Finding Vivian Maier-Episode 16

Would you believe that a Nanny from Chicago might  be one of the most influential street photographers of the 20th century? Finding Vivian Maier is the movie that explores this prolific and mysterious photographer. Pam and I went to see this movie at  local theater with some other Atlanta area photographers and came away impressed and saddened by Vivian Maier's intriguing story. Vivian Maier (wikipedia) was born in 1926 and died in 2009. During her life she worked primarily as a Nanny to families in mostly the Chicago area. During that time she was a prolific street photographer whose body of work was virtually unknown until John Maloof purchased boxes of negatives from a storage auction in 2007. From that point to now the story of Vivian Maier has been revealed, but much is still unknown.

The movie is an attempt to figure out who Vivian Maier was and why she took nearly 100,000 images and never had any of them printed.

Here is the film's trailer:

Pam and I went to see the film, Finding Vivian Maier, at a local theatre. We went with a few other photographer friends and took in the afternoon matinee.

I won't giver away the movie but suffice it to say that we were very impressed, inspired and saddened all at the same time. Vivian Maier was a very unique person with an immense talent for photography. That she never published any of her work while alive is an amazing mystery. The movie explores that and does a pretty good job of it.

Bottom line is that if you are a photographer, historian, lover of mysteries or interested in documentaries, you should see this movie. It has something for everyone and is a compelling story.

Books on Amazon

There are a few books of Vivian Maier's work available on Amazon. You can also purchase limited-edition signed prints through the website

Vivian Maier Books


Car Show Photography Tips-Episode 15

Spring is here! That means it's time for car show photography. I really enjoy photographing cars and always look forward to getting out with my cameras to see what images I can make. I thought I'd share some tips that have helped me get the most from my car show photography.

Have A Plan

Before you head out to the car show see if you can spend a little time planning out your attack. Get a feel for how the show will be laid out so you can find the cars you want to photograph first. Plan a "route" through the show to make sure you see as much as possible. Knowing details about the show will also help you decide on the cameras and lenses you will want to bring

Arrive Early

For me, the hardest part of car show photography is the people. I like people, just not in my car photography. So, in order to reduce the stress of having to jockey for position with a bunch of people I try and arrive at the show as early as possible. Fewer people means you will have more options in photographing the cars.

Pick Your Favorites

1973 Ferrari Dino 246GTSMake sure you get to photograph the cars you want to photograph. If there are certain cars I want to photograph I try to get to those first, just to make sure. This also ties in with arriving early because if you get there before the crowds arrive you will have a better chance of getting the image you want without having to make compromises because of outside factors.

Triple Reflective EngineFind The Uniqueness

Every car has something that makes it unique. It could be the emblem, the hubcaps, the engine or the tail-fins. Instead of just (or in addition to)photographing the entire car, spend some time discovering the unique points of the car and try to capture that in your photography.

Crawl Around On The Ground

WMD?One thing I've discovered is that getting low to the ground really improves the quality of my car photography. Whenever I'm at a car show I spend a lot of time crouched down or kneeling. Getting low to the ground allows you to get interesting angles on the highlights of the cars like the fenders, emblems, bumpers, grills and wheels.

Think In Black & WhiteShiny Cycle

Many cars, especially old/vintage cars make great subjects for black & white photography. That's why I almost always take one of my film cameras with me because in my opinion B&W in film beats B&W digital any day. There's just something about the way black and white film handles the transitions between light and dark that gives it an almost "liquid" appearance. I haven't been quite able to duplicate that using software to convert digital images to B&W.

Get Creative

Big Orange MercuryLots of cars cars invite you to take chances with them. Ultra-close shots, extreme angles and macro photography all work well with car photography. I sometimes take my Rokinon 8mm fisheye lens with me because I can get some creative images by using the lens. Think a little out of the box whenver you are doing car show photography and you will most likely be pleasantly surprised.

Happy Shooting!


Develop Your Own Film Part Three-Scanning Negatives-Episode 14

Welcome to Part 3 of the series on developing your own film! If you haven't seen/listened to Part 1 (equipment and chemicals) or Part 2 (the film developing process) go ahead and review those if you want. This part (part 3) is about scanning negatives into the computer so you can share the images or send them to be printed.

Which Scanner To Buy

Once you've developed your film you will probably want to digitize it so you can share it with the world. In order to get your film negative into the computer you will need to scan in the negative.  The question is, "Which Scanner Should I Get"? Well, there are a lot of scanners out there but I would suggest that you narrow in on a few key ones depending on your needs and budget. A site I recommend, and the one I used to help me narrow the field is:

Film Scanner Info

This is a very good site that comprehensively test scanners. Instead of just listing the (often inflated) specs, they dig into the scanners from the perspective of a photographer. They test the scanners using a specific resolution test chart that helps reveal the true effective resolution. As you read through the site you'll discover something-the resolution numbers you see on most scanners are often a severe stretch of the truth.

