Breaking and forming habits

It’s been almost a year and what a year it’s been. 

Since my last post I’ve gone through some significant family additions and it’s been hard with both the winter months and the changes to get back into photography. It’s a frustrating thing too, knowing that I love this craft and I’ve largely abandoned it. That’s not to say that I don’t want to take pictures, but plans I’ve had over the past year have been put aside, and that loss of morale has resulted in a lack of practice. 

I feel like I suffer from a content issue as well. I see photographers from around the world (including my personal favorite Dave DuChemin) doing all kinds of crazy things and teaching and learning and I feel like I’ve been left behind. Why do I have such a nice camera? Did I buy into this too quickly? It certainly feels like it. I want to take pictures creatively, I want post and show off my work…but my brain gets locked up in this morass of lackluster and same same photo oblivion. I don’t just want to take a photo, I want to create a piece of art. And not a masterpiece! Just my piece. 

I want to sometimes sell my work, with whatever sense of approval that brings with it. I’d love to practice at weddings and photo ops and look at maps of areas to track down beautiful waterfalls. But these things take time, and it feels like time is not something I have to give to this craft and it makes my soul ache. Photography to me isn’t just art, either. It’s adventure and wonder. I want those things, and I want to craft. So I have this self-sustained cycle of demotivation and I’m not certain how to get it gone. My habits have been broken (through no actual fault of my own), and I’m trying to find a way that I can form those habits again. 

Some might say to “go out and do it”; to just shoot for the sake of shooting. But that’s not my personality. I need structure (unless the assignment is no structure), and my creative juices rarely flow without a goal. I want to go out and shoot, but I’m often seized with a “comparibility complex” where I instantly think of all the photos that I’ve seen and go “That’s already been done, how would I be different?” and then I get stuck again. 

Really bad rut here. 

My eternal optimism doesn’t let me despair, but I can’t keep from feeling like a failure also. I want to take good, conscious photographs. I just don’t know how to get back on that train to eventual success.

Sparking creativity

One of my most paralyzing attributes is the fear of “not being good enough”.  I used to go to a basketball court to practice, and would immediately freeze up when I saw others come to the court. I wouldn’t actually leave, but I certainly didn’t take as many risks. I didn’t want to be judged. More likely than not: they didn’t care about me in the least. I spent so much time worrying about what others may have thought about me that I ended up not having fun. What’s the point in that?

The same goes with my photography. It’s a struggle, you know. Putting up a website so that people can see my images, posting blog posts on Facebook for “exposure” (which, at the moment, amounts to family and friends dropping a like here or there). I have aspirations, of course. I truly want to be a wedding photographer. Not a big shot, but someone who makes heartfelt images for people who want to make it a heartfelt day. And yeah, I want to sell something so I can buy super cool photography gear…but that’s an aside. I’ve already talked about how much I love to capture a moment. I’m working on taking pictures of my family, if not for the memories then for the practice. I am working without a flash at the moment and it certainly leads to some creative solutions in order to find the light needed for an acceptable photo. I will say though: the a7III’s low-light performance smashes my old a6500. 

Anyway, it was these moments that have been sparking my creativity. Something that I’ve been working on remembering was that I wasn’t here to show other people how awesome my work is, but that I am making my work more awesome. If people don’t read these blogs, or look at my photos, then so be it, right? I am here to not only make better photos each time I press the shutter, but to also be a better writer each time I hit the save button on this blog. So if I take a random photo of a brick wall because it meant something at the time, I shouldn’t fear someone viewing that image and going “Ew.” I took it for me, why care about anything else? 

Sparking creativity for someone who is intensely fearful of being judged harshly is a back and forth battle between keeping my camera in my bag and just simply snapping away for the love of it. This doesn’t mean I post every photo I ever take…obviously. This means simply that because I’m not posting every photo I ever take that I should take every photo I ever want. Working on the composition, the leading lines, the exposure, the depth of field…these are the things that matter in the end. At least, right now it does. Once I get to the point that I’m no longer focused on those things (much like when I used to watch the speedometer when first learning to drive), I can then start worrying about how much people will like it. After all, people liking it is kinda how wedding photographers are made, am I right?

So over the last month, and for the next few, I’m practicing two things: 

  • Taking the photo for the sake of practicing the technique of photography.
  • Practicing more creative shots, utilizing light, form, pose and location.

What a month…of a7III shooting

As the saying goes: “When it rains, it pours.”

I’m exhausted. Eight days after my last post, my daughter was born. We named her Eowyn (from Lord of the Rings), 7lbs on the dot. That same day, my new a7III was being delivered. I love my daughter(s) with all my heart, but leave it to the baby to come on the day that I was getting a brand new camera. I don’t get a lot of expensive things, especially stuff like this, so of course I was excited. Then she came, and I was overwhelmed! Did I take a lot of pictures, you might ask? Why yes, yes I did.

It was a perfect time to put the thing through its paces, and wow. See, I was using a Sony a6500 before. An awesome mirrorless camera that fulfilled every desire except one. I wanted to shoot at the focal length that was advertised. For example, my bread-and-butter lens, the 2.8 90mm macro actually shoots 4.2 135mm. This really wasn’t a gamebreaker though, and I never had complaints. It was just in the back of my mind, I knew that I wasn’t shooting at the “right” focal length. I know, I know. I can move and adjust for that crop factor. Even more, I knew that (in my still limited experience) that APS-C sensors make for some wonderful landscape cameras. I mean, if you have one of those 70-300mm lenses, that pushes you out to 450mm! For about $1000, that isn’t bad (since the next available lens is a 100-400mm and it’s well over the entire cost of my a7III…). My point being: I get the good stuff and the bad stuff about each sensor size, but I opted for full frame. It was a goal, and I achieved it. So now, to the a7III first impressions!

You guys. This thing shoots like a friggin Cadillac. 

I mean, I enough photos on the 6500 to know what the shutter sounded like.  It becomes that normal sound, like your car running or your AC. It’s not there at the front of your brain that you’re aware of it…just that if the sound changes, you instantly know. I can very easily remember what the first shutter sounded like on the a7III. It sounded…decisive. You know it Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy where the doors would sigh every time you walked through them? That’s what I do with this shutter sound. It’s just so pleasing to press that button. 

Compared to the a6500, it’s also easier to hold. The a6500 was a bit smaller, and I have large hands. It was nice to have the camera fill my hands rather than feeling like my fingers wrapped around the whole thing. All in all, very easy to hold. 

Battery life is wonderful, exactly as I expected. The a7III has a larger battery FW-100 compared to the a6500 FW-50, so it does go for longer times than the a6500, but I haven’t done hiking or overnight camps yet. We’ll have to see how it holds up without the convenience of an outlet nearby.

More custom buttons than I know what to do with at the moment. They are all useful though, so any function you feel you need at arms (fingers?) reach is easy to set up.

I will only do an amature image review, because DPreview does a much more comprehensive analysis than I could ever do, and much better written. So basically: the images on the a7III are awesome. Full of detail, low noise and fantastic autofocus. For around $2200 (with the kit lens), a full frame camera with this quality is an unreal bargain. A perfect way to nudge yourself into the full frame market. I sold my a6500 (because I’m not rich enough to afford both) to get to it. I will admit, I was sad to see my a6500 go. But now that I’ve been practicing with the a7III…man. What a world of difference. 

All in all, I love this camera. Solid, well crafted and takes some awesome low-light, landscape, indoor and outdoor shots. Super happy with it!

Well. I’m just all kinds of excited. What a month. 

Be back soon!

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