The basic digital photography exercises They are an excellent way to grow a little more as photographers, they will help you to handle your camera manually quickly and with your eyes closed and to understand all the basic photographic concepts such as ISO, aperture, depth of field, shutter speed, etc. .
During project 365 I had the opportunity to practice many different photographic techniques day after day. Some needed more dedication than others, but each one was worth it, as they say, IT ALL ADDS UP.
Essential photography exercises
I think it is necessary to practice several photographic exercises Although the photography modality that you like is not related to photographing drops of water.
Imagine that you like fashion photography and want photograph your model jumping in the air, you need to perfectly control the shutter speed so that the photo is not “moved”. But if you do not have the help of a model right now, exercises such as photographing falling drops or moving cars in which you will use fast shutter speeds can be an excellent idea for practice and master the technique before your first sessions.
A high percentage of photographic learning as in many other things it is based on practice (and reading the manual 🙂 as I recommended in «photography tips for beginners«). So I have compiled some exercises that helped me to progress as a photographer and that I always recommend to all those who want to get started in digital photography or are stuck.
Start a 365 project
I cannot be happier with the result of the project, it helped me to keep a routine, to make an effort every day to take a different photo, investigate new techniques, try fixed and zoom lenses and some of the most important things, create a blog, something that completely changed my life and my career path for the next few years.
The end of a 365 project from my point of view is not just to take a daily photo of anything you have within a 10 meter radius and in the first way that comes to mind. Can be done excellent and different photos of everyday things For those days when it is impossible to go out with the camera, have you tried photographing drops of paint dissolved in water? The veins of the leaves of a houseplant or represent a concept?
If a daily photo is too much for your rhythm of life, I advise you to choose 52 week projects in which you will have 7 days a week to get a photo to publish for a year, the end is none other than force you to practice.
Play to find out the EXIF data
The EXIF data They are like the ID of the photo, we “cheat” on all the settings you have used to take the photo, from the shutter speed and camera model, to the date it was taken.
By looking at these data you will learn to solve different light situations without even taking the camera out of the backpack.
Something that I like to do and it helped me loosen up with the camera parameters is to try to find out what settings have been used in each photo, you can even play with a friend to see who is closest to the real settings.
On Flickr o 500px you can see the EXIF data in the caption of the photo. You can also use a browser extension very useful for the images you see on the net in which this data does not appear:
Download Extension for Chrome
Download Extension for Firefox
Change the measurement mode
Although 97% of the time I use the spot metering and the remaining 3% “weighted to the center” I recommend you to know how the type of measurement you select affects the image so that you know how to correctly choose which one best suits what you need.
Best Situations to Practice Measurement Modes:
- Landscapes in which there is a great contrast of light between the sky and the earth. You must try that the sky does not leave you overexposed nor the very dark landscape. Use the histogram to find an intermediate point with the correct exposure or that allows you to recover those areas in digital development. I advise you to read the article on how to interpret a histogram.
The spot metering It is the one that requires the most dedication, since the camera measures on the point you choose and you will have to pay attention to the tones of the scene to get a correct exposure.
It is very useful to activate the bloqueo AE together with the spot metering, since once you have made the measurement you will be able to recompose the scene without losing it. On the other hand, if you have the exposure set on the shutter button next to the focus, the metering will change each time you press the button.
If you are one of those he shoots everything he sees or take 30 photos of the same scene to ensure a good one, this exercise will come in handy.
Thanks to the digital photographyToday we can take hundreds of photos with a simple SD card. Not having had contact with analog photography and its films, means that the moment of the shot is not valued as it was done in the past when there were only 24 opportunities, for example.
Think before you shoot, put your camera in your backpack and analyze the scene, angle, try find out by eye the correct parameters for the exposure, try looking through the viewfinder without shooting to get an idea of how it will look and when you are determined, shoot.
