My Learning Curve - Part 1


Last edited 17.09.07

Why have I produced this digital photography “ Tips and Techniques ” section ?

To share and receive feedback on information, experiences and lessons learned to date from my digital wildlife and landscape photography.

To put it another way I view my current knowledge as part way along a typical steep learning curve with no ending !! I hope this site will help those who are behind me on this marvellous curve and hope that those in front of me will share their knowledge and so help myself and others to progress. I am acutely aware that a little knowledge is a dangerous thing and there is always something new to be learned with every photograph you take. I therefore sincerely hope that this section does prove to be useful to others and not just a collection of the incorrect and blindingly obvious.

Sources of information - Internet search engines, internet advice and tips sites, photography books, digital photography magazines, conversations with other photographers.

Sources of experience – I started amateur digital photography in 2004. I have always been an enthusiastic holiday photographer and have had more than a passing interest in photography since the age of 12. I have a background in game keeping and field sports during my childhood and teenage years. An outdoor working background of over 10 years as a forestry worker and tree surgeon. A love of wildlife and landscapes. Family background includes my youngest years spent in Africa, my Father is a vet and keen field sportsman, my Mother a knowledgeable gardener from a farming background and my Brother is a doctor of Botany, who worked for Kew, and now runs a nursery.

This section is an evolving project and although I have an overall picture of what it will be generally, I do not at this stage know all the ‘detail’ regarding contents so if you have found it useful I hope you will return again in the future to check its progress .

Background Information

In order to provide you with a frame of reference i.e. a background of where I am coming from, I hope the following may be useful.

Before I started digital photography I think it is fair to say that I was a reasonable holiday snapper – I had a fairly good grasp of ISO, apertures and shutter speeds and probably spent 70% of my time using the set programme modes on an SLR and the remainder in purely manual mode. My holidays had always had some wildlife or landscape aspect to them and so most of my holiday snaps were of wildlife or landscapes. I had progressed from simple entirely manual film SLR’s to the Minolta Dynax series equipped with various zoom lenses ranging from wide angle to 300mm, I had also dabbled with extenders/converters and filters.

My digital photography experience started with a small Canon compact digital (a surprise present from my partner Jackie). For a 3.2 mega pixel camera I was amazed at the quality of the pictures and was blown away by the ability to just keep taking pictures, see them instantly and not having to worry about film processing costs. I believe this is one of the real benefits of digital over film, you can experiment and see your pictures immediately and so progress along the photographic learning curve is more rapid with digital than film.

It was only a matter of months until a digital SLR became a must have purchase. I scoured the internet and photography magazines for camera reviews. For reasons that I detail below I decided on Canon equipment and purchased a second hand Canon 20D with 17-85mm zoom. A month or so passed and a looming holiday to Borneo required the purchase of a telephoto lens and so again after much thought and investigation I acquired a second hand Canon L series 100-400mm IS. This was my base kit and it has expanded from there.

Almost all of the images in my Gallery have been taken from mid 2006 onwards. My earlier images were plagued with image quality issues (with which I am still struggling and believe it is a never ending struggle). It was not until mid 2006 that a number of issues regarding correct photographic technique, equipment and proper equipment use aligned enabling me to produce images which I was happy for others to see.

For each topic below (where appropriate) I start with the basics and then detail my specific thoughts and experiences. The basics are drawn from common photography knowledge (so will not be of much benefit other than to the real newcomer). My specific thoughts stem largely from more detailed investigations and my own personal experiences.

DISCLAIMER – I will not be held responsible for any misfortune, accident, damaged equipment, harm (physically or mentally) or loss of value of any kind as a result of sharing my thoughts within this section. This section - My Learning Curve - does not claim to be accurate it is simply a glorified diary of the experiences to date of an amateur photographer. Technical elements will obviously become out of date and although I will endeavour to keep this section up to date it will never be at the cutting edge of news or information.