My first blog selfie.
I like the photo above for its layers. It might look a little busy but it is the mood I am going for… I just got home. I am sitting in the living room looking out into the balcony and the deep blue skyline, wondering about the hustle and bustle of the city below me (light trails, sirens, the constant hum of vehicles in traffic).
I was disappointed about the photo I posted last week. It is March, two months have passed! I felt like it was a step back on what I am trying to achieve by doing this 52-week photo journal challenge. It looked HDR-ish. The light was too harsh and it lacked depth. I am going to try a little harder, I reassured myself.
Retail therapy seems to be my first resort in attempting to improve my photography skills, which I know is contradictory. But, it makes me feel better. I can’t help it.
I have switched to different systems throughout the years (Nikon – Micro 4/3 – Leica x1 – Fuji XPro1). I trade in and out of cameras and lenses. Currently, I have a Fuji X20, a black Fuji x100 and a Fuji X-T10 after I talked myself out of Fuji XT-1. I also occasionally use my Dad’s GoPro that is practically mine because he never uses it. I only have two lenses (traded my Xpro1 and the original first 3 lenses that Fuji came out with). I have a Fuji XC 16-50mm. I contemplated on the 18-55mm lens but I shied away from the size and price. The wider 16mm has its advantage in tight spaces as well.
I was shooting with the 35mm 1.4 lens with the X-T10 but the sound of the lens constantly hunting for focus unless it’s on manual mode drove me crazy (I know I should shoot manual anyway if I really want to learn)…. SO, I traded it with the new 35mm f/2 WR. It focuses better. It is solidly built and a little smaller but I do notice the difference in the stop(s) of light I lost (I still don’t know how to count stops of light, fyi).
I post-process and catalog with Lightroom. And last week, I finally succumbed to buying Rebecca Lily’s presets. I love the light in her photographs. I also admire Greta Rybus‘ images. They both inspire me to push my creativity a little more.
I do wonder sometimes if presets (and filters) alter the authenticity of what I create. It feels like I lose part of the ownership but it helps to reflect my vision and smoothes my workflow as I cannot replicate them on my own. I am stubborn in learning the technical aspects. I am still shooting in auto mode.
So with this reflective thinking, here are some guidelines I am giving myself for the next month or so (then re-evaluate) to make my shots more like intuitive photographs than hurried snapshots:
- Restrict myself with one system. Use my XT-10 with the 35mm (50 equivalent). I am torn between the 35mm (equiv.) and 50mm point of view. It is a first world problem, I know. I’d probably be better by now if I couldn’t afford switching systems and stuck with what I had.
- Limit post-processing to minimal crop/straighten and improving light and shadows (use presets sparingly).
- Go out and shoot. Think of small scale projects. This is the hardest, for me. I always seem to need a boost of energy. I get easily frustrated and disappointed by the images I see but it is mostly because they just don’t reflect what I wanted them to show which brings me to the next point…
- Learn the technical. Try manual mode or at least aperture priority. I have to know the technical combination of the vision I have or they would never translate into what I want them to be.
- Get inspired. Keep reading and re-reading Magnum Stories and looking into others’ photography for inspiration and motivation. Try to share and get feedback. I’ve been too critical and secretive of my work (i.e. this blog), I rarely post on my Facebook or Instagram. Rebecca Lily said in our correspondence while buying the presets, “One of the most fulfilling parts of making something creative is sharing it with others and knowing it means something to someone else.”
That’s all for now, five things will be more than enough to strive for. It’s been a busy first quarter. We still haven’t moved into the new old house. We are past our (or just mine) deadline. I could not wait until we are back into a slower paced boring routine (no plans and no deadlines). But I am sure, something else will come up. By the time we settle in, it will be time for my spring/summer gardening then my “atelier” I want to set up in the backyard shed for restoring old furnitures and then the trips, Vegas and Death Valley in May, Europe in the Summer, and hopefully, Patagonia in the Fall/early Winter.
Just one layer at a time.
“I am interested in the world, sure, but also in MY vision of the world.” – Abbas, Magnum Stories