Putting Things in Context

One thing that has always surprised me about photography is the number of professionals who describe themselves as “self-taught”, never having taken a course or even read a book about photography.

I’ve seen naturally-talented photographers many times, who with some minimal help understanding buttons and dials on their cameras, can create amazing works of art, all in-camera. They develop formulas for success and are able to apply them without ever formally learning either the technology or the practice of photography.

I’ve seen others not so talented who failed repeatedly before figuring things out and then going on to have successful careers. They too eventually lock down their formulas for success through simple hard work.

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Are Workshops Helpful?

This past week, I attended a photography workshop. The subject was bird photography. It was held at a location known to be a key flyway for spring migrating birds here in Canada, particularly for warblers and related species.

I am not a bird photographer – my nature interests lie in landscapes. So I thought it would be interesting to experience the event and to learn about this fascinating subject that seems to delight so many of my friends.

The workshop was held over 5 days, with each day offering an early morning and a late afternoon outing. Outings were only marginally planned, to coincide with weather, wind direction and the observed arrival of birds that day and the day before. Our workshop leader was experienced, with many decades of knowledge about birds, bird photography and this location in general. So how did it go?

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Never Say Never

I did something last week that I never thought I would do again. I started a new job. That’s right. I’m back in the workforce, earning bucks. It’s not full-time and may not even be for a long time, but it is an official job.

A few weeks ago, my local camera store held a job fair. Anyone interested could meet with management and have a chat. I happened to hear about the opportunity and thought, why not. I love talking to people about photography, I love helping people discover something new, and to be truthful, Covid has had such a bad effect on my psyche that getting out into a public space on a regular basis would be good for me.

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Verify Your Identity

October is a wonderful month in so many ways. Cooler temperatures, changing scenery, more exciting landscapes top my list. But it is also a month for new and exciting technology. Many photography companies, whether hardware or software producers, release new products and new updates to existing products. This month has been ridiculously full of pent-up demand for new stuff and the manufacturers did not disappoint.

This article won’t review all of that. Many blog and vlog posts have already done so. Instead, I want to talk about one feature nobody seems to have really highlighted. Last week, Adobe released the latest versions of Photoshop and Lightroom, to much fanfare and focus on its superb and enhanced capabilities. The new masking tools are phenomenal. You can also do more and more with automation and “neural filters”, and even drop in assets and have them automatically be absorbed and “harmonized” into the scene you are creating. But there is even more for you to know.

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Let There Be Light – The Truth About Crop Sensors and Lenses

I consider myself a photography geek. I love the technical side of photography. Learning about how lenses work, the reasons why aperture, shutter speed and ISO contrbute what they do to image quality, different sensor designs, the technical differences between full-frame vs. crop sensor, etc. etc.

And more than seven years into this full-time journey, I thought I had heard most of the explanations about why cameras work they way they do. I get it. I can explain it. Even as new technology is released, I revel in doing deep dives into that too.

Of course, I should state that none of this helps the artistic expression in my photography nor will reading this article help your artistic expression. But it does lay the groundwork for quick decisions about how to possibly achieve a specific artistic effect. For example, to get that creamy bokeh, I know I need to do x, y, z. So, to be clear, knowing how your camera works isn’t the be all and end all of being a good photographer. But it will get you part way down that road.

That said, I find it fascinating when I run across a technical fact that I didn’t know. That’s what this post is today.

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What It Means to be an Expert

I’ve had the pleasure since 2014 of immersing myself in photography full-time. Prior to then, it was a hobby, indulged in only when other things didn’t demand my time. Since then, it’s been the other way around. I can honestly say that it is the one job I have had in my life that I have truly loved. It isn’t really a job, either, for the simple reason that I don’t depend on income from it to live.

You approach things differently when you love doing them. Everything about the subject fascinates you – even the mundane can have some appeal. But for me, every time I learn something new and am able to apply it, it’s better than anything else in the world (except family, friends, health and comfort, of course).

Acquiring lots of knowledge eventually labels you an “expert” and someone said that in reference to me the other day. I immediately corrected them and said I was still learning. But yes, in that particular area, I had pretty much figured it out. I stopped to think what it means to be an “expert”. The answer is interesting.

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