Rediscovering old hobbies

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Life changes. We all know that – no matter what you’re going through, things change.

Since my time at University (many many years ago!), I’ve always been in to photography. It started as a little point and shoot hobby, with a small digital camera, walking along the beaches in Aberystwyth snapping rocks and waves, you know the stuff. At this stage, I never really saw it as a hobby, just something I enjoyed every now and again. They weren’t great pictures, but I enjoyed it none the less.

Aberystwyth
Aberystwyth Beach

Life moved on pretty quick for me once I left Uni – and I stopped using my old point and shoot camera. I’d started a full time job, got a car, and at the time was driving around a lot to keep a long distance relationship working from Uni days (youthful naivety).

It wasn’t until I relocated to Cardiff that I properly picked up a camera again. I love Wales – the beaches, the mountains, the waterfalls, everything about it is just blissful. I’d foolishly let a “friend” borrow my old point and shoot camera, and he moved away and never returned it. Nice that? In some ways, it was a blessing in disguise….

Moving to Cardiff reunited me with an old Uni friend, Alistair – who was in to photography at the time. He encouraged me to get a DSLR – so without much thought about the cost (I was earning money now, hurrah!), I went and bought my first DSLR – A Nikon D300.

What a beast – the D300.

Knowing nothing about lenses, or how to actually use a DSLR – I went about learning how the hell it worked. I knew what kind of photography I wanted to do, but no idea how to actually do it without using a camera that did it all for me (granted, this camera would do it all for me, but I didn’t want it to!)

I spent 3 years in Cardiff, out and about with Alistair and a couple of other people who were equally in to (and better than me at) Photography – and it was great.

We’d go for walks around waterfalls and mountains, actually plan days out, and we’d teach each other new things about photography.

I soon had a kit bag full of lenses, tripods that cost more than I could ever imagine spending on a tripod – I upgraded my camera (D500 now!), bought GPS tracking widgets so I could always remember where a picture was taken – I’d actually found a hobby I liked, and I was (relatively) good at!

One of my first ever Waterfall pics – https://flickr.com/photos/mstevenson83/4035824950/in/datetaken/
…and one taken at a later date (I’d learned a bit more by now!) https://flickr.com/photos/mstevenson83/4141956696/in/datetaken/
…and one taken much more recently (well, 6 years ago, but you know)
https://flickr.com/photos/mstevenson83/15380283649/in/datetaken/
https://flickr.com/photos/mstevenson83/15380133509/in/datetaken/

I’d learned so much – I had the confidence to stick my camera out over the edge of a waterfall, and set the timer, and just wait. I knew what I wanted from the shots, so I could happily take an hour to get the perfect picture.

As life flew by, I moved away from Wales, and had to resort to another kind of photography to keep the hobby alive. I was involved in a couple of weekly photography challenges – someone would set a theme, and a group of us would take a picture to match that theme. It was called “thingaweek”, and at its peak, it was one thing that kept me positive when times were bad. It got me thinking more about composition and technique, and less about the “wow” factor.

Thingaweek entry for the theme “Drink”
https://flickr.com/photos/mstevenson83/4432652138/in/album-72157622679925125/
Thingaweek entry for the theme “Cheap and cheerful”
https://flickr.com/photos/mstevenson83/4300303478/in/album-72157622679925125/

It really got me thinking about subjects and techniques – and I got some really good feedback from the thingaweek members. It was actively encouraging me to do my hobby! (You can view more of my thingaweek pics here: https://flickr.com/photos/mstevenson83/albums/72157622679925125/with/4300303478/)

At the start of 2017, I decided to sell my photography equipment. I wasn’t using it, and mentally, I was in a bad place. I’d just left a relationship, and I was looking to start new things – and photography just wasn’t interesting me.

So I stuck everything on ebay, 5 or 6 lenses, cameras, bags, cleaning stuff, the lot. Well, apart from the Tripod – I had a manfrotto tripod that was worth quite a lot, and I got it for a steal, so I thought I’d keep it, just incase. But everything else, went. I bought a small point and shoot again, just so I had something, but that was that.

Life moved on, again, as it does, and me and Ashleigh moved to Liverpool. We’re both photography fans, but with camera phones being amazingly good, we settled for using them for most of our trips out. Even when Grayson arrived, we could get great pictures with our phones – it just didn’t make sense to have anything more.

But then, last year, I got the itch. I often look back through my Flickr feed (https://flickr.com/photos/mstevenson83/) and think “I wish I could take pictures like that again” – of course, the only thing stopping me (other than not living near mountains and waterfalls!) was the fact that I didn’t own a camera any more!

So that was it – I went out and bought a DSLR again – an upgrade on my older models, I went for a Nikon D5300 – it ticked all the boxes for what I was after. I had the tripod still (hurrah!), and bought a nice compact bag to keep everything safe.

I knew at the time that it wasn’t overly practical, Grayson was only just starting to walk, and I couldn’t really carry all the camera stuff, and Grayson, and his bags (or expect Ashleigh to carry it for me!) – so the camera has hardly been used, yet.

Now, Grayson is running – he doesn’t need to be held up all the time – we rarely bring his push chair when we’re out and about – and now he’s eating “normal” food, we don’t have much more to carry other than the standard changing bag and lunchbox. Taking the camera is becoming less of a pain for me.

I’m extremely fortunate with work to be able to take time off once a week to look after Grayson – we often go out on little trips, and as the weather starts to pick up (hopefully), then we’ll turn those trips in to better photography opportunities – visiting the beach, the Broads, you know, all the places that will tick the boxes for both of us!

A very stormy Cromer Pier
https://flickr.com/photos/mstevenson83/30211070610/in/datetaken/
Autumn
https://flickr.com/photos/mstevenson83/29954267662/in/datetaken/

Ashleigh wrote a post about our aims for 2020, and one of mine was to get back in to Photography – It’s about time I started making less excuses, and actually doing the things that I know I enjoy doing.

You can check out my photography over on my Flickr feed, if you wish

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