• Sam Wilson

Away From The Camera

It's not all just being out taking photos

When I started this photography journey I seriously believed that I would take perfect photos with my fancy camera and simply upload them to the computer and share them with the world. Everyone would be amazed by my brilliance!

Sadly it didn’t work like that. I discovered that it wasn’t just about taking photos - there was more to do away from the camera than actually being out there.

Photography meme
I made a meme!

Believe it or not, there’s an awful lot that goes on in between taking the photos to having them ready to post on social media or have ready to print.

I also naively didn’t realise how much of this photography journey would involve spending time on the computer. The more I played and learned, the more I knew that I hadn’t even touched the surface.

I’ll break them up into the three main things I spend my time on when not out there.

  • Organising and Sorting Images

  • Editing

  • Saving and Backing Up

  • Learning and Trying New Techniques

Organising and Sorting Your Photos

This is a never ending process to be honest, and while I have a solid workflow in place to ensure I can always find the photo (s) I want within seconds, there is always tidying up and culling to be done.

This process starts as soon as I download images off the memory card to the computer, but it doesn’t end there. I also often spend time tidying up, and it’s surprising the amount of hidden gems to be found later on. Either because you see something you didn’t see the first time around, or because your editing skills have improved and you can now bring out the best in an image that you may not have been able to previously.

Rock Ledge, Ocean, Kiama, Cathedral Rock
This photo sat on my hard drive for almost 4yrs until I found it a few weeks ago - love finding gems like this

I then add these to my selection of ‘photos to edit’ so I have an ongoing resource of photos to refer back to as I look for new photos to edit and to learn new processes


Now, I know this can be a swear word to some, but it really is an essential part of photography.

I really (and naively) thought when I first started this photography journey that I would just take amazing photos with my camera, download them off the memory card and wow the world with my brilliance.

Before and after learning some editing techniques

I quickly learned that this wasn’t the case, and so the next phase of the journey began - editing!

Editing can be seriously scary and daunting if you haven’t gone down this road before, but it’s truly something that will transform your images, and the learning process can be really positive.

Now, again I’m not professing to be a teacher in any form, but I have developed a bit of a workflow that goes something like this -

  • Basic adjustments to exposure, brightness/contrast

  • Colour Vibrancy and Saturation

  • Crop and Clean Up of distractions (this can honestly take me ages)

  • Finishing Touches

  • Sharpen and Export

Most of my editing has been learnt by watching online courses both free from youtube and paid.

Sydney Opera House with fireworks
My attempt at adding fireworks to a photo I took at Vivid a few years ago

Free is great of course, but be prepared to trawl through and watch a lot of not so good tutorials.

Here are some channels that I watch, both for education and inspiration -

  • Anthony Morganti - good basic Lightroom instructional videos

  • Matt Kloskowski - Photoshop education

  • The Joy Of Editing - mostly Photoshop education

  • Fototripper - inspiration with a healthy dose of humour

  • Adam Gibbs - mostly inspiration but also helpful info

  • Michael Shainblum - beautiful photography and some tips

  • Mads Peters Iversen - beautiful photography, education as well as offering paid courses

Cats on computer desk and printer
My editing assistants - Shadow protecting the desk and Peaches taking care of the printer

Now, I said early in my blog that I bought everything in sight, and tutorials were a huge part of this, both photography in general and editing too. This is such a personal thing, and totally depends on your learning style, but here are the two main courses that I’ve purchased that I believe provide great value and info when you’re just starting out with editing (and I do still refer to often) -

  • Adam Williams - Easy Way Photography. This is where I started my editing journey and still use a lot of the basic principles I learnt with these courses. He does also have a Youtube but I totally recommend his paid courses if you’re just starting out.

  • Matt Kloskowski - a brilliant teacher in my opinion. Good value courses that are broken down into nice short videos depending on what you’re wanting to learn at the time. I’ve also found he’s quite generous in providing free updates when the software changes.

There are of course many others out there (and I don’t discount any of them), these are just my beginning suggestions. If you’re looking for any more advanced recommendations, just reach out and I’m more than happy to share.

Sunset panorama at Anna Bay, Port Stephens, NSW
Another example of going back and editing a photo from 2019 - Anna Bay at sunset

Saving and Backing Up

Once you further go down the rabbit hole of you can get really caught up in this, but once again I try to keep it simple. Just a couple of portable hard drives and the cloud for me.

I do create separate folders and Lightroom collections when saving images, but that’s not for everyone - there’s only so organised you need to be!

Learning and Trying New Techniques

This is clearly an ongoing process. I like to think that I’ve learned and progressed since I started, but the options are never ending and I truly hope to never stop learning.

One example was Astro Photography. I decided long ago that this was not my thing - you know, wine - but I did want a photo of the Milky Way over the Norah Head Lighthouse printed on my wall.

To achieve this I participated in a workshop with David Magro to create just this. Oh man, is that another world! It did confirm that this is something that I don’t want to pursue, but I do have to thank a friend of mine for helping me to edit this photo, which now hangs proudly on my wall.

Norah Head Lighthouse at night with the milky way in the background

Onwards, and hopefully upwards - always looking to the next challenge.

My upcoming challenge is to learn black and white photography. As someone who truly loves colour (in case you couldn’t tell), I do also love a good black and white photo also.

A couple of early attempts at Black & White from a while ago.

Much learning ahead, as I hope it is for everyone. If I do proceed with this and get anywhere I will be sure to share.

What are your goals and upcoming challenges that you’ve set for yourself? I’d love to hear.

That’s it for now -

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