Depending on “Where”…..Those Moments.. Some Rambling on Tech…

One of the things that I love about the fall in Calgary and surrounding area is when everything changes colors from green to to those wonderful yellows and reds, etc.  As much as I would have liked to gone “out and about” to get more fall photos, this year, despite all the gear I’ve acquired, I haven’t been able to get out there as much as I would like.

I know, I know – one should “make time”, but with me being out of work (I’m a consultant) for a bit, plus other projects, it seems like the taking photos, other than the ones that I do need for reference, have been few and far between.  I really really had plans to take way more photos than I have (don’t get me wrong here – I do take a lot of photos), but it simply hasn’t worked out that way.

There has been this odd time though, where I have taken the time or heaven forbid, I’ve actually had some time to “stop and smell the roses” so to speak.

BerriesstreetSunriseIMountain Ash

This is going to get a little theoretical perhaps, and maybe even a little thought provoking  or even philosophical perhapsSmile

When I was in my 35mm days, I recall really being “in there”.  Equipment, darkroom, a bit of free lancing and on and on.  It literally consumed my spare time, but in saying that, that was about the only hobby I had at the time.  There wasn’t this “computer” thing that exists like today and all things related to technology.  Just me.  Then “life” happened.  Got married, had kids, needed to “upscale”, so to speak.  Priorities changed, jobs changed, life changed.  Photography didn’t slip out of the equation, but is sure came close.  Having kids allowed me to preserve some fantastic memories, but after that, the “fun” stuff kinda went by the wayside. 

So what do I mean by the fun stuff?  I’m not sure about anyone else, but for me, I enjoy taking photos of the various family events that I’m obliged to attend each year.  Candid photography comes very naturally to me as I’ve done a ton of that and it is what I would call “enjoyable”, but then again, I’m there and I’m usually the one with the camera AND you have to be there anyway.  I’m going to mention something here about social events.  It’s funny to me, but in the majority of the social events I attend, I haven’t really seen all that many photos being taken let alone a camera.  I see the odd phone camera shot being taken, and maybe, every once in a while a camera does show up, but you know, no one seems to take photos of the event Sad smile  What’s with that? 

For me, when I go to one of these things (and my wife also does this), I like to capture the room or rooms, decorations, food and activities in action PLUS those cherished candid photos and sometimes formal shots.  I like to have a “complete” pictorial of the event.  My wife also does this for her volunteer events.  One then gets to see what I would call the “whole picture”, not just a fleeting moment.  To me, having that complete event allows me to relive the whole event in my mind.  What’s really funny (well… not so funny maybe), is most people will go to an event and when they see the photos, they want them.  Why didn’t they take their own?  Maybe there’s an opportunity here….. Smile  Back on topic…..

The FUN Stuff – OK – this might mean different things to different people.  For me, it means a couple of things.  First – I’m actually going “somewhere”, with nothing more in my mind than to “take pics”.  In other words, this is going to be a “discovery” type trip.  So… this would be landscapes, macros, whatever you “see”.  Depending on your gear, it might also mean setting up a base.  For me, it would mean taking a tripod and several cameras Smile  My Panasonic GX-1 with both zooms, perhaps my Fuji X10 and a travel cam or two.  Definitely my Gorilla Pod.  The intent on this type of outing is to get pics that, for all intents and purposes, “strike your fancy”.  Second, for me, anyway – would be what I would call a “staged” shot.  In other words, something that requires some pretty serious setup.  Example:  light box/studio for shooting “something”.  For me, it would be for product photography, stills.  This wouldn’t be plants, I do that anyway and not necessarily when I’m out and about. 

The bottom line here – taking photos in an area where there’s no obligation other than “because it’s there”.  AND in the end, you can say “I took that”.  The fun may also have been a bit in the darkroom doing some special effects stuff which today, is your software.  In any event – it was a fun time or enjoyable time.  I’m also having a blast using my various travel cameras trying to learn the nuances of each one, and believe me there are some. 

