practice the tips in the video. One other idea I have to share….a friend of mine has moved far away and we used to go out with our cameras regularly. So, what we do now is face time while we each do some still life in our homes and then share what we are doing with the camera as well as visit. It has been a great opportunity for me to practice more with the tripod and setting up images. And, we are able to photograph together and visit!
Hi Mary Ann, What a great idea you came up with taking photos with your friend while you face time. That’s
great. I was pleased to see your name and comment pop up here. Maybe at some point
we can share what we gained from Matt’s outstanding videos and suggestions after the 3 week period.
Thanks so much for this lesson. I’m always looking outside to practice Now I can work from inside. Great ideas. I live on a lake so I can get lots of practice on birds and once a month full moon rising over the lake. Plenty of room for mistakes so I take lots of pictures with different settings.
In the digital age, it’s so much easier to practice as you have instant feedback. In the “good” old days, you had to finish your roll of film and drop it off for development and printing. To save on cost, I learned early to develop anf print by b&w film/pictures. Wishful thinking. The camera stayed the same for many years, but the darkroom settings changed from 35mm to 4×5 and bigger enlarger. It was fun, but time consuming. Now, after importing my images I can see what I have created and start to cull. Maybe I get 2 or 3 keepers from an outing. So PRACTICING is so much easier nowadays. So get up, go out and shoot to your heart’s content. Topic: ANYTHING.
I practice by reading a book on a subject then trying to recreate the concept. The book “Picture Perfect Practice” by Roberto Valenzuela is a great example of where you might start with this. Really, however, I just need to make the time.
Ouch – this hit home! I am going to practice more. Retiring in a month, so hoping for more time to get out and practice. Thanks Matt! This is the fresh start I needed!
Thanks. Good comments about using the TV for practice – I will try it. So far, I have bought flowers (1 or more) and practiced inside with different angles, lighting, lenses, focus stacking, or whatever I have in mind. I have learned a lot – but more to learn for faster camera changes. Thanks again.
Thanks Matt, I live in the mountains of Colorado and have. Beautiful landscape opportunities literally just outside my front door. I am making a commitment to get out and shoot one day a week. Even if it is just cars to practice different techniques.
Lately I’ve been sitting with my camera and manual, marking pages and trying to figure out what various actions are really doing. I even have a notebook I take with me where I’ve noted certain things to do or watch for when shooting. I have also taken photos going through all the various F-stops and ISO settings to compare how each looks. I find it’s beginning to help, if I keep my head about me when I’m out and don’t get so excite that I just start shooting. Yeah, I’ve been known to take one maybe two shots then hurry off to something else before I know if they really turned out to be something.
The two big things for me are firstly, just trying settings, etc. I’ve been able to spend some time at a lake photographing Ospreys ( very social distanced) and just seeing how various settings work out for me. I know what works because it’s now tried and proven, not a result of watching a video.
Secondly, I carry a camera with me when I walk every day. The idea isn’t to get “keepers” but to keep reflexes honed. Then I come home and look at how the photos came out. When there’s an issue I puzzle out why and how to fix it next time. That way, when I’m actually on a shoot that counts I’m much more ready and spend a lot less time getting up to speed, as it were.
Thanks Matt… just what I needed to hear!
My camera is my therapy, my often go-to happy place. Due to Covid, I have spent lots of time in my front and backyard, practicing by taking pictures of flowers, plants and birds. While using different settings, I also try different lenses. While many images are discard, it’s a learning process.
I pick one process I want to improve upon such as understanding focus points at different focal lenghts.
I will practice locally until I feel confident of the process I am using.
Then i will pick another process such as capturing wildlife and what is needed both for in camera settings and composition.
Before I leave for a shoot I will go over the camera functions, technics and accessories I will most likely use.
This allows me to quickly adapt in the field, concentrate on compostions and be more confident I will capture the image I visualize.
Great topic. A needed reminder to use the camera more around the house and yard. Every year around the holidays I have to relearn using flashes for indoor family gatherings. Birds in flight is something I would like to do but never really learned how to focus on moving subjects.
Like you said I tend to practice when we are out and about. I am inquisitive by nature and tend to push and click everything to see what happens. Sometimes a little too much happens and then we are out in the bush and I have no idea how to get back to where I was.
