Change

Change is like time never stopping. I am realizing as I get closer to turning 39 and realizing that 40 is far closer than I am comfortable with. Change is something that I have been thinking about a lot.

Much to my sister’s horror, decided to downsize to a single bed from a queen. It is a realization that I am very much single and with that not changing any time soon went with gaining more space in my room. This will allow me to add a desk for my computer which was recently upgraded due to my photography hobby. Sister is not sure if she is living beside a senior or a student. Laugh, will need to try to avoid both when finishing up the changes in my room.

Change is also coming to the publishing industry quickly. I have been working for my company for fourteen plus years and I know that things are beginning to shift. I have survived quite a few seismic changes at work, not sure what 2013 will bring but gut instinct says change is going to happen much faster. In my opinion, the moment the publishing world tipped was when Steve Jobs proudly showed off his new love, the iPad and Amazon introduced the Kindle. Before that ebooks and the digital world was creeping into publishing but was only on the fringe of everyone’s thinking. Now we are beginning to watch the slow death of physical books an unthinkable thought when I started in the industry.

Not that change is something I fear (well okay maybe a little). I know it is inevitable. I was around for the birth and near end of life of several devices like fax machines, modems, telephones (!) and the desktop computer. Who ever thought the birth of computers, the internet and mobile devices, would revolutionize and even completely destroy certain industries.

I always had a good instincts when it comes to change. I remember getting into an argument with a teacher in college, who declared that online sales were a fad and that it would eventually disappear as fast as it arrived. I knew that was so false, with increases in the double digits online sales were here to stay. Not that I knew at the time that internet would eventually change the retail world and give birth to whole new industries.

Change is coming for me too. Not sure what I will find on the other side of 40. It took me awhile to realize my dreams at the naive age of 16 would be no where close to reality. Always thought I would have two teenage kids at this point. Instead I have a twelve year old psycho kitty!

I have a few goals that I want to try and complete in my second part of life. I really want to make this the best years of life. I am still trying to untangle ideas and set goals for the next phase. At the moment writing them down makes them feel more real and for now not sure I want to set goals in stone so to speak. At some point I will create a blog post but not quite ready for that yet.

 

PS. I apparently changed my mind on trying to reboot blog with shorter posts!

Discovery and Learning on Thanksgiving Day

It’s been awhile seen I posted but it has been really busy the past few months. I took on a special project at work, plus my photography and my duties at the camera club. Been challenging but I have been learning in leaps and bounds both at work and with my photography.

I have made the biggest leap forward by learning how to use filters in Color Efex Pro 4 (www.niksoftware.com) and figuring out Photoshop Elements 10. Still need to have a strong photo to edit so continuing to learn how to handle my camera. I am struggling to learn manual mode on my camera which is frustrating and a big skill I need to master.

Yesterday was a beautiful day in October so my sister, mom and I took a drive to Niagara on the Lake. We decided to take the long way home via the Niagara Parkway. My sister noticed out of the corner her eye a sign for something called Willowbank. After turning around my sister headed down a dirt road for which I was wondering if we were trespassing. Then in front of us this huge house appeared. Thankfully even though Willowbank Estate (www.willowbank.ca) is a restoration school the public are allowed to tour the grounds and during off season the interior. The house is being restored and repaired. Due to some structural issues the third floor is off limits as told to us by one of the students who is assisting with renovations on the house.

This is where a wide angle lens (28 mm), filters and elements came in handy. Took a fairly good shot of what is actually the front of the house but is referred to as the back of the house after the 1930’s renovations.

After doing basic fixes in Lightroom, took photo into Color Efex Pro 4 and applied a recipe I downloaded. Recipes is a wicked feature in the new software, you can apply multiple filters to get the perfect look. Adjusted recipe to fit photo then transferred photo to Elements. After several failed attempts finally figured out to fix lens distortion, remove picnic tables and take out the bare bulb over the door (probably at one time this would have been a chandelier).

Now I have to resist the urge to go back and try new techniques on past photos.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Finding My Unique Photography Voice

Been reading lots of posts and books about finding your voice something that is still at times befuddles me. I have not been shooting all that long so it is still something I am exploring. I know it is very slowly emerging by what makes me pick up my camera.

It is clear to me that I am just not that comfortable with street photography. For some reason pointing my camera at complete strangers on city streets just gives me heart palpitations. I have tried but when something makes me start to sweat I have a tendency to avoid it! Not had a chance to do this with a group which may make it a little easier.

I love shooting events. I love the chaos, the noise and the fact I can comfortably fade into the background. I enjoy being able to just quietly observe and capture the special, fun and crazy moments that happen. You have to stay alert because some moments are fleeting. I typically shoot well over 500 photos at an event. I much prefer to edit afterwards in order to select the photos that tell the best story. Most current event Reds Meets Pink posted on Flickr here http://flic.kr/s/aHsjv5R16D.

I have always enjoyed the challenge of nature photography but not so much the part of capturing the creatures. I realize I like finding the patterns in nature. I have a large collection of photos on just tree roots. I find it fascinating how these grow in various environments. I even have a beautiful pen & ink print in my house centred around a tree and its roots. Thinking if I get ambitious I should create my first Camera Club photo essay on tree roots. That should be a first in my club. The only other obsession my sister has noted is clouds, I love clouds. I remember my first film photos in elementary school was on cloud formations. Sounds like a great idea for a second photo essay.

I have had a lot of firsts, first wedding,  first baby bump shoot, first newborn shoot and up next first engagement shoot. I love the challenge and the chance to continue learning. I still get frustrated but I am crossing my fingers over time I will work out all the kinks.

