The Grass Is Always Greener Right?

Buddha once said that the way to happiness is actually quite simple; the secret is to learn to want what you have and not want what you don’t have.

To me this rings true, although it has taken me almost 47 years to figure it out. Just last night I was tagged in a post from this woman. She posted to several other runners and myself this comical picture 23779026 She goes on to say, “literally me when I see some of the times y’all post on here. Thanks for inspiring me daily.”  I have been told by people as I wrote in my photography blog, But All You Do Is Press A Button, how beautiful my pictures are and they wished they had a camera like mine so they could take beautiful pictures as well.  Yes, I know it’s hard to believe, even I have found myself guilty of this very same thing. Damn this runner or that runner is fast. I wish I could run like them. That photographers images are incredible. I wish I could shoot like that.

Unfortunately most of our problems in life come when we believe that the grass is always greener on the other side.  We are taken over by envy, believing that other people have what we need to be happy and then feeling sad or anxious by the belief that we just don’t measure up.  We are taken over by greed, material, financial or physical, wanting more and more and more, feeling that what we have and who we are can’t ever be enough.

But once we’ve made it over to greener pastures, once we have gotten to the place where we thought we would be happier, we discover that we are no better off than we were before. Now we are right back to square one and we start looking again for that golden ticket to happiness.

With all the social media these days we are exposed to so much more of the world. We are in contact with people who just a few short years ago we never would have known existed. I never would have known who @americanrunner is and seen how much faster he was then I. I would never have seen the beautiful photography of @beniminsanlarim. The problem with having all of this at your fingertips is that we become restless. We can’t be happy with what we already have or who we are because we’ll always be wondering about or seeing posts about whatever the next big thing is to you. Should we take a lesson from the DirecTV commercials about the settlers? Which in itself is trying to make us feel bad if we only have basic cable.  Maybe we need to take it at face value and see that just having basic cable is ok. I mean seriously, I have access to 1,000 channels and still only watch the same few shows on the same few channels. Cause as you all know it just takes longer to flip through 1,000 channels to figure out there isn’t a damn thing on. It’s ok, be a settler and be happy with what you have.

Happiness is a state of mind. How do you achieve it? Beats me. Maybe make new friends, settle into a new workout routine, find ways to enjoy the here and now instead of what the Jones’s have or what could be, if only. Set new goals, challenge yourself to be your best self instead of trying to be like someone else. Your glass really is half full. Look at all your blessings and you will be more likely to be content. I know I am or at least I’m getting there.

Remember that all we have is today. We aren’t guaranteed tomorrow. So forget about the past. Don’t worry about the future. Love hard and laugh deep or vise versa. Take each day as it comes, and most of all, stop thinking that the grass is greener, because you know what; it never really is. It has taken me far too many years and a lot of grief to figure this out. There is always going to be someone bigger, better, faster, smarter, stronger and better looking. (Well I don’t know about the better looking part.) Let me help you with the laugh deep part I dare you to listen to this and not laugh hard. Just remember your life could always be worse, you could be Brian Regan and Stupid In School.  Have a great week my friends.

 

Scott

But All You Do Is Press A Button


Someone said to me the other night. “You have beautiful pictures, I can’t wait to get a camera like yours.” I was very flattered and it made me think. It wasn’t very long ago I thought the very same thing. If I had a better camera I could just push a button and take amazing pictures.  Let’s jump in the Delorean and see a little bit of what it took for me to become a photographer that can shoot the kids, hang the family and frame the wife. For the life of me I don’t understand why that girl doesn’t find me amusing.

As I mentioned in my About page, The View From Scott’s Office all started with a job change and a cell phone. As I traveled around the state I took pictures of everything, rocks, trees, snakes, mountains etc. My pictures were getting a great response on social media but to me something was missing. I wasn’t satisfied with my results. I thought, ” if I could just get a nicer camera.”

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Train To Bridger

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Where The Hell Is Roscoe. Near Roscoe, MT Absaroka Range in the back ground.

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Springtime In The Rockies

The three images above are the pictures that started it all. One was shot with a phone, the other two I shot with a Nikon point and shoot. Can you tell which is which? Again I looked at my images and the images of others and thought, “if I only had a better camera.” I would see the photographers in Yellowstone with their big fancy cameras and say to myself, “if I had THAT camera my images would be just as beautiful as theirs.” I was in for a rude awakening. I didn’t realize I needed to become a plastic surgeon, a historian, a comedian, a computer programmer, a magician, a mathematician, a social media guru, a hunter, a therapist and a master of light just to take pictures. But I was about to find out.

So I scrimped and saved. Sold a few body parts (no not really), and went on Amazon to search for the best deal I could find on a big, bright and shiney new camera. I found my dream camera, it was a semi-professional Nikon D7100 with three kit lenses. Mistake number one.

