Improve Your Photos via the Self-Assignment

Today’s Post by Joe Farace

One of the best ways that I know of improving your photography is to give yourself a self-assignment. One of my ongoing self-assignments is taking pictures of barns, the older the better. Here’s my personal guidelines when photographing barns but please consider them just as a place to start your own explorations.

# 1: Always ask permission and don’t walk onto someone’s land as if you own it. To show people what I’ve done, I have a bunch of barn images on an iPad hoping once the people see my photos they’ll be accommodating. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t. But always respect warning signs, too.


# 2: Remember the old adage of “f/8 and be there” and keep a camera handy. For example, the photo above was made while my wife and I were driving to lunch.

# 3: Keep important details in clear focus, I shoot at the smallest possible apertures, preferring f/16 or smaller. When composing, don’t forget that the total area of sharp focus is one-third in front of the object and two-thirds behind.

# 4: Black & White? Most digital SLRs that have a monochrome option also let you apply digital filters to the image so for black and white shots I’ll typically add a Red filter in to produce dramatic skies and snappy, contrasty images.

#5: Lowest possible ISO setting. Choosing this option may produce slow shutter speeds, which is why I also keep a tripod in my car. Using a tripod slows the pace of photography and spending some extra time makes sure the composition is exactly the way I want it to look. Tip: Avoid surprises, look at the four corners of the frame before clicking the shutter.