Best photos 2019

It’s mid-December and I’m beginning to write a few posts for the upcoming weeks in order that I don’t have to write a few postsĀ duringĀ the upcoming weeks. Bloggers need a break too, you know.

I watched this video today: a comparison of golf and photography, which (eventually, excruciatingly) gets around to the point that much as you don’t have to break a course record each time to play a round of golf to enjoy your day, neither do you have to manage to get amazing photos each time you take your camera out.

Be realistic. Manage your expectations. Concentrate on getting the basics right. Don’t sweat the stuff you can’t control. Have fun smashing the ball around the course, never mind if you don’t hit the green every time. Enjoy getting out and about taking photos, and worry less about the results. Learn from your mistakes.

It’s all good advice.

I’ve taken over 12,000 photographs this year. I’ve been doing some rudimentary calculations, and I make that over 1,000 each month. And this month hasn’t even finished yet. The vast majority of those were for a work project, and I’m pretty happy with the way that things worked out there. But maybe only around 120 of those were real top-notch “keepers”.
I’ve been doing some rudi… ag… look, it’s about 1%.

The joy of digital photography is that you can go and shoot almost limitless numbers of images in the hunt for that 1% or that 120. Had I not been a) traveling and b) often under time pressure, I’d like to think that I might have managed the same number of good shots (or even more) from a much smaller overall total. There are different ways of getting a reasonable amount of decent photos and this high volume approach suited my needs for this project. Incidentally, if I did the same project again, I’d also probably manage a better ratio: it was a steep learning curve.

As for Flickr, I uploaded “just” 143 images this year, against my overall average of 630. 35 of that 143 were from our Karoo road trip and 17 of them were from the above mentioned work project, meaning that just 91 (64%) of them were from “non-specific” occasions.

And of them all, I can count just 10 that I think are really good. Not worldbeaters, not course records, but just decent images that I am properly happy with. 10 out of 143 out of 12,175.

Sadly, very few of that 10 can be used as easy blog fodder over the festive period, because I have already shared them because I liked them so much. Which leaves me the choice of about 133 mediocre images to put on here until whenever I start “properly”blogging again.

Lucky you.

Go out, get wet

The rain did eventually stop yesterday. 102mm later.

We went out as things were beginning to let up a little and walked by some roaring water. The camera came along, because it always does, and you never really know what you’re going to get with the weird light that follows a day full of cloud and gloom, together with a hint of golden hour hanging around.

Monochrome (or close to it) was certainly still the order of the day though. Whether it was the angry water in the canalised Liesbeek River:

Or the dangerously slippery footbridge going over it.

We came back damp, but happy.

Another lighthouse

I have no idea where this one is or who togged it – people just send me photos of lighthouses and I share the ones I like.

I’m not sure I have seen a standalone yellow lighthouse before. Especially one with a huge blackboard on the side.

Also, rule of thirds: 10/10.

I’ve been looking at options for a mini-photography expedition next week, using professional tools like PhotoPills and everything. I think I may have formulated a decent plan involving an overly shared local icon and some sky, but it is (as ever) weather dependent (plus whether I can actually be arsed once the time arrives).

Right now though, with 8 days still to go, I’m full of enthusiasm.

Pano play

Photography homework this week for the boy was to use a freeware manual panorama maker (Hugin) to manually make a panorama.

I like the approach of the photography teacher: they have lessons on hardware and software, then they get to go away and try what they have learned. But not everyone wants to (or can afford to) go down the route of paid-for editing software, and so they are learning how to use freeware like GIMP and… well… Hugin.
They also have critique sessions, where they can – as a group – praise others’ work and suggest ways to improve. It’s a great way to work and they’re a very positive, enthusiastic group.

Hugin is free, and it does what it says it will, but it is cumbersome and time-consuming. Simply as a comparison, we took the same photos, fed them into Lightroom and pressed the magic Panorama button.

Here’s the result:

You can have a look at the full 63MP version here.

This isn’t perfect, but given that it was a last minute dot com effort from a bridge near his school, with the light fading and after he had been hiking all day in a Scouting competition, I think it’s pretty good.

The Hugin version was not as good and took longer to make, but as I mentioned, it was free.

And while we’re on about photography, I found myself waiting outside a coffee shop this morning, waiting for it to open. Wandering into the park opposite, I was kicking myself for not bringing my camera along: the mist was subduing all of the colours aside from the bright yellows and oranges of the American Sweetgums. Fortunately, I had my phone, but this quite nice image could have been really nice.

Always have your camera with you.
That’s something else they should be teaching the kids.

Several (or more) reasons why my photos of the hike aren’t great

Here we go. It’s excuse time. Or, if you prefer, “valid reason time”.

The photos I took on the hike aren’t as good as I would like them to be. There are several reasons for this.

Me: I’m not a great ‘togger.
The new camera: Yes, it’s fancier than the old one, but I’m still getting used to it.
The light: Blindingly bright, start to finish.
The timing: This wasn’t a photography session, it was a hike. People weren’t there for me to take photos, they were there to walk up the mountain. There was (understandably) no time to stop and compose.
The brief: That said, I did have to try and get some usable photos of the pack walking up the mountain.
The brief (pt 2): I also needed to get some point-and-shoot shots to show Mrs 6000 where we were and where we went.

Those will do for the moment, right?

All said and done, there are a few shots I like (and a few more that I might add later), and that’s without including the ones documenting the climb for the Cub pack.

I really enjoyed the hike, but there will be better days to go out and take photos. And one those days, the photos will naturally also be better.