Stretch your photography skills

When you do something over and over, things kind of become automatic.

I usually shoot portraits, so my fingers know what to do, instinctively, when there’s a person in front of my lens. It’s so instinctive that it seems effortless: it seems I’m not really thinking about it, it just happens.

1/60s @ f/5.6, ISO 200

Malcolm Gladwell writes in his awesome book Outliers that it takes 10,000 repetitions to master a skill, and it’s true that drilling a skill, especially when we practice it the right way, does produce mastery at some point.

But once in a while, we need to shake things up. Introducing something new into a skill set stretches that repertoire. When we apply previous knowledge to new situations, we learn more.

1/125s @ f/5.6 ISO 200

I’m used to lighting people with portable flash units. When presented with a new situation, smaller subjects this time, the portable flash suddenly becomes a huge strobe in relation to what I’m lighting. So naturally I have to stretch what I know about the relationship between the subject and the light.

And, naturally, I learned a lot.

1/30s @ f/3.5 ISO 200

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