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Monday, 07 October 2013


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I've only been at this since summer 2005, starting with a DSLR and autofocus zoom while shooting mostly color shots. Since then, I've gradually tightened my preferences, paring down to film rangefinders and Tri-X. I mostly use a 50mm, although once or twice a year, I'll take out a 35mm for a roll of film. When I switched to film, I used a Nikon scanner, but I recently bought an enlarger, so my inkjet print days are probably past me now.

I basically do "street," although it's really just a matter of shooting things outdoors. As for visual style, this is still in development, and the potential to attain a signature look remains unclear. Nevertheless, I do know that I love the whole process involved with film photography, and though I doubt it will happen in my lifetime, film's complete disappearance would likely prompt my withdrawal from photography altogether.

As a beginner, I have no permanent address yet.

I do have a hometown where most of my pictures are taken.

My favorite subjects in no particular order are: carabaos, my son, my wife.

Landscapes taken with a 35mm digital (currently a Canon 5DII) at 28mm (usually an adapted C/Y Zeiss Distagon 28/2.8). Although in the last two years the 21mm focal length has grown in me (thanks to a fantastic little Olympus OM 21/3.5). Also people portraits at 28mm, environmental if you will.

Lately I have been exploring modern, autofocus lenses to see what I have been missing. And I have been thinking about buying an autofocus wide lens. But I have also been getting back to lenses I used to use (I just shimmed my M42 Pentax SMC 50/1.4 -latest version- enough so it does not hit the mirror of the 5DII, and it is a joy to use). So in the end, I would say "home" is a 28mm in 35mm.

You seem to be referring specifically to the photography we do as opposed to the photography we appreciate. For me, they were one and the same for a time. I was a card-carrying, dues-paying "Outdoor Photographer" who enjoyed the color photos of the better known/published nature photographers. I'd go out with a backpack full of lenses and a Bogen 3221 tripod for a morning and be happy as anything.

This changed drastically after my daughter was born. I had less free time. I was up later and night and consequently not up early on weekend mornings. And I had a much handier subject. We met other parents and over most of the last eleven years, I've been able to get many wonderful shots of the children of these friends (a core group of 6-10) as well, as the kids became accustomed to me and my camera. I'm sure I could put together a great book ;)

But tweens photograph differently than kids. They're much more self-conscious and neither they, nor I seem to enjoy photographing them quite as much. Sure, jumping into the pool and showing off, but the magic is gone.

I have several years of sports and dance recitals and school concerts ahead of me, but I'm not quite sure now where my "home base" will end up. That brings me back to appreciation. I can say that what I like to look at has changed considerably over the years. I find the nature photography I used to love beautiful, but not that interesting. I look at a lot more variety, trying to figure it out. I enjoy looking at black & white, but have always shot color (aside from a handful of experiments). The gear has always been driven by practicality, but when I no longer need a 70-200/2.8 in the future, that opens up, too.

The biggest change, overall, is that I've gone from preferring photos with no evidence of "the hand of man" to preferring those that do show signs of civilization.

yes, but it's changed over time. not very quickly, nor very often. but it's clearly not the same today as it was 30 years ago.

I'm not sure I do, actually. I really enjoy a pretty broad range of photographic disciplines, for the lack of a better word. I'm presently in the Grand Tetons area doing landscape photography (as best I can as the parks are all closed), but I really also enjoy product/editorial, found still life, and travel photography. I'm probably most proficient at professional motorsports and architectural/spaces/interiors.

What I would really love to master is street photography.

I love to photograph the world as I meet it when I'm out and about. I've been doing that for about 40 years.

As a result I tend to like compact and light equipment. The E-M1 one may squeeze in, because it's fast and dependable and flexible.

I get the thrust of this. Yes, even though I dabble in a bunch of stuff, I find I most like doing & seeing bstract landscapes: urban or natural. Even further refinement would be contrasts of natural form and man-made geometry.

