It’s getting close to the end of the calendar year (and it’s already past milky way season here). I’m not big on doing new years resolutions, but I do review regularly what have I done, what do I want to do – not only locations, techniques but also test ideas.
WHAT I’VE DONE
“I can’t go back to yesterday because I was a different person then”
– Lewis Carroll, Alice in Wonderland.
I’ve been shooting now with a DSLR for 4 years. The first 4-6 months were pretty much program, aperture or shutter priority modes. Since then I’ve adopted a photographic philosophy of “know as many things as possible because you never know when you’ll need to use it” and “there are no photography secrets” (being share what I know).
Over the past few years I’ve photographed (but not limited to) – landscapes, long exposures, wildlife including flying birds, flying insects, stingrays), portraiture, flash photography, light painting/art (domes, EL wire and others), light trails, wool spins, drop collisions, cream crowns, cream drops, refractions, shaped bokeh, macro, smoke/incense, soap film interference, lightning, panning – vehicles/wildlife/waves/vertical, zooming (back lit, astrophotography and all sorts of other things), fireworks (with focus shifting), star trails, comet (C/2011 L4 Panstarrs and C/2012 F6 Lemmon), milky way, deep space (nebula – but being limited to a 200mm lens), high key, low key, soda, time lapse, flowers and fungus, split landscapes under/over water, underwater (snorkelling), macro, panoramas, brenizer, free lensing and black carding. Then there’s all the post processing techniques which I won’t go into. I might do some things a few times and go – nah – don’t like that or I might be working on ways to do more of or different ways about doing things.
Success wise – I’ve gotten close to the visualisations of some of the things that I’ve wanted. I have a greater understanding of a lot more techniques than I had the previous year. I feel that a lot of this has been due to moving back to a mainly solo photographic existence – being able to create a testing list and adhere to it. We all plateau every now and then and for me, it’s been a process of reflection and focus. I’ve run quite a few workshops this year as well from beginner DSLR to some more advanced subjects and techniques like astrophotography. I’ve been helping out online through various channels too. Blogging in my opinion an efficient and effective means to pass on the knowledge.
I’ve also had some success recognition wise in terms of competitions, news and magazine articles, and books.
There are a few styles/techniques that I’ve developed as well – primarily around the panorama work. While I like saying in some instance that it’s been borne out of mistakes (while doing tests), the subsequent improvisation is what leads to innovation. This is where the “knowing as many techniques as possible” helps because understanding more on how things work allows me to actualise a a visualisation (and a liberal dose of practical problem solving).
WHAT DO I WANT TO DO
“Alice: Would you tell me, please, which way I ought to go from here?
The Cheshire Cat: That depends a good deal on where you want to get to.
Alice: I don’t much care where.
The Cheshire Cat: Then it doesn’t much matter which way you go.
Alice: …So long as I get somewhere.
The Cheshire Cat: Oh, you’re sure to do that, if only you walk long enough.”
– Lewis Carroll, Alice in Wonderland.
I like having an idea of what do I want to achieve. A lot of people use journals. I use a combination of mind mapping and evernote (for specific details) so that my notes are with me all the time and I can. I’m a bit disappointed that I didn’t make more progress on my list of things to do this year, but I’ve been very busy in other aspects of my life.
There are a number of things which are season or date specific, so need to make sure those are entered onto my calendar so I don’t miss them again. I’ve already marked out key dates for astrophotography purposes.
Certainly want to travel a bit further than I have in the past year. I’ve had many obligations that have kept me a bit grounded this past year. However with sufficient planning, I’m sure I can get further. I’ve written down a number of places and visualisations that I want to achieve. Some places are season specific, so have small windows of opportunity to capture them. Sometimes you have to slow down a bit to move faster – planning a bit more effectively to get more done.
There is a lot of experiments that I didn’t manage to do – and being experiments, I’m sure I’ll blog the success or … learnings from them as time goes on. The good thing about writing these things down (especially in a mind map/brain storming format) is that while you’re doing so, you come up with lots of other ideas.
Even while writing this blog post, I’ve come up with a lot of additional ideas that I want to do next.
KEEPING MOTIVATED TO MOVE ON
“And what is the use of a book,” thought Alice, “without pictures or conversation?”
– Lewis Carroll, Alice in Wonderland
I tend to be very much a self motivator when it comes to trying out new things.
Involving other people is can potentially be good because they think in different ways and the peer pressure can sometimes help to move things forward.
I know many people use various things to keep motivating themselves. Photo a day, a week, themes, 50mm challenges, black and white challenges, shooting with groups or away from groups, taking classes, having a mentor.
Browsing other photos through various sites can help to motivate. However sometime it can be a little fatiguing and the images start blurring into one :P. So don’t get too carried away. Also don’t worry about comparing too much because everyone develops their own style.
What ultimately keeps me motivated is the underlying reasons of why I enjoy photography. It does match and contribute to my personal life values and I think it’s very important to have a creative outlet in life (and noting that photography isn’t my only one).
You don’t really need a reason for photography, I just like having one – as sometimes when the motivation sags, I can remind myself why it’s important in my life.