A Chronology of Photographs - Part 1

Five years.

It has been five years since I first picked a camera (ANY camera), and although there have been periods of drought in my photo taking, it has been a pretty steady uphill climb of knowledge and experimentation. 

It's an interesting thing. My journey from a kid with small, cheap little camera to a bigger kid with an expensive array of gadgets has been a fun and exciting one. I've gone from thinking that I know EVERYTHING to realizing just how much I really have to learn about the art and craft of photography. 

Here is that journey.

Because this post is going to be so long, I'm splitting it up into two parts. Part one will examine my photographic beginnings in 2008 until the end of 2011. Part two will look at 2012 to the present.

November 2, 2008 - On my family's ranch near White River Lake Aiptek 720p Camcorder This photo is probably one of the very first that got me interested in taking pictures. At this point I was more interested in video and used a $100 camcorder (with no zoom *shiver*) to make little home videos with my cousin. Oddly, it featured an 8 megapixel still camera as well, and the quality of the photos really wasn't half bad for the price. This is where it all began

November 2, 2008 - On my family's ranch near White River Lake

Aiptek 720p Camcorder

This photo is probably one of the very first that got me interested in taking pictures. At this point I was more interested in video and used a $100 camcorder (with no zoom *shiver*) to make little home videos with my cousin. Oddly, it featured an 8 megapixel still camera as well, and the quality of the photos really wasn't half bad for the price. This is where it all began


January 9, 2009 - Downtown Spur, TX Canon PowerShot SD790 IS Man was this an exciting time for me as a photo-enthusiast. I had just gotten a new camera for Christmas (a legit still camera this time), and this is the result of one of my first outings with it. As you can tell, I was still trying to figure out composition.

January 9, 2009 - Downtown Spur, TX

Canon PowerShot SD790 IS

Man was this an exciting time for me as a photo-enthusiast. I had just gotten a new camera for Christmas (a legit still camera this time), and this is the result of one of my first outings with it. As you can tell, I was still trying to figure out composition.

February 9, 2009 - Backyard of my old house Canon PowerShot SD790 IS A look inside a photographic time capsule would not be complete without a little of selective color. Haha. :)                I remember thinking this was THE COOLEST THING EVER when I learned how to do it in GIMP (the poor man's free alternative to Photoshop)  

February 9, 2009 - Backyard of my old house

Canon PowerShot SD790 IS

A look inside a photographic time capsule would not be complete without a little of selective color. Haha. :)                I remember thinking this was THE COOLEST THING EVER when I learned how to do it in GIMP (the poor man's free alternative to Photoshop)

 

June 23, 2009 - Over the Gulf of Mexico Canon PowerShot SD790 IS Wow do I remember this shot. It was spring break - I was with my dad, step-mom, and younger brother and we had just spent the tail end of the break down in Port Aransas off the coast of Texas. My dad's family is full of pilots. There are more pilots than are not non-pilots, and my dad is no exception. We had taken off from the small municipal airport in Port Aransas  in his little 1959 Cessna 4-seater airplane. It was early morning, because as the day drags on the air heats up and the ride gets bumpy, and I looked over to see this scene. I took my little compact camera out of its adorable blue case and *snap* the scene is now immortalized, both in this image and in my memory. I know this might sound silly or cliche, but I think this is as close to heaven as I have ever come.

June 23, 2009 - Over the Gulf of Mexico

Canon PowerShot SD790 IS

Wow do I remember this shot. It was spring break - I was with my dad, step-mom, and younger brother and we had just spent the tail end of the break down in Port Aransas off the coast of Texas. My dad's family is full of pilots. There are more pilots than are not non-pilots, and my dad is no exception. We had taken off from the small municipal airport in Port Aransas  in his little 1959 Cessna 4-seater airplane. It was early morning, because as the day drags on the air heats up and the ride gets bumpy, and I looked over to see this scene. I took my little compact camera out of its adorable blue case and *snap* the scene is now immortalized, both in this image and in my memory. I know this might sound silly or cliche, but I think this is as close to heaven as I have ever come.

November 20, 2009 - Dad's ranch  Canon PowerShot SD790 IS As is probably common, many of my early shots were sunsets in various contexts. It's almost like a rite of passage. I shot this image while I was out hunting...I think...turkeys maybe...with my dad. We were heading back to the house, because it was getting too dark to see anything and I noticed this one solitary tree silhouetted against the blazing sky. At first I just walked by it. I was in coveralls with my rifle slung over my shoulder, and I already had a ton of sunset pictures. It seemed like too much of a hassle. Of course, as I walked farther away, I got an odd guilty feeling that I was just being incredibly lazy and that I really NEED to take this photo. It was too striking to pass up. So I headed back, racing against the sun to try and get some kind of photo before the colors in the sky faded to black.

