2020 Year Review

First off, I hope you and your loved ones are safe, healthy and continue to be into 2021. This year has been a complete dumpster fire, and this post is not about the historic gut-wrenching events that shaped it. But it will be about how my creativity was affected by the well fueled Inferno. And how my passions help me to keep my mind occupied and stay in a positive place during these trying times.

Like many, I’m not a fan of New Year’s resolutions. But having some yearly goals is more my taste. I feel they are not set in stone and I can change or adapt them as the year goes on. And at the beginning of 2020, my goals were…

  • To travel more.
  • To write more and continue to develop my writing style.
  • To get a pocket-size camera.
  • And to keep building from imagination and not reality

I started 2020 in Japan with my sister and her family. And after such an unbelievable journey, I was enthusiastic about traveling along with blogging again. So, I started planning adventures for the coming year. Starting with in February for my birthday, I headed to the desert southwest of Arizona and I finally got to see the dream like colors and fluid shapes of Antelope Canyon. Then in April, I was to travel to the Pacific Northwest to see Crater Lake along with the giant coastal Redwoods. But in March, the dangers of COVID-19 were real, and the world stopped. And like so many others, I started my time in quarantine.

Being a creative individual, I didn’t have a shortage of projects to work on. Very early in quarantine, I started and maintained a daily routine that kept me busy and productive. It started every night before bed, I would write down things I would like to accomplish the next day. At first it was easy but as time pass by and I finished up projects, my “To do” list started to shrink, and I had to adapted it to help maintaining my peace of mind. Like how to stay informed on events of 2020 but not damage my peace. And start to recognize and cope with things that eroded my fragile tranquility.

My routine was so effective, there were days that I would overwhelm myself trying to accomplish too many things. And it would turn my productivity into frustration. Fortunately, I have come to notice it when it happens. I must stop what I’m doing and change my pace to let my mind and emotions settle. Catch up on shows, cook some of my favorite foods, Zoom with friends…anything other than keep fighting my frustrations. And when I feel like being creative again, I didn’t try to do a thousand things in one day. It was OK not to cross out everything on my daily list. And what I didn’t finish today, I’m fine with letting it carryover into tomorrow.

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Due to my lack of traveling and personal adventures, I worried that I would not have anything to write about being a travel blogger. But that wasn’t the case. I discovered that I didn’t have to make my way painfully through the TSA to write new post. This year I managed to develop, write, edit and post an astounding 20 times after my Antelope Canyon trip. Far more than last year.

The Pain of Sorting
Aesthetics
Bored and in Lock-down? How to keep yourself occupied
The Importance of Post Process
Detroit’s island Getaway
What does photography mean to You?
A Study in Color
Elements of Art in Photography
New site announcement
Memorial Day- Photo essay
The Story Behind an Image, Part 5
Aviation Expo 2020
The Truth
Banners of Change
Common mistakes made in Aviation Photography
The Right Massage
How I shoot with intent: Setting some personal goals
Stay informed and keep your mental health: How I watch the News
Photographing more Consistently: Having a Shooting Routine
Fall Color with my new little Sony

Looking over my list of post, I can remember with vibrant clarity my inspirations and motivations behind each of them. The wrestling with different ideas and how to express them with my writing voice. Along with the endless hours of searching through my photo archive for the right images to show. Some were ideas I had for some time and finally got the time to properly complete them. And others were spontaneously developed from something I had seen or read and wanted to share my opinion about it. But I surprised the shit out of myself that I came up with so much new content with such a wide range of topics while working on my other passions.

Speaking of other passions, I completed a new series of Airbus A319’s based on imagination rather than reality. From a retro Eastern Airline scheme to a NOAA hurricane hunter. I’ve been photoshopping for over 20 years and I’m always willing to learn something new. And having the time and money, it was a no-brainer to start taking online classes. I join Skillshare and took advantage of my time away from work. Taking courses from creative writing, leadership skills to new techniques in photoshop and illustrator. Your never too old to learn something new.

