Excellent discussion. Thanks Lance for the link!
Here's what has worked for me
1. Get out & shoot with what you have, This makes you use your "Creative Eye" & get a feel for seeing.
2. Understand what is needed to get the images you want -- light is key in photography. Either the presence or absence of light ususally makes for a remarkable image. Learn to read the light on the object you are taking a photo of. If you know how to work the scene you can get fairly decent images in different lighting conditions.
3. If you are after "the image" - pre visualize and work to make all the conditions come together. I think the most visible example of this on HAZ is Joel!
4. Gear matters -- it does not have to the most expensive gear but get the right gear & know how to best use it. If you are into serious SLR photography understand Aperture prioirty, Shutter Prioirty & Manual Focusing. If you learn to use your fill flash effectively you will be amazed at what your camera can do for you! My best learning experince came when I had to work with an SLR with no view finder or auto focusing -- I had to eyeball the image & estimate focusing point ( hyperfocal by the book).
5. Read the manual. Some of the finer aspects & tools can be found in online or digital manuals ...... (anymore)
6. Practice makes Perfect. When things are happening you should KNOW what you need to do & not have to think too hard. Great light or amazing wildlife opportunites are fleeting & genereally once in a lifetime! Get out and shoot delibrately so you can analyze what worked and what did not & modify your approach / technique.
7. Study the work of others - those that you admire, images you like ( part of previsualizing a place - not necessarily a particular image since that just leads to replication). Look at the technicalities of how the image was created. Read & try new things -- some will get added to your tool kit.
8. Know the limitations of your gear. Sometimes its satisfying to enjoy the moment and have great memories rather than futilely capture an image that exceeds your gear / skill! That for sure is frustrating
Been there - done that!
9. Learn to efficiently edit your work - master developing a digital image. The editing process will hone your creative eye -- every time you crop to a better image you are training your eye. Next time out in the field - create that crop in-camera & you will off to a better image.
10. Some times good images are about being at the right place at the right time!
11. Sometimes its just wonderful to HIKE
or BIRD and capture a few images for your personal record! or just take home some wonderful memories!
12. Some of my personal favourites are from point & shoot I carry when I hike ...