In one form or another, photography’s been a hobby of mine for around 15 years.
I’d used cameras before then, but not for the specific and deliberate purpose of capturing compositions that I found interesting and beautiful.
This intentional photography phase began around 2006 with my then cameraphone, a Sony Ericsson Cyber-shot K800i, though I’d dabbled a little with my previous phone, a Motorola Razr V3 a year or two previously.
From then until the present, I consider all of the following activities as part of my photography experience.
The ones I’ve enjoyed less I’ve tried to minimise, or eliminate entirely.
This is perhaps the most obvious and central activity for any photographer, and for most of the time, it’s the part I’ve tried to spend most of my time on.
Because for me this usually also involves rambling through the countryside, woodlands and old churches and churchyards, all of which I find greatly restorative, it’s naturally become an activity I’ve tried to maximise.
When I was shooting mostly film (2012-2016) I tried a flat bed CanoScan scanner to save money on processing costs.
On the upside it did allow me to digitally capture unusual film that I couldn’t get scanned commercially, like 35mm film shot with a Holga where its exposed right to the edges of the film and wider than a standard 35mm frame.
And 35mm film was considerably cheaper to purchase and have developed than the Holga’s native 120 film.
Plus it was cheaper, eventually, than having the film scanned by someone else each time.
On the downside though, scanning was fiddly, laborious, massively time consuming and I rarely achieved images as good as even a supermarket lab could get.
Plus it meant even more time hunched over a computer – something I was (and still am) doing more than enough of in my day job.
Not an effective use of my photography time at all, and an aspect I was very glad to leave behind.
My definition of editing is essentially reviewing the photographs made on any particular photowalk, and deleting those I don’t want to keep.
I generally do this in a number of sweeps, as I wrote about before.
This is rewarding in finding photographs I’m happy with and seeing them on a bigger screen than the one on the back of the camera.
Plus a part of me just loves sorting, tidying, putting things in order, and purging the unnecessary.
Once you have just the photos you think are worth keeping (and perhaps sharing – see the next point), you might want to process them in some way to make them look better, or different to how they came out.
I’ve been around the block a few (hundred) times with this one over the years, processing using Lightroom, Raw Therapee (briefly), Hipstamatic and Snapseed.
The latter two are fun and super capable with a very usable interface. Snapseed I continue to use for processing photos made with my phone too.
However, zero processing is my preference.
For b/w I have a handful of cameras with fantastic in-camera high contrast monochrome modes that give me the kind of deep inky blacks I like.
For colour I use my beloved old Pentax CCD sensor DSLRs, and mostly vintage lenses.
I love the idea that when you press the shutter button, you’re making that image permanent there and then, you’re fully committed, there’s no alteration later on (including cropping even).
These days there are three places I still share my photos.
Flickr, which I’ve been with since 2009, and remains very easy to use as a back up for my best photos, and then conveniently creates multiple size images to use elsewhere.
Like on this blog, which is the second place I share photos.
Lastly, I follow two or three forum threads on PentaxForums, and share there occasionally, again using the source photos on Flickr.
I enjoy sharing photos, and it’s satisfying when someone else likes something you made enough to comment on it.
By this I mean maintaining a collection of cameras and related equipment. It includes organising what you have, buying new stuff you (think) you need, and selling stuff you no longer use.
This area is one I’ve had a love/hate relationship with for the last eight or nine years.
Love trying new cameras. Hate the clutter of them.
Love the idea of discovering a new camera that becomes one of my very favourites. Hate the thought of having to sell all those that don’t make the grade and will sit gathering dust otherwise.
And so on.
I’m fairly at peace with this currently.
I have perhaps 10 cameras that get regular enough use to justify keeping. Plus a handful of other cameras and lenses I may get around to selling one day, but fit in a shoebox I can hide and (almost) forget about.
This is what leads to the usually unnecessary acquisition of more.
And by gear research, I don’t purely mean reading camera reviews. Many, or indeed most, of the cameras I’ve bought have been on the basis of seeing photographs made with that particular camera by someone else, and wanting a piece of the same action myself. The classic mistake of thinking it’s the camera that makes the picture, not the photographer.
I wish I’d listened to Ansel earlier.
This happened especially film cameras, where Christos for example can make brilliant pictures with any old film camera he comes across. And make others think they can too -that trap again!
I must have bought dozens of films cameras with the hopes of making photographs like his.
