Common Sense Approach To Learning Photography

There is a really big bunch of instructions out on the internet about learning photography. From free 2 minute videos to subscription education. In fact there is so much stuff if you watched it all you probably would not have time to actually take any photographs but boy would you know about photography. I catch myself every once a while thinking that with all the video’s I watch that anytime I put camera to eye I ought to come out with perfect images suitable for framing and have admiring throngs patting me on the back for a job well done.

Yeah, it just doesn’t roll like that. So I set about thinking how I could use my own equipment to learn photography. And I think this is one of the great things about digital photography, you can shoot and shoot without burning through expensive film and developing. I came up with several things that I could do to prove what others were trying to teach but in concrete ways.

First step was to allow myself to take images that weren’t just “art projects”, to make images that proved a point and also provided examples of how my equipment (in this case my Fujifilm cameras and Lenses) actually performed. So I have some suggestions for you on how to improve your skills, get a real feel for what your camera can do, and maybe even learn a little something.

To take the pressure off yourself I might suggest that your learning and testing be put in its own Lightroom catalog. Someplace where mistakes and experiments can live without the worry about being good.

So here is some tests that I recently did. First was a series of tests to evaluate how well I was getting the focus on my camera. I took a series of images where I marked down where the focal point of the image was and then verified that it was indeed the focus point. When doing testing you always want to make sure that there is only one thing being varied for each shot. So I locked down the Fujifilm X-T2 with the XF 16-55mm F2.8 R LM WR lens on the a tripod, set the ISO to 200, the aperture to f/8, and let the shutter speed go to 1/5th second1. I used the focus joystick to move around the image to put either Spot’s eyes (well sunglasses) his mouth or my friend the ducks eyes into focus.

This gave me a good feeling that the camera and lens is capable of getting good focus if I let it do it job.

Another thing I decided to do for myself it to look at depth of field as related to aperture. Using the same setup I shot a number of images all with the same focus point on spots sunglasses and varied the F-stop from F/2.8 to F/16. This gives me a concrete example of how much is in focus in an image at different F-stops. Note: this is only for one lens (XF 16-55) set to 55mm but it gives you an idea of a starting point. Depth of field is not just affected by f-stop but is also affected by the width of your lens. You need to experiment more than I did here.

Fujifilm X-T2 XF 16-55mm f/2.8 at F2.8
Fujifilm X-T2 XF 16-55mm f/2.8 at F4.0
Fujifilm X-T2 XF 16-55mm f/2.8 at F5.6
Fujifilm X-T2 XF 16-55mm f/2.8 at F8
Fujifilm X-T2 XF 16-55mm f/2.8 at F11
Fujifilm X-T2 XF 16-55mm f/2.8 at F14
Fujifilm X-T2 XF 16-55mm f/2.8 at F16

The third experiment I did was testing how my image was affected by exposure compensation. The following images were taking with the exposure compensation set from minus 2 to + 2 stops. The middle image being the one with no compensation.

These are just a few examples of the kinds of testing you can do to get to know your camera and maybe just maybe learn a few things. There are many more experiments you can do when you take off the pressure to make every image count. I would also like to thank Spot and Duck for hanging with me even when they fell off the stage and on to the floor.

Images shot with Fujifilm X-T2
Fujinon XF 16-55mm F2.8 R LM WR

1I used natural light for all the images as it was available and did not add to the complexity of the shots by trying to use flash.

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