2022/07/03

Photographer Resume

Caving gear 2

In the beginning I thought of myself as an artist. I wanted a digital camera so that I could make art more easily. Not long after getting a digital camera I realized that I had no idea what I even wanted to take pictures of and that this hobby would be short lived unless I had an idea. Fortunately I found some photographers that were inspiring, and I emulated their work.

It's been a fun road, documenting nature in mostly the Upper Cumberland region of Tennessee all these years. I wanted to cook out some statistics and graphs from my published work on Flickr just to see what trends may have emerged. I share those here, not because I need to brag, but because it's an exercise in creating a dynamic dashboard utilizing Google Sheets. The data is actively scraped from Flickr, parsed, organized, and visualized into a number of graphs and raw data.

For this analysis, Albums relate to specific dated events, for example, 2021/08/08 - Cohutta Wilderness, where I hiked in the Cohutta Wilderness of Georgia.







Below are some selected entries from my CV related to photography.

2022/06/21

Lessons from a Photographer of 15 years

I have been taking myself seriously as a photographer for about 15 years. In that time I've posted about 13,000 photos on the internet, and taken easily ten times that (not counting time lapse videos). I've taken great pains to organize these photos and describe them. I've primarily photographed a region of the country which has largely been overlooked by previous generations of photographers. I specialize taking landscape photos of caves, waterfalls, natural arches, rivers, and named natural features, as well as historic and prehistoric cultural features. I am not trying to be an influencer. I am trying to be respected in my art, and I'm trying to use it as a way to make the world a better place, and if I am very lucky, maybe make enough money doing it to support my hobby.

Here are a few lessons I've learned from this experience which may be useful to people who are just beginning their photography career. Some of this may be overly specific to the tools I use. If you don't use the same tools as I do, consider my discussion of them to be symbolic, and try to find parallels within the tools that you use. If you don't have parallels, consider finding new tools. The functions of the tools I demonstrate are useful and will serve you well.




METADATA

“Any system is only as good as the metadata that it ingests.” ― Chris Bulock

Metadata is data about data. The EXIF data in your images is a type of metadata. When I describe an image on Flickr there is a title box, a description box, there are comments which other users can add, and there are metatags. I try to describe each image with words I would remember if I needed to search for that particular image.

Here are a few example images, and their associated metatags for your consideration.

Dukes River Cave Nr1 twilight, Jackson County, Tennessee JK24, Dukes River Cave Nr1, cave, twilight, Jackson County, Tennessee, TN, kayak, water, stream, creek, Cumberland River, Cordell Hull Reservoir
Honey Creek Falls, Big South Fork NRRA, Scott County, Tennessee 4 Honey Creek Falls, Honey Creek, river, stream, creek, water, waterfall, falls, Honey Creek trail, BSF, BISO, Big South Fork, National River and Recreation Area, NRRA, Scott County, Tennessee, TN
Complex Narceus americanus, Chlorociboria aeruginascens, Cohutta Wilderness, Murray County, Georgia 2 Cohutta Wilderness, Wildlife Management Area, Murray County, Georgia, GA, Animalia, Arthropoda, Diplopoda, Spirobolida, Spirobolidae, Narceus, N. americanus, American giant millipede, worm millipede, iron worm, Fungi, Ascomycota, Pezizomycotina, Leotiomycetes, Helotiales, Chlorociboriaceae, Chlorociboria, C. aeruginascens, green elfcup, green wood cup
Hashtags, used on Instagram aren't paricularly useful for conveying data. They are a marketing tool. On Instagram, if I use the same metatags as hashtags, it generally will not help others find my things, and it will generally not help me find my own content because their search tool just brings up the most recent or hip things on the platform with that tag. Popularity rises to the top, not usefulness.

On Flickr I can search my own content, I can search my friends content exclusively, I can search all my friends content, I can search the entire platform, or I can search the entire platform for Creative Common images. Sure, there are some downsides to Flickr, like it not being the cool and popular place anymore, how it's hard to identify active communities, and its user interface is unweidly and doesn't work sometimes (refreshing the browner page often fixes this issue). But there is even more to love about Flickr which I touch on in the next section.




ORGANIZATION

“For every minute spent organizing, an hour is earned.” – Anonymous.

This section is important enought to break down into two parts: Local Organization and Cloud Organization. Local organization is how you have your data organized on your computer. Ideally this is where you keep your camera raw files. Cloud organization can be a private drive where you have your stuff off-site and backed up, or it can be a public image host like Flickr, Smugmug, Instagram, or Facebook. I should also note that metadata is an important part of organization, but not the only kind of organization that needs to be done when tracking a large data archive.

