2020, a Review

Every year I try to do a lookback at the previous calendar year and how my photography went.  For previous years posts, see the Year in Review category.

It is now 2021 and the previous year was 2020.  In 2020, I did not take many photos, especially compared to previous years.  I think we all know why.

The Technical Stuff

In 2020, I created 11,353 photos and videos, my 9th most prolific year.  This is my lowest year since 2013, and about 2,000 images below 2015.

For comparison, in 2013 (now my 10th most prolific year), I went to the Oregon Coast, as well as Japan.  In 2015 (which remains my 8th most prolific year), I went to Iceland for the first time as well as Vegas and the Eastern Sierra area of California.

In 2020, for obvious reasons, I was unable to travel as much as I would like.  There were 3 main events for 2020: a visit to Banff, AB, Canada in January (I was on this trip for New Years 2020 and it was pre-lockdown), Utah/Arizona in the summer, and Maine in October.

Like 2019, I did not get to visit Longwood Gardens for Christmas.  Like I said last year, oh well, maybe in 2021.

Camera and Lens use in 2020

Most of the ‘Unknown Camera’ is due to LightRoom not handling the camera name on videos.  Most of the 738 listed above is likely videos from any camera – iPhone, GoPro, or Nikon DSLRs.

In 2020, my most used lens was my 24-70.  It is also one of 2 lenses that were used more in 2020 than in 2019, the other being the 28-105.  My #2 lens for the year was my most used lens in 2019, the 200-500mm bazooka.  The biggest drop in usage was the 24-120, which went from 6450 to 1005.

In terms of cameras used per year, it is a nearly 50% decrease from 2019.  For the second year, the D850 was my most used camera.  I’m actually a bit surprised that I only took 2000 images on my D750 in 2020.

I wouldn’t really say that I’m completely preferring the D850 over the D750, but it certainly is trending that way.  The D750 is now 5 years old, which is when I normally when I start to consider buying a replacement.  Given that 2020 was a bust of a year, I think I’ll keep it a little bit longer.  I also did not use my D300 or D800 at all in 2020.  Last year was not normal.  I’m going to wait another year before I consider getting rid of any old camera bodies.

One thing that isn’t directly shown is film.  I used a 1980’s era Minolta x-700 that belonged to my grandfather and an early 1960’s Zenit-3 that was a birthday present from my amazing and wonderful girlfriend.

The breakdown of Camera: Lens Combination:

D850:

D750

The Good Stuff – Travels

I was fortunate enough to start 2020 in one of the most amazing places in the world – Banff, Alberta, Canada.  This was pre-lockdown when there were some rumors of a new coronavirus-like virus coming out of Wuhan China.  At the time, none of us knew how it, and the reaction to it, would come to define 2020.

At the end of June, I was able to escape to Utah/Arizona.  This was a trip I really needed after the first 4 months of 15 days to flatten the curve.  At the time, Utah and Arizona were not really enforcing masking, and it felt almost normal.  It was really great to experience Bryce Canyon, in the summer, when the crowds were all staying home.

In mid-October, about 7 months into 15 days to flatten the curve, I went to Maine for a week.  This trip was slightly mis-timed and Acadia was a bit more crowded than it otherwise would have been.  I had forgotten about Columbus Day and that it is still a holiday.  However, it was one of the clearest night skies I’ve ever seen in the USA.

The Good Stuff – New Stuff

The only thing new for 2020 is a Zenit-3 film camera.  This camera is from the early 1960’s and was made in the former USSR.  I should probably do a full post on this camera because it is a fascinating piece of equipment.

The Good Stuff – Completed Goals of 2020

Back in early 2020, I set out some goals.  While 2020 was not that great, I did meet some goals.

I made money off of stock sales!  Awesome.

Well, I guess it is better than nothing?  You can’t request a payout at Adobe Stock until you hit $25.  So, it may as well have been nothing.  Not sure if this is goal met or goal missed.

