How can you tell whether or not you’re improving as a photographer? Mark Denney shares five self-analysis tools that will show you if your photograph skills are getting better:
1. Better Composition
One of the easiest way to assess whether your compositional skills are improving is to revisit your old photographs. Many times after the initial few days (or weeks) of uploading your photos to social media, you never go back to these. They sink down the Instagram feed, and you move on. It becomes difficult to assess whether you’re improving as a photographer because you no longer see your previous work.
Above is the first shot Denney ever shared on social media. At the time, he was particularly proud of this image. But now he understands why this image is a catastrophe: leading lines that lead to nothing and a blown out sun.
Compare this to the image above, which he shot last fall. It’s a much better composition and treatment, with foreground and background elements and appropriate leading lines.
2. Use of the Histogram
Denney, just like every other photographer at the start of their career, relied more on the images on LCD than on the histogram. As a result most of his images during that time turned out to be underexposed.
Learn about how histograms work, and start using them when you shoot.
Relying more on the histogram than eyeballing the image on the LCD screen is a distinct sign of improvement.
3. Lens Options
You don’t necessarily need to have the best glass out there. Just the fact that you’re able to use different lenses when you need to gives you more flexibility and more options in terms of creativity. That’s another sign of progression.
4. The Right Light
Everyone knows the best times of day to shoot. But more than just the color and the lovely hues in the sky, shooting at these times of day also creates fantastic texture for capturing a 3D effect.
5. Subtle Post-Processing
You can always tell whether a photographer is a newbie or an experienced pro by the way they post-process their photos. There are telltale signs that give them away: over-saturation, over-use of the clarity slider, poor white balance, extreme HDR effects, and over sharpening.
If you’re improving as a photographer, you’re definitely also improving as a post-processor.
Go through your portfolio with these criteria in mind. Are you progressing as a photographer?
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