What I’ve learned in my first year of photography

Dec 4, 2016

Marcos Petri

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What I’ve learned in my first year of photography

Dec 4, 2016

Marcos Petri

We love it when our readers get in touch with us to share their stories. This article was contributed to DIYP by a member of our community. If you would like to contribute an article, please contact us here.

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December 3rd, 2015 was the day I bought my first camera. I carefully chose one body and one lens (Nikon D5300 and a prime 50mm).

These are some of the things I’ve learned throughout my journey:

  • I still don’t know how to compose. My good photos are just a fraction of all the pictures I take.
  • You never know which one will be your next favorite picture. Sometimes you don’t realize that you are taking a really good shot, but you’ll definitely fall for it while editing.
  • You’ll know what lens you want after you try to take a picture and you just can’t… I had my 50 prime for like 10 months, just recently bought a 55-200mm and a 18-55mm. I’m kind of just using these zoom for now, but it is because I want to get the feel for it.
  • There is no such thing as “non processed pictures”. Every picture is processed, even the analog ones. Even your eyes process what they are seeing, why think that the unprocessed raw is essentially better?
  • I take less pictures than I should. Only 5k clicks, come one dude!
  • I have no trouble deleting bad pictures.
  • I hate when I edit my picture and it is the way I want, only to find out that Instagram has a filter that does exactly the same.

https://www.instagram.com/p/BIgWQXrDRi6/?taken-by=mvpetri

  • You and the people you know will usually prefer different pictures. My favorites has less likes in comparison to my most popular ones.
  • One year and I still need to find a reliable way to backup my pictures. My laptop and an external hardrive for now, but I have plans to backup on the cloud as well.
  • I’m motivated to get out. I struggle with the symptoms of depression and I stay in my house for longer than I want to. Photography is making me slowly get out more. Last week I took a 15h bus trip to the Capital of my country. One of the reasons was the possibility of taking pictures there.
  • I still don’t know how to direct people. I really want to start taking portraits and pictures of humans. But I don’t know what to do, or what to tell them to do.

https://www.instagram.com/p/BAdAqa5IdU5/?taken-by=mvpetri

  • I’m the type of person that takes hundreds of pictures at slightly different angles and then I chose one that is best. I envy those who just go there, take one great shot and it is done.
  • Light is key.
  • My best friend is the histogram.
  • I stopped looking at every picture on the e-view finder after I learned how to use the light meter on my camera.
  • Slightly under exposed is better than slightly over exposed. Go figure…
  • People love bokeh.
  • When I don’t have my camera with me, I’m thinking about the pictures I could have being taking.
  • I didn’t take my master piece yet.

https://www.instagram.com/p/BNXJ6jBjaHN/?taken-by=mvpetri

  • Color correction is a master skill to have. I’m still learning it, but I already think that it is way better than using effects an filters.
  • That VSCO package I bought is useless now. I used then, but now I never use it anymore. Only rarely, when I need to send one picture to a friend and I cannot save it editing myself. Don’t get me wrong, it is a good way to start, but you will become independent and soon will do your way.
  • I often think that the picture of others are way better than mine, even from people who just take pictures occasionally.
  • I have no shame on trying to recreate a picture I like. I’m learning and I need to aggregate techniques. When I was in college studying chemistry we recreated old experiments all the time!
  • /r/photography is one of the best places to learn. The “how to take a picture like that” post is rich.
  • ISO, shutter speed and aperture opening were a mystery to me, but now I kind of understand them a little bit. Depending on the depth of field I want, I chose to change the shutter speed, or the ISO…
  • Unfortunately, the best lens are the ones I want but don’t have the money to buy it.

I learned a lot this year. More than this huge list. I wonder what great things I’ll continue to learn!

And you? How was your first year into photography? What things you learned and want to share?

About the Author

Marcos V. Petri is a Brazilian chemist who loves everything about Nature and thinks that buying a camera was one of the best decisions he ever had. He says his photos aren’t great, but they are getting better. You can see more of his images and follow his journey of photographic discovery on Instagram. This article was also published here and used with permission.

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10 responses to “What I’ve learned in my first year of photography”

  1. jimjimmy123 Avatar
    jimjimmy123

    You understand ISO, aperture (opening?) and shutterspeed a little bit after one year? There are courses that teach you these in 30 mins.

    1. Greg Avatar
      Greg

      Where can i find it? Can you please give me a link to something worth watching?

      1. Gvido Mūrnieks Avatar
        Gvido Mūrnieks

        I suggest these youtube videos:
        “A Simple Explanation of F-Stop” by Dylan Bennett
        Also, Adorama channel has the best 5 part video series about Exposure Triangle.

    2. Janicer Avatar
      Janicer

      Knowing the theory and putting it into practice are two different things.
      So yes,he knows about theory but I totally get what he means about understanding.its only when you put the theory into practice that you fully understand.

  2. R73 Avatar
    R73

    Nice article, the best thing to do for composing, is to study the paintings of masters.

  3. Ralph Hightower Avatar
    Ralph Hightower

    I bought my first SLR camera back in 1980, a Canon A-1, that I still shoot with. Back then, there was no internet; it was just books and magazines; books by Ansel Adams, John Hedgeco, and others. I learned about the exposure triangle from reading books.
    For me, photography has been and continues to be a creative outlet.

  4. David Hovie Avatar
    David Hovie

    My First camera, was an apsc with 50mm.. I made 20k photographs in the first year. I learned so much from this lens.

  5. TByte Avatar
    TByte

    “My good photos are just a fraction of all the pictures I take.”
    Everyone’s good photos are just a fraction of the ones they take.

    “I take less pictures than I should. Only 5k clicks, come one dude!”
    Fewer

    “I’m the type of person that takes hundreds of pictures at slightly different angles and then I chose one that is best. I envy those who just go there, take one great shot and it is done.”
    You might as well envy Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny.

    “I often think that the picture of others are way better than mine, even from people who just take pictures occasionally.”
    Never compare your average shot to the best shots of anybody else.
    Never compare your best shots to the best shots of everybody else.

  6. danm Avatar
    danm

    You said “Slightly under exposed is better than slightly over exposed. Go figure…”. Actually, that is not correct. You should over-expose but not so much that you blow out the highlights. The reason is that this reduces the noise in the shadows. You can then restore the exposure you want in post-processing (like Lightroom). The expression “expose to the right” (ETTR) captures this concept.

    1. danm Avatar
      danm

      PS I really do like your collection of comments. Very insightful.