Scanner Resolution-The Truth

That new scanner you've been eyeing claims a resolution of 9600 dpi. Is that true, or a huge exaggeration? Well, it closer to the exaggeration side of things. The film scanner info site has some good information on resolution as it relates to scanners, especially how dpi is measured and what it means. This is a must read if you will be scanning film.

Scanner Resolution

Most scanners that claim a super-high resolution often can only produce a small percentage of that number in actual use. Here are a few scanners that get decent reviews along with their true resolution, based on the tests that the film scanner info site did.

Scanner Rankings

The site has a page that ranks film scanners from top to bottom. It's a great resource, except that it's in German. But you can translate the page in your browser well enough to get the idea. You will see that there is a wide range of quality from the top rated (and super-expensive) Hasselblad X5 and X1 to the Epson and Canon scanners at the bottom. Here are 3 scanners I would suggest you consider.

Epson V700-2300 dpi-This is one of the scanners that keeps coming up as a great choice in a flatbed scanner. It runs somewhere between $500-$700 (see links below)

Canon CanoScan 9000F-1700 dpi-This is the scanner I currently have. It's a decent flatbed scanner but by far not the best. Still, it was relatively inexpensive and it does the job fairly well, especially when you consider that it can be had for less than $200.

Reflecta MF5000-(Pacific Image PrimeFilm 120 in the USA) 3050 dpi Their review of this scanner is very good. It is a true film scanner, not a flatbed that can scan film. The scanner is fairly expensive (about $1200) but I'm considering it for myself as an upgrade for my CanoScan.

Scanner Links on Amazon

If you are looking for a scanner, check out these links to Amazon. If you buy one from these links you will be supporting the site without paying any additional money. Any support is greatly appreciated!

Pacific Image PrimeFilm 120 Multi-Format CCD Film Scanner

Epson Perfection V700 Photo Scanner-

Canon CanoScan 9000F MKII

The Scanning Process

Once you have your scanner it's time to scan some negatives! Scanning is a mix of art and science and there are a lot of different ways to scan film. Everyone seems to have a process/workflow that works for them. For me, I have settled in on a scanning process that seems to work well for me, for both B&W and Color negatives. One piece of key software I highly recommend is:


VueScan is a hardware-level scanner control software that works with just about every scanner. It offers the ability to dial-in scanner settings very precisely. The video below as well as the post I link to below the video gives you an idea of how I configure VueScan and process my scans in Lightroom and Adobe Photoshop Elements 12.

Here is a video I recorded back in December on the scanning process I use:

Scanning negatives is a time-consuming process but you can streamline it a bit by making sure you aren't "wasting pixels" by scanning at too high a resolution. Refer to the scanning resolution for your particular scanner and make sure you get the most out of the scanner without creating unnecessarily large files. You will probably also want to check out a post I did that went along with the video. I details the step-by-step process and gives links to some of the tools I use:

The Art of Scanning Film

One thing you will want to make sure to eliminate as much as possible while scanning is dust. If you're not careful, you can spend way too much time cloning out the dust spots on your scans. So, to help reduce that I recommend that you get an anti-static brush. I got one a few months ago and it really has made a difference. Here's a link to some options on Amazon:

Anti-Static Brushes

Once you have scanned in your negatives you can use your imaging editing software to adjust & edit the images and then share them with the world or send them to a photo lab for printing.

Hopefully you have found this episode/post helpful and motivating. Developing and scanning your own film is very rewarding. I have found the whole process to be fun and relaxing. It has also made me a better photographer. I'd love to hear about your experiences so leave a comment or send me an email.

Until next week.....

Happy Shooting!


Thoughts On What It Means To Be A Photographer-Episode 13

What is a photographer? I've asked myself this very question more than a few times over the last three years as I've explored the world of photography with an eye towards making better photographs. In addition to that question a whole host of other questions have popped into my head about what defines a photographer. Things like:

  1. Just what defines a photographer over someone who uses a camera?
  2. How will I know that I've "made it" and can now officially call myself a photographer?
  3. Should I compare my efforts to those of other people or not?
  4. Will getting new/better equipment make me a photographer?

and on and on......

