Nature and writing go hand in hand for me, to wax poetically in my artform by branching out into another medium. Another form of expression.
On and off I will sit in or by my car after a great hike and satisfying photo trip to pull out the journal over a hot backpacking meal. To reflect on my day out with the camera helps notice the little details I may overlook if it wasn’t written down.
To witness the changing seasons unfold over time and all of the wonderful moments in quiet stillness out in nature.
Transcribed and for your enjoyment, here are a few excerpts from my journal. The words are basically untouched from how they were written in that moment whilst out in the field.
Hopefully I pictured the scene well enough for you to imagine how the day went! Enjoy the reads..
9/28/2020: “Fields of goldenrod inundate the meadow grasslands. A gentle gail in the woodland air shakes the leaves around like waving. The overall tone is that of a quiet and peaceful disposition. The tornado damage to mature trees is evident by the lack of pileated woodpeckers. Bluebirds stay perched atop nest boxes while finch counterparts are in the trees. Foliage is beginning to change color too. Pokeweed, a midsummer plant, is still quite abundant. The landscape has been altered dramatically as a lowly canopy plants reign supreme where hardy oaks and poplars once stood.”
9/30/2020: “A calm breeze shakes the leaves along the creekside. Dotting the far distant landscape is a riparian woodland hill. The foliage is rapidly changing as red shouldered hawks are perched high above. They signal their presence with many wailing calls. The creek water flows strong from the previous day’s rainstorm.”
10/2/2020: “A nice and quiet morning overall. Hawks and warblers took precedence as I birded the whole park. Many various songbirds were flitting about but before all that I was photographing long exposures of Holes Creek under early morning overcast. The limestone (shale?) and glacial erratics provided a nice layered texture as an abstraction and a wider angle backdrop. Hiking this place a second visit proved to be endlessly valuable! I am not quite sure why I waited this long to come back! The immense scale of the close to 150 acres, variety of habitat and breathtaking foliage and beautiful wildlife was something to behold. Asters, canada goldenrod and white snakeroot were all abundant still, and a lot of foliage already transformed to a vibrant red and with many leaves fallen. A beautiful day.”
10/7/2020: “A cheery and sunny blue sky day. Not a single cloud in sight and a hefty breeze to boot. The first half of the hike was quite a feat and I am already quite spent. Halfway to go and I should be done before dark. It has heated up quite a bit for early October! By high noon the birds have seemed to mostly settle in besides a few very vocal jays and a kettle of buzzards soaring overhead. I hope I can make it.”
Have you enjoyed these writing pieces? Let me know if you do any nature writing and perhaps even share them down below in the comments!
Call this a bit of a News Year’s Resolution, but I want to try something a bit more adventurous for 2021.
I want to use social media less to share my images.
But first let’s flashback to New Years Eve of 2018, where I created various social media accounts including Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, YouTube and this blog to promote and produce my work for all to see.
As of this writing, the only one so far to get axed has been Pinterest, due to lack of use.
While I’m not too sure about deleting/deactivating more of them (although Twitter as of late seems to be on the cutting block for me). I am beginning to question the legitimacy of the amount of effort and work I put into each of them.
Two years in and I guess the bigger-picture question to ask is “why do I put so much time into each of these platforms and why?”
Some have a more obvious reason such as this blog and YouTube: they are creatively rewarding in the form of writing and videomaking respectively.
Other social media platforms like Instagram seem to be more about…prestige? Influence? Trends? I am still not too sure, and these mediums seem to be always changing.
A new year can be a great time to do a head-check on where to allocate time and resources to a small and fledging photography business or where to share your images as a hobbyist.
As a positive, social media is of course a great way to promote your portfolio and work for little to no monetary costs. Yet the time you can sink into these platforms can raise concerns when you may instead grow your own service such as your website.
Allow us to consult the wonderful advice featured on Dave Morrow’s YouTube channel. His philosophies and ideals surrounding this subject I more often than not agree with..
