Polson Park, Vernon, BC March 2021. Taken with Canon t5
When I was 21, a family friend was trying to help me determine a career path. He got me to make a list of things I liked to do and was good at to help me find a starting point. That list has been long lost, but the items have stayed largely the same. Most of them reflect creativity in one way or another. Don, the friend who was helping me, was a Finning tractor salesman. His assessment of my list was profound.
"You have too many hobbies."
That has been one of the themes of my life -- the struggle to turn those creative hobbies into something resembling an income. One of those hobbies has always been photography.
The main character from the upcoming April 2021 release, Shutter's Eye, makes a living as a photographer. She is famous and rich. I am neither. I do post and occasionally sell on the stock photography company, Shutterstock.
I first discovered Shutterstock as a consumer rather than a contributor. At that time, I was leading a band and needed stock photography and video for the music videos we were creating for the band releases. When I started thinking about selling my photos, Shutterstock was an obvious choice.
My love of photography probably started with the polaroid camera my parents owned when I was a child. Mom or dad would take a picture and let my sister or myself shake the photo about while the photo developed. As well, my dad is a Robert Bateman-esque oil painter, so I grew up watching nature and beauty being depicted as art. The painting gene, though, mainly skipped our generation. If I want to create beautiful images, I use a camera rather than a brush.
Eons ago, when I married, we decided that rather than hiring a photographer, we would purchase a really good camera. We bought a (then) fabulous Nikon with multiple lenses and filters. Within a very few years, DSLR cameras had revolutionized the industry, and that Nikon was obsolete. Soon, my marriage was, too.
As a single mom, fancy camera gear was out of my financial reach, but I did manage to swing an entry-level Nikon. And I wore that camera OUT. I loved it. I knew it wasn't really keeping pace with the newer technology, but I wasn't a pro, so I could make do.
I took it to one of those afternoon photography classes. You know the type -- put on by the local rec centre, taught by a photo enthusiast with semi-pro level knowledge. I recall learning one thing from that class -- the law of thirds. Most of the class was spent putting that technique into practice while walking the paths of Kelowna's Mission Creek Park.
For those who missed the class, in photography, the law of thirds suggests that the best photographs break their subject matter into thirds. Rather than plopping your horizon smack dab in the middle of your shot, try to arrange your subject into thirds. It doesn't mean you can't have an object of focus smack dab in the middle of your viewfinder. Instead, those objects should have focal points at one and two thirds of the frame. Lets say your subject is an elephant. Maybe your tusks are the top third, the bottom curl of trunk is your lower third.
Anyway, that one photography class changed the way I look through a viewfinder. It doesn't always alter my thoughts on which is the superior photograph in a sequence. mind you. 'Cuz, you know, amateur.
Shortly after that class, it became apparent that the Nikon was failing. Plus, once again, the amateur photography industry was being revolutionized -- with smart phone technology.
I worked my way up in the phone quality department. I am an iPhone girl. My current phone isn't the most recent iPhone on the market, but the camera on my phone still takes incredible shots. What it doesn't do is zoom far enough to capture long distance shots. A flying bird, for example, might be distinguishable by my naked eye, but it would be nothing more than a dot in the sky on my iPhone photography. Trying to make said bird distinguishable leaves a photo nothing more than a mess of grainy dots and shadows.
So, for several years now, I've wanted a new camera. And, despite my history with Nikon, I wanted to try a Canon. Years ago, my boss at my restaurant job bought one and swore by it. She liked the video capture technology -- then important to me due to my music -- and she loved the stabilizing features. Once Sarah put the idea of a Canon in my head, the thought stayed there. Last month, the thought moved from head to hand.
I'd been looking at Canon options, and had intended to purchase the t7 model. On Amazon.ca, I could get it for $500 plus tax. Decent. Except, the tax return I was planning to purchase the camera with was lighter than expected. Five hundred might be low when it comes to purchasing a brand new camera, but I thought I'd at least take a look around and see what else I could find.
Long story short, I ended up at London Drugs. I remembered that they sold cameras second hand, and I thought I'd take a peek. There, I found a sweet little Canon t-5 which came complete with two filters plus a perfect EPS 18-135mm lens. The lens does distance well. It's not a full zoom lens, but it's close enough. At least, for now. According to the salesman, the lens alone is worth $300. Since I only paid $320 for the full package, I was pretty excited.
So, I plunked down my debit card, took my new toy home, and I've been experimenting ever since. One of the things I wanted the better camera for was so I could sell photographs along with articles for magazines. I also have plans at some point for a non-fiction book called Where the Locals Go which will feature local hotspots in this beautiful fruit growing, summer sport playing, wine drinking region where I love to live.
I'm still discovering my Canon's full range of capabilities, but so far, I can say it takes incredibly crisp, detailed shots. It captures colour with spectacular accuracy. It handles shooting into sun, and makes animals look vibrant and alive. This lens is not going to work for some things -- selfies (ha! thankfully I still have the iPhone!) or close ups of food and such -- but I like the camera and it's performance enough that purchasing more lenses is definitely an investment I will be making at some point.
In truth, camera technology is in a moment of change again. Cameras are moving to mirrorless technology. The salesman at Best Buy let me take a mirrorless camera for a test drive, and let me just say -- wow! So, I again have a new item on my want-to-buy list, but that is a story for another day. For now, I'm loving my new-to-me camera.
I'm not a famous photographer like my character, Amy, nor an award-winning photographer, like my friend, Tim. I am, however, just crazy enough about taking photos that I drive my daughter crazy on a routine basis when I stop the car and make her wait while I get just the right image captured.
On Shutterstock, you can see many of my photos. Not all -- and I will write another blog to explain that one day soon. You can even purchase them if one so calls to you. Photography, for me, will likely always be a hobby or a side hustle at best. But every now and then if you are a creative type one of those side gigs can help with your main joy. Writing about a photographer allowed me to combine two of my favourite things.
Shutter's Eye will be out April 24. Grab your pre-order copy now at https://www.amazon.ca/Shutters-Eye-Leigh-Macfarlane-ebook/dp/B08VRZ1HR9/ref=sr_1_1?dchild=1&keywords=leigh+macfarlane+shutter%27s+eye&qid=1615917915&sr=8-1.
Canon t5 photography slideshow. Taken March 2021. View more photos on Shutterstock.