10 Things I’ve Learned in 10 Years as a Photographer

I just realized that I’ve been performing photography seriously for ten years (plus some change). So , I’d like to take this chance to look back and share 10 of the most important things I’ve discovered along the way, in chronological purchase.

Table of Contents

2012: JPEG Has Consequences

The first trip We took with a “serious” camera (the Nikon D5100) has been to Oregon and the Pacific Coast in the Northwest United States. I daresay that most associated with my photos were awful, but I was having fun, and a couple of them didn’t end up so bad.

Unfortunately, I shot basically a handful of the photos during the trip with highly pressurized JPEG settings. They appeared fine on the back associated with my camera, but when I actually brought them back to my computer for editing, I discovered the issues right away. Blocky details and weird artifacts up close. Colors and highlights that I couldn’t shift without strange results. And harsh maintenance artifacts on all the sides in the photo. (That one was my fault with regard to setting in-camera sharpening to the max! )

Anyway, I know that taking pictures raw files isn’t for everyone, but if you’re a dedicated photographer who wants to edit your pictures much at all (hey, such as almost everyone reading this! ) choose raw.

Black and White Landscape photo at Crater Lake
NIKON D5100 + 18-55mm f/3. 5-5. 6 @ 18mm, ISO 100, 1/10, f/16. 0
I was fortunate to get this photo prior to I really knew much regarding photography. I was unlucky in order to shoot it as a highly compressed B& W JPEG.

2013: Practice Is Key

The lessons I realized next has been even more important than firing in raw, and possibly it is important I’ve ever learned as being a photographer. Practice is the best – and possibly only – method to improve.

It is clearest at the beginning but implements no matter your skill level. For the vast majority of photographers, your later photos will be much better than your earlier photos.

When it comes to practice, it matters little whether you’re in the best scenery in the world or regardless of whether you take pictures within your backyard. The key is to acquire some photos and as many hours as you can doing photography.

NIKON D7000 + 105mm f/2. 8 @ 105mm, ISO 1250, 1/250, f/22. 0

2014: There’s Worth in Prime Lenses

Something that We lacked for a while as a professional photographer was thought . I was a compact photographer even though I had the DSLR. It took a few years (at least) just before my best photos had been the result of deliberate effort on my part rather than fortunate chance.

We credit this to a few items – practice foremost of all – but switching from a zoom kit to a best lens kit helped a lot. With primes, the photo you’re about to take frequently won’t look quite here at first. Rather than zooming till it looks acceptable, you’re almost forced to walk around and figure out a better composition.

This doesn’t entail prime lenses are better than zooms (and my current kit includes some of both) but that for professional photographers starting out, a set of primes may push you to improve quicker than a set of zooms.

Paris Telephoto
NIKON D7000 + 105mm f/2. 8 @ 105mm, ISO 100, 1/125, f/5. 0

2015: Hard work Has a Complex Relationship with Results

This is the year I continued one of the most influential trips associated with my life, to Iceland – the first time I traveled somewhere specifically for photography and small else.

Upon that trip, I did two of the more difficult hikes associated with my life. The first was a fantastic trail that followed lots of waterfalls and was full of photographic opportunities. The second was obviously a 17-mile slog (about 27 km) through swarms associated with flies and difficult terrain, along with very little photographic payoff.

The effort was worth it the first time and not the second. After I returned home, We realized that my favorite photo from your trip was one of the simplest ones I had taken, a few hundred feet from a parking lot.

Effort can lead to results in photography, but it doesn’t always, plus sometimes the best photos are the easiest to take. Don’t mistake the quality of a photo with exactly how difficult or easy it was to take.

NIKON D800E + 24mm f/1. 4 @ 24mm, INTERNATIONALE ORGANISATION FÜR STANDARDISIERUNG 100, 0. 6 just a few seconds, f/16. 0

2016: Concentrate at Double the Distance

To this day, the technique that I find the most useful as a landscape photographer – when my goal is to have an similarly sharp foreground and background – is a little tip known as double the distance .

You simply compose your photo and look for whatever object in the front-end is the closest to your camera. If that object is definitely three feet / one meter away (horizontally), focus on something six ft / 2 meters far from your camera . When you do, you’ll equalize foreground and background sharpness every time. (Likewise if your subject is every other distance away. Focus at double the distance. )

This equalization happens no matter what focal length or aperture you use, which I come across really remarkable. Of course , you still need to use a decent aperture in order to get enough depth associated with field – but even though you shoot at f/1. four, the foreground and history will be equal in exactly how out of focus they are.

It took me a lot more years to learn than it will have, since the technique can be surprisingly little-known, but I am glad I got there ultimately.

Hyperfocal Distance Landscape Photo
Focused on a flower twice as far from the nearest one.