One big departure from that, however: underwater, where I'm a complete nudibrach nut.

@Mike: Jay Maisel?

My "photo home base" is people in landscape (or in townscape, or sometimes indoors). The challenge is to get the figure in exactly the right place, usually in the middle ground. Also to have the person looking completely at ease with his/her environment. Unposed and ideally unaware of the camera. Not street photography, but overlapping it. My most successful project recently had the figure in a seascape; a swimmer in this case. Goff

Interesting thought. I learned photography on a Ricoh 500G rangefinder shooting 35mm B&W film. Notwithstanding many toys over the years, I've mostly shot with 35-40mm lenses (or equivalents). And now the camera I use the most is Sony RX-1 with an optical finder - which I think of as a digital era small rangefinder equivalent. So I agree with your home base - having never thought about it before,'home base' for me is they way of seeing through an optical viewfinder representing a 35mm lens on 35mm film, rather than particular subject matter. That is, I think the equipment leads me to subject matter suited to it, rather than the other way around.

Undoubtedly b/w candids. Must have people, and have some kind of story, Film/digital, camera make not important. The shot just has to have guts to it.

I'm divided between two styles:

I do urban and suburban landscapes with heavy dSLR guear and tripod, without any people in it. I tend to only do this type of photography on autumn and winter, I find the light better suited for the kind of mood I want to achieve. The sunset being earlier helps too, not to take sunset postcard-photos mind you, but because of the famous magic hour and the early night light (with the combination of lamp lights and the residual sky light).

The other genre I do is classic-style street photography. Innitially I was thinking on doing this as just as a photography exercise on the summer months, when the sunlight in Portugal is very strong and (for me) unnapealing to landscapes. In the summer there's more people and craziness on the street too.

This style of photography started growing on me tough, it's very challeging on a technical level and I feel it helped me grow a lot as a photographer. But the results are completely incompatible with the landscapes I also make, to the point that, when I finnaly update my website I might consider splitting it in two for the sake of coherence.


I have two home bases, both closely tied to taking strolls with my wife and a superzoom (FZ200)over my shoulder.

The first is the staggering grandeur of the sky. Here in the upstate New York, there is almost always something interesting going on overhead,and it is fun to try to capture it. You can see the results of this work here: http://www.airgunsofarizona.com/blog/about-jock-elliott

The second is wildlife, opportunistically captured at long range and made possible by the portability and versatility of the superzoom that weighs less than pound-and-a-half. (I have tried, really tried, to like the new breeds of system cameras, but I know in my heart that eventually, like my old screw-mount 35mm film Pentaxes, they will just gather dust.) This summer, at the limits of optical and digital zoom, we captured images of bald eagles, shared them with a TV weatherman who love nature pix, and he shared them with his audience.

Cheers, Jock

Emptiness and space.

Mike asks, "Do you have a 'home base'... ?"

I ask, should you? And if so, why?

in reply to your question: Alex Webb?

I'm obsessed with shooting the Cuyahoga Valley. I worked there for years and have gone hiking there since I was little. I shoot it in every way with film and digital(Tri-X in my Minolta X-700 being my favorite). I even take old Brownie's down there with 120 re-spooled onto 620 spools.
I actually woke up early this morning and really wanted to get down there because it was a beautiful, clear morning - but most of the parking lots are locked because of the government shutdown.
Street photography is my favorite thing to look at - but I have no talent for it. So I always find myself heading to remote, lonely locations in "The Valley".

The darker, the better. It's a lot harder for me to 'think' photographically in bright sunlight(except for IR, weirdly). Not the best comfort zone to have if you were planning to not buy a bunch of fast glass and bigger sensors:)

I've been taking pictures "seriously" for over 45years now and in all that time wouldn't say that I've developed any one style (and thats to my detriment). While photography has made my living at a couple of points in my life, it hasnt been my lifes work. My guess is that I enjoy photojournalism the most but have lots of fun with almost everything else ( not really any macro)Last weekend I went out to photograph the "Painted Churches" in Central Texas, and used B&W 120 film and one lens only. Had a great time! The next day I shot my churches "Blessing of the Animals" service with my D700 and a zoom lens. Had more fun!
I think my conclusion is, for me, that I wont ever be a "Great Photographer" because I have too much fun with a lot of different styles!

