Sea Blue Lens

Learning How I Learn



My next lesson in Find Your Eye: Journey of Fascination is about how to learn a new technique. Kat has asked us to think about new photographic techniques we’ve been wanting to try, and to consider how we learn best.  Then we’re to choose the new technique we’re most interested in learning right now, and apply our best learning methods to it.

I have a long list of techniques I’m interested in learning, some written down in actual notes and some just mental notes. Some, like HDR,  are brand new to me, and others, like controlling depth of field, I’m familiar with but not as skilled or comfortable as I’d like to be.

When I’m learning something I’m interested in, I’m usually intense and focused. I like classroom learning, especially if it involves hands-on practice and the opportunity to ask questions and get feedback. But I tend to become impatient with off-topic discussions, or having to wait for everyone to catch up. I love the Internet for the wealth of information about any topic you can think of, and that it’s available whenever I want it.

I’ve learned many new photographic techniques through online classes and from fellow bloggers. When I’m interested in a specific topic, I start with an online search, read articles and watch videos, go back to my camera reference books for further details, and try the technique myself. I’ve recently found videos to be very helpful for me, because I can pause them to try each step with my own camera or software. I also take detailed notes, because writing it down not only helps it sink in, but gives me something to refer back to later if needed.

The specific technique I chose to work on for this lesson is hyperfocal distance focusing. It’s a technique useful for taking photos that are in clear focus from foreground all the way to the horizon. It can be complicated! (There’s a more detailed explanation here.)  It can also be controversial.

I used to be able to use the hyperfocal technique pretty successfully when I shot film. It’s been a problem ever since I got my dSLR, because my digital lenses don’t have the helpful focus zone markings that my old lenses did. The result was images like these:

DSC_0113Foreground sharp; distance fuzzy

DSC_0114Distance sharp; foreground fuzzy

After doing some online research, studying some hyperfocal distance charts, reading my aftermarket camera guide, and playing with my camera controls, I headed out to take some photos. The image at the top of this post and the one below were taken using the information I gathered.

DSC_0004Foreground fence sharp; mid-range shrubbery sharp; distant mountains sharp(ish)

I’m not completely satisfied yet, but I think I have a grasp of the principles and I’ll keep working on it. It feels good to be making progress toward mastery of (or at least competence with) a useful technique that should help improve my landscape photos.

9 thoughts on “Learning How I Learn

  1. Does it demonstrate my ignorance of photography that I like them all anyway? 🙂

  2. It’s a really tough technique to get right, or at least it was for me, and still to this day, I can “mess it up” pretty badly.
    I absolutely love the last shot here.
    Not only is it amazingly sharp, but the composition is truly wonderful.

    Have a great day ahead!

  3. This is a new technique for me! I just keep being stunned at what we can learn to do with our cameras. I too, love all the images. I can see where sometimes you want the whole image in focus. My favorite is last one, beautiful and so well composed.

  4. I would be super satisfied especially if these are early attempts. It looks like a picture on a postcard. Good for you to take the time to learn this technique.

  5. It is a wonderful feeling to put in the effort toward learning a new technical skill and then seeing the positive results. And I think your results are quite stunning. Good for you for taking on this challenge, doing the research and then practicing what you learned.

  6. Great to see you learning this new technique, Lee. You have all of the information you need right at your fingertips, ready to be consumed as soon as you choose. It’s nice to hear how you learn and see you put it into practice.

  7. Thanks for exposing me a new technique. I have been manipulating this with aperture, look forward to reading about it some.

  8. after a 3rd look, the bottom photo is really surreal actually, and a cool composition, and makes me miss California if that’s where you are.

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