Why Photography is Not Simple

It's not. Just not just the point and shoot kind of thing that most people think it is.Take Aperture, Shutter Speed and ISO for instance. Three things that most people haven't even heard of. Yet they're the basis for the process of getting an amazing photo. One of the reasons most people don't see them is because they can't change them on their camera. Point and Shoots can't do advanced things.Aperture is the hole the light goes through in your camera to hit the sensor, the digital thingy that has taken the place of film. In automatic modes you can't change the settings of the aperture, they are set by the camera. In more advanced cameras you can play with the aperture settings, making it bigger or smaller when you take the shot. This will increase or decrease the amount of light that hits the sensor.Shutter Speed is just that, the speed of the shutter. When you click the button, it goes opens the shutter, letting the light through the aperture to hit the sensor. When you have a slow shutter speed, you let a lot of light in. When you have a fast shutter speed, you let less light in. When things start to get blurry in low light or because they're too fast, it means your shutter speed is too long for the movement that is happening and the available light. The answer is to decrease and shutter speed and increase the light. You can increase the light by using lights, a flash, or by increasing the ISO.ISO is the "speed" of the sensor to capture the image. In film days you got a roll of ISO 200 film and took what pictures you could with that. A higher ISO means that the picture is exposed faster on the film meaning you get the exposed photo in less time. The tradeoff is that when you expose things faster the image gets grainy. It's not very noticeable at low ISO's but as you get higher, it gets grainier. Higher ISO's do come in handy in low light situations, like shooting during the evening or shooting a band play inside. If you can use a flash to get the light you need but it might no be appropriate then a high ISO can help.Between shutter speed, aperture and ISO you can some crazy things with photos. If you want  freeze action, you'll want a fast shutter speed, but if you want things blurred you can slow it down.Sounds easy right? Well not always.There are a lot of other variables that affect how the photo ends up. There's the lens you have on the camera, the distance from you to your subject, the distance from your subject to the background, how fast they're moving, the intensity and direction of light thats hitting the camera and subject and a whole host of other things to think about.Needless to say, it ends up being a intensive process to get the experience required to think of a photo, set it up and get the exact photo you want. And for it to look good.A friend told me that your first 10,000 photos are gonna be junk when you first start taking photographs. Remember, I'm thinking ones with excellent light, color, and composition not your party shots from last weekend.I think I'm photo 492? 

2011: The Year of the Hustle

2010 was a great year. I learned a lot. A lot went well.That said, I felt like I didn't have much direction. It was fun trying to get involved with everything that came along but in doing that I was stretching myself thin over what I was already doing. Overall the year felt like I was bouncing back and forth from starting one project to another but not finishing anything. Thus, I've decided to dub last year Year of the Flail.Flailing around last year definitely kept things interesting. But as I said, I felt like I didn't complete much. This year is going to be different though. After doing a bit of a Chris Guillebeau style review, I looked at what went well last year and laid out a plan for this year. One of my goals is to keep my projects and to-do's more structured and really push to get rid of the tasks and projects that don't get me closer to my major goals.Almost everything I'd like to focus on this year will have a project associated with it. I think I'm more likely to complete things if they've got a nice, neat "project" label on them and are prioritized and organized with all the others. I won't get down into the nitty, gritty parts of life though, like cooking, cleaning and sleeping. Everyone does those!I've separated everything here into some main categories. I ended up with quite a few other ones as well during the review but they aren't quite as interesting as these ones. They felt required. These are the ones I'm excited about and will try my hardest to get them done. The categories I included here are Work, Learning, Travel, Outdoors and Adventure. Outdoors and Adventure overlap quite a bit. Outdoors here is more for the projects about the outdoors I'm doing whereas Adventure includes running, riding, kayaking, racing and other sports.Projects for the Year of the HustleWorkWriting for PureOutside, rcThink and Island AdventurerI put these ones under work because I hope that these will some day make up the bulk of my workload. It will be an amazing day when I make a living of these sites and related projects. There was really no schedule for posting to the sites last year. Posts would just go up on the site whenever I felt like writing and that was sometimes 3 times a week and sometimes once every 2 months. This year my goal is to post once per week every Monday morning on each of the sites. So far so good. It's only been 3 weeks but I haven't fallen off the wagon yet! I'm working on building up a repository of posts for each of the sites so that if I run out of time, I can just edit and update a post, rather than writing a whole new one.If you aren't familiar with my other blogs yet, I'll give you a quick rundown. PureOutside is a general outdoors site covering any outdoor topic like climbing, running, skiing, hiking and mountain biking. I've got a few projects scheduled to start this year that will be added on to this site. More details are below.Island Adventurer is another outdoor site focusing on Vancouver Island, where I live. Vancouver Island is a mecca for human-powered outdoor enthusiasts offering easy access to skiing, surfing, trail running, mountain biking, kiteboarding, climbing and diving. You can