week 52 | 2011

2011, Photography, Project, weekly project

It is the end of the year and much could be said. A lot has happened to me, my family, and you readers. My thoughts are with those who last their loved ones. And I think of those who deal with sick relatives or friends. We endured the economic turmoil and witnessed political changes all around us. Many dealt with severe tragedies like the people of Japan and the young people in Norway. In the end I still hope you’ve enjoyed your time with family and friends. And of course that kept the passion of photography alive.

It was a meaningful year though. Even though I had my physical problems this year I was still able to photograph regularly with some friends, mostly in Amsterdam. Met some great people in 2011, both in the real and virtual world. Crossed paths with wonderful and inspiring photographers. I totally lived my photography project this year and dealt with all ups and downs. I had no idea how to start, but just did it. February felt awful, March was a turning point, and from April up it turned out better for me. I posted 61 articles on my blog (including this one) and 52 of these where focused on photography a day project. The blog passed the 500,000 views and survived another year. And it makes me humble that other photographers pick up the same idea and do their own photography a day project. I thank you all for that. I feel fortunate to keep this blog going and that my photography gets seen and my voice gets heard.

This last week I wanted to make a small return to the kind of photography I used to do in the previous decade, landscape photography. While I absolutely love to do stroll and street photography, I really appreciate landscape photography. I consider it a great way to learn a lot about composition and light.  Again in 2011 I think there has been too much emphasize on gear, techniques (most noticeably post processing), and the typical compositional rules. It is either photography from the technological point of view, the professionals who make the money, or the curators with their intellectually lectured tone. In the blogosphere there are unfortunately few exceptions, like “A Lesser Photographer” (a good read although mostly in terms of motivation). And unless you are a high profile photographer, most photography blogs tend to be forgotten at some point.

I tried to stay away from much of the typical forum gear talk, but did write an article about the Pentax Q and purchased the Panasonic GF1 with the classic 20mm f/1.7 lens. The ever ongoing raw versus jpeg saga still continues and really pisses me off. Yeah, great that a much mentioned blogger Steve Huff can fix a photograph in a minute (I absolutely respect Steve for all the efforts he makes, but turning your blog in a money maker can be a trap too). And that raw images are best for that, but I can fix a bad exposed raw or jpeg image in a second. “Trashcan!” Seriously, the craft of photography is about exposing correctly based on your intentions and composing thoughtfully. So this one is for the newbies: “Learn the basics of photography right and learn all the post processing much later when you are comfortable with the basics“. A badly exposed photograph is there to remind you that you exposed incorrectly. Learn from the mistake and do it over. Rant over.

But who really gives a sh#$t, when so many people lost their lives, their loved ones, their houses this year. And while we bothered about camera, lens, and sensor availability from Japan, (earthquake, tsunami, and nuclear disaster) and Thailand (floods), they were the ones who suffered. Seriously a bizarre world we live in. So lets make the most of everyday, photograph the ones you love, stick to the gear you have, define a project, or simply enjoy the freedom and exploratory feeling of stroll photography. Really appreciate each and every day, look back without moaning, and look forward with excitement. All good light for 2012!

For 2012 I will continue with my photography a day project. I am considering exhibiting all 365 photographs of the first year, although I am still not quite sure how. I like to finish with a quote by Jay Maisel I read in one of Eric Kim’s tweets: “The more equipment you take, the less pictures you’ll take.

All photographs by Wouter Brandsma

28 thoughts on “week 52 | 2011

  1. Wouter, excellent post. I can totally agree and you’re on the mark, its all about the images we create and not the gear. Although I must say we sometimes shuffle through gear as junk food but in the end, we must find what we’re comfortable with and pursue that light. Your project has been one of the principal inspirations/motivators for me to start my own. I think you’ve gone through the trials and tribulations photography can bring the artist and you’ve adapted and I must say you’ve conquered. To use one of my favorite quotes from Daido Moriyama:

    “For me, photography is not a means by which to create beautiful art, but a unique way of encountering genuine reality.”

    I think this quote matches you perfectly as you’ve documented your reality and baring your soul into the images you created this year and that my friend, takes character. Thank you for all the images, they’re all special in their own way and definitely I look forward to 2012. It is my privilege to have gotten to know you through your photography and various exchanges we’ve had and off course the other one. Keep on shooting because we’re all learning from you.

    Cheers and may you and your family have a great New Year’s,
    Jorge Ledesma

    1. Thank you so much Jorge. In the spirit of Daido I consider photography a mean to capture and share my perception of reality. We can deal with so much less to focus more on photography instead.

      I wish you all the best for 2012 and your project. And I look forward to wrapping up our thing we’ve started.

  2. Wish you and your family a happy 2012.

    I enjoyed reading your blog last year, and will keep on following in 2012.

    Thanks to you I didn’t became a gearjunk, you’re right on this point.
    I will keep on going with the gx200 until it is broken.

    thanks for that and sharing your project.



