Over the past years, I’ve read hundreds of blog articles, listened to hundreds of podcast episodes, and played around with many pieces of photographic equipment and accessories. I can say that I’ve had a lot of experimentation and photo education. I’ve also gone out and shot a lot. On average, I’ve probably shot over 10,000 pictures a year for the past five years.
Recently I realized that photo education is not enough for me to understand and master what I need to achieve my vision. One of my challenges was getting everything sharp – from the nearest element in the frame to the distant landscape.
The Problem: Getting Everything Sharp
You have probably heard about hyperfocal distance. This should be what enabled me to conquer this challenge – make the proper calculations and then set aperture and focal distance to get everything reasonably sharp in my photos. After much experimentation and many apps that I thought would help, I found that this was simply not working for me. So instead of pushing through this, I chose to avoid frustrating situations.
Solution: Specific Photo Training
On a recent photography workshop, I shared my frustrations with Jay and Varina Patel. We reviewed the theory and then went out into the field to practice it together. Photo training in the field made a huge difference. I understood better what I had been doing wrong and Jay helped me understand the steps I needed to take in order to succeed.
Each of us is different and we learn in different ways. Sometimes photography education (such as an online course) is what we need to get it right; sometimes learning out in the field is a more effective method. If a video course is something that would work for you, the Hyperfocal Distance course may be helpful. For me, training out in the field is what made things click.
Follow Up: Practice to Sharpen Your Skills
Immediately after the photo workshop, I went out on my own in a search of a nice landscape. I came across this great vista with the beautiful yellow flowers in the foreground contrasting with the deep blue of the ocean. The black and white shoreline heading into the distance was especially compelling to me.
I used the chart supplied at the workshop, made my calculations, and focused as I had learned with Jay. The result was exactly as I had envisioned it.
If you chose photography education or training, try to go out immediately afterwards on your own to try you’re newly-learned skills. This practice can help build your muscle memory and help you remember the methods when you most need them.
Side Note for Finding a Great Vista
As a side note, on the day I went out in search of that great vista, I enjoyed a meal at a local family-run restaurant. When I shared my passion for photography with the host, he gave me his recommendation: “Should you want a nice picture of the area, go to the end of the road. You will like the view.” Although the meal was great, the photography tip was even better. Without his help, this picture wouldn’t be in my library of photos.
Tell me about your own experiences. Do you learn more easily on training out in the field or through education?