As an introduction to those of you who might be stopping by for the first time; our blog is about our experience as early retirees. We live comfortably in our home in South Florida, travel often and share a variety of interests which include cooking, and photography. Our goal is to inspire others who are retired or contemplating retirement, to look beyond the front porch and see the amazing possibilities of life after work.
Being new to the world of Blogging, we made some basic discoveries early on. Content and images can make or break a post. I read a lot of Blogs and the quick turn-off for me is poor quality images, too many photos, or no photos at all. There are many things about creating a successful Blog that I do not know, but this is an area in which I feel confident. It is also the subject of today’s post.
Photography has been an on again, off again hobby for several years, but during the past couple of years, technology has vaulted my interest beyond casual. Everything about digital photography fascinates me and compels me to want to learn more. My first digital camera was a point and shoot, with a zoom lens that was great for almost any situation, but after about a year, I realized I wanted more flexibility and cleaner images.
After a bit of research I purchased a Panasonic GX7 Mirrorless camera and two good quality lenses. The learning curve has been steep, but I continue to persist. On-line tutorials, Youtube videos, other photographers and lots of practice have become invaluable toward furthering my understanding and increasing my skills. It took at least a year before I was confident enough to venture out of Automatic mode, and another year to become comfortable with shooting RAW images. I am finally comfortable with controlling the camera settings in most situations and I remain hopeful that it will one day become instinctive.
I love the weightlessness of my mirrorless Panasonic GX7 Lumix, and the flip up view finder is awesome when trying to get low to the ground.
Borrowed from Google Images
The advantage of shooting in RAW is that post-processing software will have more data to work with when manipulating an image. I currently use Photoshop Elements and am considering an upgrade to Lightroom which is a widely used and fairly inexpensive program. I also use a couple of components from NIK, which is free, but no longer supported, and Snapseed, which is a phone app. Which process I use depends on how much time I want to devote to processing and the look I want to achieve with the image.
Typically, I shoot an average of 100 -200 photographs per outing. The first step after that is to load the SD card onto my laptop and review the photographs. More than half will be deleted there. If I am lucky, I will have 20 – 30 images that I really like and will choose to process. After processing, I might end up with a dozen or so photos that I want to share on Instagram and Facebook or publish in our annual Shutterfly book. Those images are saved to a file and labeled so that I will have easy access to them when needed. Many of the edited and unedited photos are eventually transferred to an external harddrive for safe keeping.
Instagram – We shamelessly enjoy the instant gratification of sharing our photographs on Instagram and use this social media outlet regularly. Growing our Instagram account has been a tedious process, but an enjoyable one. With a pattern of gain three followers, loose four, we continue to post and be patient. If our photos make people pause and smile then, mission accomplished.
When you scroll through our Instagram photos at Picture Retirement, (click on the sidebar) you will notice an intentional pattern of color and subject matter that tells our story. We are partial to the bold colors of the Treasure Coast, and spending time at the beach, traveling, and enjoying great food are clearly the focus of our retirement story.
Facebook – We use our personal Facebook page to keep up with friends and family and share photos on a limited basis. However, I do post regularly on several photography FB groups and enjoy interacting with other novice and professional photographers through this venue.
Shutterfly – This on-line photography program allows us to produce hard bound books of our favorite photos. We create an annual family photo album, along with a dedicated book for each of our extended vacations and road trips throughout the year. Shutterfly also offers free storage which we take advantage of and use as an additional safe guard for our photos. It is nice to have our photographs organized by date order since 2008 on this website. It is even better to have hard bound books of our favorite photos sitting on a shelf in our home.
In many ways, this Blog is an outgrowth of my experience with Shutterfly. I enjoy the creative process of selecting photos, arranging pages and writing the story behind the images. Blogging is sort of like inviting the public to read and comment on our Shutterfly books. As retirees who are continually evolving, that component is appealing to us.
The photo above is a screenshot of a page that I am currently designing for our 2017 Family Album. The images are from a coastal road trip that I wrote about here. I recommend this service and will talk more about Shutterfly in a future post.
Our Shutterfly Album library continues to grow.
This Blog – Most lifestyle blogs include lots of photographs and ours is no exception. We use photographs that we have taken to enhance the content of our posts. If we did not take the photo, I reference the source, as in the photo above. The number of photographs we include depends on the type of post. It is tempting to fill a travel post with lots of photographs, but doing so might overshadow the details of the trip. If there are too few visual aides, the reader might be bored.
The most important factor for us is that our photos be of good quality and offer enough variety to pique the readers interest to visit or research the destination described in our post, try the recipe we are touting or simply enjoy a few moments of solitude while gazing at a picture of a peaceful setting.
We welcome your thoughts about how you use photographs and the time you devote to them. Do quality and quantity make a difference?
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Master Gardener, amateur photographer, intermediate quilter and lover of day trips around New England
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But happily ... JT Twissel aka Jan