Goodbye 2016 and Hello 2017

Goodbye 2016 and Hello 2017. Hope everyone had a great NYE. The first blog post of 2016 2017 is going to be about resolutions and like most people I’ve got some. Originally I wasn’t going to share these with anyone but rather work on them myself as they are more goals and areas of focus rather than resolutions but then I read Chris’s post (Page Pics) about his resolutions. Some of them not only struck a cord with me but also made me really think about what my photography goals are and where I was headed as a photographer in 2017.

Deciding to put my thoughts down on paper to see what was not only realistic but also achievable resolutions goals and focus areas. This is where I need to be honest with myself because I’ not expecting to nail all of these because we have these little events that I like to call “Life got in the way” moments. For the majority of, these are unavoidable events or hurdles that will try to slow you down trying but this year I’m determined to achieve more than I would normally achieve. Anyway these are the goals and focus areas that I will be working on in 2017. 

Improve my photography skills

As one good friend of mine said to me. Look at the corners of your frame before you press the shutter button which is something that I need to not only consider but also to improve. There are distractions in the corner of some of my images.

Rockn

No Distractions Here 

Chris is right that we, us street photographers, (I make that sound like a bad thing, being a street photographer) need to photograph other genres such as landscape to improve our photography skills and not forget that the world is a place filled full of colour.

I’ve also been a member of The Arcanum for about 18 months now and my photography has improved significantly however I need to complete Sphere 2 and if possible Sphere 3 in the next 12 months to improve beyond my limits.

Film (Analogue) Photography 

I have recently been given a Nikon F75 Film Camera. Its a lot of fun to learn how to use it but I want to take this further in 2017, maybe even develop my own negatives and learn how to develop photos as well. That’s pretty ambitious since I haven’t even got a role of film back from the lab yet!

Work on this blog thing.

I like to blog, I’ve been doing this on and off now for a number of years. I find that its a way to write what I’m thinking/feeling/going/trying about photography and to get it out there. I’ve also developed a mind set of “Blog like no one is reading it and the fear about blogging will vanish”, seems to be working because I’m pretty sure no one is reading it! I’ve also spent some cash to improve my blogging skills and hopefully that will pay off.

Work out what the name of my photography blog and business should be? 

Thief Images is a good name, its catchy however it doesn’t really make people think “Photography” at all. Some research needs to be done and a decision needs to be made on what this creative beast of mine should be called.

Define my social media presence and develop a social media strategy.

There are so many social media platforms today and I seem to have a quite a few of them but there is one I don’t have…….Facebook. There is a genuine fear that I’m missing out by not having Facebook but do I really need all of these social media platforms.

  1. Google Plus
  2. Instagram
  3. 500px
  4. Pinterest
  5. Linkedin
  6. Twitter
  7. Viewbug
  8. Blog

I’m pretty sure that’s not all of them either but being active on all of these takes time and effort which I think it needs to be maximised. This approach will at the very least maximise the interaction with my intended audience. With that in mind, some of these accounts will be deleted, just need to work out which ones.

Read/Watch/Listen/Try/Learn – Rinse and repeat

There are so many learning resources available that are accessible thanks to the Internet such as Creative Live, podcasts and other blogs that are well worth reading. This year I want to read, watch, listen, try, and learn from these resources.

These are my 6 goals and focus areas for 2017 and if I continue to call them exactly that I should achieve quite a lot of them in some way or another.

Do you have any goals or focus ares for 2017?

Just 24 Exposures !

I’m a member (Apprentice) in The Arcanum where I have been developing my photography skills and I have to admit that this has had incredible result of dramatically improving my skills as a photographer, to a level that I’m really happy with and want to pursue the art of photography even further to explore what can be created. The Arcanum has really inspired me, its been great resource and learning environment where great friendships have been formed. Everyone offers up plenty of advice, processing tips and tricks on your images and aren’t shy in helping you over a hurdle when faced with one. During one of our cohort hangouts I mentioned that I was pretty interested in Film Photography as another way to create images and that I’m interested in the process of creating those images. Maybe I was feeling nostalgic or something but film photography is an old school art form and shouldn’t be lost to the digital age.

