I would guess that most photographers do not have any formal training in photography these days (whether by school or apprenticeship)...camera and lens technology is cheaper than ever and post-processing skill is almost irrelevant as the tools themselves get smarter and pre-packed action-sets or filters are used.
What this means is, there are an absolute ...
A portfolio is always better than a degree, but it can depend on what areas of photography you want to work in. If you're working for private clients and individuals, then nobody is going to ask you for a degree, they just want to see your work. If you're working as a photographer in a higher-end studio or for a major fashion magazine, then it might help.
David Hurn is the grandfather of photography education and a member of the Magnum cooperative. He devised and ran the now legendary School of Documentary Photography in Newport. Despite his pedagogical background, I saw David speak about a month ago at the Photographers' Gallery in London. His advice now is to apprentice yourself to the best photographer ...
Yes, the answer is, in fact, in your question!
There are RAW conversion contests on RawTherapee.
They call it "PlayRaw", and they do a monthly competition.
Here is the forum page: PLAY RAW competitions
Ansel Adams is my hero. He mastered how to intermix the science of photography and the art of photography. I highly recommend reading his books and those about him.
In short, he perfected what he called “previsualization”. In other words, study the vista before you shoot the picture. Know in advance the scale of the picture. Should objects in shadow show ...
Consider using a telescope-camera adapter. You can search your favorite auction site for "telescope camera adapter" along with the name of your camera or mount.
Many come in two pieces. Telescope to T-mount. T-mount to camera mount.
Here is a picture of a microscope adapter. It's the same concept, and works the same way.
You don't want a camera with a 2mm lens. you're not trying to use it like an eyepiece and get parallel light rays coming out of the back of the lens - you
need something that will focus the image of the spectrum on the camera sensor.
The normal way would be to use a standard microscope USB eyepiece camera without a lens, and adjust the focus of the ...
Every situation is different but a few thoughts come to mind:
Challenge yourself with new opportunities and experiences
Never stop learning (workshops, books, mentors)
Set realistic and obtainable goals
Know what "get better at photography" means to you
Determine if you want to pursue a career or a hobby in photography
Embrace critiques both on and offline
Reductio ad absurdum:
Consider the following scenario. Suppose you need to have a degree but you violate that law and go on to become an illegal photographer who is very successful, who has won many prizes. Then you are found out, you never actually got a degree allowing you to practice photography. All of your photography works suddenly become worthless, ...
I've done my fair share of photography and had no formal training - I was able to comfortably shoot catalogue items for customers, then moved into shooting real estate imagines for extra money on weekends and after hours.
I would also say it depends on your equipment, It's like any skilled profession, if you are passionate about it it will show in the end ...
I have no idea about better or optimal, but after 30 years --
You should understand the basic terminology, your equipment (from the manual) and a little of the theory, but becoming proficient at photography is a little like becoming proficient at programing -- you really need to have a real project you want to complete, and then you need to complete it.