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I’m a lazy photographer and that might be a good thing

I don’t like to wake up early. I don’t use a tripod as often as I should. I forget my flash all the time. I don’t like spending a lot of time editing. I don’t title or tag my photos; Worst of all, I’m a homebody at heart. This is why I’m a lazy photographer, but all of this can be a good thing. Despite calling myself lazy, however, I will do what is needed to get the photo I want, it’s just not always easy.

I want to stress that I am not a professional photographer; it is purely a hobby. Also, I don’t consider myself a travel photographer. In my mind a travel photographer is focused on getting the best photo. For me, if I’m that focused on getting the photo, I miss out on the experience. There are some great travel photographers who can focus on the shot and still have the experience, I’m just not one of those.

It’s so early…

To get the best photos, you need the best light. That light happens at sunrise and at sunset most of the time. When you throw in the fact that most places have more people at sunset, sunrise is generally considered the best time to take photos. It’s just so hard to get up in the morning. And if I do, I’m going to need lots of coffee and then a nap.

Living in the pacific northwest helps a little. During the winter, the sun rises ridiculously late. It’s generally overcast and cloudy skies act as a giant soft box. But there are still those shots that require getting up early (the Wooden Shoe Tulip Festival comes to mind). I might be willing to make the sacrifice for these but what I generally do is work within the environment.

Why is this good again?

So how could this possibly be a good thing? Well, I’ve found that I start to focus on shots that I wouldn’t normally look at. Take the cherry blossoms that bloom in Portland. Everyone has a shot of the waterfront in full bloom, myself included, but by going in the late afternoon close to sunset, there are a lot of people there. I focus on the people taking pictures and end up with photos that are somewhat unique. These are more interesting shots (I secretly want to be a street photographer), and wouldn’t happen if I arrived before sunrise before anyone was there, got my photos, and called it a day.

Rainy Days

DSC_4972Taking advantage of a rainy day can also get some unique shots that, thanks to my aversion to getting up early, I’ve gotten more practice finding and capturing. This photo from Portland’s Japanese Garden was taken close to 11 in the morning, but thanks to overcast/rainy weather, I was able to get something a little different. The mist in the background and the wet ground make this photo more interesting. The other advantage is fewer people on a rainy day. Although, in the pacific northwest, rain is not as much of a deterrent as other places, but it still helps.

There are some challenges that remain. Electronics don’t play well with water. Where most DSLRs are weather sealed, this doesn’t mean you can just go playing in the rain with them. Light moisture is generally not much of a problem, but I avoid changing lenses if there is any hint of rain. In the case of this photo, it was more mist than rain, so I felt confident using my Nikon. This is an area where the iPhone comes in handy. My iPhone X is water-resistant. I also know that a repair for water damage is much cheaper for an iPhone then it would be for my Nikon.

Who needs a tripod anyway, or a flash for that matter?

First of all, every photographer needs a tripod, especially for low light and landscape. That being said, even the best photographers are in situations where a tripod just wont work or it is impractical to carry one with you. I’m taking a trip to Prague in a couple of weeks and I don’t plan on carrying a tripod around with me or even packing one (I’ll have a small one for my iPhone).

There has been a lot of improvement in low light/high ISO photography. I feel perfectly comfortable shooting at ISO 800 on a regular basis, even going as high as 1600 if I need to. Between my cameras noise reduction and Lightroom’s noise tools, I am still able to get great shots. Is it ideal, no, but if you wait for ideal, you will miss a lot of great shots.

The other aspect is that these conditions sometimes force me to rethink how I approach a subject. When visiting the Cedar Creek Grist Mill, the light inside was not ideal for hand-held shots. Instead of getting my tripod I rethought what I was looking at. I decided to put on my 50mm and shoot at f1.8, ISO 1000. The tripod was in my car (I always keep one there) but this rethinking of my approach allowed me to get some different shots then I would have if I just defaulted to the tripod.

Where did I put that flash?

My niece Haddy, I did not use a flash.

I am a big fan of strobist photography, and I really like low-key photography; I am terrible at remembering to bring a flash though. I’m also not nearly as skilled at strobist photography as I need to be. I know the basics but I need to put in the practice. My thing with flash photography is I need to specifically plan on getting shots with a flash.

