100 completely random observations about photography

Here's a bunch of random thoughts, loosely tied together by photography, written down hastily in a stream of consciousness format.  And no, I'm not sure why I did this either.  :-)

I started writing up this list for no apparent reason, and I just kept going and going.  I guess that I have a lot of stuff in my head, and honestly, there’s not anywhere else to really dump it all.  So, lucky you?  

Though I have several photography friends here in Austin, I really don’t see them very often, so I don’t get a chance to discuss this stuff, and why bother?  It’s pretty much a bunch of odd ramblings, which don’t really make for interesting conversation. 

A lot of this is just my opinions, so don’t read too much into it.  This is just me commenting on my photography, the photography market, gear, software, life and more.  I decided I might as well share it before I change my mind and decide not to share it, because I do that a lot (see #62 below).  

Agree?  Disagree?  Feel the same?  Let me know in the comments.

  1.  Whether it’s work or play, photography is an absolute joy.
  2.  I’m often concerned that my photos aren’t “good enough”.
  3.  Sony makes a damn fine camera, and I am happy to have one.
  4.  I spend so much time on my computer, and not enough time in nature.  I get excited when I am out shooting, almost giddy.  It’s way better than being on the computer, even though I absolutely love to process photos.
  5.  Sunset is probably the most popular time of day to shoot.  Being a bit introverted, I prefer sunrise so I can be alone.
  6.  I love to travel.
  7.  Lightroom is totally kick ass.  The first time I moved the Clarity slider I was hooked.
  8.  I can’t believe I stuck with Aperture for as long as I did.
  9.  I hear great things about the Fuji mirrorless cameras, but I have no plans to change.
  10.  I don’t shoot with my iPhone as much as I used to.  The quality is only fair, and the noise in iPhone shots really bugs me - but you can’t beat the convenience for a quick snap.
  11.  HDR is ugly to some people but I don’t care.  Sometimes I overcook my HDR shots but I don’t care.
  12.  More photographers use HDR or HDR-like techniques than most people probably realize.
  13.  I think of photography as art, not journalism, so I like to craft my images based on how the place felt to me, as opposed to how it may have looked.
  14.  I am often torn between creating more photographs, and creating better photographs.  I see a HUGE benefit in both, and after all these years I am still not sure which direction I lean.
  15.  Photoshop feels like a big mess and I rarely use it.  I feel like I am “supposed” to be a Photoshop guy though.
  16.  I use Aurora HDR on just about every single photograph, even iPhone shots and single exposures.  I think it’s by far the most capable product out there.  I call it “the magic shop”.  It totally feels like I am doing magic in there, and I love that.
  17.  It’s incredibly hard to draw attention to your photographs.  There is just SO MUCH great photography on the web these days.
  18.  Metering still seems like a strange word and strange concept to me at times.  I don’t know why, because I feel like I understand it, but still.  Maybe it’s just the word that feels weird.
  19.  Long exposures are cool.  Really long exposures are really cool.
  20.  I sometimes wonder if I should try street photography.
  21.  I’ve been serious about photography for roughly 6 years - whatever “serious” means.
  22.  I wish I had started younger.
  23.  I never was into film photography so my whole photographic life has been digital.  Many folks seem to pick up film and experiment with it now, but I’m not interested.  There’s nothing wrong it, I just don’t feel like I have enough time to try something else when there are still a million other things I want to do.
  24.  I really want to try some composite work someday, but I haven’t had the time for that either.
  25.  I put pressure on myself with deadlines to get things done, yet this is art.  I should slow down sometimes because I always feel like I am hurrying.
  26.  I only started messing around with textures when I started using Aurora HDR, but I love them now and have started “collecting” my own.
  27.  In my Lightroom library, I create folders based on location, not year/date like most people.  That makes sense to me, because I don't really care about dates.  When I need to find a photo, it's a photo taken in a certain place, not on a certain date.
  28.  I still use Flickr everyday.
  29.  Social media is a huge time suck but I don’t see how you get by without it as a photographer.  Though I must admit there are aspects of it that I like, and chief among them is connecting with photographers from around the globe.
