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2016 - A Year of Pictures and Lessons Learned

Last year I made a very simple resolution, "take more pictures". Part of the reason for this was to force myself to try out new techniques and styles, and to push myself as far out of my comfort zone possible. I realised that for the last few years I had been very bad at types of pictures over and over. Right now I have 6844 images in my "2016" file within Lightroom, of which only a very small handful I would consider to be good or "publishable". Below, I have one picture from each month, and the lesson I learned though taking it.

JANUARY - Underwater shooting

My first ever underwater picture, taken on my GoPro. Turns out taking pictures underwater is much more difficult than it looks. Holding your breath is fairly tricky, but combining that with a wonky depth perception from cheap diving goggles, moving subjects, strange shooting angles and no optical viewfinder makes for an interesting shooting experience.

Lesson Learned: GoPro cameras are incredible.

FEBRUARY - Urban night photography

This was a fun one, as I was teaching a group of 5 on a Friday night in central Perth, simple lesson for taking pictures and night in an urban environment, be aware that as a photographer with a tripod you are a fairly large object and you will get in the way of people and attract attention to yourself, not always the best when you are trying to line up your shot.

Lesson Learned: Be aware that whilst you may be focused on getting the perfect shot, you may very well be getting in the way of other people.

MARCH - Travelling for the good shots

This gorgeous spot is 5 hours south of Perth, but well worth the journey! After parking the car and a short 15 min walk, we came across the hill and were greeted with this stunning view of Elephant Rocks.

Lesson Learned: You often need to travel to remote spots, in order to find the best shots

APRIL - Street photography

My trip to Vietnam was very interesting, it gave me a wonderful opportunity to try my hand at street photography as there were stunning pictures to be taken at every street corner. This shot was taken at night using a 35mm prime lens. Its one of those "blink and you will miss it" moments as the newlyweds shared a kiss in-front of the lanterns.

Lesson Learned: When it comes to street photography timing is king!

MAY - ND filters

In May, I made the investment and purchased a couple of ND filters. This, for the first time allowed me to use long shutter speeds during the day, and achieve that blurry-cloud and smokey water type shot.

Lesson Learned: ND filters are great fun, but use them sparingly.

JUNE - Planning a shot

The Crawley Boathouse is an iconic Perth location. This is one of those shots that I really wanted to get right and which I really planned for. Most of my pictures up until this point were very opportunistic whereas with this one, I waited for the right weather conditions, planned my settings and really took the time with my editing. This sort of preparation really pays off if you want to get your perfect shot.

Lesson Learned: Sometimes its worth waiting for the right weather, and the right time to get the perfect shot.

JULY - Big panoramas

It turns out Lightroom has some very powerful tools within its simple looking interface. One of those tools is the panorama stitching application. Although there are many very expensive and more powerful panorama options available to plug in, this is a pretty damn good basic option. This picture was one of my first attempts to stitch together a large number of portrait orientated images into a 3:1 landscape panorama.

Lesson Learned: You don''t need to invest in super expensive software to achieve professional results.

AUGUST - Minimalism

I really like this shot, because it so far away from anything else I have in my library of photos. I like the symmetry, basic colour palette and high contrast of the picture I actually took this on a Landscape walk lesson, with a 50mm lens which was pretty far from ideal as, I had to get awkwardly close to the bird in order to frame the image.

Lesson Learned: Sometimes you have to make do with what you have.

SEPTEMBER - Shooting the Milky Way

Astro-photography is something I'm definitely going to try again in 2017. Its a real challenge to both take and edit, but i'm very pleased with the initial result. This shot interestingly is made up of 3 shots, as the longer exposure needed to capture the milky-way, resulted in the windmill being very over-exposed So two other shorter shutter speed shots allowed me to achieve a good overall exposure.

Lesson Learned: If you are taking a picture of the milky way, and you have artificial light on your foreground, you will need to bracket your shot in order to correctly expose the shot.

OCTOBER - Product Photography

This was a massive departure from my usual Landscape-focused approach to taking pictures. I built a light-box in order to attempt to get perfect lighting on these items. This was great practice for doing some product photography in the future.

Lesson Learned: Take the time to experiment with lighting from lots of different angles.

NOVEMBER - Urban abstract photography

This is part of a little pet-project I am doing, where I have been experimenting with taking abstract shots of buildings which allows me to focus more on lighting, geometry and shape. This is one of my favourites as I feel it encompasses all of these features.

Lesson Learned: Sometimes its worth taking a closer look.

DECEMBER - Big panoramas pt2 and exposing the sky

This shot was taken hand-held from the top of a hill in Somerset. After receiving a fantastic book on landscape photography, I thought I would have a crack at practising some techniques I leearned for correctly exposing the sky. This seemed like a great opportunity as the rain clouds were closing in over Somerset Levels and the view was about as beautiful as it gets.

Lessons Learned: Read read read read, then practice practice practice.

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