— Middle [Name] James

The shadows cast by the fence and shrubbery in this image remind me of a histogram.

Shadows falling on the sidewalk

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It’s almost time to retire for the night and tomorrow is Thursday already. Time flies.

It’s been a busy week and I wanted to find time to write something other than a quick note, but I didn’t find the time, so here’s a picture. I took it last Friday with a new camera and lens. I’ll mention more about that later.

Woman reading a book

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Number of items in a photo library

I’ve been taking photographs now on a regular basis and for many years. I don’t have most of my early 35mm work, as I left it with a friend who I haven’t seen in a long time. I managed to scan a few old prints, but most of what I have in my library is digital. I started with a cheap Fuji 1.3 megapixel camera in 2001, switched it up for a Sony Cybershot DSC-H2 in 2006, then moved into the DSLR realm in 2010 with the purchase of a Nikon D5000. I’ve since upgraded to a D90 and I also have a D200 along with a selection of lenses.

My photo library contains close to 30,000 pictures. Some of them are due to be removed, but a good percentage are shots that I’m keeping. What on earth do I do with all these photographs?

I manage the whole lot in a single Aperture library. The file is of course enormous, and I’m planning to split the library up by year into smaller files. This will help keep everything in order and also help make my computer run faster. As it stands, even my newer Macbook Pro with 8GB of RAM struggles to keep moving.

Aside from splitting the library up into smaller chunks, and figuring out a better backup solution (I currently don’t have one), I also need to do some organizing within the Aperture library, rating (or rejecting), assigning keywords and titles where applicable and uploading to flickr or sharing accordingly. But the larger challenge is knowing what to do with all this material as it continues to accumulate.

Pursuing photography as a profession?

I’m not a professional photographer and to this day haven’t made any money from photography (I haven’t tried), but I do enjoy it as a hobby and would love to take it further. I’ve read some great books on the business of photography. One of my favourites is Visionmongers by David duChemin. David didn’t start out as a photographer, but rather took a zig-zag path, first to theology school, then into a career as a professional comedian, then a photographer. He’s managed to make a name for himself and carve out a niche in the world and humanitarian genre, and his work speaks for itself. He’s got business savvy, and he’s also a great writer. His books are engaging and fun to read. In Visionmongers he really spells out what it means to pursue a career in photography. He makes it clear, and by his own personal example, that it is possible to start from scratch and build yourself a business as a photographer, but he also reminds the reader at every opportunity that the reality means a lot of hard work, and not everyone will be up for it.

If I ever got the chance to meet David, I’d be sure to ask him how many photos are in his library and what on earth he does with them all. For now, I’m still figuring what to do with mine. I’ll be sure to let you know when I have more to add on the subject.

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I’m not going to be able to keep up with writing a blog post every day. It’s a nice idea, but I don’t always get time to fit that in, so I’m dropping the bar a bit and aiming for one a week. At least. I may end up writing something every day, maybe not. But the minimum is one a week, and we’ll see how it goes.

More photography

I’ve been using my tripod more and taking pictures of still life, inanimate objects and the like. Here’s an image I made last night.

Abstract photograph

I used my 28-105mm lens, zoomed at 105mm, so obviously this is not a photo of Saturn’s rings, although it could be mistaken. It’s actually a copy of Animals by Pink Floyd, spinning around at 33 rpm on my record player.

I had to do a little bit of retouching on this because there were lots of dust spots. I keep forgetting that my D200 needs a serious cleaning, and while it’s fine most of the time, when I stop it way down and I’m shooting bright or mid-tones (like the example above, or say a cloudy sky) then I see hundreds, if not thousands of little marks on the final image. It’s real nuisance, and one of the two major pain points when it comes to DSLR photography. The other pain point is the rapid rate at which cameras are developing, keeping us caught this endless cycle of having to upgrade equipment. Or not. Aside from the dirty sensor, and some noise issues at high ISO setting, my D200 is still an excellent camera and I’m not in any rush to replace it. Unless Nikon decides to bring out a D400 as replacement to the 300s. But that’s another story.

For now, here’s another shot of the record. I’ll be uploading some more from this series to my Flickr photostream.

Vinyl Record and Ortofon Stylus

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There was a wild wind blowing last night, with lots of snow drifting here and there. Not the kind of night you want to be out on the roads. Here’s the view from our front door.

Nighttime snowy scene with shadows on the ground

I caught a bit of lens flare in the bottom right. It doesn’t really distract too much from the rest of the scene, so I didn’t bother trying to remove it.

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Part of my interest in keeping this blog going is the organic nature in which content is published and then indexed by search engines. I look at my site analytics from time to time, and while I don’t have many visitors (mostly because I haven’t published any interesting, relevant or consistent content on a regular basis) I do take note of where the few hits I do get are coming from.

Optimizing this blog

I work with clients of my own, helping them to understand and implement digital marketing strategies, and of course blogging plays a big part. It’s ironic that I haven’t really used my own blog to promote my services. Thankfully I haven’t needed to. But now that I have taken to writing content more regularly, I am paying more interest to the impact (if any) that it has in terms of traffic to my blog.

As part of my effort to make this blog better, I realized that the last few posts are doing little, if anything as far as SEO (Search Engine Optimization) is concerned. I plan to change that by giving each post a more meaningful title.

Switching it up a bit

I’m also finding that posting something about the previous day is quite a challenge, and since I’m usually not getting to post anything before the end of the day, I’m going to change it instead to a quick post at the end of the day about ANYTHING. It might be a summary of the day, or just one account of something that happened, or a thought, or an idea. It could be anything. One thing’s for certain, it will include at least one image that I took that day.