I was like the little boy in A Christmas Story waiting for his Red Ryder Carbine Action 200-shot Range Model air rifle. Tis ta season to be jory Fa ra ra ra ra ra ra ra ra. The day finally came, my camera had arrived. Now I would be able to take not good but great pictures. I opened the box and a tear rolled down my cheek. A tear caused by the sheer beauty of my new camera and the pain of where my kidney used to be. After unpacking, it was time to see how it worked. So I reached into the box and pulled out what looked like a copy of War and Peace and began reading. Although I admit, once I was past the parts on how to turn it on, change the lenses and install the battery pack it all got a little fuzzy. Anyone who has ever read a technical manual knows what I’m talking about. Now to find something to shoot.

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Dull colorless boring deer.

This is what came out of my camera on my trial run. What the @#$&? What is this crap? This is awful. What went wrong? Bought expensive camera, check. Read (most of) the instruction manual on how to operate camera, check. I bought an expensive camera and I’m not getting professional results. How could this be? Maybe there is something wrong with the camera. In case your as confused as I was. The thing that’s wrong with most cameras that wont take good pictures is the nut behind the view finder. Mistake number two was thinking that by getting that expensive camera my images would be perfection right out of the box.

So me being me I went straight to Google; and you can too for the low price of $19.95 just click here. But wait there’s more. You’ll get used to my tangents in time. I started watching YouTube video after video and reading everything I could get my hands on (click here for B&H Tutorials). I even talked to other photographers. I wished I had done this before buying the camera with the three kit lenses. One lens I don’t even use, it’s total crap. I learned the hard way that it would have been better to spend less on the camera and more on lenses. I also learned that just knowing how to operate your camera guarantees nothing. There is so much more that goes into every picture. So much going on inside the camera. So much to adjust for with every different lighting condition. So many things to consider when shooting.

I read and watched and practiced. I couldn’t believe how much there was to remember every time you took a shot. It was enough to make my head spin. You need to remember the exposure triangle (click here to learn more about this). You need to think about white balance. Is it sunny? Is it cloudy? Are you inside? If your inside is it fluorescent or tungsten? Is it dark? Is everything in focus? Is your subject stationary or is it moving? I was learning photographers had to deal with a lot of crop. I know, I know, that one was bad, funny but bad.

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Telsted Homestead. Several months after purchasing my new camera.

So I practiced and I practiced and I practiced and after a couple months I was seeing some improvement. But nothing like what I saw from other photographers.

I was getting frustrated. What do these other photographers know that I don’t? So back to Google I went. I found out that one, I was shooting in JPEG instead of Raw. So I switched. I now shoot everything in the Raw (ba dum bum tsh). Two, I wasn’t doing any real editing. Yes folks believe it or not all those amazing pictures don’t just pop off your camera they are edited. I knew a little about post processing, but as it turns out I knew very little. I had been using Picasa to adjust light and color but that was about it. The editing these other photographers were doing is on whole different level. Now we are talking Photoshop, Lightroom, Photomatix, etc.

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Humming bird on Wagon Wheel Pass Wy

Ugh back to Google and YouTube.  Now I’m trying to learn photography as well as how to edit. Being an artistic person who’s type A I figure I’ve got to get this right or die trying.  I won’t go into a lot of editing detail now. Maybe I’ll save that for another day if there is any interest. But now I use Photoshop elements 11 and have been known to spend a couple hours on one picture to as little a few minutes.  A few more months pass and my photography has progressed to this point. You have no idea how thrilled I was to have gained enough knowledge to freeze the wings of this little gal. Oh yeah add a bird expert to becoming a photographer. You also have no idea how many images were deleted before I found one good enough to save and edit. But to me it’s still lacking. It’s a little blurry and composition is awful.

Months pass and I’m seeing there is no quick fix. Nothing that is going to make me a great photographer and well known by tomorrow. It comes down to time, practice and education. When I shoot an image, whether it’s a track meet, a portrait, a mountain range or an animal I have all this information running through my head. Aperture; do I want one thing in focus or everything? Shutter speed; do I want to capture motion, freeze motion, increase the amount of light coming in or reduce it? ISO; if it’s light out then keep it low, if it’s dark raise it. I’m thinking about white balance and composition. Is what I want in focus in focus. All these things are running through my head as I frame the shot. With a mountain range I can think about it for a minute, take it all in and be artistic. With sports or motion it needs to be a split second reaction or you miss the shot. Here are three examples, if I have even one setting wrong I miss the shot.

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JR Honor Society Induction. I had to have higher ISO because I was in a dark environment and couldn’t use flash. You can see it makes it a little grainy but without it there is no shot.

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Three on three tourney in Bridger. Go Scouts.

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Track meet in Harlowton, MT

This brings us to present day. As I grow as a photographer and continue to expand my business I think back on all the misconceptions I had about being a professional photographer. Like walking through art galleries and thinking wow these prints are expensive. How can they charge so much when all they do is press a button. Now I know. Now I’m the photographer that has to answer that very same question. I say to them, JPEG your pardon. I’ve been dying to use that one. If you were to actually sit down and add everything up (and I have) from time shooting and post processing. Education time and expense. Camera and supplies, computer, lenses, cleaning kits, SD cards, x#terabyte external hard drives etc. The cost to have your pictures printed, framed or wrapped and on what medium. Not to mention the hours on social media and advertising to get your name out there. Let’s put it this way, most photographers aren’t in it to get rich. It’s for the love of photography. I’ve always heard the quickest way to make money in photography is to sell your camera. If it were only as easy as pushing a button.

