Turn of the Year Thoughts

Dreamscape

Key: R20091219-142547

As we pass from one year/decade into the next it seems natural to reflect on the year left behind and the year ahead.  I certainly have been doing my fair share of that, especially since the last week of the year has had a few vacation days attached and I’ve had calmer days to let thoughts wander and reorganize themselves. I’ve noticed that a lot of bloggers are sharing their thoughts, so I will too.  But I’ll try not to ramble too much!

2009 was a typical year of photography for me in that I didn’t have enough time for it.  The pressing needs of husband, father and provider came first, as they should, and everything else was catch as catch can.  Nevertheless, there were some interesting developments for me.

On the picturing side, opportunities were largely made around weekends, holidays, vacation days, business trips to other cities and the occasional outing with the local photo club. I continue my trend away from nature photography (present picture excepted!) toward more candid, portrait, “street” and still life picturing. I produced my second book (thanks again, SoFoBoMo!) and along the way found a very interesting new process for making the book that saved me a ton of computer face time. This led to a further exploration of the technique for producing folios. And although I didn’t make massive headway on it, I have spent a lot more time thinking about sets and series of images, themes and more intentional picturing, and it is beginning to have an impact on my work that is leading me in good directions, artistically.

On the equipment side, I found myself largely making the switch from serious compacts with 1/1.8 sensors to the m4/3 format with a much larger sensor.  This really only happened after I acquired a 20mm pancake lens, which made the larger camera small enough to meet my carry along cut-off weight/size.  The new sensor and lens made for some different picturing possibilities than I had been making, and I found myself returning to familiar 50mm SLR type photography, albeit not with a Pentax MX, but a tiny computer with a lens attached. And it wasn’t nearly as bad as it sounds.  New equipment can be an enabler of sorts, and I certainly enjoyed exploring with the new gear.  I also managed to scan a fair number of old slides and via the learning process established a powerful and consistent scanning workflow.

On the technical/photo processing side, I continue to use the Linux and Mac environments for photo developing and organization.  I discovered a couple of really great apps for the Linux environment for developing (jpeg/raw) and photo viewing and organizing. On the Mac side I’ve been playing with DNG profiles, raw conversion, LightRoom 3beta and of course printing (I still print from Photoshop).  I got a new wide-gamut monitor with a profiling device and finally moved away from manufacturer’s canned profiles to my own.  I haven’t blogged about too many of these things yet (mostly because I don’t find technical posts as interesting as other aspects of photography), but I may talk about some of these developments in the weeks ahead.

On the inspiration side, I visited the Yousef Karsh exhibit at the Art Institute in Chicago, entered two local photo/art show call-for-entries and got pieces accepted, attended a critique, sat on the board of another photo contest, attended several art show openings, and attended about half of the photo shoots and meetings of the local photography club.  I tried to read a couple of books on the creative process, but got bored. I read a (probably) unhealthy number of photographers blog posts and browsed a lot of online work. I posted a lot of photos and a few words now and then on my own blog and enjoyed some very pleasant exchanges with other bloggers (you know who you are!). I had a print swap with another blogger (Thanks, Kjell!).  I participated in a small invitation-only online photography critique group (which I liked a lot), until the owner decided to shut it down. Oh, and I sold exactly one photo on the internet. :-)

Wow, looking back it sounds like I accomplished a lot, but somehow I always want more photography!

Looking ahead, here’s what I see for 2010 in Eric’s photographic journey:

Picturing: I want to really put a concerted effort into themed work.  I’ll probably still be posting a fair bit of come-what-may, but there is going to be more intentional picturing making.  This could be bad, if it makes me feel forced, but I’m going to try to do it in clever ways that don’t get me into that corner.  And I’m going to schedule some days for pure photography.  I’m also planning to dabble in a little video (courtesy of the GH1), but nothing too serious.  Expect some more “formal” portraits. I’ll make another book.  I’d like to produce at least one good folio on interesting paper.