Ladder Falls-Great Smoky Mountains National Park

Well, a few weeks ago a fellow photographer emailed me a link to what I think is a a very accurate description of what it means to be a Photographer. The following Manifesto can be found on Craft & Vision, a photography education and publishing site founded by David duChemin. Here's the text:


I am a photographer. I make photographs. I do not take them, shoot them, capture them or snap them. I do what I do to see the world differently and to show others what I see and feel. And yes, it really did look like that when seen through my eyes, mind and heart. Professional or not, I would rather make a photograph like an amateur does: for the sheer love of it. The tools of my craft are a camera and lens but the tools of my art are my passion and vision. Film or digital, it’s not how we make our photographs that matters, but that we make them. The gear I have is good enough. My camera doesn't need to be made recently for me to photograph the present moment. The brand of my camera is irrelevant to the pursuit of beauty and authenticity in my work. Megapixels are no way to measure a photograph. I want deeper photographs, honest photographs that are alive, not merely really big or really sharp. I hope the legacy I create with my work will be judged not by how many photographs I made in this lifetime, but what those few magic frames do in the hearts and minds of others. Comparing myself to others, or them to me, is a waste of my creative efforts and makes it harder to see the light, chase the wonder, and do my work. There is too much to see and create to waste these too-few moments. Art is not a competition, but a gift. I believe photographs can change the world because they have done so for me. I believe photography opens my eyes to a deeper life, one that recognizes moments and lives them deeper for being present in them.

After reading this a few times and thinking about it for a while longer I can say that this is exactly how I feel about my photography. I could not have said it better. We make photographs and present the final image though our artistic talents!

Being a photographer isn't about having the best equipment or the sharpest images, it's about making photographs that have an impact.

If you have wondered about what it takes to "be" a photographer I don't think you really need to wonder any more. Just do what you do, enjoy the process and strive to share something in each photograph you make. That's it.

A New Way To Support This Site

I really enjoy putting together, recording and producing this podcast and updating the website. I will always keep the podcast and website free as a resource to help fellow photographers but it is not without cost. To keep the podcast and website going I must pay for hosting for the website and podcast as well as purchase the appropriate equipment (microphone, software, etc.) to allow me to get the podcast out each week and update the website.

To help support the site I have some affiliate relationships with companies like Amazon. Whenever you click on a link and purchase something from Amazon I get a small commission. Your price is not impacted by this and it helps me out a little. To all of you that have utilized the link(s) I sincerely appreciate it. THANK YOU!!!

What if you are interested in supporting this site but don't necessarily want to purchase something? Well, now there is a new way to do that.

Last week I became aware of a site that helps people who are producing content (musicians, podcasters, artists, photographers, etc.) collect on-going support for their work. The site is called Patreon. I have setup a profile for the podcast on Patreon which you can find here:  My Patreon Page.

If you want, you can support the podcast by becoming a patron and contributing whatever amount you feel comfortable with for each episode I produce. The Patreon site makes it easy and I have even come up with a few incentives for you if you decide to support the podcast. Any amount is greatly appreciated and will be a big help to me as I continue to try and build the best podcast I can.

Thanks again to all of you for your support of this site/podcast. I really appreciate it and am looking forward to the future!

Happy Shooting!


Develop Your Own Film Part Two-Process And Steps-Episode 12

Welcome to part 2 of this series on how to develop your own film. If you missed it, be sure to check out part 1 (episode 11 of the podcast) for information on the equipment and chemicals you will need. Part 3 of this series will cover the process of digitizing your developed negatives so you can share them with others, so stay tuned for that in a couple of weeks. OK, on to the fun!

There's nothing like film

Film Developing Guides

There are plenty of "how to" guides to developing film on the internet. Just Google it and you'll find all you want and more. I did that when I was researching how to develop film but found a couple of useful resources that I thought I'd share:

1. Ilford's "Processing Your First Black & White Film" which is available as a PDF and summarizes the process very well. It's biased towards Ilford but the steps are laid out well and you can transfer it to just about any film/developer combination.

2. Another great resource for information on developing times using various combinations of film and developer is the Massive Dev Chart at Digital Truth. They also have a lot of other information about developing film including temperature/time conversion charts. In addition to the website, they also sell a darkroom app that you can use on your iPhone or Android. I haven't used the app yet but I may give it a try here soon.

My Film Developing Video

Back in 2012 I recorded a video showing the basics of the film development process. I think it will be helpful is seeing how relatively easy it is to develop your own film. It's about 10 minutes in length. Enjoy!:


Film Developing Step-by-Step

Here's my step-by-step guide to developing film. The key to successful film developing is to take your time, follow a specific process, be accurate in your measurements and temperature control and, most importantly, HAVE FUN!!!

Before You Start-One Additional Piece of Equipment

I failed to mention in last week's episode one vital piece of equipment- a thermometer. You definitely need to be able to accurately measure the temperature of the liquid mixtures used in the film development process. I use a kitchen thermometer/timer but any one will do.

Here are the steps:

1. Practice, Practice, Practice...

Before you develop your first roll of real film (with potential images on it) get yourself a roll or two of test film to practice with. You want to make sure you are comfortably able to load the film on the plastic reel and get it into the tank, all while not being able to see what you're doing. It took me a good 10-15 trial runs before I felt confident in my abilities. Don't rush it, just deliberately load/unload the film from the reel until you can do it by feel only.