Definitely, time to practice at home where I have the resources to work out what went wrong and fix it before the opportunity is missed.
I too never thought about using the computer for practice. Thinking back we used to take pictures of the tv with our Kodak Brownie film cameras so we could have a picture of our favourite musicians. Never really thought of that as practice. But it was timing was everything. 🙂
Great video has given me some new ideas for practice. I retired not too long ago and joined a camera club just so that I would be active using my camera. The camera club provides monthly assignments discussion groups meet ups and sometimes workshops. It keeps me using my camera and learning new things. The club has many resources and people with knowledge about different things the discussion groups bring all levels of photographers together with questions and answers. Thank you again Matt you do a great job
Thank you for the video. I agree about trying to learn before asking for help. If I don’t try it out first I can’t understand much that I’m told because I don’t have a frame of reference. The idea about using the computer for birds was a great idea. I’ve thought of photographing landscapes, but not movement. Thanks!
From the Author Steven Gould, taking about the connections between his writing and martial arts practices. I substituted the word, “Photography” for his word, “Writing”.
What has the study and practice of Photography taught you about writing?
As I said. Sixteen years. I have been regularly teaching for over half of that. By the time this is published I will have been newly promoted to Yondan (4th Degree Black Belt). And it has taught me that most important things are achieved by just showing up over and over and over again.
Practice is cumulative. Photography is cumulative. Photography is practice. The Japanese word for practice is Keiko. The way you improve is “keiko, keiko, keiko,” just like the answer to the question: How do you get to Carnegie Hall.
Steven Gould, Author and martial artist (Aikido) interview Clarkesworld science fiction & fantasy magazine, October, 2011 http://clarkesworldmagazine.com/gould_interview/
I have stared at my very nice Nikon cameras affectionately for some time – I learned nothing. Because of this video, I’m going to practice and get better with what I own. Great advice.
I need to further develop a working knowledge!
After watching your video, I am going to pick up my brand new Canon 90D and just go through the menus and try things out instead of reading the manual first! Thanks!!
Thanks Matt, what a great video topic. I am always looking for photos when I’m out & about but am not doing anything with my camera, I maybe use my phone occasionally. Am realising this is not enough & actually forgetting how to use a lot of the camera controls & setting adjustments. Great idea about camera practice in front of PC with different types of images on the screen simulating outdoor situations, never thought about that before.
Thanks for some of those great ideas for practicing, especially indoors. I have a new to me camera (Canon 7DMII) and getting my head around all of the options is still making my head swim. Thanks for the push to use what I already have to practice the various settings.
Great, great, great discussion and suggestions. I struggle sharp focus, exp. compensation… Now I’m going to practice these techniques without expectation fort great photos, though that would be nice, too.
Thank you for pointing out that gear icon. I never knew it’s purpose. I really like your idea of practicing with the camera in a controlled environment. Your bald eagle is adorable.
I really liked this segment. The whole reason why I am now into bird photography is because I bought a new 150-600mm lens last May in anticipation of a trip to Antarctica, and I set out to practice using it as much as possible in advance of that trip (I had a lot of experience shooting landscapes, but for a once-in-a-lifetime destination like Antartica, I wanted to do the wildlife justice). I live in Los Angeles and discovered many great places to shoot birds within an hour’s drive. The trip ultimately got cancelled due to COVID (hopefully it will happen in Nov 2022) but in the meantime I got totally hooked on shooting birds.
Even though I am getting out and shooting at least one day a week (and often more), I do need to do practice more when I’m stuck at home. You offered some great ideas that I will have to try.
Sounds so familiar – I bought a 100-400 lens because we were going to see the puffin colony on Machias Seal Island and went to local birding spots to get comfortable with it. The trip was canceled due to rough seas, and given the distance and our age, we’ll never get to go. But I did get some fun bird pictures, and the practice was wonderful.
Great suggestions for practicing!
wow….great suggestions…..guess I’m digging out my manual and start fiddling around…..
