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Sunday, March 18, 2018


I've had a lot of bloggable ideas in my mind rattling around for a while, but I just never had the gumption to write anything down. And then, if I forgot about them within a few hours then they probably weren't worth writing about anyway.

But today, I feel like writing about one of my hobbies. My friend Dave and I both got into photography at roughly the same time, although he probably started a few months before me. Oddly enough, the fact that my father is a professional photographer did not lead me to be interested in the slightest. What got me there was working at a hospital and seeing professional photos of what I like to call "blurry water" - long exposures that blur the movement of the water.

 My first attempt at blurry water. Editing is not my strong suit

I told myself that I wanted to learn how to do that. And I slowly began to research because that is what I do best. I learned that point and shoot cameras will never allow you to get that kind of effect, so I would have to upgrade. I began to read about lenses, and I remember getting annoyed at the fact that I would essentially have to give up digital zoom - a favorite feature of mine. I still get frustrated sometimes, that I have to switch lenses if I want to do certain things, but it's par for the course.
Since Dave is an electrician and much more technical-minded than I am, he was easily able to grasp the mechanics of photography, while I still struggle to this day with some more advanced concepts. He also went backwards - rebuilding super old cameras as a hobby because they allow him to take photos in medium and large format. Digital cameras today can barely do this, and the ones that do cost hundreds of thousands of dollars.

I still struggle with concepts like depth of field (dof) when it comes to aperture settings. I get confused when Dave tells me that any photos that I take with my 1.8 aperture on my lens will not be sharp regardless of whether the shot is in focus. 

Who knew that "in focus" and "sharp" were not the same?! Mind blown.

There are still a lot of things I don't understand about photography. It's not nearly as easy as snapping photos with a point and shoot (P&S). I mean, my first real camera was a Sony NEX-5N. I bought it because it was small like a P&S, and had a lot of good software so that you could treat it like a P&S, but also allowed you to switch out lenses and set the camera with manual settings. It was a perfect learning camera. When I finally felt like I had grasped the basic concepts of most of the manual camera settings, I wanted to move up to something more advanced. 

I had decided that I wanted to get into Milky Way photography. I began to do more research on different lenses and cropped sensors (APS-C) vs full frame sensors (see picture above), and decided to stick with Sony because I like the electronics they make, and I like the idea of a mirrorless camera. I'm a lady with small hands - having a camera that isn't the size of your head can be helpful. And less moving parts means less can break or get dirty. Plus, I could use the lenses I'd already bought for my NEX until I could afford to switch them out, even though they were cropped lenses made for a cropped camera. Win win. 

The picture above is of a Sony A7II. Mine is similar - I decided on an A7R. There are downsides to having a Sony camera. Unlike Canon and Nikon, Sony is fairly new to the camera market and not a lot of lenses from outside companies (like Rokinon or Sigma) are making lenses for Sony. They are also playing catch up themselves trying to pump out their own lenses. And Sony's lenses are a bit bigger than their Nikon or Canon equivalents, which is the downside to having a camera with no mirror. But, I still think it's worth it. Sony is a software company first and foremost. Even though my A7R has a lot more knobs and buttons on the outside body than my NEX did, a lot of settings are still in the software, so there's a learning curve for anybody that is used to a Nikon or Canon body. But that also means that the software can do a lot of work for you to help you take better photographs.

 Hurricane Ridge

I'm still learning. This is me not knowing how to set a bulb exposure for 2-3 minutes in order to grab the foreground and blend it with the background. It's still one of my favorite shots, but I'm very much still an amateur. I'm 100% self taught. Even though I have taken a beginning photography class and a milky way shooting class (this picture was taken before that) I hadn't learned a whole lot that I didn't already know.

My goal is not to become a professional photographer. My only goal is to take a photo worthy enough to be printed large on a sheet of metal to hang in my apartment. Being an artist (especially a novice) I have a critical eye of my work, and my criteria is basically "am I willing to spend $120 to print that out on a large sheet of metal?" 

I think I'm pretty close with one of my latest pieces: 

Kubota Gardens in Seattle

 I'll get there one of these days.


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