The quickest way to get great nature photographs is to know your digital camera like the back of your hand. If you have to think twice about which button to use to change a setting, you may lose a great picture. Let’s face it: A majestic eagle will not stop in midair while you fiddle with your camera.

The shiny box with which you take pictures has lots of dials and buttons. Your first step is to get familiar with the lay of the land, so to speak. You need to know where the buttons and dials used to access camera features are. Then you need to understand what these dials and buttons do. I also discuss changing settings, using your camera menu, and so on.

The easiest way to get familiar with a new camera is to use it. Spend a few hours getting to know where the controls of the camera are. If you're not familiar with what a control does, pick up the camera manual. Have your camera by your side when you read. Locate and use the controls mentioned.

Depending on the control you use, you see the changes in your viewfinder. Buttons and dials are good things to know; they are your road map to changing to the right settings for compelling nature photographs.

Don’t let your camera gather dust in the closet. Use it often, and you’ll master the controls until the location of each control and what it is used for become second nature to you. When you transcend the technology of your camera, you can unleash your inner artist and create beautiful images.