Getting Warmed Up

Welcome to the blog. I am looking forward to sharing with you some of the experiences I have had in taking pictures these many years. I have found there are many steps along the way of creating interesting photos. Some are relatively easy to master and others I have struggled with most of my life.

I am not a professional photographer, but an avid hobbyist. I have won one photo contest that was sponsored by my employer. I think I got a gift card for winning. Here is the winning photo taken at Madeira Beach in Florida at sunset:

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Sunset with waves at Madeira Beach

I think one of the most challenging aspects of photography is the transition when I am immersed in a setting regardless of whether it is in nature, inside a building, or in an urban area,  making the switch from just “being in the moment” to looking at the setting as a scene with my artistic eye. What part of the scene am I trying to capture? How is the lighting going to affect my approach to taking a shot? Am I going to isolate one part of the scene and zoom in or am I going to try to capture the whole scene?

As these questions crop up in my head I begin to feel isolated from the setting and involved with the task of taking a picture. It is like I am stepping out of the frame. It tends to be more jarring to me when I am immersed in nature.

The next challenge is getting to know the tools I use for photography. These include my cameras, lenses, platforms (tripod, monopod, shoulder brace, and straps), as well as various software I use for editing and transforming photos. While current digital cameras can be set to use auto settings, getting to know all of the functions for aperture, shutter speed, white balance, focusing options, filters, effects, histograms and such can be quite daunting.

The next step along the way is to use the knowledge of the tools to capture the scene the way I want it. Generally I am looking for a crisp shot with the right level of detail within the correct depth of field. In some cases some action blurring, such as a waterfall taken at a slower shutter speed, is what I go for. In any case I am trying to get something that will work for me in post processing.

Speaking of post processing, there are purists who believe that photos should be finished after the shutter button is pressed and the image is saved to the memory card. Obviously from the image at the top of this page, I am of the school that most everything is possible in post processing. I routinely use an image clarifier program, editing software, and recently been experimenting with convolutional neural nets that can learn the style of a particular artist and then apply that style to a photograph. In the case of the image above I passed a photo of me through a neural net trained on Vincent Van Gogh’s self portrait with a grey hat.

 

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As I progress with this blog I will go into much more detail about neural nets as well as the other aspects to photography I have mentioned. Welcome again, and I hope you enjoy my stories.

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