Monday, January 2, 2012

365 2011 Reflection

I am staring at my blinking cursor because I have so much to say, and don't know where to start.

Still don't.

Let's try this...
January 1, 2011
January 1, 2011: I'm in the dark. I have the lights off and am trying to take pictures of the Christmas lights so they look "cool and fuzzy". Later, I will find out this is called "bokeh". I have messed with my fancy camera somewhat, but don't know what else to do. It's not doing what I want. The lights aren't fuzzy enough. What is wrong with me that I can't do what everyone else can do? I'm frustrated.

I started a page on photography here to keep track of what I wanted to do throughout the year so I wouldn't get lost. I put down things that I thought I wouldn't possibly be able to learn in a year - sort of a wish list of sorts. What is amazing is to look at it now and truly experience the comparison of January 1, 2011 with January 1, 2012.

In summary, CHECK. All of these things I have done (except star shots), and in most cases, have become second nature.

The beauty of the 365 project was that I faced it every day. Even when I was sick and puking my guts out, there was that picture to take. Times when I was completely uninspired - this is when I pulled out my camera manual to figure out something new just to have something to do and the resulting picture to post. Not to say I didn't miss more than a few days. I backfilled with different pictures from later in some cases and I only feel marginally bad about that because most of the time when I backfilled, I used a type or scene of shot that was very different, so not that I just posted two pictures from the same set.

Camera phobia - check. I whip this bad boy out all the time. Even PUBLICLY. Even PUBLICLY at parties and TAKE PICTURES of PEOPLE.

Tripod phobia - what? Check. I have carted this thing across the country a couple times, shot in the dark, shot long exposures, shot on Route 66, taken the point one of the adjustment pieces actually broke off. The tripod's been outside, inside, in my suitcase, in the 27 degree wind, thrown religiously in my trunk.

December 28, 2011
Technicals - yup, got these. Fundamentally got these. Execution can always be improved (the how high is "up"? question), but I get it now.'s really fun sharing with other people.

Composition - well that can always be worked on. Bokeh?

April 2011: I have my new 50mm lens, the "replacement" for the broken one, and I realize for the first time that I can now do bokeh, and the reason I couldn't do it before was not because I didn't understand, it was because I didn't have the right equipment (so in a way, I didn't understand, but different), not because I was a failure at photography.

Yeah. I can bokeh (with my 50mm 1.4).

Technology - YES! I am not a tech geek. I think most photo people are - they love the equipment and the processing and learning all the different software and apps. And I hate it. Its overwhelming, and I feel like I should be able to capture something awesome in camera with little processing at all. I would so much rather take pictures and get arty on them rather than read reviews of gear and processing software. So over the course of the year, I did set up a work flow. And then, I improved it by at least 50% by finding different software and removing steps because I better understood how everything worked together. I'm still not as good with the keyword thing, but that's a combination of discipline and knowing what I will want to key word later. I'm using the rating system, although not having a concrete goal overall for my photography also impacts this as well. What I do have down is that 3 stars is "I will share this" and 5 stars is "OMG". 1 star tends to mean I've looked at this one and there are others like it, so I know this one is low on the list until I figure out which one is the 3 or 5 star. I'm not saying that I have all this perfect, but I have something reliable and functional, and some solid knowledge that I can use to continue to improve it.

Application - All. Except the stars. I'll go for the stars in 2012.

I joined MeetUp and have been getting together with other photogs - less intimidated by a long shot.

I just think it's amazing that in January 2011, I was point 'n shoot, and now, fully manual mode on the dSLR, and even more so than having such a long list of items checked off, the change in myself about it and the feeling of amazing satisfaction and fulfillment of tackling this, learning it, overcoming fears and self doubts is priceless.

December 31, 2011: I am at a friend's house for New Year's Eve. Her boyfriend comes out with his camera. It's a dSLR (EOS 20D, the exact competitor of my d80), with a HUGE looking lens. "28-300? Wow," I say. He's shooting this indoors. I know enough to say, "wow." "Ummm, what's THIS all about?" I ask, as I make fun of the little pop up flash on a fancy camera with a lens big enough to require some weightlifting to be able to shoot steady, even with VR (vibration reduction). It's a Canon; I shoot Nikon. "Who says I know what I'm doing?" He says, "It's on 'auto'." And it was. I messed with it for a few minutes, and by the end of the night, was shooting it in full manual mode, with my manual flash from 1985 on it, switching back and forth with my own Nikon for varying effects, which were intentional and understood.

So - let's see what another 365 will do. What do you say?

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