Thanks for the nudge and the excellent suggestions (I never would have thought to use the computer monitor as a tool for practicing the effects of different camera settings). I’ve been shooting a lot in the last 2 years — much more than usual — with frequent walks and hikes in the area where I live. But I am in a particular comfort zone with the settings I use and could certainly benefit from spending time experimenting and learning much more about my gear by doing. Committing at least a little bit of time each day is an excellent idea.
I watch a lot of short clips on you tube while working out, then I will try it. Helps to keep active with the camera and explore different areas of photography. I also take my camera with me when going anywhere…never know what you will run into. e.g. the other day I ran into bald eagle sitting in a tree at eye level right next to the road and the light was really good. Got some good practice and nice shots.
This was a great habit to talk about. My wife is frequently teasing me about how many pictures I’ve taken out our front window. trying to discover how a particular camera setting worked. After watching today’s video I sat down with my camera manual because I have long been confused about exactly how the camera reacted when bracketing with auto-ISO turned on, especially in manual mode.
Thanks for the reminder.
I belong to a group that sets a weekly challenge and then critiques the images. I’ve learnt an amazing amount because it forces me to shoot every week, often out of my comfort zone and out of my skill set. The critiques have improved my editing skills immensely. It is also interesting to hear others interpretation of one’s image. I also belong to a local photography club with members with a diverse range skill sets. It is a supportive group that provides motivation, challenges, help, and company for outings.
I try to get out and practice my photography on a regular basis. Around town I go to places I’ve been to before but I will try different techniques or go abstract. Also, I’ve been trying to learn and practice different Lightroom and Photoshop techniques to expand my existing photos.
Practice makes perfect-maybe not but it certainly will lead to improvement.
Oh, I wish that I had a print manual for my camera. That would be so helpful.
Today, before I saw the video, I did go out and practiced using manual focus.
And while I don’t always take my camera on my daily walk, I do have my iPhone and it takes fine images.
Thanks for your excellent video today. I especially liked the part about drawing the owl.
Sharon, did you check online for ur camera manual? Once you find it print it out or take it to a local printing company on a flash drive to be printed out.
I’m thinking a ‘Photo of the Day’ project could provide incentive for me to practice new things on a daily basis. I’ve never attempted one before, but it seems like just the thing to keep me accountable and motivated.
Also, having an organized area for camera and equipment makes it much easier to find necessary items.
I discovered this week how much a lack of practice has impacted my ability to produce great images, and you, Matt, have reinforced that discovery. Over the last two years I established a daily routine of watching (and note taking) at least one educational photography workshop a day, thinking that as long as I am thinking about and learning about photography I would be moving myself forward and would not become stagnant during Covid. I had such a desire to practice my new knowledge but let myself use Covid as my excuse not to. Finally I had a chance to shoot some very important family photos and did my best to do so. This week while examining these photos I could painfully see all of the mistakes that I had made and realized that there was a big gap between my knowledge and my ability to utilize this knowledge during my photo shoots. I will now practice what I am taught.
Hey Matt, another great idea. I came across something early on that suggested learning minimally to be able to change ISO, Aperature, and Shutter Speed without looking. I worked on that and worked on it. Then it really came in handy at a fireworks display where I couldn’t see my settings and dials. All that practice really paid off. That made me appreciate practice and how it could help me. I also bought a book that was a deep dive into my camera that was easier to digest than the manual. Then as there were things I wanted to learn how to do, I pulled out the book and tried them. My favorite was learning to freeze action or show movment with my ceiling fan. It worked and I got a much better understanding of the concept. I recently took you bird photography class and have tried some of your suggestions for praticing from that such as putting a small bird model in a tree and practicing finding it quickly. Lastly, I got a new camera recently and although the same brand, the controls are in different places. I immediately started practicing setting ISO, Aperature, and Shutter Speed. I could tell a difference after a couple of days. I have many other new features to learn and try out (one being back button focus which I’m curious about). I’m not afraid to put in the work though as I’ve already proven to myself that it helps.
Great topics, I’d like to comment on Practice. For me I had to practice ridding myself of some bad habits. My first bad habit was leaving my camera settings to the last outing with me camera, I’ve often found my ISO was set way too high and it resulted in many missed shots. I had to practice putting my gear away when I got home and resetting the controls to normal ISO, getting off a bracket setting or high continuous shooting. Foolish issues, but it took me quite a while to discipline myself to reset my settings. N ow it’s almost automatic.
