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Teaching Yourself Photography

Teaching yourself photography is far easier than many appreciate, while there are quite a few variables and if you have not done any serious photography before all the terms used may appear to be something out of the dark arts, the basics can be mastered quite easily and experience and practice will help you to achieve far more.

In the distant past, photography was something for specialists, but since the first world war with the folding cameras and roll film, it has been something that just about anyone could undertake. Today we will see far more people with really good cameras, however most are only using them to take snapshots and could just as well be using a camera phone or similar.

Cameras, lenses and accessories are now more expensive, go out of date far quicker, but the running costs are now nearly non existent. In the past buying the camera was only the beginning every time you went out and took photos it cost a lot to get them processed, now you can upload them to your computer, put them on CD or DVD that others can see on a TV and select to just print a small number that you really want as prints.

Every year in Britain alone there are more people completing photography courses at college than there are professional photographers in the whole of Europe. The combined affects of so many students completing their courses and so many people purchasing quality DSLR cameras, you might expect would mean that there was a major challenge to professional photographers,  but there is not, professional photography is difficult to make a living from now, but it always has been, however there is still a need for the professional photographer, the difference being that an amateur can take a load of photos and get lucky sometimes while the professional needs to be able to reliably produce results all the time, not necessarily works of art, but photography to a competent standard that meets the needs of the person commissioning them.

Photography is a very practical skill, part technical, part art, and part being in the right place at the right time.  This is not about luck or how much cash you have, mostly its about persistence, practice and actually getting out to take photos.

You need a decent camera, it does not have to be the very latest and if funds are tight a slightly older model with the capabilities is going to enable you to produce better results than an entry level new one. Being one or two generations behind won't make a huge difference to start and if you bought the very best, very latest, you would not initially use all the facilities and by the time you do, there will be a later one out. You also don't need a large suitcase of lenses and accessories,  there is little point in buying what you cannot carry, if you don't have it with you, you can't use it.  A wide range zoom, for example an 18-200mm covers so much of your needs and saves having a lot of deferent ones. Later you may want something wider, you may want something longer, and you may want a macro lens. You are also likely to want a flash unit, ideally one that is a part of a flash system that you can build on later. However generally you want to start by getting as little as you can get away with, and then add what you really need and are going to carry.

Getting a basic understanding of the terminology and technical aspects of digital photography you can get from this website, plus experimenting and practical experience. Introduction to DSLR photography covers much of this, linking to many other articles to allow you to fill in the gaps and expand your knowledge.

You need to understand the technical part in order to understand what works and more importantly when things don't, what went wrong.

You will discover that there are too many things to think about at the same time, and that in order to make progress you need to simplify, have a routine, and concentrate on those things that are going to make a real difference.

You don't want to get too concerned about the technical, if you shoot RAW images as opposed to JPG's you get better results, but you also have the chance to make some changes after you have taken the image.

I would suggest that you take some days and rather than taking loads of photos you do two things, firstly cut down the numbers, so you can take the time on each photo and secondly experiment, purposely doing things wrong, as well as right, so as to see the effects you get, and see how critical or otherwise it is. You will discover a lot of items echoed, particularly in magazines that is not correct or irrelevant, you want to see for yourself the effects preferably only making a single change at a time.

The largest single factor that will assist you to get good photos is to actually go out and take them, take a walk down a canal and you get canal shots, reflections, loads of wildlife, boats and more. Visiting a castle or an abbey you get to play with perspective, light, and more. Sitting at home reading magazines, or attending a group course will give you none of this experience.

Reinforcing the knowledge you have gained can be achieved by taking on a project or two at a time, and using this to both reinforce what you have already picked up as well as learning more. The project approach also provides the need or motivation to get out and take the photos.  Our Projects classification in the topic index may provide some ideas.

Photography can be done throughout the year, and is not restricted to 3 or 4 months in the summer. There are many places that are FREE to enter and open all year, as well as many attractions and other places that are open throughout the year.

Through many sections of this website you will find location guides, covering the common tourist attractions and some items that are not generally featured, for example the listings of fords, we are adding more new areas and more to existing areas all the time, and these not only give you a good idea of what you will discover when visiting but also provide all the information you need.


By: Keith Park   Section: Training Key:
Page Ref: Teaching_yourself_photography Topic: Training  Last Updated: 06/2011

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