I’ve been trying to figure out how to write about what I want to accomplish in 2019 with my photography, but I have a challenge: my primary goal in 2019 is to think less about accomplishing things with my photography, and actually do more photography instead.

I’ve had a couple of years where I feel like I’ve worried too much about the how and why and pushing myself in new directions to “accomplish things”, and all that’s really done is turn my thinking about my photography into a trainwreck.

I think I have most of the rubble hauled away now and I’m starting to create some nice images again, and I don’t want to sidetrack myself into thinking I have to do more than, well, making good images. It is, however, sort of how I’m wired so I have to watch myself.

So I guess I should say my primary goal for 2019 is to take good photos and enjoy having taken them, and not try to make it much more than that for a while.

Of course, it’s never that simple

Of course, it’s never that simple. There are some things I feel need to get done, either to support that goal by simplifying my photography universe, or to set up my environment for future growth.

What is my digital darkroom going to be in five years?

I feel like 2019 is where I have to decide what my tool suite will be in five years, and how, when and if I’ll handle a migration to it.

I am currently using Lightroom CC Classic, and I have been a lightroom user since I left Aperture 1.0 after Apple took too long to release 2.0 — in retrospect a smart move (and sorry, loyal Aperture lovers, both of you).

Adobe has brought out a new Lightroom CC which is more mobile and cloud based, and renamed the older Desktop version of Lightroom to Classic. I don’t have issues with that, and Adobe says they’ll be supporting and enhancing Classic for the forseeable future, and I believe them.

That said, though, the writing is on the wall. At some point the new Lightroom will be the preferred platform with the innovation momentum, and at some point, photographers will want to migrate, and I expect at some point, Adobe will sunset classic. Today is not that day, and I think it’s one or two years off before it starts being a question most photographers have to grapple with.

But is Lightroom the right place for me to be? Maybe. But there are other good options out there, including Capture One, OnOne and Luminar. I’m especially curious about Luminar which I’ve played with a bit and there are aspects of it I really like.

Moving platforms is a non-trivial project, though, and I don’t want to do it for the wrong reasons, or move to the wrong tool. So sometime this year I want to try to sort out where my future will best be defined, and start planning and working towards migrating it.

Luminar just released the first version of the image management tools, and they are intriguing, but very simple. Not something I could remotely use day to day or depend on, but they’ve said they have a lot of enhancement work to do with them, and I”m looking forward to it. My thinking, though, is to give them six months to mature this before really evaluating it, so it’s still a future project for me.

I have taken a first look at Capture One, and honestly, I found their user interface to be a nerdy complicated mess. They’ve recently released updated software that seems to change the interface, so it warrants another look, but it didn’t feel like the kind of interface I wanted to live with.

What is my social networking presence moving forward?

How am I going to use social networking with my photography in the future, and why? what value does it bring to warrant investment of time in it? I don’t know, but I need to figure it out. That includes:

  • My blog: what is the focus of my blog and main web site? Is it photos first, or are they a supporting player to my writing? I have zero idea what the answer to that is, and I can’t answer any other questions about my online presence until I decide.
  • Instagram: and what should I do with Instagram? Right now, I post random stuff, mostly behind the scenes and cat pictures. I either have to get serious about it or get out. Right now, since it’s owned by Facebook and seems mostly interested in fostering influencers who take pictures and not photographers, I’m leaning towards just nuking it.
  • Flickr: Smugmug buying Flickr is my only real hope for their being an oasis for photography online that isn’t a toxic hellhole. It’s a place where maybe, just maybe, you can read the comments — or will be. It used to be the social hub for photography, until Yahoo went sideways and it rotted from neglect. I expect good things as it gets rebooted into relevance this year. I want to be part of that, and have to sort out what that means for me.
  • Twitter: and how does Twitter fit into all this? or does it, in terms of photography. I don’t know right now.

Technique: Master the 70-200

I recently realized that most of the landscape I like is shot in the mid-range telephoto range, not the really wide angle stuff so many photographers seem to lust after. I also realized that I didn’t have a practical lens that covered that range, which probably explains some part of why I never seem to get around to trying to shoot those kind of images.

I have recently closed that gap by buying the Fuji 50-140 F2.8 (Fuji’s 70-200 equivalent), and in a couple of test outings, love it. I love my 100-400 for bird work, but it’s not a lens I’m going to carry around and set up for landscape work given its size. The 50-140 opens this range up for my use now, and I’m trying to figure out how I went so long before realizing I needed to close the gap.

And I want to spend 2019 sorting out what my vision for this more “intimate” landscape work should look like, and start doing it again.

Technique: Long exposure

Some of my favorite landscape images over the last 3 years have been long exposure. It’s a way of doing those wide angle shots I just love. And yet — I rarely seem to think to set up for it. When I have, I love the results, so why am I not doing more of it? In 2019, it’s now on the short list.

Re-doing my best of years selects

One thing I am going to do sometime this is re-select my best-of images for previous years. I’ve changed a lot as a photographer over time, and the bar I set for “good enough” has gone up significantly, so I think now is a good time to re-evaluate my older works and see what I think, both as part of a portfolio review to find images that deserve a rework or to be retired, and to see what I think are my best images today, rather than at the time — sort of like when sports fans look at an entry draft from previous years and “re-draft” it based on how the athletes actually performed in their career.

Meta: Workshops and training

I’ve been considering doing another workshop or 1:1 training day in the field with a photographer to refine my craft, and I’ve held off, partly due to time constraints and real-life interruptions, and partly because I realized the struggles I’ve had weren’t things that a workshop would solve. I now feel I’m back at a point where a workshop would help me move forward, so I want to get myself scheduled in for one sometime in 2019. I’ve got four on my radar right now — two group workshops and two 1-1 field days with photographers I respect, and I need to start making decisions and plans, especially since I expect all of these will sell out if I don’t finalize things sooner rather than later.

I would like to start making plans to get into either a location tour or a photo skills workshop in some non-virtual location once a year, just to explore places and continue pushing the craft moving forward, too.

Meta: Get in better shape

Iv’e talked about this a lot, improved my fitness some, but it’s still an impediment to my photography. It’s time to push this one harder and further, because you can only do so much good photography out of the back of a car.

Relax and enjoy

I tend to take things too seriously at times; something I want to do, I want to excel at, or else. I think it’s time to break myself of that habit, and teach myself other ways to define success. it’s time to relax and enjoy and see what happens when I’m not out trying to prove anything to anyone, including myself.

So, good wishes for your goals in 2019, and I’m looking forward to start working on mine…