Fall Color with my new little Sony

During my first of many adventures in Japan, I noticed that I had a camera gap. Meaning I felt there were times where my DSLRs were too much camera to use while site seeing. As well as my iPhone 11 Pro max did not offer the versatility of a point & shoot camera. I really enjoy how freely it is to capture images with it and not interrupt the pace of the experience. But the major drawback of smartphone camera systems is the inability to change settings such as aperture, shutter or ISO.I still love shooting any of my DSLRs but… they are cumbersome when it come to taking photos in the moment without becoming an observer.

And ever since then, I’ve wanted a point and shoot camera to fill in that gap. Something pocket size with a respectable auto focus system, about 20 megapixels and with a fast wide to medium zoom. And Thursday, my new Sony’s ZV-1 showed up. It has a 20.1-megapixel sensor, Zeiss 9.4-25.7mm (35mm equivalent, 24-70mm) F/1.8-2.8 lens. It too has a shit ton of autofocus points and I can fit it into any of my pockets with no problem. Now with new gear, it’s testing time.

I wanted to spend some time getting familiar with my new Sony’s features and functions along with capturing some images of the fall foliage in and around Detroit. After a long non-creative workday Friday, I was eager to get home and play with my new little point & shoot. But unfortunately, Mother Nature was being a bitch and was not willing to cooperate. The weather conditions were hit or miss, and I’d hope for more favorable weather in the morning. Woke up early Saturday morning but my plans were to do chores before playing. I needed to start laundry, gas up my car along with do some grocery shopping. And after that, I was going to go and have some fun at Belle isle with my little Sony.

During the overnight hours, the temperature dropped down close to freezing, so I remote started the car. Grabbed my glasses, wallet, keys, mask and was out the door. Stopped at 7-Eleven to get gas before heading to the grocery store. And as I was patiently pumping gas in the frosty morning air, I looked up and noticed the abundance of fall color popping all around me in the soft morning light. That’s when I heard myself say, “Go back home, get your camera and let’s go shooting!”

So, I raced back to my apartment, left the car running and doubled stepped it up the stairs. I thrust the key in the door, twist right, push and the door fly’s open! Sprinted directly to my cheap Meijer nightstand where my Sony was chilling and scooped it up. Locked the door behind me and it was a mad rush to the car. As I made my way to the freeway, I spotted a vibrant autumn scene at a nearby church. It looked like there was something going on at the entrance of the church and I didn’t want to disturb them. So, I timidly pulled in the driveway, stopped short and turned on my hazards. With my little Sony in hand, I respectfully and inconspicuously captured the stunning autumn scene. Then jumped back in my ride for some quick heat and was excited to continue taking photos on at Belle isle.

Once on the island, it took me a hot minute to scope out my subjects. And when I did, my little Sony preformed magically. It rekindled my dwindling passion I once had with photography when I first began. I found myself wanting to shoot anything and everything. One subject after another, I stop, half ass park my car, rapidly compose and shoot then hop back in to warm up and chimp. After about an hour or so, that star of ours was well on its daily journey to the horizon and it was time to make my way back to Southfield.

After a few stops to get groceries, I made it back to my apartment safe and sound. And once I got my food put away it was time to see how I did with my little Sony. The images straight from the camera are amazing. Sharp details and rich colors. And no, I did not bump up the saturation or add any vibrant in post. (Only minor exposure adjustments and resized them). I was a little leery about the touch screen and using it to select what I wanted to be in focus. But the more I used it, it quickly became second nature and thoughtless to use. The only issue with my new Sony is that it didn’t come with some type of lanyard or hand strap. But a quick search on Amazon took care of that.

All in all, I’m really excited about my new ZV-1 and the rekindling of my passion for photography. I can’t wait for the United States to get its shit together and get healthy so I can safely travel again and experience new adventures.

Stay safe and keep busy,

Steven

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Tips for a healthy Life

Here’s my ongoing list of tips and quotes I’ve found helpful. Most are from life lessons learned the hard way and others are quotes from various individuals.

 https://anadventureinawesome.com/healthy-life-rules/

Feel free to share your tips and quotes that you find helpful.

Steven

Photographing more Consistently: Having a Shooting Routine

Ever since my love affair with photography began, I’ve noticed the images from seasoned photographers had a uniform look and feeling to them. And I wanted to do the same with my images. I figured they had a system or a process of their own to achieve such a look. As a result of that thinking, I started developing a shooting routine to aid in capturing a consistent look to my images. “Shooting routine? What’s that? I define it as a checklist of things to do to help you see the image and think about how to capture it before you take the shot. Thing such as which body and lense to use, to shoot it landscape or portrait, how is your depth of field along with many others. After years of try, fail, learn and repeat; I’ve come to trust my routine. It has become something I do instinctively. I’d like to share it in action at my favorite place in Detroit, the conservatory on Belle isle.

I start my routine by walking from room to room, camera still tucked away, curiously seeking out subjects of interest. All the while keeping mental notes on what’s catching my eye. After I’ve made a complete lap of the conservatory, it’s time to get the camera out and revisit those areas of interest. As I approach my subject, I choose what lens I’m going to use and closely study it. Trying to sort out what is catching my eye and where are the edges of my shot. Next, I either stand or setup my tripod in the location where I want to create my image. As I Look through the viewfinder, I ask myself a series of questions.

  • Where do I want my subject?
  • Will it be a landscape or portrait shot?
  • How large or shallow do I want my depth of field?
  • Is there anything in the foreground and or background that would be distracting to the viewer eyes?
  • What’s in the light and what’s in shadow?