Another issue is that of inspiration; I typically turn towards the internet and photo forums to see what other nature photographers around the world may be creating.
This is a double-edged sword as you may just end up copying your peers’ photographic style, whether consciously aware or not.
That should wrap the topic up for this blog post, but now it is time to think for yourself..
So what do you think…“Will Less Social Media Improve Your Photography?”
My careful wording of ‘less’ was intentional so that I can say that an online following is essential to grow an audience. In my opinion, choose 1 or 2 platforms you can live with using on a daily or weekly basis and keep it up with scheduling posts on them!
Just don’t put all of your eggs in those 1 or 2 baskets. Start your own website, or even a blog like I have here on WordPress. Write about, share and spread ideas and photographs that you care about and the ‘following will follow.’
What are your thoughts on social media? Does it improve your photography or hold back your creative process? Drop me a line or talk it out in the comments below. Thanks for reading!
Ever since I began birding seriously at the beginning of 2018, my wildlife photography of the same has improved in many ways too.
2020 was no exception, as I had taken further steps to produce better photographs and see more unique species.
I began “chasing” birds when they occurred in my area of Ohio, studying more birdsong and calls and perusing various field guides. Any and all resource, be it written or word-of-mouth of my fellow photographer friends was a boon to my birding success.
Another big thing I started in 2020 was keeping score with a “Year List” or participating in a “Big Year.” The goal is to simply record however many species you end up seeing in 12 months.
I kept a text file on my phones’ notes app and the information below is what I recorded as I saw or heard the species.
For anyone curious, all of these findings were in southwest Ohio and so were mainly North American avian species (perhaps with the exception of some of the more obvious invasive or non-native ones, and the East Asian-bred Mandarin Duck that was a late-year surprise near Cincinnati.)
Without further ado, here it is.. (an asterisk denotes not only a year bird but a life bird as well.)
My 2020 Year List! (About 124 species total)
January (45): European Starling *Hermit Thrush Barred Owl *Short Eared Owl *Northern Harrier American Robin Northern Cardinal Tufted Titmouse Rock Pigeon American Crow Mourning Dove Blue Jay Belted Kingfisher Killdeer Bald Eagle *Greater White Fronted Goose Northern Flicker Brown Headed Cowbird Ring Billed Gull Red Bellied Woodpecker *Hairy Woodpecker Pileated Woodpecker Downy Woodpecker Carolina Chickadee Dark Eyed Junco American Goldfinch House Finch Brown Creeper Carolina Wren White Breasted Nuthatch *Ring Necked Duck *Bufflehead White Throated Sparrow Song Sparrow Coopers Hawk Red Tailed Hawk Red Shouldered Hawk Eastern Bluebird Hooded Merganser Canada Goose Mallard Great Blue Heron Black Vulture House Sparrow
February (3): Red Winged Blackbird Redhead *White Crowned Sparrow
March (4): Turkey Vulture *American Tree Sparrow Mute Swan *Northern Shoveler
April (23): Eastern Towhee Eastern Phoebe Blue Winged Teal *Wilson’s Snipe *Pectoral Sandpiper Yellow Rumped Warbler Double Crested Cormorant Ruby Crowned Kinglet *Eastern Meadowlark Tree Swallow *Northern Rough Winged Swallow Field Sparrow Chipping Sparrow *Brown Thrasher *Wild Turkey *Rusty Blackbird Blue Grey Gnatcatcher Gray Catbird Yellow Throated Warbler *Louisiana Waterthrush *Northern Parula Scarlet Tanager *Black Throated Green Warbler
May (33): *Philadelphia Vireo Baltimore Oriole Palm Warbler Common Yellowthroat *Orchard Oriole Rose Breasted Grosbeak Indigo Bunting Ruby Throated Hummingbird Summer Tanager Red Headed Woodpecker Yellow Warbler Eastern Wood Pewee *Sora Great Egret *American White Pelican Prothonotary Warbler Eastern Kingbird Spotted Sandpiper Cliff Swallow Common Nighthawk American Redstart Blue Winged Warbler *Magnolia Warbler Yellow Throated Warbler Green Heron Great Crested Flycatcher *Yellow Throated Vireo *Henslow’s Sparrow *Warbling Vireo Willow Flycatcher *Bobolink Barn Swallow Purple Martin
July (3): *Hooded Warbler *Sedge Wren Solitary Sandpiper
September (2): *Greater Yellowlegs Chimney Swift
December (2): *Snow Goose *Mandarin Duck
As you can see, a couple months were dulled a bit in terms on new bird activity, whether it was a lack of migratory patterns or even personal life getting in the way.