2. Load Film Into Tank

Once you've practiced you're ready to load the actual film onto the reel inside the changing bag. take your film, development tank, scissors and bottle opener/film-canister opener) and place them in the bag. zip up the bag, insert your arms into the bag and carefully open the canister, trim the film and load it onto the plastic reel. Place the reel on the spindle and put it in the tank and close the tank with the screw on lid. Congratulations!, you're now ready to develop.

3. Pre-Soak

Before you add developer to the tank, fill the tank with "properly tempered" water (usually 68 degrees) and let the film soak for about a minute. This helps wet the film and reduces the chance that the developer will leave spots/bubbles on the film. After a minute drain the tank. You're now ready to add the developer...

4. Developer

The developer is the star of the process. It's what makes the images appear on the film. Each developer and film combination requires a specific ratio of developer to water and time of development. Make sure to read the documentation that comes with the developer or use the Massive Dev site to get the proper ratios/times. Use your graduated beaker to measure out the correct amount of developer and mix it thoroughly with water at the proper temperature. Add the developer to the tank and start your timer. Many people suggest you agitate the film on a regular basis in order to keep fresh developer flowing over the film. I agitate the film for 10 seconds each minute and seem to get good results. Once the time is up, drain the developer and immediately add the stop bath

5. Stop Bath

The stop does what it says, it stops the development process. That's important because you don't want to over-develop the film. The ratio of stop bath to water is usually 1 part stop to 14 parts water but be sure to check the specifics for the particular stop bath. Add the well-mixed stop bath the the tank and agitate thoroughly. You will want the stop bath time to be at least 15-30 seconds but you can leave it in longer with no ill-effects. The stop bath is basically very strong vinegar so you can pour it down the drain when done.

6. Fixer

After you drain the stop bath solution you add the fixer. The fixer is what "permanentizes" (my word) the image on the negative. It works by drawing the remaining Silver from the negatives. Fixer is fairly difficult to mix correctly so make sure you do a good job of mixing. The time for the fix bath is 3-5 minutes. Unlike developer and stop, fixer can be used a number of times before it is exhausted. In addition, since the used solution has a "heavy metal" -Silver, not Black Sabbath :-)  -in it so you don't want to pour it down the drain. So, when you are done, pour the fixer into one of the storage bottles to be used next time. Fixer should last for 5-10 rolls of 35mm film. You can test the fixer by applying a drop of it on a piece of exposed film and if the film clears in a few minutes the fixer is still fine. If the film doesn't clear you can replenish the solution by adding some more new fixer to the container. When you need to get rid of used fixer you can add  a piece of steel wool to the mixture, wait a couple of days, and then remove the "sludge" that is left over. Keep the sludge and recycle it at one of the local "hazardous waste" recycling events that many communities have. The remaining liquid can then be drain-poured with lots of water used to flush it down the drain.

7. Rinse and Photo Flo

After you fix the film you need to completely rinse the film with tap water. You can remove the top to the tank at this point and fill/empty the tank a minimum of 3 times, making sure that the negatives are completely submerged. Some people recommend placing the film under running water for 10 minutes but I think that is a bit over the top. Three to 4 good rinse cycles should be fine.

After the final rinse you will want to mix up a tank full of water with a couple drops of the Kodak Photo-Flo, which helps the film sheet water faster and reduce water spots on the negatives. All it takes is a few drops at most so don't over do it. Take your tank to a spare bathroom and hang it up to dry.

8. Dry

Take your film to a spare bathroom and hang them up to dry. I just use a hanger over the shower curtain rod and attach the negatives to the hanger with a binder clip. Be sure not to touch/smear the wet negatives while hanging them up. Add another binder clip at the bottom of the roll to give it some weight so it doesn't twist/curl as it dries. To help reduce the amount of dust I turn on the shower for a minute to get some steam in the room, hang up the film and then close the door. The steam helps to knock down any dust in the air thus saving you time in the scanning process. You want to make sure the negatives dry completely before handling them. I usually let my negatives dry overnight. After that I trim the negatives down to size so they will fit in the archive sheets.

Congratulations! you've developed your first roll of film. You are now an "official" film photographer :-) Now that you have your developed negatives you will probably want to scan them into your computer so you can share them with others. Part three of this series (in a couple of weeks) will cover the scanning process so stay tuned for that.

Until the next episode.......Happy Shooting!



Develop Your Own Film Part One-Equipment And Chemicals-Episode 11

Have you wanted to develop your own film but were scared away by the thought that it was too difficult. Well, I'm here to say that developing your own film, especially black & white film, is easy and fun! I started using/developing film in the Fall of 2012 and really enjoy the process. I was a little intimidated with the process but after spending some time researching the process and a little practice I have been getting consistently good results. Believe me, if I can do it you can do it, it's not nearly as hard as it seems. This is part one of a three part series in helping you go from having never developed a roll of film "noob" to semi-experienced "home darkroom pro" who can share your film images with the world. Here's a breakdown of the parts:

1.This first part will cover the equipment (camera, film,developing tanks, etc.) and chemicals you'll need to get ready to develop your own film.

