A programmer walks into a photography store

I have been wanting to get into photography since a few years ago and, originally, my plan was to originally buy a camera this year. However, last June, I happened to see some discounts at my local electronics retailer, Fnac, and decided to buy one.

At first, I wasn't sure which camera to pick.

I was definitely biased towards Nikon. I knew more people that had one and I even used one, over 10 years ago during a photography course. However, after some thoughts, recommendations and a bit of google-fu: I went for a Canon instead.

I bought a Canon EOS 200D – also known as EOS Rebel SL2 in the Americas and EOS Kiss X9 in Japan. It's a pretty standard camera for beginners, nothing too fancy but it gets the job done.

After looking for some courses online, I was lucky to find a great YouTube channel where I learnt quite a huge deal about this craft. The instructor, Chris Bray, is a famed Australian photographer that has been featured in National Geographic, Discovery Channel and TIME magazine.

Chris Bray Photography
Award-winning Australian Geographic photographer Chris Bray’s free photography course videos, tips, tutorials and photography tours to the world’s most wonde...

What I liked about his series is that each chapter is bit-sized and actually packed with some good tips. As an instructor, Chris is engaging and you can see how much he loves photography.

I also tried to do this free online course from the ALISON platform:

Diploma in Digital Photography - including Photoshop basics | Alison
Modern DSLRs have sophisticated metering systems that can automatically calculate the correct exposure settings for you. However, there are many situations where you will need to take manual control of your camera. This course will teach you how to command the mode dial and use shutter speed, apertu…

This course is quite complete and lengthy, covering the theory more extensively compared to Chris Bray's free course. Unfortunately, I never got to finish it.

It frankly bored me. The instructor speaks with such a dull and monotone voice that it is difficult to keep paying attention.

So, I had a camera and the basic notions of photography. I was just missing a place where to put my photos and a way to edit them.

After some research, I ended up choosing between two popular sites on the Internet:

  • Flickr: One of the most popular ones. Flickr was owned a few years ago by Yahoo!.
  • 500px: Also quite a famous network for photographers.

I decided to go with 500px since Flickr has a limit of 1000 photos on its free tier. Furthermore, Flickr is also known for image hosting and I was looking for something more of a community instead.

Christian Chomiak
Game developer by trade, photographer for fun.

I also opened a new Instagram account, focused a bit on DSLR and a lot on smartphone photography. I quickly learnt that some photos are might not look as good on a small screen, even when they look good on a bigger one.

Under the World Tree (@undertheworldtree) • Instagram photos and videos
Game developer by trade, photographer for fun.📷 Canon EOS 200D | Rebel SL2📱 OnePlus 6T

I must say that I was a bit naive when I first started. Turns out, I am just a little fish in a big pond. It's a bit frustrating uploading a picture you really like and end up receiving a handful of likes.

I know, I know. I shouldn't care about statistics and just enjoy the ride; after all, I'm just doing this for fun for its own sake.

For the editing, I gave darktable a quick try but ended up settling with Adobe Lightroom Classic instead.

I'm still trying to come up with a good workflow but so far I managed to use colour labels to categorise my photos as: Public (for those I don't mind uploading to 500px, for example), Protected (for those that I'll share to specific groups, e.g. friends) or Private (for close-friends). I went full programmer.

The learning curve of Lightroom is somewhat steep and I have still so many things to master. For now, I try to tweak the photos to fix my inexperience. For instance, for most of the photos I run the auto tone adjustments. I try not to mess with colours too much, though; just enough to give the picture the same vibrancy that the original scene had.

I'm also very fond of the pre-existing filters – specially Flat, which "flattens" the shadows of the image, making them a more consistent tone of dark grey.

This year, I'd like to improve my skills, both on- and off- camera. I cannot overly depend on software to fix everything.

Anyway, these are just a few of my favourite pictures so far. They are from a recent trip I made. The first two were taken in Switzerland – Geneva and Lausanne, respectively. The last one was in Annecy, a French town pretty close to Geneva.

Picturesque Garden
Picturesque Garden
3A4 – 5A6
The Venice of the Alps

Let's see what cool photos will I take this year!