Why I Use Instagram (Sort Of)

Why I Use Instagram (Sort Of)

Recently I talked about why I use Flickr and all the positives it’s given me over the years I’ve been on board.

Next up in this loosely related series, why I use Instagram.

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Because I’ve been with Flickr eight years, it’s become the yardstick by which I measure other photography connected sites. Which is perhaps a mistake, as Instagram is very different.

Whereas Flickr feels a long term investment and archive, a way to steadily build a body of work and have its long tail gather an audience over years (as well as feed 35hunter with photos), Instagram feels like an fleeting, breathless, smash and grab it right now experience.

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My first post on Instagram was March 2016.

I dabbled with it relatively steadily until around mid August. Struggling to see the point, and my online time being precious, I couldn’t justify time spent on Instagram with no obvious reward or enjoyment. So I decided to have a couple of months off.

When I returned to Instagram, I realised I’d been away 13 months!

Since September I’ve been trying to post two or three times a day, attempting to find interesting people to follow and talk with, and figure out if it could become worthwhile to me.

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Here are my personal impressions of Instagram today –

  • There are a huge amount of talented photographers on Instagram. It’s not difficult to find breathtaking images by the hundred, maybe thousand. This is good in that you found them, but the medium through which you’re viewing their masterpieces is woefully inadequate. More on that later.
  • The number of Instagram users I’ve come across is mind boggling. I only follow about 60 people but it feels most of the time that I never see the same face twice, aside from maybe four or five people who, ironically, I already knew via Flickr, their blog or my blog anyway.

    It feels like being in the middle of a huge crowd at a sports game or concert or shopping mall. The kind of places I almost entirely avoid (you’ll recall many of my photographs are taken in churches, churchyards or the middle of the woods, all entirely devoid of people!)

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  • When I’m talking to the people I know on Instagram, mostly I’m thinking “I’d rather be talking to you somewhere else”. On Flickr, via comments on one of our blogs, or via email.

    This is partly down to me not much liking using my iPhone for any lengthy writing, and partly because it feels like we’ve bumped into each other in a frantic marketplace and are now huddling in a doorway half shouting at each other trying to make ourselves heard amongst the chaos.

  • I don’t get the size thing. I had an interesting chat with Frank about this the other day. Not on Instagram, of course. The crux is, why are we photographers obsessing over mega pixels, sensor size and resolution, then most of the time sharing and viewing photos on screens even smaller than those on the rear of a typical DSLR?!

    I like to see pictures at a decent size to appreciate them. My 15″ MacBook has a screen around 13″ x 8″, about the size of a decent print. It’s a pleasure viewing photos on Flickr, on blogs etc, on this screen, I can get lost in the experience.

    My iPad’s 9.7″ screen is around 8″ x 6″, again a decent size for a print photo. I use the iPad purely for viewing photos and reading, and for this the screen size is very enjoyable.

    Whilst I have Instagram on the iPad, I don’t really use it. It never looks quite right and I have to turn the screen the opposite orientation to what feels natural. I use Instagram almost exclusively on my iPhone. With a screen that’s overall only 3.5″ x 2″.

    Also, once you’re in Instagram, which forces you in portrait orientation, a landscape photo appears at a size of approximately 1.5″ x 2.5″. This is about 1/25 the size of a landscape photo viewed on my MacBook!

    It’s like going to a Rothko exhibition expecting to see original paintings two or three metres in either direction, then instead being shown a series of Rothko postcard prints.

    Yes I know Instagram was conceived for square photographs originally, but even then you’re only seeing about 2.5″ x 2.5″.

    Yes I also know that I don’t have the newest, largest iPhone (a 5C), but I want my phone to be pocketable (like my compact cameras, funnily enough!). I don’t want to carry around something virtually the size of an iPad which even if I could squeeze in a very larger and stretchy pocket, I would likely never be able to prise it out again.

    So the device Instagram is optimised for, is ridiculously inadequate for a medium such as photography. Or is this just me (and Frank!)?

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  • It’s all too fiddly. My typical process for uploading to Instagram is this – Find photo on Flickr, click share button, click Instagram icon. Switch to Notes app, find the note where I’ve said batches of hashtags, select and copy, switch back to Instagram, paste, add any further hashtags, post.