These days I do fairly little gear research as I know it leads to more cameras, which I don’t want.
It remains interesting from time to time to read and trace the evolution of certain cameras and ranges of cameras, and explore back up or down their lineage, but without needing to make any purchase at the end of it.
Reading Photography Blogs
This began for me on Flickr really, finding others whose images I liked, and enjoying how they used Flickr almost like a blog, uploading a few photos with a certain set up or of a certain theme or place, then writing it about it, and inviting comments.
I emulated this myself, before I decided on starting the independent photography blog you’re reading now, in late 2015.
I do follow some other photography blogs still, though many of my favourites from a couple of years ago have all but dried up, sadly.
Personally I think the blog format still remains fantastic for sharing images and thoughts around this hobby of ours. It’s a shame so many others don’t any longer and have moved to sites like Instagram, which I remain mystified by. Don’t know about you, but I’d rather view photographs (and have others view mine) at a size larger than an inch or two wide.
Writing And Maintaining A Photography Blog
As I said above, this started with Flickr really, posting a few photos from my latest batch, then writing about the equipment I used. This was mostly during the phase from 2012-2016 when I was heavily into film, along with dozens of different film cameras.
I decided at some point I wanted to return to a stand alone blog (I’ve had blogs in some form since around 2003 on Blogger and Tumblr), and chose WordPress as it seemed the best option for what I wanted.
And so, on 5 December 2015, 35hunter was born.
My writing frequency has evolved in the past five and half years, partly through experimenting with what gives me the “best” readership and engagement, partly due to what else was happening in my life at the time, and partly in correlation to my photography interest and output.
I do still greatly enjoy having a place to call my own online, and not just a profile on Flickr or Twitter or Instagram or wherever.
One’s own blog feels more like having your own quiet place where people can come and hang out, rather than just renting a temporary stand in an infinitely huge exhibition hall where everyone is shouting and screaming for attention, in between bombarding you with ads you have zero interest (which is what social media feels like to me).
As I’ve said numerous times previously, this blog would be pretty quiet and lonely without the input from you as a reader. Which is why I’ve always strived to respond to every comment, and engage in interesting conversations with like minded people like you.
I see each post as a starting point for others to share their views and experiences, not just an opportunity to tell you about mine.
As you can see, some aspects of photography I’ve reduced, if not entirely eliminated over the years as I just don’t enjoy them (scanning film, post processing, and to a great extent buying and selling gear).
If I had to cull further I would focus mostly on shooting photographs, editing, then having this blog to share them – and the thoughts around them.
I could also pretty easily get by with just one DSLR (probably my Pentax K100D) and one compact (Ricoh GRD III or Lumix LX3) for the rest of my photography days, rather than a dozen options.
I know others see photography in different ways and, for example, enjoying the post-processing activities more than the initial capturing of the photos.
So how about you? Which faces of photography do you engage with? Which do you enjoy most? Which would you rather do less of?
As always, 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).
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29 thoughts on “The Many Faces Of Photography”
I grew up with photography. Now I am being denied it.
Why are you being denied it Marc? Lack of opportunities to go out and photograph?
The vision loss I’ve suffered combined with the e-Bay idiocy that has stopped me from changing my equipment to items more suitable to my requirements. It’s knocked the wind out of me, so to speak.
What about online photo stores with a good reputation, warranties etc Marc?
Canada is such a small market that rarely do any stores advertise they will take your used equipment. One place I contacted offered so little money it wouldn’t have been worth the cost of shipping. Yet what they charge for used goods – I could buy new for.
At the moment I am in photographic limbo.
That’s a shame to hear Marc. Hope you find a way out!
All of it. Considering what to capture. Framing the shot. Capturing the RAW image. Selection of which to keep. Processing the RAW image and bending it to my will (channelling my inner Ansel Adams). Putting it up on my blog.
I stopped collecting things when I became an adult. I have one smartphone with camera, on film camera and one digital camera. I don’t like choosing.
I don’t like choosing when there is too much choice. Put another way, I like a little variety, but not so much that the decision as to which camera to use takes more than a minute or so!
Interesting comment about collecting things. What did you collect as a child?
As a child, I collected:
Old electronics which I repaired using other old electronics. 😃
As a drinking age adult I collected
Beer bottles from all the international ales I drank. Tossed in the trash when I got married. 🤣
Now I collect experiences.
I relate regarding experiences. I think this ties in with photography well too, a visual record of experiences, to supplement our memories, which in my case can be selective and unreliable!
