Last week I decided to start a new photo project for 2018. I wanted something that would challenge me to not only shoot more often, but more importantly to be more selective about what I shoot and publish. I wanted this project to not only develop my photographer’s eye, but also nourish my soul, and maybe even inspire others.
I’ll admit that the last year has been stressful for me. I got way too caught up in the negative news cycle, in the nastiness that is American politics and discourse. This year I’m determined (dare I say “resolved”) to step away from all that as much as possible for the sake of my mental and spiritual health. I’m trying to remember that my circle of influence is actually pretty small, and that cluttering my mind with upsetting things that are out of my control is not beneficial to me.
That decision led me to the theme of this project, the Daily Zen. My goal is to shoot and post one photo each day, usually with my iPhone, that represents the ideas “simple” and “minimal”. This challenges me to look for things in my everyday life that are beautiful, peaceful and uncomplicated.
I’m posting these photos to a new Instagram account that I created, zen_of_zann, that I hope you will follow. They are posted with no explanation, only the hashtags #zen, #simple, and #minimal. My hope is that viewers will find them beautiful and interesting, and that they will offer the mind some space to breathe without being told what to think or feel.
Of course, the photos will also be posted here on this blog, along with my other work as I gear up to shoot more this year with my Nikons.
So that’s the story of the Daily Zen. Hope you enjoy the series.
Every new year calls for new resolutions, and this year mine is to seriously get back into my photography. For many reasons (I can’t really go into all of them yet), this is going to be an epic year for me and the hubby, and I want to make sure my skills and my equipment are ready to capture the moments ahead.
I recently went through my camera gear and sold a few things that I wasn’t using. I got rid of my Nikon D5000 and a couple of lenses, as well as a little point-and-shoot Canon camera that I had. I still have my Nikon D700, another point-and-shoot, a new GoPro Hero 5 Black, and my iPhone 8 Plus. Plenty of equipment and no real excuses for not getting behind a viewfinder.
It has been so long since I was really shooting a lot, and I found that I needed to go back to the basics, just to remember how the settings worked on the camera. I decided to challenge myself to do one photo or video shoot every weekend until I can feel confident enough to just grab the camera and go, without having to refer to the manual or fumble around with the buttons and menus. In addition, I’ve almost forgotten how to use my editing software (especially Lightroom), so that’s also part of my resolution for this year, to get my mojo back in the computer darkroom.
So, even though it technically was not the new year yet, I took my Nikon D700 out for a photo walk last Saturday morning, December 30, before the bitterly cold arctic front moved in. I challenged myself to shoot 100 images, and that’s what I did, walking around downtown Tupelo. There weren’t many people around, and I was there for a couple of hours, wandering through alleys and skulking around houses and businesses.
And I had so much fun! I had forgotten how satisfying it is to look for the beauty and/or interest in the everyday scenery of life. I didn’t limit myself to any one subject, I just shot things that caught my eye.
I spent some time over the past two days going through the images and doing some editing, trying to remember how to use some of my favorite tools (Curves, anyone?). Some images I processed both in color and in black-and-white (I shot everything in raw to make it more challenging and rewarding to edit). And then I picked out my favorite five (so far) and uploaded them to my Flickr site which has been sorely neglected for too long.
Here are my top five:
I’m really looking forward to more shooting this year! My plan is to take a different camera with me each weekend, including my video gear (GoPro, iPhone, and gimbals for each). Repetition and practice, shooting and editing, learning and exploring….that’s my plan for 2018!
I’m finally getting around to taking a look at the pictures we took on our last cruise, more than two weeks later. I’m a little late since I started a new job the day after we got back, so I’ve been a little preoccupied, but today I finally got a chance to check out the images.
We took two cameras with us, both point-and-shoots. One was our Coolpix S3500, a small pocket camera that actually does a decent job for snapshots. The second camera was our new Coolpix P530, which I purchased two days before we left on our cruise.
I wanted a camera that was sort of a hybrid between a point-and-shoot and a DSLR, so that Andy could use it as well. I wanted good quality photos, with a minimum of fuss. This model seems to fit the bill.
Here are some of the major technical specs:
- 16.1 MP Low-light CMOS Sensor
- 42X Zoom NIKKOR Lens and 84x with Dynamic Fine Zoom
- Full HD 1080p video
- Target-finding AF
- Full manual exposure control (also has aperture and shutter priority modes in addition to program modes)
When I’m on a cruise to someplace I’ve never been, I don’t like to spend a lot of time staring through a lens, since it’s easy to get too caught up in the photography and miss actually seeing the sights. So I only took a total of 133 images with this camera while we were on our trip. But I was very pleased with how they turned out. Here are a few examples, and you can view the entire album on Flickr by clicking here. All the photos are unedited JPG files, straight out of the camera.
Interior of the ship, the Carnival Elation, looking down into the main lobby from a couple of decks up in the atrium:
The ship in port in Cozumel, Mexico on a beautiful sunny day:
Took this shot from the Lido Deck looking down at one of the crew waiting to cast us off from Cozumel. The zoom lens on the camera is very steady and sharp!
Caught this image of a large iguana at the Uxmal Mayan Ruins in Yucatan, Mexico. Once again, the zoom lens did a great job, and this was in full program mode.
And here’s a wide-angle view of the ancient city:
So, after my first test run, I’m very pleased with this little camera! It will never replace my DSLR’s, but when I need a lightweight point-and-shoot to capture moments on the fly, this will be my go-to Nikon.
Look for me here!