Best 10 Things You Can Do in Your Daily Life to Improve Your Personal Development

I am fascinated with self-development. I see it as an art in itself, and one that takes a lifetime of practice to master.

That said, here are 10 things you can do in your daily life to improve your personal development.

1. Read about what you want to improve.

Do you want to get better at a certain skill? Read about it. Be more meditative? Read books that explain that in detail. Want to be more productive? Spontaneous? Outgoing? Confident? All these topic areas are covered by books upon books that you can study–and by reading about it, it’ll always stay top of mind.

2. Find a mentor.

A mentor can be anyone from a peer who knows something you don’t, and you want to learn, all the way up to someone vastly more experienced who is willing to take you under their wing (in exchange for your working in some way for or with them). Mentorship is by far the fastest path of learning.

3. Reflect at the end of each day.

If you really want to take self-development seriously (and not just, you know, talk about it), you need to be constantly aware of how you can improve. And the only way to know how to improve is if you reflect and ask yourself where and how you still need some work.

4. Create a strong practice regimen.

It’s your habits that unfold the results, not the other way around. You can’t live one life and expect to one day have another. You have to put in place the daily habits that will allow the things you want to change to change.

5. Find others to push you and train with.

Self-development is not just a solo game. In fact, the best self-development is done with others in some capacity. Spend time with people who are working on similar things as you, and you’ll find yourself growing with them at a faster rate than if you had tried to do it all alone.

6. Create a reward/punishment system.

This is necessary for people who need to break bad habits. Sometimes, it’s a reward (or a punishment) that makes the difference between immediate and rapid change, and ongoing fleeting promises.

7. Stay honest with yourself.

No amount of talking about it will ever instigate true change. This is the hardest part for people. It’s far easier to buy a book on self-development, carry it around, and say, “I’m working on being more present,” while staying constantly on your phone to text your friends about how you’re trying to be more present. You have to really be honest about it with yourself. You are your own judge.

8. Find role models you can look up to.

Again, self-development is not easy, so it’s helpful to be able to look to others for inspiration, motivation, or even just daily reminders of how you can continue moving forward on your journey.

9. Measure your progress.

One of my mentors taught me, “If you can’t measure it, don’t do it.” Took me a long time to understand what that meant. Regardless of how ethereal the thing that you want to work on is, you have to find some way to measure your progress. It’s the only way you’ll really know if you are moving in the right direction–and when/where to pivot as you go along.

10. Consistency is the key.

Self-development doesn’t happen overnight. It happens slowly and deliberately. Consistency is what creates truly meaningful change–and this is what makes the process so difficult for people. It’s not that you pop and pill and you’re done. You don’t do it once and you’re “fixed.” Self-development is a daily practice and lifestyle.

The Most Common Composition Errors in Photography that must be avoided

I’ve seen photographers make lots of mistakes when it comes to composition. That’s not a criticism – we all get things wrong from time to time. But recognizing mistakes and putting them right is a key part of improving your composition skills. In that spirit then, here are the most common composition mistakes and errors that I’ve seen photographers make.

Learning the rule of thirds – and nothing else

The rule of thirds is basic composition theory and it’s important to understand it. But the mistake some photographers make is never trying to learn anything else about composition.

For example, take a look at the photo below. The tree is located on an intersection created by dividing the frame into three, according to the rule of thirds.

But is the rule of thirds the only principle of composition used in this photo? No, it isn’t. Let’s look at the other factors.

  • There is negative space around the tree. It gives the subject room to breathe and creates a sense of space.
  • The tree is the main focal point and there is nothing to compete with it.
  • The hills in the background are faded due to the weather conditions (it was raining when I made the photo), adding a sense of depth.
  • I used a long exposure (125 seconds) to blur the water and the leaves of the tree, adding a sense of motion or time passing to the photo.
  • I converted the photo to black and white to create drama.

As you can see there’s much more happening in this photo, from the point of view of composition, than simply placing the tree on a third. Once you understand how these ideas work you can use them in other photos and improve your composition skills at the same time.

Better Versus Knowledge Tools Will Help You Improve Your Photography

As a photographer, you always have the urge to buy new equipment thinking it will bring you better results. This might be true, but only up to a certain point, because if you don’t have the knowledge you can’t make the most out of your equipment. I started with a Nikon D3200 and I use it to this day because, in my opinion, it’s not the equipment that is going to help me take better photos.

