2013 was an important year for me artistically. I estimate that I have taken 75,000 images since 2010 when I got more serious about taking meaningful images and I feel like things finally started to “click” for me in 2013. Shooting more in manual mode, understanding better the relationship between aperture, shutter speed, and ISO, and experimenting with filters and long exposures have allowed me to take my photography from point and click to being purposeful in composition and settings. Yeah, I’ve taken some pretty bad shots and my frustrations have grown at times, but for every 100 shots that didn’t work, one did and brought with it immense satisfaction. The images below are more representative of my year than a list of my “top” photographs. Each represents a technique, technology, or story from my year behind the lens.
Picture 1: Boat Reflection
On an overcast summer evening in Portsmouth, my friend Mike and I set out to take some images in and around Portsmouth, NH. The difference for me this evening was that Mike brought his tripod for me to use. I have used a monopod in the past for my sports images, but never a tripod. It didn’t take long for me to realize what I was missing. While you can see exif data for this image here, the tripod allowed me to keep the shutter open for almost a full second here, which gives the glassy look to the water and allows for the reflection of the boat on the water. While I learned more about filters and long exposures later in the year, using the tripod on this day opened my eyes to a whole new realm of photography that I had yet to explore.
Picture 2: San Antonio
Perhaps the most impactful day on my photography this year was the ISTE13 photo walk. Long after the photo walk was done, I joined a group of five other amateur photographers and Carlos Austin, a professional photographer from Texas. Carlos was gracious enough to spend the day with us, teaching us a variety of techniques and strategies for street photography. He taught us to not just “see” the image, but also create the image you want. The best example of this was when he asked a local serviceman to pose for this image. When I asked him about approaching strangers, his response was simple and classic: ”There are 7 billion people in the world, they aren’t all going to say ‘no’”. Carlos lived by the mantra that “strangers are just friends that haven’t met yet” and that was certainly the case for us that day in San Antonio.
Picture 3: Tugboat
High Dynamic Range imaging was a technique that I was somewhat familiar with using the ProHDR app on my iphone, but a conversation with Larry Anderson at ISTE13 and quick research on Lightroom plugins taught me that HDR wasn’t too difficult. As a result, I began to do some HDR work this year. The image to the left is actually a combination of three different images taken at three different exposures, then merged in post processing. It was my first attempt at HDR processing and was taken in Portsmouth, NH.
Having begun to do work with the tripod and longer exposures, the next step was to begin using filters. In this image of the Exeter River in Exeter, NH I used a Neutral Density Variable filter to reduce the amount of light entering the camera. This allowed me to keep the shutter open longer and still get the appropriate exposure. Why would I want to do this? Why not just open the shutter quickly? As you can see in this image, by keeping the shutter open longer, I was able show the motion of the water in the river. On still water, the long exposure technique results in a glassy look. On flowing water, a long exposure results in a smooth flow of the water through the rocks and rapids. Without the filter if you left the shutter open too long mid day, your images will be over exposed. By putting the filter on, the light entering the camera is reduced so I was able to keep the shutter open longer, thus capturing the flow water.
Picture 5: The Speed of Lacrosse
For years it always made sense to me to ensure that every image I took was as crisp and clear as possible. Somewhere along the way, however, I learned that being out of focus isn’t all that bad when done correctly. By that I mean that an image that is mistakenly taken out of focus doesn’t look good, but when one purposefully creates blur, it can effectively create the illusion of speed. In the image to the left, while my son Ben was advancing the ball down field I panned left to right along with him to create the blur in the background and a slow shutter speed to make him blurry. The result is a rather surreal image. Here’s another example, this time with my daughter swimming.
Picture 6: Mount Washington
I waited all day for this image. The clouds simply wouldn’t give up and reveal the highest peak in the northeast. But, after dusk had come and gone, the clouds parted and I was able to capture this image. I was able to use many of the techniques I had learned in 2013. It was, something of a culminating project for me this year. While you can read the exif data here, it was a great opportunity for me to combine my new understanding of long exposure with aperture, shutter speed and ISO.
Picture 7: Breast Stroke
This is simply my favorite picture of the year. It’s of my daughter, Elisabeth in the midst of her breast stroke. I have taken many pictures at swim meets, but rarely can I get close enough to the pool to get really detailed and interesting images. But at this outdoor meet, I was able to get close enough to get this image of Lizzy just breaking through the water as she stretches forward with her stroke.
So, where do I go from here. Well, I hope that 2014 will see my growth continue. I recently opened an account at Fine Arts America where my images can be bought, created a Flickr account dedicated to my fine photography, and opened a Facebook page for folks to like. Very soon, I will hit “publish” on my professional photography website. What was an interesting hobby has expanded into a full blown passion.
As I have written before, I sincerely hope these do not come across as self-indulgent or self-serving. I enjoy taking pictures and I enjoy sharing them with others. A few folks have complimented me privately on my images through the years and I thank each of you for that. For those of you who have not, I appreciate your willingness to come see what I have to share and hope that you enjoyed seeing my images and reading the stories associated with them as much as I enjoy sharing them. Thank you for taking time to visit this space and read what I have to share. I truly hope it has been worth your while.