Friday, September 23, 2011

photo frustrations

Why I just don't use my DSLR much these days:

Since I was a teenager I've always loved taking photos. I remember buying my first camera around age 16. It was this bulky Canon point-and-shoot, and I'm pretty sure I bought it from Walmart for around $100. At that age I took two types of photos. One: Goofy, posed photos with my brother Matt or another family member or friend. Two: Photos of bands. I always brought my camera to band shows and concerts, and whenever my band played a show, I always gave my camera with a fresh roll of film (yes, these were the film days) to a friend to take pictures of us while we played.

This photo is a synthesis of both of those types: a goofy, posed band photo, circa late 2000. This was right outside a small convenience store (hence the beverages/snacks) in downtown Mesa right after playing a show at the Nile (incidentally, if I tried hard enough I could throw a rock at both of those places from my new apartment). Looks like I did a poor job of scanning it.

That camera lasted me through my mission, after which I replaced it with a digital point-and-shoot.

In January 2009 I was expecting a sizable tax refund*. Depending on the size, I would buy myself either a new iPod or a DSLR camera. Apparently it was sizable enough because a month later I ended up with a new DSLR. I began using it instantly and I couldn't put it down, especially after moving to Colorado a few months later.

So why haven't I been using it much nowadays? I will postulate two reasons:

Firstly: Shortly after picking up my DSLR I began shooting in RAW format (as opposed to shooting in the internet/software friendly JPG format). RAW captures colors, especially skin tones, just a little better and photos come out a bit more clear. I got to the point where I felt that if I was going to shoot JPG I might as well use a point-and-shoot.

Now, the problem with RAW is that, based on my limited experience anyway, only the high-end photo editing softwares (like Photoshop) can do a good job of editing RAW photos. Formerly, this wasn't a problem because, up until a few months ago, I had a bootleg version of Photoshop. But then I bought a new computer and now bootleg Photoshop doesn't work (which is probably a good thing, because, as the word bootleg implies, I hadn't paid for it). So now if I want to edit a photo or even just post it on Facebook or my blog I have to copy it over to my computer, convert it to JPG, and then continue with editing/posting. Sure, it's not that big of a deal, but it is cumbersome enough to be annoying.

This is one of my favorite photos I've taken with said camera.

Secondly: Who posts entire albums of photos on Facebook or Flickr these days? Most of my friends who take photos do one-at-a-time mobile uploads on Facebook and Twitter or they use popular photo apps like Instragram. (Is anyone else getting kinda sick Instragram? It seems like a great app (iPhone only and I'm an Android guy), but why does everything have to be filtered and square? It makes me glad that I have a few friends out there that still take real photos**.) If I'm not sharing or displaying my photos, be they on Facebook or elsewhere, I don't have as much of a motivation to actually take any.

Part of me thinks I should invest in a decent point-and-shoot -- my new phone, despite its glorious speed, has a pretty worthless camera -- but that's $200-300 (or whatever they cost these days) I could put toward a new guitar. Or a record player. Or records. Or a plane ticket. (Or something practical and useful, but who are we kidding?)

Now that I can get a student discount (I think) I should probably just bite the bullet and buy Photoshop.

In the meantime, to all my photographer friends, and to all my friends who take photos, what Photoshop alternatives do I have? And what motivates you to go out there and take tons of photos?

*People are always confusing the terms tax refund and tax return, and more often than not, people refer to their refund as a return. But they're not the same thing. A return is the actual form or series of forms you file with the IRS, not the money you get back when you overpay.

**No offense, Instragram users.

P.S. I almost titled this post "photo phrustrations." That was a close one.


  1. Haha love switchin up f and ph. I was the same way with photoshop (used a bootleg until I got a new computer). Now I use Gimp all of the time. It's a free download and very similar to it's Adobe nemesis(?). I always take photos of trips. I wish I was better at taking photos more often (or actually just better at taking photos period). The only place I really look at photos are on blogs, so you should post more of your work on here. Love the photo you included in this post

  2. I don't really know anything about Adobe Lightroom except that it is cheaper than Photoshop and doesn't have as many bells and whistles, BUT that it can still be used for basic editing. I think it takes RAW, but I'm not sure. The BYU-I professors recommend it for students who can't afford Photoshop.

    I hardly ever carry around my DSLR. Which is embarrassing since I studied photography for 4 years. But it's so heavy and big that it's hard to tote around most of the time. And sometimes I feel like a tool carrying it. I just take it somewhere if I know I will want to take nicer pictures.

    I got out of the habit for a while, but I've started carrying around a point and shoot again. It's better to have a camera than no camera at all, and most of the time I just want a snapshot of something.

  3. I'm about 99% sure I was there when both of these photos were taken.

    We need to start photography league again. Seriously.

  4. What was the name of your band?


  5. Andrea -- Thanks, I enjoy the photos on your blog too, especially the film ones you posted not long ago. I'll check out Gimp.

    Amy -- Another photog friend of mine also suggested Lightroom. I've been using it and I think it's exactly what I was looking for.

    Whit -- I'm pretty sure you took the top photo, and you were definitely there for the other one. I'd love to get the league going again, even if it's only you, Rach, and me.

    Aaron -- That band was called the Manhattan Project.

  6. that second photo reminds me of "IT"