Daily Exercises for Better Photos

I recently came across an article with several, seven to be exact, suggestions to apply daily to your photography with the promise that your pictures will improve. Jeff Meyer posted his ideas in "7 Daily Exercises That Will Make You a Better Photographer".
  1. Use spot metering for more exposure control
  2. Check the histogram to verify exposure
  3. Shoot with a prime (fixed length) lens
  4. Choose a specific white balance
  5. Create a custom white balance setting
  6. Use manual exposure mode
  7. Post one image every day
 I like these suggestions, but I'd make a couple of additions.


Tip #5 says to be careful when creating a custom white balance setting. I agree that is true. But I wouldn't create a custom white balance correction for every situation. Not only is this inconvenient, it can actually cause the camera to eliminate the golden glow of sunset or the rosy pink of sunrise.

Custom White Balance Icon on Canon Cameras

I do, however, recommend using custom white balance for indoor settings, especially those with mixed or unknown light sources. I made effective use of a custom white balance setting (even while shooting raw files) in the indoor arenas at the county fair this summer. I captured great color for all my shots and spent less time fixing the color in the computer.

Left unadjusted white balance; Right Custom White Balance

Tip #6 says that manual exposure mode is better than aperture priority or shutter priority exposure mode because these don't let you adjust the brightness or darkness of your photo. Actually, you can change the exposure the camera suggests in priority exposure modes. Just use the Exposure Compensation button.
Exposure Compensation icon

This button is labeled with a +/- symbol in a box. To use it, hold down the button to see a "ruler" style display or sometimes just numbers starting with "0.0". Rotate the appropriate camera dial (see the manual) to change the exposure.

Make the picture brighter by moving to the plus side or a positive number (+1).

Left unadjusted exposure; Right Exposure Compensation +1

Make the picture darker by moving to the minus side or a negative number (-1).

Left unadjusted exposure; Right Exposure Compensation -1

Using aperture or shutter priority is often faster than setting controls manually and you can still fine-tune your exposure using exposure compensation.