Regardless, A number of life birds were very cooperative in front of the camera, and so in no particular order, here is twelve photos taken from this year. Some of more common year-round residents as well as birds I was seeing for the very first time.
Some of the photos are my favorite 2020 bird shots taken and fortunately the majority of them are lifers as well!
The species as they appear in the slideshow: (an asterisk denotes it being both a year bird and life bird.)
Brown headed cowbird, White throated sparrow, *American tree sparrow, *Sedge Wren, *Henslow’s sparrow, *Sora, Canada geese, *Northern bobwhite, Barn swallow, House finch, Tufted titmouse, *Mandarin duck
To all birders and bird photographers, did you have a productive and exciting 2020? Tell me how your outdoor adventures went in the comments below. I look forward to hearing from you!
While it certainly was one of the better years, if not the best, literally next to nothing went as originally planned..
..And that was totally OK!
Some of the better things to happen included winning a local artist mini grant. I was one of several to be given a stipend during the middle of the pandemic to support local artists and small businesses.
Speaking of which, I took it upon myself to set up several Instagram pages for both Village Artisans and The ARTery. As if that wasn’t enough, I then began moderating and posting to a bigger artist collective and ecommerce website called Essential Artists Dayton.
Yet at the end of the day the photography itself is what I am truly after, as the rest of this would not matter if I didn’t mention the photos themselves.
2020 was a year in experiments, and I was certainly not in lack! So many different genres and other ideas tested my creativity of what I thought was photographable.
And so I thought the best way to talk about this year is to share 2020 photographs I have taken in the past 12 months.
Just kidding, although I do have a couple of personal favorites you can view in this video below.
“As I sit and type this, the only thing to think is that “2020 was a very interesting year by and large.”
In terms of my photography, the closure of galleries and absence of festivals meant I had to get creative with promoting and sharing the work. However, the best part is this meant I had a lot more available for time for the art form itself..
Many miles hiked through torrential downpours, sweltering heat days, and days spent overnight camping or viewing the night sky. This year taught me the importance of limitations and to not be bound by them. Why put myself in a box creatively speaking? I pushed the envelope for what to include in my portfolio, including older styled architecture like covered bridges and stone bridges, or even artificial light or an “unnatural” bird perch.
As random as this year was, I felt it was best to roll with the punches and produce work that didn’t initially feel like a photograph that Ryan Taylor may take, let alone share.
As always, I am ever more thankful for all the wonderful photographers and people I have met and continue to see. I am very much thankful for the Universe and all the opportunities it has presented me towards my success. My gratitude is unwavering. 🙏
This is perhaps a much more personal blog entry for me to include and it has sat as a blank page, a draft with only the mere title attached to it for at least four months now.
The idea of meddling in a seemingly-forbidden topic when all I am here to do is share photography stories and advice. Something about it seems like career suicide yet it feels quite right to touch upon this subject.
It is something only my closest friends would know about, and something I definitely have not discussed in a public forum such as on this blog or elsewhere.
Society has normalized the idea of consuming high speed, online pornography to the fact where many people who defy this notion are seen as “weird or unnatural.”