Since I find myself in situations that I have forgotten to bring my flash, I have had to learn to use existing light. This is also why it’s so important to always shoot in RAW, you have much more dynamic range to work with editing. Using the histogram helps to make sure you are getting exposure correct. With a little editing, you can generally bring out shadowed areas that would have needed a fill flash. It wont work for all shots, using a fill flash is still the best way to balance lighting, but if you don’t have a flash, work with what you have.

Editing is such a drag

Some photographers really enjoy the process of editing and spend hours editing, tagging, and organizing their photos; I am not one of those people. Photos that have been meticulously edited with attention paid to every detail are truly impressive, but personally, a more photojournalistic approach to photography is more within my style; I typically only do color correction and a few other tweaks on photos.

The art of setting up the photo, deciding what lens to use, what settings to use, the best angle for the light, this is what I enjoy the most. After shooting a lot of photos, it can feel very daunting to review and edit all of them. I use a star rating system to identify what photos to focus on editing. The hardest thing for me to do, however, is to just let my first impression rate the photo. Don’t think too much about it, you can always change it.

Tagging is tedious

I’m terrible about tagging my photos and giving them titles. I keep the file name as the title, though this is actually a thought out choice. Many would say that tagging photos is a must, especially for large libraries. Fortunately, technology has helped me out in this department.

Lightroom, Google Photos, Apple Photos, all use machine learning to allow searching for photos. They can identify objects and even specific people in photos. Just the other day, I used Google Photos to create a slide show of just my dog Watson. Not only was it able to identify dogs, it was able to identify a specific dog. I then made a second one for Josie.

A photojournalistic approach

My choice to not spend a ton of time editing is only partially due to not enjoying it. The fact is I probably enjoy it more than I let on. I’ll find myself revisiting photos, tweaking them, rethinking the look, long after I publish. Really, it’s because I genuinely like a photojournalistic approach. I have always liked photojournalism; the raw nature of it, the realness. These images can be extraordinarily powerful. Where I am not a photojournalist, I want to maintain some of the qualities of that style. As such, I don’t really manipulate my photos. Only in rare situations to I remove objects. As a side effect, I share photos pretty quickly.

Everyone should edit as much or as little as they want/need to achieve the look they want, but… Don’t spend so much time that you don’t share your work. After all, what’s the purpose of taking photos if you aren’t going to share them. The whole point of this blog is so I can not just post photos, but talk about them as well.

Do I really need to leave the house?

I am an introvert and a homebody. I find being in crowds exhausting. This is a problem for a photographer. The above image was taken off my back porch when I lived in the west hills but you can only take so many photos at home. To work with my homebody tendencies, I  do things that a photographer should do anyway…plan. Have a plan, give yourself an assignment, make a list. These are all good practices and provide purpose.

This blog is great for me as I have a reason to get out. The list on this site is a to do list for where I want to go and take photos. I also give myself assignments. These can be simple; shoot only using a 50mm lens, shoot in black and white, only use my iPhone, take photos of dogs. I look at subjects differently when giving myself these assignments and I have some great shots from the practice. Sometimes there will be a specific photo I want to get. This allows me to actually have the right equipment and arrive at the correct time; it also keeps me from procrastinating on leaving the house.

Am I actually a lazy photographer?

Detail of the roof in the Lan Su Chinese Garden in Portland, OR

I think everyone is lazy sometimes, including myself, but I don’t really think of myself as a “lazy photographer.” The truth is photography is a hobby I enjoy and I have found ways to overcome those times I feel lazy and still enjoy it. I have taken something that could be viewed as a weakness and turned it into something that makes me stretch as a photographer.

Do I use a tripod, edit my photos, or get out of the house…of course I do. I still go for the good light, take the time to get the right look, and use a tripod for stable shots, but I also allow myself to see other ways to get a good photo.

When I travel, I’m very much a laid back traveler. I don’t plan out every minute; this works for me. I don’t travel just to take photos but they are still a big reason I do. When traveling, I work with the conditions I’m in. Lugging a tripod around isn’t always practical. I want to share the photos I took quickly. This doesn’t really make me “lazy” but it does make for a good blog post title. #clickbate

Match

I was born and raised in Florida then moved to Portland, OR in January of 2015. I take photos, I post stuff, this is my blog.

4 thoughts to “I’m a lazy photographer and that might be a good thing”

  1. Good write up (and thanks for mentioning us). I will let all our social followers know about it so they can have a read 🙂

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