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Joining for inspiration...

Jim McClain

Regular
Nov 10, 2018
106
Teh REAL Northern California
It was the early 1980s that I began to make photos I thought had something more than just snapshot quality. I had a good job, so I bought my first interchangeable lens camera, a Canon A1. It hung on my shoulder nearly everywhere I went and was pressed against my eye a LOT (or I would sometimes shoot from the hip, as I did with the photo below). It just seemed like I could express myself best this way. I was always socially clumsy.

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Unfortunately, this was also a period of my life where drugs and alcohol had just about taken over and in the mid-80s, I sold my A1 and some other stuff I treasured so I could get high again. THEN I got sober.

For the next nearly 30 years, I always had a point & shoot around somewhere. I did floors, so I shot lots of pics of flooring jobs and the occasional shot of a pleasant autumn day, an interesting building, a pretty girl, but nothing that gave me that... you know, that feeling.

I had to retire due to health and stayed home a lot for several years without picking up a camera. Channel surfing one day, I saw a home improvement project and realized I knew how to do all of that, so I decided, with my landlord's permission, to remodel my apartment. I began to shoot a lot of pictures to document the changes. I kinda got into it - the remodeling AND the photo taking. Just not the making yet.

For extra money to supplement my disability pension, I was doing some webmastering for a hunting website. It involved editing landscape photos (yes, there were dead animals too) that were shot by hunters using mostly smartphone cameras. Every time I would think, ya know, I could do better than this and there wouldn't be any blood in mine. So, I bought a Panasonic FZ-200. Yeah, I know, but I didn't want to blow a lot of dough on something I wasn't sure I would be all that into.

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Now, I realize that isn't a great photo, but it was the one that gave me that feeling I was looking for. And that feeling said, get yourself an interchangeable lens camera. So, I got a Nikon D5300 and a few lenses. And a tripod. And a bigger bag.

From the D5300, I graduated to a D810, then some Tamron zooms and more gear than I knew what to do with (well, I thought I would use it all, but it turns out some of it just took up space). Again, everywhere I went, the camera bag went. I was on facebook and had lots of "friends" liking and commenting on my photos - even though I knew some of them weren't worthy, but I did get lots of practice with the software, as well as the camera gear.

I was encouraged to enter photos in the local county fair. I had friends tell me which ones to enter (trusted friends, not the FB ones that liked even the ugly shots), so I entered 19 photos in a number of different categories. I won 13 ribbons on 12 photos. Talk about an ego boost. But the thing was, I was really enjoying the craft and artistry of it.

It's not easy to get out every day to make photos because I have lung disease. Some days I just don't have the energy, but I was out there mostly doing landscapes and townscapes and occasionally people. There was always something inspiring to encourage me along. But when 2018 came along, something changed. I deleted my facebook account because I was turning into an ass by commenting on other people's political posts. I found it very hard to stop, so I just shut my account down. I got involved in woodworking (which I shouldn't really do with all the sawdust and face masks, which make it even more difficult to breathe, but I love it). More and more I left the camera gear home. One of my last photos was from March and it's not that good, compared to what I've done before (not that those are all that great either, but better than this).

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I didn't shoot a single photo all summer. What I need is inspiration. Then I saw a post in a webmaster forum I belong to and recognized him as one of the moderators from a vBulletin related add-on, vBadvanced. In his signature was a link to this forum, so here I am. This is my first post here. I'll look around and try to post some and hope seeing some of your work and reading some ideas and opinions and maybe get some inspiration going on.

Thanks for reading this long post. I tend to be verbose sometimes. I'm 69, so I prob'ly won't change, but I am aware of the tendency for some people to skip long posts. It's okay.
 

rayvonn

All-Pro
Jan 19, 2015
1,495
Great intro Jim. FWIW, every picture I take is a snapshot:biggrin:. It's just that the more I mentally prepare (which can take between 2 seconds to 10 minutes), the better the snapshot seems to be.
 

bartjeej

Hall of Famer
Nov 12, 2010
2,743
Welcome! You shared some nice shots, and you'll find plenty of photographers with various genres, styles, and skill levels here. Some fun challenges as well, which can help you break out of a rut. And most always a listening ear :drinks:
 

BrianS

Super Moderator
Apr 3, 2013
3,768
Welcome aboard, Jim. Beautiful images, easy to see why you won so many ribbons.