November 20, 2009 - Dad's ranch

 Canon PowerShot SD790 IS

As is probably common, many of my early shots were sunsets in various contexts. It's almost like a rite of passage.

I shot this image while I was out hunting...I think...turkeys maybe...with my dad. We were heading back to the house, because it was getting too dark to see anything and I noticed this one solitary tree silhouetted against the blazing sky. At first I just walked by it. I was in coveralls with my rifle slung over my shoulder, and I already had a ton of sunset pictures. It seemed like too much of a hassle. Of course, as I walked farther away, I got an odd guilty feeling that I was just being incredibly lazy and that I really NEED to take this photo. It was too striking to pass up. So I headed back, racing against the sun to try and get some kind of photo before the colors in the sky faded to black.

March 28, 2010 - The ranch house Canon Rebel XS, 75-300mm f/4.5-5.6 I know I'm skipping ahead here, but I'm really trying not to bore you with an image from every single month. I'm editing down my photos as I go along. It's more difficult than I expected; there are a lot of images that have a lot of meaning to me. Alas, I can't just post pictures of my meager photo beginnings. We must move on. This is a portrait of my dad's Blue Healer, Sadie. At this point, I still did not own a DSLR, but I was borrowing the one from the school's yearbook staff for the weekend. This is probably one of the best pet portraits I've ever taken, and it wasn't even planned. She was just sitting in the yard and I walked up to play around with the telephoto lens, but...Her gaze is so sincere. I think this is why people are able to connect with dogs. On some level, they're almost human in the way they can convey genuine emotion to us.  

March 28, 2010 - The ranch house

Canon Rebel XS, 75-300mm f/4.5-5.6

I know I'm skipping ahead here, but I'm really trying not to bore you with an image from every single month. I'm editing down my photos as I go along. It's more difficult than I expected; there are a lot of images that have a lot of meaning to me. Alas, I can't just post pictures of my meager photo beginnings. We must move on.

This is a portrait of my dad's Blue Healer, Sadie. At this point, I still did not own a DSLR, but I was borrowing the one from the school's yearbook staff for the weekend. This is probably one of the best pet portraits I've ever taken, and it wasn't even planned. She was just sitting in the yard and I walked up to play around with the telephoto lens, but...Her gaze is so sincere. I think this is why people are able to connect with dogs. On some level, they're almost human in the way they can convey genuine emotion to us.

 

June 13, 2010 - Spur, TX Sony Alpha A100, unknown lens This is one of the first photographs that I shot for the Texas Spur newspaper*. My mother had gone to school with the editor of the paper, Cindy Taylor, and at the end-of-year athletic banquet, when Cindy saw the photos I had shot of sports for the yearbook, she asked if I wanted to do some freelancing for them. Hell yeah I would!  I mostly shot sports for the paper, but during the summer I got to shoot a lot more since school was out, and boy was it fun, but at times, kind of stressful. I remember this event, a local rodeo, as being uber stressful simply because it was the first event other than football that I was shooting for the paper. I was really worried about messing up. At this point I had no experience with true journalism, so I didn't know what to expect in terms of getting information about the contestants and such until I got there. Now, if only I hadn't chopped off the horse's hind legs. ;) *In all honesty, I don't think this is the image that ran in the paper, but it's from the same event.  

June 13, 2010 - Spur, TX

Sony Alpha A100, unknown lens

This is one of the first photographs that I shot for the Texas Spur newspaper*. My mother had gone to school with the editor of the paper, Cindy Taylor, and at the end-of-year athletic banquet, when Cindy saw the photos I had shot of sports for the yearbook, she asked if I wanted to do some freelancing for them. Hell yeah I would! 

I mostly shot sports for the paper, but during the summer I got to shoot a lot more since school was out, and boy was it fun, but at times, kind of stressful.

I remember this event, a local rodeo, as being uber stressful simply because it was the first event other than football that I was shooting for the paper. I was really worried about messing up. At this point I had no experience with true journalism, so I didn't know what to expect in terms of getting information about the contestants and such until I got there.

Now, if only I hadn't chopped off the horse's hind legs. ;)

*In all honesty, I don't think this is the image that ran in the paper, but it's from the same event.

 

September 10, 2010 - My little brother, Daniel Canon 1D Mark II, Takumar 55mm f/1.8 Finally! I bought my first DSLR, an already 8 year old Canon camera with a battery the size of a brick. I also bought a very cheap film-era lens, the Takumar 55mm, to experiment with since I had drained all the money I had saved buying the camera itself. At this point, I was just trying to nail focus with a manual focus lens on a camera optimized for autofocus. It was more than a little frustrating.

