Tag Archives: Inspiration

The Top 5 Reasons That I Don’t Like Top 5 Lists

All over the Internet, there are plenty of lists of the few “top” ways to do something. You know what I’m talking about.

If you were to put in a simple web search on any type of topic, it seems to always generate “Top 5 Ways” to do this, or “Top 10 Ways” to do that articles and videos.

This applies in just about any skill or passion that takes immense time and effort to be mastered.

The reason I don’t like to see these lists is simply because I see this as an easy way for people to search for “shortcuts”…….to attempt to learn all these complex skills and tasks quickly, and then attempt to rapidly benefit from them.

While this may initially appear as an efficient way to learn something, I feel that it bypasses the passion that drives us to continuously excel.

I follow quite a few blogs on here, and the articles I enjoy reading are the ones reflecting the hard work people have put into the skills, challenges, or lifestyles they have mastered.

Whether it’s obtaining and maintaining the fit lifestyle they wanted, finding and conquering the trails they’ve always dreamed of exploring, facing the every day challenges of keeping up with writing, or trying to simply increase skills in photography so they can take better pictures (that’s me!), these articles are the most motivating to me.

I don’t enjoy seeing articles that just list these briefly summarized lists on how to do a particular craft, I feel that they just inspire us to take shortcuts so we can obtain quick results.

To me, it just feel genuine to see those of you who have spent the time and learned the research, skills, or experience to become good at something you are passionate about.

When I research something online, I have been finding myself just scrolling past the Top 5 or Top 10 lists, and spending time researching the actual principles of the skill, learning the mechanics, and coming up with my own conclusion of how to apply it to my craft.

In the meantime, please keep posting the articles that reflect the hard work and tough lessons you may have learned in your quest for your passion….I will read through these over an abbreviated Top 5 shortcut list any day!

May The Fourth Be With You!

DISCLAIMER: Yes, these are Photoshopped.

Happy Star Wars Day!

I normally post my blogs on Tuesdays, but doing it a day early this week for this awesome day.

Here are some of my favorite hiking locations from Washington State, with some objects I had placed from the amazing Star Wars universe.

Please let me know which one is your favorite in the comments!

Feel free to share with any Star Wars fans in your galaxy!

Can Minimalism Improve Your Photography?

Over the course of the last couple of years, I have become very interested in minimalism.

This new interest had motivated me to completely declutter my house, and I systematically got rid of things that created clutter and no longer make me happy, by either selling them on eBay, giving away, or donating.

Long story short, my house feels much more open, organized, stress-free, and I see things every day that make me happy, rather than allowing these unnecessary items to bring back memories from the past (that I occasionally would much rather keep there!).

So what does this have to do with photography?

Well, once I removed a lot of the noise and negativity from my life by leaving social media, I next zeroed in on my photography hobby.

I have volumes of photos that I have taken. on multiple drives, that I neither don’t care for, or have no future use for. These were causing me stress and anxiety as I went through my thousands of photos that I no longer needed or wanted.

Once I began to organize (and delete) all of these meaningless photos that I could part with, I started to question why I’ve been taking so many photos to begin with.

A lot of the reason, I found, was to keep up with social media. I felt like I had to keep up with the popular people, take the same compositions they are and go to the same places they have been, in order to feel like I was part of the community.

These recent changes by adapting minimalism have helped me realize my outlook has been wrong.

By applying minimalism to my photography, I could now begin to capture just the photos that have so much more meaning and creativity to me, versus the thousands of photos I had allowed to pile up on my hard drives before.

I now focus more (pun intended) on capturing meaningful memories, special events, and true creativity, versus taking photos strictly for gaining social media’s approval, simply because everyone else on my feed had been doing it.

This new outlook had made photography fun and exciting again. I had went back to the basics, and I am excited again for putting my energy into creativity, versus trying to create photos that I felt would be popular to others.

What are your thoughts on this?

Thank you for reading!

See you next week,

Mirek

Leave No Trace Principles…Are you Bringing These Along On Your Adventures?

As we all know, the 10 essentials of hiking is very important. These essentials will not only make our adventures more enjoyable, but are usually necessary to get us back out of the wilderness safely.

I recently took an online Leave No Trace awareness course, and had become certified. This had helped both educate and remind me how important these principles are.

I always feel that I do a good job of protecting the wilderness when I am out there, but also realize there is a lot more to learn about these very important concepts.

The 7 current Leave No Trace Principles are:

  1. Plan Ahead and Prepare.
  2. Travel and Camp on Durable Surfaces.
  3. Dispose of Waste Properly (Pack It In, Pack It Out)
  4. Leave What You Find.
  5. Minimize Campfire Impacts.
  6. Respect Wildlife.
  7. Be Considerate of Other Visitors.

I had actually made a couple of changes recently to decrease my own impact on the wilderness.

First thing I did was disband my Facebook hiking group.

