Today, I thought I’d share how I break in a new camera- those first shots that I take. I actually do all of these things even after I break in a new camera. They’re useful for improving your digital photography and knowledge of your digital camera. There’s no other way to improve but to practice. So, here’s four steps I’ve done with every digital camera I’ve owned and a bonus test at the end. That test for me, this time around, was a reminder just how much these other four steps can be useful over time.
Just to warn you, all of these pictures are straight out of the camera. . . some aren’t the best shots. Some are pretty good. (And yes, my new camera has some pretty cool modes on it that let me get these SOOC. But, shots that aren’t the best and that aren’t interesting at all- that’s kinda part of the point here. It’s just practice and learning.)
Digital Photography Basics- Camera Practice Assignments and Test
1) Sit in your living room with your camera. No lie, the very first picture of every digital camera I’ve ever owned is of our TV. Nothing stellar- just me sitting and learning. Read the manual some as you go- you can’t digest everything at once, but get a start. Read, take a picture, try it out. Who cares if it’s just you and your boring view. It’s digital, it doesn’t matter. You can delete later. (Can you tell I was more interested in my new camera than picking up or cleaning house?)
2) Go somewhere pretty. Somewhere you go often. Somewhere you’ve already got pictures of. Somewhere you can play. And then play. No pressure. Realize that it’s a new camera and you’re gonna mess up. Let go of any expectations and just shoot. Try out a few things as you go. For me, the quickest, easiest place- the one documented more than enough- is SFA’s arboretum and campus. We happen to live in the college town where we met and fell in love- oh and graduated college. It’s got a stellar arboretum and this time I discovered they’ve added a lot of artwork.
This guy’s not new. It’s Surfin’ Steve! This shot in particular is just odd to me, but it was about playing around and it didn’t matter.
3) Go somewhere you go a lot- do something you do a lot and just take pictures. For me, that’ s the deer lease. I can follow my husband around and take pictures (And fight with the mosquitos!) What husband doesn’t want to hear, “Take me to the deer lease so you can your game cameras? It kinda softens the blow of me buying a new camera. Again, though, it shouldn’t be an event where the pictures really matter- if you get some keepers great, if not, you’re just breaking in your camera.
4) Take a ride. I can honestly say I’ve learned the buttons on my camera through road trips. I get bored and I pick up the camera. I start taking pictures- boring pictures- of the cars in front of us. Blurred pictures as the skies darken traveling 70 MPH down the road. I do this all the time. Then, I delete most of the pictures. I kept these just because I wanted to share this tip with you. This trip, I didn’t get any keepers but every once in a while I will.
Oh I said that, but there’s a sub-step here. Take pictures of yourself taking pictures. I love to take pics of me through the side window.
5) The bonus credit scenario. I don’t do this for every camera, but this just happened to work out that way. Go someplace dark and take pictures. It’s a test- do you know where the buttons on your camera are. The reason I add this here, is that it’s what I noticed when we got to Dallas and took pictures at the Lucero concert. I had to fumble for buttons a few times. More work to do. . . It’s time to re-visit steps 1-4 more.