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One of the cohort members offered a film camera that she had stuffed away in a cupboard and wasn’t being used. In fact it hadn’t been used in about 10 years and didn’t even know if you could still get batteries for it. I was surprised and extremely grateful that I was being given a camera. A few weeks later the camera arrived, a Nikon F75 with a 28-200mm Tamaron lens with the instruction booklet. Now before you ask, No I’m not going to read the instructions before I do anything, I’m a male! Instructions are for when you have tried everything else including youtube and it looks as though everything else is about to fail, then and only then can you refer to the instruction booklet. Until then the instruction booklet will be on the bookcase collecting dust. After the camera, lens and viewfinder had been cleaned I grabbed the wife and headed out to buy batteries and some rolls of film.

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After some serious deliberating at the counter, and with a queue forming behind me, I decided to buy one roll of black and white and the other roll in colour. The black and white was double the price of the colour and I have no idea why. Once home the batteries were inserted and the camera turned on where everything was tested like the shutter, built in flash and if everything worked. Then a decision needed to be made, which film should be loaded first, colour or black and white, eventually deciding on colour. Strangely this turned out to be a pretty hard decision to make and I was to find out, not the last one either. The film loaded, the back closed I heard the camera mechanically wind the film on and the small LCD panel show that 24 exposures remained. The camera was ready to start taking photos again !

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The next decision turned out to be just as hard, what to photograph? You can’t just wander outside and start snapping away because the results are going to be pretty poor and may dampen any hopes of shooting film again, especially as its going to take a week or more to get the negatives back from the lab. I needed to get this right because I’ve only got 24 exposures. So, no pressure !

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The challenge of shooting with film is not knowing what the end result will be until the negatives come back from the lab. There is no memory card that can be filled, just 24 exposures! So its going to be an anxious wait which really forces you to think about what you are going to photograph before you take the photo. Then there is the big question, who will be in the first photograph or does it even have to have people in it?

I don’t think I even realised how much of a process, creative or otherwise this will actually be but I still have 24 exposures left.

New Camera, new beginning

I had been looking for a new camera for many years and my intention was to buy Nikon again as I had a reasonable amount of lenses but finding that they had grown not just in quality and what they can do but they had also grown in price so I needed to see what else was on the market. What was everyone else using ?

Much to my surprise I discovered mirrorless cameras to be not just good, but excellent. They are light, compact and easy to use and fulfil all my requirements of what I was wanting in a camera. So after a few weeks of scouring the camera shops bargain bins (there are no bargain bins) I purchased a new Sony A7. I know its not the latest model but for just under 2 grand its right for me. Right in price and right in size and usability

And this is the first photo that I took of our little but growing rapidly Border Collie, Scout and I was immediately impressed with the results.

Now I have a renewed passion to get out and shoot

Happy shooting

Scout

The Search for the Holy Grail of Camera Bags

I hadn’t bought myself something new for quite some time (the second hand car I bought is not new so that doesn’t count) so I started the search for a new camera bag as I really wanted to move away from a back pack and figuring that it could be a Christmas present that would actually see some use.

Don’t get me wrong the back pack has served me pretty well over the years. Its been completely wet from a torrential down pour but has still managed to keep my camera gear dry(ish) and has carried an array of gear including a 17″ tablet/laptop, wallet, phone, food, water bottles, business cards, jackets and then some camera gear such as my Nikon DSLR, lenses, flash gun, filters, cable release, back up batteries and memory cards. It gets pretty heavy because I know that I can jam so much into it I carry a lot, a lot of unnecessary stuff that I didn’t need at all.

So I decided that the the bag had to meet a criteria with the intent to narrow the choices down.