If I’m satisfied with my answers to my questions, I’ll then take the shot. After the exposure, I will review the shot to see if it matches the image in my mind’s eye. If not, I’ll ask myself “What must I do to match the shot in my head?” Do I need to get closer or farther away? Larger or smaller aperture? Or do I need to completely recompose the shot? After doing whatever necessary changes, I’ll reshoot and review. And will repeat this cycle until I feel I’ve captured the image I was looking for. Sometimes I’ll walk the route in reverse. For a different point of view. If I find something interesting, I’ll go through the same steps to capture the shot.

Shooting Routine_1

As I said earlier, I’ve come to trust and rely on my routine to capture images. It helps me shoot with intent and allows my creative eye to be my guide and not my impatience. It has also help me develop my sense of aesthetics and focused in on what has caught my attention. There are times where I cannot use my routine and I’m forced to improvise. For example, while doing my research on Antelope canyon, I found out the guided tour moves in one direction and you pass through it only once. And with the amount of money I spent on hotel, rental car and airfare, I wanted more than one chance to capture the fluid like sandstone and sharp contrasting desert light. So, I scheduled two tours to double my chances to shoot successfully. You can see the results of that adventure here, Antelope Canyon 2.0.

Something else that help me develop my shooting routine was when I lived in downtown Detroit. I had a habit of walking around the city with my headphones in and actively looking for images. I did it as often as I could and at every hour of the day. And during all four seasons including winter until it was too cold to walk around. I would pick out a certain area of the city and would crisscross the area searching for compelling subjects. I would frequently walk the same block, from every possible direction. Continuously taking notes on what’s in the light and shadows as well as what time of day it is. Was it going to be a morning, midday or afternoon shot? Would it be a wide or narrow field of view? And when I felt the time was right, I would head out with my camera and capture the shot I had found. I have very clear and fond memories of each of those images. During that time, I not only explored Detroit, I began to understand the importance of going and looking for a shots along with having a shooting routine. It took me years to develop it and I’m always willing to improve upon it. But it’s “My Routine” and it may not work well for you. It’s up to you to come up with or piece together a routine that works well with your style of shooting.

Shooting Routine_2

For me and my photography, having a shooting routine is a healthy practice to have. It has become an unconscious habit with a cadence that is unique to my shooting style. Stopping me from becoming impatient and helps focus my creative eye to capture more exciting images.

 

Until next time,

Steven

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Stay informed and keep your mental health: How I watch the News

If being in quarantine wasn’t bad enough, watching the news can be depressing, stressful and can lead to anxiety and unnecessary worry. It doesn’t have to be that way. During my time in quarantine, I came up with a simple system that kept me informed and I was able to maintain good mental health. Got to throw out a disclaimer: I am not a mental health professional, nor do I have any training in mental health. This is just something that I came up with and help me cope with the media and not feel horrible the rest of the day. Here’s how I stayed informed and not have the news damage my peace and calm.

  • Don’t start or end your day with the news. It’s too easy to wake up, grab the phone and start scrolling. And before you know it, you’ll come across something troubling and disturbing. Don’t start your day off with negative thoughts and feelings. Get up, take care of yourself and your loved ones. Take a shower, brush your teeth, do your hair, fix some breakfast and start your day. And the same goes for when you’re about to go to bed. Shower (with music if you can), get into something comfortable, again take care of yourself and family before going to bed. Don’t end your day with thoughts of the news.
  • Give yourself a time frame when you’re going to consume the news. It can be 11:30 am, 1:30 pm or whenever. The time frame I give myself is around noon. So, if I get upset or disturbed, there’s still the rest of the day to digest and cope with it. Also, by this time my friends and family are up and available if I feel the need to talk to someone. Give yourself a limited amount of time to read or watch the news. I normally give myself about 30 to 35 minutes. Try to keep it under an hour. The next step is key.
  • If you start to read yesterday’s news, stop and continue with your day. If you find you’re reading regurgitated news from yesterday, stop and go back to whatever you were doing before you began reading. It’s that easy. Nothing good will come from reliving yesterday’s news today. You can’t be afraid of missing something major. If something does happen, trust me, you will find out about it. Someone will call or text you, “Did you see or hear about…” When your time frame is up, continue with your day and don’t go back and check the news until tomorrow.
  • Don’t get your news from social media! Hopefully you all know not to get any of your news from any social media platform. Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and Reddit are not trustworthy or accredited news sources. All can and has been manipulated to spread lies and misinformation. Check out “Smarter Everyday” playlist on Social Media Manipulation for more information. The struggle is real. And while you’re on social media, if you see something news related, let it go and keep scrolling. It’s easier said than done. Just don’t get caught up with clickbait.

This system takes discipline, but it gets easier when you start to notice the difference in your level of anxiety. You don’t have to be plugged in all the time and to be reminded of how shitty the world is every 5 minutes. You got to keep yourself occupied and your mind off what’s going on in the world. If you’re struggling with that, check out my post Bored and in Lock-down? How to keep yourself occupied. It may help you come up with ideas to stay focused and active.

usa today resized for post

My system is not foolproof, and it may not work for you. Nor am I telling you to not watch the news. The idea behind it is to stay informed but limits how much and how often you consume the news. Again, this is just something that has help me tremendously with staying informed without losing my peace and calm. I can say with confidence it’s because of this, I’ve been more productive and have been able to put more energy into being creative. Likewise, my thinking has been more balance and not full of worry and negative thoughts. And has had more constructive and inspired days in quarantine than wasted and negative ones. So, how do you manage your consumption of the news and stay sane? Let me know in the comment section below. And feel free to share this with anyone you feel would benefit from it.

 

Mask up, stay safe and keep busy!

Steven

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