As Spring Rolls In…. Thoughts

Wow!!  Does time ever fly!!!  Over the last few months, I’ve been taking a bit more time for photography than I normally have been.  I’m a consulting  IT Business Analyst  and have been sitting in between contracts for a bit now with the Oil and Gas industry pretty well grinding to a halt Sad smile   It’s been both good and bad, in one sense.  The good part, is that I am able to get caught up on “stuff” that normally doesn’t get done as well as focus on photography a bit more.  The bad part, is that I’m not working.  Am I worried?  Well, sort of, but at the same time, I’m happy for the extra time.

As an IT type of person, I’m in a “busy” career path if you are familiar with this career path or know of people in this business sector.  I’m very technical for a Business Analyst type – pretty “geeky”, and getting on in my years.  HOWEVER, in saying that, I leverage my past experience for everything it’s worth in today’s world.  When I got back into digital photography about  three years ago, I came back in with roughly 15 years of 35mm film experience with a background in retail/distribution, purchasing, free lancing, darkroom work.  We should also get something straight right off the bat.  I never really was without a camera.  I was in that mode of “casual” photography.  Mostly of the kids, family events, “simple” vacation photos – you know – the simpler side of things from the photo perspective.

I’ve mentioned this before – when I came back into the “craft”, it was from a very different “angle”, if you want to call it that.  It came from both wanting to be able to take more photos again, but at the same time, being mobile.  My life has changed quite radically from the 35mm days and in today’s world, “busy” has taken on a whole new meaning Smile  I’ve been in the computer space for the most part since the beginning of  the PC and even though there were a few bumps in there, it’s been good to me.   Going into the consulting side of things over the last 8 years or so has allowed me the comfort of being able to afford to move quickly to try things.  And I did when it came to photography – I acquired gear like crazy trying to figure out the digital side of things.

Back to the spring thing.  Over the last month or so, I started to work in RAW with the cameras I own that can shoot RAW.  This was prompted by a few of my pro friends pushing me there plus some research plus an upcoming course where I will have to know about RAW.  To explain a bit more….  notice I mentioned cameras.  I own roughly 15 cameras that range from pointy shooties to DSLR’s.  Part of the the 3 year journey.  My DSLR’s are Nikon and my preference is to utilize 2 bodies with two zooms.  I have more lenses, but this is my base gear.  Despite all the stuff I read about pros using primes all the time, the pros I know, tend to use zooms.  Discussions have revealed, that it’s more than sharp enough for most things.  I use APS-C sensor cameras in the D3200 and D5100, which is also adequate should I venture closer to the pro side from what I have been told.

From my experience and learning from the 35mm days,  I am a firm believer in “getting the shot right the first time” and still am.  As a result of that, I’ve shot JPEG’s along the way.  The other thing that I have found is that the digital space is very different from the world of 35mm.  Some discoveries:

1.  The “Art” itself hasn’t changed that much in one sense.  The basic “rules” still hold – a good photo is still a good photo.  Digital has allowed very different things that can be done with the art.

2.  Technology has made it easier to take photo’s.  The sheer number of photos that are being taken is mind boggling.  Good that more people are taking photos, but what are they doing with them.  The quality is also there for the most part.  Surprisingly good.

3.  Social media and the internet make the world accessible.  If you have thoughts of going pro, it’s a very different market  now.  A photographer today, has to not only understand their gear, there’s software and the internet to deal with.  More complicated in one sense.

4.  Once you hit the serious amateur side of things, there seems to be this tendency to “pixel peep”, or become a little more concerned about sharpness and noise.  Almost to a fault.  The camera manufacturers keep putting out more and more advanced “stuff” to cash in that obsession.  When I was shooting in 35mm and in low light with high speed Black and White, getting the shot was the important piece, grain was second.  Today, we call the grain “noise” if I got my understanding right Smile  Back then we used that grain to enhance the “mood” of the shot. 

5.  There is a lot of time that can be sucked up doing post work.  In learning more about RAW and the software associated with it, I am REALLY glad that I have a bit of time to learn about this.  I’ve also found that RAW  isn’t necessarily RAW.  Each manufacturer has it’s own version and “It ain’t the camera”, and I really agree with that.  A little more later on that.

So – back to spring.  It’s here!!!  Stuff here in Calgary hasn’t started turning green yet, but it’s getting close.  I am so looking forward to getting out and about more.  For the first time since I got into this, I feel I’m at the stage where I was back in 35mm with my DSLR’s.  It’ not that I’m ignoring the rest of the gear, is more being able to do certain things with the DSLR’s that I can’t do with the rest of my gear.  One of them is the super wide angle stuff – landscapes and scenics.  As nice as it would be to have something for my Panasonic GX1, it really didn’t exist, so I went to a Tamron 10-24 mm zoom.  In 35mm terms, that give me the equivalent of 15mm to 36mm.  Back in the day, the majority of my landscape stuff was done with the 17 and 20mm lenses.  Interior work was done with a 24mm and other stuff could be managed with the 28 or 35mm lens.  I have that with this zoom.  This was actually the one lens that actually held me back in some respects. 

Am I going to add more gear coming into this season?  You know – I really don’t think so.  A few accessories, maybe, but from the “big stuff” standpoint, probably not.  If I do, it’ll be to add a third body – a D7100 with an 18 – 140 to get the extra horsepower and functions.  The one thing I’ve found in shooting in RAW, is that under certain conditions, especially when I do sequence shots, the camera (D3200)  becomes unusable for about 10 seconds while the buffer writes out.  The D5100 is better, but file sizes are smaller too. Faster SD cards hasn’t helped – it’s simply a processing issue – the processor isn’t fast enough to handle this.  To make matters worse, I’m also set up at the moment, anyway, in RAW + JPEG Fine, so that doesn’t help either.

Now – about RAW.  From my understanding of this format, it’s all the data that the camera sensor captures. JPEG’s are what you get with the camera settings in place and what the processor “thinks” is a good photo.  Soooo… in reality, if you set the camera up correctly, there shouldn’t  be any difference between the JPEG and the RAW.  What the RAW does give you though, is all the data not just what the processor settings were, so the file is much larger.  Because you have so much information, you have more flexibility in post processing.  Whew!! That was a mouthful eh?  (Had to toss that in – Canadian Smile)  What I have been doing, is shooting with both formats to compare and ensure I’m doing stuff at my end right.  The good news – I am Smile  BUT, in saying that – RAW still has advantages.

This is where the post piece starts to come into play.  Yes, I can do more with RAW, but the cost is time.  TONS of time.  Granted, I’m still in the learning side of things, but the time factor is significant.  What it does emphasize though, is how important it is to learn how to do it right the first time Smile  Before I forget, I am set up with computer equipment that can handle those larger files Smile 

Soooo…. coming into this spring – the attack plan.  I will likely continue to use my DSLR’s set at both RAW +JPEG Fine.  My other two units, the Fuji X10 and Panasonic GX1, I’ll likely leave them at JPEG Fine.  I do some free lancing and when doing those, I will likely shoot exclusively RAW, but we’ll see when I get there.  I also want to expand WHAT I take pics of.  I’m only 45 minutes away from the Rockies and some of the most beautiful mountain ranges around and don’t get there that often.  That’s gotta change.  I’ve designed some new stuff to test for my outdoor plant stuff – can hardly wait to try it outdoors.  I do want to get some studio “stuff” – backdrop and lights, but it’s not a priority yet.  Likely for this fall.  More consistency in my blogs – I have a lot started but nothing finished  – that’s gotta change.



About gkamitomo
IT Busines Analyst

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