  1.     Have quick access to the camera (and be able to put it away with ease)
  2.     Be able to carry a DSLR plus lenses, plus some other gear like phone, wallet, tablet/laptop
  3.     Be sturdy and have comfy shoulder strap(s)
  4.     Be able to not be readily identifiable as a camera bag.
  5.     Made in Australia (not a must but a nicety)

20160112_095234So I started the search with the criteria in mind and to much amazement the amount of choices now available is incredible from bags with wheels, back packs, shoulder or satchel bags to small point and shoot bags. It was during the search I was told about a company making these cool bags called No more Ugly Camera Bags and they were fantastic. So I stopped procrastinating and ordered a bag. I felt as thought I had found the Holy Grail of Camera bags. The bag seemed to meet all the criteria that had been set.

Within a few days of placing my order the bag arrived and I tore open the packaging like a 5 year old on Christmas morning…………and I was immediately disappointed.

It looked like a handbag. Now there is nothing wrong with handbags at all, in fact my Wife has a handbag (actually a whole cupboard full of them) and well, I don’t use handbags! Recovering from the shock of ordering a handbag camera bag I decided that I should take a good look at it and see if it is functional and could be used, purely for scientific and research purposes and this is what I quickly realised:

  • Its to feminine
  • It still looks like a handbag
  • It won’t fit my DSLR (with battery grip)
  • Large is, well not large enough

20160112_095119Overall, the bag is beautiful, well crafted and extremely well priced for under $90 but its not for me. I simply can’t get past it being to feminine and looking like a handbag. So before I send it back I thought that I may offer it up to you guys. I reckon $70 (AS Dollars & plus postage) is a fair price and if I get no takers I’ll send it back on Monday. Feel free to contact me about it.

Now I’ve heard my Wife say this in the past and now I would have to agree with her but I am now pretty much resigned to the fact that you can’t simply have one camera bag but you need a camera bag for each purpose.

So now the search continues for the Holy Grail of Camera Bags.

A Letter to my Wife from your Photographer Husband

Well Dear, there is less than a week before Christmas and thank fully you are not like me, I haven’t even started Christmas shopping yet, I must admit that I have sort of been shopping, if you could call it that, I seem to wander without any real idea of what I want to buy for you or the rest of the family but as usual I have left it all up to the very last minute, Where I fight the ever increasing crowds and find that I am followed on the way back to the car, only to realise that they only want my parking spot and not my wallet (Phew, huge sigh of relief, how surprised would they be after robbing me only to find its empty). Once I get home with all of the presents stashed where no one ever looks, in the car, I will do the same thing I did last year. Put the kettle on whilst complaining about the crowds and the lack of parking at the mall only to have you remark that I should have started Christmas shopping a lot earlier than leaving it all to the last minute. But with all of this mayhem that goes on every Christmas I wonder how you know what I would like for Christmas so I thought that I would write you, my dear Wife, a letter outlining what I want, I mean, like for Christmas.

Now what I would really, really like is Nikon to release either the Nikon D800 or D4 but I have to be realistic. Nikon won’t be releasing it anytime soon especially after the Tsunami that struck Japan, closely followed by the Nuclear reactor going into melt down and then Mother Nature threw in some floods in Thailand and both of these tragedies have surely put a dent in their manufacturing capabilities. I would think that they may be trying to maintain their current line of models rather than release new models. I am not really expecting any new releases from Nikon any time soon. This is something that I don’t think Santa or even you can help with.

So in lieu of Nikon releasing their new models, I would be more than happy to find a new Nikon D700 under the Christmas tree. Nikon may have been possibly targeting the semi-pro photographer market which has relatively been untapped for some time, for awhile there, there wasn’t a camera from either Nikon or Canon that was aimed at this market. I mean how many Full Frame DSLRs can you sell to Pro photographers to cover your costs of manufacturing them. At least with a camera aimed at the semi pro market that has the same sensor from the pro line up would certainly help cover those manufacturing costs. I will clarify for you my dear Wife what I believe a Semi Pro photographer is. A Semi Pro Photographer is some one who is transitioning from amateur photographer to full time Pro Photographer, some one who still has a paying job but that income is slowly being replaced by income from their photography business. This can happen either very slowly or very quickly.