    This only takes a few minutes, but it just feels so fiddly with an iPhone. And often once the post is there, I bemoan again the postage stamp size, as I remember how much better the image looks full size on my MacBook…

  • It’s all so transient. Although I haven’t made a great deal of physical prints of my photographs (I had some made just yesterday, and it won’t be the last time – more on that in a future post), I do love the romance and connection and emotion that comes with holding a physical image in your hand.

    It doesn’t matter whether it was made with a Brownie by your great great grandmother a century ago, or your iPhone last week. Just having that print to hold feels like a permanent, tangible connection.

    The internet generally moves fast, but you can build a presence over time. I’ve been on eBay 15 years now, on Flickr eight years, had a blog of some form for over 12 years and 35hunter for a few days less than two years.

    This is all a mere flutter of an eyelid compared with holding a century old print, but a history nonetheless. Instagram feels incredibly fast paced. I only follow around 60 people, yet I could revisit every hour and see dozens of new posts.

    I’m not one to serially refresh my sites online, and usually only visit a couple of times a day. On Instagram half a day seems like half a year. Everything has changed, everyone’s moved on. I don’t like this pace.

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  • It feels all surface and no feeling. Yes there are wonderful images. But 99% of the conversation around them is made up of pointlessly brief comments like “Beautiful!” or “Love!” or even worse a silly string of emoticons. Interspersed with the original poster’s responses in equally brief snippets like “Thanks Man!” or again those dumb colourful little pictures. What’s the point??

    If you’re going to comment, why not say something constructive and meaningful? It’s similar to “likes” on blogs, another pet hate of mine. If you genuinely “like” something, in the original sense of the word, then please have the courtesy to tell the writer what you like and why?

  • I don’t see what I have to give, or to gain, from Instagram. With Flickr, I listed ten good reasons for using it. Having a blog is similarly useful, rewarding and enhancing to my general photography passion. But Instagram… Even in the best case scenario, what could I give or get? I really don’t know.

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In starting this post, I had intended to highlight a few of the benefits of Instagram.

As it turns out, I’ve pretty much talked myself out of using it at all.

A day after writing the first draft, in the interim I’ve been exploring a few other options, and for now have decided to put Instagram on pause again, and revisit Google+. I was on here a couple of years back, and really like the general format and interface, and how everything seems well synchronised (including, I’ve discovered, WordPress).

I also have the option of using Google Photos as an archive, again neatly synched in with Google+ and 35hunter. I now just need to explore again and see how many photographers are still there!

What are your views and experiences of Instagram? What am I missing? Or do you have many of the same frustrations? Please let us know in the comments below.

Thanks for reading. Please share this post with others you feel will enjoy it too.

 

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Broken Camera, Rise Victorious!

Broken Camera, Rise Victorious!

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Following the magnificent twin revelations of the Ricoh GDR III and GX100, I inevitably looked further into Ricoh’s back catalogue, and found the GX100’s successor, the GX200.

On paper it’s not a radical overhaul, just a fractionally larger and higher spec’d sensor (12MP vs 10MP), bigger and greater resolution screen and an additional custom “MY” mode being the highlights. Oh and it writes RAW files much quicker than the GX100.

I was curious enough to seek one out and found an example for sale across the pond.

The price was reasonable, the postage was not, $70! I enquired and the seller agreed he could probably reduce it and after a bit of a haggle we agreed on a price of $150 overall, about £115.

Still not cheap, but considering it was listed as fully working, with spare batteries, SD card, and wide angle (19mm!) lens, it wasn’t bad.

The camera arrived a week later, and on powering up I was disappointed to find ugly markings across the screen.

Furthermore, the screen was strongly tinted purple, especially in the bottom corners.

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I hoped this was just the screen and not the lens or sensor so took a few pictures and uploaded to my MacBook.

The good news was the black marks were just on the screen and not on the photos.

The bad news was the purple was not just the screen, and presumably is some kind of degradation of the sensor.