Both pornography and photography happen to be visual mediums, and for the longest time I have accepted the tradeoff of risqué novelty over beautiful nature.
Yet this is a dangerous way to live when you have an addictive personality. Soon it begins to consume you whole over the years, yes years, since early adolescence. Many young millennial men and women in their 20’s and 30’s can relate, as we were exposed to this new form of entertainment and recreation.
On and off, it has robbed me of my creativity, energy and motivation countless times. Walking through daily life being constantly preoccupied by these intrusive thoughts. Seeing people around me as objects and body parts, I have hurt those who I brought in close to me for my own selfish gain.
To some extent, the problem isn’t what I consume, it is what I am substituting it for.
The lack of love and purpose in many relationships and my career were apparent over time. I found a quick fix for this, a seemingly easy and effective cure. This cure may have only lasted a really short time before turning me over, and then it took me a long time to realize this is not a healthy alternative.You simply cannot replace one for the other.
I started to realize that viewing pornography for me is akin to a slow death, where my memory, speech and social skills deteriorate till I am this numb and emotionally flat human. For example, stumbling over saying the simplest of sentences with friends and strangers alike, something that anyone can end up doing, is an insurmountable task of anxiety and fear.
My focus is fixated basically at all times whether alone or not on how to get that quick relief I seek. Soon it becomes a chase, where you’re chasing a bigger “high” until you crave more and more extreme forms.
Eventually this bubble bursts metaphorically speaking and nothing quite pleasures as much as the start. The compulsions start to lead your everyday choices; nothing else quite matters as much as “the next time you get off.”
So, what does any of this have to do with photography?
When I am free of it, my focus and time management skills improve tenfold. Anxiety and worry about speaking in front of the camera or simply saying hello to a passerby whilst hiking seems to melt away. Learning about the different flora and fauna I see out when hiking and photographing becomes a better use of my time.
I’m not fixed nor am I broken, still I fall however each time I get back up with a newfound clarity as to how to tackle this issue. I owe photography and art for being the catalyst to my personal freedom and creative expression.
Every day brings me closer to being on the right track. Due to a lot of proper changes and personal habits changed over time, I am finding my way. The camera has always been there by my side to see this through, and this is a much healthier pursuit for me.
In a weird way, photography has been like therapy over the years to help pick me up like it always has during times of stress. A healthier “distraction” and to engage in something more productive whenever alone.
I am finding my way towards a greater life purpose and way to express myself in a healthier and constructive manner, and I am doing that from pornography to photography.
And plus, a nasty habit cannot stop me from creating beautiful imagery to share with the world.
For more information, please feel free to check out these online resources and communities.
Holding on while letting go, this was outdoor photography truly in isolation.
It’s name needs no introduction, we were all somewhere that ill-fated early Spring of 2020.
The volume of my work took on a slightly edgier form of expression at this time, complete with dis-ease and the unsettling fact that everything I thought I knew about the future was not what it seemed.
Like most people, I did not prepare for a global pandemic to occur. I thought the year was solidly planned out and my only task was to execute on those terms. Easy enough I thought..
Instead of attending many social gatherings to network with other artists and having a booth at festivals, I was left with the singular act of what I am here for: photographing.
There was this troubling thought that what I was working on had lost some meaning. Will my photos matter or will any of us survive?
With the spare time I had due to the cancellation of most festivals and the closing initially of galleries, I also wrapped up my ‘On Location’ video series during the stay-at-home order despite most people choosing to hike while shops and their workplaces were closed.
The dozen or so episodes were recorded during this time as I made headway on nearing the end of that longterm project.
The world was changing very fast and so my view of the world both before my eyes and the lens followed suit. Nature provided that necessary and temporary respite from current events and the news.
During this time, I truly learned how attuned my eye was to seeing like a lens would. No matter where I went, my vision was that of a photographer’s. As one can imagine this is equally as thrilling as it was maddening.
