Gear envy (Part 2)…

No, I’m not going to do another rant on gear buying or collecting, but I do want to finish up the idea that we’re so hooked up on the latest tech. I mean, think about it, if we’re so stuck on the latest & greatest, then where does that leave us when it comes to learning from our mistakes? There’s something to be said for remembering what didn’t work and what did, while learning from both; I may not remember everything when I need to, but I hope, sincerely, that there’s always room for improvement and I don’t forget what brought me to where I am. I’m not saying not to buy that lens, but I’m saying, or at least trying to say, that if the sole purpose is just to have that shiny new lens, then there just might be a problem.

- Tree & Flowers -
– Tree & Flowers –

Take for example the above photograph, taken with a macro lens; the macro function wasn’t used for this one, but the idea of being restricted by a single focal length, made me think just that much harder before getting the shot. What I was trying to say/express with this shot was to show a normal point of view while showing just how beautiful an ordinary POV can be; I was testing out the macro lens and working with what I had, trying to push myself to be better. Now, I know some are probably thinking that I’m contradicting my earlier statements on gear but hear me out: I’m not using anything fancy or even professional, but I’m using something to restrict myself in order to make myself learn more and do better. The above shot had some refining done to the shadows, clarity, vibrance, contrast & noise sliders in Lightroom, but it came out with the idea to not blur the background as much to show context (something that the focal length does for me) while not making it an image that’s too busy for its own good.
Sometimes, gear gets to be too much, especially when we’re just spending it to get it, instead of using it to get better at what we love to do. It’s been said that Ansel Adams preferred to have a natural/realistic look to his photographs and I’m sure that he could afford to get the fancy gear, but I’m no Ansel Adams (not even anywhere near close), so I’m not going to say that gear is king & I’m sure he wouldn’t either (but that’s just my opinion). The key to decent photography is honest photography and, in my opinion, that means it’s done for the love of it, not the love of gear; at times we might get lost and forget about it, but we’re definitely not perfect and that’s alright.


Gear envy…

Great, yet another post about gear, or at least that’s the kind of response I think will be common when people read this title. But hear me out…If we think about just how much we spend on stuff to make us feel more comfortable & more supposedly accomplished as people, we tend to focus on the immediate future in front of us, instead of thinking ahead, or at least that’s what I’ve found happens. Do we need the latest gadgets to produce photographs that really say something? Not if we’re really honest with ourselves. It’s something that I really struggle with. What can really hurt is someone coming up to you and saying oh, it’s a fake DSLR or oh, it doesn’t have all that many megapixels. What does that kind of thinking do to us mentally and what does that really do to society at large? Personally, I think it demeans the person and degrades what the person is trying to say with their photographs. It can cause something called gear envy in that same person because they feel as if they need to get the latest & greatest to even be remotely relevant.

- Purple in Shade -
– Purple in Shade –

I don’t know about you, but I’m beginning to think that being up-to-date in this current cultural climate is starting to get overrated. Look at the photo above: all I did was slight contrast, clarity, very mild colour & noise adjustments (as well as tweaking the exposure by 0.1 to make the purple pop). I did do a medium tone curve adjustment as well, but the shot was take with a stock lens that someone else wouldn’t look twice at…And it’s become my workhorse lens. The long & short of it is that it’s not about how much the lens/camera cost, but how much effort you put into the shot; and life’s like that too…It’s not always about the money. I’m not going to rant against the ones selling cameras for the price of a sports car here, but I am going to say this one thing: does it really matter what the price is when the images don’t say or mean a thing?
There’s something to be said for making something that inspires over something that just is a simple snapshot; to be fair, I’ve seen what some would call snapshots that are amazing snapshots that are more like works of art…The kind of stuff that makes me stop in my tracks and realize that there’s more to life than what’s immediately around me. If there’s a chance we can inspire someone, then we might as well try to do just that so that we can make life just that much more bearable for someone. The thing about all this is, if we don’t get up and work at it, it won’t get done and I’m just as lazy as the next person. Time to get out there…

