Just for the sake of it

Have you ever done anything just for the sake of it?

At this time of year photography opportunities are limited. Either by weather or poor light. This tends to make me spend a bit more time at a keyboard and screen.

That leads onto me looking at the design of the TMMA website. Anybody that uses WordPress to publish a site will tell you its relatively easy to use and you have a lot of choice. The first part of that sentence is great. The second part can be a curse.

The choice comes in the form of all the different themes available to you and that you can easily swap between. Now themes can be very personal in terms of what you like and dislike. Fonts colours and styling all adding up to decisions you have to make.

As an example I prefer a dark on light easy readable font. I also don’t like huge dark areas in terms of website design. Hence the design of this website 🙂 Now I appreciate this may not be everyone’s cup of tea. Light on dark could be more trendy, as could a more complicated style. A personal pet peeve is having to click on too many options to get to where you want. Hopefully I’ve avoided that here.

Not sure where the curse is?

I end up on these dark, rainy  evenings looking at the various themes available on WordPress and trying them out. From the wife’s point of view it keeps me quiet. But invariably after experimenting with three or four templates, I end up going back to more or less what I had.

The choice can be the curse. The same could be said for the range of equipment at our fingertips too. Will that new mega body give us a tangible improvement in our photography? For the most part no. Not unless it does something you need to do that your current body can’t.

So after having my annual look around at website themes, I’m back to where I started. There might be a tiny tweak here or there but for now it largely appears the same.

So have you ever done anything just for the sake of it?

Life gets in the way

Life gets in the way….. of all sorts of things. But just recently it’s got in the way of my ability to take photos. Now don’t get me wrong, I consider myself extremely fortunate and this is in a photographic context. Ive done a lot less photography in the last couple of months than I would of liked. There are two reasons for that. 1. The weather and more importantly 2. My disabled son.

Normally he’s not too much trouble and to be fair it hasn’t been his fault. He has a happy innocent outlook on life. He has also been blessed with a gift of making people smile wherever he goes.

We’ve been trying to arrange a supported living placement for him. Unfortunately it fell through at the last minute and we had to revise our plans. As did those who were trying to help us. As any carer or parent of someone with a disability will tell you, at times it can be incredibly frustrating. Not to be too negative, it is also very rewarding and you get to meet some amazing people along the way.

Due to all the commotion I didn’t really feel in the right frame of mind to go out and take photos. The December weather didn’t help much either.

Anyway… things now look like there back on track, thankfully. Hopefully my son can start the next exciting chapter in his life. Meeting new people and having new experiences.

Yes life gets in the way sometimes. But if it didn’t would we feel the same when we have the ability to go out on adventures, hikes or drives and take some photos? Would we still appreciate the scenes before us, even if it is raining? Perhaps not.

Photography for me is not just a hobby. It’s a chance to see different places, maybe meet some new people. Forget about the world for a while when your in the zone. It’s a therapy.

Whatever you are doing and wherever you are may you have a happy Christmas and good light for 2019.

 

You never know what you’ll come across

You never know what you’ll come across as a visit to the local coastal town proves.

It was a gloomy overcast December day and I thought I’d take my son out for a drive and maybe find something interesting to photograph.

After having lunch out we had a walk down the seaside promenade. Apart from a large contingent of gulls there was a small fishing boat out in the estuary.

Then my son got excited:

Boat emerging from port

He saw this ship coming out of port. We watched as it cleared the harbour walls and then headed down the estuary. I’m not sure what it was about this particular ship but he stood there and watched until we lost sight of it. Although it wasn’t huge it did dwarf the little fishing boat that was busy a few hundred metres away.

Now when I see a ship or a plane I wonder where it’s come from and where its going. I’m a bit weird like that, as my wife will testify. Well, she will probably just say I’m weird full stop. 😀.

But my son just enjoyed the moment of watching. 

Sometimes as photographers I think that’s something we forget: to stop and look at the moment. Take a photograph by all means but also enjoy that sunset, landscape, night sky, whatever it maybe.

Because you never know what you’ll come across….

 

Whats the difference between a boat and a ship? Apparently a ship can carry a boat, but a boat can’t carry a ship. 

