Cool off with a retrospective project of your own work

It’s like this:  I hate summer.  Not dislike, not despise, not look down upon in disdain.  Hate.

The reason is the blasted heat (and the humidity doesn’t help either).  It also happens to be one of the busiest times of year for my job which (you guessed it) involves me being outside in this heat and humidity.  My ancestors came from Scotland (before that, who knows!  Maybe Norway?  😉 ) and I definitely take after my great-great-great-gr…eat-great-great grandpappy who preferred the cool climate of the highlands over the stifling summer conditions of the lowlands (and believe me, the coastal plain area of North Carolina qualifies as “lowlands”). Suffice it to say that I hate this time of year because it is exceedingly hot, very dry (working on a multi-year drought here), humid, bug-infested (the mosquito is being challenged by the gnat to be the state bird!) and just plain uncomfortable.  When you step out of your house at 7:00am and it already feels like a sauna, life isn’t fun.

Between work and the climate, I haven’t had the energy to do much photography.  So what is a person to do when they aren’t motivated to plunge back into the summer torture chamber to take photos?  Well, I’ve started going back to my early photos and re-examining them to see what I can learn from them.

I start off by looking at the .jpg of the photo I saved after processing the RAW file.  The first thing I’ve seen is that my photo-editing skills have improved since I started.  I then remember to the time I took the image and try to recall what I was thinking and what I was trying to capture…what I was trying to accomplish with the image.  One thing that I’ve begun to work on recently (since listening to interviews with Rick Sammon and Scott Kelby on The Digital Photography Show) is to stop trying to “take” the image…but rather to “make” the image by being more aware of what is there before activating the shutter.  What I take this to mean is to not just snap the picture.  Instead, develop the habit of looking around the frame to make sure everything is “right” before you click the shutter.  Looking back at those earlier images, I can clearly see that I didn’t know anything about that concept a few months ago.  Changing one’s way of thinking is not something easily done.

My next step is to decide if I can improve on the .jpg I made originally (almost unanimously, the decision has been “yes!”) and then reprocess to make the most of the capture.  I’m keeping these new images separate from the originals and using them to start building a printed portfolio.  So far, I’ve worked my way through the first nine days that I had my DSLR.  Plenty left to last me until the weather begins to cool off again.

Actually, I’ve also been thinking about putting together a photo book of my work for this year.  If I do, I may see if I can build it in such a way as to use it to register my copyrights to this years’ photos.  I’ll have to check with an attorney to see if that is possible.  If anyone reading this knows of a good way to register your copyrights in bulk, please comment or email me.  I have really only gotten started this year, but I don’t think this is something you can start too early.


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