  30.  Having a blog is like a full time job that pays much less than minimum wage.  It’s totally worth it to me though because I love to create and write, and I can do whatever I want to do with it because it’s all mine.
  31.  I have totally gotten hooked on creating videos for YouTube.
  32.  I get decent blog traffic from Pinterest although I spend very little time there.  I should pin more stuff, but there are always others things I find myself doing.
  33.  I keep notes on my iPhone about things I want to write about on the blog or create videos about, or even eBooks that I want to author.  I read those notes and add to them all the time.  I always have a huge to-do list for my photography, but that’s fine with me.  I'm never bored or lacking in ideas, which is a blessing.
  34.  I ignored black and white photography for so long, but now I kind of like it.  Tonality from Macphun is the reason I am converting some of my shots to monochrome now - that’s a great product.
  35.  Grungy old stuff is fun to shoot, and processing those shots in HDR is fun as hell.
  36.  I have only taken a few portraits in my entire life, outside of family gatherings.  They were ok but not really that great.  I could never do that for a living.  I would be bored to death, plus I would starve because I suck at it and no one would hire me.
  37.  I’m so glad that I learned about split toning - it’s one of my favorite techniques.
  38.  I used to shoot an Olympus EM-1 and my favorite lens was a tiny little Panasonic/Leica 15mm f/1.7 prime.  It was perfect for handheld shots in low light, and since I love to travel light, it was perfect for me.  Though I loved it at the time, I don’t really miss my Olympus camera, but I miss that little lens.  Since converting to Sony, I picked up their 28mm f/2 and it’s nearly the same thing, so I am happy about that.
  39.  It seems like everyone gets the “Photo of the Week” award on Pixoto.  I’ve never been to that site, but these things are always shared on Facebook.  It’s kind of annoying, because when someone wins it appears to auto-post onto Facebook but it never shows the photo.  What’s the point?  Does the “Photo of the Week” award give you anything beside a nice feeling?
  40.  Is Leica really THAT good, because they sure are expensive?
  41.  Sometimes I am too lazy to get out the tripod so I shoot handheld, even in lower light - and I still shoot brackets.  Occasionally this works out fine, but I get my share of blurry crap too, and then I chide myself for being lazy.
  42.  I always feel better after shooting, even if the shots aren’t very good.  There’s something about going out with the intent to create that is just so satisfying.
  43.  I have a weird love of graffiti and neon signs, and get a huge kick out of photographing them, especially when I travel.  No one is ever interested in these types of photos though, but I will always take them because I just love them.
  44.  I have had an iPhone shot published once before.  Isn’t that kind of weird?
  45.  I dropped a lens cap in a canal in Amsterdam.
  46.  Someone asked me to shoot a wedding but I declined.  I am completely afraid of something like that.  I feel like I would end up being one of those “you get what you pay for” type of stories on PetaPixel or somewhere like that.  I fear it would have been a disaster, because the one thing I almost never shoot is people and I generally suck at it.
  47.  It seems like every photographer has been to Iceland and/or New Zealand, except for me.
  48.  If I had to pick one part of the world to live in and photograph, it would likely be Europe.
  49.  If I had to pick one part of the US to live in and photograph, it would likely be the Pacific Northwest (and more specifically, Oregon) - although my favorite US city is San Francisco.
  50.  I’m having fun writing up this list.  It's almost therapeutic.
  51.  There are two photographers that I admire a LOT - and I won’t name them - but they are so freakin’ talented it’s amazing.  Yet, they are totally different.  That makes me wonder about my own style.  Do I lean towards one or the other?  Does it matter, really? 
  52.  I haven’t yet figured out what I want to be known as in photographic terms.  You know, like “what kind of photographer” I am, or what my style is, if I have one.  I think this is a lifelong process of discovery.  Hopefully I look back some years hence and I have left something of meaning.
  53.  I don’t have a favorite photography blog that I read very often, but there are some great ones out there, depending on what you are interested in.  But feel free to let me know if you have a favorite, because I love to read this stuff.
  54.  Maybe I should get a drone.
  55.  I’m not even remotely interested in the technical bits of photography or camera gear.  I just want to make and use “nice stuff” and not get into the weeds.