2017: Do not Skimp on Focal Lengths

For several years just before 2017, my entire package in photography consisted of (at most) three lenses: the 24mm, 50mm, and 105mm prime. I had been wondering for some time what possibilities I was missing by ignoring the wider and longer ends. Close to the end of 2016, We expanded my kit using a 14-24mm and 70-200mm, and am started to realize throughout 2017 how good of a decision this was.

In the yrs since, I’ve taken at least a third of my favorite pictures wider than 24mm or even longer than 105mm. That is not to say everyone needs this kind of broad range of focal measures, but if you think you might, go for it – with primes, zooms, or a mix. Even a low-quality superzoom is better than not gift wrapping important focal lengths in any way.

ISO Invariance Mountain
NIKON D800E + 70-200mm f/4 @ 200mm, ISO 100, 1/160, f/9. 0

2018: Increase Your Skillset

This is the year which i interned at Backpacker newspaper for a few months. I had continually thought of myself as “outdoorsy” and reasonably good at walking, camping, and so on. Being about actual experts made it crystal clear that I still had a lots of skills to pick up.

I did my best to grab those skills when I can, and I put them to the check later in the year once i did a 100 kilometer (160 km) hike in Iceland with my dad that summer. It’s the most difficult and beautiful hike I’ve ever done in my life, and I took some of my all-time favorite photos along the way. It might not have been possible with no broadening my skillset to, not-quite-photography areas.

In other words, the more I learned about related fields like trekking and camping, the better the photography got.

8 Final Thorsmork Rainbow Image
NIKON D800E + TAMRON SP 15-30mm F2. 9 Di VC USD A012N @ 15mm, ISO 100, 1/40, f/9. 0

2019: Image Averaging Is Underrated

Every single photographer knows about panoramas and HDR. Most know about focus stacking. But a last method of merging photos – image averaging – is a lot less common, even though it’s just as useful as the other blending methods, if not more therefore.

I’ve utilized image averaging increasingly more often in the years since, yet 2019 is when I first realized how powerful it could be. Rather than lugging around a large, expensive 14-24mm f/2. 7 everywhere I went designed for astrophotography, I could bring along virtually any lens and still get excellent image quality during the night.

I’ve written about image averaging before, a few times actually (see for star photography , mimicking HDR , and just in general ). But it’s one of the more current “new techniques” I’ve put into my toolbox, and I only wish I had started using it sooner.

Image Stack for sharp stars with difficult trees in foreground
NIKON Z 6 + NIKKOR Z 14-30mm f/4 H @ 17. 5mm; 14 photos @ ISO 6400, 10 seconds, f/4. 0

2020: Make Time for the purpose of Photography

This was an awful year inside so many ways. Even just looking at the field of digital photography, a lot changed for the even worse. Photographers thrive on take a trip and meeting people – two things that were drastically limited, if possible at all, just for much of the year.

2020 is also the only yr since I started photography where I have a month (actually more than one) without a single image in my Lightroom catalog. I simply stopped doing photography designed for weeks at a time.

When I finally started to get out a bit more near the end from the year, I found that taking pictures helped me feel happier and less stressed. My general mental state improved as a result of a few weekends here and there that I focused on photography.

The majority of us are photographers because it’s something we love and luxuriate in. Don’t forget that, and try to make time for photography whenever you can.

Comet Neowise above a Lake
NIKON Z . 7 + NIKKOR Z . 20mm f/1. 8 Ersus @ 20mm, ISO 3200, 15 seconds, f/1. 8

2021: Explore Your Local Areas

I’ve lived in Colorado for just more than two years, and while I’ve discovered some parts of the state in more detail, massive areas are totally unknown to me. I’ve tried to make a point in recent months to get out to places that I haven’t already been, and it’s been an excellent decision.

Also i spent a couple months in Lakewood ranch at the start of 2021 and found several places for the purpose of macro photography that I acquired never seen before. So far this year, I’ve taken a lot more photos than any other 12 months, and I’ve spent more days doing photography – almost all of it local.

Even if you don’t think you live in an interesting region for photography, that’s most likely untrue. See if there are any waterfalls or forests within an hour’s drive from you. If not, what about macro photography opportunities? You can take great macro pictures anywhere, still indoors , with a little bit of effort. Not to mention that if you reside in any city, there are most likely some good opportunities.

Photographers can get caught up in the idea of visiting exotic locales and forget that good photos can be taken anywhere. Enhance your camera and go exploring!

Tokina 100mm Macro Lens Adapted to Nikon Z7 with FTZ Adapter
NIKON Z 7 + 100mm f/2. 8 @ 100mm, ISO 125, 1/640, f/6. 3

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