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Let’s be honest whether it is coming up with portrait posing ideas, photographing the stars, or avoiding danger in the field we all have a common goal here – gain more knowledge and put it to use in our photography – but there comes a time when we must be our own teachers.
We must venture out away from the tutorials, the guidebooks and those YouTube videos to simply do something for ourselves, without fear, and without guidance. Just with the knowledge that we already have in our heads. My friend, that is what this question is all about.
If I had not tried something different, something out of my comfort zone, I wouldn’t have been able to capture this photograph. I was attempting to create an HDR composite, but I wanted to see if I could create one with me in the frame. I’d never done this, I hadn’t even attempted it, so I just set my camera up to capture the brackets, put it on a timer, and walked into where I thought would be a good place to stand. However, while the camera was still taking the shots, I left the scene before the shutter had closed for the final time, and thus – a ghostly figure.
Another example is this photograph of the night sky. It actually consists of four separate landscape orientated images stitched together to create a vertical panorama with a fisheye like effect to boot. I talk in a bit more detail about how I created this vertical panoramic image on my own site, but if you’re listening to the message of this post, you probably shouldn’t have clicked on that link ;).
Tutorials and guides make life easy. Follow the steps and you’ve got a great photograph, but is it original?
It takes courage to be able to do this style of learning and even more so to share your photographs with the world. You have to accept the fact that you’re going to make mistakes, you’re going to feel like you’ve wasted some time, and you’re going to have people tell you that you’ve done it all wrong, but to that I say all this is part of a good learning process.
Apply this no-holds-bars-experimentation-attitude to all aspects of photography and yes, maybe even to life as well.
Whether you’re using Instagram or Photoshop to edit your photographs asking, what happens if I do this?, is key to creating something different. Sure there’s a lot more to experiment with in the latter, but if you’re always using the same filter and the same blur effect in Instagram are you really learning anything?
Is it more important to get out in the field and forget the books once you’ve got the basic knowledge or should you stay up-to-date with all the knowledge that’s being shared on the web every-single-day and miss the possible shot of a lifetime?