My Favorite Hobby
I’ve been taking my photography more seriously for one year now! To me it’s a big milestone. If you asked me before one year ago what my hobbies were, I probably would have just stared at you blankly, wondering if watching reality tv counted as an answer. But now, I can confidently say PHOTOGRAPHY! (Although, I still watch my reality tv).
One year ago I was gifted my mom’s old Nikon D60, and I was super excited to see what I could create. I had always liked photography, tried creative shots with my old point-and-shoots, and took a film photography class in high school. But I never did anything with it. I was about to go on a 3 week camping adventure across Europe, and thought it would be a great opportunity to capture my experiences with a DSLR. Thank you mom for the best gift!
Over the last year, I’ve learned more about photography, and even more about myself. Photography has pushed me outside my comfort zone, which is basically my living room, and helped me explore the world. And that Nikon D60 was the perfect camera for me to do so! Without it, I would still be in my living room watching House Hunters and Chopped all day, not here sharing my photography and thoughts on my own blog! I was somewhat familiar with aperture and shutter speed, but I really was a beginner. I needed to spend more time practicing and gain some hands-on experience. No time like the present!
I remember the first day I took it out for its debut. It was cherry blossom season here in DC, so there were lots of beautiful spring flowers to capture. I was immediately drawn to the nature, as well as the monuments in DC. Here are a couple of shots I took that day, that still remain some of my favorites.
I thought the cherry blossom tree (left) was inspirational and very symbolic. The tree had clearly been burnt and scarred on the trunk, but still bloomed beautiful blossoms. I also liked how it framed the Washington monument in the background.
My creative eye seemed to come very naturally then. I wasn’t over thinking anything. That’s potentially one of my hindrances now that I have a better idea of what I’m doing with the camera. I can easily over think the aperture, shutter speed, exposure… and forget about the joy of just shooting great compositions. Who knows what the real reasons are, but something I’ve noticed throughout this journey.
The white flower (right) is also one of my favorites. I learned about the rule of thirds in high school and clearly used it here. At the time, I didn’t know much about aperture and depth of field though. This picture was created mostly due to trial and error, figuring out which aperture created the depth of field I was looking for. It wasn’t until the coming weeks that I would actually sit down and read about some of these concepts. I didn’t change any of the camera’s settings that day, or get bogged down in all the numbers and math. I just went out and shot. It was a great day and still produced some amazing pictures!
After that day, I spent more time learning about the camera, post-production techniques, and photography in general. I was devouring any online article or blog I could come across. I even invested in some books, reading them cover to cover in a weekend. (And I still do!)
I think of this journey in stages of learning, each marked by a major topic I better understood. One of the first was shooting in RAW format. I had seen this before but had no idea what it was or meant. I quickly learned it was the better option for saving all the details in the photographs. As the name implies, it’s the format that maintains the image data in the most unprocessed format. There are many benefits when shooting in RAW, including better details and more options when editing.
One of those additional editing options is white balance. Besides changing the white balance inside the camera, I learned that when post-processing a RAW image, you had more options for white balance. When editing a JPEG in Lightroom, my only white balance choices are Auto and Custom. But with a RAW image, there are additional presets such as Daylight, Cloudy, Shade, Fluorescent, and more. This is because there is more data to work with in RAW format, and thus easy to adjust. Understanding RAW and white balance were the first steps to making my pictures exactly like I wanted.
Next came ISO. ISO is the sensitivity of the image sensor to light. It is one of the three factors contributing to exposure, along with aperture and shutter speed. I learned that higher numbers are better for low light scenarios, in order to still maintain a proper exposure. Brighter situations need a much lower ISO number. Those lower numbers also give you the best detail and sharpness in the image. As ISO increases, so does the amount of grain visible in the image.
My Day 1 images above were all shot in JPEG and with an ISO of 800. I didn’t know about any of these concepts at the time, but as I learned something new I applied it in my next outing.
Here are some more of my favorite images as I progressed throughout the year and my abilities (hopefully!) improved.
It’s hard to pick just a few of my favorites!
New Gear To Celebrate One Year
All of the pictures above were created on my Nikon D60. I’d say it definitely served me well! I couldn’t be happier with what I’ve accomplished in just one year. But as I improve and so does technology, there comes a time for an upgrade. So I researched what cameras were out there today and what they were capable of doing. I was thoroughly impressed with how far technology has come since the days of the D60.
I settled on the Nikon D750 for my new camera. I think it’s a perfect match for where I’m at and what I still have left to learn. I know I will never stop learning new techniques and skills with photography, and the D750 gives me great opportunities for those. I can experiment with different styles of photography, including motion, which was a little trickier on an older camera and lens. But no matter, what I will always hang on to my Nikon D60 to remind me where I started and what I’ve accomplished in just one year!
This new camera is a great investment and definitely something I will grow into as I reach more milestones. Maybe the next one will be turning this into a profitable hobby… who knows!
Stay tuned as I take on the next year!