I have been a photographer for more years than I can count on my fingers and my toes combined. I have read a lot of the books and magazine articles that tell you how to do it. But there is one thing the books and magazines seldom mention. That is practice.
Since I tend to focus on the small stuff–butterflies, other insects, and flowers, and I live in an area that has four seasons, my photography becomes seasonal. And I am out of practice for the butterfly photography.
Friday I was chasing the few butterflies that showed up around our property (there were three species, and maybe only five or six individuals). I am out of shape. Chasing butterflies requires a certain amount of stalking–I was moving when I shouldn’t have been. I knew what settings I wanted on my camera, but sometimes I did not have it set right. Then there is the search image–if you follow a butterfly around with your eyes, you need to be able to see where it lands. There is a skill to that which is developed with practice. And I am rusty.
Seeing the image, getting the right composition and focus, eliminating backgrounds–all of that is sharpened with practice.
Think of photography like you would think of playing a musical instrument. If you are an accomplished musician but you do not play for a few weeks (or maybe even a day or two), when you pick it up again you will notice the difference.
If you are a photographer, try to take pictures every day. Don’t let your skills get rusty.