Project 365: First 35 days

Moonlight (35 / 365)

35 days in and I’m still going strong with the whole Project 365 thing, despite my wife’s initial skepticism. There were several reasons for starting this little project. First, to try and learn a bit more about taking photos. While I don’t know that I’m any better a recognizing what makes one composition better than another, or how to effectively use light, I do think that I understand the technical details a bit better, and I’ve really gotten to know my camera much better. The other goals were trying to have the discipline to see this through and apply it to other “projects”, and learning to make time, even if it’s just a little, for all the things I should be doing rather than focusing on one hobby or interest to the exclusion of everything else. So far so good on that front. I’m still taking pictures, and I’m also making more time for my kids, and I’ve geocached a bit, and put some time into my blog here, and my genealogy, and well, quite a variety of things, and it’s been really good. But, the more time I spend doing this, the more things I’ve discovered that I don’t understand and maybe there are some things the more experienced photographers among you could help me clear up.

Black and White

I’ve started following people more closely on flickr and one thing I don’t get are black and white photos. That’s not to say that the black and white photos I’ve seen are bad, in fact some are quite good, but I have no idea if they might have been better in color. So what are the rules to determine when an image might be better in black and white? I’m a programmer, so I’d very much like a definition that says: if A and B or C then you might want to convert the image to black and white. And what is a black and white image supposed to convey that a color version would not? I’d love to understand, but personally I really like color and, if anything, would like for my photos to be more deeply saturated, not less.

Night Settles on LP Field (10 / 365)
Night Settles on LP Field
RAW versus JPG

I’ve looked at a couple of articles discussing the pros and cons of RAW versus JPG and apart from RAW offering a wider range of post processing opportunities, I really don’t see much advantage over JPG. At the highest quality level I’m not really seeing any compression artifacts using JPG and I also don’t have to worry whether other people have the necessary tools to view a JPG image. And of course there is a minor file size consideration. So, are there other reasons I should be using RAW? To me, post processing isn’t yet a valid reason, because the way I figure it, if I have to do more than slight cropping or rotating, then I failed to do something correctly when I was taking the picture and need to learn what I did wrong instead of having this crutch to fall back on. Once I feel confident in my abilities, maybe I’ll rethink my opinion of RAW, not so I’ll be able to fix mistakes, but perhaps to give myself more creative opportunities later on.

Tiny Pics / EXIF

A little annoyance here. For some reason, there are lots of people that use flickr, but will not post anything larger than a little preview of their photos. I don’t understand. Perhaps they don’t want people stealing their work? But why bother to use flickr at all if that’s the case? There have been many times I’ve seen what looks like it may be pretty good, but there’s not a lot of detail that can be made out at 500 x 333, or whatever. To all you that allow larger views of your photos, thank you so much. I really enjoy studying the details of some of these great images. Likewise to all the people that leave the EXIF data on their photos. As someone trying to learn, I really appreciate being able to see exposure, aperture, ISO, etc., etc.

No Photos Allowed (20 / 365)
No Photos Allowed
White Balance

Drives me crazy. And maybe for this reason I should make the switch to RAW. But it’s not just that. Maybe I need to re-read the instruction manual for my D40, but even when I’ve tried to preset the color balance with a white piece of paper, it doesn’t seem to turn out right. This is isn’t a really huge problem since most of the time leaving the color balance set to AUTO works just fine. And those times that it doesn’t, giving it a clue if I’m in the sun, shadow, under incancesdents, etc., will solve the problem. But every now and again the camera insists I’m on Mars or something.

That’s all I can think of at the moment. Thank you everyone that has viewed my photos and especially those that have left compliments. I really appreciate it. Here’s hoping I’ll eventually take something worthy of Explore.