Is there un-FUN stuff?  Well, I wouldn’t say that it’s not fun or enjoyable but one of the things I’ve found in digital photography, compared to film, is that there “seems” to be an abnormally high emphasis on software manipulation to “get the photo right”.  I’m almost thinking here that digital photography in itself, has sort of bred this mentality of “take the pic and fix it later in software”.  I like the fact that I can move my pics across to my server and I like doing some minor “tweaks”, if I need to, but that’s as close as I really want to get.  I’m going to expand on this a bit Smile

Don’t get me wrong here – digital photography is a marvel in itself from my standpoint.  I’ve sort of followed this over the years and I have a couple of the old digital cameras STILL where 3 megapixel and a 512 MB card was considered high capacitySmile  Compared to film though, technology has made it not only inexpensive, but easy to take photos.  I mean, just about any phone nowadays has a camera.  The cameras themselves are within the budget of literally every one.  We have the ability to upload to social media sites.  Heck – we can even get prints Smile    It’s good, on one hand that it’s so easy to take pictures, I have nothing against that, but at the same time, BECAUSE we can take the pictures so easily, I think the art of “seeing” has diminished to a degree.  It almost seems like you visualize the shot, but don’t take that shot – you take something close WITH the intent of fixing it later.  Maybe that’s the general trend, I dunno…..  Also, it’s very possible that I’m closer to the the “average” consumer than before, and simply seeing this “almost serious” amateur coming into play more.  And of course, there’s the snapshot crowd… So… what do I mean by that?

Well, when I look at the sheer functionality of some of these units, especially in the area of something like the travel cameras, there’s a lot of power there in a pretty tiny package.  I guess what I’m “seeing” but never noticed before is this group of people who haven’t really studied the “art” behind taking a photo.  What I mean by that, is, of course, how a serious amateur would approach any one picture.  Plan, set your exposure, etc. before taking that shot.  Knowing your camera and what it can  do. You have any given shot already in your mind and know what you have to do to get that shot.  Not this wild spraying of shots and literally hoping to get “lucky” Smile 

Maybe, on the other side of fence, and it’s more plausible, perhaps, is that we live in a more affluent society where I live – I see a lot of more high end cameras in the hands of people who have no idea what they can do with the units.  Maybe they got that level of camera because they can…. I could easily do that as well, but I haven’t to a degree.  Maybe, and also likely – many simply do not know the difference between a shot and a GOOD shot Smile  Here’s an example:  Rule of Thirds.  If you’ve studied the craft a bit, this is a pretty fundamental premise.  Big sky effect – use the top two thirds, Big ground effect – use bottom two thirds.  Bottom line – it’s usually not a good idea to split the screen Smile  Simple right?  Well, it’s amazing how many don’t know this.  OR, taking a shot that fills the frame correctly.  That’s another area that baffles me – for some reason, they don’t seem to know where their edges are.  Granted, the sensors can be suspect to a certain degree, but still….. these are pretty fundamental to getting a good basic shot.  OR maybe they simply don’t want any more than that Smile  What do I know?  I’m not going to fret over this – I’m going my own way, thank you very much.  I’m going to work on the premise that if I set up correctly the FIRST TIME, I shouldn’t need to manipulate in software.  Different issue though, if I want to do effects stuff.  Unfortunately, that does need software. Got a ways to go for that Smile  In any event, it’s a bit of a shame to see a capable camera in the hands of the incapable.  But that’s just me and my opinion too…….

A discussion I’ve had with several people  more times than I care to mention is why I don’t have the “big gear”.  My answer – for what I’m doing, I don’t need the “big gear”.  I also explain that I also don’t want the bulk of the big stuff for most things. It’s one thing to own the stuff – totally another to have to carry it around. Smaller means I can usually have a camera with me or very close to me.  I don’t have to “remember to bring the camera” – there’s one in my daypack or my sling bag.  I don’t have to worry about the fact that IF I need the camera – did I remember to charge the battery?  Smile  I use most of my gear all the time, and with the number of cameras I have, there’s always going to one of them charged…… I’ve made my acquisitions around mobility – keeping things tiny and available.  I’ll address the less mobile stuff when I get to it.  Another one I hear a lot of – extra resolution in case I need to crop.  If anything, if one already owns a DSLR, it’s more than capable of getting the right shot – why would you need to crop later?  Smile  We won’t even get into the megapixel discussion…..

