I believe it is useful now and then to go back to the beginning and examine old photos. The first images I shot on Biscayne Bay back in 2005 were with a waterproof Pentax Optio that was smaller than an iphone. The fact that it was waterproof gave me freedom to experiment and learn to "see" the bay differently than just a casual observer. With that camera, I did not think about exposure settings, all I did was shoot. I deleted most photos at the end of the day, but the point was, I had dozens of photos to delete or keep. And I learned.
I played hard with that camera (it lasted me a couple years before it got fried from salt water exposure) and I believe that because it was a simple camera, it freed up my mind to test my creativity and simply play. I began by seeing boats on the water. The image above, to this day, is one of my favorites. I was impressed with how well the exposure turned out given the bright whites. I learned quickly that good images could be taken with a point and shoot camera, if one was mindful of lighting conditions. So I played some more. Composition, perspective, color, lighting; there were many things to explore. Below are a few more images from that camera resulting from my playtime. And all of this was happening as I learned the bay and began to see more beautiful aspects to it.
It took me about a year before I upgraded, but not yet to an SLR camera. I chickened out because all my photography was being done in a kayak or canoe and the thought of carrying a very expensive camera and lens onboard was not within my comfort zone yet. So I purchased a more complicated point and shot, the Canon Powershot and bought a polarizer filter and a couple lenses that I could attach. One of those lenses gave me a little more telephoto capability and it was with this camera that I really began to "see" birds. I was able to study exposure and DOF through the use of manual mode. It did not take long to figure out that the camera had severe limitations. But, then again, the experiences taught me that I can find ways to overcome most limitations or at least overlook them and find an alternative. And creativity had little to do with the camera at hand.
So I am thinking about these early days of learning and wonder if maybe I lost my sense of play as things got more complicated and my self-criticism got sharper. Long gone are those days when I took a shot for the sake of taking a shot. Now, I take into consideration many factors before deciding on when, where and how to take an image. But wait, maybe there is still an element of play in all of that. Indeed, I believe there is. The difference now is that I see more possibilities for raising the bar and continuing to learn and expand those possibilities. It is play, but with more levels.
Despite all that, I think I might go back to taking a shot, for the sake of taking a shot. At this level of play, it might make things more interesting.