Mark and I have been very busy at our real jobs lately. This has affected our blogging, making us late or missing. More importantly, it has prevented us from getting out and making new photos. This is a common problem for all photographers who work to afford their photography. Occasionally, you just don't have the time to pursue photography the way you want. There are things you can do, however, that will let you keep your hand in it, until things open up.
Reprocess a Photo. If you're a frequent photographer, you have thousands of older photos you made. When was the last time you reviewed them? Have your processing skills improved? Probably. I like to re-visit some of my favorite photos from, at least, five years ago and decide if I would process them differently today. Undoubtedly, your processing software has improved in the last five years, and you might be surprised at the results.
You can go through one or two photos in a short amount of time, and you get to spend a little time with your favorite images. I work on a virtual copy of the image, so I can compare the before and after. This photo was improved over the original by improvements in image stitching and shadow enhancements. Keep in mind, you may decide that no changes are necessary, after all. That is always an acceptable answer.
Scan some old photos. While we're talking about old photographs, how many old photos have you scanned? I have a pile of them to get through. Scanning can be pretty boring, so I try to do it in small bunches any way. I can do about 20 photos in an hour. If you're all caught up, you can begin fixing the scratches and fading that has occurred over the years. Now that it's digitized and repaired, everyone in the family can have a copy of that treasured, old family photo.
Use your phone. Don't forget you have a perfectly good camera on your phone. You can sneak in a photo when you're stuck in traffic. It may not be your favorite subject, but you can still appreciate the light as you're watching the sunrise through the windshield. I travel through the Manassas Battlefield, every morning. Someone let my “secret” backroad route out to everyone else, so I'm still stuck in traffic. The scenery, however, is always tranquil and enjoyable. During one of my commuting traffic halts, I saw the beautiful light in a field of hay wheels. It won't make my portfolio, but I got to shoot a photo and remind myself of a place I need to get to when I get a break.
Read a book. For an analog solution to your time crunch problem, try the radical solution of reading a book. I like the old photo books found in used bookstores. You can learn much about basic photo exposure and composition from these inexpensive books. Photographers of old were much more careful of these basics because every photo they shot cost them money in film and processing chemicals. The techniques in those old books are still quite valid.
I carry several book apps on my phone and Ipad, so I don't need to carry around bound paper for all my reading material or worry if my downtime occurs when I'm away from home. Most new books are also available as ebooks. The quality of these ebooks has progressed, along with every other technology. The color in these photobooks never fades, and I never lose my bookmark. These apps also hold my camera and flash manuals, which I use to look for capabilities I seldom use and need to try when I get my next camera time.
Online tutorials can help. Are you afraid reading a book will put you to sleep because you've been working such long hours? Well, we've talked, previously, about the tutorials you can access on your computer, Ipad, and smart phones. As a member of Kelbyone and Lynda.com, I can access tutorials and photo inspiration, 24 hours a day, for a few minutes or until I need to get back to work. Their tutorials feature the best photographers alive and the quality is top notch. They have helped advance my photography and post-processing skills. I think they are worth the small investment they cost, but you don't have to spend any money for the free podcasts or Youtube videos. I subscribe to both.
So, when work is interfering with your free time, you don't have to go cold turkey. Take advantage of every minute you can to advance your photography until things open up a bit. As for me, I can see the light at the end of the tunnel – my next opportunity is already booked. I'm looking forward to the fun of getting back behind the camera very soon. It's about time....