Things I Have Learned

Northern Light Smoke Over Gunflint Lake (28mm, 30 sec @ f/2.8, ISO 200)

Northern Light Smoke Over Gunflint Lake
(28mm, 30 sec @ f/2.8, ISO 200)

Hi everyone and Merry Christmas. It’s hard to believe that another year is about to come to a close and that it is now Christmas Eve. However, as unbelievable as it is, time has continued to swiftly move onward. And on this dark and peaceful evening in central Minnesota, the twinkling lights are reflecting off the snow covered ground, the moon and stars are glowing brilliantly in the heavens above and the temp is already negative Fahrenheit and dropping.  So before I move on and forget, I again wish you and your loved ones all a Blessed and Merry Christmas.

As you may have noticed, I haven’t posted new pictures and blogged for quite a few weeks. Yes it is due to neglect. However, it is not due to lack of desire to become a better photographer.  So let me explain as best I can and we’ll see where things end up. It was only after many nights of research, reviewing internet sites and reading that I determined that starting up a blog on the internet could possibly be a very good if not the best way to force me to take more photos as well as promote my craft.  And to those points it has been a growing experience.

In the past couple of years I’ve snapped somewhere in the area of 8 to 10,000 pictures. Frankly, some were pretty good but face it; many sucked. But in each series of sucky pictures, I was able to line them up with Lightroom® and compare shots. Color, lighting, composition, contrast, focus, were all attributes I considered and tried to evaluate.  The captures I thought were better and worth sharing were weighed again and eventually some of these were posted for you to see.

 Andes Birch at Big Pines<br /> (59mm, 1/400 sec @ f/3.5, ISO 80)<br /> I liked. You like. Most could care less.

Andes Birch at Big Pines
(59mm, 1/400 sec @ f/3.5, ISO 80)
I liked. You liked. Most could really care less.

Now I have to say, I really appreciated all of the supportive comments that many of you have made.  Those positive remarks encouraged me to get out there and take more pictures and keep on posting shots to the blog. That was a real confidence booster. On the other hand, there are a few things about the blog that haven’t worked quite so well.  First, I really didn’t have a measure of what type of photos or subjects that you gravitated to the most. Did you like the landscapes best? Was it the waterfalls? How about the waving sea of prairie grasses? And oh, what about all those native flowers; did you like them?  These were all important questions I was left asking myself. The ultimate truth, however, was that the blog was not providing a means for me to compare my photos to those of other photographers. I needed a way to compare my shots to those of fellow photographers who were capturing the same or similar subjects as me.

Thus it was that in mid-November I started contributing photos to the Capture Minnesota and Capture Dakota photographic web sites. You can click on these links now if you like and the links are also now static listings in the blog’s right hand column for future reference. The days and weeks since then have been a priceless learning experience.  First of all, there are photos from a wide variety of contributors to these sites. Some are snap-shot shooters and the level of quality graduates up through the ranks to those that are truly gifted professionals. As a contributor, one is encouraged to view, vote and comment on the offerings of others. In doing that, you really start to appreciate all those factors I mentioned earlier (color, lighting, composition, focus, etc.) in each and every photo.  As you develop your “eye for quality”, a notable result is that one also starts to apply more of the same “eye for quality” to shots as you take them.

The other thing that has not always been easy to understand is why some pictures get so many votes, while others are for the most part unceremoniously passed by.  But then, I started to notice the track of what I had been viewing, what I had voted on, commented on and yes, what I had skimmed quickly over. Yes, most of the comments continue to be glowing; “Great shot!” “Nice capture!” “Terrific!” In the case of the Andes Birch at Big Pines shot above, not only was it one of my poorest vote getters but it received only a single lowly “Great shot!” comment. But in many instances, a little golden nugget – often a single word – will be included in the brief review. Those precious little nuggets tell you what made the difference. For instance, in the lead photo of this posting – Northern Light Smoke Over Gunflint Lake – not only did it top my chart for votes and comments but there were those nuggets including “reflection”, “vibrant colors”, “ghostly”.  And in another top 10 vote getter below – I’ll Never Be Able to Wash Off This Grey – were more nuggets; “tones captured”, “dripping water” and “title”.

I'll Never Be Able to Wash Off This Gray(400mm, 1/250 sec @ f/9.4, ISO 200)

I’ll Never Be Able to Wash Off This Gray
(400mm, 1/250 sec @ f/9.4, ISO 200)

 So where does all of this leave me regarding the future of this blog.  Well, it is first going to undergo some change. Instead of posting most of my “better?” pictures on the blog, I will be posting the majority of my shots to the two “Capture” sites and likely additional photo sites in the future. As for the postings to the blog, my plans at this time are to draw some of my key captures from the photo sites and expound upon where, how and why I took those shots.  Selfishly, I believe this will help me continue to grow in my abilities as a photographer and story-teller.  And hopefully, I’ll be able to pass on some tips to you that will help you in your photographic efforts as well.

So that’s it. I’m hopeful that you’ll take a look at my photos and those of other photographers to the two “Capture” sites.  And I’m hopeful that you’ll continue to follow this blog and maybe give me a little helpful criticism along the way. Thanks for sticking with me all this time. For now I just have a couple of final things to say. Good night all. Merry Christmas and Peace On Earth to everyone.