2. Part two will be a detailed walk-through of the film developing process with tips and suggestions that I've learned along the way.

3. Part three will be a quick review of how to scan your developed negatives into your computer so you can share them with the world.

OK, on to the fun!

Day 319-A Developing Interest

Get A Film Camera

Before you can develop your own film you first need a film camera. See Episode 3 for tips on purchasing your 1st film camera. I would recommend getting a 35mm slr. There are a lot of film cameras available so finding one isn't hard but you will want to do your research before purchasing.

Once you have your film camera...

Get Some Black & White Film

There is still a decent selection of black and white film, both in 35mm and 120 size. In the 18 months I've been shooting film I've come across a few that have become favorites of mine. Film is a very personal thing and every film has different qualities so what I like may not be what you end up liking. Here are some worthwhile films to consider when starting out. They are all good film and seem to develop well with a variety of developers:

100 Speed

1. Fuji Neopan Acros 100-($6.25/36 exposure roll) at Adorama

2.Kodak T-Max-($4.79/24 exposures, $4.95/36 exposures) at Amazon

3. Ilford FP4-($4.39/36 exposures) at Adorama

3. Ilford Delta 100-($4.50/24 exposures, $6.25/36 exposures) at Adorama

4. Kentmere 100-($2.95/24 exposures) at Adorama- a decent cheap film that I often use in my little Olympus point-n-shoot film camera. Get a roll or two of this to practice with before trying to develop a "real" roll of film with once-in-a-lifetime shots on it.

400 Speed

1.Ilford HP-5 Plus 400-($4.25/24 exposures, $6.25/36 exposures) at Amazon

2. Ilford Delta 400-($4.50/24 exposures, $6.29/36 exposures) at Adorama

3.Kodak T-Max 400-($5 for both 24 & 36 exposures) at Adorama

Time To Develop The Film-Equipment You Need

Once you have your camera and have shot a roll or two of B&W film you need to have some basic equipment/supplies in order to develop the film. I have listed the equipment I use, in the order I use it, in order to develop the film. I use a combination of Amazon and Adorama for nearly all of my photography supplies/equipment so the links listed below are from each site, depending on which one had the better price/shipping terms, etc. as best as I could. There are plenty of other photography supply options, just do a search and you'll come up with a lot of options.

Film Changing Bag (27x30)-($23.95) from Amazon-You will need a very dark place to transfer the film from the roll that you took out of the camera to the developing tank. A tabletop changing bag is a great way to accomplish this task.

Film Canister Opener-($14.95) from Adorama-If you're developing 35mm you'll need something to open the canister so you can load it on the reel. I hear this works great but I make do with a traditional bottle opener which is also very important for opening a bottle of tasty Craft Beer to enjoy while developing your film! :-)

Scissors-(FREE-hopefully you have some of these around the house!)-You'll need something to trim the film (and cut the end off of the 35mm roll) before loading it on the spool. I use a pair of regular kitchen scissors that have a blunt tip (better safe than sorry while working blind in a changing bag).

Paterson Universal tank and 2 reels-#115-($30.59) from Amazon-This is where you will put the film and chemicals. It has a plastic reel that you load the film on (inside the dark changing bag) and once the film is on the reel you put it in the tank and screw the top on. You can then do the rest of the development process in daylight because the tank is lightproof but allows chemical/water to be added.

Plastic Beaker Set - 5 Sizes - 50, 100, 250, 500 and 1000ml-($6.99) from Amazon-Developing film requires accurate measurements. To do this you will need some graduated containers. At this price you might even consider getting two sets of these so you can have some extra containers.

Chemical Stirring Paddle-($3.49) from Adorama

Norpro 243 3-Piece Plastic Funnel Set-($5.00) from Amazon

Plastic Transfer Pipettes 3ml, Gradulated, Pack of 100-($5.99) from Amazon-these will help you measure small quantities of liquid, like the Kodak Photo Flo listed below.

Chemical Storage Containers-($3.49 to $5.95 each) from Adorama


Developer-The developer is key to the whole process. There are many different developers, each with their own unique qualities, that people use. Once you get more experienced (and adventurous) you can experiment but for now you probably want one that is flexible and easy to use. I started out with Ilford Ilfosol-3-($8.50) from Adorama-it's a liquid developer that makes 1-2 gallons depending on dilution. After I ran out of that I bought some Kodak HC-110 but sadly it is not being made anymore so my next developer will probably be some  Kodak D-76-($5.79) from Adorama-D-76 is a powdered developer that makes up to 1 gallon and gets lots of rave reviews for its simplicity and effectiveness.

