Needless to say, this is not the case. Yes, good quality gear will enable you to produce good quality images – but the camera can’t produce a great photograph on its own, it needs a good photographer behind it!
Happily, there are ways to improve your photography without spending any money at all. Here are a few thoughts:
Study the technical stuff: these long, dark winter evenings are an excellent time to make sure you really understand how your camera works. Go through your camera manual to see what is in all the different menus. Read books or browse articles on the internet to become really familiar with things like aperture and shutter speed settings, depth of field, ISO settings, exposure, and so on. Then when you go out with your camera, you’ll be more confident with the technical stuff, and so freer to concentrate on aesthetic considerations like composition.
Study the visual stuff: I spend a lot of time looking at other photographers’ work, not to copy it, but to analyse what I think works and what doesn’t – and why. Why does the composition feel so right in one photograph, and not in another? How has the photographer used light and colour in his image? How has the depth of field affected the impact of the picture? And I look at images in other media too – paintings for instance – where a lot of the same aesthetic considerations apply.
Analyse your own photos: when you look at your own photos after a day’s photography, you’ll almost certainly like some more than others. Try to analyse why this is – assuming it’s not an obvious technical fault like incorrect exposure or focus, what it is that makes one picture more or less successful than another?
Practise: like any other artistic pursuit, photography needs practise! Getting out there regularly with your camera means that you don’t get rusty on any of the technical bits, and “keeps your eye in” as far as composition is concerned. I think that regular practise also helps you to “see” an image in ways that you might not do otherwise. You could even set yourself a goal, such as setting aside an hour each week for taking photographs – no matter what!
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