365pix – Mission Accomplished

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June 23rd, 2011 Permalink

As one might imagine I’ve been thinking off and on about the completion of this project and what I’ve learned, what I’ve experienced, where it has taken me, and all sorts of other reflections one might make given sufficient space for the mind to roam.

Being away from home last week has given me that space, though certainly it’s been filled with the various logistics and excitement one experiences while on vacation. Nevertheless the extra space was available, and welcome.  Now that I’m back. things are of course hectic again.

For starters I’d like to reflect on what I’ve learned. This is never easy to boil down as the learning process is a mish-mash of reading books, blogs, looking at other people’s photos, taking bad photos, taking terrible photos, and every now and then taking something halfway decent. A handful I’d even dare to call “good”. I wouldn’t go so far as to say that I have a style yet – I’m far too inexperienced, but I can say I really enjoy shooting in gardens, working with insects and animals, and working in low light.  I am sure this revelation comes as no surprise to both of my readers. I’ve certainly learned a lot about photo equipment, as American Express can corroborate, but that is all technical dribble. I’ve learned a lot about small flash lighting thanks in large part to David Hobby and Zack Arias, and while I am comfortable with a number of tricks my ability to think on my feet is still developing.  Learning about lighting has been crazy fun; with practice it provides the vision to see a photo in an ordinary scene.

One thing I have learned, and learned well, is the rule “when you think you’re close enough, take two steps closer.” I am more likely to take 4-6 steps closer, just by the way my eye seems to catch onto details, but I think this serves me well.  On the other hand, taking pictures of people still challenges me.  In a controlled situation I do better, but I have a long way to go in terms of connecting with my subject to really let them relax in front of the camera.

The biggest challenge for me during this project has been the mid-week photo. On those nights when I am stuck working until 8pm, I  don’t have much time nor brainpower to devote to making beautiful photos.  A typical photo taken mid-week takes me somewhere between 15 and 30 minutes, and often I was happy to have merely done the job for the day.  I never enjoyed posting a photo that I wasn’t proud of, it was a disappointment every time, even knowing that I could take a better one tomorrow. Maybe I need another year to really learn that lesson.

So what’s next?  My current plan is to take another week or so off, and then relax the pace a bit and do 3 photos a week – 1 mid-week and 2 weekend shots.  I figure this strikes a nice balance between practice and the demands of my work.  I may of course have weeks where I take a photo daily, but I’m going to try to be a little more stingy and stick to posting photos I am proud of, or at least not embarrassed about.

I feel obligated to assess how I did on the topic of “it ain’t about the gear”.  I really tried to stay sane (and within budget!) in terms of gear during this project, but as any photographer knows, this is a hobby with accessories and endless upgrades.  Mix in the fact that the authors & bloggers I read are all shooting pro gear, and all photo news sites are basically extended PR arms of Nikon & Canon.  Sure, many sites are independent, but they cover the industry which means they end up as another avenue for those two to market stuff to me.  It winds up being a lot of marketing at the end of the day.  All that said, I’m ok with the things I bought, even if they are a little bit above my skill level.  I’m really quite happy to have found lensrentals.com, since their service offered me the opportunity to play with a bunch of fancy gear.  Some I loved (85mm f/1.2), some I didn’t (24-105 f/4).

All in all I am happy with the way the last year of photography turned out.  I hope you enjoyed it as well.

PS – I’m still kicking around whether to keep this url or move to a different one (since 3/week != 365), but I’ll make a decision soon.

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