The one thing that has emerged from what I’ve been doing with my travel cameras – what I’m getting there is more than enough for most things that I do.  I do have the larger sensor cameras, but you know – I got them for doing those more to see where the technology was going.   Just part of the long term “path” of a bigger plan. I’m sure I’m going to end up with a DSLR at some point next year.  The dilemma I have is whether I will see a noticeable difference from my GX1 in Micro Four Thirds to APSC for starters.  Then, there’s lenses.  With my GX1, I don’t have any primes and in reality, haven’t needed them.  I get the most puzzled looks when I tell people, that I can pretty well get the same effect with my zoom if I step back and zoom inSmile The ultimate question when I get to DSLR’s will be “What will I be doing with it?” and what lenses will I need to accomplish that goal.   For me, I’ve already got a Fuji X10 and Panasonic LX7 for my “go to” units.  I have the Nikon 1 J1 and Panasonic GX1 if I need the larger sensor.  In reality they all deliver more than I had hoped.  In a lot of cases, they’ve actually surprised me in what they can do….

One of the BIG shortcomings of my GX1 and my Nikon J1, for that matter, is that I’ve had to use two batteries on numerous occasions on my more serious event shoots.  Sometimes I have time to swap out, most times, I’ve simply resorted to one of the travel cams until I could swap batteries. A DSLR would overcome that quite easily.   IF I went the DSLR route, I’m going to want primes, I know that.  At that level, it would be foolish NOT to have a couple of primes.  Food for thought, more research.  I’m actually looking at the Nikon D5200 or 7100, actually – biggest decision is the extra manual capability. Maybe both – never know.  I’m going to really have to “ramp up” to justify this to myself. Anyway I cut this, it’s going to be an easy couple thousand by the time I add in lenses, get a flash and a decent tripod. 

With all my cameras, I’m shooting at max resolution all the time by default.  It’s sometimes a bit of a hassle when I have to do a separate conversion for web stuff, but the one thing I have found, is that after the conversion, the pics simply look “fuller” than if I say shot at 3 Megapixel or even at lower resolution for the web in-camera. 

Backtracking – Bear in mind, that life has also gotten more hectic, IMHO because of the technology, and we seem to have so much on the go all the time, that taking time to learn the “art” of a hobby is literally non-existent.  In other words – we need to SLOW DOWN!!!!  I’m even amazed at myself – here I’m not working, per se, but I have enough on the go that taking pics just doesn’t happen as often as I thought.  BUT then again, when your job search starts to run into 5 to 8 hours per day….in reality, no different than real work.  Mind you, my life might be different as I have multiple “streams” of things I do and photography is sorta on the edge of the things at this time.  I’m really hoping I can pursue this more.

For me, though, when it gets down to nuts and bolts – Digital has definitely made it easier for me to take pics.  I come from a background where one learned the craft of taking the right shot the first time.  Digital has also made it easy for me to take more “safeties”, play more to re-learn things that I’ve forgotten.  Slowly but surely, it’s coming back Smile  What I learn here will ultimately make it easier when I take that next jump.  One thing for sure – I NEED to do more things with my Panasonic GX1 first.  So far, anyways, aside from battery life, there hasn’t been all that much that I can’t do…..

Software?  Well, yes I have software.  Do I have software like LIghtRoom or PhotoShop?  NoSmile  I use Corel PaintShop Pro X6 on my desktop and Corel Photo Impact on my travel ultra book.  This was a pretty hard decision on my part, actually.  Don’t get me wrong, I did my research and yes, those products do a lot more than what I have AND, they are the industry standards but you know what?  I simply don’t need that level of control for my photos.  Over and above that – I really really really don’t want to spend too much time in the software space if I don’t need to.  I got both for about $80 on sale Smile I may go there eventually but right for the moment, it’s not something that’s on my agenda.  Even the ones I use are pretty high powered for the things I’m doing.  That direction won’t change until I start doing things that will require me to go there.  Like doing this for a living or doing enough that commercial quality is going to be needed.  Onward….


About gkamitomo
IT Busines Analyst

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