One setting I’ve found myself interested in is Focus Bracketing, the manual is imperfect for sure and the instructions are really vague, but after 8-10 experiments with Focus Bracketing has made me somewhat more comfortable with this setting.
Next I’ll try ISO Bracketing, why I’m not sure.
Thanks for making this a topic. BTW, I use BBF all the time and have for 8 years or so.
It had never occurred to me to set up the camera on a tripod in front of a computer and use videos to practice. Thank you for a great suggestion! I did come across a suggestion at a portrait photography session at WPPI that I have found helpful. It was to buy a hairdresser practice head to practice studio lighting. I found one on Amazon that wasn’t expensive. I’m not a professional studio photographer by any means but I play a bit so that has helped.
Excellent topic! I found that I’ve been practicing reading the manual rather than using the camera in terms of my actions. There are many aspects to practicing e.g. thinking about the photograph, seeing the light, using the camera, using the other equipment, using the software, using the computer, and I’m sure many other aspects. If I understand correctly, it’s the doing that gets results not just the reading.
Thanks Matt for a great topic! I just recently purchased a new camera and have been trying to be diligent in learning its operation. Your video helped reinforce this practice! As primarily a wildlife photographer, I loved your suggestion of practicing BIF using YouTube videos. This is an area in which I struggle. I will be putting your suggestion to the test! One thing I have recently been trying is going out into the field with only one lens and forcing myself to find inspiration with that lens. It not only helps me learn the lens but also using it to look at photography with a different perspective.
Matt you hit the nail on the head. I have several friends who never look at a user’s guide or manual and expect to use their cameras, iPhones and computers with success. I tend to do what you recommend and especially the last two years. I use my users guides and get out in my area and try what I have read. I also take courses and watch videos to understand photography concepts. But trying computer and camera techniques myself works best for me.
Although I love shooting nature, I don’t like shooting in the cold, so in the winter I do all sorts of indoor photography projects to keep in practice. Tabletop light painting is a favorite. All you need is some black cloth and inexpensive colored lights to move around. I move lights around my mother’s old crystal bowls and cut class vases. I also use interesting glass to shoot through to create abstracts. Sometimes I go to an indoor greenhouse and take macro shots of the beautiful flowers and plants. I even take photos in the produce aisle at the grocery store sometimes, or buy some unusual fruits, veggies, and flowers to bring home for a macro or still life shoot. Last week I went to a friend’s house who has a stained glass collection and photographed all sorts of objects through her interesting pieces of textured glass. Toy cars on ramps are a great way to practice capturing objects in motion, as are objects on a spinning lazy susan. If you have space for it, you can also put objects on a skateboard and move that towards you using a string.
I’ve found planning for a photography event generates my interest in practicing. When Union Pacific’s Big Boy (world’s largest steam engine) made the tour in 2019 coming through Tucson I spent about 10 hours and 100 miles over a week looking for the best vantage points to capture this event.
your piece about drawing the owl reminded me of something I saw a while back.
“How to draw a horse in two easy steps””
1 Draw a Unicorn
2 Erase the horn 😂
When I first got my camera I spent about four weeks learning every button and every dial on what to me at that time was a very complicated piece of kit and that effort has really helped me in moving forward.
Lately I have found myself not getting enough practice out and about so thats my next plan. I’ve been in a bit of a rut with modes. Aperture priority for landscape, Shutter priority for wildlife etc so I’m going to start going out and change it up a bit and experiment a lot more.
Just got a tip about shooting wildlife and birds in manual mode with auto ISO so thats what I’ll be trying next. I’ve got my head around the theory, now to get out and give it a go.
I used to be afraid of going too high with ISO but now I’ve got used to using noise reduction software I feel a lot more confident at pushing it and finding the limits of my sensor
Excellent Week two presentation. It’s amazing how much time I have wasted learning to use my camera by using trial and error (Nikon D850), when I have the manual sitting on a shelf and have never read any part of it. Everything I have learned has taken so much trial and error and screwed up many images with this process. MY focus now is to go through the manual and learn how to use the camera the way it should be used.
I found You tube to be a valuable resource when I was getting to know my camera. I learned everything on there settings menus, dials, buttons etc.
