Another Year……Memories

Most of the time I enjoy looking back on my year.  However, this year I slacked, a lot, and I have to make some changes.  I just didn’t get out as much as I normally do.  Even during camping season it seemed it was always interrupted with something I “had” to do.  I wasn’t as intentional as I had been the past few years.  I didn’t create good content for my Facebook page and actually neglected it.  I had something happen that set me off into the “not good enough” thought process, which in turn caused me to  purge a lot of unneeded stress in my social media life. But I would go out and take photos and think, “these are not good, what am I doing trying to create good photos when I can’t do it?”  I really had to shake that mindset; I am my own worst critic.

Life was  disrupted with a move in the middle part of the year and it was during a very stressful time.  I’m still trying to adjust. Then, in September we were hit by one of the largest hurricane’s in recent history. Irma totally upset my world, but I came out a whole lot better than many of my friends did and I can tell you I am most grateful for that blessing.  Yet, the stress was still there and even guilt that so many lost so much and I didn’t.  I can’t explain why it was that way, but it was; again I am so grateful to not have had any damage.

Sometimes life gives you those old lemons and it’s not always easy to make the lemonade.  In fact, I have thrown a lot of lemons away because I just could not bring myself to make them work.  Ever feel like that?

I’m looking forward to a clean start with 2018, I won’t make promises I can’t keep, but I will put a lot more effort into making it an incredible year personally and professionally.

Here’s a look back on what I did accomplish photographically:

 

 

I’m a Gear Nerd

Being a photographer I have a good collection of gear.  I love gear, new, used, doesn’t matter, if it goes on or near my camera I want it. I have great lenses, extra batteries, things to light up my subjects from the smallest critter to an entire family of people;  I can create beautiful images in natural settings or provide the gear to set up a studio.  Yep, that’s me the gear nerd!  Recently I added to my addiction in the purchase of a new (to me) Canon 70d crop frame camera.  I had the opportunity to purchase another full frame Canon 6d, but opted for the crop frame for several reasons.  First of all, I needed a second body so that I don’t need to change lenses while in the concert pit or at weddings and chance missing the shot, the second reason is because the 70d’s button placement is almost the same as my 6d and lastly because my son shoots with the 70d and as my second for weddings I may need for him to use the second body and he needs to not have to think about where the buttons are and what to control.  I tried it out this past weekend and I like it a lot, the shutter is a bit noisier, but overall the pictures were clean and crisp; I will use silent shutter for events.

My next purchase is an upgraded 50mm.  I currently own the Nifty Fifty which is Canon’s f1.8 5omm lens.  Great little lens, but I need something a bit sharper and faster.  I have looked at the Canon f1.2 and have read, watched videos and compared it to Sigma’s ART series F1.4 50mm.  With a cost difference of about $400 I think I may be going with the Sigma Art Lens.  The reviews are incredible and I’ve even seen a few who pit it against the Canon f1.2.  Stay tuned………..

Perfectionism at it’s Best (Worst)

Ever make a mistake? Yes, me too and when I do they are normally doozies! I consider myself a perfectionist.  I was the kid who would not erase, but start over on a paper, it always took me longer because of this.  I still carry that bit of perfectionism into my life today and in doing so it imparts undue stress which is something I try to avoid.

When it comes to photography, I rarely have to edit, not that my photos are perfect, far from it many times, but I try to get my settings right in camera to avoid having to spend time in front of a computer to edit.  Last week that completely changed and I had an extremely humbling experience.

The story begins when I was asked by the lead singer of a headlining band to take their final bow shot at the end of the evening.  I knew it would be difficult because the lighting at these shows are less than stellar.  I accepted the challenge convinced I’d be able to give them something great.  Throughout the show I really fought with my settings and the non existent or highly saturated stage lighting, but I still thought “I can do this” because there is one thing I rarely do is question my skills.  Finally the moment came I climbed the steps up to the stage to position myself behind the drum kit and on my way I kept thinking, “I should have grabbed my flash”,  I really didn’t want to use flash because the idea was to capture the crowd behind the band.  I shot off the first few frames and thought my settings were adequate, however I had nothing to focus on as the stage lights were completely off except for this glaring green light bouncing off the cymbals. Still no realizing what was happening I continued to shoot as both bands took a final bow and my job was done.

On the way home the lead singer sent me a text message telling me how he couldn’t wait to see the photos.  I felt the same way, until I downloaded them into Lightroom. My stomach dropped, every single photo was dark; except for the green lights reflecting from the cymbals on the drum kit.  What was I going to do?  I completely broke down; THESE were the MOST important shots of the night and I had completely failed.  I began to question myself, my abilities and my judgement.  For three days I tried to work on the photos and just could not get anything usable.  I was devastated, I had ruined the photos.

