My photography journey is long, but not a serious until 2 years ago when I decided to be good at least two genre, one of which is Landscape. I have always loved taking pictures, right from the film days, even though I had never owned a camera until 2007.
The first camera that I bought with my own money was Sony Alpha 100 APS-C with the 18–70 mm f/3.5–f/5.6 kit lens. I didn’t have a clue about ISO, Aperture or Shutter speed and used Auto extensively and mostly displeased with the outcome. I expected the camera to do a very good job of capturing HDR-like images but failed miserably due to the lack of skill to translate my vision. I did add two more lenses to it before giving up on that camera (and photography) for a while.
Then my desire for photography was rekindled at 2012 for a reason I can’t remember and so I decided to dump my antique (probably still good enough for my use, but hey, I like new gadgets) and bought Canon EOS 6D Mark I with EF 24-105mm f/3.5-5.6 IS STM. At this time I had some idea about ISO, Aperture and Shutter speed, but not bold enough to experiment with them.
While overall picture quality had improved (cameras made better judgement), they still failed to deliver my vision most of the time. In a friends wedding, I came in contact with a part-time, but a professional wedding photographer and learned about Rule of Thirds. Also I learned that a prime lens captures much better image.
Hence, I bought a EF 50mm f/1.8 STM lens the next day and after using it for a very few times, I found the fixed focal length very restricting (at that time) and stopped using it. However, I had decided to take photography seriously and shoot more despite producing average images while still shooting in JPG.
I bought an online photography course from Shaw Academy which gave me enough understanding of photography in general and confidence to flirt with manual. By this time I am able to produce decent pictures (if not excellent) in JPG. I found RAW to be cumbersome and additional work.
I had never used a software for post processing due to my lack of understanding of the usefulness of it. Also I had bought into “real photographers take pictures that are pleasing and straight out of camera” thing. Eventually, I went full manual, understanding f-stops, exposure, shutter speed and other useful terminologies and skills to use my camera better.
Sometime in 2016, I start using Youtube as a medium of learning. It was around this time I came across another photographer, a bit advanced in photography, and learned more on post processing and importance of shooting RAW.
I also learned that I should ensure not overexpose bright part of my images so that I have something to work in the post processing. I started playing with Darktable on Ubuntu (I am a full time Linux user and so Adobe and other products are off limits) and developed some idea around tweaking images. But my post processing are over the top at times, mostly high in contrast and saturation (to an extent, they still are).
Then, wanting to expand my knowledge, I bought two books; Understanding Composition Field Guide: How to See and Photograph Images with Impact and Understanding Exposure, both authored by Bryan Peterson. These books pushed my confidence and gave a different perspective on photography. I decided to focus on the skills and shoot only with my mobile for a while.
I understood compositions even though I was applying them subconsciously. I understood how to balance light to an extent, basics of post processing and most importantly, I started shooting RAW. However, I was also impatient most of the time and jumped to shooting images without thinking through. One of the best way to overcome this is to visit the same location multiple times and focus on something specific each time. Once you get bored with the new place, you can actually start taking some really good shots.
My quest to produce beautiful landscapes/cityscapes with less post processing introduced me to a world of filters and long exposures. Filter and long exposures provides many possibilities for someone like me who does likes to do less post processing. After acquiring some filters and playing with them, and applying part of what I had learned in the previous year, and visiting the same location many times (a different one from the above) I did produce that one shot I am still proud off.
Eventually I started understanding photography and frequently started producing images that are pleasing. I got over my obsession producing images with end-to-end sharpness, or HDR-like effects, but instead I worked out each one on its own merit.
After 12 years into photography, I have finally settled on an equipment due to my understanding of photography and the need to stick to an equipment for long time (familiarity with the tool you’ve got). Currently I own a Fujifilm GFX-50S with a Fujinon GF63mmF2.8 R WR lens, Funinon GF45mm f2.8 WR lens and Fujifilm X-T3 with Fujinon XF23mmF2 R WR, Fujinon XF35mmF2 R WR, Fujinon XF50mmF2 R WR and Fujinon XF50-140mm F2.8 LM OIS WR.
Having both camera on Fuji system makes it easy for me to switch, depending on my need. I can set both the systems with similar shortcuts and custom controls making my switch easy. I would probably stick to X-T3 for travel and street while using GFX-50S for portraits and landscapes.
Right now, my goal is to produce 8 compelling images before end of this summer to raise my nature/landscape/cityscape portfolio of images to 10 excellent images. I will keep posting my experiences in this blog and cover other topics as I evolve. I know there are many experts out there, but an experience of someone who is not an expert offers a different perspective and sometimes even encouragement to a like minded.
See you in the next blog.