2015-16 Blog

These are the blog posts from 2015 and 2016

Is It Your Challenge Too ?

I’ve read plenty of articles and books about it … but it still isn’t easy. I feel like I’ve learned quite a bit in the past year and I think about it for almost every photo I shoot … but sometimes when I look at my images in Lightroom, I wonder what I was thinking. I’ve taken a class on it and knew about almost every concept the teacher talked about … but I can’t always see the concepts in the real world. What am I talking about? Composition. CONTINUE READING “IS IT YOUR CHALLENGE TOO ?”

Tragic Loss … Almost

A couple months ago I bought a new 27” iMac with 3 TB of memory. I had been storing all my photos in an external hard drive because my MacBook Pro memory was just about used up. I knew that I needed a back up and kept telling myself I could lose all my photos if the hard drive crashed.   But I kept putting it off, until I got the iMac with plenty of memory available for photos. CONTINUE READING “TRAGIC LOSS … ALMOST”

Involvement Powers Improvement

On the last post I introduced you to Ed Deci’s theory of Intrinsic Motivation. Sorry to be so academic but it seemed like a good way to share something about motivation that is very likely to impact most of us. I’ll try to lay-off the academic stuff in future posts, but let me use Deci’s theory to make one more observation about motivating what I am calling the Growth of Novice and Advancing Amateurs.


Photography: Work or Play ?

Have you ever had a sport or hobby or activity, in which you loved to participate that resulted in you losing interest? Did you love to cook and then started cooking on the side to make some cash, only to regret getting involved? Did you enjoy woodworking but when the demand for your work at a local store increased dramatically you didn’t enjoy your hobby any more? CONTINUE READING “PHOTOGRAPHY: WORK OR PLAY ?”

But It All has Changed

It seems rather strange but it all began at about the turn on the century. Boy, does that make me sound old. I bought my first digital camera (a Nikon Coolpix E4100) and soon found out I was about to become a grandpa. As the guy who took family pictures, I certainly needed a “real camera” so I went out and bought a Nikon D70. In the following years I took a lot of digital photos of my granddaughter, and then my grandson, and enjoyed sharing these photos with my family. And occasionally we went on vacation and I took shots of beautiful places, and assumed these shots were beautiful photographs. And I liked them back then. But now when I go back and look at them I realize they aren’t beautiful photographs. Back then I thought I was a pretty good photographer … but it all has changed. CONTINUE READING “BUT IT ALL HAS CHANGED”

How Feedback Helps or Kills Our Motivation

This year my wife and I each got a Fitbit for Christmas. We do a lot of hiking in the summer and skiing and snowshoeing in the winter so we are usually in pretty good shape. But as we drift into our late 60’s it seems important to be aware of staying in good shape – but how do you do that other than “tipping the scale”? Wearing a Fitbit and checking out our exercise, resting heart rate, calories burned, active minutes, and even how we’ve slept every night helps us know how we’ve exercised. But it does more. CONTINUE READING “HOW FEEDBACK HELPS OR KILLS OUR MOTIVATION”

Moving on from the Holidays

I hope you all had a wonderful Holiday. I’m sorry I have been so tardy in getting a post out to the FirstanAmateur.com Blog but I took an extended trip to the Midwest to visit some friends and our sons and grandkids. Fun stuff but I must admit that I didn’t do much photography, except for a type of photography that I just took for granted – point-and-shoot pictures of the holidays. CONTINUE READING “MOVING ON FROM THE HOLIDAYS”

The Jump and Why

It’s December so it’s time to think about some holiday presents for my family. Yesterday, for the first time ever, I considered giving my brothers, sister, and sons a Christmas present that I created with my photographs – a photo calendar. You might remember from my last post that I said, “I’m not taking great photos but I am taking much better photos than a year ago – even my wife thinks my photos are better.” And if my wife thinks my photos are much better then they must actually be good enough to put on a calendar for my family. So I went to Lightroom to find a dozen photos to use in my calendar. CONTINUE READING “THE JUMP AND WHY”

Disappointed but Learning

Two weeks ago I went to a conference in Coeur D’Alene, Idaho. Chris, my wife, is on the local School Board and the conference was about schools, so Koty (our dog) and I were just along for the ride. I’ve heard about the beauty of Coeur D’Alene for years, so I was excited to have the opportunity to spend 3 or 4 days hiking around the majestic lake taking photos. A few days before the conference the weather report was sketchy, but I was confident that a little “weather” would be just fine as long as there were a few sunrises and/or sunsets with good light. CONTINUE READING “DISAPPOINTED BUT LEARNING”

Can Gear Improve our Photos?

Time to move on to discuss what helps us improve our photography. Your last homework assignment (most of you were bad boys and girls and didn’t complete your homework) was to send me your answer to the following question: I would like for you to think about the top two pieces of equipment (cameras, lenses, tripods) that had the most impact on your photography and send me your top-2 and why they have been important to your improvement. I asked a very similar question to “the dozen” with quite similar answers. CONTINUE READING “CAN GEAR IMPROVE OUR PHOTOS?”

Randy’s Fun with Camera and Friends

In my last two posts I have focused on what we might call “negative motivations” – those motivations that keep us from doing our best. Sorry if I came across as cynical. 🙂  So let’s look at the more positive motivations this time and focus on what types of experiences we encounter, or create, that help us to want to get out there and do more photography. After all in the second blog “the dozen” made it pretty clear that practice is likely to be the most important variable in helping us improve our photographic skills and our photographs.  Let me start with an experience I had last week that really got me excited about photography. CONTINUE READING “RANDY’S FUN WITH CAMERA AND FRIENDS”

Randy’s Experience – The Challenge of Getting Motivated to Learn

I’m hesitant to sound too academic in the blog but a comment by a reader recently reminded me of an idea I think I should share that may point out a real difference between some of us. It is common for us to assume other’s motivation is similar to ours and we wonder: why others choose to join challenging workshops; or why others don’t get out of bed in the morning for a great shoot; or why others get defensive or have hurt feelings about our feedback. Let me share a story I told the students in my class on educational motivation. CONTINUE READING “RANDY’S EXPERIENCE – THE CHALLENGE OF GETTING MOTIVATED TO LEARN”

Randy’s Journey – Motivation to Get Out of Bed

Being an academic that has never followed a blog, I have a problem: I keep thinking I should have something “academic” to say, or teach, in every blog. For those of you who read/write blogs, I’m sorry to come across as such a stuffed shirt. Feel free to guide me in a more informal direction with a comment or two … please. CONTINUE READING “RANDY’S JOURNEY – MOTIVATION TO GET OUT OF BED”

What’s the Critical Variable for Improving Your Photography?

On the last post I left you with a question to consider – essentially a homework assignment. It wasn’t a very challenging assignment (after all, I don’t want to chase you away after my first post) but if you spent some time thinking about the questions it takes you to the heart of the difference between people who take point-and-shoot pictures and serious amateur photographers: What is the single most important variable to improving as a photographer? CONTINUE READING “WHAT’S THE CRITICAL VARIABLE FOR IMPROVING YOUR PHOTOGRAPHY?”

Initial First an Amateur Blog Post

“Every Artist was First an Amateur”      Ralph Waldo Emerson

You probably remember the time, back in the day, when you wanted to become an Olympic skier, or a concert pianist, or an astronaut, or a life-changing teacher, or an outdoor photographer who climbed Mount Everest. Many of us had those dreams but never achieved them due to a lack of time, devotion, skill, or uncontrollable circumstances. CONTINUE READING “INITIAL FIRST AN AMATEUR BLOG POST”