How did/has the pandemic affect(ed) your life and/or photography? Leave a comment down below and stay tuned for the next post.
The ‘All Outdoors Photography Podcast” is a show where we discuss stories from out in the field, techniques and gearwith two other midwest outdoor photographersand yours truly.
A very difficult yet doable thru-hike for me, I was very eager to begin.
The Twin Valley Trail (TVT) is a scenic backpacking trail that crosses Germantown, Ohio in between Germantown Metropark and Twin Creek Metropark. These two metroparks in particular have become some of my favorite locations both for nature photography and especially hiking/backpacking.
I had reached over 10 miles pretty quickly but I was sweaty and very very sore. I had my doubts of whether to turn back uphill back to High View or make my way through the start of the connector trail.
Quitting would be too easy, and so I mustered all my strength and pressed on. I may have felt quite exhausted already from the first half at Twin Creek Metropark, yet I could still walk with relative ease. This was not to stop me!
Upon entering Germantown Metropark, I had reached the halfway point of my hike. About 14 miles in and I was starving, looking forward to having two pouches of warm oatmeal and some boiled water to drink. It wasn’t the most extravagant meal to have outdoors but it was very much satiating in calories.
I sat around for a bit as I borrowed this campsite table to reflect a bit about the trek so far. Writing in the journal a half of page of some thoughts..
“A cheery and sunny blue sky day. Not a single cloud in sight and a hefty breeze to boot. The first half of the hike was quite a feat to accomplish and I am already quite spent. Halfway to go and I should be done well before dark. It has heated up quite a bit for early October! By high noon the birds have seemed to mostly settle in besides a few very vocal jays high in the treetops and a kettle of buzzards soaring overhead. I hope I can make it.”
After the midday lunch I set out once again, crossing the spillway and bridge. Reaching the woodland edge meant that I saw more people being near a trailhead and that the hilly terrain would come back. Foliage was very vibrant and beautifully yellow in this section of the orange loop trail.
As I went northward uphill, I made it to the northernmost point of the TVT and where meadow dominates the landscape. The bright sun was beating down on me yet I was eager to check out the new trail expansion for the first time. This new section of the orange and purple loop trails adds a little under two more miles to my route for today.
By this point I was moving across the more remote areas going downhill at the metropark, crossing the dam effectively signaled my very close end to the hike.
Miraculously enough, my end time was right on the minute as to when I planned on being back to my car. From 8am to 5:30pm with eight and a half hours of hiking time. It’s the little serendipitous moments in life like that make it for me.
Also an interesting tidbit is that my three liters of water last till the very last mile which is something worth noting.
The total mileage was 27.38 and I happened to shave off about 20 minutes from my previous time as well for only going a little bit more distance.
So what did this hike teach me?
Let’s refer back to the title of this blog entry and answer why this day mattered.
I am much more capable than I think. No hike is too long, too tough.
Stretch before you hike! Your legs will get pretty sore soon after.
Don’t become so fixated on the end goal that you forget to enjoy the moment. What is a good hike but the miles traveled, hills climbed, and sweat poured to get to the end if you only remember making it to that end?
“Unplugging” from your devices for a while can be very beneficial for the soul. Smell the air, view the scenery, just be.
Things that start out feeling great, don’t always end so great. I am talking about
There’s a finish line and sometimes no one will be there to support you. Hiking and backpacking alone typically includes moments of solitude. You have to be your own cheerleader.
So there you have it! I hope you enjoyed reading about my adventurous day and that it inspires you to thru-hike your local parks and trails. Let me know where you have backpacked with a comment down below. Thanks for reading!
The ‘All Outdoors Photography Podcast” is a show where we discuss stories from out in the field, techniques and gearwith two outdoor photographers and various guests.
“The best camera is the one you have with you.” – Jay Maisel
More and more, I have opened up my mind and philosophy towards any and all cameras being the ‘right’ camera for me.