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Before

 

On the fourth day once again I received a text message from the lead singer asking when I would be sending the photos over, I told him they would be done later that night; again I broke down, but something at that moment hit me.  I could and would salvage the photo!

I needed to believe in myself and my abilities and understand I could solve the problem (with a lot of prayer and pleading to God).  Finally it came to me what to do and three hours later, the band had their photo.

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After

 

 

Here is what I didn’t realize at the time: The green lights were reflecting from the cymbals back to the sensor on my camera, so when I thought I was exposing for the faces, I exposing for the cymbals. I should have stepped forward instead of staying behind the drums and finally I should have used my flash and deal with the crowd in post processing.

Here is what I learned about myself: Always go with your gut! No matter what, do what your instincts tell you to do.  I should have used my flash.  Next I learned that I need to not stress over this, just breathe and work until a solution is evident.  And finally I learned I am human, and I make mistakes and I need to learn from them.  However, the biggest take away from this is that God has given me the gift of creativity and I need to rely on him and not on myself no matter how impossible the situation seems.  Thanks for following me, and Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

Season Is Upon Us

Where I live in Florida we don’t have four distinct seasons, we have two; Snowbird season beginning in mid October and the season when they go back north which is normally after Easter.  During this time in South West Florida the events and concerts pick up and my camera sees a lot of action.  The weather is a lot more pleasant for outdoor events and weddings.  My season started on October 15 with a wedding held at one of the most historic country clubs in Fort Myers; The Edison.  I am fortunate enough to be able to work with my youngest son.  He is an incredible photographer and one I trust explicitly. The long view of the couple facing The Edison was taken by him.  Please visit his website at phloridaphoto

Between the special events I also schedule portrait sessions and was able to photograph an interesting fellow whom I believe is one of the many spirits which lurk in Historic Downtown Fort Myers, complete with orb and gargoyle (look closely).

I was also at Fright Nite where The Sick Puppies and Devour the Day headlined, there were also a few interesting characters out that night as well. You can see more of the photos from this frightful night by clicking on the photo below.

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2016 Goals

I am not making any resolutions this year, but I do have  goals for my personal and professional life.  My first goal is to be more creative; to take the time to really see what is in front of my lens.  Another goal is to book more weddings, however I am particular and will only take those which follow my standards and vision.  A personal goal is to take more “me” time, to get out and enhance my own skills and to work to make me better.  I also want to be more active in my blog here, I put out quite a few last year, but my goal for 2016 is to blog weekly.  Writing is something I enjoy and I want to write a lot more, which will also get me out and shooting more so that I have something to blog about.  I want to read more books this year, reading is an escape and I want to go to the park or beach with a good book and get lost in it.  I also want to sit in quiet reflection to get closer to God and to simply listen for life’s answers.

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2016 will be my best year ever!

Life in Balance

A walk on the wild side
A walk on the wild side

I was talking with a friend yesterday as we strolled around the Taste of Lee and we were discussing ways to keep our energy levels up.  I work a full time job that currently pays the bills and I work about 30 hours a week on my photography, either with attending and shooting events or on the computer editing or handling my social media. He works really long hours some days and also understands the need to chill even though he too has an abundance of energy. I shared with him I take  really great supplements, however he also reminded me I take “time-outs” or down time to allow myself to rest and restore.  I thought about it, and it’s something I incorporate into my life, and it’s become so second nature I don’t think about it.  He explained when he’s mentioned about needing to rest he’s been criticized for acting “old”, but I discern this differently; this man has learned to balance his life and understands it’s a matter of taking care of yourself.  Being older, I know I don’t have the energy I had even 20 years ago so to keep up with the schedule imposed upon myself, I must have balance or I will face burnout.

Life is all about balance.  With my busy schedule, I have to stop and take a moment to regroup and refresh, I sometimes stay in, but most times I’ll go to the park or to the beach to refresh.  If I take my camera I’ll try to capture my down time, but oftentimes I want to disconnect for a brief period.  I attend church regularly to keep myself in spiritual balance  and I enjoy reading, painting and have even taken a class, or I’ll take a day or afternoon to spend needed time with the people in my life I care about.  This balance keeps my creativity fresh and alive and allows my mind to rest and reset.

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If you are trying to juggle a busy schedule, whether it includes your own life, or one with children or taking care of a loved one, take a timeout for yourself, don’t feel guilty about it.  Sometimes this will make all the difference in how you feel  and will refresh your mind and body. In the comment section below, tell me how do you keep your life in balance?

Back of the ATV