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15 years of photography Part 5

A review – What have I concluded in 15 years

Going over 20,000 photos and 15 years of work for this website has shown me a lot.

1# Gear doesn’t matter for anything smaller than A3 print and the web. My work covers 8mp to 21mp cameras try and spot the difference. The best camera is the one you have on you.

2# Not every photo you take will be great. If I keep 2 photos a outing I’m happy, the rest learn from. Why did this photo not work, what should I have done better or different.

3# You never stop learning and you should see improvement over time. If not you need to ask why. This includes Photography and Post Processing your photos.

4# Many a great photo is a combination of luck and skill. Right place at the right time. Yes planning is important but getting out even more so.

5# Photography is a great stress reliever, getting out in the fresh air and exercise will do you more good than harm. Just be careful and mind your surrounding esp around water and heights.

15 years of photography Part 4

A review – Photography and Light

“Its all about the light” but is it? In landscape photography this is the blue hour and most common the golden hour (sunrise and sunset time). Trouble is what about the rest of the day, what about overcast and raining days?

Light is unreliable and unpredictable so my approach is simple I deal with the hand that is given to me. I can always come back when light is better. Sometimes this takes years to achieve. Many times as a family we just go for day trips to places we have never been and I always take my camera. Midday light is not the best but I still photograph the scene

Not a work of art but a memory of a family day out and somewhere I’ve never been before Pakiri beach, north of Auckland.

So the above photo was nothing more than a snap, however I know know this spot and know what features are there, what tides would be best and what time of day would have the best light. What the photo doesn’t show is my wife and daughters having fun playing in the surf.

Overcast rainy days are great for waterfall photography. Bright sunny mid days great for long exposures and black and white. Its learning how to adapt your photography to the light. Understanding your cameras dynamic range and limitations are equality important.

Yes I always look at light and its effects on the landscape but remember mother nature doesn’t always play by our rules, sometimes we get lucky and are at the right spot at the right time. Get out have fun explore and take some photos.

15 years of photography Part 3

A review – Photography and Composition

Unlike a painter photography cannot simply add and remove things that are not there. However they can “compose” a photo. The basic if these is known as the “rule of thirds” I got into a habit early on of centering my photos, the subject was in the center and the horizon was in the center. According to the “rules” this was wrong.

The subject should be on 1 of the 4 dots and the horizon should be on 1 of the thirds not center.

In landscapes you are taught to divide a photo in to foreground, middle ground and background. The foreground should lead your eye into the middle ground and onto background. This is true for wide and ultra wide angle lens. Most of my photos I did try to achieve this.

Composition is a science as much as an art and it is something that I need to focus on more in 2020

15 years of photography Part 2

A review – Photography and Post Processing

2005 is when I started my landscape path and I thought that the camera should be good enough, I don’t need to post process photos they should be good enough straight out of camera. As the internet began to have more websites dedicated to displaying photos I wondered how these other people were getting better shots than I was. It came as a big disappointment when I began to find out they were been processed and some quite heavy. This reached its height with the introduction of high dynamic range (HDR) processing.

I was for all intent and purposes a purist at heart. I would look at a photo and expect it to be natural. Grass was green not some weird shade or over saturated. Yet other photos did look natural to my eyes.

People who knew how to process a photo knew that the viewer should never really be able to tell. It was soft and light editing. I always though post processing should be like applying makeup. Designed to enhance the natural features and no way over done.

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Edited with a 16:9 crop and -1EV and Landscape picture profile 20D, no other editing.

Learning more and more via YouTube tutorials I began to process my photos. I went through the plugins stage and all the other effects that can be done. I only have 1 plugin now and that’s the Nik free plugin from google which I use less and less.15 years of playing around and part of my process is to simplify the editing process and develop a style. Most of my editing in done in RAW.

As of 2020 I’m leaning more towards luminosity masking as a way to control the dynamic range in a photo as a lot of time you cannot balance highlights and darks in 1 exposure.

My main tools are Adobe Lightroom and Photoshop. Most of my editing is done in Lightroom with other specific edits done in photoshop. New programs are now able to replace skies etc, but I’m to much of a realist to go down that path.

15 years of photography Part 1

A review – Photography and gear

I guess I started taking photos back in about 2002 when I worked in a high school and teachers started getting small digital cameras for class work. I would borrow these little Sony cameras and just have a play. In about 2004 I brought a Sony F828 but with in a short time I grew frustrated that I couldn’t change lens. In 2005 I purchased a Canon 20D and it came with 2 kits lens.

Its funny how quickly I wanted better lens. I sold the kit lens and with in a year I had upgraded to Sigma lens as canon L series lens were out of my budget. My focal range was 10mm – 500mm. This however was not to last long at all.

3 Gold Lens

I don’t know what it was but I got it into my mind that what I really needed was a 5D. Canons first full frame camera, so off I went and got one. What I didn’t know was the sigma lens were designed for a cropped sensor and now I had a full frame sensor so I got dark edges around the frame. So they all got old and I started buying canon lens.

Half way through 2006 I decided I would try model photography, with that came the spending on setting up a studio, buying lights and all the associated bits and bobs, more money spent. It was during this time a model came with a partner who had a road bike that he raced at Pukekohe race track. While my 5D was a great landscape/studio camera tracking bikes at over 200km it couldn’t handle it. I purchased a 2nd hand Canon 1Dmk2 which was ideal as the 1 series cameras we designed for sports photography.

Like all photography, each genre require certain tools and a long lens was what I needed for motorsport photography. Canon 300mm F2.8 will do the job so that’s what I got. So 2008 I had a 5D and 1Dmk2 plus a few lens. I had a made a few dollars but nothing compared to the amount I had spent.

Frustrated again with gear I decided its was time to get serious so I purchased a Canon 1Dsmk3 brand new. I did however make myself a promise that this would be a 10 year camera. So I sold up 2 cameras and 2 lens to pay for it. True to my word I never brought another camera until 2019.

In 15 years I have coved model, motorsport, event, nature and my favorite landscape photography. I have suffered from G.A.S (gear acquisition syndrome) which I think we all do :).

2019 saw a major change to my photography when an old back injury got re aggravated in a work place incident. Turned out I was misdiagnosed and after a full spinal MRI it was found that not only did I have a issue with a lower disk I also had a disk in my neck that was stuffed. To fix was to have both fused, trouble was if the operations didn’t work I would be physically worse off.

All my photography gear was way to much for me to lug everywhere. My backpack weighed 10kgs loaded plus tripod. I found going out fully loaded was way to much and caused me more pain that pleasure. Time to downsize my walking load.

So here we are in 2020. The question I have to ask is why despite all the money I’ve thrown at photography I have not improved. Where have I gone astray, where am I going wrong. So July 2020 marks the start of a new chapter which I’m still trying to find answers.

I now travel with 1 camera and only 2 lens with a small backpack and tripod. Mostly 24-105 and 100-400.