The road to mastering photography is a long one. In fact, it’s a journey that never ends! There is always something new to learn and existing skills that can be improved.
If you ask me, the most difficult part of learning photography isn’t getting started, but transitioning from being a beginner to a more advanced photographer.
The tips I’ve outlined below address this very period in your development and will help you get over the hump to become more skilled.
Get Out of Full Auto
I’ve said before that using full auto mode when you’re a beginner can actually be a good thing. After all, without having to worry about exposure settings, you can concentrate more fully on things like composition and framing.
But now that you’re ready to become more of an enthusiast photographer, it’s time to leave full auto behind.
I think everyone should learn manual mode, but you don’t have to jump right to the big, scary M on your camera’s dial just yet.
A great way to exert more control over the camera settings is to shoot in aperture priority, shutter priority, or program mode:
- Aperture priority mode (A or Av on the camera dial) gives you control over the aperture and ISO while the camera controls shutter speed. This is a great mode to shoot in for things like portraiture or other scenes in which you want to control the depth of field.
- Shutter priority mode (S or Tv on the camera dial) gives you control over the shutter speed and ISO while the camera controls the aperture. Use this setting if you want to control how motion appears in the shot.
- Program mode (P on the camera dial) allows you to set the ISO and the camera sets the aperture and shutter speed for you. This is advantageous in challenging light conditions in which you want a high ISO (in low light) or a low ISO (in bright light).
Getting familiar with these semi-automatic modes is a great way to take baby steps away from full auto without being overwhelmed by having to control all the exposure settings yourself.
When I was a beginner photographer, I relied on the camera’s LCD to determine if the shot I just took was well-exposed.
The problem with doing that is that the LCD is not at all an accurate representation of the lightness or darkness of the photos you take.
Instead, if you want to become a better photographer with images that are better-exposed, you need to learn how to use the camera’s.
Looking at the graph above, you can see why is so beneficial – it gives you a graphical representation of how many pixels are shadows, midtones, and highlights.
If the histogram is skewed to the left, you know that the image is too dark and that you need to brighten it up. If it’s skewed to the right, the opposite problem is at hand – the image is too bright and it needs to be darkened.