Home base is a bit of an oxymoron for us. We travel...A LOT, but as we live in the Baja, my favorite subject(s) are the people and places of Mexico. I shoot them every chance I get which is pretty much all the time. AND there are some awesome photographers down here.
Just saying.

My "home" has changed over the years but now seems to be settling toward square format compositions through an 80mm lens onto 120-format HP5+ or Tri-X pulled to EI200.

As for subject, usually landscape or landscape detail and looking through my medium format negatives it seems that trees often find themselves being shanghaied into service as a foreground anchor point when it would otherwise be just clouds and mountains.

I try to venture away from my "safe place," staying there is not very good for creativity. Alas, I'm most frequently unsuccessful- so I do it vicariously through the work of others.

When I discovered the work of James Ravilious (for people) and Edwin Smith (for landscapes) I knew I'd found my 'teachers' - not for slavish copying but as reference points and guides of huge skill and vision, exemplars of how to take those kinds of pictures.
As for lenses, I think I've taken 90% of my pictures with 40mm focal length or equivalent in formats from APS-c to 120 rollfilm. As Mike wrote in a lovely essay on the focal length on TOP, 40mm is pretty well always 'just right'.

Found pictures in contrasty BW, often with a clear graphical element to it, taken on the fly in my everyday life. Rarely seek out pictures, if I do it's an area I like or enjoy to hang out in. I like handy cameras.

But then again, I sometimes happen to be in the misty mountains shooting colour, or find the autumn leaves particularily beautiful in the right light. You don't really have a distinct style unless you depart from it from time to time...

Loved the "unpeopled natural world in color is home base".

I managed to get through a one month vacation in Europe and get back with nearly 1700 pictures and almost no people at all. At most, out of focus pieces of people in the background.
I shoot mostly textures and houses. And bikes, love the bikes!

My wife often laughs and says I could've taken those same pictures walking up and down our street for a month.

My current "home" is shooting yachts on the Solent.

The strange thing is, although I've lived on the Solent for some 26 years, it's only in the last 6 years or so I've begun to see the pictures. Prior to that I shot many other subjects, but almost never yachts (and for those who don't know, the Solent off the south coast of England is a mecca for yachting).

Similarly, while in the past I've been a fan of the telephoto (the longer the better), in the last couple of years I'm using "normal" and wide angle lenses more and more.

I have no idea why this "relocation" happened.

Clouds -- from fair weather to stormy and everything in between.


Anywhere but home. Other than family photos, I rarely make pictures of things or places that I've seen before. I like to be surprised, so I spend lots of time behind the wheel, searching out subjects and locations that are new to me. Random observations - I enjoy being a tourist.

It's probably cliche, but my "home base" is black and white landscapes, often with long shutter speeds, using my Hasselblad or big MP dslr, mostly with a normal lens. Boring to many, but I enjoy doing it.

Hi Mike,

Home to me is the natural world, normally with a tripod and a short telephoto. With approx 10.000 miles of road within 50 miles of our house we just choose seaside/moorland/woods/river and set off with maps to explore.
I normally pick out details as my sweeping vistas never seem to work, and living in a tourist destination I try and photograph things differently – image search a location and see how everyone else photographed it.
I'm uncomfortable photographing people although I'll do candids of friends occasionally.
My only regret is not recording more of my local town as it would be nice to have a record of the changes as buildings get knocked down and rebuilt: the majority of historic pictures that are still relevant tend to be social rather than landscape/nature.
As regards style I don't really have one, "Jack of all-trades; master of none", so I'll never be an artist.

Best wishes phil

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