Becoming A Better Photographer

By Jane Mountain | November 25, 2013

8,008 km so far.

During this trip, I have taken thousands of pictures. And yet, with all this practice, I don’t feel as if my photography skills have improved very much.

Usually my photos are OK.

Dumpling scientists at work, Shanghai.

Dumpling scientists at work, Shanghai.

Occasionally I’ll stumble upon an extra good one.

I wish this pool had been open.

I wish this pool had been open.

Very rarely would I call any of my photos great.

My ride parked outside a yellow house, Copenhagen.

My ride parked outside a yellow house, Copenhagen.

I want to be better. I want to learn more. I want to routinely take great shots.

Practice Makes Perfect Possible

Yet, because of how we tend to travel, I actually get very little time to practice.

I usually just do a quick snap, snap, snap of whatever the subject is (often from the seat of my bike) while Stephen waits for us to get moving again. Doing these same actions over and over again has helped improve my comfort level with the camera and the settings, but I want more.

I want to be great.

Lucky for me, I have a whole month in which to practice practice practice. (Yes, I know a month of practice will not make me great, but it’s a good start.)

In the past few days, I have set a 31-day list of topics, styles, and subjects on which to practice. Each day, I will spend at least an hour or two walking around shooting the day’s chosen subject. Each day I will review, edit, and critique my shots. Then I’ll share the best with all of you, in the guise of a mini photo story about Shanghai.

When something interesting or fun happens to us, we’ll also tell those stories, but some days, you’ll just get photos, since our routine days don’t always inspire the most fascinating blog posts.

I know we have some My Five Acres addicts out there. I hope this slight change in routine will satisfy your cravings!

Mellow, Pages, Jersey, Tail, Jacket

Today’s subject was YELLOW.

Even though Shanghai has the world’s largest city proper, and the third largest population, it still manages to feel like a small Chinese city.

The alleys near our hotel are filled with hundreds of independent Chinese shops, selling everything from diapers to dumplings.

I don’t know what this sign says, but it is clearly advertising something entirely pedestrian.

If you're selling, I'm buying, sign in Shanghai.

If you’re selling, I’m buying, sign in Shanghai.

Shops selling fuzzy slippers and pyjamas are everywhere.

Yellow bear slippers, in Shanghai.

Yellow bear slippers, in Shanghai.

Shanghai’s streets are far less frenetic than most we have experienced, even in some tiny villages.

The yellow line, Shanghai.

The yellow line, Shanghai.

There are more bikes and fewer big red trucks.

Back from the shops, in Shanghai.

Back from the shops, in Shanghai.

All the bikes look ancient and well used.

As long as it still runs, in Shanghai.

As long as it still runs, in Shanghai.

Many just sit gathering leaves and rust.

Autumn leaf in spokes, Shanghai.

Autumn leaf in spokes, Shanghai.

Just like everywhere in China, everything is under construction.

Barriers, Shanghai.

Barriers, Shanghai.

Around 10:30 this morning, the streets were flooded with construction workers in their yellow hard hats, all eager for lunch.

Lunch time for construction workers, Shanghai.

Lunch time for construction workers, Shanghai.

Interspersed amongst the Chinese shops are high-end boutiques, expensive sandwich shops, and French bistros.

T-shirt outside a Japanese diner, Shanghai.

T-shirt outside a Japanese diner, Shanghai.

Ducking into any alleyway reveals the warrens of low apartment buildings that millions of Shanghaiers call home.

Home sweet home, Shanghai.

Home sweet home, Shanghai.

And yet, there is beauty here, everywhere you look.

Floating flowers, Shanghai.

Floating flowers, Shanghai.

I hope you enjoy following my progress from OK photographer to slightly more OK photographer over the next few weeks!  

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Hi, I’m Jane, founder and chief blogger on My Five Acres. I’ve lived in six countries and have camped, biked, trekked, kayaked, and explored in 50! At My Five Acres, our mission is to inspire you to live your most adventurous life and help you to travel more and more mindfully.

8 comments

  1. Comment by Steph

    Steph October 1, 2015 at 8:44 pm

    The first sign is selling adult diapers =)

    • Comment by Jane

      Jane October 2, 2015 at 9:44 am

      Really? That’s hilarious. I do seem to remember quite a few diaper stores on that street!

      J

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  3. Comment by Rox

    Rox December 1, 2013 at 2:38 pm

    Very excited to see the results of your photo-endeavor!

  4. Comment by Malcolm

    Malcolm November 27, 2013 at 5:35 pm

    Great concept, Jane. Looking forward to the photos and their themes.

  5. Comment by Taina

    Taina November 27, 2013 at 12:30 pm

    Fantastic idea! Looking forward to all the new posts.

  6. Comment by Kimberly

    Kimberly November 27, 2013 at 8:01 am

    I LOVE this idea and the discipline behind it. Can’t wait to see Shanghai from this new photojournalistic perspective. Thank you and Namaste!
    ~Kimberly

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