  56.  I could never do a 365 project.  It feels like too much work.
  57.  I usually edit quite a few photos at a time, and often won’t be back in my library to edit again for several days or longer.  I actually enjoy these breaks.
  58.  There are some parts of Norway that look absolutely breath-taking, and I want to go shoot them.
  59.  I have about 3-4 eBooks that I want to write, one of which is about half done, but I haven’t been motivated to work on it lately, so it’s just sitting there.
  60.  Does anyone use Google Plus anymore?  It was so great at the beginning but it feels like it just died.
  61.  I’ve begun to license photos with a couple of stock agencies.  I declined these invites in years past, but I figured why not give it a go?  Time will tell whether it works for me or not.
  62.  At any point in time, I have about 5 different articles for the blog that are half-written, just sitting on my desktop.  I usually start a new one before I finish an older one, so my desktop gets cluttered with all these documents that I am writing.  I always start strong, but then they just sit there for a while until I decide it’s done and I get up the courage to post it on the blog.  I often feel that what I have to say is kind of dumb, so I delay sharing it.  
  63.  Do you consider it cheating when someone replaces a sky in their photo?  I don’t, although I do think they should disclose that.
  64.  Sometimes I come across photographers that have HUGE followings, but I had never heard of them.  It makes me wonder where I have been, because they are usually super talented and I am not sure how I missed them.
  65.  For a while, I was completely addicted to shooting with my wide angle lens.  I would never take it off.  Now I look back on those days and while I love many of the shots, I realize I missed so many other shots because I wouldn’t change lenses.  These days, I am more addicted to the mid-range zoom lens on my Sony (the 24-70mm).
  66.  Prime lenses can be both challenging and interesting to use.  
  67.  I sometimes question why I spend so much time working on all this photography stuff.
  68.  Once I shot the Milky Way, and needed help figuring out how to do so.  I keep thinking about giving it a go again, but now I don’t need the help, I just need to be away from the city.
  69.  I don’t shoot much in the summer here in Texas because sunrise is so early and sunset is so late.  It’s somewhat depressing because it’s also very hot and humid.  In other words, I pretty much want to stay indoors for 3-4 months.
  70.  I taught myself nearly everything that I know about photography, which may not be all that much really, but it sounds cool to say it.
  71.  Perhaps someday I will lead photo workshops and photo tours in cool places.  I would love to do that; it sure seems like a lot of fun.  I’m sure it’s a ton of work, too, but fun work.
  72.  My blog started as somewhere to just post a “nearly daily” photo online.  That was the first 4 years or so, and I did it because I thought that was the logical step for someone that was into photography.  In other words, I was just copying those that came before me.  Then I started sprinkling in longer-form articles, and I loved doing that.  Then I cut back on the daily photo thing, and went to 4 posts per week, then 3 per week, and then 2 per week - but each of these posts had multiple photos.  So it was more photos per week, but fewer posts.  Now I just post 2-3 times per week, depending on what I have ready and what I feel like saying - and the number of photos in each posts varies.  I also share news and other updates, and I write, add educational content, and do whatever.  I feel like I finally found a bit of a groove for myself and my blog.  This is fun.  I hope I can do this forever.
  73.  I could shoot waterfalls every week and maybe never tire of it, as long as they weren’t the same ones.  However, I would have to live somewhere else to do that.
  74.  European street scenes are just about my favorite thing to shoot, but of course I’m a long way from them, and rarely get to shoot them.  But still, I freakin’ love them!
  75.  SmugMug is a great place to host your portfolio site, and I’ve used it for several years now.  I really don’t sell many prints, and I put absolutely zero effort into trying to sell my prints.  But I think of it as cloud backup for my finished work, which is something like 4,000 photos now.
  76.  My traffic on SmugMug is weird - some days I get 3,000 views and the next day I get 13.  I’m not sure if it’s regular SmugMug users just poking around or folks that may be genuinely interested in buying prints, but I should look into that.  