Like you I’ve never read any part of my manual, never needed to..
Great tips on practice Matt. It’s something I don’t do nearly enough. I do go out into the backyard and do some of those things with settings and what not and inside with a flash, but need to do more.
Love this! I do practice with my camera, although not as regularly as I need to. I LOVE the idea of the tripod, computer screen and YT videos to practice – can see this being a game-changer in photographing birds for sure. We have tonnes of birds in our backyard so I do use this to practice however, I have just started being more discerning on what I shoot. This is a perfect time to practice in different lighting with different lenses and playing with settings. Thanks Matt!
I live on a farm, setting in my recliner looking out patio door.I focus at the trees different distances and do different settings.
Family get-togethers are rare since I live in Sedona & everyone else lives back East, mostly in NJ. So when we do meet up, everyone expects me to be the photographer, consequently most pics exclude me. Setting up cam on tripod, with self-timer or remote control allows me to be part of the scene. Practicing both indoors & outside with myself as the model, also with friends, pre-focusing correctly, enables me to quickly join in & capture shots of our entire group with great results.
Got a new mirrorless cam, 24-200 & macro lenses are new challenges, previously used a crop sensor cam, usually capturing landscapes. My new mantra, practice, practice, practice. Thank you Matt for your inspiration!
This video really struck home with me, especially when you used the golf analogy. When I golfed regularly I practiced more than I played and became a better golf accordingly, as I did as a kid learning the trumpet. But I’ve never taken those life lessons to my photography hobby, at least on a regular basis. Time for that to change.
Liked the concepts. I’m a big proponent of practicing using the camera so you don’t have to think about how to do something when the action is hot.
I had the measure of working with a wedding photographer for a few semesters. He made us have the camera at our side and with one hand, not looking at it increase or decrease f stops, shutter speeds, ISO and exposure compensation. Know your camera. With my new mirrorless I now use double back button focus so I had a new tactile to learn to change between spot focus or eye focus. It is so convenient. I try to find the most efficient way to get to anything on my camera. I’ll sit on the couch working the settings. I need to do what other people have written and leave the camera by the back door. We have incredible bird diversity and different light situations all the time. Great video. Try things, then listen to the experts and take what applies and works for you. Don’t just follow blindly.
A very good point. The last two years have been rough, but I’m lucky living in a small town with a community forest, and scenic state parks nearby. Got a new camera in June (full frame mirror-less) for better low light performance. Set it up in the way that seemed obvious for how I use i –t, in forest until it is reasonable to get high in the summer. Is well past time I explore other options on metering and auto-focus along with other features, like letting the camera automatically change focus distance for stacking. And, with the wretched weather NW Washington (state) is having, this is perfect time to do it.
Thanks for the kick in the butt.
WOW!! What an eye opener for me. I am a musician and I practice my instrument four hours a day, and I never once thought about practicing with my camera. I’m going to try and adapt my music practice strategies to camera practice.
The idea of practicing with the camera had not occurred to me previously. It’s a promising idea that I began to practice by learning back button focusing. I’d never employed that before, and I still want to learn when (and perhaps where) it will be particularly useful. I did learn to employ it today but only after consulting the owner manual, as I had no idea which button to use. I feel better now that I at least know what it is on my camera.
I hear “you should sketch more” a lot, but “practice more” sounds better to me and less haphazard.
1) practice working through the manual
2) practice having the camera on a tripod in front of the computer
Youtube has taken me away from #1 in a less than satisfying way. Now, I’ve put the manual on my desk.
I never realized I could do #2! Wow, a whole new world just opened up.
Thank you, Matt!
Like most things, first hand experience beats any lecture, book or advise. For instance, you cannot learn a language if you never open your mouth.
Yes, Practise is key. I’m intentionally out at least two times a week. Perhaps it’s time to increase to three times.
My situation may be a bit different from others, as the main goal that I have for my photography in 2022 is to use the images that I have created in the past as well as those that I will create during this new year to make a set of photographic cards to “inspire and encourage” others. I have had cards printed several times in the past, so am familiar with the entire process.