    1. You only need one camera and a single lens to make great photographs. I still remember the days I had the GX100 and later the GX200. Very often I also kind of miss the less contrasty lens of these cameras (the GRD adds a lot of contrast).

      All the best for 2012, Stefan!

  3. Hello and a happy new year to you, Wouter. I was delighted to read your self-described “rant” and sympathize completely with your views. Love your “last” week’s photographs. The lens may be contrasty, but look at the subtleties you have found in your 16:9 landscape!–the one with the bike rider. It’s your eye, however, which makes your pictures so thrilling to me. You always seem to find something new. Keep on keepin’ on!–Very best wishes, John

    1. For these subtleties I relied on the GF1, the GRDIII won’t be able to do that. Too much gear might make decisions much harder. All the best and more simplicity for 2012, John!

  4. Happy New Year to you and yours, Wouter, may the coming year offer you new opportunities and the courage to take them, oh yeah, and good light. 😉

    I hope (for my own sake) that you can get out in the countryside a bit more for your project in 2012. Some of my most favorite shots from your Flickr stream are landscapes from years ago, so I’d love to see more.

    Gear is an interesting phenomenon. It is quite often a “guy” thing. Women photographers seem less afflicted. Also, I have heard the acquisition of new gear explained as a psychological desire for the artist to change his tools in an effort to keep his expression fresh. Me, I have no artistic pretensions; I just like toys and I struggle to get past the technical bits into expressing a vision. Your blog helps in that regard, but as they say in a very popular TV show here in the States, I’m still working on it.

    As for the raw v. jpeg bit, Ansel Adams’s famous quote about “you don’t take a photograph, you make it” comes to mind. Raw does give more opportunity for the making or realization of a vision, but, as I’ve often found to my chagrin, the computer rubric “garbage in, garbage out” also seems to apply.

    Interesting thoughts this post and the images are wonderful. I absolutely love the long line of trees and wash of sunlight from frame right of # 6.

    Be well.


    1. Best wishes Greg! Regarding raw vs. jpeg, Ansel Adams, and making photographs I am a lot more Bresson’s camp. I personally think Adams was a more accomplished dark room printer, like some nowadays a very accomplished with Photoshop. The basics are still, like I wrote, the exposure (light), composition, and moment (decisive moment). That is what makes a photograph in my opinion. Everything else is just the finishing touch.

  5. Hi, Wouter! All the best for you and your family in 2012!
    I think you are so right about the gear issue. I’ve always been an admirer of precision tools (still am) but I came to the conclusion that is far better to invest in one’s photography that in one’s camera. (The circumstance of having a small budget also helped me in that question!). Anyway, I use my dslr less and less and I prefer my canon compact that is always with me.

    Once again, best wishes,

    António Marques

  6. I want to also wish you a very Happy New Year Wouter! I found you this year through my search for a new compact camera and found you and Ricohs. My photography will be forever changed. Thank you!

    I look forward to your 2012 work and you’ve motivated me through your 2011 photo a day project to do the same for 2012.

    I know it won’t be easy but I know I can come here to refresh my eye and mind.

    Again, I wish you and your family the best this coming year!

  7. Awesome post. Happy New Year. I have one question, now that you moved to the GF1, do you ever wish to use the GRD again, or do you prefer the GF1 due to the better dynamic range? I notice subtle differences in what each of my cameras can handle, and sometimes I’m not in the mood for a soft Sony lens or a low dynamic range Canon S95, or the crummy noise from shooting past ISO 800 with the Leica D-Lux 4. Each one has its good and bad points. I can’t pick one camera, as it depends on the mood I am in that day on what I will use. It even extends to film, 35mm or 120 formats. For instance, I love the B&W photos that you get out of the Ricoh. I love the dynamic range you get out of the GF1. (Just for the record, I am a woman gear head. LOL! If I could have my choices of gear, it would be something small and easy to carry with a killer fast lens. But I love using a variety of equipment. I do know that it’s important to really get to know the gear I’m using. I am adamant about getting the right exposure and composition out of the camera I’m using and making very little changes in Photoshop. When I see that I have to change a lot. I know I didn’t nail it and it makes me strive for perfection in the next shoot. Slowly I am progressing in this digital world, though I think I’m much better at nailing an exposure in film, especially in B&W with a Nikon or Leica camera. I’m used to film, and find digital cameras to be quite varied in what each one produces. they each have quirks. Kind of aggravating. I guess that is the film part in digital. I know certain films and what I can do with them. Digital depends on which camera, sensor size, sensor type, and the quirks of each brand.

    1. Happy New Year Elaine!

      I do prefer the GF1 for most of the year. For me it handles the dull greys so much better. When the light is hard and full of long and deep shadows my GRDIII is still a fantastic camera to use. Early spring and in the autumn the light can be gorgeous here when it is sunny (preferably with some clouds) and then the GRDIII perfectly fills my needs.

      I miss the film days though, but they are just too cumbersome for me now. But even in the film days I tried to minimize the amount of decisions. For B&W I used Tri-X and for color I used Sensia and Provia. I used to have a Nikon set up, but sold it and bought the GR1 instead.

