Take two for photography

robot zombie

TPF Noob!
May 7, 2019
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South Florida
Can others edit my Photos
Photos OK to edit
Second-time newbie here. Life story incoming. You have been warned. I'm a wordy dude.

My first go of photography was back in 2008, just a few years after digital fully took over. I was 18 years old, fresh out of high-school, and very excited to go out into the world, try different jobs, meet people, and be able to devote my full energy to learning things I actually wanted to learn.

Photography was one of them. It was one of many creative things I was doing, and one of many that didn't stick, but it impacted me more than other art forms. I took a few classes at the local community college. My instructors were oldschool. We were only permitted to use 35mm SLR's and could only use manual mode. Their whole MO was "See the shot before you press the shutter - recognize all of the parameters and control as many as possible."

And they really held us to it. We were expected to note our settings and write them on the back of the prints we turned in for assignments. I had a Canon Rebel of some sort and a used nifty fifty. All in all I think I paid $150 bucks for it! It took some nice pictures. I loved it.

The class was good and bad. Good in that I quickly learned the ins and outs of operating an SLR... but bad in that I found it very creatively limiting, not to mention all of the upkeep with film. Swapping rolls for different ISO's, and just keeping track of what's on what roll. I kept a notebook for that. Very distracting when you're still learning the basics. And that's not to mention the cost of film/developing. I didn't have the money to be tossing rolls all of the time and it made me a whole lot less inclined to take as many pictures as I wanted. Not only that, but their methods were a little slow for me. I mean, they singled me out for picking things up fast, but that's another way of saying I was chomping at the bit for more advanced challenges. Our assignments were like "Take 3 pictures of doors, using different methods of composition for each one." or "Take a wide-angle shot with everything in focus." These are great starting off, but I was figuring these things out before I was ever asked to and it wore on me.

And don't get me wrong... I'm not the prodigal photographer everyone wishes to be starting off. But I did take to it and I put in the time and care to learn. Though, FWIW, I've forgotten most of it at this point.

Ultimately, I sold the camera after getting past the basics. Unfortunately I just had too much going on to stick it out. Such is the life of a bright-eyed kid going out into the world for the first time. Still, I look back and think it was such a terrible shame. I was stretching myself too thin... trying to juggle a million hobbies with a full-time job and a very active social life. I guess that's a lesson in adulthood all to itself.

For a couple of years now, I've been getting the itch. My life has been all over the place - for too long, I was caught up in a crazy, CRAZY relationship and that time isn't coming back (I shudder to think what my life would have been had I married her - dead by 30, probably :p) so my focus now is on doing the things I love to do, or always wanted to but chose not to focus on - things I couldn't do because of that awful relationship. With things fully settling down, I find ample time to get back to one of my greatest loves... nature. I've always been an avid hiker and mountain biker. That's where I draw inspiration from. Only seems natural to bring a camera. It's something I've really wanted to do for a long time.

But the initial investment was too much to sway me. I didn't want the cheapest setup possible, but instead something I could grow into and truly take high-quality images with. I have other hobbies (not super-active ones, but EXPENSIVE) and responsibilities. So it remained on the back-burner.

It was around this time when I would decide to ditch my storage unit. And in the process I would discover a Canon T3i. I don't remember buying it or using it, but there it was! I said to myself it had to be fate and started buying things. <_<

So now I've got the camera, an $80 tripod that serves me well enough, a bunch of accessories, and 3 decent/inexpensive lenses: a 50mm f/1.8 STM, a 24mm f/2.8 STM, and a 10-18mm f4.5-5.6 STM. All bought used. And so far, I'm really liking this setup. Along with the Magic Lantern firmware, you can really get a lot done with it! Digital is like Aladdin for me, just a whole new world of amazing technology and features. The t3i has the coveted flippy screen... which I may never go back from. That alone is huge. And then, there's Lightroom and all of that evil magic. I'm really into gear and tech, so it's a real treat to get into digital photography. So much to nerd out on!

It's been cool exploring traditional camera functions, too. I never got to back then. It was all manual-mode/manual-focus in the past. Now, I find myself drawn to aperture priority. I like being able to set my desired focal range via that and then just go around, tweaking ISO as needed for hand-holding. I understand what it's doing, so really it's just saving me time and freeing me up to focus on less minute things. That alone has changed the way I use a camera in a big way... that and back-button focus. I love how streamlined things can be. It truly is a precision tool. It's exciting to think of the possibilities.

Right now, I'm just trying to get myself up to a higher comfort level. I feel like I'm 'read' enough that I understand things beyond the novice level, but my instincts aren't there, yet. It's not enough to 'know' it. So my focus is on fundamentals with a side of HDR (difficult lighting situations pop up in the shots I most want.) I feel like I understand exposure decently well, to the point where I can look and know what the actual exposure will yield (I say this knowing all of my photos are poorly exposed :p) What I really need to work on is focusing and better controlling DOF. I could *probably* stand to chill on the editing, hehe. Or maybe at least watch my histogram better and expose for that approach. I can't help it. Lightroom is kinda blowing my mind.

I'm not even expecting good pictures at this point. I'll usually pick a lens based on where I'm at and try to stick with it. From there, I look for challenges in one or two areas. I try to get those things, and only those things right. Whether I do or I don't, I learn from every shot that I take... and I hope those experiences continue. The biggest draw for me is that with photography, you're always learning new things. It's an overwhelming amount of just... things, and stuff. I love how inquisitive and exploratory it is by nature.

I've definitely got a lot to learn, too. In several trips and probably a few thousand shots, I don't believe I've taken a single 'good' photo yet. I'm having a lot of fun learning the ropes, though. I always come home with a lot to think about and if I'm lucky, at least one interesting image. Might as well be starting from scratch... this time it's for real though.

My main interest is in landscapes and nature. Here on the east coast of south Florida, I am surrounded by opportunities, especially for the latter. Keeps me out there, that's for sure!

Check my Flickr in my sig for some of my crappy images. Feel free to dissect. I could probably write a page about what's wrong for each one, myself.

Probably still gonna have to hunt for the right host for me. I tried instagram's app for all of about 20 minutes before I realized I hated the entire interface. It's so simple you'd think it would be super-intuitive, but it makes me feel dumb at every turn. Maybe I am just dumb, but man, what a pain. Prime example of form over function imo.

But now I'm really rambling. I promise they won't all be like this! Well... I'll try anyway.
Welcome, glad to see you here.

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