Bridger Scouts girls basketball

The most important thing for me is that my images tell a story. When you look at this image what story does it tell you? I want to show people something they haven’t seen before or in a way they haven’t seen it. Some may love my images some may think they’re crap. But I love each and every one from my first to my last. They are my frozen moments in time. Memories that will last a forever. So when someone says to me your camera takes really great pictures, I can say thanks I taught it everything it knows.

So I say to the person who wants a camera just like mine. If you love to photograph then photograph. Read everything you can get your hands on. Watch videos. Watch, talk to and learn from others. Don’t wait for a camera just like mine. The camera is only a tool. What makes the picture is the artist holding the camera. If all you have is a phone or an old Polaroid use it. Even Santa uses a North Polaroid. I can almost hear the boo’s coming from the audience. Learn everything you can and be as artistic as you want. Experiment and find what works for you. Yes there will be certain things you can’t do with these types of cameras, things you can only do with a DSLR , so get creative.

I will leave you with two of my more recent images. I originally posted them in my blog about Yellowstone. It’s fun for me to look at all the images I used here and see how far I have come. From the first cell phone picture of the train tracks outside of Bridger, ( don’t tell the wife I was actually laying on the tracks listening and watching for the train while trying to frame the shot) to the image of Moose Falls (climbing on wet slippery rocks to get the shot.This she knows about. She was telling me to be careful the whole time. She knows how graceful I am. See Sympathy For The Runner Part Deux). I can’t wait to see what the future has in store for me. Till next time get out there and shoot something. Click on any image to enlarge

Scott

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Moose Falls, Yellowstone National Park

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Resting Buffalo.

Happy New Year

Hello all. I hope this new year finds you well. I thought it was way past time I got on here and wrote something. Or at the very least posted some of the pictures I’ve taken recently.

Like the rest of you, life seems to get in the way of our hobbies and free time. So when I found myself in the middle of a snow storm (which this winter is every other day) and free time on my hands, I grabbed my camera, jumped in the car and hit the streets.

One of my favorite places to visit and my first stop, call me weird, is the old slaughter house. Many of you seem to know it, as the response to my image on Facebook was overwhelming. Thank you for that. It seems to be a Butte landmark yet you can hardly find a thing about it on the web but everyone seems to have a story tell. It is creepy yet beautiful at the same time. Even more so against the backdrop of Timber Butte. But that’s my opinion you decide.

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Butte Slaughterhouse Focal Length 45mm Shutter Speed 1/400 Aperture f/4.8 ISO 100

It was after work and I knew I only had a limited amount of light left so I jumped back in the car and headed to another favorite spot of mine the Bell Diamond mine.

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Bell Diamond, Focal Length 32mm, shutter speed 1/250, Aperture f/6.3 ISO 100

 

 

 

 

 

When I arrived I wasn’t disappointed. The view made the snowy, slippery, treacherous road worth the drive. I have never seen the mine enveloped in clouds and snow. I was pleasantly surprised. There was something so calm and peaceful up there that day. My camera did have a little trouble focusing in on the headframe because of the snow but all in all I like the way it turned out. After snapping several more for safety it was back in the car to see what else I could find.

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Lexington Mine, Focal Length 105mm, Shutter Speed 1/250, Aperture f/7.1 ISO 100

As I crested the hill driving back the way I came the Lexington came into view. Again another headframe surrounded by clouds and snow the appearance was a little eerie. So out of the car again, camera in tow, to try and do justice to what I was seeing.

As you can see it was starting to get dark. I didn’t mention that on the way to the Bell I stopped several times to take pictures of things that never made the cut. Such is the life of a photographer. All I can say is I’m thankful for digital photography. You wouldn’t believe the number of images that get deleted. So I took a drive through Walkerville. Didn’t see anything on that trip that caught my eye and headed down Excelsior.

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Anselmo mine, Focal Length 50mm, Shutter Speed 1/250, Aperture f/7.1, ISO 800

Driving down Excel I saw the Anselmo and had an Idea. I hate that there is a tall fence around it. It makes it extremely difficult to get decent pictures of the whole yard without the ugly fence. So in my brilliance I decided to climb on a bench and with one hand hold the barbed wire open and shoot with the other hand. Yes folks I make it look easy. Actually I’ve been wearing long sleeved shirts to hide all the scratches from the wire. But hey I got the shot. I couldn’t get a decent shot of the headframe but I love how the colors of the buildings in the yard stand out. I think they are more interesting than the headframe anyway. Something with me and old creepy buildings I guess.

As you can see my ISO was up to 800 and that means it was getting pretty dark. Back through the snow to the car I went. Now to get them off the camera and into photoshop. That’s for a whole different blog. Or not, it would probably bore you to death.

I was glad life gave me the opportunity to get out that day and I hope to get many more in the years to come. Please feel free to comment on any of my images. Let me know what you like seeing and what you don’t. If nothing else I aim to please.

On a side note these images will be loaded on our site in the near future and are all for sale. Until we talk again. Stay safe and stay warm.

 

Scott