And so, here’s some image from yesterday. I’ll get caught up on today, tomorrow.

Portrait of a woman outside in winter

Black and white picture of a woman in a snowy scene

Woman and child walking down train tracks, towards sunset

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Yesterday we had a lazy morning, as is sometimes, but not always the case on a Saturday. We had a late brunch and afterwards I took some shots of Narayan jumping off the bed.

Small boy climbing on a bed

Small boy jumping off a bed

Small boy jumping off a bed

The light coming in through the window is always nice in the morning and afternoon. It’s not direct light, so it’s quite soft and I had to use high ISO of 6400, as I wasn’t using flash. I also snapped some shots of Lindsay. The patio door downstairs faces the same direction as the bedroom window, so the light is of the same quality, only there’s more of it since the window is larger.

Woman looking out a window

We went out for a walk in the snow and came home with some more shots. After dinner I got out my Speedlight and set up a new umbrella shoe-mount system I got recently. I put my 28-205 lens on my D90 and figured out how to set up the camera as a remote commander for the Speedlight. I actually watched a video on YouTube which showed me how to set up the SB600 and D90 for wireless flash.

When I had the umbrella and stand set up with the SB600 mounted, I positioned my camera on a tripod, set the timer and took a couple of self portraits to test it. After that I asked Narayan and Lindsay to sit for me.

Portrait of a small boy

Portrait of a small boy

Portrait of mother and child

Some of these shots aren’t as sharp as I would like, but this is my first ever attempt using off-camera flash, and I’m fairly happy with the results – most definitely encouraged and looking forward to doing more. I have a reflector and some other flash accessories that have been sitting around for a couple of years now, and I’m happy to be finally making steps into the realm of off-camera flash photography.

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We had to create an image as part of a team exercise at work. The image had to represent the word introvert. Here’s what I came up with. It took around 30 minutes to arrive at an idea, set it up with things I had laying around the office, and shoot it.

Box and Scissors

Other than this I didn’t have any meetings or other deliverables, so I wasn’t at the office much. I did some personal things and spent time with my family in the evening.

It was a sort of introverted day, I suppose.

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In an effort to put this blog to good use, I’m undertaking a commitment to write a daily post, summarizing what I did yesterday. In conjunction with this I’m also going to make sure I take at least one picture a day and include it along with the post.

Here goes the first entry.

A daily report on yesterday, February 13, 2013.

The day started later than I would have liked, but I needed a little extra rest – catching up on missed sleep. I had a work meeting at 11, followed by a couple more in the afternoon.

I left my office around 4 and headed over to Kitchener Waterloo. They’re actually two separate cities but they really merge into one. It’s quite a sprawling place and easy to get lost if you don’t know your way around.

I was in KW meeting a fellow called Doug who was selling an old Nikon lens. He’s a professional photographer who specializes in architectural, commercial and small product photography among other things. It was nice to meet him, and I was happy to purchase the Nikon 28-105 f/3.5-4.5 D lens from him. I’m having fun playing around with it. Here’s the first test shot I took with it on my D90.

Nikon 28-105 test shot

After my visit to Waterloo I headed back to Guelph and met up with my friend James. We had a bite to eat and talked about the usual things – user experience design, websites, business ideas and opportunities, conspiracy theories and much more.

At the end of the day I stayed up late, worked on my photo library and played around with the new lens.

Delete key on a computer

Despite what it says, I’m going to keep it.

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Deciding whether or not to get the Nikon 35mm f/1.8 DX lens

I wasn’t sure about buying a 35mm lens. I already have the 50mm f/1.8 D and hadn’t quite convinced myself that the 35mm would be the most useful addition to my camera bag. I was really more interested in getting an ultra wide zoom, but my options range from around $450 used (for a Sigma 10-20) to over $1,000 for something brand new, after taxes have been factored in. Plus, there’s quite a choice, and so I decided to take my time thinking about that one.

I was still on the fence about this Nikon AF-S Nikkor 35mm 1:1.8G DX when I was at the camera store, but decided to take it after some deliberation. I always had the option to return it if I found I didn’t like it for any reason.

When I got home I put the lens on my D90 and took a few shots. It felt great of course, as any new lens usually does. But I still wasn’t convinced that I needed this one. I’ve got a 17-55 f/2.8 and the 50mm f/1.8 so a 10-20mm zoom would give me something I don’t have already. The 35, well, I just couldn’t decide. Actually, I half decided I didn’t need it, because I put it back in the box and had dinner.

Later in the evening I took the lens out of it’s box again, put it on the D90 again and took some more shots.

Buddha Head

Buddha Head

Toy Cars

Book and toy car

Page from The Book Of Photography

An easy decision after all

I have to say, I love this lens and I’m most definitely keeping it. Aside from the fact it’s got the silent wave motor, manual focus override, and just feels a lot more solid now than my older 50mm f/1.8, I really love what I’m getting here from this DX-specific lens, which is essentially a standard 50mm focal length, given the crop factor of the DX sensor. I also love the colours that this lens captures – it feels very warm.

I’m still going to keep the 50mm 1.8 as that’s better suited to portraits, especially given that it’s more like a 75mm on my DX cameras. But this 35mm is now my go-to lens for low light situations where I don’t want to be carrying any heavy lenses or camera gear. It stays on my D90, which goes with me most places.

What do you think? Have you been considering purchasing this lens? Do you already own it? What other standard prime lenses do you own? What are your favourites? If you’re reading, please share your comments.

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