Self Assignments: An Exercise A Day Can Help You Master Your Camera

Here are some suggestions for self-assignments that can aid you in getting a good handle on mastering your camera. Give each technique a full day then review the images, along with the EXIF data. As you complete these self-assignments you’ll start to make great photos every time you pick up the camera.

© George Schaub, All Rights Reserved

Manual Exposure mode
Spot mode with compensation
Focal lengths and perspective effects
Monochrome with filter effects
Center-weighted with exposure lock
Long tele compression (stacking)
Color complements
Picture style settings
White Balance effects
Long exposure (motion)
Capture texture with low angle light
Matrix vs. center-weighted readings
Tone Curve control
Fill reflector
Spotlit shot
ISO effects
Deep depth of field
Super wide lenses
Flash exposure compensation
Bracketing and HDR
Noise and noise filtration
Fill flash
Shadow as a compositional element
Spot metering and color saturation
Fast shutter speed
Continuous drive effects

John L Marshall's picture

Each day that I go out to do photography, I pick one lens and attach it to a camera. That is the only lens and camera that I carry and use for the day. I travel light and make best use of the camera with the one lens.

Yesterday we visited the Desert Botanical Garden in Phoenix. I brought my D3 with a Tamron 28 - 105mm f/2.8 lens. I captured some pretty good images. My wife brought her D40X with an 18 - 135mm f/3.5 - 5.6 lens. She too captured some excellent images. I observed others that were carrying a large backpacks full of lenses and gadgets. They appeared to be more involved with the toys than the marvelous environment that they were visiting and the hundreds of images just waiting to be visualized.

I just reflected back. Years ago I traveled with a Rolleicord TLR, just the one 80mm f/3.5 lens. There were no lens choices yet I could still capture images that appeared in my minds eye.

Travel light. Become part of the envoronment. Enjoy.

fhayes's picture

Around 1975 I bought a Minolta SRT100, the man at the store said I probably wouldn't need the SRT101, it had bells and whistles I would more than likely never need. He tossed in a 50mm lens and offered a 2 hour class I couldn't get around to attending. In 2000 I finally bought a telephoto lens for it and expanded my little world of shooting. I used that lens exclusively for 10 years. I still use it, mostly with the 50mm having worn out the barrel on the telephoto. A couple of years ago I upgraded the camera to a SRT101 having learned what the 'bells and whistles' would do for me. I also use a Mamiya RB67 and because of weight, I pick a lens for the day and that does it for me. For digital, a Nikon D90 with a 28-105mm lens. I do try one exercise a day with the digital frequently having found it is the easiest way to master this camera.
The article was timely, confirming what I thought would be a good method to learning.
As John put it, yes indeed, travel light!
Thanks for a great article, which I will share.