Getting Started

So here it is, my first real attempt to build a website to share my pictures (beside uploading a very rudimentary Lightroom Gallery a while back). There are several reasons for me to build a site like this, doing it and trying out if it works not being the least of it (if I can find enough time to finish and evolve it, that is, which is a challenge in itself).

In the "About" section you can read about why I started with Photography, and how. The late start and the learning I am constantly doing does not make it less fun in any way, on the contrary... The website I consider as part of the hobby; just taking pictures and viewing them on my computer or occasionally printing one was not sufficient; sharing some pictures with interested friends was slghtly better, but I started to learn by posting my images on fora, the main one being Belgiumdigital.com. If you're not familiar with this site, take a moment and have a look

Rocky Beach near Perros-Guirrec, Bretagne, France

Publishing my photographs here will be a personal incentive to get more and more critical about what I come out with and what is good enough to share. I will make sure to add a page for feedback so let me here what you think! Even as an enthousiast, the desire is to produce and present work in the best way prossible to an extent that over time it reaches a professional level.

As a late starter, I have had no education nor tuition in photography, and so I have started to learn by trial and error, and gradually found my way to the right publications, both in print and on the web. Although reading does not replace practice in any way, there is so much good material out there that it can be of tremendous help for anyone starting up with photography, and the activties that are so much linked to it such as all of the post-processing workflow. Although one can strive to get the best possible image in-camera, skills in software used for image processing such as Adobe's Photoshop are indispensable these days. Then, stuff is needed to organize all those pictures, increasing pixel count pushes storage requirements up, and so on. Careful thought therefore needs to be given on what purchases to prioritize, as the bill can get ery high very quickly.

One of the first things to do is decide what it is you want to photograph (or at least what you want to focus on). When I started as a result of my interest to take pictures of birds I quickly discovered that this was not only not the easiest start but with the need for lenses of 400mm and more certainly not the cheapest. So very quickly landscape became the primary focus, and I have not regretted that step once.In the mean time, I have invested in equipment, software and tools in general; a reasonably up-to-date list can be found here for those interested.

I went 100% digital right away, and beside the odd snap here and there, have never worked with analog material. I really believe digital is now providing such quality that there can hardly be any arguments left over for not switching. I still see very good results being produced in analog of course, but digital is the future, and given a capable photographer, the results will be as good or better (and not to forget much more environment friendly). There is a (decreasing) number of photographers that still "resist" digital, which is their good right obviously, but when I see people treating digital photography in a condescendant manner and promote their work not just by the end product but by the fact it was produced on film I think this is nonsense. There are a few people in that space who's work I truely admire, but their view on and attitude towards digital is about holding on to the past.
Anyway, this page is really a brain dump about me getting started, and now trying to get a website online, a few days after celebrating half a century on this world. Over time, I think I'll use this space to share how I look at my photography, what I've learned, where I've failed, and what I hope to try out to improve. As I am not under commercial pressure I can afford to share beauty as well as uglyness...

As at times professional life tends to take the better of me, updates may be very frequent at times or not at all for quite a while, but check every now and then if you like what you read here. The only advantage is that work may take me across Europe and that rare free moments may at least be used to do some location discovery and take the odd picture every now and then.

I try to have a camera with me most of the time, but it is not always practical to carry my gear around or have it in the car when travelling. Usually there is anyway no real quality time for photography if not planned, but it is handy to capture a quick image of a location interesting enough to return to. Luckily these days there are other tools such as GPS or a cellphone camera who can record such things for usage later on.

The village of Chassepierre, in the Ardennes (Province of Luxemburg, Belgium)
But ever since I started photography, with or without camera I have started looking at the world in a different way, seeing more, mentally framing pictures, taking note of site orientation for best light, morning or evening, practicing my eyes; and this to such an extent apparently, that when I am walking in nature with my wife and start pointing at something, she immediately reacts with things like "yes, it IS a good composition, and foreground interest is fine...". So there is hope to also get a real good image one of these days.

practical note to end with for this time: as a Flemish speaking Belgian, I intend to make sure the site over time becomes available in Dutch as well. For now, I thought English would offer the best access to a broad public.

Copyright © 2010 Hans Couwenbergh Photography - All rights reserved