Added to this, after another attempt in better outside light, I found that when examined at 100% the pictures seem to show a strange (to me!) horizontal banding. Having not seen these on pictured on my GRD III or GX100 I assume this is a further fault in the sensor.

Oh dear, the poor little GX200 was rather the worse for wear, and my wallet was feeling somewhat mugged. 

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Obviously, I was not happy, and the seller wasn’t helpful, just advising me to “adjust the settings”, then later “I’ll do you a deal on some accessories next time you buy from me!”.

But, I’m always keen to experiment within restricted parameters (for often this is when our creativity thrives most!)

So I looked again at the facts.

Yes the GX200 has ugly marks on the screen.

But these don’t affect the photos. And on b/w mode (which these cameras all seem born to shoot), it’s barely noticeable when shooting.

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Yes there are those strong purple tinges.

But again on b/w mode I can’t see these, and though the RAW files are of course in colour and show the purple, once converted to b/w they again disappear.

Yes that banding is a bit ugly up close.

But after further play it seems much worse at ISO400 (I don’t use anything above). So using the camera’s clever “Auto Hi” ISO mode, I can set the limit at ISO400 (or even 200 to improve things further still) and the camera will always use the lowest ISO possible.

Given that I use all of these cameras aperture priority and wide open as often as possible, the camera is most often at its base ISO64 in good light anyway, then it’s just the shutter speed that adjusts.

Plus, I’m not anticipating having huge prints made of these photographs, so it’s unlikely I, or anyone else, will much notice the banding. And did any Monet or Pollock fan ever worry about the fact that their paintings look a bit of an accident in a Dulux factory up close? Nope, they just stand back and admire.

Everything else on the camera appears to work as intended, and in use it’s just as instinctive, fun and rewarding to use as its siblings.

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Yes, I did pay way too much (about £115) for a “broken” camera.

But in the end, I believed I’ve greatly reduced if not entirely eliminated these issues. And I did get that wide angle lens plus the adapter you need to fit it on, which works on the GX200, GX100, and the GRD III, and I’ve seen these sell for £100+ on their own. And I’ve got two extra batteries that work in all three cameras and an extra decent SD card.

The morals of the story I would say are two-fold. 

First, if you buy enough on eBay, you’re going to eventually get burned (I’ve been incredibly lucky in the 15 years I’ve been active!).

Second, even if a camera at first appears broken, it might still have some life in it, so don’t write it off too soon.

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A further happy accident in this tale came when I was post processing the latest RAW files made with the GX200.

I had shot them as b/w and planned to process them as such, and they looked good that way.

But by accident, for one of them I clicked a different (colour) preset, and with a tiny bit of tweaking the images now look, to me, way beyond my initial expectations of the little GX200 that moment I first powered it up and saw the damaged screen and sensor…

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Is it different enough to my GX100 to warrant keeping? As yet the jury is out, but probably not. But it’s one of those cameras where the faults make it not worth selling.

And if can keep getting images like I have so far, I might just emulate what many do with film, have one camera always loaded with b/w, the another always loaded with colour.

The GX200 might just have to be my colour compact, as a companion to its beautiful b/w bros the GRD III and GX100.

Have you ever got unexpectedly pleasing results from what you initially thought was a broken camera? Please let us know in the comments below.

Thanks for reading. Please share this post with others you feel will enjoy it too.

How To Create An Amazing Photography Blog

How To Create An Amazing Photography Blog

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My friend across the pond, fellow photographer and camera enthusiast Jim Grey wrote a post recently about how to be internet famous with film photography.

It got me thinking about what I enjoy most about photography blogs, the recipe required for a delicious photographic feast.

Here are the ingredients I feel you need –

Interesting and engaging writing. Nine out of 10 photo blogs seem to be regurgitations of the camera manuals, espousing the intricate details.

Even worse for me, at least with a manual you usually get a picture or two of the camera labelling the key parts, but many of these blogs try to explain this via the written word – “the brass top plate is uncluttered to the right with the shutter speed dial giving you speeds from 1s to 1/1000s and 5mm next to that we find the shutter button, made of aircraft grade aluminium. Over to the left we have the ISO dial, ranging from ISO6 to ISO1600 which is matt black with red numbers…” Terribly tedious.

