Duff O'Melia

A Study of Photography

It all started back in 2009 at LessConf when Brandon Mathis showed me an amazing picture he had taken of his son Caleb. The twitpic version of the picture doesn’t do it justice. Brandon had showed me the real image on his laptop. One of the dangers of hanging out at a conference with creative folks who make things is that their enthusiasm can be quite contagious. In this case, Brandon answered all of my questions and made some recommendations as to how I might learn some of the basics. His passion and excitement for the art of photography certainly piqued my interest in the subject.

Fast forward a few years to meeting Alex Kohlhofer who explained how having a DSLR camera was great but challenging, since its unwieldy size means you rarely have it with you. He then showed me his new Lumix LX3 which was much smaller and easier to carry. Even though it was small, it was clearly made for enthusiasts since it so easily allowed the most important settings to be adjusted without having to go 3 levels deep into an LCD menu screen. It also took much better pictures than a run-of-the mill point and shoot. Alex was thrilled with it.

Then there was the brief time when I tried to learn about aperture, shutter speed, and ISO using our old point an shoot camera. That’s not easy. And the pictures were worse than using auto mode.

We were recently given a wonderful gift card to Amazon. Kell mentioned that we might want to consider getting a camera to allow us to actually take some pictures of the kids while they’re in motion. I’ve had difficulty thinking about much of anything since she made that suggestion. Using our iPhones to take family pictures is great since the phones are with us all of the time. Picture quality certainly suffers though, especially when the primary subjects never seem to STOP MOVING.

So how do you know if you even have a passion for photography? It’s a difficult proposition unless your camera is decent. I’m pretty excited to see if this remains an area of study for me or whether my interest wanes. In the worst case, we’ll have some higher quality pictures of some of the things happening in our family.

It sure is great to live during a time when studying photography is so much easier than it’s ever been. The fact that things are digital, the equipment is so much better, and so many people have published both their work and their advice means that the barrier to entry is significantly lower.

Here’s my plan. The Lumix LX7 arrives tomorrow. It’s much smaller than a DSLR so I should be able to have it with me much more of the time. It’s clearly the best camera we’ve ever owned and yet it doesn’t cost thousands of dollars like most DSLR’s. It should be the perfect camera to help me really understand aperture, shutter speed, and ISO to start with. I’m planning on taking at least one picture a day and publishing it on 500px.com.

I can’t wait to start!