My whole career has been based on changing. I was a change shaper, always looking for what next was best, whether for the military laboratories I worked with or for myself. Standing still and not keeping up with continual changes in the environment around me was not something I did.
After every major achievement was over I tended to crash. It was always a big let-down, until I was able to move on to the next thing. I have now reached such a point with my photography. I have acquired the cameras and lenses that I like, and I see no reason to look at camera technology anymore. I find this to be depressing, but at the same time a challenge. What do I do now? What is next?
One of my desires for the coming year is to photograph more with my Fujifilm X100F. I’m planning on using it more since I like the camera for its size, its controls, and its image quality. In the past, my projects have been about the subject matter so it seems a little odd to me to think of using the X100F as a “project”.
There are problems with me attempting to use the X100F more. One issue is the focal length. I am already limited with what I have to photograph and adding a 35mm focal length limitation to the mix makes it even harder, even with crop-zooming. But that isn’t totally true. I could always just photograph the views that I can only see with an effective 35mm focal length, but they might get boring, repetitive, and be of little interest.
Another concern with using the X100F is that I prefer simple, more minimalist images, and given the material I have to work with around here, that means I might need to get up close and photograph details if I only have an effective 35mm focal length, or crop like I did for the above image.
I have already done some experiments to see if I could just use the X100F for my Homewood photography, and I found out I could, but only in those areas where I could get up front. It would mean limiting my work to some extent. The real issue would probably be, why do that when I have the Olympus E-M1 Mark II and longer focal length lenses?
As I pursue this project of using the X100F more often, it means mostly using it for my personal photography and looking for suitable images to fit the focal length. If I need to just get the picture, it would be more practical to use my micro 4/3 gear; but when I’m looking for a challenge, it means using the X100F more.
I made this image (one picture with two crops from it) through my window this morning. I wanted a new picture to start the year with so that I could update my file structure, labeling, etc. for the new year, and it was too cold (8 degrees F) to go outside to take a picture.
Yesterday I looked back through what I had photographed last year and was surprised. I found that I had used 17 different cameras and 24 different lenses, and then realized that only about 41% of the pictures were made with cameras that I still have. I also learned that I had made 53% of the images for Homewood uses; i.e. not for my blog.
The cameras that I no longer have were the bigger ones with larger lenses such as the Canon 80D, Pentax K-70 and K-3II, and the Fujifilm X-E2s, X-Pro2, and X-T2. Not counting the TG-4 and the iPhone6, I am currently using the Olympus E-M1 Mark II and PEN-F along with the Fuji X100F cameras. At the moment, I don’t plan to make any more changes in cameras, but that leaves me with wondering what I will do this year since a lot of my previous images were made as I tried different cameras.
In general, my cameras have tended to get smaller and lighter, but I may have reached a limit for the time being. I would like a good pocket camera, but I would like one that was simple relative to the controls and menu. I am having enough trouble with inadvertently making changes to settings with the cameras that I’m now using, so getting another camera which is equally complex with smaller buttons crowded into the design isn’t going to help me much. If someone made a camera like the Leica X2 with similar controls and short menu with a state-of-the-art APS size sensor and LCD that wasn’t any bigger than the Leica X2, but affordable, I might consider getting it. As a compromise, I have been watching the one-inch sensor cameras but I haven’t found one worth acquiring.
Since I moved to Homewood at Plum Creek six years ago I have managed to make lots of pictures to use on this blog by photographing the flora and fauna, mostly the wild animals, insects, and wildflowers. Since moving here I have noticed a definite, year by year decrease in my opportunities to continue making such pictures. I no longer see deer along Plum Creek, nor the mink, etc. I also use to see foxes, muskrats, snapping turtles, etc., but they are rare now. There has also been a decrease in the song birds, types of ducks, etc. These changes are due, in my opinion, to the continual clearing away of the natural areas along Plum Creek, etc. In my opinion, they should be increasing the plantings and natural growth along the creek to stop the erosion. It has gotten to the point where almost all grasses, shrubs, etc. are being removed, or cut to the ground each winter, and thus eliminating the environments suitable for sustaining wildlife. This cutting has also modified the population of the wild plants still able to grow in the wet areas and has greatly reduced the variety of interesting plants and insects. The birds and frogs, etc. have been declining and that means that the mosquito population will grow.