If you’re asking yourself, “What can I do with my entry-level camera?” then this is the article that’s going to prove that you can achieve great things and be a great photographer with your own camera.

What keeps you from taking better photos, your EQUIPMENT or your KNOWLEDGE? - portait in a field

We cannot deny that their cameras were the best of their time. But my point is that even today they could compete with any owner of a fancy camera because having the latest camera is not going to guarantee a better vision.

I’m going to give you some tips and tricks on how to take better photos and overcome the obstacle of not having the latest equipment.

1. Read

The most important thing you can do is to read. Many people skip this step and think that only by practicing will they improve. It is true that you have to practice, but unless you study the theory first there is no way of practicing in an efficient way.

For example, if you read an article about shutter speed and aperture it’s easier the understand the mechanism and then apply it, than trying to figure it out all by yourself.

girl reading in the grass - What keeps you from taking better photos, your EQUIPMENT or your KNOWLEDGE?

7 Great Reasons for Photographers to Do Morning Photography

An age-old question is whether you’re an early bird or a night owl. Well even if you fall into the latter category there are compelling reasons why you should get up earlier than the crack of dawn! Those reasons are of course photographic! Early morning photography can result in stunning images. Is there any other reason for getting up at 5 am?

Whether you’re in your local area or somewhere on a trip, there is always a morning photography opportunity that will benefit from you waking up early. Those can be sunrises, or perhaps the chance to see local life at the market. So let’s see why you should be up at the crack of dawn.

This is an iconic photo of the temples in Bagan in Myanmar. It is only possible to see the mist like this at dawn.

The morning atmosphere

Why wake up early in the morning when you can get just the same light in the evening? There will still be a blue hour, a golden hour, and you can sleep in!

While it’s true there will be similar light at dusk, the atmosphere in the morning is very different. Waking up in the morning gives you the chance to photograph the morning mist, this can add a lot to your photo. This morning mist can really transform a scene, moving it on from good to great.

 Golden light

Where to Focus in Landscape Photography

Where should I focus when taking a Landscape Shot?

When shooting a typical landscape image it is normal to attempt to keep as much of the image in focus as possible.

This means selecting a small Aperture (remember the larger the number the smaller the actual Aperture) to ensure that you end up with a large depth of field. This will ensure that parts of the image that are both close and far away from you have a good chance of being somewhat in focus.

But at what point in the shot should you actually focus the image?

I suspect that many digital camera owners would set the focal point as the middle of the shot – or even at the horizon – however it might not actually be the ideal place to focus your camera.

I chatted this week with a landscape photographer who shared this tip:

‘Focus in the lower half of the image – at around the ‘thirdway’ point.’

Landscape-1

Ok – I’m not sure if ‘thirdway‘ is an actual word – but what he was suggesting is that the point that will help you get the maximum amount of your shot in focus is at a point around a third of the way up an image (as highlighted above).

Best Tips & poins for Creating Natural-Looking HDR Landscapes Using Aurora HDR

Aurora HDR is one of the best and easiest photo editing programs available for quickly creating HDR images. With that said, it has a wide range of tools and filters to help you achieve your HDR goals. To help you sort through them all, this article will highlight seven tips for creating natural-looking HDR landscapes in Aurora HDR.

1. Keep HDR editing of sunsets and sunrises to a minimum

Everyone knows that sunrise and sunset provide optimal landscape photography opportunities. Golden hour bathes everything in a beautiful, often colorful natural light. As a result, it’s best to take a more subdued editing approach to keep the scene as natural looking as possible, especially when dealing with HDR. Otherwise, you risk over-processing your image.

Original starting image (the middle exposure of a 5-image bracketed set).Image courtesy dPS Managing Editor, Darlene Hildebrandt.

NOTE: On that note, many of the tips below will include editing tools and sliders that have been pushed to their extremes. This is meant as a demonstration to show what you could do by using these tools at their maximum, but it’s not suggesting you should do this.

The Single Best Landscape Photography Tip You Need to Know

Let’s be honest: there are a lot of mediocre and repeating tips out there on how you can improve your landscape photography. Straighten the horizon, buy a new camera, invest in equipment… Sure, these things might have an impact on your images but they won’t make you a better photographer.

So let’s step aside from these common tips and look at the single best landscape photography tip you need to know.

Break The Rules!