Ilford Ilfostop-($6.50/500ml bottle)-Once you are done with the developer you need to stop the process so you don't over develop. That's where the "Stop Bath" comes in. Some people just rinse the film in water but I prefer to use an actual chemical. Just about any stop will work.

Ilford Rapid Fix-($6.95/500ml bottle)

Kodak Photo Flo-A drop or two of this in the final rinse will help water sheet off of the film as its drying.-($8.00) at Adorama

Hanger w/Binder Clips (take an extra hanger from your closet and a couple of large binder clips from your desk-FREE)

Scissors to carefully cut the negatives-(hopefully you have a pair of these-FREE)

Negative archive sheets-(various sizes & prices) on Amazon

What's The Total Cost

After you get everything, the total cost for a couple rolls of film, the equipment and assorted chemicals should be around $150-$175, depending on where you get the equipment. That will be enough to get you through about 10-15 rolls of 35mm black and white film. After that you will need to re-stock the chemicals. The tank, beakers, changing bag, etc. will last a very long time. Near as I can quickly calculate, my approximate cost per roll of film to develop (including the roll of film) is about $6-$7, depending on the film. That works out to about 20-30 cents/frame, which isn't too bad considering the fun you'll have :-)

Stay tuned for part two which will cover the actual step-by-step process I use along with some tips and suggestions I have discovered along the way.

Happy Shooting! [post_bottom]

Photo Share Podcast Update And Smartphone Photography Apps-Episode 10

Well, we made it to episode 10! The podcast is moving along better than I expected when I started it. Thanks so much to all of you for the support, I really appreciate it. I'm really enjoying the time I spend recording and producing this podcast and I have a lot of ideas for upcoming episodes. Photography is a great hobby/pursuit and I'm hoping that all of you are finding this podcast to be an enjoyable part of your week. Thanks again for the support ! :-) Back in episode 7 I asked for any images you had that you wanted to share in a future podcast episode. Well, we had one brave soul who stepped up and submitted an image. Thanks so much to Wesley Hetrick for submitting this very nice fireworks image:

237 Candles by Wesley Hetrick

I really liked this image. The colors and reflections of the fireworks over the water are very nice. The exposure time was 8 seconds at f/8 and the focal length was 18mm. The camera was the Canon Rebel T4i which is one generation newer than my T3i. Nice job Wesley and thanks for your contribution!

I plan on doing another image submission/discussion request later on this Spring so stay tuned and I'm looking forward to seeing more great photographs!

Smartphone & iPhone Photography Apps

Here are the links to the smartphone photography apps I spoke about on the podcast. All of these are available in the Google Play store but I'd imagine similar, if not the same apps, are avaialble on the Apple side of things.

Tiny Light Meter is a handy light meter app that works very well.

Photo Tools has a bunch of great things to help photographers maximize their effectiveness. It is a very full-featured app that is well worth trying out.

Film Developer Timer is for those of us that are having fun developing our own film. It has a database of film and chemical combinations so you can come up with the correct time for developing your film. It is a very useful darkroom tool.

If any of you have some photography related apps for either Android or iPhone please let me know and I'll share them here.



Finding More Time For Photography-5 Tips To Make It Happen-Episode 9

Photography takes time. In this time-crunched world all of us at some point find it difficult to fit in everything we want to do or accomplish into a 24 hour day. I know, that for me so far this year, finding the time to pursue photography has been a challenge. This past couple of weeks have been especially busy and I was unable to get out with the camera. So, that got me thinking about some ways we can "find" additional time in our lives to devote to the things we are passionate about. Here's some quick tips on things we can do:

Schedule The Time

I tend to think of photography as something that I do to free me up from the constraints of the rest of my life. But, one of the best ways to make sure that time is available is to schedule it. So, I will start adding time for photography to my weekly/monthly schedule. That way if its on the calendar I have a much better chance of following through since I already have the time blocked off.

Make Photography Part Of The Day

I talked about always having a camera with you back in episode 6 and I think it definitely applies when you are trying to find more time for photography. If you have a camera with you you can take a couple of minutes out of the day to stop and capture something that catches your eye and get back to your busy schedule without missing a beat.

Re-Visit Your Priorities

To find more time for photography make sure that photography is as high on your priority list as is practical. What I mean by that is that we should try to prioritize the things we are passionate about and that bring us joy higher in our day-to-day lives than we typically do. Think about where photography ranks for you and do what you can to give it a higher priority than some of the regular things you do each day.