Why are submarines called boats? That’s a conversation that needs alcohol and snacks 😀

It’s a balancing act

It’s a balancing act these days. My new found interest in Astrophotography has resulted in a new found interest in the weather.

Keeping an eye out for clear nights is now something I do more often. The balancing bit comes in with fitting the odd clear night around family commitments.

According to the weather forecast we are looking at cloud and or rain for the next week or so. Oh well.

Talking of balancing acts, we photographers quite often have to manage compromise. How much we spend on a piece of gear versus  have much we will use it is a common one. For hobbyists it’s harder than professionals. Why? Because a pro will look at it as a tool. Does it add value to what I do? How quick will the payback be? For the rest of us it’s more a case of want than need.

How much have you got?

Another compromise amateurs make is what gear to actually take with them on a shoot. Too much gear can lead to analysis paralysis. You have some FOMO (fear of missing out) by leaving something behind. So you end up lugging a suitcase of stuff around – just in case. Chances are you will only use one or two lenses on that hike or day out. The rest is extra weight.

OK. What do you do?

Im fortunate in that I don’t have a huge amount of gear. I balance my photography needs with the needs of the family. (Plus the wife keeps an eye on the spending😀).

I’ve got less than half a dozen lenses for my Nikon DX body. I can usually leave a couple of lenses at home without too much anxiety. If I’m really unsure I might leave them hidden away in the car.

My CX kit is a different kettle of fish. I can cover (the FF equivalent of ) 28 – 300mm in three pocketable lenses with not much weight. Whenever I’m out I always carry a spare battery for whatever body I have. In reality I very rarely use it though. Theres that FOMO again.

More often than not my balancing act is do I take the DX or CX kit. If I’m going out for potential wildlife shots I.e. birds, dragonfly’s etc, I’ll take the DX kit with a CX body and FT-1 adapter. More urban adventures and I’ll take the CX gear.  Hiking it could be either. Or a combination. In some ways I’m glad I don’t have more.

In choosing the right gear your balancing what you think you’ll shoot against what you’ll actually shoot. A planned day out for photography can make that choice easier, but  how many times have you grabbed a camera bag to go out ‘somewhere’ because the sun is shining? Or your just going out anyway. I have to admit I do that all the time.

Sometimes I get some reasonable shots, others the gear just stays in the bag and I enjoy a day in the sunshine.

Whatever your up to may you achieve a suitable balance.

It’s bananas I tell ya!

It’s bananas…. Here in the UK, Tesco managed to get them themselves some free publicity on the BBC news website over bananas.

Apparently their inner city stores (due to increased rents) are now charging by the banana rather than weight. Effectively this means the price of said bananas has increased from between 10 and 15p to 25p each according to the article.

bananas
Are we more worried about bananas?

Now let’s put that in some photographic context:

A Nikon D850 body only was less than £3000 in May of this year. It is currently between £3249 and £3499. There is a similar price range for the Canon 5Dmkiv. A Nikon D7200 is now £150 more than in May. (Source camerapricebuster.co.uk, today’s date).

I’ve written before that camera prices have been nudging up slowly without anyone really noticing.

The new mirrorless offerings from Canon and Nikon are starting around the £2k bracket. With what appears to be at first sight an accompanying bump upwards in lens prices.

I’m not sure I could bring myself to spend the larger sums of money now being asked for the current mirrorless cameras AND the lenses. No matter how good they are, you are going to need deep pockets.

Hopefully prices of used gear will remain sensible.

It’s interesting how the price of bananas gets people riled up, but the £2k+ prices of new cameras just seems to be accepted.

The mirrorless offerings still seem evolutionary rather than revolutionary. They only took the mirror box out and that took Nikon 19 years.

I’m still thinking this won’t be enough to encourage ‘new’ people to jump onto the band wagon and give a much needed increase to sales.

From what I’ve seen so far, camera manufacturers are still largely ignoring the kind of workflow improvements needed to attract the smartphone buyers.

Eventually the big camera companies may cotton on and stop the ‘ we need to release a new product that’s good but won’t cannibalise our current models’ syndrome.

Until then will photographers quietly put up with increasing prices for not a lot more?

Cos if we do ….it’s bananas I tell ya 😀

 

 

 

 

New pictures added to Eyes Down Gallery

There’s some new pictures added to the Eyes Down gallery here.

