My name is Jonathan Rista (Jon for short). I’m a resident of the beautiful state of Colorado, in the heart United States. This state is a great place to be a photographer, full of mountains, wetlands, and plenty of animal life. For someone such as myself, a student and photographer of nature, its a wonderful place to live. I would say that photography, particularly bird photography, is my true passion in life. If I had the option, I would spend my days doing nothing but. As life would have it, other obligations come first.
By trade, I’m a Software Engineer. I design and implement complex computer systems that move information around, process it, analyze it, archive it, report on it, and present it. My current day job is for Pearson Education in North America, developing massively parallel process workflows that migrate educational information around various educational tools and platforms. Its interesting work, and largely satisfying, among all the politics and stress. I’m able to put my creative mind to fairly creative use, designing innovative new ways to solve complex problems, handle ever-increasing volumes of data received or sent at an unprecedented and accelerating rate. I’ve had the opportunity at Pearson to develop new solutions to designing resilient, self-healing software capable of growing at a rate consistent with the endless rate of growth of the data we handle. Still…its not my passion.
I started photography only a few years ago, in the Spring of 2009. I’d long wanted to purchase a DSLR camera. I’d drooled over them many a time at the local Best Buy store. I used to have this quirk about always being able to “justify” an expensive purchase, which kept me from actually dropping cash on one for at least a couple years. I picked up a Canon EOS Digital Rebel XSi (450D) with 18-55mm kit lens. That was probably the best purchase I’ve ever made. Prior to owning a DSLR camera, my sole, all-consuming…even obsessive…interest was programming. I’d been programming since the age of eight. I’d been taking apart computers, rebuilding them, reprogramming them, playing with obscure operating systems, Linux, Windows, even an Apple II and a couple of ancient Macs. I pretty much had a one-track life…programming. I’m a phenomenal programmer. Some might call me an outlier when it comes to software engineering, as I’ve had over 100,000 hours of practice with software development and architecture, in a variety of languages and on a variety of platforms. (I’m not sure I fully buy the premise of the book Outliers, but I do believe one thing: Dedicated, intentful practice most definitely makes perfect!!)
I did nothing but program…it was my life. Until I purchased a Canon 450D. Suffice to say…I don’t have nearly as stringent rules about “justifying” my purchases any more. As a matter of fact, if I really want something, I get it…and there is little limit I’ll put on cost. Why hold yourself back? Why limit yourself? As I get older, I realize I have a fair number of regrets when looking back, and realizing I did only one thing with my youth and early adult hood. I don’t intend to get stuck doing and knowing only one thing my entire life. Time to remove limits and allow myself to explore other aspects of life and creativity. I think my venture into photography opened my mind, and allowed me to see a world beyond bits, algorithms, virtual objects, etc. I’ve always had a moderately creative mind…a trait I believe has greatly benefited my chosen profession. I was never really able to express that creativity in a way that truly satisfied me. Until I put some optical glass between the world and myself.
Over the last three years, I believe I’ve found the next obsession of my life…the next thing to spend 10,000…or even 100,000…hours on. The next thing to learn in its totality…to completely master. I think I’ll enjoy this journey much more than my last. With programming, you have nearly limitless options to create, to fabricate new things in virtual reality that operate on bits of information from actual reality. With photography, you have a truly limitless world full of endless occurrences, exhibited in landscapes, wildlife, birds, even the night sky, to compose, expose, and present to the world. I hope this blog provides a useful outlet for this journey, and for my creativity.