Upping my photography game

A story that really starts back when cameras captured our souls on ribbons of plastic call “film”, I liked taking pictures and shooting video.

I still remember the day my father showed me how to focus on his 35mm camera. When he brought home a VHS camcorder that took full sized VHS tapes. How I pined for a PXL2000 camera to make action movies about whatever.

When I visited Japan in 1994, I took over 300 photos on film with a crappy point-and-shoot, and about 6 tapes on a borrowed mini-camcorder that was never really watched again. I really don’t know what happened to the photos, but there was one project out of it that won some kudos at school involving my host’s house and a manually glued panorama before digital panoramas were a thing.

Then in late 1999, I bought my first 1.1 megapixel digital camera. I think it was an Olympus. It used a 4MB smartmedia card that blew me away with its quality and compact size. The major draw back is that downloading pictures from the camera to my computer took over an hour through a 9-pin serial connection. Oh the early days of digital.

Then as the years went on, my wallet grew larger, the megapixels went up, and digital cameras became all the rage.

I got a Motorola RAZR as soon as I could so that I could take photos and send them to friends.

If I broke a digital camera, I immediately went out and got another.

Mid-2000’s, writeable CDs and DVDs were crazy cheap so I used them extensively as my backup medium as hard drives over a few GB were still in the $200+ range.

After moving to Oregon in 2005 and getting a new DVD drive, I soon found out all my disc archives of digital photos could not be read by anything. The old drive didn’t want to work any longer. The new drives couldn’t read the format, and even a new drive of the same model as the old drive didn’t want to read the discs. Hundreds if not a thousand photos were just written off.

Crap.

But then Google’s Picasa Service came alone. Having a GB of photo storage in this wonderous Cloud (before it was really called a “cloud”) where I could upload all my digital photos and never worry about them getting deleted.

It was a start.

In 2007, I bought a Flickr Pro account. It promised unlimited photo storage, photo sets, albums, tagging, and all sorts of features that are pretty standard on all photo hosting sites out there.

Since 2007, I have uploaded over 13,000 digital photos. Various models of digital point and shoots, crappy camera-phones, early iPhones, Android devices, and scanned photos.

In the last couple of years, I’ve had the privelege of meeting some professional photographers and given a few oppurtunities to take photos for them at various events. The photos on these high-end digital cameras were AMAZING.

I’d never really considered myself a “photographer” type or even though about pursuing it as a career. But as of late, I find my photos making their way into other blogs, being used in corporate email blasts, and getting more comments on Flickr.

Maybe I had a thing for photos?

I purchased a GoPro Hero 3+ in the spring of 2015 and started recording fun things like this bullfrog jumping, a mountain bike ride, and time-lapse drawings.

After our vacation to Alaska in August 2015. An amazing trip to Denali National Park that blew my mind. I reflected on all my hundreds of photos that were all shot with my iPhone 6. It was the only camera I used for months and on this vacation.

With two cameras that didn’t really have any adjustable settings, I found myself frustrated and limited. It was a fixed lens on the iPhone 6 that had zero zoom features (digital zoom is less than useless), and after seeing a moose cross our path and I was unable to get a single decent shot of it, I started to crave a better camera.

There is a Nikon D3200 at my office that I’ve been learning how to operate. Studying tutorials, YouTube videos, and practicing photo-processing of RAW images in Lightroom and Photoshop. Reading about the different cameras, sensors, lenses, and all the latest technology in the photography world. The D3200 is an OK camera, but the picture quality wasn’t really any better than what I was getting on the iPhone or a borrowed Sony RX-100.

That’s it. I want to “up my game” in photography.

What does that mean?

More time spent learning Adobe Lightroom. Paying attention to composition. Only uploading Good(ish) photos to Flickr and Instagram. Learn more from the pros.

Invest in a “pro-level” camera.

I had a budget and an idea of what I wanted. The journey to this decision was too confusing to share at this point. It was just another black hole of buying more and more gear. As if buying bicycle parts wasn’t enough, now I had to buy some camera gear.

I bought a Nikon D610 from Pro Photo Supply. I highly recommend this shop to anyone looking for camera advice and all the camera gear you could ever want .

Why did I go with the Nikon D610? That’s for another post.

What I can tell you: After only a few uses, going through the manual to find all the settings, and a bit of practice, some of the shots I can get are just awesome.

Starting with this pair of Wood Ducks:
TAQ_1319.jpg

I’m particually proud of this shot of an Anna’s Hummingbird: (click to see all the detail!)
A damp Anna's hummingbird

What does this mean in terms of future plans? What am I going to do with this refound passion?

I guess you’ll have to read my upcoming posts to find out.

-Tomas

Check out my entire collection of 13,000+ digital photos.

Categories: Life

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