1 January, 2014
Formal public New Year’s resolutions are an all too rigid way of committing yourself to change, and very likely to fail. Throughout the year I am constantly planning ahead; remixing, responding and resolving to change, so thoughts of change early in the New Year is different only because it allows me the extra luxury of time: it is a public holiday, it is -20ºC with a meter of snow outside, and the family is in the general lackadaisical mood that allows me some peace to ponder. So instead of resolutions, I will reflect on the directions I hope my photography related interests will take during the next year.
So, whither I in 2014? Here is what’s developing:
The big item I am working on is workshops. Primarily, I need to look beyond bugs to include other areas where macro techniques can be applied. I need to develop subject specific modules that allow me to mix and match so I can create workshops to suit the audience. This means I need a lot of resource material, and a lot of images of a variety of subjects as well as photos that illustrate techniques. Many raise their eyebrows at the cost of a workshop, but few understand the amount of time it takes to develop them and to keep them up-to-date. And as teaching experience produces new insights, so do the workshops need to changed to account for them.
This year I will be continuing with my home-based small group workshops, but I will also be preparing for a March tour with the good folks at the Crop Diversification Centre South, a workshop or two in association with the Ellis Bird Farm, and a new macro photography class that I will be holding as a MacEwan University Continuing Education program. Being associated with MacEwan will help in many respects: besides being able to take advantage of the many teaching courses they offer to instructors, I will also now have a more public face for the work I do by being present in their calendar. If the first classes are successful there will be opportunities to develop new courses that can reach a wider audience.
Another reason to keep the modules up-to-date is so that I can quickly put together customized bespoke workshops for individuals, clubs and societies. Of course, I must balance all this by continuing to spend time photographing in the field — my first passion. Exciting times ahead, but constant preparation, planning and revisions will keep me busy.
Next on my non-resolution list are my photo blogs, Adrian Thysse Photography and Splendour Awaits. I need to reconsider their significance and how I approach them. Initially, they were set-up so that SA would feature bug photography and ATP would feature everything else. However, ATP sits unappreciated (and a bit neglected) in the shadows while SA has gained all the attention. In the face of needing to broaden my approach to macro for the workshops (which must go beyond bugs) I need a more solid approach on how to present myself to the public. For the moment my plan is to use SA for all my natural-history based macro work, and ATP will continue to host all the rest, including all the ‘unnatural’ macro shots — from manipulated images to abstracts. I will then use Facebook pages to link blog posts to workshops participants, using posts from either blog when appropriate. The danger is that I will lose some bug fanatics as followers, but hopefully the revised edition of SA will still appeal to most.
2013 was not a great year for Splendour Awaits. I tried to keep up a regular blog presence for the sake of SEO, but I think I ended up with a meandering blog with shallower posts that had little holding power. So this year I am going to try to work more on quality of the post rather than quantity. That means less of the forced sharing and image-only posts and getting back to basics with posts on macro equipment, technique, natural history and some down-to-earth basic biology of the subject (which means a return to my entomology studies!). I think that what is most important at this stage is that if people are checking the blog to see what sort of photographer I am, they will see a variety of attractive photographs that are part of a strong body of work, with accompanying natural history, updates on equipment and sound macro techniques.
As I suggested above, I want to get back to studying entomology, but now with some real direction. Over the years many have implied or directly told me that I should find a speciality. So while I am working on completing the revised Entomology 101 home schooling project, I will also veer new studies towards solitary wasps, mostly in the families of the hunting Sphecidae and the spider-hunting Pompilidae. Why these wasps? Recently some scientists were showing an interest in my Dipigon and Arachnospila images, and in digging out all the information possible from each photograph, I was brought back to the experience of photographing them: the mad scurrying after, the careful attention to not disturb their behaviour, the tension of trying to create good compositions and keep an accurate plane of focus while following their erratic movements…it occurred to me that these were some of the most exciting times of my macro photography ‘career’! And how better to increase the chances of repeating the excitement than by learning more about the intimate lives of these fascinating insects?
In terms of photography, my expectations are simple: MORE OF IT! With our short season in Alberta, I am going to have to spend every spare hour I can find outside with macro rig or an insect net in hand. This winter I hope to set-up my Stack-shot bench to begin focus-stacking projects so I can apply the technique to wasp specimens when I begin my basic collection. I will also be turning the lens to a variety of subjects beyond bugs to fungi, mosses, lichens, wild flowers etc.– the other denizens of the macro-world. This means I get to pester more specialists and scientists for ID’s…what joy!
Another area that I want to develop is being more regular in having articles actually published, on paper. Early this Spring there should be another article in PhotoLife Magazine, this time on bug photography. This is very cool, but it is too infrequent! My last article was in the summer of 2011, for goodness sake! Preparing an article for a magazine is different from a blog in that it is far more likely to be seen by the general public, and it is relatively permanent, so you need to pay extra attention to the details to get it right before publication. I would like to produce at least two articles a year for paying publishers.
Enough rumination: time to get to work!