Learning one step at a time

Posted by on Oct 6, 2014 in Techniques | 0 comments

Learning one step at a time

On a recent sunrise workshop I had plenty of time to work one on one with a new student to our group. At first we were a little bit disappointed that weather was not working in our favour but upon reflection this turned out to be a fantastic opportunity for us to focus our attention on some camera controls and one particular menu item that she did not understand. At the end of the workshop, I spoke to the student again and she mentioned that her takeaway item from the whole workshop was learning that menu item. She was rapt that there had been a chance to understand that menu function and to try each setting and see the effect on the photos.

Morning Rush by Ken Dickson 1/8 sec @ f14

Morning Rush by Ken Dickson
1/8 sec @ f14

With so many magazines, online tutorials, videos, books and (yes) workshops we get bombarded with information and we often have the tendency to try learning everything in one go. This may work for some people, but most of us will need time to process new information correctly before rushing off to something new. I find in my personal experience, learning a new camera function takes a number of uses before I have built up the muscle memory to use it correctly and naturally.

It is my contention that students who come to workshops do best when they target a particular piece of information that they wish to learn. This maybe as simple as a camera function or it might be a more comprehensive thought such as learning to use the light correctly on a model’s face. Whilst many people come to workshops with a preconceived idea of what they want or hope to learn, it is often something new that pops up during the event that ends up being the take away item for most people.

Natasha in the park by Ken Dickson 1/1250 sec @ f1.8

Natasha in the park by Ken Dickson
1/1250 sec @ f1.8

It is important to be aware the first time you learn something might not be enough to make it with you or “stick”. It is critically important to follow up that first learning experience with opportunities to use or relearn the information. This might be achieved by repeating the actions a number of times or by taking the information and experimenting e.g. what happens if I try different apertures?

A similar approach can be taken to learning from videos or books or online tutorials. Find a nugget of information or a skill that interests you from the source and focus on that until you are confident in what you have learnt. I use the same process when learning new actions within photoshop, study the action, try it on the example image and repeat on multiple images until I can do the action without reference to the book or video.

Learning something new is a great way to keep your mind active and I have found it a great spark for creativity. The greatest thing about our wonderful photography art form is that there are always new things to learn, maybe a new function on on a camera, maybe a new cameras controls, maybe a photography principle like aperture or maybe a new piece of software or post processing technique. So why not try something new today – but take the time to learn it in depth and you will quickly find it becomes second nature to you.


In the tunnel by Ken Dickson 15 sec @ f9

In the tunnel by Ken Dickson
15 sec @ f9

If you would like to learn more about photography, remember to check out upcoming Ozlight Photo Adventures workshops.



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