It’s been just over a year since I got back into photography.
It’s been a hobby, on and off, since I was a teenager but I went through a few years of using nothing but my phone. In late 2021, I bought a new camera and I’ve since gone through a huge range of different kit trying to find the ideal setup.
I’ve taken thousands of pictures, and found the things that I really love to shoot. I like experimenting with various different forms of photography but most of all I like shooting local events, to document things that are going on around the town. Event photography can be a challenge, but it’s also an opportunity to engage with people and share the results.
The Chinese New Year parade was the first event I shot this year
I also like street photography but I’m still very self conscious about it. I’ve written about how it’s not always a well understood genre.
There are many other types of photography I enjoy. I like to take landscapes whenever I can, and I’m pleased that I’ve made the effort to make a few early starts to make the most of good shooting conditions. I’ve experimented a little with sports and wildlife, night photography, and even a few close-ups.
When I mention actual camera gear on the blog, it’s usually in general terms. I’ll talk about focal length, aperture, and ISO for a given shot, but rarely talk specifically about the brands that I use. That’s deliberate. It doesn’t really matter. Yes, there are important differences between full frame and smaller sensors, and in the quality of certain lenses, but it’s rarely significant for web use. I think it’s more important to find a camera that feels right and is fun to use. That fun can come from special features, and one of my cameras is certainly full of those.
There have been two technical game changers since I was last taking pictures seriously using a DSLR.
The power of IBIS – this was handheld at 2 seconds
The first is IBIS. Back in my DSLR days, I had a couple of lenses with built in stabilisation, but I never found it that effective. It was OK for ensuring sharp shots at normal shutter speeds, or speeds slightly slower than I’d normally hand-hold, but I could never push it that far. I’m now able, with at least one of my cameras, to consistently get reasonably sharp shots at a one second exposure on a moderately wide lens. That opens up a huge range of opportunities when I don’t want to lug a tripod around.
The second is eye detect autofocus, which makes taking pictures of people so much easier. I’m still trying to break out of the older method of focussing, using a single point and then re-composing. I know I need to spend more time understanding the new features and how to make the most of them. Similar modes for animal and bird detection make wildlife photography easier, although still challenging.
Bird detection in action
That doesn’t just apply to autofocus. I still tend to adjust my settings for different types of shot, but I’m starting to get to grips with the full use of custom modes in my cameras to quickly configure the camera settings for different genres of photography. Auto ISO is another feature that I’d always been reluctant to use, but cameras now perform so well at higher ISOs that it’s an invaluable tool.
It’s all about letting the camera do the heavy lifting, freeing me up as a photographer to concentrate on composition and timing.
That brings me nicely on to where I want to improve, and the things I want to try in 2023.
I know I need to concentrate more on my compositions. I have a tendency to point and shoot. I like to think I’m being instinctive with my composition, but for static subjects my results would definitely improve from taking more time over my shots and working a scene. Too often I’ve ended up heavily cropping to find a good image in a wider shot.
I also want to go out with a single prime lens more often. I love the flexibility of a zoom lens, and without one there’s always the fear of missing out on a good shot, but I think the discipline of trying to get great images from a single focal length would be a great way to improve.
I’m going to make more of an effort to go to different locations, for landscape, travel, and street photography. I haven’t been up to London since prior to the pandemic, and that’s something I need to rectify. It’s an ideal location for street photography. I also need to travel a bit further afield for interesting landscapes.
My number one resolution, though, is to stop buying camera gear and really understand the gear I do have. I’ve had a bad case of GAS, gear acquisition syndrome, this year, replacing one camera with another at regular intervals. I wouldn’t be surprised if at least half of the pictures I’ve taken this year have been test shots in my garden, trying lenses at different apertures and pixel peeping the results until my eyes blur. That needs to end.
I have far too many test shots like this!
I think I’ve settled on a line up that will work for me, and will aim to stick with it for 2023. There are a couple of additions that might round out my kit, but only if I can fund them by selling the things I’m not using.
In short, I want to concentrate on the artistic side of photography and experiment with different styles and genres. Let’s see how well that goes!
Posted on 30 December 2022 in Other musings