Getting The Best From Your Kit

There are several different composition techniques that you can use to take your photographs from boring to interesting. Often just a small change can create a big impact. Are you finding yourself using the same center focused composition time and again? Try using the rule of thirds instead. Are you always photographing at eye level? Change your perspective and perhaps photograph from top-down or at a 45-degree angle.

Rocking the Photography Equipment You Currently own Versus Buying New Gear

A cloudy gloomy day in Vridhavan, India gave me the perfect opportunity to capture reflections on this relatively still river. I intentionally chose an off-center composition to add additional interest to this image.

#2 Take your camera everywhere

If you are really serious about improving your photography, one of the first things to do is to understand your gear. The best way to do that is to take lots of photos. Take your camera with you everywhere you go.

If you really want to improve your photography, you have to take lots and lots of photos. By taking lots of pictures, you will start to understand how to use your camera in different lighting conditions and what works and what doesn’t. You can only do this if you give yourself many different opportunities to photograph different subjects in different lighting situations.

Take this a step further by actually taking and using the gear you want to perfect. If you own a DSLR but find it too heavy or cumbersome, then perhaps it is time to buy a simple point and shoot or smaller mirrorless camera.

Rocking the Photography Equipment You Currently own Versus Buying New Gear - horse photos

I am always carrying my camera to the barn where my kids learn horse riding. There are so many interesting stories that unfold and the lighting is quite challenging especially during winter so it gives me a chance to practice difficult lighting techniques as well!

#3 Learn to read and analyze light effectively

One of the most important elements of photography is light and yet it is amazing how many photographers don’t understand this important concept. Also, not all light is equal.

Light changes during the day and different types of light can affect images differently. Morning light is different from afternoon light which is different from evening light (a.k.a golden hour) which is yet again different from blue hour. In order to really improve your photography, you must learn to distinguish these different types of lighting situations and how to effectively work in each situation.

Dark and Moody Lifestyle Equestrian Photos - Rocking the Photography Equipment You Currently own Versus Buying New Gear

I saw this image long before I even took the photo. Just something about the light filtering from the right, the catch light and even the color of the horse just made this one of my favorite equestrian photos of all times!

#4 Use a tripod

A tripod is a very useful tool for you as a photographer. It opens up new opportunities for creative photography like low light or night photography. You can experiment with the light at night to capture really beautiful images.

A tripod can let you capture sharp images of non-moving subjects and blur out moving subjects, creating very interesting photographs. You can take this a step further by using a remote trigger that will also enable you to take long exposure shots without fear of camera shake.

#5 Learn to photograph in manual mode

Your camera is a pretty sophisticated piece of machinery with a pre-programmed brain (shooting modes). These modes can be found on the top dial of your camera and are generally labeled as P (Program), M (Manual), Av/A (Aperture Priority), and Tv/S (Shutter priority), plus other automatic modes.

Manual mode (or M on most cameras) is much like using an old film SLR, when they didn’t have buttons that do it all for you. Being the only option, photographers were forced to learn to use their cameras in Manual. In doing so, they fully learned how their cameras worked. Once you know how to properly use your camera, it becomes much easier to spot where you’re going wrong and to fix it.

Semi-automatic modes are good for some situations but, once you know how to properly shoot in Manual, you’ll find there’s no need for them and you’ll get better results on your own. Manual mode also gives you the freedom to make mistakes, freedom to bend the “rules” of photography, and in turn, gives you the freedom to excel in your art.

Car in a foggy day along a ridge road - Rocking the Photography Equipment You Currently own Versus Buying New Gear

Manual mode on your camera gives you so much flexibility in terms of getting creative, photographing in different conditions and also allowing you to experiment with different techniques.

#6 Find great locations to photograph

Don’t just sit at home and expect great pictures to happen. Find local and state parks or perhaps even national parks that might be close to you (by close I mean within an acceptable driving distance) and look for potentially good spots for photography.

When shootig landscapes, you will have to envision your image to see what could look good and what may not. For example, a still lake is a great way to produce a mirrored image where the clouds, trees, and other objects are reflected on the lake. For portrait photography, drive around and see if you can find locations that will look good in the background.

The great thing about portrait photography is that a good background is often easy to find like a white wall, an old building, or an interesting fence. Use your imagination and you will soon be finding great spots all around you.

Custer State Park Outdoor Photos - Rocking the Photography Equipment You Currently own Versus Buying New Gear

#optoutside and I guarantee you will find amazing things to photography. Just being outside in nature changes our perspective and lifts the mood!

#7 Understand basic post-processing

Exposure or brightness, contrast, color balance, and tone/tint are some of the basic things you can fix in an image. There are many free post-processing software out there in the market that you can use to make basic adjustments to your image.

If you want to learn advanced editing techniques there are many options for you like Photoshop, Lightroom, Luminar, etc. Adobe has great creative editing programs that are subscription based (a fee every month). Maybe invest in these programs on a trial basis and see if they will suit your editing needs.

 Custer State Park sunset photo - Rocking the Photography Equipment You Currently own Versus Buying New Gear

I have a certain style of how I like my photos and I always look for elements that will work well with that style. I have a relatively easy hand in terms of editing my photos – minor adjustments in exposure, contrast, tonality and shadows/highlights and I am done. My preference is to keep the natural look and feel of my images intact – just my personal style of photography!

#8 Photograph in RAW

If you are still using JPEG for your pictures, it is about time to move to RAW. Most of the newer cameras today are capable of recording images in RAW format, so give it a try. A RAW image is called “raw” for a reason – it is an unprocessed image with a lot more colors to work with than a JPEG image.

It might not look great at the back of the camera when you take the photo but when you import it into your editing software, you have a lot more options to adjust to give it the look and feel you want. One caveat is that RAW  images do take up more space than JPEG, so you might have to invest in memory cards with more storage and a larger hard drive.

Custer State Park Paddle boarding in Lake Custer - Rocking the Photography Equipment You Currently own Versus Buying New Gear

When we visited this state park, there were a lot of wildfires that were burning in the neighboring areas, so the sky had this general pink glow all throughout! By photographing in raw and editing in post, I was able to retain the look as I remember seeing the park when we visited!


I hope these tips help you understand your existing gear a little bit better. Sure, you may have reached a point in your career where an upgrade is absolutely required and essential.

If not, rather than investing more money in gear that you may not be ready for, try to improve your craft with what you have and a little extra effort.