The new year is here. I hope one of your resolutions was to go out and take better photographs - and lots of them. Here are a few easy things you can do to make that resolution come to fruition. Let's start with your camera:
Have you checked your batteries lately? I have an old film camera that can still make an image without a battery (Canon F-1), but I'm betting yours needs a battery or two to work. While you're checking it, don't forget to put some extra batteries in your camera case. If you use an SLR, you'll need special manufacturer's batteries. Take some of your holiday cash and buy an extra one and keep it charged and in your bag.
Now check the date in your camera menu. I do side work with friends' photos, and it always bothers me when I see incorrect dates in the metadata. Most people never check this, so they bring me a photo they made last week, and the date says it was in 2004. And turn off the option that puts the date right on your final image. You can always get the date from the photo's metadata (and now it will be correct because you just did that), and the stamp detracts from your fine art.
Get some lens paper and clean your lens. Ditto for the LCD viewer on the back.
Don't neglect your software. Have you updated it recently? I use Adobe Lightroom and Photoshop, and they issue updates regularly with minor bug fixes and Camera Raw profiles for the new cameras that seem to come out monthly. The presets inside include your copyright date, and it should now read "2010."
Don't forget you. This is a good time to learn more about your camera and photography. We did a blog about free resources in August, linked here. And, of course, Mark and I would really appreciate you coming here often.
Read a new photography book or twenty.
Check iTunes for free photography podcasts; they have more than you can listen to.
Join the NAPP (it's open to all folks - pro, amateur, or snapshooter). You'll easily recoup the cost in savings from special deals they broker. They produce lots of free training there. If you want to get a little more serious, spend a few bucks for a year's worth of training at Kelbytraining.com. It costs $199 per year ($179 for NAPP members) and has very detailed training on a wide variety of photography and photography processing techniques and software. The instructors are well-known photographers and trainers.
My first photos, this year, were snapshots of my beautiful, little granddaughters destroying the bathtub with their bath foam. It was chaos in our house for the entire holiday season. I am a firm believer that a chaotic home is a happy home. They're great shots, but their mother and grandmother would shoot me for posting those.
You have to have at least one photo in a photoblog, so I'm throwing in my favorite castle, Neu Schwanstein. We lived only 80 miles from King Ludwig's castle for six years, and every visitor we had wanted to go there. I've been 20 times, in all seasons. This is from inside his living room, just before his grotto, looking out at the castle entrance. The date will tell you it was shot on film, and the look of it should tell you that it's been post-processed in Photoshop.
Have a fun New Year!