Tip 8: Learn to use the camera in manual mode. It helps you slow down and gives you better creative control. On Compact cameras, we are usd to shooting them in their auto and scene modes, but as you mature in your skills, you will want to have better control! I would suggest shooting in Aperture preferred mode as much as possible if you don't have a manual mode. On virtually all DSLRs, you can shoot manual. This is the best if your allow your self to learn to do it. I shoot about 30% in Aperture mode and 60% in Manual mode. I do shoot a bit in Shutter preferred mode when I go for Birds in flight, but that is not my strength! Notice, no Auto or P mode. I need to slow down.... and probably so do you. The A mode is very instructive on Depth of Field issues. Learn the difference between f/2.8 and f/11.. both can work but the results are quite different!
Tip 7: Use the net to learn. Joe McNalley is on Youtube for Nikon nuts for example. A great way to learn your gear. There are all kinds of resources. Both Nikon and Canon have video instruction and there are hundreds of sites such as this one where people are very happy to help. Why not use it... its free!
Tip 6: Put the camera away every once in awhile. It is a good thing to not use your camera from time to time. I once met a bird watcher who gave up his camera because he said he was only seeing the world through a viewfinder. His point is well taken. Photography is about seeing a subject and showing it in such a way that it says what you want it to say! Some times you just need to put down the camera and see what is right in front of you.
Tip 5: Find your favorite focal length with you favorite zoom. Then get a good fast Prime lens at that focal length.... One should attribute ideas to their source. Tip 5 is adapted from a recent issue of Shutterbug Magazine. Shooting with a Prime lens is still the pinnacle of quality. Find out what you love to photograph and figure out what focal length you use most and get the one or two primes that support your shooting. This of course is for DSLR users mostly. Its true of film as well. Even with compacts, if your interest is to upgrade in the future, then keep in mind what your favorite focal length is!
Next, the final Four