Category Archives: Motivation

What Will I Photograph in 2016?

Vstrom Lake Casitas-3227_HDR

My Suzuki Vstrom 650 at Lake Casitas. Fujifilm X100s. I resolve to take more photo breaks on my rides.

Good question. My job at the Orfalea Foundation ends this year, so I’ll start 2016 by ramping up my freelance business: Dizzy One Ventures. I’m already shooting events for one client and writing newsletters for another. If I can add three more of each, I can postpone looking for another job indefinitely.

Backyard Birds-0066

Backyard birding is a great joy, but I resolve to practice better shot discipline. Nikon D7100; Nikon 70-200 f/2.8; Nikon TC17eII.

But I’ll still need to shoot for myself. I suspect I’ll make lots of bird and motorcycle images, but I’d also like to do more portraiture, which I miss dearly, and I want to shoot on location.

I’m working on a lighting kit I could carry on the motorcycle, which is no small task, since my current lighting bag doesn’t fit in the trunk of my car.

Hannukah Zzyzx-3218

My son on a recent sojourn to Zzyzx Road (and, in this image, Peggy Sue’s Diner). I have mixed emotions about the Fujifilm X100s these days, but I’m forcing myself to use it as my travel camera. I prefer my Nikons, but the X100s is mighty easy to carry around.

I also want to document more family events, but shoot them as well as I would for a client. Last week I put the X100s on “drunk mode” (fully automatic) and made a lot of awful photos with inadequate depth of field. It’s pretty dispiriting when the only professional photographer in the family gets the worst images of a holiday party.

I’ve been using the D610 for all of my work-for-hire shooting, but I want to integrate it more into my personal work as well. This month I’ve shot precisely zero personal images with it, which is a shame, because the image quality is excellent.

Historically, I’ve struggled to keep photography joyful when I am also doing it professionally. Best. Struggle. Ever. Looking forward to it in 2016.

backyard birds-9960

Working from home should let me photograph my neighbors during better lit times of day. Nikon D7100; Nikon 70-200 f/2.8; Nikon TC17eII.

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I had never seen a kingfisher in the neighborhood before today. This one was in a tree two houses away, which reminds me that I will probably try once again to get a more serious birding lens in 2016. We’ll see. Nikon D7100; Nikon 70-200 f/2.8; Nikon TC17eII.

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Sharpness Isn’t Everything, But It Sure is Something

Backyard Birds-9906

Backyard Birds-9906-2

Every now and then, I get a glimpse of the gear’s possibilities, and it makes me more determined than ever to become a more disciplined shooter. No small task for the self-proclaimed premier blogger for lazy, disorganized, impatient photographers. Well, sometimes we have to compromise and put some effort in.

Backyard Birds-9908

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Filed under Camera Gear, Motivation, Nature Photography, Uncategorized

Sketches for a Project

Here are three recent frames that are trying to convince me to do a series about solitude. Last year I came to hate my Photo-A-Day project, but I have to admit it forced me to produce.  Thinking it through.

backyard-4433 backyard-4437 walking home-4427-2

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Filed under Motivation, Personal

Best Camera, Best Lens, Wide Open, Black and White

I like the way shallow depth of field and monochrome presentation add a little bit of seriousness to the most mundane of subjects. Please don't tell The Chairman that I called him

I like the way shallow depth of field and monochrome presentation add a little bit of seriousness to the most mundane of subjects. Please don’t tell The Chairman that I called him “mundane.”

I suffer from gear-itis, and while I’m not seeking a cure, I do need to treat some of the symptoms. I’m grateful to have a collection of cameras, lenses, and flashes sufficient to tackle whatever assignment comes my way, but it also makes me lazy and indecisive, making technical rather than artistic choices.

Not quite far enough from the background for creamy out-of-focus areas, but far better subject isolation than I would have gotten at f/2.8 from the same distance.

Not quite far enough from the background for extra-creamy out-of-focus areas, but far better subject isolation than I would have gotten at f/2.8 from the same distance.

As I described in the previous post, I’m testing myself (luxuriously) by trying to limit personal work to one camera body (Nikon D610), one lens (Nikon 85mm f/1.4), and black and white output. This is great gear – better than anything I’ve owned before, but this “deprivation” exercise helps me rekindle the passion I had as a teenager who could only afford one camera body, one lens, and black-and-white film – and had the time of his life learning how to SEE things photographically.

Backgrounds are a constant nemesis to this lazy, disorganized, impatient photographer, but shooting the 85 wide open simplifies otherwise complex backgrounds.

Backgrounds are a constant nemesis to this lazy, disorganized, impatient photographer, but shooting the 85 wide open simplifies otherwise complex backgrounds.

Quality shows. The 85 f/1.4 and D610 work very well together, letting me get sharply focused eyes and beautiful focus fall-off in the foreground and background.

Quality shows. The 85 f/1.4 and D610 work very well together, letting me get sharply focused eyes and beautiful focus fall-off in the foreground and background.

Of course, many of our day-to-day images require the OPPOSITE of my exercise: wide depth of field and full color. Vive la difference!

Of course, many of our day-to-day images require the OPPOSITE of my exercise: wide depth of field and full color. Vive la difference!

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Filed under Camera Gear, Camera Settings, Motivation

There Can Be Only One

Backyard Bees-0178-2

As I’ve mentioned many times, I’m trying to become a more ruthless editor. I got many well exposed, sharp images of bees in my backyard last week, but this one stood out as my favorite. I shared some of the others on Facebook, but I should not have done so. Others have said it: if you only show your best work, people come to believe you are a good photographer. So do you, and so you do. This will be my new editing mantra: There can be only one.

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Filed under Motivation, Nature Photography