I might want to know the very basics – shutter speed range, lens spec – but after that just tell me why you love the camera, how it makes you feel, why I should sell my left kidney and seek one out too.

Plus an easy way to avoid swathes of uninspiring description is to just post a picture of the camera.

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Personality. Many blogs seem to have the same tone too, straight out of an instruction manual, or one of those recorded phone messages by a robotic lady voice with an unnervingly undulating voice – “Please call BACK to-MORR-ow ON Oh-Oh-Oh-SEVEN-SEVEN-Siiix-Five-Oh-Oh-Oh…”

A photoblogger’s first love and talent might be making pictures, but if you’re going to have a blog with writing in it, I think it’s important to to try to give that writing some charm, warmth, soul, personality, call it what you will.

And if you’re passionate about photography – whether it’s making the pictures, collecting the cameras or both – then try to infuse your writing with some of that passion.

Inspiring photos. There are some blogs where you’re looking for technical detail, images of cameras and lenses, what to look for when collecting them, maybe even how to fix them. So sharing photos actually made with the cameras is perhaps not so vital.

But for most photography blogs, one of the essential elements for me is sharing inspiring photographs.

They don’t have to be taken with the latest and greatest cameras, or be worthy of an international exhibition. But they do have to make me stop and smile or silently “woah!” or “wow!”, to be exciting or intriguing or moving enough for me to a) explore more of this photographer’s work and b) seek out the kit they used and see if I could make anything even a fraction as good with the same!

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Good quality / frequency ratio. I sometimes wonder if there’s an inversely proportional relationship between the quality of a blogger’s posts and the frequency they write them.

Sometimes this is a plus, and a new post maybe once a fortnight from someone who ticks all of the other boxes here in my recipe for an amazing photo blog is well worth the wait.

But sharing frequently when you’ve nothing really interesting to share, to me is worse than not posting at all.

I have in mind a blogger I used to read religiously but who recently has resorted to farming out at least four out of five new posts to guest posters, who rarely meet the same level of engagement or interest with their posts – with either their words or their photographs. This just dilutes the quality of the blog overall, and now I probably don’t read even half of the posts.

Getting the balance of frequency and quality right is I believe another key element to an excellent photo blog.

Sharing how and why you photograph, and how it makes you feel. For me, there’s far too little of this, at least where I’ve been looking online!

I love reading about the feeling and the drive and the emotion behind photography, why people wander out into their tiny corner of the world with a camera, compelled to capture what inspires them.

What goes through your mind when you pick up your favourite camera and when you photograph? What does the sensation of framing the scene and squeezing the shutter button feel like?

What kind of hole would there be in your life without photography, and how terrifying do you find that? Open up a little, tell us how desperately vital photography is for you!

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Obviously these are all just my personal preferences for what I seek in photography blogs.

And I try to make 35hunter tick as many as these boxes as I can – I really want people to feel the writing and the photography here is interesting, engaging and emotive enough to warrant returning again and again for more.

What are YOUR essential ingredients for an amazing photography blog? What keeps you returning to your favourite blogs you follow? Please let us know in the comments below.

Thanks for reading. Please share this post with others you feel will enjoy it too.

 

All Hail The Dragon Slaying Ricoh Brothers

All Hail The Dragon Slaying Ricoh Brothers

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Before we begin to this courageous tale of dragon vanquish, for context we require a brief update of my photographic hunting of the last decade –

Played with camera phones for a few years, got a “proper” phone, a Nikon CoolPix, loved it and shot thousands of images over seven months. Then discovered film via a Holga 120N for my birthday. Soon after, a Smena 8M became the first 35mm film camera I bought.

Something like 50 months and 100+ 35mm cameras later, I decided to try digital again.

Discovered the fantastic Pentax K10D DSLR, sold virtually all my SLR stuff except a couple of bodies and a dozen of my favourite K mount and M42 lenses – the two mounts I’d appreciated most of the ten or so I’d tried.

After that, the K10D, my Takumars and I lived happily ever after.

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Oh no, hang on, there’s more.

As wonderful as the K10D is, it’s a hefty fire breathing beast. With the option of 12 lenses.

