Around two months ago, when hiking the Penang National Park, I told my hiking buddy that I’m not good with photography. I also said that I will settle with my crappy compact camera and my smartphone camera, thank you. I mean, I saw no point what’s really great about taking picture. Picture is picture, what could be different. Pointing at something and clicking the shutter button was my way to go. After all, I’m a busy man, y’know.
That changed when I realized that my smartphone camera is really really bad. And my compact camera is really really bad. I realized that since the beginning I used my smartphone and compact camera, I always disappointed every time I took a picture. For example, I was out there hiking in an interesting place. “Dude, this is the greatest vista ever!”, I usually thought. Then I point my camera, and shoot. The disappointment then comes: “Well, sure the picture is underwhelming… Why can’t I capture my view?”. Usually, I will just say to myself: “The most important thing is that you’ve been there, what’s good a picture for you, eh?”. You know, now that I’m writing this, I realized that it was my brain, rationalizing my believe that I don’t need to improve myself.
To someone whose mantra is to never settle, I failed.
I decided that I’ve got enough though, somewhere in March.
I stumbled upon a lot of Reddit threads about travel camera. I read them but decided that didn’t really care. One day, I was looking around at Siam Paragon in Bangkok and saw camera section. I had my chance to try some of those cameras. Point, then shoot. I didn’t think I saw any difference until I compared it to my smartphone and compact camera. Mine was just pathetic. Autofocus is really slow, taking picture is really slow, low light picture is unrecognizable, blown out here and there, etc.
So, I recalled my memory, what camera was recommended a lot in Reddit? It was Sony RX100. I hurriedly looked for RX100 then, and then I saw the price: twenty something thousand Baht (around $1000). Well…
I realized that I need a decent camera to begin with my journey to improve my photography skill (or lack thereof). My then current cameras were a no go as they were just a smartphone, and a basic compact that don’t have manual control. So I look for a second hand RX100… $250! It was definitely doable for me! For sanity check, I also looked for the newer RX100s (Mark II - IV) which were well out of my budget. So RX100 Mark I it was then.
Once I’ve got my hands on that little beast, I couldn’t take myself from it. If it’s not my hands and my eyes, then it’s my mind and desire, attached to my shinny new second-hand RX100. There’s the feeling that I want to just go out everyday to play around and take picture with it. Honeymoon phase, maybe.
I read a lot of tutorial on photography, like r/photoclass, reading DP Review articles and forum, subscribing r/photograhy, watching Youtube videos, everything to add a base to my non-existent knowledge! The end goal is still the same as before: I want to capture things that I see as exciting, as I see it. I don’t want to feel a disappointment anymore everytime I see super great interesting thing, and I just couldn’t capture it.
I’ve been with my RX100 buddy for about two weeks now, and I’ve been out there a lot. Still take crappy photographs, but whatever, I just need to learn, get out there taking photos, and have fun. It’s a really fun activity and it really sucks me in, hours pass without me noticing and I just couldn’t wait to get out there again when I’m home; that’s a good indicator that I’m having so much fun.
One of the biggest eye opener for me about photography is that post-processing is really important. I used to think that post processing is evil because it makes the picture fake. It’s like photoshoping picture from the internet: unreal. However, I then realized that even if you think your picture is not post-processed, it is post-processed inside your camera! So it’s just a matter of where and how you post-process your image. It’s not fake all! It’s fake only if you apply too much post-processing!
With that in mind, I changed my workflow: I shoot only in RAW now, and post-process the picture in my computer later. Thankfully, for Sony camera, Capture One, one of the RAW processing software is free. I’m also currently trying Adobe Lightroom too. Post-processing is also so much fun, when you see how your picture get processed to the one you’ve come in mind. Because that means I could apply those post-processes such that it will match with the way I see it.
To see that I’m a software engineer and data scientist, doing those math in machine learning and stuffs, one must mistaken me only as a cold thinker, without a single hint of creativity. However, actually I’m also an artist. I really enjoy drawing and making sketches. In fact, up until last year of high school, I wanted to study things where I could draw a lot, like architecture.
Just like drawing, where I put my imagination and creative vision to a medium called paper with a tool called pencil, photography is where I put my vision about the world to a medium called digital picture with a tool called camera.
I realized that photography is art.
And now I claimed that photography is my hobby.