I was lucky enough to get on Google Plus when it was still in beta. I wasn’t sure what it would do for me, I mean, what did I need another social network for. Well, it is basically the only social network I have been using for the past couple of months.
I happened to join around the same time I was getting interested in photography. I had been posting pictures of vacations and family events on FB but that wasn’t much more than point & shoot. To be honest it was the only photography I knew for years. Don’t get me wrong, I used the camera, sometimes to excess. I could come home from a vacation, especially from Disney, with five to six hundred pictures. But it really was quantity over quality.
Being the Disney fanatic (addict?) that I am, eventually I came across two very important Disney web sites/blogs that started me down this new path I am following. The first was WDW Photography (which is now the Disney Photography Blog) created by Adam Hansen and Cory Disbrow. And then through that site I found The Disney Tourist Blog created by Tom & Sarah Bricker. Both of these sites opened my eyes to what a Disney photograph could be. I would pour over those sites lost in each image, wishing my pictures would be as nice. Now, my pictures hold a lot of memories for me and I would never delete them, but the pictures on these sites prompted me to learn more.
I started playing with my camera (a Sony DSC-H20). I discovered the camera was capable of a lot more than I ever imagined. At first I got lost in the available settings and I struggled with getting the camera to work for me. And then, again thanks to my new favorite websites, I purchased my first photography book. I believe it was in a post by Tom Bricker about recommended reading which pointed me to Bryan Peterson’s Understanding Exposure. What an eye opener! Finally, the settings started to make sense to me. I quit trying to manipulate everything and focused on two or three key settings. My pictures started to improve. I was hooked.
Now this gets me back to where I started with this post, Google Plus (G+). I’m not sure how it really started but I stumbled across some photographers (I’m fairly sure the first was a recommendation by one of the 3 photographers mentioned above). And since G+ allows you to follow people by placing them in a circle without a requirement for reciprocity, it allowed me look through the window into a whole new world. I must have been fairly lucky with those first few photographers I circled. Not only were they posting amazing pictures they would recommend other photographers to follow. My circle grew.
Eventually, I opened the window and climbed through. I started posting more. I was even confident enough with a few of my pictures to post them out to the public stream. It was a little addicting. I discovered there are many different types of photography; landscape, portrait, macro (a new favorite), etc. I found that you could accomplish some amazing pictures by enhancing them in post processing (I went a little overboard with that at first, but I have it under control now!). By seeing the various styles and types of images flowing through my stream it encouraged me to experiment more with what I was photographing. I have been taking my camera with me everywhere I go, just on the off chance I would see an image I wanted to capture.
It all exploded a couple of weeks ago… G+ allowed you to share your circles. I few of the photographers I was following (favorites, whose pictures I really enjoyed) shared their circles. I was a little overwhelmed! I only added two complete circles and then sat back to watch the new images coming rolling in. It was great. I needed to dial it back a little though. I refused to add any more of the numerous circles that were being posted. Instead I went back to my old method, if someone I followed recommended a photographer I would check out their profile and see if they were doing the type of work that interested me. I still add a few new people a day but it more manageable this way.
The other great event that occurred, which has really helped me learn photography, was the creation of daily themes. Photographer Eric Leslie maintains a list of the daily photographic themes. Each theme is curated by one or more photographers and anyone is welcomed to post an appropriate picture with the hash tag for the theme. It allows anyone to view the pictures by searching for the tag and is a great way to interact with others. For me it is a great way to challenge myself to try different images. I find myself actually thinking about what I want to photograph and planning when/were/how to get the image for a particular theme. I think it has helped me improve my camera skills tremendously in a very short time. I can’t describe the feeling I get when other people comment on an image I’ve shared. It is a little intoxicating…
Time to go see what I can find with my camera… later.