One of my favorite things to do as a photographer is look back on earlier images and compare them to similar shots that I have taken years down the line. While sometimes embarrassing, particularly when I think about the portraits I used to take in days gone by, it’s also refreshingly illustrative, and even a bit instructive, and if nothing else it’s just fun to see how far I’ve come. (I recommend this to other photographers too: try going through your earlier shots and see what you have learned and how you have improved over the years. It’s really cool.) Such is absolutely the case here.
Back in 2016, not too long after I got a set of close-up filters for my 50mm lens, I took this shot of a dragonfly near the shore of Milford Lake, Kansas:
At the time I was kind of blown away, having never taken a picture quite like this before. I was astonished that an amateur photographer like myself could get an image of a dragonfly with such stunning clarity. And without a true macro lens, no less. I thought I had peaked, but years later I can clearly see just how wrong I was and how much room for growth still remained.
This week’s featured image of a blue dragonfly, which was taken about 200 yards away from where I shot its counter part in 2016, is improved in every possible way. The dragonfly is sharper, the lighting is better, the colors (and thus, the entire composition as a whole) are vastly improved, and overall it has a sense of life and vibrancy that was almost entirely absent in the earlier picture. I don’t say this to downplay the first shot, but to show how fascinating it is to see how much I have learned over the years. It’s something I don’t see too much on a daily basis, but when comparing compositions it becomes clear. And I think what excites me the most is thinking about, seven years from now, just how much I will have hopefully improved over what I can do now.
The journey really is the reward :)