If It Is All About The Numbers, Which Numbers Is It All About?

Recently I talked about reaching 550 blog posts on 35hunter.

I don’t have any particular numerical goals for the site, though it’s pleasing to see the number of posts I’ve published steadily rise.

So, most of the time, I know blogging – and photography – is not about the numbers.

Except, sometimes it is.

Here are some examples where, as a photographer and blogger, the numbers do matter in some way.

Blog Posts

As I said, I have no particular endgame here, more important to me is consistency.

So looking down my archives (which you can see summarised down the bottom of the page), it’s really satisfying that since around November 2017 I’ve published steadily – at least 11 or 12 posts a month.

Publishing once a week for three years would be preferable to me than blasting out 20 posts one month, then posting nothing for six weeks, for all kinds of reasons.

Page Views

Generally, if your page views increase, it means more people are reading your blog. But to me, the interaction of the reader is far more important.

As I’ve said in different ways before, I’d rather have, say, six genuine comments on a post than six hundred “likes” that ultimately mean nothing.

So page views as a vague measure of an increase in readership is useful, but interaction is far more vital. Which takes us to…

Comments

This is probably the single most important statistic for me with 35hunter.

I try to respond to every comment a reader kindly leaves, so I can essentially divide the total comments I’ve had throughout any given period in half, and discount the half that were my own, to see the amount left by readers.

For me this a great measure of the level of interaction on the site, which page views alone cannot accurately indicate.

Likes

These are pretty much worthless. If you need further explanation of my reasoning, try this post.

Aperture

So now we move on to the numbers on our cameras, starting with aperture.

Of course this does have an impact on how the final image looks, mostly in how it dictates the depth of field of a photograph.

The digital sensor size – or frame size, with film – also influences this, and the general rule is the larger the sensor/film, the more shallow the depth of field at the same aperture and focusing distance.

All this said, these days when I use a DLSR, I nearly always start with an aperture of f/5.6.

For the more close up work I usually favour, this ensures I don’t get too shallow a depth of field, so focus is missed, and too much of the image is blurred.

I then make adjustments up or down the aperture scale from them, depending on how I want the final image to look.

With a digital compact, I think less about aperture.

For cameras where I can control the aperture, like my Ricoh GRD III, Panasonic Lumix LX3 and Pentax Q, I start with the maximum aperture as my default, and very rarely change it.

Because of the smaller sensor sizes compared with the APS-C sensors of my DLSRs, the depth of field is greater anyway, and usually deep enough for my needs, even up close.

Plus, using the largest aperture means I can use the native ISO, and have more wiggle room with shutter speed before I’m in the realms of being too slow to hand hold.

Even so, with a number of digital cameras I’ve used, I simply stick with a Program or Auto mode that chooses the aperture for me. If I like the picture, great, if I don’t I delete it.

Most digital compacts with Program or Auto modes seem to favour faster apertures anyway, like the marvellous little Lumix XS1 I wrote about again recently, which holds on to its largest f/2.8 aperture and native ISO100 as long as it possibly can, and suits me just fine.

19451508840_ef7828637d_b

Shutter Speed

Because I rarely need super fast shutter speeds to freeze action, unlike perhaps a street or sports photographer, or ultra slow shutter speeds to create beautiful endless flowing effects on moving water and the like, shutter speed for me comes down to one simple question.

Is it fast enough for the images not to be blurred from camera shake?

Most of the time I’m fine down to 1/8s, even 1/4s (if the camera will let me), especially with a digital compact with a wide-ish lens and small-ish sensor.

If I’m at 1/8s or slower I just try to be really steady and careful. Below 1/4s, unless I can brace myself against something solid, or put the camera on the ground or a wall or similar, I don’t bother taking the shot.

At the faster end, as long as the camera is giving me the exposure I want, I don’t really care whether it’s 1/500s or 1/8000s.

ISO

With film, because I nearly always used ISO200 film, and then latterly it was always Fuji Superia 100, I got used to setting the ISO on the camera then forgetting all about it. It became a fixed variable, if that’s not a contradiction!

So then I was just left with aperture and shutter speed to adjust, and I got to know these two variables better, because the third point in the exposure triangle, ISO, was kept constant – throughout a roll of film, and from one film to the next.

With digital, I take one of two approaches.

The first, which I use most often, is to go with the native ISO of the sensor, ie the lowest ISO the camera can be set to. For colour photography I use this approach all the time, and it’s nearly alway ISO100, or sometimes ISO80.

This of course harkens back to my last days of film with Superia 100, and gives me a range of aperture and shutter speeds I’m very familiar with.

For b/w, sometimes if I’m going for a more grainy and atmospheric look I’ll go with ISO400 or even ISO800 to make the pictures less perfect, and usually combined with a b/w mode like the fantastic Dynamic B/W mode a number of Panasonic Lumix cameras have.

My second approach is with more automated cameras, ie where I shoot in some kind of Program or Auto mode.

Here sometimes I’ll still go with the lowest ISO, especially shooting colour, and even more especially if it’s an older camera (most of mine are!) where image quality gets too messy even for me at higher ISOs.

With more capable cameras I’m happy to trust auto ISO – though I lock them to a certain range, say ISO100-400. Again I don’t generally venture to ISO800 or beyond, but I’m happy to lose a little bit of definition to get the shot in low lit situations if it means the camera has switched to ISO400 instead of the optimum ISO100.

MegaPixels

These days, this is pretty important to me, but the opposite way to convention.

For the golden age of digital cameras featured those with CCD sensors between 6 and 10MP.

The vast majority of cameras I use fall into this range. I don’t really like using cameras with greater MP or a CMOS sensor.