Sometimes this size and weight and choice was the last thing I wanted, so for a while my iPhone seemed a more appealing option. Super pocketable, good enough lens for experimenting, focuses very close, and Hipstamatic app offers tons of control and funky processing options.

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But it’s a phone, not a camera. Meaning it’s pretty unrewarding in the touchy feely holdy squeezy department.

So the search continued.

Which brings us (back) to the Ricohs.

My history with Ricoh is very warm and happy.

An FF-3D AF Super I had from the early 80s looked ugly and awkward, but the handling was surprisingly good, in fact excellent, and as good as any AF compact of that era. Fabulous lens too, especially the colours.

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In Pentax K mount I’ve had a number of Rikenon 50/2 lenses, which are sleeping underdogs often overlooked in favour of the Pentax-M 50/1.7. But they’re excellent lenses, even wide open.

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One of the last three 35mm film compacts I have left is a Ricoh R1. This camera (and the very similar R10) – despite not having a working LED screen so I have to use it fully auto and guess how many exposures I have left – offers very slim design, satisfying ergonomics, and another pretty impressive (twin) lens(es) at 30mm and 24mm.

So, somehow in my hunting, I remembered Ricoh also made (and still make) digital compacts, the successors to the R1 (and more high end GR1) series.

A few days later, and with a final nudge from Mr Brandsma I was holding a GR Digital III. It’s no exaggeration to say it’s been a revelation.

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Since I’ve had the GRD III I think I’ve picked up the K10D once.

Then I remembered how heavy it was and put it down again.

The K10D with SMC Pentax-A 35-105/3.5 is a pretty stunning combo to use, and in the final image. But it weighs close to 1.5kg.

My Ricoh GX100 (more on that shortly) weighs under 250g. Yep the K10D plus zoom is six times the weight. And probably more than six times the volume.

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Guess which is the Ricoh GX100 and which is the DSLR?

I’ve not shot any photos (aside from family snaps) with my iPhone lately either.

And I’ve sold my Sony NEX I’ve had three years, that’s possibly had more lenses on it than I’ve shot rolls of film.

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Following my usual consumption pattern (more in this in a future post), I wondered what other little marvels Ricoh had conjured up in recent years.

Which led me to the GX100, pictured above staring down the K10D.

The GX100 is essentially a GRD (same sensor, controls, layout, handling) but with a 24-72mm zoom lens, rather than the GRD III’s 28mm prime.

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Regular readers, you will know I’ve not been a fan of SLR zoom lenses traditionally, but this year have warmed to them greatly.

With my K10D, yes I love and wouldn’t be without primes like my Takumar 28/3.5, 55/1.8, 105/2.8 and 135/3.5.

But something like the SMC Pentax-A 35-105/3.5 is a quite remarkable lens, and genuinely gives more than good enough performance in most situations to replace three or four primes within the same range.

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With the GX100, the comparison is similar – a very capable zoom lens to complement the excellent prime 28mm f/1.9 lens of the GRD III.

The performance is plenty good enough. What’s great about the camera (aside from about a hundred other things), is it has a “Step Zoom” mode you can switch on. So rather than a constant zoom until you let the button go, it zooms just to the next step – 24mm, 28mm, 35mm, 50mm, 72mm.

Even better, the GX100, like the GRD III, has two “MY” custom modes on the main mode dial.

I’ve set MY1 to Aperture Priority, ISO400, black and white (JPEG, you also get the full colour RAW, which I use – the b/w JPEG means I can compose and expose in b/w in real time on the screen), 3:2 aspect ratio, spot AF, and the step zoom at its widest, 24mm.

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I’ve set MY2 to exactly the same settings. But with the step zoom at 28mm.

So out in the field, I hardly need to touch anything except choose aperture (most of the time I stay at its widest as the lens is sharp wide open and this gives most shallow depth of field) and switch to either MY1 for a 24mm lens or MY2 for 28mm. Super simple!

I can still use the zoom buttons and it overrides and zooms to 35, 50 or 72mm (one step for each push of the zoom button) if I need it.

But a camera like this seems to beg to be shot at the widest angles possible.

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I also have a wide angle lens attachment which makes the step zoom 19mm, 22mm, 28mm, 40mm and 57mm!