I do have a part of me that is strongly drawn to physical collecting though. If I’m not careful I could easily collect t-shirts, trainers, old hi-fi stuff…
Oh and some collections have been made easier in the digital age. At one point I had close to 600 CD albums. Now I physically own none, and 99% of my music listening is Spotify, even if a big chunk of it is the music I used to have on CDs.
Oh, man. You’ve just reminded me of one thing I did collect as a young adult. during my undergraduate-graduate university years I created a 300+ CD collection. Then I was married and we had children and we bought a house and then media players came long my wife wanted to know when I was selling the collection. I think I have about 50 CDs left.
I had about 40GB of music on an old iPod, but it crashed and iTunes with its impenetrable interface meant I could never find the originals either (CDs I’d bought then ripped). So I lost it all.
That sounds terrible.
Thanks. I got over it. And in some ways it was good to have that kind of reset. The music I loved most I’ve gone back to one way or another since, you might lose the physical CDs (or the mp3s or whatever) but the emotion and the connection remains strong.
For me it’s really about taking pictures, everything else is secondary. My editing is quite fast and rigorous, processing is as simple as possible – basics in Snapseed, then a preset in Lightroom Mobile (black and white) or VSCO (color). The sharing part is probably where I struggle the most. Apparently not social enough for “social” media, and blogging feels like beating a dead horse.
I do relate to much of this Robert. Except blogging feeling like beating a dead horse, I still enjoy it and get enough interaction too that it feels worthwhile for others also.
Made a Flickr account yesterday, just for fun. Let’s see if I can do something with it.
I’ll be interested in hearing how you find Flickr in the coming weeks and months Robert. I’ve followed you!
I still prefer film, although I also shoot digital. I don’t particularly like processing, preferring to make the image in the camera as much as possible, but Photoscape does everything I need if I do need to make edits. I use the Contax/Zeiss system for 35mm and don’t see myself changing, maybe adding one or two more lenses in the future, but what I have pretty much covers it. For medium format I have Mamiya RB67 and RZ67 gear, with enough lenses to cover most situations, so I am happy with that. My DSLR is an entry level Canon EOS 1100D, and I usually shoot in manual with Contax/Zeiss glass using an adapter. I have some work in a gallery near here, which is very satisfying, and I enjoy writing my blog which I publish once a week. It is a constant learning process, and a real treat recently was when my son, also a keen photographer since I gave him an SLR film camera a couple of years ago, came with me on a five day photo trip into some of our most spectacular national parks!
That’s great about the gallery Steve, good for you. Do you need to process the DSLR shots much?
Yes the learning process in all of this is fun, and rewarding. I’m not sure what I’ll learn next, and I’m trying to move past the stage where I feel I need another different camera to be able to learn something new!
I have to say I am not fond of processing, but I will tweak the contrast and exposure a little if it helps, and of course do any cropping or trimming that is needed….I see so many photographers whose images are over processed for my taste, so that the image lacks truth But, if we were all the same, and liked the same things, it would be a very boring life!
Yes there’s always personal taste Steve, and I imagine everyone has certain looks that they don’t like. For me, aside from the over processing HDR look, I can’t stand those isolated colour photos, where there’s like a girl in a snowy forest in b/w and she’s holding a balloon that’s red, and that balloon is the only thing in colour in the whole image. Just so fake and tacky to me, but obviously some people like these enough to make them!
I am totally with you!
Let’s see, and go by parts…
– Picture taking is definitely the best part of the experience, and one I would like to increase, but like all nice things, I enjoy it when I can. I also try to maximize it by sticking to gear that I like, enjoy using and enjoy the output the most.
– Post processing, to me, is a need, because the JPEG engine of my Pentax cameras can’t get the best out of them. I get more details, better colors and a more natural dynamic range by post-processing the RAW files. Lately I’ve been keeping this simple by having initial profiles for my favorite film emulations in RawThrerapee – and I like that these film emulations don’t bring artificial noise or light leaks or any of that. They’re basically just tone curves.
– Blogging is something I still might do… since I don’t do social media.
– I do still look at gear… which can be fun because like you I spend a lot of time looking for pictures taken with the gear. I look at other systems too. Recently I have been looking at the Sony A-mount with the 14.2MP CCD sensor, which is the newest large CCD sensor ever produced. They made at least 4 models with this sensor. What holds me back is the fact that the lenses are not as exciting as what I already have with Pentax, so I might as well stick with what I have.