  77.  I still think Flickr is much better than 500px (at least in terms of what I want to get out of the site), but everyone who joins 500px considers themself a serious photographer and will probably disagree with me.
  78.  500px feels mostly like a popularity contest, or at it least it did when I used it.  Then again, so does the rest of social media so what’s the difference?
  79.  I have purchased just about every single one of the big photo editing product suites.  I always thought I needed something new to try because I like to experiment, but really I don’t need all the stuff I have now.
  80.  Photos for Mac is pretty good for managing my iPhone shots, but that’s about it.  I’m so glad I dumped Aperture and went to Lightroom.
  81.  When I first started photography, I had read that f/22 was good for getting everything in focus, so I shot every single photo at f/22 for a long time.  I had no understanding of aperture or really anything else at the time.  I also had absolutely no creativity around my shot selection or my editing.  Hopefully I’ve improved since then!
  82.  Having photography as a creative outlet has significantly changed the course of my life in a good way.
  83.  I love gear, although I don’t have a lot of it.  I always sell my old stuff when I buy new stuff, so I only have 3 lenses that I use with my Sony camera.  I’m not sure if I want any more.  I like to travel light.  Well, maybe one more.  :-)
  84.  If someone gave me a chunk of money to spend on photography gear, I don’t know what I would buy.
  85.  While grain in a black and white film photo may look cool, most digital noise bugs me - though it does depend on the photograph.
  86.  I need to go take some photos now - I’ve been typing for way too long.  I get like that after too much computer time.  I need to take a break, go outside, take a photo, whatever.  It’s like the electricity of the computer wears me down, and I have to recharge somewhere without it.
  87.  I have lost count of how many businesses have asked to use my photos for free.  It’s still an insult, frankly.  They don’t give away their stuff for free, do they?  
  88.  It’s sad when a business asks for a quote on licensing an image, and after you provide it you never hear back, not even a “thanks but…” response.  My prices are reasonable based on many conversations I’ve had with other photogs, but I guess not reasonable enough.
  89.  One of my photos is enlarged and hanging in the window of a convenience store here in Austin, though I never sold them a copy.  I'm not sure how or where they got it.  I keep intending to go speak with them about it, but I am always headed somewhere when I pass by, and I tell myself I will stop the next time.
  90.  I always insure all of my photography gear.  When I see someone lose theirs or have it stolen and then they start a GoFundMe page to ask for donations, I want to scream.  Why don’t they insure it?  If they can afford the gear, they can afford the insurance, right?  Am I missing something here?
  91.  I get a laugh out of looking at some of my old photos.  I scratch my head and wonder why I processed some shots in certain ways.
  92.   I used to purposefully blur street shots in cities in the evening (the whole shot was blurry), that way you get all the little “bokeh balls” in a photo from the city lights, and I think it looks cool.  I had forgotten about that.
  93.  Blue hour after sunset is possibly my favorite time of day to shoot.  Or, maybe sunrise.  Call it a draw.
  94.  I think I am a pretty decent photographer, but then sometimes I see a shot that just blows me away, and I feel like a total newbie.  That’s actually inspiring to me, not depressing.
  95.  I have tried the vintage look a couple of times with my shots, but it’s not me.  Some folks pull it off incredibly well, but I haven’t liked most of my attempts.
  96.  I’m not even remotely interested in the selfie thing.
  97.  I wish I had access to some cool urbex locations.  I see a ton of great shots online from around the world, but there aren’t any around here, at least to my knowledge.
  98.  Roof-topping produces some killer shots, but I don’t know if I’m willing to break into a place to try it.
  99.  I currently have 87 photos that are processed, finished, and ready to share online.  They sit in a folder on my desktop and I post a few to Flickr each day.  I only pick a few each week to put on Facebook - but everything goes on Flickr.  Flickr is essentially my entire photo archive of published shots.
  100.  I have a Facebook page for my blog, but it’s nearly impossible to drive engagement there.  I spent years trying to build it up, only to get to the point where I feel like it’s fairly useless.  I keep thinking I am going to just delete it, but then I worry that maybe FB will change something and I might wish I hadn’t. 

Thanks for listening.  Feel free to leave me any feedback or comments below!