When gear gets to be a concern…

Thinking about it, I’ve come to realize that, in a world so oversaturated by materialism & oversexed imagery, we’re getting a bit too enamored with this kind of crap. I’m just as guilty of this as the next person and it brings me to the realization that we’re at the point where we are beginning to worship the created instead of the Creator. I mean, think about it: we’re so focused on the tangible & physical that we let secular society twist our lives for us, telling us what we’re to believe and what we’re supposed to believe without any critical thought, al so we just let it slide. For example, the children’s education program in a populous Canadian province (I’m not going to mention which one) was so graphic that there’s a lot of outcry about it; the provincial government okayed it, pushing for it in schools without much thought and young minds are at an extreme risk because of it (any who oppose the sickening curriculum are lambasted by the corrupt governing party as well).
It all gets to be way too much and we wonder what this world’s coming to when things like this happen; this kind of stuff is making its way westward and I’m thinking that it’s going to really mess us up. We focus on gear and the physical so much that we forget to really think about what we’re saying to others when we let this happen; what kind of legacy do we want to leave to the next generation? One of the places where this gets to be quite visible is in the field of marketing photography gear; each lens is sold as the best at portraiture, landscape, macro, etc., to the point that it’s implied that we NEED it to SHOOT LIKE A PRO…We get so inundated with these kind of ads that we forget that it’s all about who’s making the shot, not what’s making the shot; we should be reminding ourselves that while gear is good, if not expensive, what we do with it, and what we say with it, is much more important. I know this comparison is a really big stretch, but the two situations have one thing in common: they focus only on the physical and have the potential to distort the mental.
Life is more than just the physical and it definitely means so much more than what we can see right in front of us with our own eyes; it’s so much bigger than just us. So, now that this post is nearly over, I’ve got one last thing to get off my chest and it’s about this whole thing regarding gear: it’s about time we focus more on meaning & inspiration so that we can truly, or at least try to, make this world a little better. Labels put on us by society can’t, or at least shouldn’t be able to, define us, so we should try to get past them and inspire others to do the same.

Another break…

Thinking about how many times I’ve missed what seemed at times to be the right shot, I’ve begun to wonder if what I’m thinking is the right shot was completely wrong to begin with; what I mean by this is that we’re often told the perfect shot is completely sharp from front to back, has little to no noise, and has perfect colour. I don’t know about anyone else, but this list can be pretty difficult to achieve within a single shot. Nothing’s perfect when you chase complete perfection in photography, in my opinion, because it comes close to being either technically perfect or creatively perfect; in the end, photography that’s perfect is either a pipe dream or something that’s out of reach for the majority of people.
Sometimes, we chase perfection believing that we can easily achieve it; not that the chase is wrong, but when we chase it, we forget all the good opportunities around us and miss good shots that surround us. Sometimes, it takes a break from editing & refining our photos to recognize a good shot after the fact; I get guilty of this nearly every time I go out to take photographs and it makes me laugh nearly every time it happens now. Sometimes we think something is so out of focus when it’s just that we’ve stretched it when we’ve either printed it, or magnified it too much. Frost photography gets really difficult for me because I can easily miss the right focus point for me; using manual focus (to slow me down) or single-shot autofocus (to make it simpler) are the two focus modes I resort to because continual focus can easily miss the spot we think is just right for the shot…Personally I’m more for single-shot autofocus and manual focus refinement when needed because it means at least a shot of getting something right, or decent.

- Trout Lake Frost -
– Trout Lake Frost –

The above shot was one of those scenes that I missed on the first rounds of refining…I think I passed over it at least TWICE. I had taken a break from looking at the photographs from that New Year’s Day shoot in the morning fog and, having already done more than one round of editing & refining, I was looking through the new sales of gear available at the local BestBuy in the city (a bad habit, I know); it was three days after I had originally taken the shot. Thinking that I couldn’t have missed getting at least on close-up frost shot of the bushes, or believing that I hadn’t really messed one up, I decided to look through the photographs again and this one popped up and it was IN FOCUS (left side), something that I had completely lost in my first round because I thought that while it worked out the beauty of the scene right, the colours were off and it wasn’t focused right. With a little tweaking, it came out just the way I saw it that day in my mind and how it felt…Darn it, I really feel like smacking myself multiple times (metaphorically, of course) for missing this one on the first-time round. Taking those breaks helped me really find this one better than I could have before…Sometimes, time can heal wounds, and sometimes it makes you realize what a dummy you were for missing something (it sure has for me).
We all miss things and we wonder what we were thinking in order to miss whatever it is, forgetting that maybe, just maybe, we really didn’t miss it all along and we were looking in the wrong place. Photography’s like that and so is life…We’ve got to give ourselves a leg up by really looking up for help, not on ourselves. Inspiration is more than just you or me, it’s us working together to really give each other a helping hand.

Do I really want this?

There’s stuff that really bugs me from time to time and it comes down to the question of me wanting something and changing my mind. Do I really want this thing to happen? Do I really want this piece of tech or gear? It’s coming up on Christmas and the stores are going on with advertising about new stuff for sale; it draws me in and then I begin to wonder if I really need it or even want it. It’s like that with virtually everything, especially around this festive time of year…Materialism run amok, I guess.