Not sure if I will ever try to take my photography outside of friends, family and work. For now I am just enjoying being able to have an outlet for some of my creative drive. As mom astutely pointed out she never thought her daughter would ever find something that could get her to sit still for hours. Photography seems to quiet my mind and allow me to just focus on one thing.

I will post when I get a moment about Sunday’s engagement shoot. Will be fun it is on a beach, with beautiful blue water and two really great people.

Birth of a (small) Photography Monster

This is my contribution to ongoing discussions about gear collecting among all types of photographers. This is not me passing judgement just a blog post from my point of view.

The “monster” as my family calls it was born out of a gift one Christmas a few years back of an entry level Sony DSLR. At first I was shocked at the price of lenses, flashes and accessories but that wore off quickly. Thank fully my limited budget prevented me from expanding my collection too quickly. The other reason I have not become a gear monster is that I meet a person at my camera club that taught me that you really should only buy something if you really needed it. No point slapping a boat load of cash on an expensive piece of glass if it was only going to gather a lot of dust. I also learned early on I can purchase old Minolta digital lenses, great glass at great used prices.

This is the equipment I have as of today, all of it fits neatly into one back pack:

Sony a550 – just recently acquired this. My first camera was a300. I upgraded solely to reduce noise in low light situations, gain a little more fps and reduce the amount time I spend editing. It is a discontinued camera so bought it open box at a great price. Came with a Sony 18 – 55 SAM lens. I have not had a chance to try it out.

Sigma 55 – 200 F4 – F5.6 – my go to wildlife lens or when I want stealth shots at an event. This is a little short when trying to shoot wildlife since you have to get close for them to here you! May eventually try to find a longer lens but in no hurry.

Minolta 28mm F2.8 – My go to lens now. Bought it used. Funny story spotted the lens and at first thought it was a 50mm. Once the sales person confirmed it was a 28mm it was mine! This lens produces really sharp photos with soft backgrounds.

Sony 30mm Macro SAM – lens I bought to assist with taking close-ups of flowers and other items. Also the closest with a cropped camera to a 50mm. I have gotten really good photos with this even with hand holding the camera. One of the only lenses I have bought brand new.

Minolta 50mm – Another used lens but one that needs repair. Not sure what is wrong with it but it consistently is blowing out my photos smaller than F4. I tried a few tests with no luck solving the mystery. Currently this is not in my bag. Good thing because it would be a tight squeeze.

Flash Sony HVL-F42AM – a mid-level wireless flash that my sister just about passed out when she saw I much I paid for it. Even after I used a gift certificate and price matched. Big issue had to also purchase reusable batteries with charger. No point dragging around disposable batteries. Goal this year is to master this beast. I also need to purchase a reflector and diffuser for it soon.

Flash Sony HVL-F20AM – a small compact flash I got as a Christmas gift. Works great in casual situations where carrying the larger flash is not practical to carry. Only flaw with this flash is that it eats through AAA batteries.

Filters – Have a set of filters that were purchased in the US for the same cost as one. I have a 49mm ND filter, 49mm polarizing filter and a 55mm polarizing filter. I also have a UV filter that I need to use more but its tough to constantly flip between lenses. Plus I learned on one trip in certain weather conditions it can get jammed.

I also carry two batteries, an extra memory card and a small silver/white reflector. All of which is neatly packed in my small Lowepro camera backpack (although it barely fits my iPad in the front pocket). The other bag I have is a small holster Kata bag, which holds camera plus one lens. It includes a great water proof cover. This bag is great for quick trips and when you don’t want to look like you are carrying a camera. Kata’s are little expensive but make great bags. At the moment I am not carrying the a300 but keeping it as back-up and when I would like a second body with me. It is still a great camera for certain situations.

Now that I have all the primary gear I need the next step in my evolution is to master my camera and push myself to the next level. I have a seminar booked with Jay Maisel in June and full day conference in July with Scott Kelby. I am also trying to explore my city with camera in tow. I know the more I shoot the better I can get. Practice makes perfect.

As others have said it not about the gear its about the person behind the camera. It is also about understanding your strengths and weaknesses and not comparing yourself to others.  Studying other photographers is important but I know it’s about developing your style and voice (see I have been listening David DuChemin!). My photography will eventually be as unique as my fingerprint.

The fun part this summer will be to go out, take lots of photos and to keep learning & challenging myself.

Till next time!

Silencing the chatter

I started this blog to kick start my writing skills and document some of my adventures. The only problem is I keep getting a type of writing block. I am finding the extra chatter going in my head has a tendency to slow down my ability to figure out what to write. Way too many ideas end up being crammed in there and then everything just gets all tangled up.

Silencing the chatter or at least trying to quiet it all down to a dull roar is the only way I can focus. Once I have it somewhat quiet that is when I can finally get things moving forward. The last few months have been all about challenges, learning and meeting goals. I am not normally one to set goals since I usually never meet them. In light of this I have been keeping my goals simple.

One of my big goals is moving my photography forward. One step toward that is trying to find something anything to shoot as often as I can. Unfortunately with the weather this has somewhat involved driving my cats insane (full set). The other part of meeting this goal is to finally explore the city I was born in, funny how little of it I have explored.  Some explorations have been not so successful like my visit to Guildwood Park (full set) where I somehow managed to have the wrong f-stop most of the time. My first visit to High Park (full set) was better although a little early not many flowers or trees were in bloom. The other part of this goal is to attend seminars where possible. I have signed up to see Jay Maisel in June and Scott Kelby in July.

The other major news of the year is that I have offered to be the secretary and newsletter editor for the camera club I am a member of. This is will be interesting with my pretty busy work life. Not sure what I was thinking but I know this will make for an extra crazy summer.

Now on to planning more blog posts or at least I will try!