I did set a goal of adding more posts.  I had 8 in 2020.  I did want more, but it didn’t happen.  I do have a lot of half-written posts.  While I tried to clear out some old half-written posts, I think I ended the year with more than I started.  With that said, there were more posts in 2020 than in 2019.

At the beginning of the year I intended to learn how to use the new WordPress Guttenberg editor.  In the end, I switched to something called BoldGrid and started to learn how to use that.  I like BoldGrid better than Guttenberg and my web hosting hosting company (Dreamhost, referral link for $50 off – note, I also get $50) provides premium version of BoldGrid.

The Bad Stuff – Missed Goals for 2020

The first missed goal was expected, I did not make the 2020 National Cherry Blossom Festival in DC.  I anticipate not making the 2021 Festival as well.

I also did not work on learning how to produce videos.  While I did watch some YouTube videos on how to make videos, that is about as far as I managed to get.

2021

Looking forward to what 2021 may hold, here are some goals for the year.

Goal: Actually make money with photography.  More than 75cents would be great.

Goal: Even more posts!  I’m starting off fairly well with getting the year in review out before the end of January.

Goal: Website redesign.  I’ve been using this same theme, Harmonic, for over 4 years.  I am trying to find a new theme that has everything I like about Harmonic, but also gets rid of the things I do not like.  It is difficult to pick a good theme.

Goal: Travel and take photos when possible.  I have no idea what will happen with travel, the virus, or anything else.

To the future-
-Brad

 

Bryce Canyon in the Winter, with Snow

You Can (Almost) Always Return to the Location

This post is an expansion of my previous post about the compulsion to click the shutter.

Much of the inspiration for this post came from a friend who last year went to London for the first time. She made a big deal about the airplanes and hotels, but I was able to help plan a trip that kept everything in budget, supply ideas, from experience, and the whole trip turned out exceptional. She described this trip as once in a lifetime. I disagreed. My thoughts are – if you can save and plan for a trip in 6 months once, you can do it again. Especially for a place that (normally) has a very well connected airport. In the last week, I found out that she is planning another trip to London and the UK, once it is possible again of course.

For most locations, you will get another chance to return. This new chance can even be in the same conditions.

While there are some situations this does not apply to, there will be another fall, there will be another sunset, there will be another full moon. The aurora can be quite unpredictable, but there will be another aurora. Outside of certain once in a lifetime trips, you can get another chance.

Let’s look at Bryce Canyon National Park in Utah. I’ve been lucky enough to make three trips over the last few years. Let’s look at 3 very different photos, one from each trip.

Bryce Canyon HDR, Summer
Bryce Canyon HDR, Summer
Bryce Canyon in the Winter, with Snow
Bryce Canyon in the Winter, with Snow. Merged Panorama
Bryce Canyon by Moonlight, Long Exposure
Bryce Canyon by Moonlight, Long Exposure

My most recent trip was only a few months ago, and it was by far the most time I’ve spent in the park. But if you like a place as much as I (and now also my girlfriend) like Bryce Canyon and Zion National Parks, you can make it there. I was even able to safely travel, by airplane, during the current trouble with the COVIDs.

The importance of this is so that you can relax and be in the moment, instead of worry that this will be the only time in your life to ever get a shot like this. The next time you get to visit a location, which may be several years later, your photography will have improved.

An example. Sydney Australia, 2002, Olympus D450 (1.3 mpix) vs 2016, Nikon D750 (24 mpix).

Sydney Opera House at Night, 2002

Picture 1 of 3

DS79899

Picture 1 of 4

As the crow flies, Sydney is about as far from home as I can go. You can always return.

-Brad

Take me out to the Ballgame

I am a baseball fan. And at risk of alienating many of the readers, I am a Phillies fan.

I have had the chance to tour the Citizens Bank Park twice. During my most recent trip, I brought my D850, about a week after I’d returned from the Faroe Islands (posts on the Faroe Islands trip will come…. at some point).

