When you make a list of New Year's resolutions, you may as well include some fun activities. Amongst the usual items, such as getting fit and losing weight, why not add some intentions based on improving your photography skills? Here are seven resolutions that will be easy to keep.
Learn a New Camera Feature
Make time to become familiar with your camera. Your camera has many layers of complexity. With terminologies such as autofocus tracking, variable ISO, histograms, and white balance, it can seem daunting to venture from your familiar settings. But if you don't keep up with these technological innovations, you risk getting into a comfort zone that you can't escape.
It's time to dig into the camera menu and play with every option and feature. Have the camera manual nearby to check anything you're unsure about, and have fun learning about your camera. If you accidentally set something wrong, find the 'reset' option (listed in your instruction book), which will take it back to the factory default settings.
Explore Composition Techniques
Paying attention to composition is the best way to create a compelling image. Making sure your photo has good composition means setting up the image to be well-balanced and harmonious. It involves having all of the elements in the right place so the eyes of the viewer are drawn to the areas directed by you. Composition is an essential aspect of photography; you can use many different techniques to create a great shot.
Before you start your next photographic adventure, take a moment to investigate options such as leading lines, the rule of thirds, and symmetry. Choose one and make a point of incorporating it into every shot you take that day. Experimenting with different compositions can help you become more creative with your shots. For more dynamic photos, try lesser-known ones, such as the phi grid or the Fibonacci spiral.
Use a Prime Lens
Do you have a zoom lens attached to your camera most of the time? Zoom lenses are convenient, but it's worth attaching a prime lens to your DSLR or mirrorless camera occasionally. Prime lenses have a fixed focal length. Rather than seeing the inability of a prime lens to zoom in or out as a disadvantage, consider it a way to force you into new levels of creativity. Apart from their portability and affordability, a prime lens is usually sharper than a zoom lens and has a wider maximum aperture that produces a shallow depth of field and beautiful bokeh.
Give yourself a challenge this year. Limit yourself to using a 50mm prime lens for a whole month, regardless of the environment you find yourself in. You may want to keep it attached from that point!
Take Your Camera Everywhere You Go
You never know when an opportunity for a great shot might come up. Taking your camera wherever you go will allow you to photograph moments others will miss. Actively look at the world around you from a new perspective. Seek photo opportunities on every occasion. If you have a heavy DSLR, attach it to a wide camera strap while looking for the next shot. A wide strap from Lucky Straps offers greater comfort and support than the standard manufacturer's strap that comes with your camera.
Carrying a large camera, especially one fitted with a zoom lens, can literally be a pain in the neck. The Standard 53 strap allows you to use it across the body for maximum comfort and accessibility. The camera's weight and lens are distributed across the shoulder while staying within reach so you can quickly raise it to capture your next image.
Join a Photographic Community
Receiving feedback on your work is a great way to learn and grow. Joining an online community or a local photography club this year allows you to interact with other photographers, ask questions, and attend workshops. This is also a great way to network and make new friends with similar interests. Photography clubs hold regular competitions, allowing you to have your photos critiqued by experts. They also challenge you to step into new photographic disciplines by suggesting a theme for the month. This encourages you to put new subjects in front of your lens.
Do a 365 Project
A 365 project motivates you to use your camera every day. Take one picture daily for a year and post it on social media or a website. This will help you focus on the details, experiment with different lighting, and explore new compositions. It encourages you to become more creative with your shots and to find unique angles and perspectives. It's also a great way to document your year. At the end of the year, print each image for an album, or make a digital slideshow highlighting the year's events.
Today's cameras are sophisticated pieces of equipment that do most of the work for you, so try full manual mode to show yourself that you can still get a well-exposed shot by juggling the aperture, shutter speed, and ISO settings. Your camera works well in automatic mode if the environment is evenly toned and well-lit. But when the contrast in a scene varies, the camera is often fooled into making the image underexposed or overexposed. If you try manual mode, you work with the camera's exposure meter to determine how to adjust the settings to balance the exposure. You have more command over how the camera captures the light in manual mode.
When you want to deliberately brighten the subject of a backlit scene or create a silhouette on purpose, you must know how to use manual mode. Choose to jump from 'auto' to 'manual', and you will have a better understanding of how your camera creates an image, and it will add greater flexibility over the outcome of your photos. Manual mode isn't ideal for all situations as it slows down the picture-taking process. Still, when you have time to play with this option, you'll find it helpful whenever a tricky lighting situation can't be overcome in other ways.
Committing to one (or more) of these seven tips will shift your mindset towards improving your photography and creating superb images in 2023. Take more control of your photography by practising your craft regularly. Get creative this year, and your passion for photography will grow as your camera skills blossom!