There was a time several years ago where I scoffed at the mere thought of using a phone to take photos, whether for a professional job or simply my own amusement.
In my mind, a phone handset cheapened the overall photography experience. It removed the pure aspect of setting the camera on a tripod, adjusting dials and knobs, making sure everything is to your liking and then taking the image.
Boy, was I wrong…
Here we are in the year 2020 with phones being ubiquitous with photography, the simplicity of less control over settings and more emphasis on composition.
My handset of choice is a Samsung Galaxy S10, which has improved my phone photography experience tenfold. Your phone may be different although most modern smartphones have the same or similar capabilities.
While this isn’t a Samsung ad, I will say the device has a stunning set of lens-based optics. In total there are four lenses on the phone, three rear and one front.
Why so many lenses you may ask? Well each one fulfills a different focal length. Some are for standard viewing while others harbor a wide angle perspective.
Touch focusing is a breeze, using the big screen to act as a live-view mode like on a DSLR.
One of the lenses is a panorama lens. Instead of stitching panoramas on a computer and hoping all the different files are leveled and aligned, now I can simply rotate myself around a landscape to make a quick panorama with the device. To be frank, these phone panoramas are some of the best photos I’ve taken and are one of my favorite features to employ when out in the field.
Auto HDR will expose for sky and ground details in a single image, creating a bold and moody overcast day instead of blank overexposed lighting overhead.
Better yet, there is even a “Pro Mode” that simulates the actual exposure settings on a DSLR! Features such as shutter speed, aperture and ISO plus many more are available at your disposal. Phones didn’t nearly have this much in the way of features even a couple years ago.
All of the images you have seen thus far have been taking with that S10 phone. If you like to see a curated feed of my portfolio, check out my Instagram below.
Rest assured, these were taken with an actual DSLR (either a Canon EOS 80D or Rebel T3)
And so to answer my initial question that which is the title of this blog entry.
In short, phones make photography a lot easier without removing the need for skill and technique. You still have to have knowledge in order to make a great photo under great light.
Phones make photography better, and to think that 2015 me would probably laugh at that statement is very telling of my growth. Further improving, never regressing.
Yes, phone cameras are the future, and the future is now.
Are you a hobbyist or professional photographer? Do you use a traditional DSLR or a phone for your picture taking? Let me know what you think in the comments down below. I look forward to hearing from you.
The ‘All Outdoors Photography Podcast” is a show where we discuss stories from out in the field, techniques and gearwith two other midwest outdoor photographersand yours truly.
Confessions, guilty pleasures and the like. All photographers spanning all genres have them.
These are habits that we have possessed over time from using our cameras, whether unconsciously or not. They are quirks we’ve developed from some form or process of our photographic journeys. These confessions may be considered good or bad depending on the individual.
So without further ado, I am going to admit to a handful of my own which will hopefully spark an internal monologue within for you. In no particular order, let’s get started..
I love boring, flat light.
This can be quite a debate among photographers, as our artistic medium quite literally relies on light and the quality of it.
I cannot count on a single hand how many photo outings I’ve been on where the lighting was too direct, too harsh and very uninspiring. A lot of my more recent trips record my reactions on video camera.
I speak pretty often about my disdain for “bright, sunny midday light.” Many other photographers will echo the same statements and it makes sense as to why.
Look to the images above. Both daffodil shots are the same in every way except the quality of strength of light. Some viewers may say the sunlight “enlivens” the flower photo, while others will appreciate the more diffused appearance of the other image. You decide.
One of the best aspects of taking your own photographs is that ultimately you are in control of the outcome. I simply choose to spend most of my photography time when outdoors on a cloudy or overcast day. From there, the images I take satisfy me more than the more unpredictable blown-out highlights of high noon daylight.
My post processing workflow is very redundant and same-y.