I’m not going to vent against materialism again, but try to explain out the processes that I go through. I mean, I can get really good at things with what I have…I don’t really need the latest piece of tech to get what I want out of a photograph, or design. When the deals come for new tech, don’t get me wrong, I am intrigued, but I tend to either get too far into the sales, or just forget about them in the end. I’ve been trying to really think about how much the holidays are more for family and the real meaning for the season, the boy child in the manger, not so much about what the stores are selling at a somewhat decent price. The season is meant to inspire us, not make us want more stuff to fill our homes and deplete our wallets.

There’s just something about finding inspiration and what it can do to the person who finds it; it can’t really be bought, but it can be given. Just think, if we’d all just learnt to stop & think, myself included, then we’d really get to the point that we can start to make a change in someone’s life and maybe in our own as well. I personally think this world would be a better place if we’d just learn to think of others over ourselves at least once in a while. Do I really want this to happen? Yes…The answer really is a resounding, heart-pounding YES!


It’s that time of year again: the leaves are fading, snow’s going to arrive sometime soon, and Christmas is like 8 weeks away. The commercialized holidays are coming and some stores have already started putting out Christmas stuff on display; we get so caught up in all of it that we forget to take a look around, causing us to forget what’s really happening. Just think, for every dollar spent, there’s someone being pushed really hard, getting told by their boss that they don’t think enough about the company and the bottom line…I truly believe that it’s that bad and we just gloss over Remembrance Day like it’s nothing.

- Those Beams -
– Those Beams –

It’s really ridiculous that this happens and I’m just as guilty of it as the next person…We pass by scenes like the one in the above photograph and don’t stop & think about what this means for us. I came to the park wanting to photograph something else and I wasn’t paying too much attention to this scene at all; if it wasn’t for others photographing the scene of the sun shining through the fog, then I’d never give it a second thought. We miss things all to easily because of mainstream society’s commercialization and the stupid politicization of every little thing around us. I totally forget to really stop & think so that I can inspire those around me and/or those that really need help.

I didn’t do much more than the normal clarity, tone, noise & mild colour adjustments to this photograph to really bring out what I saw & felt when I first saw it. And while it may not be the best of the batch I took that morning, it’s a good example of what we just might see if we stop falling for the commercialization of the upcoming holidays and start focusing in on the family & friends around us. It’s getting to the point that we’re getting on in life just to fall for whatever the media says to us and I’m going to try to shut them out and focus on the important things, for me at least, of faith & family. Remember what the veterans went through, their sacrifices, and focus in on the real meaning of Christmas, not just on what the latest tech & gear is or what the media says it is.

When all else fails…

Thinking about it, I can’t help but wonder why the last thing I do when I’m struggling with something is to look up (aka pray). Why can’t it be the first thing? I mean, c’mon, I know I can’t do anything decent on my own because of just how much I’ve mucked things up, so I should be thinking three steps ahead, not three steps behind. This goes for everything I do, not just in life, but in my hobbies as well; I guess it’s just the fallen nature in me that doesn’t think things quite through. It’s sad when I see that others are suffering and I’m the one thinking that woe is me; I’m NOT judging anyone but myself in this (it’s happened a few times to me and a certain instance has brought this topic to mind).

- Lynn Canyon Rapids -
– Lynn Canyon Rapids –

The things that I’ve seen around me makes me wonder what on earth I’m doing to deserve even another chance, let alone a second chance, but that’s just the depressing voice in my mind. I’m not going to dwell on it, just take it for what it is and then try to make something of it that might just turn into something of worth to someone…It comes down to inspiration with me. Do I think I’m there yet? Maybe, but I’m going to keep trying. It’s kind of like what Winston Churchill said about success: Success is the ability to go from one failure to another with no loss of enthusiasm. I’ve just got to say that we’ve got to rethink what success really means because I sure don’t think it’s about things or how we’re feeling at the moment, but it’s about reaching out to others and walking with them, inspiring them, and confiding in them. I just have to say this: If you ever feel like nothing’s worth it, seek out help, especially that of a good, solid counselor that can show you that life is worth it. That’s what I love about the Good Charlotte song, Hold On: it’s about not giving up, because it will get better.

We’re going to fail & fall flat on our faces, wondering what’s going on with us, but the key is to NOT give up; it’s a message I’ve got to keep reminding myself of daily…And yes, it is worth it, even if we don’t see it at first. We’re at the point that we need to learn from our failures and move forward, not dwell on them or get more things to fill our time up with the shallowness of materialism. This all is just my take on things and my way of ranting out my thoughts on the matter.

Yeah = Utah?

Ever experience autocorrect making mistakes (i.e. like the one above)? And yes, this is a rhetorical question. I’ve had it happen that autocorrect corrects itself to auto-coconut, but don’t ask me on what planet that makes sense because I’m starting to really think that common sense has all but disappeared these days. Just like all this talk about which brand name is better than the other (apart from Porsche being leagues better than BMW), it’s ridiculous, and just another way for people to sell us more things…As if we don’t have enough stuff already. Sometimes we just need to get ourselves off auto and onto something akin to manual, especially when it comes to photography.