During this outing, the tour passed a wall in one of the nicer floors of the stadium. This wall is covered in baseballs.

My first attempt at the balls on the wall perspective

While this photo is mostly unedited, it is one of the few in focus to show what I was initially thinking about on this photo. I will admit, I do like this perspective. However, I was not happy with any of these photos. Perhaps I will be able to try again soon. Quite often when working the scene, you’ll find hints of things you like, even if you don’t like the final result.

At some point after this photo, my wonderful, beautiful, and amazing girlfriend who totally didn’t write this line started to take some interesting photos of this wall.

I really like this framing. It makes it look like the wall goes on forever, is clear what the subject is, and the images goes left to right. Left to right is the preferred kind of image in parts of the world where we read left to right.

I know this is basically the same as the last photo, but it is right to left, so it isn’t the same

I didn’t edit the previous photo, but you can see that the framing feels different. Right to left vs left to right is very different, at least in the USA.

If you like this second version better, let me know. Maybe I will revisit it and edit this photo to be a ‘keeper’ version.

Anyways, that’s all for this image. Until next time.

-B

2019, a Review

I always like to put a technical look into the year before and try to summarize it in the first 3 months of the following year.

The Technical Stuff

In 2019, I created 21,940 photos and about 48 videos. This makes 2019 my 2nd most prolific year, behind #1, 2016 (the year where I went skiing for New Years, visited the Big Sur coast in California, spent 5 days rafting down the Grand Canyon, went to the Olympic Peninsula, and spend a month in Australia and New Zealand). 2019 is the first year where my photos used more than 1 TB.

So many photos…

2019 was defined by 3 large photo events. #1, like 2018, was the National Cherry Blossom Festival in Washington DC. #2 was a 2-week trip to the Faroe Islands and Norway in August. #3 was a trip over New Years to Banff, AB, Canada. #3 will show up on the 2020 year in review as well.

2019 has some smaller events as well. This included a trip to several historic rail roads in Pennsylvania (Jim Thorpe, Strasburg), several trips to the beach, and a Hot Air Balloon Festival in Lancaster.

Unfortunately, I was unable to visit Longwood Gardens for the Christmas Lights this year. Oh well, maybe in 2020.

Not shown, a GoPro, because LightRoom cannot open the video files

In terms of cameras used per year, this is the first year my D850/D800 won. In 2019, I clearly preferred my newest camera over the D750 for 2016-2018. These results surprised me, because I thought they would be closer together. I think there is a reason for this, which is revealed in the next section. For the first time since 2009, my D300 is not on the list. Guess it might be time to get rid of it.

Lenses per year gives some insight into the camera per year

Wait a minute, my most used lens was a 200-500mm? Where did that even come from?

The 200-500mm lens was a new purchase for 2019. It was primarily purchased for the previously mentioned Faroe Islands trip in order to chase puffins. This is also the reason the D850 had more photos in 2019 – the autofocus on the D850 is just better, and puffins are notoriously obnoxious to try to shoot. The majority of those 6471 images are of puffins. The rest are, mostly, me attempting to shoot images of the moon.

My second most used lens was last year’s most used lens, the 24-120 f/4. What can I say, it is a really good lens for when I want to save some weight. The third most used lens was last year’s number 2, the 24-70 f/2.8. Guess I really like this focal range.

Everything else was about in line with the usage in 2018.

The breakdown of Camera:Lens Combination is:

D850/D800

D750

I don’t usually look at these results before writing this post. This actually surprises me. The really surprising part is how little I used the D750 last year.

The Good Stuff – New Stuff

As previously mentioned, in 2019, I aquired the Nikon 200-500mm f/5.6 lens and a GoPro Hero 7. And yeah, I now own a selfie stick too.

The Good Stuff – Travels

I mentioned this above, but, 2019 was a lot of smaller weekend trips, with a really big trip to the Faroe Islands and another one to Banff.