So if I wanted I could leave that on, and set MY1 to 19mm and MY2 to 28mm, which would be like having the GRD III plus a super wide option when I needed it.

With the performance of the GX100 not far off the GRD III, it could be my one and only compact digital.

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After using these two for a few weeks now, I feel they do so much in such a small package.

Plus, and I may have mentioned this before, the user interface of these little Ricohs is simply the best and most intuitive I’ve used on any digital camera.

I’m not about to sell up my Pentax K10D (and the two Samsung branded siblings. Oh, well ok, maybe one of them, I don’t need three cameras essentially identical).

But between these two dragon slaying Ricoh brothers, I have a formidable arsenal.

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Yes my inner minimalist is screaming why couldn’t I stick with just the GRD III!

But when the GX100 has distinct enough differences – mostly the step zoom lens that ranges between 24 and 72mm, or 19 to 57mm with the wide angle attachment – for now it makes sense to rotate between the two and see which I want to keep longer term.

Likely both.

And whilst I may have invited these two new cameras into the fold, they’ve replaced the Sony NEX, my Nikon Coolpix (whose only real advantage over the Ricoh GRD III was a 24mm lens at its widest zoom), my iPhone and, much of the time, my three Pentax K DSLRs.

So the one camera one lens idealist within can feel optimistic that I’m probably closer than I’ve ever been to the impossible dream…

Have you ever tried such a compact camera (film or digital) that made you question every large(r) camera you own?

Please let us know in the comments below.

Thanks for reading. Please share this post with others you feel will enjoy it too.

Three Photographers I Love

Being online and interested in photography, inevitably as we wade daily through oceans of mediocrity, we occasionally stumble across a photographer whose work just sings to us, and excites us at the possibilities of the medium all over again.

I wanted to write a short post to share with you three photographers I’ve found in my travels whose pictures delight, encourage and inspire me. 

Who? JT.

Why? On his blog, JT (in Seoul) much of the time uses fairly simple humble compact cameras like the Ricoh GRs, and an 8MP Sony DSC-W100. From these machines he eeks out gritty, grainy, emotive and intimate photographs that many couldn’t make with the most expensive kit in the world.

I think what I like about JT is his underdog kind of approach. Whilst there are hundreds, thousands of people chasing the latest technology and ever increasing MegaPixel count and lens sharpness, JT just hunkered down and got to know the basics of his craft and his relatively primitive cameras first, and makes them work beyond what virtually every other user could.

More? Check out his So Long Friend post about that little Sony, or Why I Always End Up With a Ricoh, about the amazing (as I recently discovered) Ricoh GR series.

Who? Hin Chua.

Why? I don’t think I’ve ever come across photography that seems so ordinary and so special at the same time. I discovered Hin’s After The Fall series initially, and photographs like this are somehow simple enough to encourage you to gaze into them, yet deep enough to reap reward when you do.

Images like the burnt out apartment in the selection from After The Fall featured here, are amongst my favourite images I’ve seen in the last few years. Also, though Hin mostly shoots in colour, I don’t think about the colour, as I do with most colour images, wondering what camera/lens/film/preset combination was used to create it. I just think about the overall photograph. This is a huge compliment, that the colour has almost become invisible, and the overall composition is king.

More? As well as those above, see his Instagram (@hinius) for more, like these again very simple yet memorable shots of hand prints on a lift door and mountains of gravel.

Who? Wouter Brandsma.

Why? In common with the other two, Wouter just gets on with making pictures without, it seems, obsessing over and using the latest kit. Another Ricoh lover (it was his review of  (and photographs made with) the GR Digital III that made me feel I had to have one), Wouter favours the user experience of a camera (everything is where you need it, nothing gets in the way) over bells and whistles.

Wouter mostly seems to shoot black and white, and his shots (often just of his daily commute) are wonderful. But his colour ones are possibly even better, and I just adore sets like these, especially that last photo with the red B boxes. Or this set – just look at the colours on the main picture with washing blowing on the boat. This is how I would like my colour digital photographs to look, and it’s reignited my interest in finding and tweaking LightRoom presets that might get me somewhere close.

