Practice, Practice and Even More Practice

by | Aug 2, 2021

Today’s Post by Joe Farace

I believe that we learn by practice. Whether it means to learn to dance by practicing dancing or to learn to live by practicing living, the principles are the same—Martha Graham

At workshops and PhotoWalks the number one question I hear from attendees is about proper exposure. You would think that with all the automation that is built into today’s cameras that would be the last question they would ask but instead it’s the first.

I think that the best thing you can do to increase your skills in obtaining what, for you, is the best exposure is practice. I think the same suggestion holds true for improving your overall photography skills. Seven-time Grammy-winning pianist Emanuel Ax still practices his instrument four hours a day. And a few of his tips about practicing could easily apply to photographers

Listen to great performances. If you don’t already have a favorite photographer you should have, at least, one. Pick up a few books at the library about the history of photography and see which photographer’s images speak to you—and some will, I promise. Then select other books by or about that photographer, especially ones showing how their style may have evolved over time. Don’t copy their work but be inspired by it. Many times, I’ll post images here or on Instagram (follow me at @joefarace) that are homages to a photographer’s style. Give it a try.

Get a partner. While I tend to be a lone wolf and not just about photography, shooting with a friend, especially one who uses the same kind of gear, can help you learn and improve. You can swap lenses, maybe cameras (next topic) and watch how each other works. How much you learn will surprise you plus it’s more fun. Because my friend Mark Toal lives in Portland, we don’t get to shoot together often but I value the time when we do.

How I made this photo: It’s an homage to Italian films of the seventies that was made at night in Old San Juan, Puerto Rico. It was shot while my friend, Peter K. Burian, and I were walking around the city, exploring he possibilities and exposures of shooting at nighttime. The camera used was an Olympus E-3 Four-thirds system DSLR and Zuiko 12-60mm f/2.8-4.0 lens (at12mm.) Exposure was 1/15 sec and f/2.8 and ISO 1600, with noise mitigated by the Dfine plug-in.

Try another instrument. Mr. Ax also likes to play timpani, while I will reluctantly drag out my Canon EOS digital cameras from time to time, if only to appreciate my Micro Four-third gear more, it also to let me see it’s limitations, no matter how much I love that system. I also occasionally shoot film cameras from my gold-trimmed seagull TLR or my Leica M6 TTL and revel in the experience of photography I had when I started oh-so-many years ago. If you’ve been following my recent posts, you know that I plan to do more film shooting—a lot more—in the future.

Experiment. To me that’s where infrared photography comes in. This past Friday, along with my friend Barry Staver, I went do to my beloved McCabe Meadows to shoot the Lumix GX1 that was converted to infrared using LifePixel’s HyperColor filter. Only recently have I began to experience the avalanche of colors that LifePixel shows on their website and I can’t wait to do more with this camera/filter combination. Meanwhile, I was energized by the experience or shooting with a friend.

If you enjoyed today’s blog post and would like to treat Joe to a cup of Earl Grey tea ($2.75, Starbucks raised the price of Earl Grey), click here. And if you do, many thanks.