– Printing is something I should do more often, because when I do is when I truly feel accomplished in terms of being a photographer. Nothing quite like having a print in your hands.
I guess that summarizes it…
I think maybe now if I went back to RAW and processing, I probably could fine some simple set ups I liked and just stick with them for most photos. This is essentially what I do with Snapseed in processing phone photos. When I was using LightRoom, I was just too dazzled by all the possibilities. I had, I don’t know, maybe 30 or 40 presets downloaded, most of them based on old films. I would take a RAW picture and start applying different presets. And like maybe 10 of them, then not be able to choose on one, as they weren’t necessarily better than each other, just different. Imagine like going out with a film camera and taking a shot with one of your favourite film emulsions, then loading another favourite film emulsion and taking the shot again, then another, and so on. It’s just too much variety and choice in a short space of time, I can’t handle it. Hence why I love using cameras where I’ve set them up in camera to produce a certain look, then just shoot, knowing I have no post-processing to do afterwards.
Re the Sonys, I has an a100 and a350 a while back. I bought the a350 first as it was only about £20 more I recall (in a camera shop) and seemed on paper to offer better spec. But then I found it couldn’t shoot with old manual lenses (M42) in Av mode, only Manual (if I recall correctly) which made it too fiddly for me then. So I went back and bought the a100 a few days later! This could shoot Av and offered a much better experience (for me) with my old lenses.
The a350 has a 14MP CCD, so I think this is the one you mention. The a100 has a 10MP and I wouldn’t be surprised if it’s the same 10MP CCD in the old Pentax DSLRs we both know and love.
I later discovered some of the old Minolta AF lenses which of course use the same mount, it being inherited by Sony when they bought out Konica Minolta’s camera division just before developing the a100 etc. There are some beautiful lenses in that range. Which gave the a350 a whole new lease of life.
It was capable of lovely images but just didn’t feel as good to use as the old Pentax bodies. Just simple stuff like the shape of the hand grip doesn’t fit quite as well, and the rubber is not as tactile. The Sonys generally felt more cheap and plasticky than the Pentax bodies of the same and slightly earlier era.
If you sought out a couple of the old Minolta lenses it might be worth picking up an a350 – I liked the Minolta A 50/1.7, and loved the 35-70mm “Baby Beercan” and 50/2.8 Macro. But then you’re kind of getting into a new mount without any obvious benefits that you can’t get from your Pentax kit. I think you’d probably pick up a Sony and like me find it just doesn’t have the same quality feel as a Pentax.
This was sooc, no processing –
You can see a few others in what’s public of my a350 album on Flickr, though some are PP’d.
Nice life documentary Dan. I usually follow your blog via RSS now, but want to chime in here. I’ve been making pictures since a young boy, over fifty years now, so been there and done that all you have said. For me at this point it’s all about the click of the shutter and legacy – leaving a message on platforms that I can have unlimited uploads and don’t have to pay for. One of them is the Pentax Gallery https://pentaxphotogallery.com/frankcasella and the other is ‘my’ Vivaldi blog https://fjc1029.vivaldi.net/ I have a new commitment to building on these and more.
Thanks Frank, good to hear from you. You recommended ipernity to me a while back, as an alternative to Flickr, how’s it going on there?
Dan interesting you mention iPernity. They are going strong, memberships are up. But, as I mentioned in my comment, iPernity is one of the platforms you have to pay to upload a lot of images.
My mind now is to build a legacy online with freemium platforms so, in the event of my death, my family doesn’t have to worry about paying the bills over the years. Otherwise, I think they will just delete it all.
Then what is there to show not only that I lived in this world, but more important the message my images deliver to the viewer over the years and decades.
This is what photography is all about. Since the iPhone came out more pictures have been made than in the history of photography. So we need to be meaningful and specific about what message we deliver through this medium that lasts the test of time.
With the war torn world we are living in we don’t know what tomorrow will bring, so take care of unfinished business today.
Yes, the trouble is we don’t know if the platforms we use today for free, or little outlay, will become more expensive, or entirely extinct in a year or two, let alone decades from now.
I think of my childhood and collectively as a family I think we have 50 photos with me in, if that.
Our youngest child, born in 2019, probably had 50 photos taken by family within the first two days of his life… I have no idea how our kids will deal with the sheer volume of photos made today…