Getting to know your camera is one of the keys to becoming a confident and competent photographer.
If you have to take your eye away from the viewfinder, you probably still need to keep practicing with that piece of gear. Don’t stress, it does take a while and it’s a real pain if you change cameras or makers. We all go through it. It’s part of the journey (and personally I enjoy getting to know a new camera).
But it’s also a great advertisement for practicing in controlled conditions.
What do I mean by that?
A controlled condition is where you can pretty much be confident of the lighting and composition elements before you start shooting. If you know how those two things are going to present themselves for you, then you can turn your attention towards other considerations.
This is very different from shooting in dynamic conditions with changing light, moving subjects, moving backgrounds etc – something like event photography or wedding photography. These are times when you need to be on your game and confident of your camera-craft and photography knowledge.
Controlled conditions don’t have that stress and are a much easier place to practice.
Probably my personal favourite “controlled condition” is my small backyard. I live close to the center of the city so it is tiny, but there are a heap of flowers and I know what the light is going to be doing at any given time of the day. Moreover, it is very protected from the elements (especially the wind). In short, it is a very predictable place to shoot.
And that makes it perfect for practice. For me, that is flower photography most of the time and also the occasional bug.
But because I don’t have to concern myself with moving targets and changing lighting conditions, I can concentrate to coming to grips with things like composition and getting to know my gear well.
And the great bonus of that is that I also get some good shots.
So where do you start with practicing such things or even flower photography? Light Stalking member, Leanne Cleavely, wrote up an incredible guide for Photzy that covers all of the things you should be looking for. Her photos are quite amazing and going through the guide is a great way to know what you should be practicing in such a controlled condition.