|Some essentials for basic photography, editing and publishing|
My PhilosophyMy approach to many aspects of my life is combining quality and reliability with minimalism and simplicity.
With photography, I enjoy spending my time searching for subjects, places and exploring the outdoors with my dog rather than trying to understand complicated technology and advanced features of many modern day cameras or sitting in front of a computer screen for endless hours editing images.
I keep things simple, focusing on the basics of photography such as technique, composition and camera settings, using and improving my skills in the field rather than relying on computer wizardry to create something from a badly composed image.
During my early years studying photography it was primarily monochrome and using good old fashioned film and dark room processing. This was before the advent of digital photography and home editing software which personally I find an absolute blessing with the flexibility and affordability it provides although there will always be people who prefer the old ways which admittedly there was something kind of special about developing your own photos in a dark room.
Back in the days of film and chemical processing it was an expensive hobby and my good photos were few and far between as I spent many hours in the dark room trying to get my efforts just right and usually failing miserably.
Fortunately these days we have much more flexibility with digital photography and as long as you take a fairly decent image to start with, it doesn't matter how attempts with the processing you have, the only expense is the time and effort as there are no wasted chemicals, film or paper.
I see my photography as a way of focusing my mind in a positive, creative direction and if I can produce an income from my passion then I will feel a huge sense of personal achievement and be thankful that people are actually enjoying my work.
|Leica Equipment (Not the Leica I currently use)|
The main controls are all easily accessible, shutter speed, focus, aperture and ISO, and any or all of these options can be set to automatic as and when required.
Depending on the circumstances, this enables me to prioritise certain aspects for manual control depending on the scene and allows the camera to work out the remaining variables. Very useful in a fast changing environment where speed is of the essence to capture an image whilst maintaining manual control over certain settings.
Although the Leica Q produces great results, I sometimes find it restrictive for certain styles of photography often finding myself being too far away from my subject with no way of getting closer. For this reason I need a camera with either changeable lenses or a built in zoom and therefore I am currently researching my next camera which I hope to be more versatile, simple to use and still produce high quality images. Unfortunately the M System Leica's are super expensive so I won't be getting one of them but there are cheaper options such as the Leica V-Lux which appear to be great all round cameras.
I find many of the modern DSLR's are overloaded with features and technology making them extremely complicated to use and detracting from the basics of photography. I will probably remain loyal to the Leica brand as I am comfortable and familiar with the menus and cameras but as with all well manufactured, respected and branded equipment, it comes at premium prices and for some of their top of the range equipment is prohibitively expensive for the average photographer.
I use my iPhone most frequently as it is often the only camera I carry with me on a daily basis and is always easily accessible. The sacrifice for this convenience is obviously quality when compared to using my heavier Leica equipment but fortunately smart phone manufacturers are constantly improving phone cameras making them a great convenient substitute to DSLR's for everyday basic photography. I think it should be remembered that any camera is better than no camera when a photo opportunity arises.
I also use a Nikon Coolpix S9500 camera when I want higher quality than the iPhone but still want compact convenience of a carry anywhere pocket sized camera with good all round capabilities. This is my preferred camera for travel photography and I have been very happy with this great little camera over the years.
|Lola hard at work editing and publishing|
I hope one day to be able to use Adobe Lightroom and Photoshop but at this moment in time it is way beyond my capabilities and I prefer to remain with what I know focusing on getting the image right in the first place with minimal post editing for most of my photos.
I don't often use RAW files as I prefer my Leica camera to process the image to a JPEG format and so far I have been happy with the results. RAW files are huge compared to a JPEG and when you have thousands of images this can ultimately occupy a huge amount of disk space or if using cloud storage could become quite expensive storing such large files.
I try to get the settings on the camera correct at time of shooting so the camera has all the information it requires about the scene and my preferences to produce the optimum image.
Maybe in time if I start to use more powerful editing software such as Lightroom then I will do more RAW file processing but at the moment I prefer to keep things quite simple as I still have a huge amount to learn and try to keep costs to a minimum.
Computer HardwareMy old 2009 Apple MacBook Pro computer is very dated but still serves me well and is sufficient for what I need. I am aware I will be forced to update my computer hardware eventually but this is something I absolutely dread due to my inability and reluctance to embrace and understand new technology. I'll just have to see what happens in the coming years on this matter but hopefully my existing computer will keep battling on and survive the efforts by Apple to make it obsolete.
My secondary computer I use purely for image editing is an extremely slow and virtually useless 2009 Apple iMac which is so slow I spend more time watching the spinning beach ball or a frozen screen than being able to edit images. However, I still find it beneficial using a large screen to view details on an image and therefore tolerate it's extremely slow performance for now.
Both my computers are slowly becoming unusable but for the moment they still function to varying degrees so I will continue to use them for as long as I possibly can.
My chosen package includes a comprehensive fully automated sales service enabling me to get on with taking and processing images without having to worry about all the technicalities of web design and the time and effort of trying to run an online store. It works by allowing me to keep 85% of any profit which is far better than if I were to sell my images on stock photography websites.
Whilst SmugMug is very simple, logical and has a user friendly interface, it does still require time to title, describe, keyword and sort images into their appropriate pages, folders and galleries making it important to have some basic computer skills.
For those who are new to this, there is plenty of online support and videos to help with any difficulties in building a desired portfolio.
If you are considering building a photography website, please consider clicking on my referral link to save yourself 20% and I will also receive a small commission towards my annual website fees at no cost to you: SmugMug Photography Referral Link
Some of the images used in the design aspect of my website I purchased through Shutterstock which is an excellent stock image website when you need very specific images to meet your design needs.
For peace of mind I will always purchase and download my images from legitimate stock photography websites or I occasionally find suitable images on a site called Pixabay which I also contribute some of my work to for other people to use free of charge.
I would urge a word of extreme caution to anyone randomly copying and using images from the internet as this could land you in big trouble with the image creator for breach of copyright.
In terms of pricing my images, this was a very difficult area for me as I really have no idea what my images are worth. I know some of my images have been very popular when I have offered them on the Pixabay website so they are certainly enjoyed and used by many people but I don't know how to reflect that in the pricing on my own website. I therefore looked to see what other photographers are charging and my chin nearly hit the floor but I suspect their images are close to technically perfect and they have a reputation built up over many years to justify their prices. For me starting out, my images will not be perfect and I just want people to enjoy my work at an affordable price and therefore set my fees at a very modest rate compared to many other photographers. I will review these rates in future but for the moment I feel they are very fair considering the time and effort I put into my work.
FiltersI use several filters with my Leica, the first being a Leica clear filter purely to protect the camera lens. Secondly, I use a circular polarising filter, mainly to suppress the glare on images containing water or to darken the sky. Finally, I occasionally use a Neutral Density (ND) filter for those longer exposure shots. I try to keep things fairly simple, lightweight and portable and seem to manage with just these three filters at the moment.
ConclusionThat's basically my entire arsenal in terms of photographic equipment, editing, website and computer hardware. As time goes on and I continue to develop as a photographer, there may be equipment I add to the list, but for now this is sufficient for my skill level and what I hope to achieve and I find it serves me well.
I hope I can inspire others to follow their passions and prove you don't need the latest most expensive equipment to create decent images. I feel patience, commitment and a belief in yourself can turn your hobby or passion into a success.
Maybe I won't achieve financial bliss from my photographic work but if I can create images and make a positive, creative contribution to the world whilst getting out with my dog and finding enjoyment in life then I feel it will have been beneficial to my health and will have been worth it.