To do this, I seek to do something “photo/graphic” every day (regardless of our crazy weather in the Northwest!) in building this set of cards. This includes looking at other card designs at bookstores, etc. as well as looking through my images and choosing those that I will be using. I have four cards in the works now, with a complete set of (24) cards planned over the weeks ahead.
Great suggestions, Matt! I’m ashamed to say that I never practice with my camera. I do mostly bird photography & have never changed the autofocus settings on my camera since day one! There are definitely a few areas that I need to spend some time with when I’m not in the field. Thanks for the gentle ‘kick in the butt’!!
I plan to explore the autofocus modes of my camera using flying birds on a monitor.
I loved this topic and it really resonated with me. When I upgraded my old DSLR camera about a year ago, I was somewhat overwhelmed with all the new technology and capabilities like multiple focus areas. My results weren’t great and I became frustrated especially while out shooting and having to figure out where do I change this, where do I change that. So one day early on with having the new camera, I decided I had to become more knowledge with where I change which setting. Several times a week, while watching the evening news, my camera would be in my lap and I would practice changing settings on the fly…whatever popped in my head…and seeing how long it would take me. I obviously got better over time but it was a great exercise.
What also resonated was your analogy with playing golf. If you don’t practice enough, you don’t get better. As I was struggling with learning the impact of various settings on my new camera, I would pick something in my home or balcony and take pictures of it with different settings and compare images. I still do that as I feel my muscle memory isn’t there yet…but also not looking for perfection.
While I already do some practicing, I do have a take away from the video and comments posted so far. I need to leave my camera out where I see it more instead of out of sight and out of mind in my ready to go camera bag. I like the challenge to practice 1/2 hour daily.
Thanks Matt. A great lesson. The idea of setting up to take photos from my computer sound wonderful. I will get started ASAP since it it currently -18C outside.
Up until the past two years I was out most weekends doing my sports photography and so felt quite comfortable with my equipment and techniques required to achieve the images I was seeking. That said, not a lot time was left for me to shoot other genres so I have gone about practicing with birds and plants in my backyard, especially with my larger lenses, to see how well I can manage hand holding for extended periods and the effect that has on me physically and what shutter speeds I need to consistently get sharp images as I tire over an extended period.
Often I sit within my study and use the same camera settings but with different lenses to practice my composition and see the effect of depth of field, required exposure and distance to subject to get different images of the same items.
Thanks Matt for the subtle push!! Gotta know your camera I STRONGLY recommend John Gringo (CreativeLive.com)/rocky nook/ Johngringo.com He has classes that take you through your specific camera settings and replaces the need for a paper manual. He also has lens classes. It helps me. I own the class for my Canon 7D Mark II and 5D Mark IV , plus his lens class and can revisit when ever I forget or haven’t used my camera .
I love the idea of using your TV or computer screen to practice focus and movement (birds, cyclists, all the Olympics!) I am guilty of not taking out my camera and then asked to do a small shoot and not confident. Thanks Matt.
Thanks. I just got a new camera last week. I am going through the manual but will need to keep your suggestions in mind to get really good at knowing the settings .I need to not fall back into the rut of just knowing how to do a few things.
I got a mirrorless camera at the end of October when a camera store was having a buy-back event and I knew that I would not have time to learn about the camera because of travel plans and Christmas prep. I literally took only 150 images prior to this week. My goal this year is to shoot at least once per week. Your suggestions of inside, the stuffed eagle (love) and shooting at the computer will really help me practice with this new tool. Funnily enough, there is a window by the computer that I use to edit images. I’ve noticed that I have some birds that love the tree right outside the window. So – I will be setting up my tripod with a camera and lens on it to look out of that window. I already pushed the screen up so that I can just sit here and shoot through the window. Now I just have to figure out when they visit the tree.
I had a good time setting up a website last week after the Fresh Start video.
I try to shoot at least once a week, but am not sure that my “practice” is productive as it should be.
As a retired coach I related to the practice, practice, practice comment. I had my camera out this morning before I watched your video. And I was trying new things . Thanks for the confirmation!
