My Old Friend. My Nikon D7200

I have to say that when I initially started this post, back in about May, I did not entitle it my old friend. You see, at that time, I picked up something that felt incredibly heavy, huge and awkward. When I raised the lens to my eye, there was so much space around the subject and in my viewfinder that I had to actually compose the photo.

Taken at the Mountsberg Raptor Centre, Hamilton.
Echo the Eastern Screech Owl.Taken at the Mountsberg Raptor Centre in Hamilton.

 

I had forgotten the ‘rules,’ of thirds, negative space, creating tension and such. I was still trying to fill the frame and it was incredibly difficult. Everything felt alien, strange and just uncomfortable at that time.

I arrived here after a long winter of being seduced by my iPhone camera. You see, I hate winter and I’m just not the type of person who is going to bundle up and go outside in –20 degrees (or for that matter, even a close to zero kind of nicer day) and take photos. So knowing this about myself, and in wanting to improve my photography, I had started a 365 day project using my iPhone camera. I had known instinctively that I would pull out the easy, small and portable camera I have with me all the time. As it was a different time of the year, I started learning about table top photography, flash and studio photography and generally setting a scene. It was very exciting and challenging and kept me occupied for all the winter, safe, warm and snug, inside my house.

Of course, there were the apps too. The gazillion of them that take a photo, one where you fill the frame with the subject (cause you just can’t see much of anything on Instagram using an iPhone unless you do this)  and you quickly and easily process it. I was euphoric as I sat in hospitals while working, riding on the TTC when going downtown, and in the morning for a couple of minutes while eating my breakfast, changing the photo, adding effects and creating art. It was heady. It was such fun to edit a photo, create art or ‘funkify’ everything, turn it upside down, add huge clown lips or do a double exposure, all with the flick of a finger across the screen.

But as the snow melted and spring fever hit me, I wanted to get outside and I wanted to take some spring photos. But I must say, as already mentioned, my Nikon D7200 didn’t initially feel right. It was like I was starting new again and had to become reacquainted. I couldn’t believe I had forgotten how to compose. I didn’t realized I had given that up with the Iphone, just mindlessly taking a photo and filling the frame. Now I had to think, consider light that I wasn’t controlling, look at the subject in relation to the area surrounding it/her/him. It took WORK!  I could hear myself think, “It’s so much easier with the Iphone.” But I plodded on, taking photo after photo. Then I would process the photos into Lightroom (LR) and from there into Photoshop (PS) and the frustration would hit. I just wanted to remove one simple thing, which is so easy on my iPhone. It’s as simple as opening the app and swiping a finger across the area. Really, that simple. In Photoshop, I first have to search for the 2 to 4 minute video showing me where to begin because I just can’t remember. “It’s so easy on the IPhone, ” I would think, cursing the complexity of Photoshop. So, off I went for a couple of outings and it didn’t take long for my Nikon to feel natural and comfortable in my hand again. I quickly remembered how and what to focus on and how to compose again, and just like riding a bike, it came back to me quickly. Then I went out one day, replacing my kit lens with my Tamron 90mm prime lens. It was love again. I was back on my game and enjoying the experience and the results of taking photos with my Nikon. It felt like an old friend had just returned home.

Then there was the worst feeling I had to overcome. Resist the urge to funkify everything. You see, I am not as familiar with PS, so it is not easy nor quick. I have to research what I want to do each time, as I haven’t used it extensively yet. And I liked the composites I was creating, the feeling of producing art. But having taken a photo of that owl, spending the time to compose it properly and to enhance what is naturally there, it seemed like blasphemy almost, to then funkify it. That urge was so strong, but I resisted. And I persevered. And then it happened. I uploaded my photos into LR and I liked what I saw. The urge to do a double exposure, or add a component from another photo, or maybe a funky spotlight, just didn’t strike me. I liked the photos, AS THEY WERE. I wanted to represent the scene and subject AS IT WAS in the photo. The urge to turn it into something else had evaporated. I was once again, reunited with my old friend. An owl, was just an owl, hanging out on a tree stump, and I loved it as it was.

Everyone they say has a style. I have yet to find mine or to find one. I am not interested in showing my work, so I don’t care if there is homogeny in my photos. I do what I like because of what I feel at the time I am doing it. But I have learned there is periodization in photography, much like there is in sport training. I have two periods, with two distinct and different tools, goals and outcomes. I love the Nikon for the beautiful warm weather that entices me out to play on weekends. I enjoy the crisp, clear and clean photos it takes. It is my good weather camera that when I am not working, I take almost everywhere with me. And then there is my iPhone. I love this camera for its portability and the ease of using it when I am at work. I can create art anywhere, anytime. But more importantly, I use it in the winter, when confined to inside because of the cold. I create the scenes, I control the light and I stage the photos I want to take. And then using the apps, I just create, often landing somewhere with a photo that I just did not pre-visualize, but being immensely pleased with the outcome of what was funkified. So periodization has taken on a new meaning as I discover I am a two camera kinda gal. And right now, in the warmth of spring and summer, I am loving my old friend, my Nikon D7200!

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