I enjoyed being a group leader and always enjoy the company of hiking partners, but I also found that I allowed this hiking group to get too big. I was bringing too many people out at once, and realized I was sometimes disrupting or even possibly creating damage to the wilderness areas by doing this.

Now, I simply send out texts to smaller groups when I plan a hike, backpack, or a photo shoot and want company.

The second change that I made, was I stopped sharing photos to the large hiking groups on Facebook and Instagram.

This scenic barn rests in the meadow near Cle Elum.

If you are curious about this, you can read about my main reasons for quitting social media here:

While I initially enjoyed sharing the photos and hikes that I had done, I had realized that instantly sharing these locations to tens of thousands of strangers was not doing the ecosystem any good.

I had included a link below, if you are interested in the Leave No Trace course, and would also like to obtain certification (it’s free).

See you on the trails, and I welcome any feedback in the comments below.

Thank you for reading, and see you next Tuesday!

Adding Panoramic Compositions to Your Photography

While out on your adventures, you will come across impressive landscapes, that you simply cannot capture the full composition that you want in one shot.

This is where the Lightroom panoramic feature comes in nicely.

I will now cover this feature, and how I had created some of my favorite photos this way.

NOTE: Its important to use a tripod while shooting a panoramic, to keep your images consistent.

This example was from an awesome backpacking adventure in the South Cascades. The sunrise was great at our campsite, but I also wanted to capture all 3 volcanic peaks in the distance, in my final photo. I knew that I needed to take mutltiple exposures to capture the full composition that I wanted.

This is how I will capture 4 exposures of the scene, and when I get home, I will then use Lightroom to blend them together as a panoramic.

I took my first exposure of the sunrise, using my aperture technique to capture the rays that were coming out from the rising sun (keep in mind, these photos are NOT the final edit!).

I then swiveled my camera on the tripod, to capture the 2nd exposure, as you can see above.

Please note, you must be overlapping at least 1/3 of the previous shot. This process is necessary, for Lightroom to able to properly line up and “stitch” these photos together to make the final panoramic photo.

I also use my digital leveler on my LCD screen, between each shot, to make sure my camera is staying level throughout all of the exposures.

Here is my 3rd photo for this composition:

I could have stopped shooting here, since I had captured all 3 peaks, but I didn’t want Mt. St. Helens to be this close to the edge of the composition. Knowing that it was important to overlap the previous compositions, as mentioned, I decided I will take a 4th photo to capture more of the composition near this volcano.

And here is the 4th and last photo. These will be the 4 photos I will use to eventually stitch together a seamless composition in Lightroom.

Back at my computer, once all my photos are imported into Lightroom, I will do my basic edits first, to make sure all the exposures are matched in tone to my usual preference.

The next step, as shown below, is to select all 4 photos that I want to stitch together.

Also, if you use the Lens Corrections feature, as show below, it is important to make sure the corrections are processed on all photos BEFORE stitching, to make sure your final panoramic is consistent throughout.

After the 4 photos are selected, right clicking will bring up this menu, shown below, which will allow you to select Panorama, to begin the process.

A preview will now come up, with various settings you can manage prior to merging.

Spherical, Cylindrical, and Perspective are 3 different methods of projecting them into a panorama. There is no right or wrong answer….just click through each one, and choose the one you like the best.

Boundary Warp will actually warp the photo, to give you more or less upper and lower “boundaries” of the photo. I recommend experimenting with this slider also, since the preview will display your changes. I try to keep this at 0, but you should set it at what looks the best to you.

Once you hit Merge, Lightroom will do the work and you will get a stitched photo to do your final edits with.

Here is the stitched shot, after final editing. I still captured the sunrays as I saw them, but was also able to capture the volcanoes I wanted, to show the scale of the amazing viewpoint we had at our campsite.

I hope this tutorial was helpful, please let me know in the comments!

Happy Shooting!

Mirek

Now May Be The Time For Adventure Planning

Now that we are all spending time at home, it may be the time to plan some adventures, for when we are able to go out and visit these destinations again.

I thought I would share a hike planning tutorial I had created, and had recently updated.

I’m hoping it may have some ideas you may be looking for, while we have some downtime on our schedules!

What type of adventures are you planning? Is the link above helpful? Please let me know in the comments!

Have a great day,

Mirek

Reversing Perspective During Challenging Times

So, how are we all adjusting to what people are calling the “new normal”?

Stores are closed, grocery stores are empty, and the local hiking trails are packed (I’m not going currently, to help comply with social distancing guidelines).

Big events we were excited for are postphoned, or even cancelled.

Dealing with an uncertain job schedule and future feels stressful.

Getting cabin fever on a daily basis.

All of these things were beginning to pile up, making it difficult to adjust to sometimes.

Then I had begun to shift my perspective.

