Trial and Error

With the advent of digital cameras, we’ve been blessed with an opportunity that didn’t exist 20 years ago. With the the old-fashioned film cameras, you were limited to the capabilities of the camera itself.  You weren’t able to increase the ISO without switching to a different roll of film. Today we can take as many pictures as we want without worrying about wasting $100 worth of film.

Trial and error.  We all learn from our mistakes. Don’t give up trying. However you want to say it, there’s no reason why you can’t take perfect pictures ‘most’ of the time. By saying ‘most’ we’re leaving room for those times when no one can get a good picture of a specific subject.

We highly, highly recommend learning how to set the shutter speed, aperture, and ISO on your camera. Read the owner’s manual, then read it again. If the manual seems overwhelming, put it down and read more at another time. Some of today’s more sophisticated cameras come with a 500-page owner’s manual. The human brain isn’t meant to digest that much information at once!  Read a chapter today then put the manual down. Read the chapter on how the camera focuses then put the manual down. Slowly but surely you’ll learn everything there is to know about your camera.  Give it time and have patience!

Trial and error. Your camera is in full Auto mode and you snap a picture of a red cardinal.  You check the picture on your camera and the bird appears to be orange.  What can you do?  Take another picture? Yes, but first you must change at least one setting on your camera.  Taking multiple pictures of the same subject will normally result in multiple IDENTICAL pictures. If you know the bird is red but in your pictures it looks orange, why would you continue to take more pictures without changing something on the camera?

This method might sound tedious but it doesn’t take long.  After taking an unsatisfactory picture in full Auto mode, switch to programmed mode. Change the ISO settings and take another picture. Switch back to the original ISO setting and then move the camera exposure dial to shutter-priority mode. If you hold the shutter release down halfway, most cameras will display the shutter speed, aperture, and ISO. If the camera shows that it chose a shutter speed of 1/125, change the shutter speed to 1/250 or 1/60. Take another picture.  If it’s close to being what you’re looking for but not perfect, change the shutter speed again. Trial and error.  Who cares if you end up with 100 lousy pictures as long as you get that one perfect shot?

Trial and error also means knowing how pictures look on your camera versus what they look like on your computer or on paper. It’s not uncommon for pictures to look great on paper when they looked like crap on the camera. Pictures that look washed out on the camera might be perfect on your computer or in print. Pictures that look dark on the camera might be perfect on your computer or in print. You can still snap as many pictures as you want to, but don’t assume a picture is lousy based solely on what you see on the camera’s tiny little LCD monitor.

Don’t be afraid to disregard the voice’s in your head. Most likely those voices came from other people who either gave you bad advice or really don’t know much about photography. Some people say you can’t take good pictures in the rain. I’ve taken awesome pictures in the rain! Some people say you should only use macro lens for close-ups. I’ve taken awesome close-ups with a 300mm telephoto lens. Sometimes you need to step outside the box and do the opposite of what seems right. If you think you should use a telephoto lens, try a macro instead! If everyone else is using huge telephoto lens to take pictures of a snow-covered mountain, you might get a better picture using a normal lens. Don’t be afraid to experiment with lenses, camera settings, and composition.

Receive a free Certificate of Completion for this photography course. Pass a 40-question test on this course with a score of 70 or higher and receive a certificate of completion. Visit our Basics of Digital Photography Certificate of Completion page for more information.

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