Well done! You’re now aware of the capabilities of your new camera and know where to find what you don’t know or cannot remember in the manual. That’s awesome and you’re ready to move on to next steps.
Relax, I’m not going to ask you to switch to all manual, shoot while wearing a blind fold or explain the Zone System. What I am going to suggest you do is build three shooting assignments for yourself that you think that you can accomplish with the skills you already have, and the knowledge you have about your new camera.
Assignment #1 – Take It Everywhere
A camera is only useful when it is used, otherwise it is a paperweight, so for your first assignment, you should be taking your camera with you all the time. Get a small bag if you don’t already have one to keep the camera protected while you are out. Use the automatic mode and autofocus and shoot what you are seeing. If you head outside to a dog park, shoot photos. If you go to a mall, shoot some casual photos. If you head out to spend time with family or friends, shoot some casual photos. Don’t make a big production of things, just work on getting used to having a camera with you and using it. Folks do this with smartphones all the time, so there’s nothing unusual here.
Assignment #2 – Get Inspired
There will be something that you really enjoy outside of photography. Perhaps it is winter sports. May be it is working with flowers. Perhaps you have a winter vacation coming up. Your assignment is to see what other photographers are doing in and around your areas of interest.
Flickr and 500px can be really good resources to see what other creative artists are doing with a subject and for you to start thinking about how you might use your new camera to document these important parts of your life. The assignment isn’t about duplicating what others do, it’s more about learning how you can integrate photography into your other interests.
Assignment #3 – Frame It
This assignment is going to sound tough, until you do it and see just how easy it is. Go through the images you take through the next thirty days, including those you made during the holidays and find one that you really really love. Once you have it selected, do whatever post-processing that you would normally do, or none if you don’t do that. Then take the file on a memory card or stick to a place where you can make a print. Make a print of the image at least 8×10 or 8×12 and frame it. Put your framed art on the wall in your home. A print is the ultimate embodiment of the photographic art form. Hanging your first print from your new camera is an important step in your evolution as a photographer.
Until next time, peace.