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The best photographers make time to practice

The post The best photographers make time to practice appeared for the first time at Digital Photography School. It is written by Charlie Moss.

The 10,000-hour rule is often quoted as the magic number of hours you have to practice to master an activity. Now, I am not saying that after 10,000 hours of practice you have mastered photography. But I think it's true that the more you practice, the better you'll get!

The secret to practicing to improve your skills is to have a plan. You must know what you are doing, you must set goals and you must find a way to measure your improvement in one way or another.

I recently spent the day practicing with a new lens on the Silverstone motor circuit. I just wanted to improve my panning to show speed and learn more about my equipment. I was reminded at the time that many photographers can find true joy simply by practicing and trying to improve their profession. So with that in mind, here's my guide on how you can make a plan to make your practice more productive!

Decide what to improve

It sounds obvious, but you have to start with something that you would like to improve. If you want to improve your photography is too general. Try to limit it more. I wanted to improve my car photography and discovered that photographing moving objects was a real weakness in my technique.

If you have narrowed it down to something special, you can start investigating. Start here at Digital Photography School. There is a handy search bar on every page to help you find articles that may be useful. Read those articles and make some notes about things to keep in mind the next time you shoot. Start by building your own manual in your own words to take with you.

Plan your exercise

When you have decided which things you want to improve, you must start planning a subject, time and a place to take pictures. This can be as simple as photographing food in your kitchen, or as complicated as a one-week road trip. Write your plans in your diary and note how long you have to prepare. If you are organized, you are much more inclined to stick to your plan.

Make sure that what you are planning is also something that you find interesting. Don't plan for a day of photography (or even a few hours) that you find boring and you won't like. It will only shoot you from photography in the future.

Get the right equipment

If you need a device that you do not currently own, now is the time to decide how to get it. Renting lenses can be a cheap way to try out new options before you buy (but borrowing friends is even cheaper). Sometimes a piece of new material can be exactly what you need to start your photography, but you have to practice and learn how to use it.

For some devices, there are even do-it-yourself solutions. Don't be afraid to experiment and try things out. It doesn't matter if your photos aren't perfect; this is an exercise in practice, not perfection!

Take your notes with you

When you shoot to practice, make sure you take your notes with you. It doesn't matter if they are in a notebook or on your phone, but make sure you did the research you did while you were planning.

If you try something new, you may have questions while practicing. Even if you have an old hand in photography, it is still good to refresh your knowledge before you start taking pictures.

Practice as much as you can, as long as you can

The costs of film and development do not limit you in this digital age. This means that you have the opportunity to take a lot of photos when you practice.

Digital storage is cheap, so take a few memory cards and keep photographing until you've done well.

Make the most of your free time practicing photography and shoot as much as you can. You never know what image you have made and you learn something new. It could be the first, or it could be the last!

I like to make it a day when I exercise, stubborn photos & shoots are long before everyone has left and my friends are tired of it. It feels like the more I practice, the more I learn, so I try to make the most of the opportunities I get to practice.

Don't worry about perfection

The purpose of practicing is not to get images for your portfolio or to take photos to publish on social media or to show your non-photographer friends. The goal is to improve your technique or creativity.

Check your images while you take pictures. The displays on the back of digital cameras are good enough to see if you are on the right track.

You should take the opportunity to try new things and be experimental. Don't just write off an idea you've had, because it won't work – take the photos & prove to yourself that it doesn't work! You never know what you will learn from a failed experiment until you get home and view the photos.

Check your recordings

Sometimes your exercise is over when you have finished photographing. You have learned enough about the technology that you do not need to view the images.

Although the experience is new to the mind, it is worth sitting down with a piece of software such as Adobe Lightroom and viewing the images in combination with the EXIF ​​data to try and explain exactly what worked and why (and what doesn't work and why).

The Library module in Adobe Lightroom offers the possibility to view all data of your images, including shutter speed, ISO, aperture and focal length. Start by pulling up your images one by one, highlight the ones you like, and then view the EXIF ​​data for them.

Take some notes

Ideally, make a note of how your exercise went with the research comments you made before you started taking pictures. Search for patterns in the EXIF ​​data to tell you what was successful and what was not. Note how you feel about the images and perhaps make a note for other related techniques that you would like to work on in the future.

Investigate how you can correct your mistakes

If you consistently make the same mistake while practicing, you will want to know how you can resolve that for the next time.

Read more articles or try to find a mentor. Ask questions to your friends who already seem to get the technique nailed in (or see if you can shoot with them for some practice).

Take notes on how you can improve next time with everything you've learned so far. If you try to keep everything in your head, I promise you'll forget most of it before you take your camera out again!

Plan more exercise

After all, practice makes perfect. And you do not learn everything on your first attempt.

Use the notes and the research you have collected, plan a different time to practice. Perhaps this time you will work on something related that you have identified as a weakness in your technique. Maybe you can try the same technique, but in a different setting (I am planning a day out with photographing moving animals in nature, now that you have practiced on cars on a racing circuit).

Whatever you are planning, do not stop practicing. Not even after you have achieved more than ten thousand hours of practice, because there is always something new to learn.

The best photographers make time to practice

The post The best photographers make time to practice appeared for the first time at Digital Photography School. It is written by Charlie Moss.

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