Photography – the Multi-faceted Hobby
What other hobby affords the participant adventure, exercise, educational opportunities, a creative outlet, a social medium, a potential way to generate income, and for those so inclined, considerable opportunities to compete?
Photography is unique in that everyone has taken pictures, hence everyone is a photographer and a potential hobbyist. With the advent of megapixel cell phones, inexpensive point-and-shoot digital cameras and tablets, photography on one level or another is something practiced by most people past childhood.
I came to the hobby of photography last summer with the purchase of my first DSLR (digital single-lens reflex) camera. For years, during my bicycle training rides, I had noticed apparently serious photographers spending considerable time in some of the parks that I rode through. One day, out of curiosity, I stopped an asked a photographer about what it was that he was so apparently interested in. He pointed to some otters chasing about, an alligator that had just captured his lunch and some fascinating birds flying by and fishing on the shores of the pond by which he was standing. I thought about it for a few weeks and after some research and reading, I went all-in with the purchase of a Canon T3i DSLR camera. I was advised to spend the most money on the lens and not the camera, and heeding that advice, I purchased a Canon 100-400 f4.5-5.6 L USM IS lens. The technical details are beyond the scope of this blog, but know that the “L” designation is reserved for Canon’s pro-level lenses, and this one was about $1700. It turned out to be great advice!
Prior to discussing each of the potential points of interest of being a photographer, here is one of my favorite pictures. It was chosen as an editor’s favorite by “Outdoor Photography” magazine about three weeks age, has won numerous awards, and is currently entered in a couple of large photo contests including an international juried competition:
Here are some of the amazing aspects of the hobby:
I find photography to be a fascinating adventure. I specialize in photographing flora and fauna, and seeking out subjects is an absolute adventure. For example, last week I was shooting a great horned owl and her then 11-day-old chicks. The male owl was standing guard in an adjacent tree guarding his mate and progeny. Along with his duties as guard, he would hunt for and feed his mate who in turn would feed the chicks. It is amazing to be around and observe nature close-up, and just as exciting, record what you observe! Regarding the cormorant in the above photo, there are three cormorants, a male, female and juvenile that regularly fish in a park adjacent to my house. Over time, by slowly approaching them, they now allow me within arms distance and feel comfortable enough to turn their backs on me when I am very near. I photograph them often!
Part of the adventure is discovering the results of a photo shoot when the files are uploaded from the camera to the computer. I almost fell off my chair when the above cormorant came by as I was sorting through my shots! Here is an example of a lucky shot that I did not realize I had made until it came off the camera:
I had no idea that I had caught this flying egret forming a reflection that looks like the jaws of a shark – also its wing tips were skimming the water! A delightful surprise!
Photography can get rather technical so when I took it up, I immersed myself in various books and the many free videos and seminars available on-line. My main educational thrust however is that I make it a point to learn about everything I shoot whether it be plant or animal. Case in point. I found a beautiful, geometrical spider web on my front porch the first week I started in the hobby. Research revealed the spider was an orb weaver and I learned the fascinating fact that an orb weaver spider consumes his web daily, rests for an hour and than rebuilds the complete web. I even found a video on YouTube depicting one building a web in real time – they are very fast, and I ultimately observed “my” orb weaver building her nest! I could write a major treatise on the fascinating things that I have learned about the subjects that I have photographed! Here is a photo of the web built daily on my front porch (the orb weaver, a very small, stubby spider, is in the center):
I love art. My mother was a great artist and my brother was lucky enough to inherit her art genes – I was not. As a child, I used to try to emulate her efforts sketching with charcoal, but became quickly discouraged when I would compare my results with hers. Did I mention that I was only 5 years old? Frustrated nonetheless. I’ve always wanted to be able to create something that could be described as art, and through the medium of photography, I have finally found a way. Here for example is a dramatic photo I took of an osprey that has been turned into a piece of art. That is only one of the many ways that I have found that I can express myself artistically through photography.
I have been tempted to purchase an activity monitor in that I curious to see how much walking I do in the pursuit of my photographic hobby. I spend a considerable amount of time in the field, walking, climbing and just out in the fresh air pursuing my next photographic target.
Here in the Tampa Bay Area we have some very active photo clubs that often meet for group shoots at various fascinating venues. I recently attended one and not only was shown areas with great photographic opportunities, but had the pleasure of meeting and learning from some serious amateurs and pros. I’m sure most areas have something similar.
I am an extremely competitive person – I just love to compete at anything. Recently, after many years of successful bicycle racing which led to many state and national championships, I decided to retire from bicycle racing. I hadn’t lost a race in years, and candidly I was getting a bit bored and starting to feel like a one trick pony. My competitive juices have been more than satisfied through the entering of photo contests.
There is a fascinating photographic website called ViewBug. One can post their work on the site and enter numerous contests offered by the site. Here is the link to my so-called wall on ViewBug:
As you can see, I am currently entered in 52 contests and have won over 2000 peer granted awards in my short less-than-one-month stay on the site! If you have any interest, you can scan through the hundreds of shots I have posted on the site, and if you hit the “awards” button, you can see which of my photos have been granted peer and other awards. Note also that there is a “Photography” button on my main blog page which contains some of my very early work.
On the ViewBug site, one can designate any picture that is uploaded as being for sale. If a buyer is interested, ViewBug frames and ships the photo, and pays you a commission. Just a couple of days ago, one of my photos of an owl was selected to appear in the site’s main store hence it now gets extra exposure to potential buyers. There are also many on-line sites that sell stock photos and one can submit work to them for sale. In addition, a relationship with a local gallery can often lead to income generating opportunities. Here is my shot that was selected by the editors at ViewBug to sell directly in their store:
In conclusion, almost everyone is a photographer to one degree or another and everyone loves a great photo. If you are looking for a great hobby that affords opportunities in so many different ways, consider the wonderful, intriguing, very rewarding hobby of photography! I’ll leave you with one more shot of the kind of incredible creatures one can encounter during the pursuit of this intriguing, fascinating hobby: