Spring has sprung, and it felt like an eternity

My previous post talked about my desires to commit. It also talked about my issues with getting out there and actually doing it. I am attempting to recover from that episode; I’ve built up bad habits along the way…and these habits are hard to break.


So my first issue was actually taking pictures. I’ve started to get back out there, and the results are gratifying. I was right about getting out there and doing it. Well, I wasn’t so much right as much as all the professional photographers screaming at me: “DO something, don’t think about it!” With a few nitwits and such thrown in there. Gave it a real 1950’s vibe. 


My second issue was with SEO, in a way. For the uninitiated, it stands for “Search Engine Optimization”. I’ve never had to worry about this before, when all my blogs were simple in their musings. I was young(er), and I wrote the blogs for my personal diary that I didn’t care to have other people look at. No commitment, and no need to publish more than once in a blue moon. These days though, since I want to turn my artistry into an actual profession in the future, I have to worry about how I can get my website out there. I want people to see my stuff this time around, rather than thinking that someone will romantically fall upon it one day and say “Oh my, this guy is so smart!”. Man, I was a silly kid. So what’s different now, from back then?


First off, I have to update my website and often, at that. That’s the first key of SEO. The second is having quality updates to update the website with. If I have a photography website, and I’m not taking photos…might as well have a WordPress blog. No need to pay for the domain service or the website (which I do through 500px). My third difference from my younger self is that I am a new photographer, and so the reason I blog is to detail the experiences I have had. My hope is that through my experiences, someone else might be able to discover important aspects that allow them to push through adversity. In other words, unlike my earlier blogs in which I was trying out certain perspectives, now I’m reading the professionals, I’m buying domains, and setting up Google Adwords and Analytics and all that. My hope is that this will help my website sit among photographers websites. My blog can help younger or newer photographers who face the same issues I do along.


In fact, the biggest difference between my younger self and now is that I’m trying. I do care about photography, and I love writing. If I can help someone avoid mistakes I made (or make), then why not? It will only help me practice and them move on. Win-win in my book.  


Update and commitment

Over the last few months, I’ve been dealing with a burnout issue. 

I know I know…I’ve been at this for like eight months and I’m already dead? Must be a sign. At first, I thought it was. In fact, I’m still dealing with the burnout and I’m honestly not sure where the it came from. I suspect it was because I flew too close to the sun, wherein I did all the things to put my toe in the water of photography and then never actually jumped. I brought my camera everywhere (because that’s what was recommended), I’ve read so, SO many pdf’s and ebooks on photography (because that’s what was recommended), I got business cards, sold and bought gear…all of these things I’ve done in order to get into the frame, pun intended, of mind I thought was needed to be a “photographer”. Too late I discovered the books of Dave duChemin and especially his blog, where he ends every video with “Gear is good, vision is better.”

Well…great.

I focused on getting gear (I’m a techie at heart), and forgot about my vision! What the f**k do I want to take pictures of?! People? Cities? Landscapes? Macro? Family? And that’s when it landed: I don’t have a vision. I (maybe?) have skills, but I don’t have the view. And leave it to me to land on a hobby and possible career where the one thing you need is your vision, on every level of that hobby, and I don’t establish it from the outset. I practiced know about photography, and didn’t practice photography.

So now what?

I’ll be honest, I’m not sure. I’ve set a nasty habit of actually viewing others photos with derision of all things. Probably because of the burnout related frustrations, and so I get frustrated with others works (though no fault of their own). I’m in a dangerous place. I run the risk of establishing a negative connotation with photography in general, which will lead to an inevitable demise of my hobby. I think also this is the hardest place to start from. It’s like I got sacked at the ten yard line and lost nine yards. I’m in a bad spot, but not impossible to recover from. So why am I writing this all down?

Two reasons, really. First off is so that I can see my development (or lack thereof) in the future. I want to be able to be grateful in the future for having the ability to overcome, and if I run into circumstances that cause this again…I know what to do. Second, should someone happen upon this blog, and they are dealing with burnout or low motivation, they can see what I did to overcome it.

First, I’m going to find my vision. Right now, it’s the details of a thing. It’s a building, sure….but what is it? A person(s) is easy, capturing character is hard. I want to capture the essence of a thing. I want to open up a view and go: but look at it like this! I also want to practice. The other day I simply got my camera out and played with the settings, and before long I was practicing again. It was natural to me, and I realized that I was demotivated because I hadn’t taken photos in some time. 

Second, I’m going to start working on a project. You can’t have a hobby without something to work towards. Not doing anything but stumbling upon your hobby once and a while doesn’t actually help you to further that hobby. It’s like peeing. You just kinda do it without thinking about it. That’s not a hobby. I was reading things about photography and buying photography related items, but I wasn’t actually shooting

Finally, I’m going to start regularly updating this blog with my progress, my observations, and purchases. I think I’ll set a goal of posting twice a month at first. If I feel the need to post more, I will. Minimum of two sounds about perfect at the moment. 

Let’s see how it all works out. I hate failing.  


The “nifty 50”

I’ve often read that the 50mm lens is one of the best standard prime lenses that you can get. At first (and I’m still very new at this), I thought that this was odd. After all, most of my subjects were either very close (I love macro shots) or very far away (because I love landscape photos). What use could a 50mm prime lens be to me? Well I can now say that after extensive use while on my trip to Rome…it’s more than essential. It’s now the lens I wish I had started with all along. 

Why?

Because I can shoot everything. Really. 

First off, I’m using the Sony a6500. Which means that it’s an APC-S sensor. A little smaller than a full frame camera sensor, so that makes my 50mm shoot in 75mm format (1.5x the focal length). While obviously this is no zoom lens, 75mm is actually TOO close for inside shots in most cases but I compensated as necessary by moving or lowering my camera…or doing acrobatics of some sort to get the shot I needed. No pain no gain right? Either way, despite it’s “just-a-hair-too-close” nature, the 50mm has an aperture of 1.8. For me, given my lens purchases so far…this was huge. It made everything possible to shoot, it made the images sharp…it changed everything. 

Suddenly, instead of losing hope after the golden hour because I knew the sun was the only way I could shoot, I could easily keep going. It was spectacular! For reference my lenses before the 50mm were:

  • Kit lens of f/3.5
  • Zoom lens f/3.5
  • Macro lens f/2.8

As you can see, I simply didn’t have a way to shoot quickly at a low aperture to get the low light shots I wanted. To compensate for those f-stops I would have to shoot at a longer shutter speed, and that means a tripod..etc. Since this was my first trip abroad as a photographer, I was afraid I didn’t have the experience to compensate for those deficiencies reliably. Enter the 50mm prime. The images below were a result of that lens. You gotta understand, this was a game changer for me because I was no longer trying to find the brighter part of the room in order to get the most light so that I could reduce noise in the image…so on and so forth. I could simply find the angle that I wanted and take the shot. With the 50mm, I adjusted my shutter speed to get as close to 100 ISO as possible without going below that threshold of 1/80 second. Anything below 800 ISO (or so I’ve read) is perfectly fine. So I knew that I could sacrifice a bit on the shutter speed so I wouldn’t get a blurry image. 

Voilà! Beauty even in low light!

Needless to say, I love the lens and to top it all off: it was cheap too! I highly recommend it. 


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