Get The Whole Family Involved

One of the best ways to find time for photography is to get the whole family involved. Get the non-photography members of your house a camera and make photography part of the family activities. The upside to this is that you will instantly have more time for photography without feeling like you are abandoning the family. The downside to this is that your spouse/kids may turn out to be better photographers than you :-)

Make The Best Use Of Post-Processing Tools To Free Up Time

This last tip is one that I am really going to concentrate on for my own benefit. The reason is that I find that I often spend much more time in the post-processing/editing stage than I want/need. I use Lightroom 5 and while I feel pretty confident in utilizing the features of the software I also know that I'm not optimizing my workflow as much as I could. I think that if I were to hone my process and technique that I would free up additional time for photography, and other activities, instead of staring at a computer monitor. So, to help me work smarter I have purchased a couple of tools that I will be evaluating over the next few weeks. Once I have done that I will do an episode dedicated to those tools and using Lightroom. Stay tuned for that. In the meantime, I can recommend an excellent book that I purchased that has helped me dig in and learn many of the ins and outs of Lightroom. The book is called "The Missing FAQ" and is written by the Lightroom Queen-Victoria Brampton. She has a FAQ book for the recent versions of Lightroom and I highly recommend them. They are well organized and written and can help you make the most of Lightroom.

The Challenge Is Issued

Time is so precious that we really need to proactively do all we can to make the most of it. Finding the time to do what we love, like photography, can sometimes be a challenge but hopefully you can find/make some additional time in your life to make more photographs. I'd be interested in hearing how you have freed up time in your schedule for photography so leave a comment below or send me an email or voicemail. Happy Shooting!


What's Your Photo Backup Plan-Podcast Episode 8

A few weeks ago my photo backup plan was put to the test. For the first time in over 20 years of regular computer use I had a hard drive failure. The drive that bit the dust was my external hard drive that I stored a backup of most of my photographs along with my music files. Fortunately I had a backup of all the files that were on the doomed drive.

I Got Lucky

Even though I didn't lose any files, I was extremely fortunate in that the drive that failed was one that had every single file backed up to the "cloud" courtesy of CrashPlan, which I've used for the last couple of years for cloud backup. Where I got lucky was that CrashPlan was my only backup of those files. If CrashPlan had somehow not worked properly I would have been very upset at a minimum and completely depressed and suicidal at the extreme. Needless to say I don't want to tread that thin line of near-disaster in the future. That means that I needed to update my photo (and other valuable data) backup strategy.

What The Experts Say About Photo Backup Strategies

The experts at the American Society of Media Photographers suggest that professional photographers adopt a “3-2-1” backup strategy. They define the core goals of their robust, and redundant, strategy this way:

  1. Keeping at least three copies of any important file (a primary and two backups). That means that for every photograph that is stored on your primary [working] drive you should be keeping at least two additional copies on some other type of backup device.
  2. Storing these backup copies on at least two different media types to protect against different types of hazards.
  3. One copy of each file should be stored offsite and stored offline.

Well, I'm not a professional photographer but I did stay at a Holiday Inn Express last night :-) Pro photographer or not, it was easy to see that my old "strategy" needed to be upgraded. I've done parts of their recommended strategy off and on but never on a consistent basis. And consistency is the key because you never know when something bad will happen to your data. It was time to make some changes.

 What My New And Improved Plan Is

Based on my brush with "data death" I am now doing things differently than before. I have followed the recommendations of the "3-2-1" strategy and have equipped myself to be able to follow through on that strategy. Here's what I have changed:

  1. I purchased an external hard drive docking station and two hard drives (2TB each) so that I can backup to one external drive each day and once each week (Sunday) to the other.
  2. I will make a backup to the second external drive once each week and then take it to work with me. I will then rotate the drives each week. This way I will always have have one onsite backup, one cloud-based backup, and one offsite backup that will be no older than 1 week.
  3. I have setup scheduled backups using SyncBack Free, which I have used off and on for the last couple of years. I'm also trying out Comodo Backup just to see what the differences are. Both are very good (and free) options.
  4. I use CrashPlan to backup my files to the cloud on a continuous basis.
  5. I have invested in a copy of SpinRite which helps keep hard drives running well and can recover data from misbehaving drives.

Here's what I purchased:

Total one time cost for equipment and software $298.00 The monthly cost of CrashPlan is $5.00 ($60.00/year).

The feeling of security and comfort I get from knowing that my valuable photos, music and other data is backed up......Priceless!

Why Not NAS

Some of you may be wondering why I didn't get a Drobo or some other type of multi-disk box. Well, before buying my new 2TB drives I investigated setting up a NAS (network attached storage). While a NAS would be sweet, I don't really need one, at least at this point. The reasons for this are:

  • My total image/music/user files adds up to just under 1TB, which can be easily handled with the 2TB drives.
  • I don't do a lot of streaming to other computers. Music is the only thing I stream and the total size of my FLAC music files is 150gb so I just have it on a 1TB internal drive.
  • A quality NAS-box can get expensive by the time you add enough drives to adequately cover your data safety needs. At this point I can better spend my money on new camera equipment. I'm sure that I will get a NAS within the next couple of years once my image/music collection grows and at that point I'd probably get one of the Synology units (most likely a 4-drive setup).