September 10, 2010 - My little brother, Daniel

Canon 1D Mark II, Takumar 55mm f/1.8

Finally! I bought my first DSLR, an already 8 year old Canon camera with a battery the size of a brick. I also bought a very cheap film-era lens, the Takumar 55mm, to experiment with since I had drained all the money I had saved buying the camera itself.

At this point, I was just trying to nail focus with a manual focus lens on a camera optimized for autofocus. It was more than a little frustrating.

March 3, 2011 - Dallas, TX (I think?) Canon Rebel XS, 75-300mm f/4.5-5.6 This is a shot from the Business Professionals of America state competition that I was competing in with my graphic design. As you can see, I was still shooting mostly random stuff that caught my eye. I hadn't yet settled into any area of photography, and I'm glad I didnt. It's fun to see just how much variety in subject matter, processing, and technique I had in my earlier photos.  It's also another spontaneous shot. I believe I was sitting at a small table outside a cafe eating an overpriced muffin when this bird just lands on the seat opposite me. It reminded me of a dog begging.  I looked over at it, and realizing it wasn't afraid of me in the slightest, pulled out my camera and took a quick shot. That beautiful mid-morning backlight really makes this a tranquil shot for me even though it was shot during the chaotic rush of the city.  

March 3, 2011 - Dallas, TX (I think?)

Canon Rebel XS, 75-300mm f/4.5-5.6

This is a shot from the Business Professionals of America state competition that I was competing in with my graphic design. As you can see, I was still shooting mostly random stuff that caught my eye. I hadn't yet settled into any area of photography, and I'm glad I didnt. It's fun to see just how much variety in subject matter, processing, and technique I had in my earlier photos. 

It's also another spontaneous shot. I believe I was sitting at a small table outside a cafe eating an overpriced muffin when this bird just lands on the seat opposite me. It reminded me of a dog begging. 

I looked over at it, and realizing it wasn't afraid of me in the slightest, pulled out my camera and took a quick shot. That beautiful mid-morning backlight really makes this a tranquil shot for me even though it was shot during the chaotic rush of the city.

 

November 1, 2011 - The Haven Animal Care Shelter, Lubbock, TX Canon 1D Mark II, 70-200mm f/2.8 More dogs! At this point I had graduated high school and enrolled at Texas Tech University where began studying journalism and electronic media. Due to stress and other issues with adjusting to college life, this was the first time I had picked up a camera since the summer. I'm glad it was for a worthy cause. This photo was shot at a no-kill animal shelter in Lubbock, TX for a story that appeared in the online publication Tech imPRESSions magazine. What makes this shelter so special is that it's more of a boarding house for animals as opposed to a prison for unwanted animals. All animals are kept in open air pens with volunteers making sure that they're taken care of every day.  

November 1, 2011 - The Haven Animal Care Shelter, Lubbock, TX

Canon 1D Mark II, 70-200mm f/2.8

More dogs! At this point I had graduated high school and enrolled at Texas Tech University where began studying journalism and electronic media.

Due to stress and other issues with adjusting to college life, this was the first time I had picked up a camera since the summer. I'm glad it was for a worthy cause.

This photo was shot at a no-kill animal shelter in Lubbock, TX for a story that appeared in the online publication Tech imPRESSions magazine. What makes this shelter so special is that it's more of a boarding house for animals as opposed to a prison for unwanted animals. All animals are kept in open air pens with volunteers making sure that they're taken care of every day.

 

December 10, 2011 - My roommate, John Canon 60D, 85mm f/1.8 This is where I started to get fancy ;). I had just moved into a new house with a roommate and acquired a new camera and lights to play with. Life was good, even if I had no idea what I was doing.  Of course, being the kind of person I am, I refused to educate myself initially on the different portrait lighting patterns. Where's the fun in that? So I basically spent hours in my backroom with my roommate as a model saying "Oooo - what if we move the lights here? Wow that looks cool. What about this?" And so on.  I'm surprised to say that, even now, I find the results to be pretty decent.  

December 10, 2011 - My roommate, John

Canon 60D, 85mm f/1.8

This is where I started to get fancy ;). I had just moved into a new house with a roommate and acquired a new camera and lights to play with. Life was good, even if I had no idea what I was doing. 

Of course, being the kind of person I am, I refused to educate myself initially on the different portrait lighting patterns. Where's the fun in that? So I basically spent hours in my backroom with my roommate as a model saying "Oooo - what if we move the lights here? Wow that looks cool. What about this?" And so on. 

I'm surprised to say that, even now, I find the results to be pretty decent.

 

So there you go: the first three years of my photography in a nutshell. This is probably where the largest and most rapid improvements happened. Some of this was just from the jump in equipment quality (the inherent quality of certain cameras is just better than others) but a lot of it came because I was still wet behind the ears in terms of technical knowledge about photography. Learning how t take control of my equipment and the light around me was what this period was all about.

 

Stay tuned for part two. It should be up shortly! :D