More? See further pictures on his blog of nearly 10 years, and more magnificence on his Instagram (@wouterbrandsma).

In Summary

Writing this I’ve been thinking about what these photographers have in common, why they inspire me, and why I wanted to share them with you.

In short, I think because I’ve spent the last few years gorging on vintage photography kit, and reached saturation point, I’m now trying to strip down, simplify, and find just a small handful of cameras I love using and that give me results I like without hours of processing.

JT, Hin and Wouter all just seem to get on with photographing what they find beautiful around them, everyday, without caring much about the spec of the equipment they use, or having dozens of options.

More important to them is using the stuff that just works, then using it extensively enough to get to know it so well it becomes almost invisible, an extension of their hand/eye/mind.

This, I believe, is my next aim in photography.

Using the few cameras I’ve chosen (and mostly my Pentax K10D and Ricoh GRDIII) to get to know them and their capabilities inside out, and create the best work I can, as I continue to hunt for the beauty I find around me.

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I hope you gain something from these three photographers.

Who are your most inspiring photographic influences? Please let us know in the comments below.

Thanks for reading. Please share this post with others you feel will enjoy it too.

Why I Use Flickr

In a recent post we talked about how the internet helps and hinders my photography.

The pros far outweigh the cons, and this post is the first in a small series about some of the sites and services I use online, and the benefits they’ve bought me as a photographer.

First up, Flickr.

I joined Flickr in 2009 as a place to share my photograph and start to build an archive or body of work. I don’t plan to compare Flickr with any other sites, this is purely about what it does for me, and the reasons I still use it – arguably more than ever – eight years later.

To share my photographs. This is how it started with Flickr. Like most of us, it’s pretty pleasing when someone else likes one of our photographs enough to add it as a favourite, even better if they comment favourably too. In 2009 the biggest online photo community was Flickr, so that’s where I headed to start sharing.

Even though I photograph primarily for myself (and more for the experience than the final images), I still really appreciate comments from others.

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To back up my photographs. I keep a back up of my MacBook’s HD on an external drive, but also wanted the security of some kind of online archive, in case I lost everything at home.

So I see Flickr as an easy and organised way to have that. Which brings us to…

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To organise my photographs. Though I’m a really organised person generally, and my files on my computer are neatly named by date, camera, lens and film, it’s not easy to find all the photographs made with a single lens or film, or all the pictures I’ve taken of horses, or doors, for example.

By using the tags in Flickr, it becomes really easy to do this. Plus by using albums (I have albums for cameras, lenses and film) again I can see all these photographs conveniently collected together.

Though interestingly now I’m really drifting away from the need to know the exact kit I used to take photographs and just appreciating the images on their own merits. A sure sign of maturity?

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To edit my photographs. Once I have taken a batch of photographs, I flip through them in LightRoom, then process (where required) and export the best. I then sweep through again once or twice and delete any I don’t think make the grade. I then upload the best of these to Flickr (usually a 50% resized version), then finally go back and delete any of the originals that did make it to Flickr.

So then from each batch, I have a set of 50% version on Flickr as a back up, and the originals of the same photos still on my HD.

This system works well, doesn’t take too long, and on the whole means my HD doesn’t get filled up with hundreds of mediocre shots I’m never going to look at again. Efficient plus frugal, a double win in my eyes!

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To easily post photographs on 35hunter. I happily admit to using the free version of WordPress for 35hunter. With it you get a certain amount of media storage. Occasionally I need to use this when I want to share a photo of a camera or lens maybe that isn’t on Flickr.

But 99% of the time I go to Flickr, find a photograph I want to share, then use the “Add via URL” option. The auto resizing in Flickr is super handy too, meaning I don’t have to do this myself in an external app, picture by picture.

Using Flickr like this means the image displays full width in 35hunter, without being saved here and affecting my very limited storage. I’ve read of people maxing out their free WordPress storage but not wanting to move to a paid plan, then having the prospect of abandoning their blog (and its unique name and audience) because they can’t add any more images. This is a big plus, and for me would be reason enough on its own to continue using Flickr.