This confession is more out of laziness and repetition than anything else. I have obtained a “cookie-cutter style” editing process over the years. I tend to use the same five or six global sliders without much else in the way of editing or enhancing anything else, regardless of the subject matter.
Some may say that this is simply a maturation of my editing style but when does that become a crutch? If every image you edit feels like a homogenized copycat of everything before, then maybe a shakeup is in order.
If you’re feeling frustrated then maybe try out a free trial to another post processing software? A completely new editing workflow means you have to relearn what you’ve known, therefore leading to new results. If you enjoy your free trial enough then consider purchasing said software.
I keep my polarizer filters on my lenses at all times.
I treat these in the same way a regular photographer would keep a UV filter on their lens(es). Circular polarizer (CPL) filters are integral to my workflow when out in the field as they help enhance my imagery.
Several CPL filter uses are the reduction of sun glare in a creek or any reflections, the saturation of colors in a deep blue sky or simply to use a slightly longer exposure.
This habit may have started out as pure laziness and yet I have come to appreciate the aesthetic on my photographs. The only exception happens to be wildlife imagery with a telephoto zoom lens where the widest aperture is typically desired.
Shooting handheld can be lazy and feel “rushed.”
This may be one hot take for some, as I use a tripod for the majority of my work.
Using any kind of tripod or stabilization helps center and ground you in your environment.
A tripod allows my creativity to flourish as I shoot an image under pressure. The changing light diminishes quickly and yet the focus stays persistent. It’s almost as if that piece of gear garners improvement in my compositions.
Shooting handheld for me becomes too fast to make a difference, my prospective photos become mere snapshots and some feeling or integrity is lost in translation.
I stress the emphasis that my opinion on these matters changes back and forth, day by day. More often than not I reach for a tripod to ease my naturally shaky hands, sometimes using a monopod for wildlife photography. If you find yourself rushing to take as many images as possible. Slow. Down. See if a tripod helps in making you a more mindful photographer.
My compositions can often become stagnant.
I see the natural world sometimes with a consistent viewpoint. Once again this argument could be reinforced in that I have found my photographic style. But as the creator of your work you have to decide to make a change or to continue on with the visual look.
Juxtaposed or leading lines permeate much of my landscape compositions as well. Off-centered and isolated trees, meandering paths take precedence to my eyes.
At the end of the day, these confessions can be very telling of where your portfolio currently stands. It is important to reflect every once in a while to produce better photographs in the future!
So there you have it, these are a handful of ways that I happened to confess almost like photographic sin. What confessions and hard truths are you keeping secret? Leave them in a comment down below. I look forward to reading them.
Check out my newest endeavor with two other Midwest photographers.
I am not quite inspired enough to discuss gear in full.
Although I’ve tried it to some mild success..
To some extent, gear can become integral to producing quality photographs, whether for your job producing 1,000 megapixel billboard images or some 365 photo project where you’re posting them on Instagram.
However, does it really matter in the end?
The images I take with my Canon Rebel T3 versus my EOS 80D look almost identical at a glance. Pixel-peeping could prove otherwise but the regular phototaker may not notice nor care.
One of my favorite images is from May 2019 of this waterfall at a local state park. The entire hour and a half session of me working this beautiful landscape was done entirely with my first camera, the Rebel T3. At the time I was concerned at the quality however didn’t bother with switching the wide angle lens to my technically speaking “better” camera body.
I was losing a number of megapixels with this decision, as the 80D is 24MP while the Rebel T3 is 12MP.
At the risk of sounding crass, these are just numbers to me.
Gear only makes sense when it can truly improve the quality of the photos you take.
I simply wouldn’t take a waterfall long exposure like the one above nowadays if I didn’t have a polarizer filter, which I also used to take that image above.
To me, a filter like that is essential to my longer exposure work and it only made sense upgrading from cheap and hazy Vivitar CPL and ND filters to much better Hoya equivalents (sorry Vivitar.)
Upgrade when it is financially and reasonably sound, but understand that this new hardware will not improve your composition or vision.
