How to make sure that the camera is your tool, so taking photos can be your passion.
Spend 10 minutes with your camera every day
Have you ever found yourself standing in front of an awesome moment trying to decide which camera setting to choose?
Try the following tips for just 10 minutes a day with your camera, and soon enough you will forget it’s even there. The camera will become a natural extension of your eye and hand, and will not be an issue when you see a photo you want to take.
This self-tutoring plan is based on natural human curiosity, and on the fact that muscle memory can do a better job than brain memory in performing manual tasks, such as setting the desired shutter speed. Once you have created a link between your vision, and the finger that turns a dial, or presses a button on your camera, it will stay in that finger’s muscle memory for good. Then, next time you think about that function, it will happen magically by itself.
Here are some examples for 10 minute exercises to do with your camera. Take them as inspiration for making some of your own.
Explore your camera like a toddler
A toddler is crawling and exploring, seeing new bits and pieces of the world, then stands up and making a new step every day, walking while seeing things from a higher vantage point. You can do the same with your camera if you allow yourself to touch and turn dials, push buttons, or change menu settings without a specific goal. Do that on a daily basis, not in a moment before you need to capture an exciting event. Practice this until you feel safe to take a wrong turn on your camera’s menu, and remember there is always a way back in, by using “Reset Menu”.
One Day, One Button
The secret for fast learning is in keeping it simple. The human brain is really good at learning and performing one process at a time. So if you choose one variable, and focus your attention on it for the whole 10 minutes, it will burn into your brain and stay there.
The place to start is the shutter release button. For 10 minutes, work on different ways to half press it, then fully depress it, and then retrieve your finger tip back to half press. This is better done in front of a mirror, so you can look at your index finger while it’s working. Start at a fast shutter speed and adjust it slower after each shot. When your photos become blurry, try again until the movement of your finger tip is unnoticeable. You’ll start to see that you can shoot hand-held using slower shutter speeds with every minute of practice do you. This will help you discover your lower limit for shooting hand-held.
Even an experienced professional musician plays repeating scales for few hours a day, before the real work begins. If you repeat your camera’s operation in a simple, yet systematic way, you will feel the difference from day one. Unlike the musician, it will only take you 10 minutes a day to create a change.
For example try standing on a busy street corner following passing cars with your camera (panning), taking some shots with a slow shutter speed. Try to blur the surroundings and keep the car as sharp as possible. For 10 minutes do just that, and explore different ways to hold and move your camera along with the passing car. Shoot at different shutter speeds every time, building your eye-arm-finger connection to work together for the simple task over and over again. Do only that, and nothing else on those 10 minutes.
Take your camera everywhere with you
Your body language tell everyone around you about your feelings. The moment you feel uncomfortable, others around you can tell, and then they will feel the same.
The way you are perceived by others, reflects your confidence with your camera. Try taking the camera on your shoulder while going to the supermarket or post office for errands. After about 10 minutes of being out doing daily chores with your camera, you will forget it’s even there, and will project that to others around you. Then you can start taking photos everywhere.
If you let yourself play with your camera for just 10 minutes a day, you’ll feel different and see the results right from day one. Remember that you learn your camera in order to forget it’s there, so you can focus on your photos.
Do you have any other ideas or tips for using your 10 minutes a day? Please put them in the comments section below.