      1. I find that the bigger sensor cameras handle mid tones better without blowing them out. The smaller cameras seem so contrasty, but that can be good in some situations, like you mentioned above. I notice the GF1 produces more tones and I’ve always loved Panasonic gear for how it renders color and the files are to my liking. I’ve never used a Ricoh, and the only reason I haven’t purchased a GRD IV is the price. LOL! If it had a sensor like the Sony, I’d buy it and dump the Sony as I think Ricoh has a nicer lens. Sony lenses are soft. I may just use another make lens on the Sony and that will solve the problem, but at the expense of AF, which I find I need as I get older. LOL! It’s always a compromise. I know what you mean about film, and though it’s a pain to have developed and a cost, I still adore it. I shoot better with film. It’s what I know best. But, I don’t shoot it as much as digital due to cost and lack of good labs. When I move in April, I am going to invest in B&W developing. I have decided to do B&W film, develop it myself, and scan on an Epson V750 when I get it. I’ve also shot on Ilford XP2 C-41 film and just had low res files made to show on the web, but have the negatives in my file for large prints.

        My sis uses the Canon S95 exclusively, so I hang onto it. it does a good job for what it is. I like using it once in a while too. It has the same sensor as their G series and I’ve gotten some wonderful pictures out of them.

        As for Leica, it’s much harder to nail the exposure with that D-Lux 4, but once I do, it does produce lovely files but only in the lower ISO range. It starts getting dirty higher up. Sometimes a B&W file looks cool like that. Only sometimes.

        I agree that simplicity is the key. I would love to just shoot with one camera that I adore, but I haven’t found that camera yet. the closest I’ve come to is the M6, and that’s a film camera. All of the digital cameras I own all seem to have one or two faults or quirks that keep me from choosing it exclusively. I haven’t fallen in love with any of them. I’m really getting frustrated by it too. Sony has come closest to what I like in regards to what I can shoot, but the lenses frankly suck. I hear of a good Zeiss lens that came out and I may look into that. If I get one good prime on that baby, it will be the camera I use the most. the only thing that Sony didn’t add was the square format, and I love that on the little cameras. It’s always something though.

        Back in the really old film days I used Kodachrome and Tri-X, for color negative I used Sensia.

        Happy New Year!

        1. Nothing is perfect and it is a challenge, but also a privilege to deal with the pros and cons of cameras and how it affects/influences your photography. Take the GF1. I really like how the camera feels and works. I like the photographs I get and how it really works for my photography. The biggest annoyance for me is the loud metallic slap of the shutter. The fast shutter speeds are a bless, but I would certainly appreciate a quieter shutter.

          I would like to have one camera too. Interchangeable lens system, good viewfinder (no problem if it is an EVF or the Fuji OVF/EVF mix), and small form factor camera body. If Olympus had no problems being nostalgic with their m4/3 Pen system, why not create a new camera looking like an OM SLR camera.

          I am glad that I am happy with the GF1 and the GRD will be used when it gets sunny again.

  8. Hi Wouter, I have had your blog bookmarked for some time and have enjoyed just sitting back and watching the world through your eyes. I began a wordpress Blog – lightoflanzarote but I have not been a regular updater so I am going to try and focus a bit more of my time on that this year:) I always find that photography is a way to have some time alone, to reflect, to enjoy and to really see what´s around and when that light is just right you can get absorbed in something wonderful. I am lucky that I have a very lovely wife who encourages me and takes time to look at my photos even if there is no one else around to look at them:) I wish you and your family the best for 2012 and I am sure that you have inspired a lot of photographers both in he real and virtual world. All the best, Evan

    1. Best wishes, Evan! There is something fortunate and exciting about sharing your photographs with others. Time to reflect however is very important. Good to know that you are encouraged by your wife. Support is what really matters. Take care!

  9. Hi Wouter

    Just want to say how much I like photo 3 and especially 6. I understand where you have been coming from this year but personally I have always enjoyed your landscape photos more than the others.

    It’s good that you are evolving though, if you are like me you photo for yourself first, the audience second.

    I hope your back problems improve this year.

    Happy New Year.


    1. Hi Jonathan, I have the feeling that I am not detached from landscape photography. I feel I needed the escape to learn new things. I will post more about that soon. Evolving is like a journey, and I think it is important to not be afraid and to be prepared to face the different stages of this journey.

      Happy New Year!

  10. I feel fortunate to follow this blog through another year. I feel fortunate to hear your voice for another round. And I must confess that your weekly rides are what keeps me rooted in world going crazy from time to time. Thanks for that. And the great imagery, Wouter! A happy new year!

    All the best & safe travels, Fritsch.

  11. Hi Wouter, I also like the image of the sunlight piercing through the tree lined road a lot. It demonstrates that (built) landscape photos can be powerful as well. I also wish you and your family all the best for 2012.

    1. I hope you had a great time in the south of Italy. It seemed stormy. We need to sync our calendars for a Photokina meet-up. I really like to go there and check for transportation to Cologne.

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