Just another rambling fool at WordPress.com

The Right Stuff

Fall Foliage-37(Click on photo  …  the resolution here sucks!)

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When I bought my camera in June of 2010 I’d never had any interest in taking photos. I didn’t own a smart phone and I hadn’t used a point and shoot more than a half dozen times in as many years. I simply woke up one day and decided I needed a new hobby, and settled on photography. I sat down at the computer and started doing some research on digital cameras, which is sort of hard to do when you don’t know the first thing beyond pushing a button and getting a mediocre result. A few years earlier I’d tried reading the instruction manual for the point and shoot camera we owned and it lost me after explaining how to turn the camera on. As a result, wading through the endless narratives about which camera and what brand would best suit me was a monumental exercise in frustration.

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I finally settled on the Canon 7D for no other reason than the fact that it was (at that time) a new model and most people were raving about it. I didn’t stop to think that I might be getting in way over my head rather, I thought I’d eventually “grow into” my camera. I reasoned that once I knew what I was doing it would be better to have everything I wanted in a camera than wish I’d bought the next model (or two) up, right? Well it’s been three years since I bought it and I’m still not sure if it was the right decision.

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The first year I had my D7 was a spectacular year for taking outdoor photos. I didn’t know that then, I just thought I had a big fancy camera and every picture I took would (therefore) turn out great! Wow. It’s kinda hard to believe I was that naive. Truth of the matter is, by sheer dumb luck I’d just happened to buy my camera at a very good time. I’ve since learned that great shooting conditions are rare and you can go an entire season (or year or two) and not have more than a few days where the conditions are great for shooting. I didn’t use to care about that and I took lots of pictures anyway, but they weren’t the same quality and I (eventually) knew it. As hard as it is for me to look out the window and see beautiful fall colors in the trees and surrounding landscape, I won’t grab my camera unless the conditions for shooting are just right.

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Perhaps that makes me sound like a snob or far more of a professional than I really am, but the truth of the matter is, I’m lazy. The days of taking a roll of pictures and dropping them off to be developed are gone, and while that gives me lots of creative license, it’s a huge time-suck to have to process my own photos. I’ve become far more discriminatory about when and what I’ll shoot and even which pictures I’ll keep. So the fact of the matter is, unless the conditions are perfect for what I want to shoot, I won’t even bother to try.

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I’ve watched the days turn into weeks, then months as my camera sits untouched. I admit, that makes me a bit uncomfortable sometimes. I worry that I’m being TOO discriminatory or lazy. I feel guilty about the money I’ve spent on equipment that isn’t getting used. But eventually I know I’ll wake up to a morning when I can instantly tell that it’s going to deliver everything I want: light, color, subject and the right conditions. The photo above was taken on one of those mornings.

11 responses

  1. Well I actually thought you were a professional photographer. Your work is always so awesome. A great pleasure to be able to see what you have done. Thank you for sharing.

    October 8, 2013 at 10:39 AM

    • William, you are so sweet! No, I’m not a pro. Not even close. But I’ve tried to develop a better eye for what I want to produce and I’m more critical of my results than I used to be. For example, I don’t even think the photo on this page is very good. The subject and light were great, but my camera settings were off and I wasn’t using a tripod. Today, those details matter a whole lot more to me than they did then. I’m always trying to learn more and improve my skills. It’s SO much harder than I ever thought! But that makes it fun. I like a good challenge. Thanks for dropping by and leaving a comment. Always great to hear from you! 🙂

      October 8, 2013 at 11:04 AM

  2. toad (chris jensen)

    Brings me back to the day running web presses, the printing of calendars the so many colors of autumn leaves beauty and wonder…

    October 8, 2013 at 11:39 AM

    • Thank you! Glad it evoked some memories!

      October 9, 2013 at 7:41 AM

  3. You bring up some fascinating points in your discussion of your evolution as a photographer. We all shoot for different reasons and have different goals an aspirations in out photography. I’m still at a phase where I am not discriminatory enough, I know, but my choice to take photos of wildlife almost forces me to take lots of shots. I really like your autumn shot–it reminds me of the gorgeous colors of my youth, growing up in New England.

    October 9, 2013 at 7:39 AM

    • It’s funny that you mention shooting wildlife because nothing makes me throw caution to the wind like seeing a wild animal and wanting to capture it in a picture. That said, I’ve even learned to hold back on that subject if the conditions aren’t right. For example, when I first started trying to take pictures of hawks I’d shoot any hawk I could. If they were slightly out of range or perched with their back to me or if there were too many branches in the way, it didn’t matter. I’d shoot them anyway. Now, I’m much more picky about those details. I know there will be another, perhaps an even better opportunity to get that great shot and I will wait until that opportunity presents instead of wasting my time shooting and processing less pleasing photos. I even feel this way about shooting my horses. If I can’t get the shot I really want then I won’t spend an hour taking photos that I know I’ll just delete later. I do think my approach changed a bit after my year-long battle with eye problems. Also, I’ve been an avid reader of a blog by landscape photographer Dan Jurak, and he’s had a big influence on my philosophy and approach.

      October 9, 2013 at 7:54 AM

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  7. My husband is a photographer. He has the Canon 7D and LOVES it, so you made a very wise choice. And purchased it at the right time…Canon has jacked the prices for the lens right through the roof and we can’t afford them. The nice thing about digital is that you can take hundreds of photos within a short amount of time, and download them to winnow at your leisure. That’s where you get your luck—unlike film photography, where you were lucky to get one good picture out of a dozen EXPENSIVE rolls of film, digital enables you to get a lot of ‘data’ to sift. Try going to Naturephotographers.net and see what I mean. There’s many amateur photographers there in many different galleries (horses and dogs too!) and the members will “critique’ your efforts. Don’t be afraid, they’re all very nice people and my husband’s photography has improved so much from it. Even I’ve learned from it.
    As you’ve learned, ‘great shooting conditions’ are VERY rare. The great and legendary Ansel Adams (who shot only in black and white, and is responsible for “Yosemite and the Range of Light” )would wait DAYS for just the right light.
    The trick is knowing WHEN the light is right. THAT is the ticket.
    That, as in riding, comes from experience and taking LOTs of photographs.
    Good luck. I like your above effort.

    October 14, 2013 at 1:23 PM

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