Olympus Tough TG-Tracker, Panasonic GM-5, DXO One, Olympus EPL-6, and the Olympus Air

2016 was, photographically, a very good year for me. Started off with a bit of a downer, though, as I got increasingly frustrated with the 6-month old Olympus Air camera I really liked and with which I was having fun. I got rid of it and replaced it with a series of cameras until I landed on my little Panasonic GM-5. A micro four thirds camera, the GM-5 really is small but quite capable and I can use all my existing Olympus and Panasonic lenses with it! On the gear side, I acquired a variety of gadgets and equipment that have proven to be very useful in my mobile photography and video making. Finally in the gear column, I added a beautiful, used Olympus OM-D E-M5 Mark II camera to my shooting collection!

iPhone with Video Micro for recording video

Regarding photography itself, I got really serious about learning how to record video with my Olympus OM-D E-M1 and my iPhone. I beefed up my YouTube channel and was on a roll into the spring with several new video series. Though my efforts practically came to a halt in the early summer, by November I was back on the quest to become a better video producer. I still need to dig in and get to work on episodes for my Learning Photography and Photography & Technology Tools series, but I'm on track with producing weekly episodes of my short Video Updates programs.

My Flickr album for 2016 Project

My biggest accomplishment of the year, however, was to finish my 365 Day Project, posting an image on social media for every day of what was, actually, a 366-day year! I've done this, maybe, once before, but even then, not really 100%. And I now print a book for myself of my 95 to 100 personal favorite images from the year. I did that for last year's images, but just one copy for myself. In December, I did it for 2016 and had copies made to give to our son and daughter. In these digital times, I recognize that we rarely print our images, so I'm changing that.

Changes for 2017

Least year's project was fairly free-form, that is, no real theme, no real constraints. For 2017, however, I plan to change things up a bit. Still no enormous or hand tying constraints, but some little ones here and there. These projects are, after all, about getting you to use your camera more, to make more images, not to make the process more difficult. Posting pictures and the corresponding making of those images to post has become part of my routine. I enjoy deciding which images I like enough to share and I love making the photographs! It's easiest, for me when we travel someplace different. We used to co-own a condo on Kiawah Island, SC (USA), so that gave me some different subjects from here at home. In October, I went to Germany to visit relatives but also to make photographs. Images from that trip dominate my daily image postings in November and December.

Though we will travel in 2017 as well, I want to push myself a bit more and differently this year. I have not entirely decided how I'm going to do that, so my 2017 project will evolve as the year goes on. The basic structure, though, I have determined. I will approach this year's project in weeks. Fifty-two weeks. I will not limit my images to seven, one for each day, though there will undoubtedly be weeks were my total image count will probably be just that, seven. My plan as of now is to set myself some kind of constraint for the week. The constraint may be a theme, such as the color red, numbers, windows, flowers, sadness, joy. Or, the constraint may be place-based, such as anything within five meters of me at a given time, things that make up a city, different views of a thing or a structure. I may constrain myself by the equipment I use, such as, only my 45mm lens, only my 75-300mm lens, only my iPhone 7 Plus. For my first week, I will take different shots of an old book. That will be my first test of my year-long idea.

I've written this several times before, but I'll repeat it. Doing some type of Year-long photography project is fun, rewarding, and helps you improve your skills as a photographer. I encourage anyone the slightest bit interested in photography to do such a project. Make up your own rules. Use any camera. If you only have a smartphone camera, use it. Start! Start today and have fun!