Once the first flushes of our photographic journey have worn off, a certain laziness can creep in. This can manifest itself in a slight arrogance that we know all we need to know or that we have the required skill to achieve the look that we desire in our shots. Sometimes it can even be a case of photographers’ block, an effect that paralyses our ability to see and shoot good images. Today we are going to look at some ways to shake off laziness and inject some new energy into your photos.
1. A Camera in the Hand
Despite the old photographer’s adage of always carry a camera with you, many of us don’t. They are often bulky and heavy and we might think they are not needed for the day ahead. The thing is though, most of us do take a camera with us wherever we go, it just so happens that it doubles up as a communication device. Don’t overlook your mobile phone, many of today’s models can take a pretty mean picture and whilst they will not match your main gear for quality, if an excellent scene appears in front of you, you can still get a good looking shot. If you are not happy with using a phone, get yourself a compact camera. Something that will slip in a jacket pocket and will be always to hand when a photographic opportunity arises.
2. Prime Yourself
There is no denying that a prime lens can make you think much more about your composition. There is also no denying that a zoom lens, can, make you lazy. Invest in a single prime and go out with only that attached to your camera. You will find that rather than standing as though your feet are nailed to the ground, you will be moving around, in closer, further away just to get the right composition for your shot. This not only changes the way you compose your shots but also will give you a greater understanding of the role of perspective in photography.
3. Understand Focus Modes
It’s very easy, and sometimes lazy to rely on autofocus all the time. Whilst autofocus is superb, it does not always know where we want to focus. Take the time to learn exactly how each of the autofocus modes on your camera works. Learn how to focus and recompose the shot so that the subject remains the focal point. A great tip for this is to shoot a wide aperture, any errors in the focussing will be punished more, due to the shallow depth of field. Beyond the autofocus modes, learn how to focus manually, understand the information given to you in your viewfinder and act upon it to get pin sharp images. Manual focus is a particularly useful technique to know when shooting low light images, where autofocus may fail completely.
4. Set Your Alarm Clock
Dawn is not called the Golden Hour for nothing. However, for many of us, it can be a golden hour of extra sleep. Motivate yourself to get up before the sun rises and start taking pictures in the best light of the day. Planning is the secret to achieving this. Know what you want to photograph, understand where the light will fall on your subject and, most importantly, check the weather forecast before you go to bed. One of the biggest demotivators is getting up day after day to find the weather is not playing ball. Checking the weather before retiring will enable you to evaluate the chances of good light for the following morning.
5. Read a Book
The light is often, not ideal for photography. If you are stuck in one of those gloomy, uniformly overcast days, don’t resort to the TV, pick up a photographic book or magazine. You can choose books that are full of inspiring images or learn some new techniques to try out once the light improves. Don’t forget the internet as a great source of photographic inspiration too, an hour spent right here on Lightstalking can provide you with a wealth of tips and inspiration.
6. Get it Right in Camera
One of the biggest traps a lazy photographer can fall into is the concept of fixing it in Photoshop. Try to stop thinking of Photoshop as a way to fix images and more as a way to enhance images. Getting it right in camera means that any Photoshop work you do, is enhancing an already excellent photo, not making a poor one acceptable. Common issues that should be addressed when shooting are composition, level horizons, exposure and white balance. Think about these when shooting and don’t allow the camera to dictate to you, control the camera and get it right. When you get to post production you know that you already have the best technical quality to work from.
Jason Row is a British born travel photographer now living in Ukraine. You can follow him on The Odessa Files. He also maintains a blog chronicling his exploits as an Expat in the former Soviet Union.