Here is an example:

 

My son Andrew takes all the images in the Eyes Down gallery.  He has Down Syndrome and some communication difficulties but enjoys going out and taking pictures with his father. He is also has a gift to make people smile.

It’s fascinating to see what Andrew finds interesting. He liked the ducks on the water above, sometimes he takes pictures of paths other times its signs.

Eyes Down gallery now open

Taking the shot

I’ve added a new gallery to the website and called it Eyes Down.

This gallery contains photos taken by son. Andrew is 21 years old has Down Syndrome and likes taking photos.

The images he creates mean something to him.

It’s both interesting and illuminating to have this small insight into his world.

You can find the Eyes Down gallery here.

Do we need creative constraints?

With everything else we have to contend with, do we really need creative constraints as well?

Leading on from my losing your creative mojo post, I thought it would be good to have a look at whether we should impose creative constraints on ourselves.

Why do we want to make things harder, isn’t life hard enough already? Well, yes you could say that. But what if we changed the wording slightly. How about a creative challenge? There, that sounds better doesn’t?

Ok – that does sound better

Great! Now let’s think about how we could creatively challenge ourselves in photography. The obvious one is through which gear we use. Or don’t use:

Try shooting with one lens. Pick a lens from your collection and try shooting with only that for say a month. Could be a wide angle, macro, standard, telephoto or perhaps something more exotic. The wide angle and standard lenses are probably the easiest to shoot with. The macro depends on the length. That could be anywhere between 40 and 200mm. The telephoto could prove interesting. Ever tried telephoto landscapes? Instead of trying to fit everything in, a telephoto can be useful for isolating landscape features such as a small group of trees, windmill, castle or other buildings. It also changes your perspective.

While we are on gear how about shooting with a body you don’t normally use. This could be a larger or smaller format than your use too. Or maybe film?

Once you decide on the gear, think about the subject. Ever shot just one genre for a week or a month? Something out of the comfort zone? If you do landscapes have you tried shooting street instead? Or the other way around? I don’t do portraits, so that’s something I could consider.

How about combining a gear and genre challenge together?

Or shoot subjects based on colour. I’d probably go for blue. My favourite youngest would go for red. The wife likes purple. Golds in autumn or even the rest of the year.

As an extension of your photography and to showcase your work you could challenge yourself to setting up your own website. If you haven’t done a website before there are plenty of resources available. There are also ways of doing it for next to nothing. Think of it as your very own digital gallery, open to anyone with internet access. Admit it, you always wanted your own gallery didn’t you 🙂

Well that’s food for thought

Think of the process of photography as you would a subject. More along the lines of not what can be added but what can be taken away.

A challenge could lead to the beginning of a project. This could be short or long term. I have an ongoing project with my 12 Pics series. How long will that last? Honestly I don’t know. I might keep it going or move on to something else.

But that is where you decide what you want to do. Don’t feel like an additional challenge or having creative constraints? No problem.

We may not need a challenge currently in our photographic lives. Sometimes though, as in our daily lives we could end up going in a direction we never thought of before.

Highlands, Scotland
Sometimes a new direction can be a good thing.

If our photography  becomes a chore maybe we are doing something wrong, in which case taking a new path could be an adventure…

 

Photobombed

A few days ago I got photobombed.

It was a nice warm sunny day ( yes we do get those in Wales), so I decided to see if the dragonflies were taking advantage of the weather.

I have a couple of places I go locally so I picked one to see if anything was around. I enjoyed a good few hours out in the sun doing my ‘photography thing’. Now if you read this blog regularly, you will know for me, it’s more about taking photos than the gear. Getting a keeper at the end of the day is the icing on the cake.

However this particular day I got photobombed…

by a damselfly…

Minimalism and photography

Minimalism and photography. Do they go together? When people think of minimalism they tend to think of having to sort out their stuff and get rid of it. If you follow The Minimalists you will get a much better idea of the concept.

Everybody has their own interpretation of something they read and what they take away from it. At the moment part of my take on minimalism is:

Remove things that don’t add value to your life.

Adopt a conscious consumerism approach, buy what you need not what you want.

Think about using what you have before making a purchase.

Think about how much freedom you will have worrying about less stuff.