While my first instinct was to focus on what we CANNOT do, I had decided to reverse my outlook, and begin to focus on the things that we CAN do during this health crisis…

  1. Keep in touch frequently with family, and the people we care about.
  2. Communicating with family and friends about their needs, and use my free time to help them however possible.
  3. Get that list of projects done around the house, that typically fall victim to lack of time (or procrastination!)
  4. Organize my online photo libraries (they always need some serious organization, don’t they?).
  5. Rebuild my website to the setup that I had always wanted, but seemed to have trouble finding the time (P.S. just finished, feedback is welcomed in the comments!).
  6. Go for a walk in an isolated area.
  7. Finally binge watch the shows I’ve had in my watchlists since the the birth of online streaming.
  8. Stay consistent with my workouts at home.
  9. Learn the songs on guitar I have had on my list all this time (apologies to my neighbors).
  10. Catch up on my Lightroom photo library from previous years’ adventures, and get them posted to my website pages.

You see what I mean? The list goes on and on.

From a great night out at Suntop Fire Lookout, in September 2018.

The things that I CAN do suddenly took center stage to the things I CANNOT do, then I felt my motivation and drive come back.

I began to appreciate everything I have, and less concerned about the things I don’t have, during this necessary adjustment to our lifestyles.

I just wanted to share this insight……it’s a very simple concept, but it took me some time to see it this way, and my spirits picked up almost immediately.

Hope this is inspiring in some way, I am planning to begin posting weekly updates such as this.

How are you adjusting to things? Please provide feedback in the comments below!

Photography Without Social Media…..How Is It?

A while back, I had deactivated my social media accounts. I had utilized social media extensively in the past, for sharing my passion for both the outdoors and my photography hobby.

Found this great waterfall while exploring in the Mt. Adams Wilderness.

I knew once I had deactived my social media accounts, that things would be different.

I recently realized that thing are more different that I had originally thought.

I had decided to back off from posting photos on social media mainly to avoid the negativities of posting online, as I had described in my previous blog entries. I realized that I was, to a degree, doing these things for social media, instead of simply sharing my hobby.

The unexpected thing was, my hiatus from social media also led to a hiatus in my photography.

I had really begun to enjoy being out to these amazing places, and had enjoyed not having the concern of bringing back worthwhile pictures back with me. I simply did not even want to pull my camera out of my bag.

Great weather effects out at Lake Lena, in the Olympic Mountains

No more stress from finding compositions, concern over the proper light settings, or disappointment because the lighting was not right for a shot that I wanted.

Simply put, I went back the basics.

A great night exploring the area around Mt. St. Helens. The moon and Jupiter had started to glow as the sun went down.

Now, I look for composition more from a creative sense, and I am actually turned off by going to the locations that I feel are a destination strictly to capture a photograph.

This makes the experience much more rewarding.

How a Social Media Detox Can Improve Your Photography Hobby

Ever since I had been pursuing photography, social media posting of my photos has been a critical part of my workflow.

I would rush home to process my photos, so that I could get them posted to show the masses the great hike I was on, and await feedback.

As the season begins to change, this results in some powerful and scenic waterflows in the forest.

In my previous blogs, I had talked about I felt this process was slowly taking me away from the reasons that I really enjoy landscape photography in the first place. I also talked about my feelings about how social media is having a negative impact on the wilderness as well, since I can see evidence firsthand that it is being overrun.

Late last year, I had begun a social media detox, since I wanted to step away and back off from the dopamine hit I was getting from the attention when I post a great photo.

I felt that this process was leading me to post excessively, and share all my favorite photos with tens of thousands of strangers in popular social media groups.

However, what started out as a detox, had actually turned into a process of leaving social media completely. I had deactivated my profiles and removed the apps from my phone.

I had eventually realized this is the best decision I ever could have made.

Aside from the other negative aspects of social media that are now well documented, I feel combining social media and landscape photography does have their own set of negative traits:

1. Posting the location of an amazing secluded hike, waterfall or lake to vast numbers of strangers in popular social media groups is contributing to overuse and abuse of our public lands.

2. By not receiving the feedback we expected from posting a photo (in the form of likes, hearts, and comments), may incorrectly lead us to believe that photo is not as good as we thought it was.

3. Including social media posts as our regular workflow takes away from the artistic concept of photography, in my opinion. I had found it would lead me to post photos of what is popular, or may get more attention, rather than the photos that I truly thought were my favorites based on the concepts I have developed.

So these are the main reasons I had begun this blog, and abandoned social media altogether.

I do love to share and receive instruction, inspiration, and great photos with others who are interested, and also share a passion for this hobby. I feel that I find a genuine community here.

This mindset has led these improvements to my hobby….

I focus more on composition and my favorite photography concepts, rather than rushing to get photos specifically that will get me attention on social media.

I feel that my original passion photography has “rebooted”, and I find myself taking photos strictly for appreciation of the wilderness and nature.

I feel I am getting interested again in the artistic sense, rather than just hunting down photography locations that I feel the audience wants.

In other words, It feels great to get back to the basics.

Curious what others feel about this process of thinking…..please let me know in the comments!