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Old February 5th, 2012, 05:47 AM
Burke Symon Burke Symon is offline
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Join Date: Feb 2012
Posts: 6
Default Best way to become better at this stuff

As a photographer just starting to get into photography on a more serious and intimate nature, I was just wondering what some more experienced photographers think is the best way to get better at composition technique and finding subject matter. I know the obvious answer would be to just go out and take more photos (which I plan on doing ), but i was wondering if there were any specific techniques that you or anyone you know have used to challenge themselves.

Pic related, I love this camera.
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Old February 5th, 2012, 07:17 AM
fahim mohammed fahim mohammed is offline
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Join Date: May 2008
Posts: 7,418

Hello Burke.

A simple but difficult question you ask my friend. My answer, not because I am a good photographer,

but because I photograph a lot, is comprised of the following:

1. Photograph a lot: Yes, I know. But I use my camera sitting in bed reading. Of the book. Using different angles, different lenses, different placings to simulate different lighting conditions.

2. Stay away from the obvious. If all are at the Niagara Falls clicking Go look for
some other place to shoot from. Or shoot something else, and buy a postcard as a memory.

3. Examine what you took pictures of. Do you like them or not. Be critical of yourself. Give reasons for
why you like or dislike a photograph you took.

4. Photograph what you like. Study/visit to see works of others who you like. Ask yourself why you like
their photographs. Emulate them. After sometime, you shall be able to go your own way.

In photography, I do not believe in ' rules '. Not even for a start. Photograph what you like, how you
like to photograph it. Later on, look at point #3 above.

I was going to post this picture in images of doors; but shall serve as an example of the way I do photography.
The image is taken by my wife of me. There are visitors with cameras ( my wife and me too ).
I am interested in doors/history and the like. When most ( not my wife as seen from this pic ) had left,
I went in. Not the doors, my wife had them covered. The floor mat by the wall. Centuries old. Covered
with a modern one to prevent damage. I talked to the custodian. Politely. He obliged. The protective covering was removed for me to quickly image the authentic article.

Photograph what you like. Not what others say or do.

I realize that my response is one of million possible ways to approach photography. But it is mine.
based on my experience. Might or might not work for you.

I love the Canon, btw.!! But please don't get hung up on makes and brands and gear.!!

koffee and kamera
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Old February 5th, 2012, 05:02 PM
Mike Shimwell Mike Shimwell is offline
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Join Date: Apr 2008
Location: North Yorkshire, UK
Posts: 1,792

Photograph things you like or love - things that engage you enough for you to want to remember them in a different and more intense way - things you want to share.

Enjoy making photographs, but don't forget the reality you picture.


Look at what you made and look at other things too - try to understand why you like what you like.

Amongst other things, I picture my children and friends a lot, but I try to make pictures I enjoy as well as memories of them - perhaps a tall order

Naomi tries on a medieval armour helmet
Trying on a medieval helmet.jpg

Neil designs a new kitchen for us
My friend Neil designing our new room.jpg

Out one evening
Evening walk.jpg

None of these were planned, all were a response to what I care about and was in front of me - you have every right to dismiss!

Don't get hund up on gear - one of these was shot on film, one with a Leica M9 and a prime lens and one with a canon 5D and zoom - find something you like and use it a lot. If you get bored or run out of steam then swap it for someting else.

Most important I think - don't try and do everything. You don't need to be a jobbing pro if you're doing it for fun. That's a trip down ego alley that is unlikely to serve you well imho.

Enjoy the journey.

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Old February 5th, 2012, 06:08 PM
Ruben Alfu Ruben Alfu is offline
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Join Date: Nov 2009
Location: Panama
Posts: 790

Hi Burke,

I can share two advices that I was given and that have been fundamental for me.

First, realize, comprehend, that it's all about the light. This is so basic that it's easy to overlook. Just keep in mind that the better we understand the light, the better we can express something through photographs.

The other advice is to focus. Think in terms of unity. One idea, could be simple or complex, put in the picture what's necessary for that idea, no more.


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Old February 5th, 2012, 06:37 PM
Mike Shimwell Mike Shimwell is offline
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Location: North Yorkshire, UK
Posts: 1,792

You could also tink about (possibly variations on, or do it as is) this

Not for everyone, but worth thinkin aout what it could teach

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Old February 5th, 2012, 11:39 PM
Jerome Marot Jerome Marot is offline
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Location: Munich, Germany.
Posts: 3,842

May I complement the advices given by suggesting to buy or borrow a few books? Buy books by know photographers of the past century(not the kind of book trying to teach you how to photograph). Visit a few museums, galleries, exhibitions. In a word: try to see good pictures made by others.

You don't have to read a book cover to cover. Just look at a dozen pictures regularly.
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Old February 6th, 2012, 03:04 AM
Helene Anderson Helene Anderson is offline
Join Date: Oct 2011
Location: SW France
Posts: 175

Don't let anyone put you off. Here (OPF) is good but I know of someone (elsewhere) who will say negative things about anyone that doesn't shoot what that person likes to see.

Take your time, might take a while to find which aspect of photography (which subjects) you enjoy shooting most.
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Old February 6th, 2012, 12:25 PM
Andrew Stannard Andrew Stannard is offline
Join Date: Jul 2006
Location: Lancashire, UK
Posts: 376


Just to echo what others have said...
  • Find a subject that you have a passion for and get out there and shoot it.
  • Find some good books - not necessarily about technique, but with photos in that you like. Study them for a bit and try and work out why you like them.
  • When you're creating an image look carefully in the viewfinder and try and make sure that every compositional component adds to the story you're wanting to tell.
  • And most importantly, make sure you have fun! Enjoy your photogrpahy as much as you can.

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Old June 21st, 2012, 12:19 AM
Peter Galbavy Peter Galbavy is offline
Join Date: Jun 2006
Location: London, UK
Posts: 66

I notice this thread is from a few months ago, but I'll post anyway;

To me the single most important thing is to be consciously self-critical. Look at why only 1 shot in 100 makes you happy and try to learn what it is about that 1 that works. Is it the subject, the conditions, the equipment, the settings, the emotions, whatever... Find single things that you dislike, even hate, about an image and try to understand how to stop that happening in the future. These can be things like learning to scan the whole 360 degree frame of a shot for clutter and unwanted "stuff" before pressing the shutter, it can be forcing yourself to level a horizon (or not) or having the patience to keep looking through the viewfinder until your living subject, human or animal, moves into the right place for what you want.

Hope it's going well!
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Old June 21st, 2012, 03:20 AM
Asher Kelman Asher Kelman is online now
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Join Date: Apr 2006
Posts: 35,249

Try to step out of your comfort zone, where you can:
  • If you're careful, be brash and work on impulse for a while.

  • If you use zooms, switch to one focal length for a month or two.

  • If you snap at everything, slow down, ration yourself to a few shots.

  • Walk around without the camera and plan. Then return in the light you want and take that shot.
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Old June 21st, 2012, 02:29 PM
Jerome Marot Jerome Marot is offline
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Location: Munich, Germany.
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I am not sure what the best way is, but the worst way must be to get a new camera. Now that I wandered in Nikon land to check that system, I have been too busy checking lenses and camera capabilities to take any picture worth looking at...
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