Proficiency in Photography

It’s Not Only Technical Skill and Creativity That’s Important

Proficiency in photography is paramount. There is much said about developing your technical skills and creative vision in photography. And certainly one must conquer the basic tools of photography such as the relationships of ISO, shutter speeds, and exposure times, controlling depth of field and more. And let’s not forget the often overwhelming learning curve to operate today’s DSLRs. Navigating a camera’s multilayered function menu can be huge challenge at first. Then there of course is the creative aspect; that is, the ability to convey emotion and mood in your images. You must first hone your technical skills to a certain level, at least with respect to your basic gear and camera features, before you can really focus on the creativity part.

Gaining Proficiency

Once you have achieved a level of technical skills and have come some way in your creative development journey, you can be said to have gained a degree competency and proficiency. The more you exercise these skills the greater your proficiency becomes, which also facilitates your creative growth. This is important. You should use your camera often. Keep it with you as often as possible and make use of it. I’ve heard it said that a great photographers always have their camera close by and use it often, even every day.

Foggy morning on Lone Jack Lake in Jackson County, Missouri

Skill – Use It or Lose It

It does not matter how proficient and skillful you are or become, if you do not exercise it you will lose it. Use it or lose it the saying goes. This applies to most anything is life. For example, a pilot has the skills to fly his craft but if the pilot has not flown in quite some time, he is prone to make mistakes, maybe serious ones. Great athletes know the rules and have gained the skills of their sport and exercises those skills daily. That’s what keeps them great. It is no different for the photographer. To excel you must exercise your craft.

My Proficiency Suffered

This Covid pandemic has impacted all our lives in many ways for sure. Not unlike most of you, it has impacted how often I get out an shoot. I admit though that I cannot blame pandemic for all the the lack of me exercising my craft of late. Other life matters also sometime get in the way. But regardless of the cause, the result is the same – a loss in your proficiency of photography.

A couple of days ago I decided I needed to get out. A foggy morning was the inspiration. Grabbing my camera gear I headed out to a small nearby lake, hoping to capture some shots of tree snags and maybe reflections on the anticipated calm water surface. It was a disastrous start. I got a late start (lack of planning). After arriving I began to search for possible compositions. I was quickly encouraged by the calmness of the water. However, it was evident the fog was beginning to quickly burn off.

Foggy morning on Lone Jack Lake in Jackson County, Missouri

Returning to my car, I just grabbed my camera and tripod and returned to the a spot offering some promise to begin composing my shot. What the heck! The breeze just picked up to ruin the reflections. Oh…what’s wrong with my camera? The live view keeps turning off. It took me a couple of minutes to figure out what was going on. All the while the conditions were changing. Finally I get to compose my shot. Dang! Wrong focal length and my other lenses are in the car. More time wasted.

After obtaining the correct lens, I decided that a long exposure might aid in removing the water ripples and help salvage some compositions with reflections. So, you guessed it. My ND filters were back in the car. More time wasted. After finally retrieving and attaching my ND filter, for some reason I could not get my remote cable release to function properly. I’m sure it was fine… just more operator error.

Loss of Proficiency Leads to Frustration and Defeats Creativity

I could go on about searching for certain features in my camera and more. But, you get the idea. My proficiency in photography had suffered. Consequently, I spent all my energy and gained a degree of frustration due to this loss of proficiency. I had not exercised my craft for some time. My ability to focus on creativity was hampered in the process.

In short, exercise your craft!! Keep that camera close by and use it. Know your camera features like the back of your hand and continually look for opportunities to push your creative skills. Do what it takes to become that great photographer you aspire to be.

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One thought on “Proficiency in Photography

  1. I’m right there with you and I’m in worse shape because right before this started I switched to a whole new camera system. So not only am I rusty but I’m rusty with a new camera. The controls are in different places, the menus are different, even the lenses are different.

    I have no good excuse for not getting out. It’s not like I can’t find places to go, even outside where I don’t have to worry about this crud but I just haven’t had the desire. I’m hoping to get that fixed shortly with an outing to the West Bottoms and maybe a trip out to Castle Rock and some other places.

    And getting vaccinated would be nice too. 🙂

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