I don’t want you to lose photos because of me, practice this point in situations where you have enough time, such as a landscape photograph or macro photos of a flower. Don’t just shoot once if you come across a Pterodactylus because we would pull each other’s hair together.
Zoom Prohibited (Fixed Focal Length)
Try to use it for a few days focal distance or use a fixed objective. For little money you can get the Canon 50mm 1.8 or Nikon AF Nikkor 50mm 1.8 and in addition to practicing with fixed lenses, you will enjoy their 1.8 brightness.
Before buying a fixed lens, I recommend you try a few days to shoot with the equivalent focal length on your zoom lens and see if it really convinces you. In addition, you must bear in mind that in the SLR cameras APS-C you have to apply the clipping factorso a 50mm would roughly become an 80mm and may have a lot of scope for your liking.
This type of photographic exercise It will force you to move, find the perfect frame using your legs as zoom and think more about the scene.
If you want to read more I recommend the article fixed or zoom lenses.
Change the shutter speed for the same scene
The shutter speed is the setting that brings more creativity To images, the same photograph shot at a different speed can make it look like another place.
Look at these pictures I took of the sea:
- At first I shot at 1 second with the camera on the tripod.
In the absence of elements to compose and time to find them, I decided to use a slow shutter speed of 1/10 sec accompanied by a slight camera shake.
The result is a completely different photograph and surely more interesting than the one you could have taken at 1/1000.
The purpose of this exercise is that you do not get used to getting the photo accepted as “good” because it comes out completely frozen. Play with the shutter speed and forget point 4 for now, take advantage of the digital photography and have fun.
Shoot in manual
It’s the best way to gain full control of your camera. Select the manual mode and forget about automatic programs.
Shoot in broad daylight with ISO 3200 and go down until you get a good exposure. Now change the shutter speed and shoots at 1/30, then 2 seconds or 1/200. You choose, it is again about getting the correct exposure. The diaphragm, as you know, also affects the luminosity, open to the maximum that your lens allows and go closing it while you look at how the light changes.
It is exercise is the most basic And the most important, I recommend you practice it at different times of the day, at night, a cloudy day, in the middle of summer at 3 in the afternoon, put yourself to the test!
Think light and shadow
Next time you go out with your camera, pay attention to the highlights and shadows and try to compose with them. It is a good exercise for those moments when you cannot find something interesting to photograph.
Change the way you lookInstead of looking at the architecture or the vastness of a landscape, try to capture how the light travels through the scene or how the shadows create strong contrasts.
The development here is very important, you can take a look at the article “Aggressive development in Lightroom” where I explain some tricks to exaggerate contrasts and give more importance to light, helping you with the local adjustments brush.
Get multiple photos in one place
This is another one of those exercises that helped a lot to grow my photographic library. I had a bad habit of doing a single photograph in one place and move on to the next, without thinking about everything around me. Stones, moss, flowers, more interesting angles, trees, insects, maybe a photo of the landscape including me in the frame, elements around me that I could include in the composition, etc.
The possibilities multiplied and many times the most interesting photos were the ones that weren’t planned. Like these filaments on an Oleander leaf that I wouldn’t have paid attention to if I hadn’t changed the chip.
I recommend that if you can get a macro lens, I use the Canon 100mm f/2.8 USM, quite a beast for the “price” it has. If you use Nikon the Tokina 10mm f/2.8 it is about the same price range.
Last update on 2021-10-06 / Affiliate Links / API Images for Affiliates
Learn to make photo montages (Eye purists)
The good thing to use DSLR cameras and high resolution RAW files, is that the photos that do not convince me or have gone wrong I can use them to make photo montages in Photoshop.
It is not the first time that I talk to you about reusing images developing with Lightroom, but I want to go further. I talk to you about add elements that were not in the photograph or remove them.
The left image of a foggy day did not convey anything to me when I sat down to develop it, so I preferred to use it for a photo montage rather than delete it or leave it forgotten on the hard drive.
To find free use images or with modification rights you can take a look at pages like Pixabay or Devianart.
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