My Photography Journey

2017 marks the start of the third year into my photography journey.

It seems like a good time for a bit of reflection on what I’ve done and achieved so far.

2015 – My Photography Journey Begins

2015 was the year of my 365 project, with a promise and commitment to myself to take one photograph every day for the entire year. At the time I only had my iPhone 5 to take photographs with, but this turned out to be a blessing. I learned about the whole new  (to me anyway) genre of mobile photography and realised for the first time just what a huge movement this is.

Until then I didn’t know that photographers all over the world were busy taking photographs with their mobile phones and posting them to social media channels like Facebook and Instagram.  Call me innocent, I don’t mind 🙂

And I certainly had no idea that a mobile phone camera could be used for “serious” photography.

Right at the beginning of 2015 I discovered the iPhone Photography Academy and joined with a group of fellow iPhone photographers who were keen to learn more about photography in general and mobile photography in particular. One of the guys started a 365 photo project group on Facebook and we all started posting photos of the day.

Image of rooftops
Roof line in Leek – My first 365 project iPhone image.

It doesn’t sound very much of a challenge just to take one photograph every day, but when you get started you soon realise that this is not as easy as it sounds. Certainly, as the months wear on, it becomes harder and harder not only to find a new subject to photograph but simply to stay motivated. Especially when the weather’s bad, which is often is in the UK.

Part of the learning process was to also offer a critique on other photographs posted in the group. Looking at photos taken by others and trying to determine what works and what doesn’t work is incredibly helpful in learning how to take better photographs yourself. It can also be a little disheartening when you think you done a good job and then people start pointing out faults.

We were lucky enough to have a qualified expert in our midst who shared a lot of knowledge and kept us on the right track when we missed important technical and compositional faults. We quickly learnt that there is often a wide gap between what is popular and what is “correct”.

Two years into the photography journey, I’m still in touch with many of the members and we still exchange photographs and offer critique on each other’s work.

Undertaking a 365 photo project is one I totally recommend to anyone who wants to learn more about photography and explore their own levels of dedication and commitment. It’s a whole lot of fun, but maybe not for the fainthearted.

2016 saw me move into the world of the DSLR and mostly leave mobile photography behind, although I will always defend it when so-called serious photographers scoff about mobile photography. Learning to work with the limitations (and there are lots of limitations with the camera on a mobile phone) really focuses the mind and you have to work harder to get a good composition with sharp details and correctly balanced light.

In the summer of 2015 I was lucky enough to be given my first DSLR camera: a Sony Alpha 330 with a small collection of lenses including a 70 to 300 mm zoom and a 50 mm prime. This took me on a whole new learning curve, learning about shutter speed, aperture, ISO, focal distance, focal length, dynamic ranges  and a whole load of other technical aspects that totally baffled me.

But my 365 project kept me mostly focused on mobile photography.

photo of a fence in the mist
Misty Fence. One of my favourite 363 project photos, taken with iPhone 5.

 

2016 – Year Two and a DSLR

I enrolled on an online course in photography with the Shaw Academy, and completed the Foundation Course and the Ultimate Photography Course. Unlike most online learning centres, Shaw Academy does all its teaching through live webinars.  Completing those courses taught me how to take control of my camera and shoot in manual mode. It’s still not something that comes totally naturally, and I often have to stop and think about what I’m doing then try shots at various different settings before I get it right. I’m getting better, though 🙂

The Sony Alpha 330 is quite an elderly camera now and it wasn’t long before its technical limitations started to frustrate me. In particular, its ISO range isn’t great when compared to more modern cameras and I found images taken at around 400 ISO were incredibly noisy. On bright sunny days it was fine and I took some photographs I’m still pleased with, but soon I wanted to learn other things and expand my photographic knowledge.  At least, these are the excuses I give myself. Maybe I simply wanted to buy a brand-new camera.

I did tons of research, read thousands of words of reviews and watched dozens of U-tube videos on various models and makes. Originally I fancied the but eventually went with a Canon 750D.  To date I still only have the kit lens and I miss the telephoto lens used with the Sony, but on on the whole I’m very happy with the .

 

photo of my camera, Canon 750D
Canon 750D with 18-55mm kit lens.

Meeting 3D Photographers

Somewhere around the middle of 2016 I decided it was time to meet some 3-D photographers so I joined a local camera club, and that was one of my best moves. I’d heard horror stories about condescending camera club members who sneer at newbies with what they think is inferior equipment, so I was relieved to find Willfield Camera Club has no truck with that kind of behaviour. Everyone was, and is, welcoming, and allows all its members to grow at their own pace and with their own preferred gear, without prejudice.

I’ve learned loads from generous members who are willing to share their knowledge, and even had one of my photographs included in an exhibition in the Potteries Museum and Art Gallery.   Seeing my photo on the wall gave me quite a buzz, especially when I look at the amazing talent and abilities of more experienced members.

During 2016 I also made my first few photographic sales through the Eyeem market, which distributes stock photographs to places like Getty and Alamy.  Most of my interest lies in taking landscape/nature photographs that fall more into the fineart genre than stock photography. So, I’m pleased to have made even two or three sales and it encourages me to learn more about stock photography and put some effort into producing more saleable images.

 

Low key photo of a cat ornament.
Image sold via Getty Images. Taken with iPhone 5.

 

2017 –  Year Three Photography Goals

My intention is to continue on my photography journey. I’m already thinking of alternative cameras, new avenues I want to pursue and where I’d like photography to take me. Some of my goals for the coming year include:

  • Learn about and take more stock photography images
  • By a mirrorless camera, probably a Fuji (although that might change)
  • Keep up with this blog better than I have in the past!
  • Continue to build my photography skills
  • Explore other genres that take me outside my comfort zone (such as street photography)
  • Learn more about editing and processing, particularly with Lightroom, Photoshop and the mobile app iColorama.
Painterly autumn trees and birds image
Painterly edit of autumn trees with added birds using iColorama

Do you have photography goals for 2017? Please share! Maybe we can help each other.

Deb

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