Equipment: I’ll be continuing to explore the GH1 and the normal prime as my main photo machine. I may try some more iPhone photos as a kind of explicit toy-camera like effect, but I don’t expect too much here, I found the lack of any basic exposure controls somewhat frustrating.  I don’t expect any major new camera purchases (never say never!), but perhaps a new lens may show up some day.  I’ll continue my scanning of old material and hope to make some good progress on completing it.

Processing/Technical: more experimentation along the vectors I’m currently exploring as described above.  I’m currently into a fairly minimalist processing regime, and I don’t expect too much change there, although I’ve been playing with raw development a bit more and may try to settle into some custom raw processing profiles (tone curves, etc).  I want to print and frame more work this year.  I’ll be ordering a bunch of new papers and testing them out.  On the blogging side, I’m pretty happy with the outsourced WordPress blog (after years of maintaining my own web sites) and will probably stick with that.  I renewed my Flickr Pro membership for two more years, but I also signed up with SmugMug (and transferred the Flickr sets over with SmuggLr) because I’ve grown tired of Flickr stagnating; it seems that integration into Yahoo sucked all the creative life out of it, and there has been almost no new development on it.  After the dust settles I’ll be with one or the other.  I’ll probably drop my Imagekind Pro account as it hasn’t been much use for any of the uses I originally envisioned it for (and that includes a few things that SmugMug does); it also appears to be languishing after absorption by CafePress.  I may blog about a couple of these decisions if there is interest.

Inspiration: I will be entering more photo contests/shows this year.  It would be interesting to attend a workshop if I can spare the time. I’ll continue to try and attend as many openings as I can because I find viewing art of any kind inspirational, and photographs take a whole new aura in print.  I’m going to pay more attention to the cinematography in the few films I will see.  I’ll continue to blog and post work (of course!) as well as try to keep up with a reasonable core set of blogs. I’d like to do more print swaps with other photographers, if I can find any willing participants.  And I’d like to participate again in a small, private, online critique group (anyone know of any openings?)

Whew!

Well, maybe I didn’t succeed on the avoidance of rambling.  Nevertheless, a fairly decent summary of what was and what is likely, vis-a-vis Eric.  I sincerely hope that you, Dear Reader, will continue to enjoy and prosper in your photographic journey in 2010.  I look forward to another year of contact, learning, ideas and inspiration. Cheers!

3 thoughts on “Turn of the Year Thoughts

  1. Eric, I’ve enjoyed visiting your blog and viewing your photos this past year and I look forward to doing so this coming year.

    Funny, you’re in the process of moving away from Flickr to SmugMug and I’m thinking about consolidating my photo upload point to Flickr — eventually doing away with the added work and cost of my Zenfolio account and local hosting. Changes — I’ve often thought that photographers all have a bit of Gipsy blood in them anyway. ;-)

    I hope you have a wonderful year that exceeds all your goals and expectations!

  2. Hi Earl, Likewise.

    I’m happy with the stability of Flickr for image hosting, but frustrated by their “one size fits all” approach. Basically, you have a very coarse level of control over your photos that is not flexible enough. I’ll give just one example that is typical of the whole site: their default size of 500px is pretty small for today’s monitors. You want to allow people to see the larger size, but Flickr only has a control that opens up every size up to the original for download! I don’t really want to make my originals available for download. SmugMug uses a more useful medium size of 600 pixels, and has options to set limits for viewing anywhere from M, to L, X, 2X, 3X or original. Furthermore you can set this on a gallery by gallery basis so that some galleries allow larger downloads than others. You can also password protect galleries, etc. etc. Just a lot more options for flexible viewing and sharing. And unlike Flickr, where members have been pleading in the forums for YEARS for basic improvements, SmugMug rolls out improvements more frequently, and has an almost fanatical obsession for customer service–people routinely report getting back emails from them on a Sunday…

  3. Pingback: Progress toward goals « Red Skies at Night

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