Pick a Hobby: Photography

Everyone needs some form of hobby to fill their free time. Certainly, work can be quite fulfilling and hanging out with friends will serve as one of the most fun ways to pass your time, however to successfully navigate the world it is best that one learn how to spend time alone while still doing something. To this end, hobbies allow you to explore new avenues in the world or new ideas, and they generally allow you to feel accomplished in a manner that is entirely distinct from your workplace or relationship successes. In this way, hobbies can provide you with a safety net to fall back upon if other aspects on your life are not going the way you would like them to, and in this way they can promote positive adjustment to the world. Also, hobbies are fun - at least to the people that have them as hobbies.

Photography is a broad field that is accessible at many levels to people in this age of digital technology. Indeed, the proliferation of smart phones with passable camera lenses and the adoption of apps such as Instagram that allow for rapid photo sharing means that almost anyone with a phone can serve as an amateur photographer. This increase in access to photography is beneficial in the sense that it allows more people than ever to capture and document the world around them, although it also somewhat dilutes the more intriguing aspects of hobbyist level photography with a deluge of selfies and food pictures. So what does photography as a hobby entail, and how should one go about getting started partaking in such a hobby?

Why Photography?

Humans are very visual creatures - our eyes are incredibly intricate structures with the power to perceive a range of light wavelengths, enabling us to see in colors and with high levels of clarity that many animals can not match. While humans have also developed complex languages that allow us to convey ideas and detail plans, the old adage remains ever true - a picture is worth a thousand words. This is true in the sense that pictures can often immediately portray an idea that is more complex than the simple image that it portrays. Take, for example, the famous “tank man” photo from the Tiananmen Square protests in Beijing China in 1989. The photo shows a man standing in front of a tank. In one sense, this photo is simply a representation of one small event in the context of a complex cultural situation. In practice, however, this image symbolizes defiance in the face of tyranny, it exemplifies courage, and it could even be said to reveal the futility of standing alone against an overwhelming force. None of these qualities are inherent in the image, and yet we can divine them from the picture owing to the amazing capacity of images to convey information.

upload.wikimedia.org_wikipedia_commons_thumb_9_9d_nikon_d3s_img_3543.jpg_600px-nikon_d3s_img_3543.jpg If you choose to get into photography as a hobby (or even as a profession), then you will be able to similarly shape how others view an event or topic by controlling the information they receive about its content. If you see the world in a particular way that is difficult to explain to others, then it may be to your advantage to opt to explain it in a visual rather than verbal fashion. By producing a vibrant image that readily encapsulates your world view, you will ensure that many people will be able to understand where you are coming from in a much shorter time than if you had to spell out your thoughts on the world. Shaping an image to mesh with your world view is not a trivial accomplishment and will take extensive practice, but doing so successfully will be immensely rewarding and will certainly justify any time that you put into photography. And even if you do not endeavor to achieve such lofty goals as conveying your thoughts to others through imagery, you will no doubt be able to capture exotic images that are stunning in their beauty and that are thus equally powerful in their own sense. The world is ever shifting all around, and it is up to you to get a camera and document it!

Getting Started with Photography

AS was mentioned above, now that almost everyone has a smart phone that can take a decently high resolution image, it is easier than ever for someone to toy around with the ideas of photography. These phone cameras, however, are quite limited in many ways. Phone ads will often advertise the absurdly high number of Megapixels that they are capable of capturing images in, however Megapixels are not the whole story when it comes to image clarity and quality. Megapixels are a measure of the number of pixels per inch of a final image, such that a camera with more Megapixels will capture images with more pixels per inch, thus producing larger (and theoretically higher quality) images. In practice, however, one can have a very large image that is still quite blurry or that has poor contrast. This is because the lens optics and the photovoltaic sensor in the camera are equally important for producing a high quality photograph, and a camera phone will generally lack quality components in these regards due to the high cost and large size that they would entail. As a result, phone cameras are sufficient for capturing fun times with one's friends, but they are simply not good enough to provide photographic justice to the myriad mysteries surrounding us in this vast world.

