Milestone week: 500 posts

Milestone: 500 posts

Well now, it’s not quite an achievement of Babe Ruth-ian proportions, but 500 posts isn’t too shabby. Some of them may have even been mildly interesting. This entire week is going to be devoted to looking back at images from the last five years, some of them never seen before, and most if not all of them never posted on this blog. First though, a few thoughts…

This blog is coming up on it’s three year anniversary – hard to believe it’s been that long. Harder still to believe that I’ve kept at it this long. The blog has evolved a bit over this period, and I expect it to continue to evolve. I won’t speak of plans and goals, because life never goes as planned… but I do hope the blog will grow in breadth and depth, both in terms of images and subjects covered.

As I’ve mentioned previously, I’ve spent the last few weeks preparing images for print sales. This has meant revisiting and reviewing images created over the past five years. What have I learned from this process? Firstly, progress is a double-edged sword. I am without a doubt a better photographer than I was five years ago – though not nearly as good as I hope to be eventually – but that improvement means that in retrospect, a few of my older images now seem remarkably underwhelming. They say ignorance is bliss, and they’re correct – not realizing at the time how much work you still need to do to get better might be poor for one’s progress as a photographer, but it at least protects the ego. Consider my ego constructively bruised from this recent review process.

Another lesson learned is that the ability to skillfully process RAW files is nearly as important as being able to capture good data in camera (that’s what we really do now, with digital cameras – we capture data, which is then turned into an image via editing software). I have reprocessed virtually every file I’m considering offering as a print, and many of those images have benefited greatly from my improved processing skills.

Finally, tools do in fact matter, at least up to a point. The image quality from my two m4/3 cameras easily surpasses the image quality from the DSLR I was using just three years ago. My current lenses are sharper, the autofocus systems vastly superior – at least for static subjects. I can now easily create images that would have caused me to struggle when using my previous gear. I still need to use proper technique. Sloppiness, even with the best of gear, will result in sloppy images. Yet better gear, when used with care, unquestionably opens up new creative possibilities. The same is true of software. My processing workflow includes Adobe Lightroom 4, along with various pluggins from Nik and Topaz Labs, and occasionally Photoshop CS5. The vast improvements in Lightroom, and the unique, powerful and easily mastered pluggins have meant the ability to create images that more closely convey my creative vision.

Going forward, the goal is to marry my improved technical skills with a refocused and re-energized artistic vision. Photography is of course a marriage of art and technique – when we start out, we often don’t possess the technical skill to fulfill our creative vision. What happens sometimes is that we spend so much time on technique, we eventually begin to neglect the artistic side of the equation. No doubt I’ve fallen into this trap on occasion. While many of my early images lack technical polish, they are frequently artistically ambitious. Some of my more recent images have been more technical triumphs than artistic successes. Developing my personal vision and style, and using my improved technical skills to bring that vision to life, will be at the forefront of my efforts moving forward. I’m excited about the possibilities.

Let’s begin our look backwards…

Milestone: 500 posts

Milestone: 500 posts

Milestone: 500 posts

Milestone: 500 posts

To be continued…

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