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!

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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!

There is a first for everything – photography journey continues.

I had the fun of doing my first newborn photoshoot for a friend. If you ever going try this hope you get has lucky as I did and get a very sleepy and calm infant. Evan started off life almost comatose, once a sleep he stays a sleep. The biggest fuss I had was when Evan got the hiccups, was none too pleased by them!

After doing a lot of research, figured out what would be best to bring with me. Brought two very soft blankets, one basket (found at Winners), a neck pillow, a big flat square pillow and a drying rack (yep this was my solution to no bean bag, two racks stacked allowed me some height so baby wasn’t flat on the floor!).  I also had an assistant which was my sister. Erica was a great help and has been doing research with me on what to do and what not to do.

I then scouted my friends house for the best source of light. It happened to be on the second floor near the stairs with a huge window nearby. Allowed for the perfect soft light and I didn’t have to use a flash. This was a big relief because I have a very small flash and it has been a bit of challenge to use (on my list to upgrade).

I learned a lot on this photoshoot, some as I went and some after the fact. I can see why photographers use a bean bag it does make it easier to pose for the head on hand shots. My solution of a fluffy pillow and neck brace worked but not as well as hoped.

I also need to remember to tuck tags in and remove price tags before shooting. Rookie mistake but thankfully it wasn’t hard to remove in Photoshop.


I am also still struggling with exposure when there is a super bright source of light behind subjects. Hope to learn spot metering at some point which should correct the issue.

I also need to remember where my light source is coming from and try maximize usage of it. Had a tendency to have my light source on Evan’s butt instead of head when he was in the basket. Just as a side note, my friend only wanted semi -nude photos so Evan has a diaper on. No big deal just did faux nudes where I shot from the waist up!

I also remembered to keep shooting. My friends favourite photos were what I would class as outtakes. Although these show Evan’s already developing personality. The other outtake was when Daddy thought his finger was outside of the frame.

In the end got some great photos that my friends will cherish and I got a chance at a great learning experience.

If you would like to see the set I posted on Flickr for this shoot it is located here.

Refining a Vision in Lightroom

This is a short post on my neglected blog. It has been so far a crazy summer! I have several posts brewing but for now thought I would post about the fun I am having in Lightroom 3.

Lightroom 3 is by far the biggest purchase I have made to date in regards to my photography. It has been well worth the short term pain to my budget. I had thought I was doing pretty good with the program until I started reading David DuChemin’s Vision and Voice. Suddenly I had a whole new perspective on the develop tools in Lightroom and quickly realized that I wasn’t using them all that well.

I took the photo below from my recent trip to Bon Echo (longer post coming!) and shows the fun I had in finding my vision for the photo:

(30mm 100ISO f10)

(adjusted crop, gradient, tone, tone curve (light & dark), contrast, clarity, saturation and temp)

Now I have a big itch to go through the photos I took over the past year or so and see if I how much I can improve them although I have to confess most are in jPegs. I only started shooting Raw in the past six months. Plus my newest toys are in the form of filters which improved my photos immensely.

Till next time which I hope will be much sooner than later!

Experiment with photos instead of words.

In honor of the photographers of having been absorbing ever tip and trick I can from, I am going to try to do a blog with less words and more pictures. I am hoping they make people stop and pause. I took these all on my last trip to the cottage and was trying to just experiment with shutter speed, aperture and ISO. Any feedback you wish to pass on is greatly appreciated.

Fluffy Clouds

Touch of Orange

Touch of Sunshine

Moment of Calm

Fishing with the Clouds

Abandoned in the Shadows

Model Behaviour

Jewel in the Nook

I look forward to the next experiment and learning as much as I can about my new hobby. Till the next post!