Remembring

2013, Photography

I remember the moment I made my first photograph, I remember when I first went to school, I remember when my first kiss, I remember my first job, I remember when I married, I remember when my photography really took off, I remember when I started my blog, I remember so many things. I however like to experience new things too, learn more, challenge myself, but there is only so little or much I can do with my available time.

Strolling again

Strolling again

I don’t know where to find my time. I work and work, many long hours. I have a family too I care about and I want to be there for them. I care about my photography and my blog too, but I do realize some have to suffer. After a while many blogs collapse. I certainly hope not mine, but without new content it is certainly not easy. I wrote a couple of times about cameras, but feel absolutely no need to write more extensively about it. I see the numbers of visitors drop, but the amount of followers still increasing. Many thanks to all of you for still following my blog and my photography.

I miss my photography, I miss strolling the nearby streets. I will try to restart my photograph a day project tomorrow.

Photograph by Wouter Brandsma

The horizon

2012, Photography
Light above the horizon

Light above the horizon

Right now, more than ever, I want to make photographs. Yet, I hardly have the time to do so. Work, family, lack of substantial (read meaningful) light is what keeps me grounded. I leave home at 7:15 am and come home between 6:00 and 7:00 pm. It affects motivation and awareness. I feel like I am in some kind of survival mode, waiting for the light to emerge above the horizon. I am waiting patiently, moments will come (again).

Photograph by Wouter Brandsma

Rehearsel of steps

2012, Photography
Upside down

Upside down

Each year we basically rehearse our steps. While it makes sense looking forward it can make sense too to look backwards as well. To get a better understanding of what you did and what happened. A year ago I deleted my facebook account after privacy concerns, a couple of days ago I removed my Instagram account. As a result I decided to not delete my flickr account which I intended to do earlier this year. Now we can only wait for the next controversy I guess.

Rainy steps

Rainy steps

I won’t be posting any “best of” lists at the end of 2012. The archive is my list. I had my doubts about continuing my blog, but I stick to this platform. It is my outlet. For 2013 I am thinking about some layout changes including a larger font for better reading. I will keep up the larger size for my photographs too. Additionally I want to overhaul my project site completely and go for larger photographs and just a better experience. If anyone has a suggestion for a good platform (preferably low to free cost) keep me informed in the comment section.

When I write this the Pacific already enters 2013. Take care and I see you in 2013.

All photographs by Wouter Brandsma

Instantaneous

2012, Photography


I feel like I neglect my blog. I don’t publish a lot or frequently. I don’t respond to comments so quickly and I really regret that, because I appreciate the time people take to interact with me. But I find it hard to concentrate on this when I am busy at work and have/want to be ready for my family (especially my wife since they diagnozed osteoarthritis in her neck). And while I am full of photographic ideas I haven’t been photographing at all for nearly a month. I guess there is more in life than photography. I don’t regret it, but I do miss it. For sure.

But as mentioned in a recent blog post I have been using and trying a couple of Lightroom and Nik Silver Efex Pro presets developed by another photographer, Don Springer. Before I tell about my impressions with these presets I first like to get my thoughts straight on some things that usually seem to fuel a lot of debates, but are of no interest to me (anymore).

RAW versus jpeg and digital versus film
Yes, I know that raw is technically superior to jpeg. You can recover highlights and shadows, adjust the white balance and squeeze every bit of image quality out of a file. Additionally there are many great B&W conversion techniques available with color channels. I know, I have used them and I experienced it all.

Film versus digital
Another argument I read a lot is that if you want to get the best B&W photographs use film instead. Likely this argument is so true either. I know it, I have used film too. You see, time and money. Family and work takes up my time and I simply don’t have that time available for developing and scanning. Most importantly though I just don’t have the money for using film.

Digital has so many advantages and it makes a lot of sense exploring and using it all. The immediacy, the possibility to correct in post processing, but these arguments don’t matter to me either. They did and at some point could do again, but just not now.

Personal take
You see, maybe I am lazy. Maybe I am very nostalgic and romantic about some things in photography. I have said it often before, but I like it when decisions are irreversible. Just like film (I hear you thinking). Therefore I choose for B&W jpegs even though I know that the raw images have more benefits. There is nothing rational in my thinking and I do realize that these decisions have consequences.

The harder you tweak the adjustments in post processing the stronger the degradation of your photograph will be. I know that. With a raw image there is always some information preserved in the highlights that enable some degree of highlight recovery. With a B&W jpegs all this information is already pressed into a greytone and you loose that possibility. For me exposing is a conscious decision though. I don’t expose with the post processing features in mind. I photograph what I feel and take blocked highlights or pitch black shadows for what it is. For me these are not the trade offs, but aspects that add to the mood I try to convey.

I like using Lightroom for organizing my photographs and some finer adjustments. Lightroom is very capable of handling jpegs too for post processing. Some options though I try to avoid. These are especially highlight and shadow recovery. Options favored by many others. Lightroom is OK and some things just work really well, but if I had to make a final decision keeping Nik Silver Efex Pro running is currently what works best for me.

In my opinion Don’s Lightroom presets do work really well on raw photographs, but don’t work really well on my B&W jpegs unless I tone down some of recovery adjustments. When doing so I kind of like what I see happening. Not quite similar to what I do, but the gritty style emphasizes the sketchy look I like. Regarding Nik Silver Efex Pro (from now on named SEP) things look quite differently. In my perception SEP somehow handles my B&W jpegs really well. At first Don’s SEP presets seem to be quite aggressive, but look really need when SEP saves the processed photographs as tiffs. Personally I prefer a little bit less grain, but I do like the high contrast from these presets. Each presets for both Lightroom and SEP come in different variations with more or less contrast, more clarity (Lightroom) and structure (SEP) or less, and more or less grain. Depending on your initial exposure and amount of contrast you likely find a suitable preset. In case you’re interested make sure to have a look here. I liked the presets a lot and have been fighting hard with my own workflow the last couple of weeks. For me presets are like a starting point and I keep tweaking them until they fit me.

All photographs by Wouter Brandsma