USN VQ 2 EP A319

One creative writing course I took, the instructor used Instagram as a platform to write and share stories. This idea resonated with me and I wanted to give Instagram another try. A few years ago, I had an account and to be honest, I didn’t understand the nature of the platform. Like how to use hashtags, what to share and really lack the patients and knowledge to let my account grow.

So, I started a new account with the idea to reach out to a possible new audience for my blog as well as share images of the things I love doing. And again, I found myself getting annoyed and frustrated with the slow pace of how my account was growing. This was due to what I was sharing, images from my adventures, my aviation profiles along with photos of my modeling projects on the same account. Three totally different audiences and once I separated them into different accounts and began posting consistently, that’s when they started to get some noticeable traction.

2020 Top Nine

Of my three accounts, @adventuresinawesome is the least successful. My post to follower ratio is nearly one to one and I’m going to slowly stop posting on that account. For one, it’s damn near impossible to get people to leave Instagram and go somewhere else, especially to a blog. And second, WordPress is a much better platform for me to share images and stories from my adventures. The account for my aviation photography is definitely my success story. It’s growing by leaps and bounds with each new post receiving hundreds of likes. The next time you’re on Instagram, be sure to check it out @far148studio and @far148models for my creative madness.

Let’s get back on topic. In terms of photography, I added another tool to my camera bag this year. During my trip to Japan, I noticed it was easier for me to use my mobile device then my DSLR to capture images without slowing down the experience of site seeing abroad. And I wanted a pocket size point & shoot camera to fill in that gap. What I ended up choosing was Sony’s ZV-1. And it arrived just in time for the peak of fall color in my area. It’s a great little addition to my camera bag and I’m looking forward to using it more. Now on to me torturing plastic.

My time in quarantine, allowed me to stretch out my builds far longer than normal. To the point of when it came to doing something, I would do it the hardest and sometimes the most illogical way possible. From scratch building new master parts to be pressure cast, to new ways to scribe panel lines along with adding various surface details. Like everything I love doing, I’m constantly challenging myself to attempt different techniques to continually grow as a model maker. Some things worked out amazingly and others got tossed in the garbage. I did manage to finish my 1/48 scale Hunter/Killer drones which I started back in August of 2019.

We finally made it to December and another holiday season. It would be a gross understatement to say, “I cannot wait for this troubled year to come to a close”. And I want to hope that 2021 is going to be better. But only time will tell. Until then, continue to stay safe, think positively and keep busy.

Thank you to everyone who stopped by my little blog, left a like or comment and welcome to all my new followers.

Until next year,

Steven

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How I shoot with intent: Setting some personal goals

If you follow my blog, you know I’m always stressing how important it is to know what it is your trying to show before you start shooting. This practice is called shooting with intent. You may ask yourself, “Why is that so important?” For me, it motivates ambition and sparks creativity. Along with allowing your creative eye to be your guide. To shoot with intent means you consider many factors before creating an image. Such as what camera and lense to use, where are the edges of your shot, what auto focus point to use, just to name a few. Putting thought into your photography and not hoping that you’ll “Get lucky” and somehow magically capture the images you want. For me, setting some goals for myself insures I shoot with intent. Let’s talk about goals and how to come up with some of your own.

The only wrong way to come up with goals is to not to have any. It could be as simple as looking for some interesting light or trying some different settings. When it comes to making goals for yourself, you want to state what it is you wish to accomplish, how long you’re giving yourself to do them and ideas on how to meet them. Keep in mind, you’re not writing an essay; simple one liners will do fine. You can keep them on your phone, in a notebook, on the back of a business card, somewhere to keep track of them. And bring them with you every time you venture out. I keep mine on my phone, so I know they’re always with me and I can add to and or edit them wherever I go.

