Tired Of My One Percent Success Rate

fishing boat dragged ashore on RuegenIf there is one thing that really cheeses me off then it is keeping on trying and not making any decent progress. For the last ten months this has been the case with my Nikon D3200 – success rate of excellent shots below the 1% mark. Now I give up, I’ll get some books and do this properly.

I am, despite the intro to this post, still convinced that the Nikon D3200 is a fantastic camera to get into digital photography. Being a very analytical person (usually), I sat down the last couple of days and made some notes on why I was not that happy with the results of my photo shooting sessions. “Not that happy” is a major understatement, I am more than seriously annoyed. What happened?

Back in November 2014 I decided that sharing a camera with my partner was not ideal, especially with me wanting to take pictures of yachts, sailing action, boat details or other maritime items all the time, while she preferred the electronic freezing of our kids’ actions. So the next steps were:

  • buying a Nikon D3200
  • set mode to automatic
  • and shoot lots of pics.

The result, not a big surprise: lots of pics, mostly garbage. Auto focus not crystal clear, too bright, too dark, too hazy, too everything, success rate according to my quality expectations: near zero. Once again, some more steps:

  • play around and test other options
  • change lots of the settings
  • shoot lots of pics.

stick on beach in WasserslebenThe result this time: still a huge number of mostly useless pics, my success rate with shots I really liked and wanted to keep was, well, rather tiny. In addition to a growing sense of annoyance I realized that despite some pretty cool shots I did not have a clue as to how I managed to get those “good ones”. Too much fooling around with the settings without making notes on what I’d done. Aahh, beginner’s mistake, I hate it.

Within this post I have included some of the pictures I liked in recent months, some of my so-called “success rate”. My goal now is to get to a point where I can confidently, calmly and especially repeatedly get results similar to the ones included here. So, another brief bullet list of next steps:

  • get a book or two on the technical background of (digital) photography
  • make notes of what I am doing with the camera
  • talk to some experts, or book a course.

Sounds like a plan.

By the way: Any feedback, hint, tip, pointer in the direction of quality pics is highly appreciated. As you might see from the pics here I prefer close-ups over the big picture. Ok, I’ll get properly started first and think about preferences, etc, later on. Thanks!!

job boom of tallship Zuversicht in Flensburg

beach chair on Ruegen

4 Replies to “Tired Of My One Percent Success Rate”

  1. Hi Hubert.
    Have you thought of joining your local camera club? The members of such clubs are usually very helpful and you will find that most will listen to your concerns and offer advice.
    Taking picture on auto focus is, very often, not the best thing to do. Learn how to use your focus manually and the beauty of digital photography is that you look at your results immediately and if not happy with it, delete and try again. If you are wanting to take action shots, as it appears you do, by the time the camera has focused the moment is gone. If you use a smaller aperture your depth of focus will increase thus giving you a better chance of it being in focus. Don’t give up, just go somewhere and sit and take lots of photos trying different settings. the more you use it the more conversant you will become.
    Good luck and stick with it.

    1. Hi Leo, many thanks for your kind words and suggestions. Not enough time with the camera is very likely one of the main reasons. I’ll certainly have a look at the basics again and start with manual setup. Giving up is not one of the options… 😉

  2. Hi,
    to take Leo’s comments in another direction. I would suggest reading up on back button focusing. It allows you to use the autofocus system while still maintaining control. It was a big change for me and took a few days of shooting before I adjusted my thought process but I’ll never go back.


    With that said, it was not the first incremental step that I made when learning to shoot using a DSLR (I also entered the field with the D3200 and still use it 2 years later). I still don’t shoot in full manual mode but I did switch to Aperture Priority, which I use 98% of the time now.

    Most recently I started shooting in RAW and learned Lightroom. That allows me to really develop my photos rather than just letting the camera hand me a convenient JPG.

    The one thing I’ve realized is that I’ve yet to reach the point where I can truly blame the camera for the quality (or lack there of) of my shots. Once I get to that point I’ll upgrade to something like the D610.

    Good luck and glad you didn’t give up on the D3200.

    1. Hi Stephen,
      definitely not giving up, I have not even really started yet… 😉
      I think your info with the BBF is something I’ll have a look at in a second step, I better get a full understanding of basic background first.
      Have made quite a few notes last night and this morning, now I’m off into the garden – practicing with manual settings…

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