Project 52 week 52: reflections part 1

melbourne water taxi

Finally made it. For my ‘last post’ on this project I am taking a look back at some of my favourite photos for the year and also looking at some of what I have learned. This post might be a bit of a long one compared to my other posts so I may end up splitting it into parts. It may end up rambling on a bit but in a way, it is my ‘project review’ and will cover things such as ‘lessons learned’ for anyone with a bit of an interest in ‘project management’.

Firstly, having a Project 52 and publishing it on the web has been great for encouraging commitment. Putting it on the web in a public fashion can be a strong motivator to keep going – you don’t want to be seen to fail. Secondly, it has been absolutely fantastic to get comments and likes from others who share an interest in photography. It’s also very humbling and quite a privilege when someone starts to follow your blog. This has the additional effect that not only now do you want to keep publishing to the project but you want to make sure you are improving and uploading photos that are in some way, worthy of people’s attention. So…a big thank-you to all those who have commented, liked, followed, and simply viewed any of my posts (this point deserves a post on it’s own).

What have I learned?
In a word, lots!
Let’s start with a few simple points and see what I can build from there.
Image borders
What a simple thing to do to any photo which can make such a difference. I started playing with image borders some way through the year and while I liked the difference they can make, it wasn’t until very late in the year that I really appreciated the true impact of them. They can add a huge sense of depth to a photo so instead of looking at an image, you are looking into it. At a more simple level, you need to be aware of the background/colour where your image is placed on the web page – the border can make a big difference or could also be lost. Taking a look back across the year this really becomes noticeable for me. The difference between posts week 31 and week 46 demonstrate this. Week 37 contains a gallery, a few of which had borders also highlights the difference. If I were to go back and redo those posts, all images would probably be framed with some sort of border.

Black and white or colour?
At the start of the year I was following a colleague of mine who lives on the other side of the world and is a great amateur photographer. His images are fantastic and are almost exclusively in black and white. He also has one of those cameras which many of us dream of owning, which are also renowned for black and white photography, but which, for most of us, are well beyond our reach (this is where I discovered ‘gear envy’). It’s easy to get a bit carried away with cameras, lenses etc but more on that later. I am happy to see however, that it is possible to take absolutely fantastic photos with ordinary cameras and that it is the person behind the lens, not the lens itself that makes the biggest difference.

snow monkey

Nagano snow monkey by jerryatflickr
Nagano snow monkey, a photo by jerryatflickr on Flickr.

What I have realised for me is that while I am still learning, I am going to continue to explore both colour and black and white and there is a place for both in my photography. Black and white does cause me to think a little more though about the photos that I am taking. Also, with regards to the images above, the snow monkeys of Nagano, Japan, should be on any would be photographer’s ‘bucket list’.

Post-processing
Where to start? I look at some photos on the web that have been taken using the same camera/lens combination as mine but the difference in quality is staggering, whether that be sharpness, colour, noise etc. Knowing that a lot of the difference is in the post-processing using the same software as me is comforting but doesn’t help much. Taking good photos is hard enough but the knowledge/skill and experience that others have in post-processing is another dimension entirely. I like seeing photos straight out of the camera but I also like seeing what people can do with post-processing. Some simply enhance the natural aspects of the image while others are amazingly creative and produce some wonderful images.
The following two images are the same photo, one of which I published here in my blog, and the other version I published on my flickr account which I had done some post-processing on. Due to an error when I was adding photos to Flickr, all comments were lost on the photo (all photos at the time unfortunately) so I don’t have old comments there but the post-processed version of the photo generated much more favourable commentary.
early morning fog
early morning fog
The post-processed version certainly does bring out highlights in the clouds etc. In summary, I have a lot to learn about post-processing.

Cropping
With so many megapixels now I am really free to do some very severe cropping on an image to get close to what I want. Take the following example:
DSC00655

The moon 2012081207am

So this is a pretty extreme crop and it certainly shows when enlarged with the noise in the sky. If I reduce the noise though I lose detail in the moon. I think I should be able to do some selective noise reduction but again, this is an area of post-processing I am yet to explore.

Composition
Composition and focus – what important facets of photography they are and ones that I think I will forever be learning. Here’s another shot that didn’t make it to the blog but seemed to work and got some nice comments in Flickr:

Jetty

Street photography
A really interesting but challenging genre for me. I have posted on a few occasions about my feelings on this type of photography. The good stuff is really good but there is a lot of rubbish (in my view) posted as ‘street photography’. Here’s some of mine:

waiting for...

time out from the rain

SONY DSC

mel1

One of the things that I like about this very dynamic form of photography is the unexpected that can turn up in your photos. Here’s one I call ‘shadow dog’:

mel5

I actually think that some of my earlier photos are better street photos than what I took this year however they obviously don’t qualify for posting here. The reason for that is probably because I was lucky enough to visit more interesting locations prior to this year.

That’s probably enough rambling for the moment, I will try to conclude this review in the next post.

Cheers

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