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To improve my photographs. From early on I started curating a collection of my favourites by other photographers on Flickr. My end goal with this is partly to have a growing set of beautiful pictures to look at, but also to have an aim for my own photostream.

One day, I would like to look at my stream, then my favourites stream, and feel the quality of both sets is the same. Yes I know I said the other day that comparing ourselves with others leads to disappointment, but I do like something to aspire to…

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To be inspired by other photographers. I don’t follow many people on Flickr and most of the ones I do follow are because I talk with them regularly rather than swoon over every image they produce.

The people whose work I’m inspired most by I usually find by accident, doing random searches like “SuperTakumar” or “Spotmatic Portrait” or “RicohGRD Mono“. Then add the images I really like to my favourites.

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To talk with other photographers. As I said above, I’ve met a handful of people on Flickr who I’ve had regular discussions with for some years. Usually they’re far more experienced in photography and far more knowledgable about cameras, so it helps me learn.

Eight years on, a large proportion of what I know about photography overall, I learned from my Flickr buddies.

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To research the cameras, lenses and film other photographers use. In the way that I fairly extensively tag my photographs and sort them into albums, many others do too. So in the past when I’ve been looking at a new camera or lens, I’ve headed to Flickr, for two reasons.

First, to see if anyone else has posted pictures of the camera or lens itself with some kind of review or thoughts. Second to see the images people have made with that particular camera or lens. If I don’t find anything I like, I usually pass on the camera/lens. If I find at least a handful of inspiring photos made by one lens or camera, I’m highly likely to seek it out myself.

Also, some of the groups on Flickr have a vast wealth of information on particular cameras, lenses, film, shooting techniques and pretty much everything else you can think of in photography. A huge resource for anyone keen to learn.

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To learn new techniques and gain new ideas. This was especially true in my earlier film days, when I was keen to learn some of the unique ways film can be used. Making redscale film, cross processing, multiple exposures and film soups were a few of the approaches I discovered and was wowed by.

As with researching cameras and lenses, this works in two ways, finding instruction on how to do it, plus samples of what can be achieved when you do.

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As you can see, Flickr has been absolutely vital to my photography journey in so many ways.

Aside from costing me money when I find yet another camera or lens I must try for myself, it’s been full of positives, and I likely would not have made a fraction of the photographs I have if it wasn’t for all the benefits and encouragement it’s given me.

How and why do you use Flickr, or indeed any alternatives? Please let us know in the comments below. 

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The Day The Colours Fall

After photographing with intention for a few years, we start to recognise patterns and themes in our work.

Something I’ve noticed with my photography is there comes a day in the autumn when I quite suddenly have the desire to switch to black and white photography. 

This doesn’t mean I won’t make another colour photograph until the spring or summer. It just means my general feeling is the late autumn and winter months look better captured in monochrome than in colour.

Looking back in my Flickr, this year there were a few odd b/w shots on my iPhone in September, before the real onslaught began mid October, with this photograph.

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Aside from a one-off in April, the last previous b/w photo in 2017 was early February, in the grips of winter.

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Between those two, a riot of growth and colour blossomed, which this year coincided with the discovery of the Pentax K10D and its glorious CCD sensor.

In 2016, the post summer mono mood first took hold on 8 October.

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Again, the last b/w the other side of the summer, aside from brief, single roll dabbles in June and July, was early April.

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In 2015, it must have been a very mild autumn, judging from the sun and still vibrant colour in my shots from back then. It wasn’t until early December the first b/w photographs appeared.

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And, once again, aside from a solitary film roll fling in June, the last shot in b/w from the early part of 2015 was late February.

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Though the precise day changes year to year, a very similar cycle occurs with me, and there’s always that one day in late autumn to early winter when the colours fall.

I wonder too if it’s not just about there being less colour around in nature in winter, and the weather generally being bleaker, but reflecting a more subdued mood in myself too.

This year I feel with my wonderful little new friend the Ricoh GR Digital III, I couldn’t be better prepared for these muted seasons, when everything tends to make more sense in monochrome…

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Do you notice certain factors influencing when you shoot colour versus black and white? Do you experience any seasonal changes in your photography, or is it much the same all year round? Please let us know in the comments below. 

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