Happy Anniversary! Ten Years of Earthbound Light PhotoTips
Ten years ago this week I published my first PhotoTips article here at Earthbound Light. A lot has changed in the world of photography since then, but the key basics will always remain the same. It's time to look back and reminisce at the greatest hits of what I've covered here.
When I first started writing articles here, pretty much everyone shot film, but the digital revolution was right around the corner. The legendary six megapixel Nikon D100 was announced in February 2002 at a list price of $1,999 for just the body. I bought one not long after they became available and haven't looked back. I had shot film for years, but I sold the last of what I had in my refrigerator years ago and it's been a process of upgrading to more and more megapixels ever since. As I say, things have changed. In the early days, readers would email me requesting coverage of both digital and film since not everyone used the same thing. That's no longer an issue, but readers these days email me wanting equal coverage of both Photoshop and Lightroom. The more things change, the more they stay the same in some ways.
Still, no matter what kind of camera someone shoots with some topics never go out of fashion. The basic mechanics of aperture and exposure always matter. Articles on topics like these generally don't cause a big stir but have brought people back to read them week after week ever since they were published. Learning to use your camera effectively and efficiently takes practice. Think of it like learning to drive a car. You really want to be prepared before the pressure is on. And yes, you do need a lens hood.
The winter 2003 series on composition continues to draw a great many readers. When you go out shooting, you load yourself up with gear so you can have what you need in spite of what you encounter. But the tools of composition are concepts and ideas that you also need to make the most of what you encounter. And they don't take up space in your bag and you can load yourself up with them without guilt or pain since they don't weigh anything.
Then there are topics specific to digital such as color management and sharpening that have grown in popularity as more shooters switch to digital, and as those who have get serious about getting the best results they can. An article titled "The Great sRGB Versus Adobe RGB Debate" has been a perennial favorite since it was first published back in 2006.
Articles on Curves, Levels, adjustment layers and other Photoshop core skills are always popular as are similar articles on Lightroom techniques. New digital techniques such as HDR seem to interest many of you just as they do me.
I continue to get frequent notes of thanks too on articles I thought had a more limited audience such as one on how to get your Nikon scanner to work under 64-bit Windows. Sometimes it's hard to predict, but I write these in part based on my own interests and am grateful when they resonate with others.
Without a doubt the PhotoTip article that caused the most commotion was the April Fools 2009 article purporting to scoop the release of the new Nikon 4.1 DSLR. Of course there was no such thing, but despite the number of clues to this effect in the article the number of people who fell for it caught me off guard. If you haven't read it yet, please do. I find it hilarious even now. Don't forget too that April Fools is an annual holiday.
The articles that I've enjoyed writing the most though are those that deal more about the philosophical side of photography than the technical. At its core, photography is an art form. Rules of composition and a detailed understanding of photographic technology are both necessary tools for capturing your creative vision, but it is that creative vision itself that is most important. Why do we take photographs in the first place? Not everyone will have the same answer for this, but whatever your answer is should be of utmost importance to you. This motivation is the drive that causes you to go out and shoot. It's also the drive that can cause you to improve your craft. Get in touch with it, and follow it.
Sometimes the problem isn't capturing what you want to shoot, it's actually seeing what is in front of you so you can shoot it. How many shots have been missed because the photographer didn't even notice the possibilities of what they encountered? How many have you or I missed? It's hard to say, but I'm convinced there are great shots to be made most anywhere. The trick is to let go of expectations and experience the world without filters. These are concepts that can improve more than just your photography. They can affect your life.
Altogether, I've written nearly half a million words here since this PhotoTips series started ten years ago. Not bad. If you've been a longtime reader, thanks. If you're new to Earthbound Light, thanks too, and welcome. I hope I provide you a reason to come back often. If you want to find out more about what I've written over the decade, check out the archives as well as the search page.
There's no telling what the future holds, but I'm eager to find out. And I hope to still be writing about it here at Earthbound Light.