48497280312_9d69d4aec3_b

Size and Weight

On the whole, more important than the size and weight of the camera is how it feels and handles. A DLSR like my two Pentax faves, the K100D and K-m, might be vastly larger than something like the tiny Lumix XS1, but because they are comfortable to hold and use, they don’t feel cumbersome in your hands.

Granted, you can’t slip then in a trouser pocket like the XS1, but in a bag or hand strap, they’re not particularly obtrusive.

There is a breaking point though. My Pentax K10D DSLR was a wonderful camera in so many ways. But ultimately it was too bulky and heavy to persist with, especially when the much smaller and significantly lighter K-m has the same sensor, and the equally slimmed down K100D has the just as good 6MP predecessor.

Other cameras have easily qualified as being under this size and weight tipping point, but due to clumsy handling and/or awkward and non-intuitive placement of controls, have been written off as too frustrating to use.

Especially for someone who enjoys invisible cameras.

As you can see, some numbers do matter in the life of a photographer and blogger, but perhaps not always the ones that seem obvious.

How about you? Which numbers matter to you in blogging and photography?

Please let us know in the comments below (and don’t forget to tick the “Notify me of new comments via email” box to follow the conversation).

Thanks for looking.

What Next?

Share this post with someone you think will enjoy it using the buttons below.

Read a random post from the archives.

See what I’m up to About Now.

13 thoughts on “If It Is All About The Numbers, Which Numbers Is It All About?”

  1. Nice breakdown there Dan. Talking about the first part of your post, I absolutely agree with about the likes and for me also, the comment section is the most important one and the one I enjoy the most. Interaction and feedback is one of the reasons why I came back to blogging. It’s just not the same on other sites like FB or IG…
    I do like to check the stats once in a while as I’m interested in what parts of the world someone may visit my blog. Cheers!

    1. That’s a good reminder about the location of readers. I do look at this too, and it reminds me how we can find friends all over the world. Looking at my all time country stats, the US is top by some way, then the UK a clear second, then it’s a big gap down to Canada, Australia, Germany, Netherlands, France (many of these must be your visits Yuri!), Spain, Italy. So mostly the US, Australia and Europe, but the next batch are all Asian – Philippines, Thailand, Singapore. The list is a quite incredible trip around the world, with many countries I’ve never heard of. We’re an international community indeed!

  2. As you know I have different cameras which I use in different ways. Much of my choosing comes down to self-constructed aphorisms like “I paid for auto exposure so it had better work”. I have a habit of using fixed ISO, although sometimes I let it float with an upper limit as I’ve yet to see a digital camera produce acceptable results above 400. And of course I experiment a lot with the T100 because that’s what it’s for. This includes using it as a substitute for an old film camera and following all the tried and true rules.
    When it comes to blog numbers … meh, whatever. I’m just having fun, not trying to achieve anything there.

    1. Marc, interesting what you say about auto exposure – “I paid for auto exposure so it had better work”. Because with most cameras (digital especially) you pay more for the modes OTHER than auto exposure! Every camera has some kind of auto mode, even the most basic point and shoot digital, it’s how much manual control you have that usually pushes the cost up. But this did have a tipping point, of course, the earlier film cameras were all fully manual, and it was only I think in the late 60s cameras had any kind of automated exposure. How things go in circles.

      1. Dan, I grew up on film cameras that didn’t even have exposure meters so … automatic is the fancy function you pay for in my mind. Plus you may notice there are multiple auto functions on new cameras, which are usually quite redundant. Program, Scene, Intelligent Auto … modes, modes, and more modes! *LOL* I’m happy if it works under reasonable lighting conditions. I’ll do the adjusting for the unreasonable ones.

      2. Marc, yes I can’t stand those cameras with auto scene modes and as you’re trying to compose you get various icons and words pop up – Food! Macro! Fireworks! Pet!

    1. Richard, gald to hear from you! I don’t know, I’ve never really found it hard to be consistent, I’ve always loved having habits, they’re so powerful.

  3. I just checked. Last post last month and six so far this year. Prolific this year it seems!

    I’ve added the numbers of ND filter strength to my photographic numbers that I want to know, to get my shutter speeds down for my uses in daylight. Probably, I don’t value knowledge of what the numbers mean and do to photographs as much as beginners do, when it’s all mysteriously wrapped in this complicated-looking magical numbers stuff, then I just casually bugger about with it.

    I like the numbers I get when I sell a print though. Possibly that might happen more often if the blogging one wasn’t so rubbish.

    1. I do like when your more serious alter ego post new pictures (or old ones I’ve not met before).

      ND filters are something I keep wanting to experiment with, then forget! I know I have a 49mm ND4 that I can use with at least one of my Pentax K lenses. I should try it out next time, especially as the weather has generally been amazingly sunny and dry for weeks. Then I can shoot wide open and into the sun and see what happens!

      1. Yep, I use a ND64 (6 stop) which normally allows me to comfortably get down to about a 1 sec. -1/4 sec in bright sunny light, which is enough for my purposes. Some like a 10 stop to give that tripod mounted glassy-water-in-daylight thing that’s popular.

  4. I like how you detailed a lot of important information (and numbers) about what is important in taking pictures… it’s a simple hobby but when you look at it, you can get lost in so many numbers…
    There are so many other numbers in addition to what you laid out, that it is quite easy to get lost in them. Ideally, we get a hold of all of this and use it to create a process that is simple, is set up the way we want the final results to look like, and allows us to not think about any of this when we’re concentrating on the picture and on pressing the shutter button…

    1. Yeh, I wrote a post a while ago that started with the simple act of releasing the shutter, and worked backwards through the decisions I’d made along the way to make that final action so simple and seamless. Right back to choice of camera and how it was set up and so on.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s