Tag Archives: Photography Instruction

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!

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!

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!

Here’s What I’m Learning During my Social Media Detox

Recently, I had taken a break from posting photos and hikes social media, for many reasons.

As a hiker and photographer, a lot of my processes involved getting my hiking trip reports and pictures up on social media. This had been part of my process from the beginning, and while I really enjoyed it initially, it had began to feel tedious after a while.

This process also added stress, since I was in a rush to post my photos and trip reports, and would slowly get concerned if no one liked it or commented on it enough.

Over time, I realized this had begun to add anxiety, and even stress to my routine.

Don’t get me wrong, there are some good qualities about social media, but for me, the negative attributes far outweighed the good.

To me, social media had a caused a “superficial” appreciation for the outdoors…..and I felt myself losing the sincere appreciation of living for the moment. I would get concerned that I was not capturing enough “wow” photos that would fill up my notification screen. I also found myself competing with other posts, and actually having a fear of missing out when I saw posts of others going on hiking adventures while I was at home working in my yard (which really needed to be done).

This year, I had begun working on a goal of creating a better balance in my life. After reading “Digital Minimalism” and “Deep Work”, both by Cal Newport, I had taken the author’s suggestion to minimize social media. Both of these books are amazing, and they give the numerous how this change could improve your focus and passion in your craft.

Deciding I would leave the social media sites for a while has moved me tremendously toward my goal of balance, and life is already much better.

While I am out and enjoying the outdoors and finding photography compositions, I am also enjoying living in the moment. I am being more selective in my photos, which results in less work when I get home of processing and posting on social media.

I am no longer stressed or concerned with how many “likes” I am getting, or trying to keep up with comments about my hikes or my photos. I am no longer striving to be popular, since this was leading me to post unnecessarily, and sometimes excessively.

I do have friends that really like to see photography in their feed, and had commented they miss seeing my work since I had quit posting. But for the most part, I do not have any repercussions of taking a break from social media. Also, even though I had decided not to do a typical “exit speech” while beginning my social media detox, some friends have realized it and now text me about barbecues, hikes and backpacking trips that I thought I would miss out on while being offline.

This was also a big motivator for starting this blog. I still love to share my ideas, my photos, and my passion in this format, specifically for those who seek this type of information. Rather than using this method strictly for attention, it is a great outlet for creativity, and still allows me to share my work, through a more meaningful channel. I also like spending time on my tutorials, since it also works as a database from what I am learning on

Curious if others feel this same way I do……I would really like to hear about your experiences also!

Find Balance In Your Photography (And I’m Not Talking About Composition)

Balance is a concept many photographers use to evenly place objects within the frame of the composition. This concept sometimes makes a photo more appealing to the eye.

So how about applying balance to your method of actually capturing the photos?

The sun rises from behind Mt. Adams during a summer 2017 backpacking trip. While I really like this photo, I wished I spent more time on this trip enjoying the experience rather than stressing over finding compositions.

What I mean is, rather than just rush out to these amazing spots for the purpose of capturing a great photo, take your time and enjoy your surroundings, and the experience of being there.

Social media has influenced the way a lot of hikers see the wilderness.

While some like to experience the wilderness for solidarity, peace, and enhancing our well-being, quite a few others may just simply rush out to these destinations for the purpose of capturing that perfect photo, and updating our social media accounts.

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

My method of applying balance is simple…..you can still enjoy finding the compositions you want, enjoy capturing these in your photographs, and enjoy sharing with your friends. However, you should allow photography to sometimes take a back seat, to ensure that you are also equally enjoying the other benefits that the outdoors provide, rather than just capturing your photos and leaving.

I used to rush home after a hike and immediately analyze the photos I have taken, then I would feel the stress of choosing the ones I like, and I would hurriedly post them to my social media accounts and await the feedback.

While the attention of posting my best photography to social media was initially fulfilling, I begin to wonder why I feel so stressed after an adventure, when I should be relaxing and reflecting about what I had experienced while out in the wilderness.

I would actually judge the experience based on how many comments and likes that I received, and this seemed really unnatural to me.

While I am still incredibly passionate about taking photographs, I have changed how I experience the outdoors. Instead of just seeing photography as being the priority, I allow pictures take a back seat to the actual experience of exploring and experiencing the environment. I use less time focusing on capturing the photographs, and more time on enjoying and exploring the natural wonders around me.

This thought process has also conditioned me to become more selective on my photographs. This also lightens the load of the often daunting task of photo processing on my laptop when I get back home.

It took me just a few minutes to capture this photograph, one of my favorites. Thankfully, I spent more time enjoying the sights and sounds of an amazing mountain lake below the Milky Way, and that experience was the most memorable to me.

The result……

I am more relaxed about my photography. I am no longer stressed or anxious about feedback from my photos, and I no longer feel disappointed if I missed a particular shot or if the weather did not cooperate.

I am out in the wilderness to enjoy the environment, and as a reward, I get to bring back some great photos that I took along the way.

Give this some thought next time you are out there!