Saturday, December 29, 2012
The Altar / A Look Back at 2012
2012 itself has been a crazy year for me, mainly away from the photographic world. I got married, bought my first property, lost a job, started a new job and somewhere in between all that, managed to keep up a fairly regular photographic blog. It was a wise choice for me at the end of the year to end my set days for blogging, as I was losing the spark for blogging itself and felt my pictures were just becoming routine, rather than ones I truly loved creating.
With photography itself though, my love for it has continued to grow and grow. I remember watching the film 'Almost Famous' many years ago and at the end of it, the Rolling Stones journalist (the lead character) asks one of the band members he has been following "What do you love about music?" to which he responds "To begin with, everything". This quote always comes to my head when I think about photography. I really love EVERYTHING about it. I'm so interested in many forms of photography and am currently halfway through a course I am undertaking with The Photographic Institute. Photography is where my future lies - it is what I go to bed every night and wake up thinking about in the morning.
So do I feel I have improved at all? Honestly, yes I do. I've held back for a couple of years now, writing any kind of training or tutoring material for this blog, or any website I have had. That isn't strictly true actually, I'm still about two fifths of the way through an HDR tutorial I began writing in the summer, but I started really questioning why I want to write it. I love talking about photography and would always happily show anyone interested how I came to a certain image or look. But I don't think (at the moment anyway) that it is my nature to tell people how to create photography, I've just wanted to focus on producing pictures. Some photographers spend all their time writing new guides, strategies and tutorials, with very little photographic output. And I am not knocking that for one second, if that's what they enjoy doing and it works for them, then great, but for me I would rather produce pictures.
So how do I feel I have improved then? Well because training and practice I think have paid off. It was only yesterday while in London with family and friends that I realised I have stopped thinking in tourist mode when it comes to taking pictures. Even with the famous landmarks, I think about composition and additional interest to the main subject before pressing the shutter button. My personal belief is that you cannot teach this vision, but that with persistence and practice, it simply sinks in. My other key area I believe has improved my photography no end is using manual mode. Yes MANUAL mode. This even at the beginning of the year would have seemed a barren desert to me, but now it is the mode I use for 95% of my pictures. I learnt all about the advantages (indeed necessities) of shooting in manual mode in Photographic Institute course and have never looked back. To be able to meter the scene in-camera and then reflect the exposures accordingly (without auto-bracketing), I believe will improve the dynamic range of your images. I do still use auto-bracketing when doing hand-held HDR's (for those occasions like recently where I have been out with family and friends) but still always use manual mode. Using a manual focus mode and nearly always setting up a tripod now, have also improved my photography. Therefore, my one tip to gain from all this - get out of auto mode! Yes any type of auto mode, that includes Aperture-Priority! The rewards will be shown in your photographic output.
Ok, so those are my thoughts, here are the 'awards' as promised (click on the headings to see the pictures I am talking about):
My photographic highlight of 2012 - Undoubtedly having my picture 'Justice for the 96' be the lead picture in an article entitled 'Eleven stunning pictures of Anfield' on the official Liverpool FC website. Appearing on the front page of Flickr is blown out of the water by appearing on the website of one's beloved football club.
My best photo of 2012 - Probably 'Like a Setting Sun'. One of the first days shooting with my new Nikon D700 produced this picture, which was one of several I took of the blurred sun against the foreground of the wheat, but is the only one where I 'got the shot'. I knew instantly it was a good one.
My worst photo of 2012 - Oh that would be 'Away From it All'. A key reason I switched my set blogging days. I produced it in about a 10 minute time frame I had to blog that day. I would delete it but then the worst photo award would be a tough decision.
My favourite photograph by another photographer - Drumroll please.....this would have to go to 'Cormorant Fisherman' by Conor Macneill. I was truly blown away when I saw this photo. A beautiful combination of HDR, subject and character. A cliché, but absolutely a picture that tells a story.
Best contributor to this site - This one goes to Tim Pursall. Regularly shares his thoughts and opinions on this website and has often stuck by my side when I wrote perhaps a couple of blogs I later regretted. His support and contribution to this site has been fantastic! Thanks Tim! Check out his website TPimages. co.uk.
Key lesson of 2012 - As stated above, MANUAL MODE!
Hope everyone has had a fantastic Christmas and has a great new year! I wish you all the best and much success for 2013! I will have a couple more pictures I want to post before 2012 ends, so will be back on this blog tomorrow and Monday. I wasn't going to do a slide show for 2012, but once the year has ended, I think I may just get round to doing one. Thank you to every single person that has visited this site in 2012, your support as I always like to say, is highly appreciated!
Today's picture is one I took the other day whilst visiting Winchester Cathedral in Hampshire. This is an example of an HDR I have had to take hand-held recently, mainly due to the fact that you cannot take tripods in with you. I think it is great that some cathedrals like this one do happily let you take pictures inside though.