I guess I’m kind of lucky where my backyard is located. I have bugs, birds, lizards, flowers and our dog to photograph and practice different things. Last year, I got a new Macro Lens watched some videos on Macro Photography and then went out in my backyard and practiced. Like Matt said, found some stuff the videos didn’t cover, and then searched and found some answers to my questions. Also, I decided to convert an old camera to IR and have lots of fun leaning how to take IR photos and post process them. So I’ve been fortunate to have surrounds at my home to practice on. Also, just today I learned some new settings for my built in camera flash and practice with some of the settings and had great results.
I recently changed from Fuji to Sony. I have spent hours watching videos and reading about the features the camera has, how they work and how to access them. I have also spent hours sitting with my camera to famialize myself with the dials, settings and how to switch things quickly. Matt is 100% correct. Practice with your camera as muchhas you can. It makes a huge difference when in the field shooting.
I’m fortunate to be able to shoot pretty frequently. When I can’t get out to some interesting place, I practice shooting sparrows from my back porch. This helps me to be able to hold my big lens steady when I am out, as well as helps me to bring a bird or other animal into focus quickly. I don’t read my manual a lot, but I do go through the camera menu frequently and try different settings.
Great video today. On cold days when I don’t want to go outside to shoot I have my camera set up on a tripod in front of my patio door. I have bird feeders and I am practicing still and action shots. Very fun and I am learning a lot. I try to shoot everyday.
Shame on you, Matt, for saying all the things I need to hear! You just systematically dismantled all of my excuses!
Practice & Practice is an insurance against disappointment and missed opportunities because the camera left on autofocus hunts gives blurred images, etc. I ave become an occasional and hence an inefficient shooter. Your tips areas always, most valuable.
I totally agree with Matt. Just purchased a new camera, and am spending a lot of time on focus and exposure. I sometimes feel like there are too many options. I do need to spend more time looking through the viewfinder and experiment with all the settings. And that will help me start to get some muscle memory. Thanks Matt.
I routinely sit with the manual and the piece of equipment I am learning. Just reading the manual doe not work. I also visit locations more than once. Each location is a learning process.
Thanks for the inspiration and teaching me that there is so much I can do even when feeling imprisoned by Covid. The lecture reminded me of an old friend, long gone, who loved cameras. He was not a photographer! He loved cameras as gadgets and enjoyed holding one, fiddling with it, and learning all about how it worked.
The old saying “PRACTICE MAKES PERFECT.” Actually, the truest of statements and a good one to live by, if you are not a lazy photographer. I have been taking a photography class, off and on, since 2006 and have learned some wonderful things. My expertise does not run in the photo taking but rather in the photo editing. I am a lazy photographer that keeps my setting on program and rapid fire. I get some great shots and some not so great shots. But photo editing is my thing and I will definitely practice more with editing in my many programs. So you have definitely helped me with this workshop in a related way.
Matt, thanks for discussing practice. It is something we all need and ignore. Your suggestions demonstrate how easy it can be. I will try them out.
By the way your toy eagle reminded me of Moose Peterson’s teddy bear exposure compensations test.
I am still shooting with the DSLR I purchased in 2009! Fortunately, it came with a printed manual. I use that manual more now than when I bought the camera.
Taking photos nearly every day for the last 6 years is how I’ve gone from a complete novice to having my photos published on a regular basis. No better way to learn that Just Do It.
Reminded me to work out for myself why my camera’s intervalometer wasn’t working the way I wanted it to when I was out recently creating a star trail. It would have taken me far longer to work out the solution by Googling than just getting to grips with the settings myself. Turns out that the ‘shoot interval’ needs to include the length of the exposure as well, not just the interval between photos. (And the camera manufacturer’s instruction video did not make that clear at all).
Thanks Matt! Good suggestions. As a bird photographer, I typically practice by going to a park close to my home and finding whatever bird is there and working on my focusing, getting the bird into a good background, depth of field, shutter speeds for different situations, etc. I’m not really looking to get a world class picture of a robin or some other common bird but I’m trying to get good at those so when I go on a trip to Florida or Texas to take shots of the birds I really want to be shooting I’m more comfortable with what works and doesn’t work. I need to get better at changing settings in the dark so I’ll work on that now too!
I try to take a walk every day. I take my camera with me and try to take one worthy photo on each walk. This keeps my camera in my hand and keeps me looking at the areas I walk with new eyes every time.
Great idea for me to use. I try to walk regularly but never thought of bringing a camera.
