1. You won't become a good photographer on the weekends.
Photography requires lots of practice for many reasons: to learn how to use your camera without having to think about it; to learn what constitutes good composition; to understand exposure and how to bend it to your will; to develop your own style; to discover what photographs move you so you can create more of them. To this end, you need to do as much of it as possible, so make sure you make the time to create photographs on the weekdays, not just the weekends. I'm proof that it's possible, having done it for every day for over half a year. It's hard for myself to fathom how much I've improved my skills so far on this project. You'll find your own improvement amazing, too.
This photo was taken on a Wednesday evening. You really can get good photos on weekdays :)
2. You can take photos more than once a day.
When the project first started (and still, on some of my busier days), I would complete my required photograph for the day, then feeling relieved that it was done and I could relax a bit. However, this can sometimes lead to missed opportunities if you then turn off the photographic part of your brain. When I realized this, I started keeping my eyes open for photos all the time, even after I had completed the photo for the day. As a result, I have been out to shoot photographs up to 3 different times during the same day. I now tend to think of the day as a continuum of opportunity, rather than planning a single outing or photo session. I've caught some excellent photos the second or third time I was out during a given day that I would have otherwise missed.
This was taken during a second photo session for the day.
3. A photograph starts with a concept, but its success or failure lies in the details.
During the project, I've had many ideas for interesting photographs. I get all enthusiastic about them, and excited to create the image based on the concept. During the early days of the project, I'd take some of those photos, and find myself disappointed in the result. It didn't take long after some analysis to realize that there were some details that would have made the photograph more successful had I paid more attention. Make sure the composition is just how you want it, pay careful attention to the lighting, double-check that you're getting the depth of field that you want, make sure your shutter speed is high enough to create the level of sharpness you want, select the correct lens for the effect you want (wide angle for intentional distortion or interesting closeup effects, telephoto to flatten the apparent depth, etc.). I've found that, where possible, it's extremely helpful to review the photos you've taken on the computer before you complete your session. When I do this, I often spot some flaws, like a lack of depth of field, or too much dust, or slightly incorrect lighting, or a stray element that distracts from the composition. This allows me to re-shoot those compositions, correcting the problems before I'm done. So make sure that once your concept is in place, that the details support your concept and bring it to life. It can make a huge difference.
Several versions of this photo were taken, reviewed, and then re-shot because guitar and musician positions were not quite right, and the lighting was not quite centered properly. The result is a significantly better photo.
Thanks for reading. Three new lessons on the next posting. Feel free to share your thoughts and favorite lessons that you've learned.