As a result of these changes, I feel it is necessary for me to either stop publishing my blog or to find other things to photograph since I need to create pictures and the opportunities are on the decline here at Homewood at Plum Creek. Depending on what, or if I find other things to photograph for use in my blog, I will also have to think differently about what cameras and lenses I keep, or acquire, or sell. Residents have already been noticing that I no longer take a camera with me when I take my walks around campus. This is because I no longer see interesting things to photograph.
Frankly, I have to admit that this is a traumatic time for me since I don’t know what to do. I have gotten comfortable limiting the majority of my photography to on campus; but the opportunities have slowly been disappearing. Since I can no longer travel to exotic places to make travel or landscape pictures, I am at a loss. It is going to mean that I either give up my hobby of photography or go elsewhere in the surrounding area and pursue other subjects. It could also impact my photography of activities and events here at Homewood. If I can no longer find images to display in my blog, I have no interest in continuing my hobby. And even if I find an interest in other subjects off campus it may alter the types of cameras and lenses that I keep and thus reduce my ability to make some of my Homewood pictures.
My whole career has been devoted to changes … making my own, or leading others to make the right changes. When pursuing change in the past I learned that half the battle is reaching a decision that change is necessary and then making a clean break with the old ways. The second half is building a path to the future after setting a goal. I have gotten half way, and am now going to work on the second half; but, I’m not sure that I can make the needed changes anymore.
Before I discuss this crazy idea, I would like to mention some of the reasons behind it. I have a few constraints, either real or perceived. Winter is coming and the outdoor opportunities are more limited. Considering this along with a problem with my right hand that gets very cold, fingers turn white, and the skin shrivels up and it is harder to hold and use heavier cameras & lenses, I keep looking for opportunities to keep photographing. Next, I have more opportunities for indoor photography for Homewood publications, etc. in the winter, but most of the images are not suitable for my blog. Since I have been making pictures here for six years, some of the photographical interests can get repetitive. In addition to all of the above, my back has been bothering me more and it gets harder to make pictures. And then I remember all of the dozens of different cameras and lenses I have used over the years in order to expand my opportunities. In response to all of the above, I’m considering shifting most of my photography to one camera, one lens, the Fujifilm X100F, and changing my approach. But this change also has problems.
One of my major problems would be covering events, etc. without the use of a zoom lens. The first picture below was made with the X100F from the rear of the audience in the Omni Room when Sweetlife Music was playing. The second image is a crop from the first that has been resized. Could I conceivably get by with crops and upsizing? Maybe, depending on how much cropping was done and the final use of the image.
The following pictures were made with the X100F while I walked around the building as well as outside. The need for cropping in those cases was minimal and an effective 35mm lens was fine.
And then there is another problem. When I use the X100F I find that I like to make ACROS monotone images like these above, but the residents tend to prefer color. I could compromise and use color for the in house uses and limit the use of occasional B&W images to my blog.
I still have not yet decided to commit to this approach of adapting all of my photography to what I can do with the X100F with just its 35mm (e) lens; but I’m giving it a lot more attention. Before I could make such changes, I would need to try it out on the staff and residents some more to see what their reaction is since it might tend to be more disruptive when I got closer, and such a change would mean getting closer.
Reading and looking at other photography web sites I have realized two things. I am no longer interested in reading about new cameras, lenses, etc., i.e. gear; and second, I don’t get much out of looking at pretty pictures of places I’ll never have an opportunity to photograph. The question is, what do I enjoy in photography web sites?
I like pictures that make me think and wonder. I prefer seeing and reading about experiences that relate to me now. I like to see how others have photographed the common everyday things around them in their life. I like to read how others have managed to stay creative and expressive without going wildly off the deep end. I like stories. One pretty picture doesn’t do much for me. I like to learn about the life of others and how they live it.
The question now is, what should I do next? What should I write and/or photograph, or not, while remembering that I like to make pictures? I need a style and subject that enable me to take pictures each and every day without traveling. I need something to challenge me to study, learn, and practice throughout the day without spending more money.
I do have plenty of events and activities to photograph here for Homewood for the rest of the year, but that isn’t going to help me much with my blog.
I’m sitting and staring out my window wondering what I’ll photograph and write for my blog this winter. When I acquired my X100F camera I thought about just photographing and blogging about my experiences on a day by day basis. The more I think about this it just seems harder and harder. It isn’t hard to take the pictures, it is just that my current lifestyle is quite laid back, some might say boring or very repetitive.