It’s important to be realistic with yourself when making them and that they’re within reach of your skill set. Something that if you push yourself just a bit, you’ll be able to accomplish it. It’s a good idea to set deadlines for them as well. A day, a weekend, a month or a year. Some kind of time frame so you don’t get lazy and procrastinate. The idea is to challenge and expand your creativity, not to overload yourself. If you don’t meet your goals or a deadline passes you by, don’t be hard on yourself. Reset them and try again later. Just don’t give up on them. Follow the links below to see examples of my shooting with intent.

In each instance, I had a clear target to aim for. Some took me longer than others to check off my list, but they kept me focused and actively seeking the images I wanted. It also helped me rediscover my excitement about photography that had been slowly eroding away from doing the same unstimulating routine over and over again. Shooting with intent also help me define my growing style of photography. And after meeting each goal, I have a greater level of satisfaction and fulfillment with my photos. Because of that, I always have a list of ongoing goals to insure I’m shooting with purpose. Here are a few of them.

  • Finding a unique image
  • Interesting light and shadows
  • Sense of speed
  • Sense of aesthetics
  • Strong and interesting composition

Adding some type of goals to your routine can be a healthy challenge to motivate your drive and grow your creativity. Something to guide your creative journey through photography and to start to shoot with purpose. I hope this post shed some light on shooting with intent along with encouraged you to set some goals for you and your photography.

Stay safe and keep busy,

Steven

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Aviation Expo 2020

During all the years I traveled from one airshow to another, I’ve always played with the idea of a “Dream airshow”. If time didn’t matter, what would it look like? What aircraft, demos and jet teams would attend. 2020 is looking more and more like a year without airshows due to the COVID-19 pandemic. So, I decided to put together “Aviation Expo 2020”, a virtual airshow based on images from my photo archive. There’s aircraft I wish I could add to this, but I haven’t gotten around to shooting them yet. But after searching my vast archive, I did manage to round up a very impressive group of aircraft. Here’s my adventure from “Aviation Expo 2020”

After parking the rental car, I geared up and made my way to the staging area for the morning photo tour. The participants were hand pick and I was lucky enough to be selected. The tarmac was laid out perfectly. There were no tents, Porto potty’s, food vendors or anything around the aircraft to clutter up the background while shooting. Canopy covers were removed and everyone in the group was respectful, courteous and professional. Enjoying the spectacular morning light and the historic aircraft, time quickly passed, and the main gates were open and flying soon began.

Before the morning humidity burnt off, the flight activities started with a vapor contest. Each participating aircraft got 5 passes to make the most impressive vapor. Including prop and wingtip vertices and the showstopper, the full cone. The USN Super Hornet demo team with multiple cones, was the mornings clear winner.

Following the vapor contest, there was going to be only 4 heritage flights. But with so many qualified pilots and variety of aircraft, it quickly got out of hand with all the number of different combinations. But of all the amazing formations, we didn’t get to see a “Thunderbolt Flight” with a P-47 and a A-10.

After the heritage flight fiasco was over, it was time for the photo pass challenge. The challenge was split into two categories, single and two ship. Needless to say, Dale Snodgrass smashed his opponents with grace and style and Steve Hinton came in a very close second. The twin Thunderbolts from Tennessee easily won the two-ship class.

“Aviation Expo 2020” was the largest warbird gathering in history. Aircraft from World War Two to Vietnam was present and flying. The sound of all those historic Engines running at once was unforgettable. There were a few jet warbirds too and they didn’t disappoint. The show set a new world record for having the largest mass takeoff of warbirds since World War Two.

Now it was time for the show headliners. One by one, the jet teams took to the air and performed. The USAF Thunderbirds were up first. Followed by the RCAF Snowbirds, then the USN Blue Angels with Fat Albert doing a JETO takeoff. The Starfighters team got back together for this show. Flying from “across the pond” was the Breitling jet team and the RAF Red Arrows for the grand finale.

There was a short pause in the show come late afternoon. During this time everyone walk the static aircraft and got a bite to eat before the evening show.

As the sun made its slow journey toward the horizon, fuel tanks were topped off again, engines started up for the final performances of the day. It was amazing and the light was magical.

Stay safe and keep busy,

Steven

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