Hopefully my experience with near data disaster and resulting re-commitment to data and photo backup has got you to re-evaluate your own data backup strategy. As photographers, we take so much time and effort in capturing and presenting our images, shouldn't we also take some time and care in doing what we can to preserve those precious images?

Happy Shooting (and backing up)!



Photo Sharing Site Tips And Cautions-Episode 7

These days, using a photo sharing site to get your images out to the world is something that just about every photographer does. There are many photo sharing site options but which ones are worth your time and effort? And, once you decide to use a photo sharing site, what issues do you need to be aware of? I hope to help you answer these questions and give you some resources you can use to get the most out of your photo sharing sites. First, let's discuss the "top 5" photo sharing sites that I use to get my photography out to the world. After that I want to introduce a new feature that will allow podcast listeners (and anyone else who reads this) to participate in a photo sharing opportunity.

Google Plus

 Google Plus has quickly become a favorite photo sharing site for photographers interested in connecting with other like-minded individuals. Since its start in 2011 it has quickly grown to become one of the major places where creative types gather to share their work. If you are interested in seeing other photographers work and connecting with like-minded individuals, Google + is a must!


 Flickr is one of the big dogs in the photo sharing site world. It has gone through some rough periods over the last year or so due to some less than well received interface updates. Despite that, I (and millions of other photographers) use Flickr as one of my top two photo sharing sites. You can use Flickr with a free account or get a paid account (for around $40) that gives you add-free browsing and some other benefits like statistics, etc. If you want, you can join the Mark's Photography Spot group and submit your images. I hold a "Photo Share & Discussion on Saturdays at 6PM Eastern where we review images posted to the group. You can get notified of upcoming shows by following Mark's Photography Spot page on Google +.


If you are really into photography 500px is a photo sharing site you need to visit. The site is really focused on displaying quality photographs. I have been posting images there for a couple of years and only post my better images. You can join/post for free but for a small membership you can become a "plus" member and get some additional benefits. Even if you don't join the site or post images you owe it to yourself to check out 500px because the quality of the images is very good.


Ipernity is a newer photo-sharing site and I became aware of it during one of the somewhat bungled Flickr interface updates. Here is my page on Ipernity. I really like the site but haven't posted as many images there as I would like. I plan on correcting that here in 2014. Ipernity has a nice feel to it and they have done some nice upgrades in the short time I have been posting images. They offer a free membership that gives you 200mb of uploads/month and access to 200 images at a time. Their "Club" membership is $30/year and gives you the ability to upload more images as well as allow you to acces all your content. I'm currently using the free mode but will probably upgrade later this year.

Your Own Site

Last, but certainly not least, you can host/share images on your own site. It's easy to setup your own blog/portolio site. All you need is a domain and a web host and you're good to go. Many people go this route (including me) and use Wordpress as the foundation for their site. Or, if you don't want to build and maintain your own site you can use one of the many portfolio hosting sites, of which Zenfolio and Smugmug are two of the biggest. You can even combine the two, which is what I have done, by hosting your site/blog and adding something like Zenfolio for the portfolio aspect. There are so many options.

Photo Sharing Site Cautions

Sharing your images is a great way to see some benefits from your photography. But, whenever you share your images you need to be aware of a key point:

There's always a way to "steal" your images:

No matter what any particular site says there is always the risk that your images can/will be "stolen", usually by unauthorized downloads. That's just a fact. So, if you are paranoid about someone improperly downloading or using your images, online photo sharing sites probably aren't for you. If, however, you want to make some of your photographs available online you can reduce the impact of someone stealing your images

1. Only upload at the size you feel comfortable with. For me, I have decided to upload images that aren't full-sized, high resolution images. Instead, I upload images that are usually no bigger than 1200 pixels on the longest side. This means that when someone downloads an image they may get something that looks ok as computer wallpaper but won't look so good as a print. I also attach an "All Rights Reserved" copyright to my images just so people know that I'm not a fan of unauthorized use of my images.

 New Photo Sharing Opportunity

Now that I've encouraged you to share some of your images o the web I want to introduce a new opportunity for you to share your images. Beginning with this podcast (Episode 7) I will give you a special tag that you can add to images that you post to the Mark's Photography Spot group. I can then use that tag to identify images you have uploaded and discuss them in an upcoming episode. For this 1st go-around I'm asking you to upload one of your better images to the group and attach the Flickr tag of "MPS007". I will accept images with this tag that are uploaded until February 23rd (two weeks from the date of this post). I will then discus the images in the March 2nd episode (episode 10). Please feel free to share any family-friendly images with all of us.

I'm looking forward to seeing your images. Happy Shooting! [post_bottom]