Continuing on from my previous post, here I share some more useful insights that I’ve been learning from which may help you too in becoming a better photographer.
Tip 4: Observe The Photos That Inspire You
One tip that I continue to find super useful is to take inspiration from the photos and photographers that I admire most. Rather than scroll through an endless stream of breathtaking images, stop to reflect on what qualities make those images amazing.
Is it the morning light shining in from the side? Is it the fact that you can see details in both the shadows and the highlights? Is it the silky smooth water flowing through the scene? Or is it a sense of harmony achieved through thoughtful composition?
And then take the time to consider how the artist has achieved these qualities.
Have they woken in the early hours to travel out on location? Have they blended multiple exposures in post-processing to achieve a HDR effect? Have they slowed down the shutter by fixing a glass filter to the lens? Or have they utilised the rule of thirds to compose their scene?
I found that observing, and not merely looking at great photos is a fantastic way to drive my own learning forward. For instance, I’ve always found starbursts to add that extra bit of magic to a scene. It wasn’t until I stopped to appreciate them that I was then motivated to go away and research recreating the effect myself.
Tip 5: Post-Processing
The right post-processing techniques can turn a good photo a great photo; a great photo into a breathtaking photo.
The editing doesn’t have to be overly advanced either. Something as simple as taking the time to ensure the white balance is correct can drastically alter the tone of an image.
This is also where a photographer’s personal style and signature shine through. If you were to give an unedited image to 20 professional photographers and asked them to process it, all 20 final edits would each be unique in their own way. Post-processing helps to establish a common theme between a photographer’s images, where each individual photo is part of a larger portfolio of work.
I’ve published my first processing tutorial here, and intend on writing many more as I develop this site. You’ll also be able to learn from many quality resources online - Serge Ramelli’s YouTube channel is full of in-depth tutorials to help you along the way.
These resources are great to learn the essentials of post-processing, but that doesn’t mean that they’re the only way either. Try out new editing techniques; take the best ones on board to develop a style unique to you. Get a feel for what does and doesn’t work for you – which leads me on to my next tip …
Tip 6: Experiment!
At the end of the day, the single best piece of advice I can give is to practice!
Get out there and shoot as often as possible, and in as many conditions as possible. While you’re out in the field, don’t be afraid to explore new methods or techniques. Experiment with new pieces of gear; try out unfamiliar techniques.
Regular practice will help you to determine your strengths and identify areas ripe for improvement.
Using myself as an example, I have generally been pleased with my composition during bold, colourful sunrises and sunsets. However these images often consisted of correctly exposed clouds behind an underexposed, silhouetted foreground. I wanted to have both my foreground and background correctly exposed in these situations.
I won’t go into the specifics, but experimenting here allowed me to explore new processes such as glass filters, Photoshop luminosity masks and bracketed exposures. After trialling a few methods, I settled on the one that I felt was right for me (bracketed exposures to produce HDR photos) to help produce the final that image I was after.
I hope you found at least some of these tips useful in developing your own photography. If you would like to learn more about any of these topics in depth please let me know and I might write a future blog post on it!