15 ways to improve your photography without buying new gear

15 ways to improve your photography without buying new gear

Famous photographers on Facebook: Steve McCurry

7. Follow photographers you admire

By following the best photographers on Facebook, regularly checking in on their blogs and learning the stories behind their best photos, you’ll develop your eye for a picture and ultimately improve your own photography while you’re commuting on the train or sat at your desk at work.

SEE MORE: Which famous photographer are you actually like?

8. Read the best photography books

As many as 880 billion photos will be taken in 2014, reports Popular Photography.

And you can bet that most of those will end up being shared online. Few photography websites bother with quality control, while fewer still are able to curate such a volume of pictures into a meaningful selection worth looking at.

So why not treat your eyes to a photography book where every picture has to count?

We’re not talking practical how-to photography guides, but ‘coffee table’ photo books, such as Life (Frans Lanting), Water Light Time (David Doubilet), Street Photography Now (Sophie Howarth and Stephen McLaren) and We English (Simon Roberts).

Although some photo books are expensive, there’s usually a deal to be found on eBay.

SEE MORE: Are you really a dedicated photographer? 12 simple ways to tell

9. Avoid camera review websites

Or should that be ‘avoid temptation’? Anyway, it’s easy to become disillusioned with the camera gear you own if you spend too much time visiting dedicated camera review websites and forums.

But the launch of a new DSLR doesn’t make the previous model a dog. Review forums can also be quite disheartening places, with comments descending into blow-trading between camera tribes.

Stick with more positive influences. Photography websites like PetaPixel and Digital Camera World get the balance between inspiration and insight right.

SEE MORE: Social media for photographers: the 10 worst mistakes everyone makes

10. Watch TV

Yes, really. TV gets a bad press, but you can learn an awful lot about composition by unwinding in front of a good movie or TV drama.

Look at how a scene has been lit and how it’s been framed, where the elements fall and how it’s been cropped.

Chances are, cinematographers and lighting cameraman have more than a passing interest in photography — in fact, shooting stills is probably how most of them got started — and by actively watching their work, you’ll develop your eye for composition.

SEE MORE: Canon EOS cameras: 100 things you never knew they could do

11. Spend the money on a photography trip

15 ways to improve your photography without buying new gear

Many of us would love to upgrade our slow f/5.6 lenses for faster f/2.8 ones, but would that money be better spent on travelling to a location with great photo potential?

You’ll feel motivated to shoot when you visit somewhere new. It’s only by putting in the hours and making mistakes that you’ll improve your photography.

And wouldn’t you rather do that somewhere stimulating with a bunch of cheaper lenses and accessories, rather than sit at home with expensive camera gear?

SEE MORE: How to set up a camera for the first time: 11 things you need to do first

12. Use a tripod

How often have you heard that pearl of advice? We’d guess at least 320 times. But a tripod can be seriously good for the health of your photography.

We’re not talking technically here — supporting your camera during an exposure is naturally going to give you sharper photos — but rather the way that a tripod slows down the art of picture taking.

The fiddly process of setting up a tripod encourages you to pay more attention to the camera position, what elements you’ll include and exclude in the photo and fine-tune the framing.

SEE MORE: 8 tripod mistakes every photographer makes (and how to get it right)

15 ways to improve your photography without buying new gear

13. Shoot JPEGs rather than RAW files

It’s easy to treat RAW files as a safety net, allowing you to apply exposure compensation, change the white balance or opt for a different Picture Style after taking the shot.

Shoot JPEGs though, and there’s less room for error. You can of course correct a JPEG’s brightness and colours later in photo software, but it takes longer and the end result won’t be as high quality as if you were starting with a RAW file.

Select JPEG in-camera and you’ll find yourself paying closer attention to the histogram and considering the lighting and mood you want to create before setting the white balance, choosing a Picture Style or applying a Creative Filter.

SEE MORE: Are you really a dedicated photographer? 12 simple ways to tell

14. Use a small capacity memory card

By keeping a small capacity card — or a larger capacity card, which is half full — in your camera, you’ll be forced to be more selective when it comes to pressing the shutter release.

Without the freedom to ‘spray and pray’ or to make countless in-camera duplicates, you’ll soon start making each frame count.

SEE MORE: 49 seriously good Canon DSLR tricks, tips, shortcuts and time savers

15. Shoot in Live View mode

When you take pictures using the viewfinder, you feel more intimately involved with the picture-taking process.

Use Live View however, and you can, literally, take a step back and see the image in a more detached way.

The larger picture displayed on your camera’s Live View screen can give you a better feel for the size of the subject in relation to the rest of the frame (not all viewfinders show 100% of the image), makes it easier to spot distractions and precisely set both the focus and exposure.

10 reasons why your photos aren’t sharp (and what you can do about it)
Metering mode cheat sheet: how they work and when to use them
Best camera focus techniques: 10 surefire ways to get sharp images
10 common exposure problems every photographer faces (and how to overcome them)