2015 Photography Review: What I've Learnt

Without a doubt, this year been the most influential on my photography development. 2015 saw me build and publish this website, win 1st place in Kiama Tourism's 2016 Guide and grow my expertise in event photography (which including the lunch of a new smartphone and photographing America's Next Top Models). And I anticipate 2016 to be even bigger, with tours of America and Europe planned for March and April next year.

With a full time job it's sometimes hard to make time for it, but I aim to head out on location a couple of times each week. Even though sometimes I fail to capture 'that shot', I appreciate that the process of mastering any craft is one of continual learning. It's about practice, being attentive to feedback and then learning from that feedback next time round. With that in mind, here are some of the top photography insights that I've learnt this year.

White Space Can Be A Good Thing

Often, my images focused around an impressive sky, whether that be a spectacular sunrise or the imposing clouds of an impending storm. And so I either took HDR images or underexposed the scene to preserve the brighter sky, and then brightened the foreground later in post-processing.

However since being exposed to the work of other photographers that I admire (such as John Bozinov), I've learnt to appreciate the clean aspect of plain, white sky. It brings a freshness into the scene, and almost acts as a natural frame to the subject below. Taking this on board, I now feel comfortable exposing my photo for the darker foreground, and in the process, blowing out the sky to white. 


When There's No Foreground, Make One

Up until recently, many of my photos centred around beautiful natural scenes and landscapes, and that was it. Not that this in itself was a bad thing, but photos like this lack that extra dimension of interest that a complimenting foreground can provide.

Although unfortunately that extra element of interest isn't always available in the moment, and so we may need to create it ourselves. This maybe involve placing a friend in the scene which adds that human element and helps to provide a sense of scale to the scene. Or, if there's no one else around, try adding yourself to the scene. Whether it's through a delayed shutter or even extending your own hand into the image, it adds depth and character to the moment you are capturing.



Long Exposures Don't Always Need To Be Long

Even before my recent love for Photography, I'd always been in awe of dream like long exposure shots. Ethereal scenes of misty coastlines, silky smooth waterfalls or illuminated highways at night had always captured my attention in their way to paint a scene in a unique way.

And so since then, I've attempted to re-emulate these shots, with neutral density filters, which limit the incoming light to allow for 30 second exposures. While these allowed me to capture in the same style of these dream like images I admired, I wasn't always fond of how the filters degraded the quality of the image (through reduced sharpness or colour distortion). 

I've now found that reduced exposure times (such as 0.6 seconds) are still able to capture that ethereal aspect of moving water, without reducing the quality of the image (as no filter is needed with these shorter shutter speeds on dawn and dusk).

Think Vertical

This one is largely due to Instagram removing its previous restriction of only allowing square photos on the platform. Previously, the vast majority of my images were taken in landscape orientation, with the thought that they would be later cropped into a square for Instagram. And so in the moment, I framed all my photos accordingly.

Then in late August of this year, Instagram removed its existing limits, and allowed for photos to be uploaded in both portrait and landscape orientations. In fact, because of the vertical scrolling nature of the platform, vertical images actually display larger than their square and horizontal counterparts. This has led me to now consider portrait style photos and encouraged me to capture scenes in new, fresh compositions that I had previously overlooked.