We keep our camera out and accessible should we catch anything interesting in the backyard or just want to grab it for a neighborhood walk or local drive.
When I try to read my camera manual, I usually fall asleep or try to find something else to do. I like your idea of selecting individual topics, reading about it, and then trying it. I definitely don’t use my camera enough. As the old saying goes, “if you don’t use it, you lose it.” You’ve given me some inspiration to just do it.
I have to respond to your hilarious comment, “When I try to read my camera manual, I usually fall asleep”. I hate camera manuals so when I am stuck I glance at the manual, then set it in an obvious place so I can’t miss picking it up the next day and then the next. After three days, I can finally resolve the issue or do without ever learning what I set out to learn in the first place.
Great suggestions. I realize I spend much more time planning photo excursions and all the logistics than I do planning and practicing what I will do with the camera to capture the shot once I arrive. Really love the suggestion about how to practice the auto focus. I’ve been struggling with that on a new camera and the time to figure it out is not when I’m trying to capture a bucket list shot.
Throughout the last two years, I have felt the tug to get out and practice to develop my landscape photography skills. However, my tendency to be conservative about COVID for myself and others, has kept me largely tethered to my office and home. Your video has opened a panorama of possibilities for me to practice. I had not considered using my computer and tablet screens as a means of practice. Moreover, I am now more ready to commit to visiting some of the local parks available to me. I live in Tampa and we have many County and State parks that provide opportunities for practicing landscape photography. Thank you for opening my mind to possibilities — that is the essence of teaching (and learning)!
I’m trying to get ready to try BIF when I’m in Florida in February. I have woods behind my house where there are often deer (and where is often 20 degrees). So at times I pull out my camera while inside the house, point it through a window to the woods, and practice quickly acquiring focus on a deer or other critter.
To practice my photography at home, I go in my back yard or walk my neighborhood and just shoot what I find interesting, or work on something that I have a hard time with.
Indoors in winter is a perfect time to set up still life arrangements. I once did that to learn focus stacking and lighting with a flashlight. I think I’ll do it again since it has been a long time since I did that. A good refresher
I certainly can identfy with the need to practice more. The ideas that you introduced can be a way to do in a positive way
The way of addressing items around the house and addressing various setting changes to my camera is a great way to get in some valuable practice time.
Just the lesson I need, especially the 1/2 hr./day dedication! Thanks for that and the idea of using the computer!
Great Inspiration, Matt! I have to admit that with the new iPhone cameras it is so much easier to use my phone than carrying my camera plus gear around when I’m out and about. With that said, I also know that my DSLR takes far superior photos. Then why do I leave it at home? Laziness I guess.
One thing I did do during the height of Covid lockdown is set up a very simple studio. I shot lots of photos (mostly flowers) using Live View, manual mode, which really helped me to understand how different settings work together.
I really like to practice new techniques that I have watch or read about, but I know I need to practice more frequently. A new goal that I will set for myself in 2022.
I just bought a new lens and know that I will be practicing before we embark on a big adventure next month. That called motivation…
Such timely subject today Matt, yesterday I went to a frequented location to practice a different approach to landscape photography. Viewing on the big screen today was eye opener as to what I did yesterday and how I routinely do landscapes now I have a new direction to “perfect “ in the field. Also, I will take some time daily to learn how to incorporate using the preview and fn buttons on my cameras to switch settings without having to stop what I’m doing to look at the menu. Thanks so much for this fresh start.
Look at joining a Photography / Camera Club, lots of like minded people at different stages in their photographic journeys, lots of people happy to share their knowledge. By being involved you will ….practice….and put your practice to work.
I know my camera has a lot of features that I haven’t ever used and I like the idea of setting a time to spend with the manual to learn and practice them. I participate in a 52 Week Challenge Group that gives me a prompt each week so I have that to get me shooting, either at home or outside. Also, I never thought of using my computer to give me a subject to practice on at home. Great idea!
I don’t use my camera enough because I always have my cell phone with me and it takes adequate pictures. It takes very good snapshots, but creativity is not part of the experience. I will start using my camera more as it is the creativity that drew me to photography to begin with. Gotta get my camera out of the house. I also liked the suggestions for indoor practice.