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Happy New Year!

In this edition you will find some suggestions for photography for cold/dreary days, a few photography New Years Resolutions, and an update on new projects.

Additionally, our YouTube channel hit 1,000 subscribers, so to celebrate this edition has a free month of Inspiration Prompts and a free Boredom Buster activity (some of you have already had access to this if you signed up on our website). In case you've never been to our YouTube channel, you can access it here:

Let's get those free photography Inspiration Calendar Prompts and Boredom Buster in your hands!

When the weather is cold and dreary (as it is in winter in the Northern Hemisphere right now), it can help to have some prompts to get your creativing going. Regardless of the weather, sometimes we all face "photography block" much like writer's block where we feel uninspired. The idea behind a prompt is to provide a very simple topic or idea and then take a photo based on the topic. Take your time! Creativity doesn't just spark instantly. You have to actively think about what you are doing, so don't just snap the first thing that comes to mind.

If you use any of our prompts, we'd love to see what you create. Share on social media and use #focusedcamera #photofun.

If you want more prompts, we sell a whole year's worth on our Etsy store.

For your free Boredom Buster activity follow this link to download a copy.

So now you have some prompts, what do you do about the weather?

Well, sometimes you just have to work with the weather. If the sun isn't out there is no reason you still can't take photos. In fact, overcast days provide a nice even light for many subjects. The sky won't look particularly interesting, but your subjects will have nice even light and no harsh highlights and contrasting shadows. See the collection of photos below. The sky behind the bird was dull and white, but in this case it helps the bird stand out. The overcast day filtered the sun in a nice way for the pink flower photo. The spectacular sunset was taken right after severe weather passed through our area the other day. The rain coming down onto a subject like flowers can be a good opportunity to try a long exposure - that's why the rain drops look like lines.* Raindrops can make for fun close ups and abstract images.*

Have fun! No matter what the weather brings, there are opportunities if you just keep an eye out and an open mind.

*These two images are from Pixabay
Tips for Wildlife Photos

Now that winter is here (in my area), it makes spotting wildlife a little easier.

Trying to capture wildlife photos is something I generally don't have patience for... but the generic type birds seem to humor me sometimes and let me get one, like the cardinal above. I love the bright colors of cardinals in winter and this one certainly got my attention.

Some tips for wildlife... a lens with a "long reach" meaning a lens with a telephoto focal length (100mm or more) will help your images look like you are closer than you really are. I used the full zoom of 600mm on a 150-600mm Sigma lens for this one. A fast shutter speed will help freeze the moment if the animal moves, 1/500 or faster (especially with a long lens). Tv/S mode is a good mode so you can control shutter speed and the camera can do the rest. Turn on image stabilization if you are handheld and turn it off if you are on a tripod. Turn on high speed shooting or "burst" in your drive settings (usu this is in the same menu or dial as the timer). If you have this on, then you can press and hold the shutter button and as long as you keep it held down you will get a series of shots (don't forget to focus first). You can also turn on subject tracking or continuous/servo focus if your camera has it.

Alternatively, if all that sounds really complicated, if your camera has Scene Modes (SCN) then select the action/running man and the camera will automatically select a fast shutter and turn on the bust shooting mode.
New Year's Resolutions!

If you haven't already, it's time to make some resolutions for your photography!

Here are some suggestions:

Practice more! If you only get your camera out once a month, make a resolution to take it out 2 or 3 times. Or if you take it out once a week, make it 2 times a week.

Be prepared! Make a resolution to keep your camera handy so you can use it instead of your phone. Have the card in it and the battery charged. Make this part of your routine.

Give yourself permission to fail! Do you know how many times I have taken dozens of photos and none of them came out? A lot! That is when you need to sit down and analyze what to differently next time. Make a point to analyze your photos; don't just download them into the computer and forget about them.

Share more and display your photos! Post your photos for the world to see! What is the point of taking all those photos if no one ever sees them? Don't be afraid of rejection! The number of likes or shares is not important. It is important to express yourself! Print and frame some of your photos or display them on your fridge.

Continue or Expand Your Learning! Comfortable in auto mode? Try Av/A mode. Think you have the basics of getting good focus down? Now try manual focus! We have lots of offerings to help you learn about your camera and improve your photography. Check out one of our favorites below.

As for my New Year's Resolution... as I mentioned before, I am working on some new projects and a new direction for my business and still have a ways to go. My resolution is to spend at least 15 minutes every day on this new content, in addition to what I already do. I promise to have more updates very soon!

It's time to invest in your photography skills!

Consider purchasing our Composition Basics Course book.
Get 30 days of hands-on activities and lesson questions.
Get feedback!
Ask questions!

This book is available as a digital download on our Etsy store or as a Paperback or Hardcover book from Amazon at this link (you can also read and use for free with Kindle Unlimited)

That wraps up this edition of our newsletter. If you have ideas for content or cheat sheets you'd like to have, suggestions for lessons or videos, or just general comments or encouragement, we'd love to hear from you!

If you find our content worthwhile and would like to reward us, please consider "Buying Us A Coffee." Your contribution goes toward helping us make more content for our audience! Thanks for your support!
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