The Bad Stuff – Gear Repairs

For the first time ever, I had a non-warantee repair on a camera lens. My camera bag, unfortunately, fell out of my car. The 14-24 lens was damaged and needed to be serviced at a Nikon repair center. It was quite expensive, but the service center did a really good job and the insides work like it was new.

The Bad Stuff – Missed Goals for 2019

I was not able to meet my goal of learning how to produce videos better nor generating an income from photography. While I realize it is a poor craftsman who blames his tools, one of the reasons I’ve struggled with video is because my laptop, which is a now-3 year old Lenovo, simply struggles too much to make videos consistently.

2020

For 2020, my plans are this:

1 trip currently being planned – Cherry Blossoms in DC in the March-April timeframe.

Goal: Actually start to make some money, whether it is stock photos or something else.

Goal: Update the blog more often. Learn how to use Gutenberg, which has replaced the old WordPress post editing system.

Goal: Work on learning how to make videos, maybe even launching a YouTube channel.

Stretch Goal: Work with a brand to showcase their gear in amazing locations.

To the future-
-Brad

Brad’s Quick Travel Tip #1 – American Airlines

I recently traveled on American Airlines and I discovered something interesting.

I live in Seattle, and as a result, I have a Frequent Flyer card for Alaska Airlines.  Alaska and American have a new partnership.

As a result of this partnership, having an Alaska Airlines MVP number, grants you early boarding on American Airlines.  I have the base status on Alaska, but, I was still able to board the plane before about half of the rest of the plane.  American boarded their higher tier frequent flyer, high tier people in the OneWorld frequent flyer plans, and First/Business class before me, but I boarded before the people who purchased regular tickets, with the AAdvantage ‘Gold’ status members or OneWorld ‘Ruby’ status members.  See here – https://www.aa.com/i18n/travel-info/boarding-process.jsp

So, if you are traveling in coach, do not otherwise have any airline status, do not intend to build miles on American or OneWorld airlines, and are not flying in business/first, you can sign up for the Alaska MVP program and board before most people.  It doesn’t cost anything, and it does not even require you to have ever flown on Alaska Airlines.

Enjoy!
-Brad

The Math of the F/Stop Progression

As a quick post, I’m going to mention something that everyone seems to have difficulty with.  This is a little math-heavy and I’ll try to simplify it.

F/stop progressions.  Why do I have to double my shutter speed when going from F/2.0 to F/2.8?  Wouldn’t it make more sense to double my shutter speed when I go from F/2.0 to F/4.0?

The F/stop is related to the diameter of the aperture of the lens, or the width of the circle of light that shines on the sensor or film.  The key word here is ‘circle’.

Everyone remembers that the area of a circle is area = pi * r^2.  The number in the F/stop is related to the Diameter, which is 2 * radius.  If you want to cut the area of the circle in half, you need to divide the diameter (and thus the radius) by the squareroot of 2.  The squareroot of 2 is 1.4142136 … but for our purposes, 1.4 is good enough.

This is why the F/stop progression is 2.0, 2.8, 4.0, 5.6, etc.  Each of these numbers are about 1.4 apart (2 * 1.4 = 2.8, 2.8 * 1.4 = 2 * (1.4 * 1.4) = 2 * 2 = 4).  Each stop is the same as increasing the diameter/radius by 1.4, and doubling the size of the opening.

Now you may be thinking to yourself, “self, this makes it look like the numbers are in reverse order”.  The piece to understanding the order is in how the F/stop is normally stylized, F/2.8, F/4.0, etc.  The / in math means divided by.  It means the aperture is set to the focal length divided by the number represented in the F/stop.  For example, on a 120mm lens, at F/4.0, the aperture is 120mm/4.0 or 30mm.  If we stop down to F/8.0, the aperture is 15mm.  A circle with a 30mm diameter has an area 4 times the size of a circle with a 15mm diameter, thus, F/8.0 lets through one quarter the light of F/4.0, and is a change of ‘2 stops’.

I hope this helps understand everyone understand one of the less obvious parts of photography.

-Brad