Local Organization

Folders y'all: use 'em. File Explorer in Windows is my best friend, and I organize my data in folders and subfolders. What follows a snippet of my organization technique on my own local computer.

Folder template
YYYY/MM-DD - [Description of Folder's Photos]

Subfolders
/ - Raw files from cameras.
/docs - Documentation about the trip. Could include scientific papers associated with the subject, magazine, website, books, articles, or other documentation. Could include landowner contact information.
/gps - GPS points and tracks of the trip in .CSV or .GPX format, processed GPS tracks, geotagged camera photos, geotagged drone photos, other relevant GIS data. An an Android user, the software I use is Locus Pro, and GPS Average.
/keep - Finished JPGs and videos.
/photos by others - Subfolders for individuals who have shared photos with my from the same trip.
/recorder - Google Recorder app output of .WAV or .MP3 and a transcribed .TXT file. This is an excellent tool to quickly make notes.
/video- Videos, Premiere Pro files.

Cloud Organization

Like folders and subfolders, Flickr has collections and albums. I use these to organize my data in the exact same way as I do my local data. Instead of YYYY/MM-DD - [Description of Folder's Photos] I use [collection]/[album] where the collection is YYYY and the album is YYYY/MM-DD - [Description of Folder's Photos].

For example, the album 2021/08/08 - Cohutta Wilderness is nested inside a collection called 2021.




BIG PICTURE STUFF

“It's hard for young players to see the big picture. They just see three or four years down the road.” – Kareem Abdul-Jabbar

Why do you take photos? It's important to have a clear vision of why you take photos, and what you want to photograph. Do you want to shoot weddings, events, landscapes, macros, or aerial imagery from a drone? Who is your intended audience? Are you trying to impress your friends, flesh out a newsletter, document history or science, or score some swag from the marketing team of a brand? I recommend writing down your "mission statement" and keeping it handy. If you need to revise or revisit it, it will be there to guide you.

My own mission statement, which you may remember from the first paragraph of this post reads,

    "I specialize taking landscape photos of caves, waterfalls, natural arches, rivers, and named natural features, as well as historic and prehistoric cultural features."




I hope that the above advice is useful to you. Feel free to share with me your own advice in the comments.

2022/05/13

Caver Resume

Twilight, John Henry Demps Cave (Sullivan Entrance), White County, Tennessee  1

The table to the right and the charts below are dynamic, and part of a larger tracking system I've created to allow me to organize my caving trips. Within the Google sheet I include date, who I was with, and links to external references like Flickr, or Facebook. Many old time cavers have journals, this is the same practice, modernized (with some benefits and some losses).

I provide this data publicly to:
  • Encourage other cavers to better catalog their own trips
  • Provide myself with some baselines and a better mechanism to track my own caving career









2022/04/11

Springtime Macro Fever

This time of year I get excited for the emergence of native wildflowers. I enjoy using iNaturalist to aid in documenting what I find, and I especially enjoy the technical aspects of macro photography (which I am admittedly not really great at). Here are a few photos that I've taken in the last few weeks that I thought others may enjoy.

Valerianella sp., Jackson County, Tennessee

Mertensia virginica, Jackson County, Tennessee 1

Stellaria sp., Jackson County, Tennessee

Erigeron sp., Jackson County, Tennessee

2022/03/02

Fossils of Middle Tennessee

Syringopora fossil, Mississippian Monteagle Limestone, Blue Spring Cave, White County, Tennessee This is my attempt to organize PaleoDB data into a regional tool to improve fossil identification. If the Google Image Search doesn't produce fossil images, try adding the word "fossil" to the search. PaleoDB's data on Pennsylvanian strata is either woefully incomplete or difficult to locate. Some sources within suggest that the data is there, but I am unable to pull it for whatever reason.

If you find this tool useful, please let me know.





Pennsylvainian

    Fossils Described in the Whitwell Shale

Mississippian

    Fossils Described in the Pennington Formation
    Fossils Described in the Bangor Limestone
    Fossils Described in the Hartselle Formation / Hartselle Sandstone
    Fossils Described in the Monteagle Limestone
    Fossils Described in the St. Louis Limestone
    Fossils Described in the Warsaw Limestone
    Fossils Described in the Fort Payne Formation

Devonian

    Fossils Described in the Chattanooga Shale

Ordovician

    Fossils Described in the Catheys Limestone
    Fossils Described in the Leipers Limestone
    Fossils Described in the Cannon Limestone
    Fossils Described in the Bigby Limestone
    Fossils Described in the Hermitage Limestone
    Fossils Described in the Carters Limestone
    Fossils Described in the Lebanon Limestone
    Fossils Described in the Ridley Limestone
    Fossils Described in the Pierce Limestone
    Fossils Described in the Murfreesboro Limestone