easily participate in all these activities any time of the year or even all in one day. Information for all these activities can be hard to come by, though, and is often only found after endless digging through websites or good-natured stalking of those that regularly participate. I'm hoping with Island Adventurer and PureOutside I can make it easier to organize and find all that outdoor information.Programming Home Sell Canada and Bed and Breakfast CenterOriginally started by my dad as side projects, I've taken over most of the support and programming on HomeSellCanada and BedandBreakfastCenter. Both are excellent opportunities to increase my passive income and learn some useful new information. I'm in the middle of an upgrade to the underlying systems right now and as soon as that is complete, I'll be working on the graphics and copy. They're both a bit dated and need a refreshing dose of new copy and design. On the list for them both are blogs to liven things up and provide a good reason to link to both the sites.Day Job at City of NanaimoI'm hoping to end up with some sort of location-independent career someday but while I'm getting started, I'm very thankful for the programming position I have at the City of Nanaimo. Every day I'm learning something new and get to work with a lot of great people in an enterprise environment. I know few people ever say they like working in a cubicle but, while I would rather be outside skiing or climbing mountains, it's been an awesome experience so far.LearningThe world is so amazing that it's tough to not write an entire book on all the things I'd like to learn. One of my goals for the year is to focus more fewer things but there are two that I'm going to focus on most.PhotographyA lot of my friends have been getting into photography lately and judging by all the amazing pictures on travel blogs, people online have as well. I used to travel, adventure and party with just a small point and shoot style camera. While it's a lot of fun to carry around in my pocket and have at the drop of a hat, the pictures that it produces just aren't fantastic. They will certainly do in a pinch and capture the moment but after seeing some incredible things in Australia and New Zealand, I was disappointed with the quality when I wanted to revisit those memories. The little camera just didn't do the landscapes justice, especially on our trip to Milford Sound. Now, I've got myself a Canon T1i and am trying to use it every day. A friend told me that the first 10,000 photos aren't going to be anything special. After that you might get some good ones so I've got a lot of photos to take.GuitarFor the longest time, I've wanted to play guitar. There's just something about it that I find so alluring. I find myself wishing I knew how to play when I'm sitting around a campire or on the road travelling. I just haven't got up the guts to get playing and sound like crap when I'm learning. What's worse is that I've had one sitting next to my desk for the last year and a half. I finally got some ebooks and a dvd for christmas and have been making time to sit down and learn the chords and a few songs. Watch out for a video of a song when I can get something together. It wont' be that bad, I promise!TravelFranceThe first trip of the year will be to France. My girlfriend and I are going to spend 2 weeks in France in May, with some of the trip in Paris and the remainder in the south along the Mediterranean. This will be my first trip to Europe and my girlfriends first off North America. I have these romantic visions of wandering around in Paris. I know it's probably not going to be anything like I think it's going to be but it's still going to be a great adventure nonetheless.PortlandThis won't be a very long trip but it's still a trip out of the country. We'll be heading down to Chris Guilleau's World Domination Summit for a few days in June to hang out with a whole bunch of bloggers and online entrepreneurs. Pretty sure I'm bouncing around excited for this to happen. I've been reading a lot of the bloggers that are going for the last year and it's time to finally meet them. This has been part of the reason why I'm going to be pushing my blogs hard the beginning of this year. Not only would it be nice to get a bit more traffic to all of them, I'd like to be a bit better known in the blogging circles.ThailandThis is a maybe trip. I'm going to try my hardest to make this happen by the end of the year but it might have to be the beginning of next year. I've been dying to go to Thailand for a long time and I finally said I'm going to do it. With all the other bloggers in Thailand right now, it will be a hell of a party and a great time meeting them face to face. I'm aiming for November with this one.OutdoorsRamblerI mentioned earlier that I've found it hard getting the information I wanted about trails, and other places to adventure. Even if I did find the basics it is almost never from the time that I want to go. Having a resource that's full of outdoor information that is up to date as well would be the holy grail of outdoor sites. I plan to make this happen over the next few years starting with Vancouver Island and spreading it around the world. Any users will be allowed to sign up and add their own outdoor trip reports and trail information. I've also got a few applications on the list that will integrate with the site to make planning your outdoor excursion extremely easy.Outdoor ManualsTo go along with the current trail and location information that Rambler will eventually have, I plan on making manuals for all the outdoor sports that are out there. Starting with the basics, they'll move up to intermediate and advanced as I get to those levels with the different areas. The first will be hiking and will most likely be a free one. Soon after that I'll be creating a skiing, climbing and mountain biking manuals and selling them for a small fee. They'll be full of all the resources and information you'll need to get you started in the various human-powered outdoor activities.Trail GuidesWith all the information on Rambler and in the Outdoor Manuals, I'm not sure if I'll need to create these Trail Guides. They'll essentially be very details guides of popular trails. The intention is that you could pick up one of these babies, peruse at your leisure online or your mobile device and then you'll be set to go for that trail or area. These will require a ton of time out on the trails but that's what I love doing most so it's going to be a blast.Map VITo get things started with Rambler and for some good stories on Island Adventurer, I've started a projecting called Map VI (short for Vancouver Island). While I get Rambler up and running, I'll be hiking, running, riding and kayaking everywhere I can on Vancouver Island to get good stories and data to fill Rambler with.  