Nikon have got some pretty good specs squeezed into the D700 which has been out for awhile and I must say that I was rather disappointed that I didn’t get it for my Birthday but you should consider that this camera from Nikon has a full frame sensor capable of shooting at 5 fps which is pretty good to catch those fast moving kids, which is a lot faster than me but sadly the Nikon D700 doesn’t come with a video capability, so there will be no filming of the kids, shoots very well with high ISO in low light conditions which I seem to find myself shooting more and more in and thats only because of all of the family gatherings are happening later and later in the day, honestly who has lunch at 3 pm, not me that’s for sure and it ruins dinner ! The Nikon D700 also has 51 AF points and 12.1 megapixels. However Canon have got their camera squarely aimed at this market as well, the Canon EOS 5D Mark II which is boasting a massive 21.1 megapixels, Canon developed CMOS sensor with a new 4 processor called DiG!C and the live view mode has some new features like Live Face Detection AF mode plus throw in 1080p HD Video with 30 FPS which is awesome for shooting video, the camera also comes with continuos shooting of 3.9 FPS and standard ISO from 100 to 6400 which will provide excellent detail in low light. All of these make for a formidable DSLR from Canon in anyones terms. I am still undecided if I want or for that matter need a video capability in a DSLR but what ever you decide I will be very happy with but please remember if you are going to give me a Canon EOS 5D Mark II for Christmas, I will need all new lenses to match because the Nikon ones that I currently have won’t fit. I know, I know, its silly.

Speaking of witch, I mean which not witch. Sorry, let me start that again. The love of my life, If a new DSLR is off the table for Christmas, I would certainly be interested in a new lens. I really like, not necessarily need, a Macro lens, and it doesn’t have to be Nikon lens either. It could be a Tamron or a Sigma Macro Lens but the lens must be capable of not only being used for Macro shooting but also for Portraits as well, I mean what good is it just having a Macro Lens for photography of small creatures (and that doesn’t include your nieces and nephews either) if I can’t use it to capture our beautiful family, so the new lens needs to be sort of two lens in one basically. Tamron has got one on offer, its the SP AF 60mm F/2 Di II and is pretty well priced at my favourite camera shop. You know the one, and yes before you ask it’s the one that I spend my Saturdays in with my face pressed up against the glass display cabinets. There’s nothing wrong with that you know !

Now if that’s off the table as well and I certainly hope not but Nikon recently released a new model for their flash guns which is to replace the SB900 flash gun which I have already got, the SB910 was released in mid December which is just in time to be placed under the Christmas tree. I know, I know, what would I want with another Flash Gun thingy I hear you ask. Well I could certainly become very creative with two flash guns and really get some amazing shots of the family….. alright and your friends as well. This flash gun boasts similar specs to the SB900 that I have already got but has some improvements like an overhaul of the menu system which should make it easier for me to use and they have upgraded those flimsy gel white balance filters to hard filters however having another flash gun could increase my creative side using flash and I can use my SB900 together with the SB910. So this is something that you should certainly consider as well. But remember though love, if you have bought me the Canon EOS 5D Mark II I will need a new Flash gun as well. Canon have got the Speedlite 580EX II as their top gun in Speed Lights. This bad boy can be wireless and has the E-TTL II Flash metering which can be set to 1/3 stop increments.  So also another choice for you to consider.

I know that I always use Nikon but you have heard me say many times before that it doesn’t matter what camera you have in your hands, its what you do with it that counts. You are the creator of your vision not the camera, the camera simply captures your vision or your idea. Please when you are feigning interest when I talk about cameras and photography I would rather not hear ‘hmm’ but rather a response resembling words.

Anyway I started to get off track there for a bit but I know that this may seem a lot to undertake and even comprehend but I feel as though that I have to be quite honest, Jocks and Socks simply won’t cut it this year, or that awful thing you have been knitting with your friends for the last couple of months. That can go in the bin with all of the other “excellent presents”, sorry into the cupboard where I treasure those thoughtful gifts (they will never see the light of day).  If all of this seems a little to much. I’ll just take a $500 gift voucher from my favourite camera shop, not the one in mall that you like to go to with your friends, the camera shop in the mall that I go to to avoid your friends that way I can still take photos like this one where I spent the day with MY friends at a Free Style Motor cross event.

Lots of Love

Your Photographer Husband.