I understand about inspiration. You do woodwork for relaxation, I like to work on lenses. But- Right now I am "inspired" to learn HTML because me daughter is taking a class, and punching out a LOT of software for a new project at work. I could retire from work- but still having a good time at it, 40 years at the same place.
 

Kevin

Code Monkey
Nov 3, 2018
280
Pennsylvania, USA
Jim, welcome to the community. You've given me a bit of inspiration to get off my butt and start practicing with my gear more often; I go through phases of making an effort to go out and practice and other items the bag can sit on my shelf for a few months at a time. What you call "not that good" puts me to shame. ;)

In addition to your hardware do you use any software, if any, for post processing? What's your usual work flow?

PS: As far as being verbose you're not alone in that regards. When my mind is really into a topic I've been known to hit the max post length limits, the crew here just hasn't seen that part of me yet. :laugh:
 

Jim McClain

Regular
Nov 10, 2018
106
Teh REAL Northern California
Hi Kevin,

Was it your link I followed from TAZ? Formerly a mod on vBadvanced, right? I'm using XF on my forum now too, but I do miss CMPS & Dyna from my vB 3.x days.

In addition to your hardware do you use any software, if any, for post processing? What's your usual work flow?
When I got the FZ-200, my software of choice had been Corel PaintShop Pro. Avid forumite that I am, I soon learned about Adobe Lightroom, so I got 5.x on disk. I was intimidated by Photoshop, but then started viewing a lot of Youtube videos that made it less so. I finally subscribed to the Adobe Photographers package and like it a lot, but I'm still a PS neophyte.

My workflow is all PC based. I use ACDSee for file management. I capture way more images than I prob'ly should, but I cull them before I import into Lightroom. I elimitate even more there. LR is where I do all my basic adjustments. It actually depends on what work I'm doing. If I'm only developing photos for the owners of the hunting website, or the documentary style captures of my remodeling/woodworking projects, then LR is all I use. But if I'm developing my "real" photography, then I use LR for the basics, then export to PS, where I use some filters, including parts of the Nik Collection, then save in a print quality resolution and another, resized for the web with a watermarked signature. I've been known to re-edit soon after, or even months or more than a year after. Most of the edits are to reduce what I think is over-processing. That's the greatest thing about digital photography - you can make changes so easily and as often as you want and it only costs you time, but it pays you back in experience.

Thanks for the warm welcome from so many. You run a nice place here, Kevin. I'm not surprised.
 

Kevin

Code Monkey
Nov 3, 2018
280
Pennsylvania, USA
@Jim McClain Yep, that was me you spotted with the link in my sig and was part of the vBa team back in the day. I don't really miss vB3 but I do miss the old, old days of the original vB-Org and vB-Templates (before they merged) and guys like Brian putting out incredible products like the vBa apps. Even stuff like the Zoints network was doing stuff back then in the forum world that just doesn't exist anymore. It seems like forum offerings are getting more advanced features but ironically at the same time are taking a few steps backward as they can't do what was being done 10~ years ago.

ACDSee is an app I have fond memories of; it's tree navigation was really great for quickly going through folders of pics. I haven't been an active since around the time they started switching from being a basic image viewer to adding image management & editing features. From reading up tonight on the current version I see that one of the advantages to using it over LR is that you don't first have to import your images to LR and instead can just browse your local HD directly. Before calling it a night I think I'll download the demo to check it out. :thumbsup:
 

Jim McClain

Regular
Nov 10, 2018
106
Teh REAL Northern California
I haven't been an active since around the time they started switching from being a basic image viewer to adding image management & editing features. From reading up tonight on the current version I see that one of the advantages to using it over LR is that you don't first have to import your images to LR and instead can just browse your local HD directly.
That's one of my biggest issues with Adobe Lightroom, that you can't use it to browse image folders already on your computer (or portable drive). You have to do an import first. I have tried a number of different image file management products and settled on ACDSee, but I would never use it to edit a photo. No matter what its capabilities are, they probably aren't as good as LR for that purpose. But folder and file management, it's excellent.

And I agree, vB is not missed by me at all, but what vBA did for me hasn't been matched by the combination of Xenforo and WordPress. They'll catch up in time, I'm sure, but vBA made the blend so seamless.
 

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