Whilst I am slowly reducing the amount of clutter I have, I’m not blindly throwing things out. There is a fine line though. The ‘keep it just in case’ pile is getting smaller in the house. Unfortunately the same pile in the garage is a more difficult task for me to tackle. I don’t know why DIY orientated stuff is harder to make a decision about. I’ve only just got rid of a steamer that hasn’t been used in about eight years. When I stop and think about it now, I can’t reason why I’ve kept it so long. The same goes for an old metal tool box with a collection of oversized spanners in it. A throw back to the days of DIY maintenance on the car.  Which I also haven’t done for years. Even the wife thinks of it as a family ’heirloom’.

By now this may start to be familiar in photographic terms. How many flashguns, lenses, bags, filters, brackets [insert anything else you can think of] do you have lying around? How many of these items are kept ‘just in case’?

I know I’m guilty of a couple. Flashguns and lenses. OK you can maybe understand flashguns but lenses?

Yep. Lenses. You know how you read forums and talk to other photographers and they say you should have this and that lens. You hear (or read it) enough times and you start to believe. I got brainwashed into believing I needed a fast aperture ‘standard’ lens. So I got a 35mm F1.8 lens (for my APS-C system).

I thought it would come in handy because my kit lens was a slow zoom (F3.5-5.6). In practice I hardly used the 35mm. Lightroom is really handy for providing metadata about lenses at a glance. I decided it was time to let it go (feel free to sing that song from Frozen. Let it go, let it go… Yeah that one 😊). I did something similar with a 10-20mm zoom.

Nikon 1 V1, 30-110mm lens and Raynox adapter, total length 150mm
Nikon 1 V1, 30-110mm lens and Raynox adapter, total length 150mm

Over the years I have also had a bit more than a passing interest in macro. I’ve had three different macro lenses in the last 10 years. That’s an average of one every three years. I thought I would use them far more than I actually did. I also have a Raynox close up adapter. You can slip it in your pocket and hardly notice it. Granted the macro lenses get you closer but for what I was actually doing? The Raynox is OK. I’ve probably used it more than the macro lenses and got more value out of it.

My third lens was a zoom whose range overlapped another zoom I had. You remember you read somewhere about not doing that. Me too. Never get a lens that overlaps what you already have. I’m talking more than a few mm each end here.

So I’ve put my hands up. I had three lenses I wasn’t really getting value out of. I sold them on.

It’s funny how sometimes you can see the value in items straight away. Sometimes you don’t. I wanted to de clutter my photo gear and for me it has worked. Those lenses were hanging around longer than they should of.

Now if only I could sort out my garage….

 

If your curious about minimalism pop over and pay Joshua and Ryan a visit at theminimalists.com. You never know it may change your life 😉

Strong, stable

Strong, stable – that was the election message from the Conservatives in the recent election campaign. The PM took a gamble. While still in power it didn’t yield the expected result.

For a lot of people this weeks UK general election result wasn’t what they were hoping for either.

OK enough about politics, what has this got to do with photography?

Well…. ever thought that expensive new body or lens would improve your photography?

We’ve all been there. If only I had ‘x’ body or ‘y’ lens. My images would be so much better. I’m not talking about working professionals here. They generally know what they need and have a means to pay for it, by having chargeable customers. For professionals that new body or lens is a tool to do a job. No more. No less. It is like a plumber having a certain spanner or electrician a certain test meter.

I’m talking about the amateur / enthusiast with a high dose of FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out) and possibly GAS (Gear Acquisition Syndrome) as well.

So when you buy this inspiring (probably expensive) bit of kit did you get the expected result?

Sometimes were better off with what we already have.

That goes for gear, pre-election majorities and life.

Trouble is we just don’t realise it at the time…..

Normal service will resume shortly

I’ve been neglecting blog posts lately. This is due to life getting in the way (again:) ). I’ve recently landscaped our back garden after agreement with SWMBO* as to what we should do. It took us a while to decide due to the gradient and length of the garden. We have a steep slope in a relatively short space.

I am also on carer duty for the next couple of weeks, as my favourite youngest son is home from college. Weather permitting (he’s not too keen on rain) we will endeavour to get out and  take some photos.

If your on holiday in the UK at the moment enjoy your break.

 

* SWMBO – in case your haven’t come across this – She Who Must Be Obeyed 🙂