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Ubele
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4 months ago

I've been lurking here for a while and have found this forum to be a great source of information, so I figured it was time to start posting. I'll begin with a hopefully not-too-self-indulgent introduction.

I started taking pictures as a kid back in the 1960s with my parents' Brownie and Polaroid. In the early 1970s, when I was a young teen, they got me a Kodak Pocket Instamatic (remember flashcubes, anyone?). In the mid 1980s, I decided to get more seriously into photography and bought a Minolta Maxxum 7000, several lenses, and a flash, which I lugged around almost everywhere, variously using a camera bag, backpack, and one of those uber-cool 22-pocket photojournalist vests from Banana Republic, back before they sold yuppie clothing. On one vacation, a friend took a picture of me taking a picture of something, later telling me, "That's how you looked most of the time on our trip."

I loved that camera, but I finally got tired of lugging, not to mention spending money on film processing, so when Nikon released the CoolPix 995 in 2001, the glowing reviews and moderate price (a mere $900 for a whopping 3 Megapixels) convinced me to give digital a try. A week after I bought it, I got caught in a sudden squall in Hawaii, and my camera got soaked. The picture in the viewfinder flipped upside down, and the LCD readout displayed gibberish. I was devasated. I put the camera under a table lamp overnight, on the off chance that drying it out would help – and, next morning, to my relief, the camera was fine, lack of weather-sealing notwithstanding.

In 2005, with technology marching on, and dead pixels accumulating on my Nikon, I felt the need to upgrade. I settled on a Canon Powershot A710, which was both smaller and better quality than my Nikon CoolPix. I liked being able to clip its case to my belt. It was and still is a great little camera, its biggest flaw being the time it takes to reset between shots, especially if the flash is used.

Then smartphone cameras started getiing better and better. In bright light, my iPhone 4 (and, later, iPhone 5) took shots that were the equal of my Canon's shots – and I always have my iPhone with me. I still took my Canon on trips, or anywhere I knew I'd be taking pictures, because of the optical zoom and the replaceable batteries. The convenience of point-and-shoots and smartphone cameras, combined with the creative filters in Instagram and other apps, had long since made them "good enough" for me.

Last year, though, I started following a professional photographer I came across on Facebook. He takes the most beautiful shots of Hawaii (where my wife is from) that I'd ever seen. Not that I'd ever taken shots that fabulous, but people have always told me I have a great photograhic eye. I realized what I'd given up when I forsook my SLR with interchangeable lenses for a P&S and iPhone camera. I decided to get back into more serious photography. I did my usual research, and I was surprised to find that Sony's A-mount cameras would accept my old Minolta Maxxum lenses. Last November, I planned to get a Sony SLT A-65. They were out of stock everywhere, though, so I checked out the NEX 6. I was amazed at its small size. The SLT A-65 was slightly cheaper and more capable, but I remembered why I'd abandoned my SLR rig in the first place. Did I really want to go back to lugging around a DSLR-size camera and lenses? I decided to buy the NEX 6. I also took advantage of holiday sales on Adobe Photoshop Elements 12 and onOne Perfect Photo Suite 8.

So here I am. One thing I've learned while reading this forum and other resources is how much I have yet to learn about photography. My eye is becoming more critical. Many of what I'd considered my good shots now seem mediocre, and many of what I'd considered my great shots now seem merely good. I've gotten to the point where I know whether a shot is even worth taking before I raise the camera to my eye. What I didn't realize until recently is how difficult it is to get a truly great shot – where the subject is compelling, the background lacks distractions, the lighting is perfect, and I'm at the ideal angle to capture it all.

Unless I someday start making money from photography, or somehow have more money than I know what to do with, I can't justify buying high-end lenses or a full-frame setup. I'll force myself to curb my GAS and perfectionistic tendencies. I vow not to become a pixel-peeper or worry about the shots I could have gotten if I've only had a tad more corner sharpness, or creamier bokeh, or one more level of noise-free ISO.

And that's enough for now.

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