- Cascade Falls -
– Cascade Falls –

I’ve gone through some of my photographs over & over, trying to figure myself out and where I’m going with this thing called photography that I enjoy, but it seems as about as elusive as politicians making any sense at all. The above photograph is one that I’ll most likely keep going over for months, mostly because I can’t seem to make up my mind about exactly how I want to finish it; I’ve already gone through two revisions, after the first refinement session, and I’m most likely going to keep tweaking it. I might even try a sepia, duotone, or B&W treatment on it, but the most important thing in all of this, to me, is that it wasn’t taken on auto, but on full manual; to each his own, I guess, but I’m going to keep going this way because it helps me think a little more when I’m doing things, and really muck up along the way while I’m at it which helps me learn as well.

In these days of everything going so fast, I’m thinking that we need to slow down and really think about what’s going on, but that’s not what the mainstream wants because then we’re not as gullible as they want us to be. We need to get some common sense back before the mainstream with its lack of any ethics runs roughshod over all of us. Just look at our Facebook feeds; they’re mostly about the latest stuff we’ve bought or how great we look, and little about uplifting, helping & inspiring others (I’m totally guilty of this as well). We’re at the point that we need to get past this whole gear & tech stuff and I’m at least going to try to get past it.


Color can be a tricky thing to get right when photographing various subjects; I can just hear the gearheads saying that all that’s needed is the latest camera. While that’s nowhere near the truth for the most part because there’s usually a way to achieve it through the use of computer programs, correct filters, or even cleaning the glass; it’s more so about interpretation into a workable file for printing. We’re supposed to be translating what we felt when we took the shot, not necessarily transliterating it; like life, photography is all about feeling, not tired formulas.

In life, we get stuck when we get the two mixed up (transliteration vs. translation), because we forget to bring across what something makes us feel…I’m so at fault for this most of the time as well. Most of the time, we can’t just say “here you go” and then just leave it at that; for me, at least, it doesn’t quite work that way because, half of the time at least, I want to know why, or at least some attempt at the answer to my questions. There’s so much out there that has literally no depth to it (i.e. pop culture), so why intentionally add to the noise? This is one of the things I end up struggling with because I don’t really want to be adding to the noise, but inspiring someone.

In the end, for me at least, the biggest reason I began this blog was to not only air out the odd grievance or two, but try to reach out & inspire someone…by my photography or otherwise. I’m not one for making a point too quickly, so most of the time, these posts turn into a rambling rant and, maybe they do add to the noise, but I at least hope that they add to it in a positive way. The idea that color can easily be transliterated in a photograph instead of translated just right does get me at least a bit upset, mostly because I’m so guilty of this, and doing this can easily make something uninspiring, but that’s my personal opinion; it’s one that I can’t necessarily flesh out in an argument or debate, so I’m just going to leave it at that. So, get out there & inspire!

- Tree & Flowers -
– Tree & Flowers –

What gets me…

…Is the complete over-insistence on what society wants from us instead of the desire & need to inspire others. I mean, c’mon, when did we get so hung up on methodology & certain lists that we forget about the others around us that ARE hurting that we CAN help? I’ve certainly screwed this up so many times that, when I see others do it, it reminds me of my own shortcomings and literally gets me frustrated, to say the least. Shouldn’t we just learn to slow it down & listen, let alone trying to do it all on our own? I’ve failed on this so many times that I’m quite literally talking to myself here as well.

In photography (yes, it’s that rant again), it’s become all about that latest piece of tech or how famous we’ve become through how many shots we’ve sold. In life, it’s become about that latest thing we’ve got & what shiny new toy we’ve got, but have we really thought about how shallow it’s making us? I’m just venting here, but I’m beginning to think that we need to forget about the megapixels and focus on the meaning & the inspiration behind the shot or the person. Like the mainstream media, we’re so hung up getting the most clicks that we’re just doing things that don’t really go very deep at all…And before I’m labeled an alt-right nut, I’d like to point out that the alt-right stuff disgusts me just as much as the regular person. I’m just as tired, as the next person, of being flooded with all the sensationalist crap coming from the CNN & Fox outlets out there, so I’m beginning to really look at this with a grain of salt…It’s just that the proverbial grain of salt is getting much bigger these days.

So, while this might seem a bit winded coming from me, I’m beginning to see that venting, in a decent way, is slowly becoming a way to relieve all the pent-up frustrations I’ve got. Who cares if we’ve got the latest stuff or if we’re rooting for the most likely person to succeed? I’d rather root for the underdog who’s trying to make it through with a bit of humility because, to me, that’s being a bit more real than the favorite.