Here’s an image shot with my iPhone 4S on one of San Francisco’s F-line streetcars. On this particular day, Doug Kaye and I were exploring around Fisherman’s Wharf as he was preparing for an upcoming photowalk scheduled for that area. When we were done exploring, we caught one of the F-line streetcars back to the Ferry Building where we then headed for home.
After getting on the streetcar, I capture this quick grab shot one we got moving. Post-processing in the iPhone originally using Snapseed and later in Lightroom and Photoshop – adding a touch of platinum toning.
Looking back on it, I think 2011 was perhaps the steepest slope in my photography learning curve – it was a remarkable year.
This year, my photography has continued to progress – but perhaps not quite as dramatically as that year of 2011. Looking back on it, I think I’ll remember 2011 as “my year” – when I seriously began moving beyond “snapshots” into serious photography. Here are my highlights of 2012 for my photography.
Last year I mentioned paying more attention to getting the image right in capture. What’s proven to be most important about that is slowing down – and “working the subject” in the moment. For me, it’s a struggle between my right/left brains. I need to force myself to flip between the more critical, analytical left brain and to get into the more creative right brain. I’m finding this easier to do – the more I shoot in the field, the more aware I’ve become of the flip.
I still worry a lot about getting the right capture – applying all of my left brain analytical skills to that task – but try to flip modes over to my right brain where I worry less about those details and just be creative. In my experience, I’ve begun to de-emphasize the gear and technique and emphasize the “in the moment” aspects – which are almost always surprising – and which I find delightful. Those shots add a lot to my enjoyment of photography.
Once again in 2012, Doug Kaye and I did several 1:1 photo walks around the Bay Area in 2012. These are always special – we pick a venue but let the experience take us where ever it does – at least once a month.
There’s nothing better that doing this kind of shooting – it’s great fun with a great friend and always a delight. As I mentioned last year, these photo walks are a “learning accelerator” for me.
I benefited greatly from several photo workshops this year.
Perhaps the most valuable was the Eastern Sierra Fall Colors workshop that Doug and I attended led by Michael Frye. I’d never been to the other side of the Sierras – and seeing the colors in the fall in the company of Michael was amazing. A wonderful experience. I’m a big fan of Michael’s – having taken a private one-day workshop from him in Yosemite with my son David back in the fall of 2010. He’s a great teacher!
Earlier Doug and I enjoyed the Sonoma Coast Workshop led by Derrick Story. We’ve both taken several weekend workshops from Derrick – and learned a lot from each one. This time we headed up to Fort Ross – and had a great time shooting in wonderful light – plus doing a model shoot on the beach at Bodega Bay.
If I were to label my 2012 photography learning, it’d be labeled Post-Processing. I’ve learned so much this year about how to take an image and make it into something I really enjoy. Lots of new tools have been part of that process for me – including the suite of Nik’s tools, Photoshop, Lightroom, etc. I’ve come to respect the Topaz tools for their ability to simplify and amplify images. And a huge set of learning came from the Lab color techniques of Dan Margulis and, simplified, Lee Varis. A workshop with local expert Mark Lindsay also had a big impact on my awareness of these techniques. 2012 was a great year for my post-processing skills – and I look forward to learning and applying them in 2013.
In 2011, I began creating my portfolio – for the first time. This year, I continued to add to it – such that there are now several hundred images in that portfolio.
This year, I wanted to focus on pairing that huge collection down to what I might consider “my best” – but I failed to do so. A goal of mine in 2013 is to try to do that – to distill my work down to 40 or so images that I consider my best work – out of the 400+ currently in my portfolio culled from the ~30,000 images in my Lightroom library. I’m always amazed at how the great photographers in history are judged on the basis of such a small set of their life’s work in photography. We went to see a Walker Evans exhibition at Stanford’s Cantor Art Museum this year – about 70 photographs represented his lifetime of work in Photography.
In November, I began working on a photo book with my most interesting work from 2012. I used iPhoto again this year to build the book – and the results came out looking great. I gave several copies to family members as Christmas gifts. Here are the photos I used for the 2012 photo book.
Online, I continue to enjoy Google+ where the community of photographers is very strong and engaged. After each of our photo walks, Doug and I typically share a few of our favorite shots on Google+. Flickr continues to be another valuable resource – and the iPhone app update that Flickr made late in the year brought a lot of fun back to using Flickr on the go.
I’ve been living a digital life with my photography – meaning that I’ve only been sharing bits of images online and doing very little printing of my images. What printing I’ve done this year has been using either Apple’s iPhoto books service or, for individual prints, Costco’s in-store printing.
I realize this is the next and, perhaps, final step for my work – completing the capture to print workflow. I’m looking forward to adding printing to my photography skills in 2013!
2012 was a different year for my photography – a more serious year and one more focused on both the details of capture but, perhaps more importantly, on the world of post-processing.
I’m looking forward to the new photography experiences and learning coming up in 2013 – including some radically new venues like Havana and Death Valley. Should be fun and rewarding!
My 2012 Photography Resources
See my Cool Tools page for my current list of recommendations. One major change this year was the purchase of a Nikon D600 2 – my first new DSLR in several years.
This morning while out for a morning walk at Menlo Park’s Sharon Park I played around a bit with the new panorama option that was introduced to the Camera app with iOS 6 on the iPhone 4S and the new iPhone 5. More about my adventures in a story I wrote over on InMenlo.com.
