5 great ways to practice your photography even at home
We all want to constantly improve our skills and take ourselves to the next level of photography, right? Well today, we are providing five (5) practice shoots and projects that you can undertake, even at home, that will advance skillsets you can apply throughout photography. So, if you undertake this challenge, take your time with each one. Don’t go out and just shoot for a day and say, CHECK! This is about developing skills, there is more to each of these 5 projects than just the pictures you produce. So, take your time, experiment with settings, even fail a few times to see what the result would be. Learning photography is a marathon not a sprint.
Skyscapes and clouds
Skyscapes and finding beautiful ways to capture the formations of clouds is all about learning and reading light. For this, you want to experiment exclusively in manual mode so you can control all your settings. Take pictures of incoming storms, sunsets, sunrises, sun flare during different times of day. Maybe try taking that wide angle lens off and try some telephoto shots. Take shots hand-held, then on a tripod.
Do some longer exposure shots, the name of the game is experimenting. Once you get on your computer to edit, really look closely at the settings of the picture. Look for blurring, grain, details and definition. Notice the differences in richness and color. This is how you learn photography because you take this type of knowledge and apply it later to your landscapes. Exposing for your sky means you can add exposure to the landscape and not overexpose your photos.
Many photographers do the exact opposite and don’t realize their sky is completely clipped. So, if you want to learn landscapes, you are going to have to learn how to capture a proper sky.
With a proper macro lens, you are going to spend a lot of your time in manual focus; and that’s the point. Learning to find crispness manually is an art and macro is the best place to learn it. You can easily take photos of still objects over and over until you get it right. This is another area where you can see the effects of aperture, so use a wide scale of f-stops to really see how it effects subjects on a small scale. Also, try to apply rules of composition to each photo to develop those skills. Add things to the picture, take away, try different angles, heights, ground level shots, etc.
It honestly takes looking down at the small things in life to broaden your horizons!
360 degree portraits
If you ever want to be involved in portrait photography, this is one of the best exercises. So, you are going to turn on a single light, straight at your subject. Don’t blind them, but you want it directly on their face like a spotlight but not so much that it is just bleaching them out. The model is going to look forward and not move the whole time, and you are going to take pictures all the way around them in a circle.
Start with a straight on picture of their face, then take a couple steps to the side, slowly working your way to the back of their head and back around the other side of their face until you are back to the front again. When doing this, look at the shadows and light, how they hit their face. How their nose and brow line create shadows, how do their eyes look from different angles? This will teach you the basics of silhouetting, rim lighting, light placement, reading shadows on the face, and the effects of mono lighting. When you are taking outdoor photos, the light is going to produce these same effects, but it may not be as noticeable. But if you know what to look for, you can turn and pose your model to reduce shadows.
Everyone wants to create this beautiful flow to a rushing waterfall or stream, so let’s figure it out. The techniques can be applied in so many ways, but water is the best way to hone the skillset. Setting up on a tripod and composing the picture to incorporate elements around your water subject, start at a faster shutter speed like… 1/150, take 3 pictures. Now drop it to 1/50, take 3 pics. Now drop it to 1/2, take 3 pics.
Each time you slow your shutter speed you will have to adjust your other settings to compensate for the increase in light. But you want to keep dropping this until you reach 20 or 30 sec. shutter speeds. Too bright? Try using an ND filter with those longer shutter speeds to help in the harsher light. This will teach you the difference in the small speed reductions and how to get the look you want much more quickly the next time. You take three shots because one always seems to blur. If your first shot is a success, just move on to the next slower speed.
Panning – Practice Photography
Now for a more eventful technique you can practice almost anywhere. Just need some passing cars and you are set! This process teaches manual exposure, stability, effect of aperture on a moving target, and movement creativity/blurred composition. Experiment with different lenses, apertures, and slower shutter speeds. Start at f16 and work down, with a shutter speed around 1/150.
How to practice your photography even at home
And that’s it. Go out, give these a try and wow everyone with some of the harder captures in photography. Remember to focus on one at a time, watch YouTube, read blogs and how-to’s. Really get engrossed and focus on each one for a week or two. And please feel free to share in the comments below or by email if you capture a gem.
Still looking for more? Try 732 Things To Photograph; great book. Can’t wait to see what you come up with! Happy shooting!
Photography and writing by Jon Frederick