My goal is to eventually have every single trail that's on Vancouver Island on the website free for people to see and use to plan hiking, biking and running trips. Of course I'll need the help of everyone I can if I plan to complete this one within a reasonable time. Getting people to go on trips up mountains and out into the woods isn't hard at all but getting them to record that trip online somewhere is a huge task. Most just want to go on the trip and take a few photos, they don't care about writing about the trip afterwards. There may have to be some incentives involved. Prizes anyone?AdventuringAfter working at an outdoor outfitters store for a while, I've got a newfound love and respect for those people that ski, hike, run, kayak regularly. Not only are they getting some great exercise, they're seeing some amazing places. Through the outdoors groups I regularly meet up with I've met some awesome people and have joined them for some great trips.SkiingSkiing is definitely my current favorite. It changes regularly but right now it's what I think about, read about and do almost more than any other sport(I run almost every day so that would have to be the most but it's more just to keep fit than adventuring). In fact, as I'm writing this section, I'm nursing some sore muscles from a good day on the local ski mountain. One of my main reasons for getting into skiing so much this year is that it opens up a lot of new territory to explore, photograph and write about. Most of the time travelling through snow, snowshoes are most often choice for mode of travel. But they can be slow. Throw a pair of climbing skins onto some touring skis and you can climb mountains, traverse glaciers and get to some incredible places. Best of all, the way down is much faster because all you have to do is ski!This year resort skiing was a top priority just to get as many runs in as I could. I've only just started skiing this year and I needed to find the fastest way to get my bearings on my new skis. I'm getting close to a comfort level where I can ski just about anything I want. After I reach that point, I'll be heading out into the backcountry for most of my skiing days. Hitting the backcountry is nice because there are far fewer people, the scenery is amazing, and once you've got the appropriate gear, it's free!Running Cape Scott and West Coast TrailIf I don't get anything else accomplished this year aside from running the the Cape Scott trail and the West Coast Trail, I'd be a happy camper... or runner. My running partner and I ran the 47km long Juan De Fuca Trail on Vancouver Island last year. As I was running it, I couldn't imagine running anything longer. It became apparent after that it wasn't that hard. Yes, it was the hardest run I had ever done up until that point, but after it was over, I knew I was ready for something more. If I had run that far in 7.5 hours after some mediocre training, what can I do with a little patience, a positive mindset and better training? If I can do 50k, why not go a little further and go 60km or 75 or even 100? Pushing yourself hard opens up possibilities that you never think are possible. Only a few years ago, I thought a 5km run was a long one. Now I'm doing ten times that for fun. The Cape Scott Trail will be a warm up for the West Coast Trail at about 40-50km. I've never been to the area so it will be a nice change from running around Nanaimo. The West Coast trail is a gnarly 75km run that will be an incredible test for my skill, endurance and spirit but I know with a bit of a push that it's possible. Lots of training needs to be done before then though.Momar Adventure Race in CumberlandRyan and I did this race last year. We did ok but I was sorely disappointed in my performance on the bike. The race starts with a kayak, moves into running for a few hours, then culminates in a beautiful mountain bike ride. All totaled you travel about 50km. It took us about 7 hours last year. Both my legs cramped hard on the ride and I feel like we could have finished around an hour faster had I been in good form. I had never done a race that long before and it kicked me hard. I'm determined this year to do more training for it. I feel now that I know what to expect, it won't be nearly as punishing.WakeboardingI wasn't sure if I should really call this a project but it seemed like everything lately that matters to me is being put into a "project" and made a priority. All my other adventure and learning projects could eventually lead to some sort of money but I can't see this one really going anywhere. I just really like wakeboarding. I remember all the way back to when we first started. My cousin and uncle brought home a wakeboard from a show they went to since it'd be fun to try. We all ended up loving it, especially my cousin and I. When we're at our summer cabin, every spare minute is of thinking about wakeboarding or actually doing it. I got busy last year and didn't end up going as much as I had liked so this summer it's going to be a top priority.Climbing ?This one is a question mark right now. I'd love to start climbing. A lot of my friends are climbers and I'm totally jealous every time they post photos. Like skiing, climbing also a gateway to some incredible places and another very healthy thing to do.  The issue I still need to decide on is whether I have the time to do it. To really get started, two days a week climbing is the minimum. I'm not sure if I have the time to commit to that right now but we'll see how my priorities change as we head into the spring and summer.What do you have going on this year? Any big projects coming up? What are you most excited to do?