To begin to really toy around with photography, you will likely want to purchase a decent point and shoot camera with some available options. Almost any camera will be better than almost any phone these days, although the internet is your friend - look up reviews before purchasing a camera, and don't use metrics like Megapixels as your only guide for quality. Once you have selected and purchased such a camera, it is time for you to pick a subject that you would like to photograph. This freedom is the most refreshing aspect of photography, as you can take pictures of virtually anything, and based on how you frame and present those photos you can convey unique feelings and meanings to yourself and to anyone viewing the photo. Certainly, nature is a very common theme for aspiring hobby photographers. Urban exploration has also been growing in popularity recently, allowing for the examination of modern relics in a new light. You can even take photos and portraits of other people, although if the picture looks like it would be more in place on Facebook then it is not likely to bring you into the fold of hobbyist photographers.

Once you have a camera and a theme, you simply need to begin to take pictures! It does not get much simpler than that, and yet this is obviously the most complicated aspect of photography on a technical level. Depending on your camera and your subject, you will need to plan out how you want to take the photo. Higher quality cameras will allow you to play around with a number of settings that will modulate light balance, depth of field, and exposure time for the subject you are taking a picture of. These settings, coupled with taking advantage of natural or artificial light, might allow you to produce a huge range of disparate images of a single subject matter. A darkened tunnel might appear sinister in low light with a shallow depth of field, yet a bit of artificial lighting and improved focus might reveal that it is actually a whimsical tunnel filled with colorful graffiti. In this sense, what your photos demonstrate is up to you more than it is up to your subject. Use your imagination to characterize the subject, and plan out how it will look before you snap your photos. This way you will be able to assure that you properly display your mental image on your camera's memory.

If you become more interested in hobby photography, there are a number of steps you can take to become more active in this field. First and foremost, you will want to improve the quality of you camera to a DSLR camera, which is the highest end consumer grade camera style available. These cameras can be bulky, however they have a very professional look and feel (and price tag) to them. Both Cannon and Nikon sell a range of DSLRs with varying features that will fit into many budgets. DSLRs have a huge range of features that allow you to better shape your photographing skills, and they allow you to change out lenses to further control image composition. They also tend to take much higher resolution and quality images then any phone or point and shoot camera can, thus ensuring that your well framed photos will be suitable for printing out at high resolution to adorn your walls or your makeshift gallery. If you want a more artistic (although much more expensive and often tempermental) means of capturing your photos, then you may be able to get your hands on a film SLR camera even though the use of film is relatively rare since the inception of affordable digital imaging technology. While the cost per photo of film images is much higher than for digital pictures, there are those that swear by the ability of film to uniquely capture events in a special way, thus providing another level to the complex net of available photographic options.

Buying the best camera you can does not have to be the end of your photographic exploration, either. There are many other areas of photography with which you can toy around. For example, there are many sets of filters available for DSLR cameras that control what kinds of light make it into the camera's sensor. If you buy a neutral density filter, for example, light will be dulled in your lens in such a way that you can expose bright outdoor shots for logn periods of time, creating impressive and artistic motion blur shots. An infrared filter, on the other hand, will eliminate the visible light from reaching your camera such that only infrared light is able to get through. While most surfaces emit infrared light, we cannot see it, but camera sensors are still able to detect it. Infrared photos can provide a ghostly and ethereal quality to photos, especially those of green plant life, as green plants will appear white on an infrared filtered image. These and other similar kinds of filters allow you even more freedom to expand your photographic repertoire, ensuring that you can produce a wide range of images that communicate your own perceptions of the world to those around you.


Photography is a great hobby, and given the fact that people are very visual creatures that rely on appearance to dictate many aspects of their lives, it is no wonder that so many people enjoy photography as a hobby or a profession, or even just as a means of documenting our daily lives for posterity. If you have never tried photography and you have some time and money to spare, you owe it to yourself to give hobby level photography a try. While we may all see the same things in this world, we do not necessarily see them in the same way. Photography will give you the means to document your interpretation of an object or event in such a way that others will instantly be able to know how you feel when you see that same object. Photography can thus be not only a portal to other places or times, but also a window into the mind of another person. So go out and buy a camera, an un-ending and ever changing world of photography awaits and all that you need to do is document it so that you can share it with others!

Hobbies | Photography

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