Remember – the best camera is the one that’s with you!
I’ve include a couple of examples below – you’ll find the full story over on InMenlo.com! Pretty amazing images – for just a few seconds of work. Click on any of these images to see a larger version!
Three months ago I had major surgery to deal with an important health issue. A few days before my surgery, I happened to discover an app that sounded like it might be useful for me to use as a journal following my surgery. That app was Day One.
Since the day of my surgery three months ago, I’ve been using Day One to journal my thoughts every day, noting my progress (or, sometimes, maybe a lack of progress!). Day One is there for me every morning – and it’s been where I’ve captured how I’m feeling, what I’m learning, and more. I mostly write in the morning – but, sometimes, I write later in the day – adding to my morning thoughts based on the events of the day.
Day One has both iOS (iPhone and iPad) and Mac versions – and they fully synchronize – so you can write whenever and wherever you are – with the device that’s with you. Day One is one of the best examples I’ve seen of using “the cloud” to make things seamless. It just works.
I’ve never been up to a keeping a daily paper-based journal – but I’ve been enjoying how easy daily journaling is to do so with this app. It looks great – and its cross-platform features just help encourage journaling wherever I am. It’s my version of a Photo 365 project – writing sometime every day about how I feel…and more. A delight – especially now as I’m looking back on three months of my daily notes! And, with the latest update, I can add a photo to each journal entry – just makes me happy!
Thanks to the Day One team for making such a wonderful app! You guys “done good”!
Yesterday, we took a walk through the “tunnel” of trees at the Fitzgerald Marine Reserve north of Half Moon Bay. This image was shot using my iPhone 4S and adjusted in Snapseed on the iPhone itself – pretty amazing how you can hold such great photography tools in your hand these days!
These trees were planted in the late 1800’s by Juergen Wienke, a German immigrant who named the area “Moss Beach” and opened a hotel in the area.
On Saturday, I took a drive up to Point Reyes – motivated by the Open Studios held this weekend. There were a few photographers having open studios – including my friend – and black and white photographer – Marty Knapp. Before heading to the open studios, however, I stopped by a few of my favorite sites in Inverness and at Pierce Point Ranch out on Point Reyes.
First stop was the FV Point Reyes, a popular site just behind the Inverness Grocery Store. Many photographers have shot this forlorn fishing boat over the last few years. I made a quick stop here – spending at most 10 minutes – shooting hand-held with my Canon 5D Mark II with the Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L lens – and my iPhone 4S.
I first captured the usual iconic shots of the boat – from about a half dozen angles as I walked around the bow. As I was about to leave, I noticed how lovely the light was on the cabin of the boat itself – and that motivated me to go in closer and to “fill the frame”, not worrying about capturing the whole boat itself.
This image turns out of be one of what I consider the best of my recent photos – with the beautiful light, the great detail of the boat’s “grunge”, the bokeh and moodiness in the sky behind, etc. I titled it “Derelict”. A great example of one of the basics of great photography: “fill the frame”! The major point about filling the frame is that our minds will deal with the missing elements – it’s certainly easy to see that this is a fishing boat – and, given it’s tilt, that something’s amiss!
Here’s another image – one that was more heavily post-processed including a texture overlay – of the FV Point Reyes that I posted last summer.
PS: If you’re in the US, hope you’re having a great Memorial Day weekend! We had one of our grilled tri-tip dinners last night that was wonderful – a bit more more on that later once I update the menu on my Scott’s Kitchen web site.
PPS: Here’s a straight out of the camera shot of the FV Point Reyes – taken with my iPhone 4S. Sort of sets the scene for the closeup shot above!
I continue to be amazed at the beautiful photography that’s possible using just the iPhone 4S and a few of the photo adjustment applications that run on it.
This is my latest example – titled “Mad Men – Chicago – 2012” – an image shot with my iPhone 4S inside the Sixteen restaurant at the Trump Hotel in Chicago. Tweaked using Nik’s Snapseed application on the iPhone, it features a lovely contrast between the old city landmarks outside and the sleek windows and diners inside. A bit of tilt-shift treatment also added in Snapseed adds just enough blur up top and down below to keep things interesting!
A friend commented: “I expect Don Draper to walk in at any moment!”
Back from another wonderful session today with good friends at the Walker Evans exhibition at Stanford’s Cantor Art Center. Last fall, I took a portraiture class taught by Neal Menschel at Stanford’s Continuing Studies program – and many of us met up today to tour the Walker Evans show.
While we were there, I shot this image out in the inner courtyard with my iPhone 4S. It was all post-processed on the iPhone – using Nik’s superb Snapseed along with Noir.
2011 turned out to be a big year for me in my pursuit of photography skills. As I reflect back on my learnings, I thought I’d try to write down the highlights of the year for me in this New Year’s Eve post.
Beginning with my purchase of my first digital SLR about five years ago (a Canon 30D which I purchased immediately after reading Doc Searls post about his evaluation of this camera!), I’ve been making steady progress learning more about both the most important shooting skills for capturing images as well as the post-processing techniques that can really help enhance an image.
For me, it’s all about trying to get it right at capture time in the camera – but then also maximizing the image’s beauty in post-processing. Among other things, I’ve learned that even if the capture isn’t perfect, the end result can still be stunning with the right post-processing. But, it all begins with trying to get the right image at capture.