Yes. Tips such as straighten the horizon, use manual modes, explore the use of filters etc. are helpful and will help improve the technicalities of your images but they have absolutely no impact on your creative expression.

I’ve broken the ‘rules’ for a good portion of my personal favorite images taken over the last years. It’s when doing this that I’m able to enable my creative vision and focus on how to best capture a scene despite the possible hurdles in front of me.

Let’s take the image below as an example. It’s not a ‘technically perfect’ image. Looking at the metadata I know that the image might lack some sharpness in a certain area or have slightly more noise than what’s ideal. But that was the compromise I had to make in order to capture the scene and convey my vision.

Due to the conditions I had to use the following settings: ISO320, f/6.3, 1/30th second

Top 8 Must-Have Equipment for Landscape Photography

Your creativity is the most powerful and important tool you have as a landscape photographer. What would you be without it? What pleasure would photography give you? However, there are certain pieces of equipment that are essential, whether they’re to help you capture better images or to organize and store them.

For gear-junkies, there are a lot more to add and many things that might, or might not, serve a purpose. The equipment mentioned here are things I wouldn’t be without and those I consider essential for my photography.

Camera Cleaning Equipment

Let’s start with the most boring first and get it out of the way; cleaning equipment is something you should have purchase already from day one. You don’t need anything fancy and it’s not going to cost you much but it’s essential to have.

It’s not only essential in order to lengthen the lifetime of your camera but it will also make sure your lens and sensor aren’t covered with dirt and that you don’t have to spend hours in post-processing removing dust spots.

My go-to equipment for cleaning my camera is a Zeiss Lens Cleaner Spray, Zeiss Pre-Moisturized Wipes, MagicFiber Microfiber Cloths and a sensor cleaning kit. Cleaning the sensor of your camera might sound scary but it’s not nearly as hard as you think.

Must-Have Equipment for Landscape Photography

Magic Fiber Cleaning Cloths

If you’re not comfortable using a sensor swab and cleaning it yourself, I highly recommend sending it to a lab or your local photo store to be cleaned at least once a year.

6 Best Pro Tips for Better Wide-Angle Landscape Photography

Wide-Angle landscape photography is a lot of fun. It enables you to capture the entire beauty of the grand vista revealing itself in front of you: the interesting foreground, the great leading middle ground and the beautiful backdrop with a nice sky above – it sounds pretty nice, doesn’t it?

Photographing with a wide-angle lens isn’t necessarily that straightforward, though. It can be hard to create the visual impact you aim to when capturing so much information within one single frame. In fact, the images tend to quickly become too busy and the important subjects lose their significance.

That shouldn’t discourage you to explore with a wide-angle lens, though; by following a few simple steps, you’ll quickly learn how to capture impressive images of the grand landscapes.

Fill the Space

The most common mistake I see with ultra wide-angle landscape photography is that the frame isn’t filled. Instead, there’s a lot of open space that doesn’t contribute to the overall image.

Look at a couple examples:

Notice how I’ve filled the space within the frame

The image above is a good example of when I’ve filled the frame. There’s not much empty and boring space within the image; the foreground works as a frame for the mountains, the ocean separates the two, there’s a rainbow filling the upper left and there’s a bird flying in the brighter area of the sky. In other words, the frame is filled and there’s no particular place where the eyes exit due to lack of interest.

Top 5 Key Reasons to Use a Telezoom in Landscape Photography

Ever since I began photographing I have been drawn towards the use of wide angle lenses. In fact, it wasn’t until several years after picking up my first camera that I purchased a telezoom: a 70-200mm. At the same time, I slowly started to make big changes to my photographic vision; it turned out that adding this lens in my backpack would make me look differently on the landscape in front of me.

I used a 70-200mm to zoom in on this majestic waterfall

Perhaps you’re in a similar situation as I was and you’re currently holding on to your wide-angle lens as if your life was depending on it. Hopefully, these 5 reasons why a telezoom will improve your landscape photography might intrigue you to invest in one yourself.

Learn to See Beyond the Grand Landscape

It’s easy to forget that the grand landscape is filled with small details. Still, it’s the combination of all these details that build the landscape.

Capturing the grand landscapes with the use of a wide-angle lens gives the viewer a feeling of being present in the landscape but zooming in on the smaller details introduces us to a whole new world and gives us an entirely new perspective of our surroundings.

Telezoom in Landscape Photography