Until then, use what you have, use what you know.
What are your opinions on camera gear? Do you love to talk about it or shirk the thought of it in conversation? Drop me a line down below. Thanks for reading.
Motif (n); a recurring subject, theme, idea, etc., especially in a literary, artistic, or musical work.
As an outdoor photographer it goes without saying, but common themes tend to be natural organisms and various subjects.
Birds, insects, trees, water, weather, habitats, geology, so much to see. The mutual understanding of ecosystem and the relationships between them.
I choose these subjects because they envelop the pure elation and joy I have of hiking out in nature. They are things I enjoy searching for and finding with my eyes and camera.
Birds can be a symbol of freedom, with their bursts of color in the lake water or woodland greenery. They are always on the move and pose a challenge to your patience.
Trees to me have personality, and I seek those out every time when out in the field. The more characteristic trees make for more powerful shots!
Water is a powerful force from a trickle down a stream or a roaring waterfall. These smooth flowing subjects become a key asset to many landscapes I photograph.
These ‘motifs’ are ones that developed over years. Almost every budding photographer begins by shooting a little bit of everything. From this all-encompassing mode of seeing, their eyes are trained and developed to round out to certain qualities they most enjoy photographing.
As much as I could to be an everyman, jack-of-all-trades, master-of-none photographer. This overinflated notion is simply too far flung. I have never wanted that, and so choosing a niche, namely nature, is still large enough to diversify my work from peers. Some choose to specialize while some choose to diversify. You decide.
Consider what your work means to you and what it may mean to others, I share pictures of nature because I love being in it, learning about it and sharing it with others. This cycle is like fuel for my creativity and motivation.
I can only speak for myself and my experiences, and this journey of self-discovery is yours to take in finding what drives you to create.
One last sobering thought is to follow your intuition as it is never wrong, it will guide you to the things in life you want in front of your camera lens.
If you’re ever in doubt, remember this..
You are very well likely one shutter press away from your best photo yet.
I learned this very well from reading through a rather unassuming-looking book, Steven Pressfield’s The War of Art.
What is perhaps the bible of my creativity, I keep a paperback copy displayed above my photo book collection by the office desk. Ready to be deployed whenever motivation is at stake.
In short, the book speaks of creativity being in every person, and to unleash it is a matter of beating resistance. An invisible enemy meant to rob us of energy and focus.
When faced with writers block or a creative slump, I turn to this book often for inspiration. There is no need to force yourself to work on a project, yet a pick-me-up can save us all some time. This book is like the medicine we all need.
Time is a valuable commodity that can run out, much like our lives in having a shelf life. Equally as important is figuring out the best use of the time we have today, and while we are still here on this planet.
Whether you are juggling the lofty business goals you may have, or simply want that creative spark for going out and taking photos; I hope these words can help you in some way.
To start, ask yourself the following questions..
What matters most to you, right now?
Being able to allocate your time well when both in business dealings as well as out in the field is imperative to any success.
Let’s say that a recent company has contracted you to produce a certain amount of images within a deadline of a month. This would automatically be elevated to a higher status on your list of priorities.
While more rigid when it comes to business talk, the time spent out in the field can be much more freeing creatively interesting.
Let’s say there’s a very specific migratory bird species that only comes to your state for two weeks tops during May, and there’s also a wildflower that is in bloom from May through June.
If you wanted to photograph both the bird and the wildflower, what would take precedence? Naturally the bird would be a higher priority target shot to obtain for most people. Everything in life is a choice whether big or small.
These are basic examples but the sentiment is all the same;
Valuing your time as a photographer is the means to success.
Hobbyist or professional, it does not matter. Having an idea of where you want your work to go is imperative to tangible goals being met.
I personally believe that you should do it for the love of it, and the money will come afterwards if you so choose to let it. The experience of being outdoors or wherever and being your most authentic self will carry over to others.