It’s not that I made a promise or anything, but I had no intention of shooting film in 2021. I put away my scanning rig, stored the chemicals, and placed the cameras on a shelf.
I’ve been so excited by the new Leica SL2-S that I figured I’d just spend my time with that camera for a while. You know how I am, though. I picked up the M6 and saw that it was loaded with film and couldn’t help myself. That camera just begs to be used, once you touch it.
Anyway, I made a few mirror self-portraits, annoyed the dog, and documented the state of my desk. The usual mundane stuff one shoots when bored and holding a camera during a pandemic in winter.
I finished the roll of Tri-X, shot at ISO 800, and processed it in HC-110. I love HC-110 because it lasts forever on the shelf, and is easy to mix and use. I’m no longer experimenting with various developers and processes. They all look basically the same to me, and HC-110 is cheap and easy.
It remains to be seen how much film I shoot, but I’ve dusted off the gear and I’m ready for whenever the mood strikes.
I’ve been asking myself, “Who[sic] should I let manage my photos? ” as a way to talk myself into letting Lightroom and the Adobe ecosystem take over the nitty gritty of file and library management. In the end, I couldn’t go through with it, so I remain in charge.
Yes, it can be a pain to deal with files, folders, storage, backups, naming, and so on. But, managing things myself is the way I’ve always done it. One of the most important things I “own” are my photos. Why would I give up any control over them? For now, at least, I’m not going to. I’m back to my process of culling, naming, tagging, and cataloging with Photo Mechanic Plus and editing in Capture One Pro.
I have for many years kept my photos properly named and in a dated folder hierarchy on my hard drive:
This requires that I import my photos from a card, then add metadata (Title and Caption), then rename them with the capture date and title, then put them into the proper folder, where they live forever. Whew!
Another step later in my process is to “burn” a copy of each edited RAW file to a JPEG that lives right beside the original. I also create a copy of the best photos in my “Digital Print Archive”. The DPA is swept up and uploaded to Google Photos, Flickr, and my Synology, automatically. This gives me ways to share and organize them later. It also provides the content-based search and face recognition that is so handy.
It’s a good system. Solid. Future-proof. Backups are a known quantity.
But I’m tired of doing it. I’m tired of copying, moving, renaming, archiving, burning, etc. Basically I’m tired of managing everything myself. I edit my RAW files in Capture One Pro and deal with culling, naming, and distributing using Photo Mechanic. They’re great apps, but expensive and so flexible that I spend way too much time tweaking my process.
Some days, today for example, I’m tempted to import everything into the new Lightroom and let Adobe take it from there. This battle has been raging for a few years now and I cannot for the life of me settle it.
The truth is, Lightroom can be configured to keep all of the original RAW files on a local drive, in dated folders, automatically. This helps alleviate my fear of going all-in with cloud storage. I can’t rename files from within Lightroom, but at least I know they’re there. I’ve tried importing, culling, renaming in Photo Mechanic and then importing into Lightroom, but if I’m going to bother with all that I should just stick with C1.
Lightroom isn’t even close to Capture One on features, power, or flexibility. But it syncs my photos to all my devices, including my iPhone photos. I don’t have to do anything. That’s a huge benefit. 90% of my images can be processed just fine in Lightroom. If I want, I can always process the other 10% using Capture One (or Photoshop, I suppose).
This post is just me trying to talk myself into yielding to my lazier tendencies and moving everything to Lightroom. I’m still noodling on it, but don’t be surprised if there’s a new post soon about how I switched to Lightroom (again). Maybe then I’ll spend more time photographing and less time playing with my editing workflow.
mi·nu·tia (noun) – a minute or minor detail—usually used in plural
I like the word “minutia”. I’ve been thinking about the various little things that happen throughout a typical day as daily minutiae. Things like “Paid the gas bill” or “Had a minor headache” or “Changed oil in the car”. It’s all trivial and boring, but I find that I value having a record of these things.
But where to record all of this minutiae? If you know me, you know that I can never settle on one single note-taking app or system. Looking for a “better way” is what I like doing, even though it becomes frustrating when I deadlock over the decision. And I’m deadlocked right now about where to keep records of the “minute or minor details” of my day.
It’s not a problem of not having a good place to keep things, it’s that there are too many good places I could keep things. Here are the current contenders.
Oh my, how I love Tinderbox . It’s one of the most powerful and flexible note-taking tools available. Tinderbox is where I started recording the day’s minutiae back in 2006. I maintained a Daybook file for years and it was wonderful.
But at some point things like iOS and Linux became interesting to me, and since Tinderbox is unabashedly Mac-only, I drifted away from it. Lately though, I’ve removed iOS and Linux from the table and that puts Tinderbox right back in the running.
Day One is a fantastic journal app for Mac and iOS. I’m not consistent with it, but I do try to record one or two entries with photos each week. I love the book printing features. I’m just not sure it’s suitable for all the little bits and bobs of the day.
Ah, TiddlyWiki . Hidden beneath your cute name is a very capable and flexible tool for keeping notes. Add to that the fact that it’s all done in a single, free, local-first HTML file and you’ve got a strong case for use as a place for record-keeping. Of course I use it for my public wiki at rudimentarylathe.org
A late-comer to the game, Roam Research is amazing and game changing. I’d say it has single-handedly re-invigorated the entire genre of note-taking apps. It took many of the ideas of Org mode and TiddlyWiki, added proper outlining, and mashed them up into something new and very cool. Roam is almost a perfect solution for recording minutiae. Except that it costs $15/month and is entirely cloud-based and proprietary. See, the thing with record-keeping is that it’s meant to be useful not just right now, but forever. Roam is fantastic for the now, but is risky for the longer term. This may disqualify it.
As wonderful and powerful as Org mode is, I think my years-long fascination with Emacs may be coming to a close.
TheBrain was not a consideration for note-taking prior to the recently introduced version 12. With TheBrain 12, notes are not only a first-class citizen, but they offer many of the features of Roam (minus outlining).
Is that a great list or what?! Can you see why I might be struggling with which to choose?
I’m currently thinking of going with either Tinderbox or TiddlyWiki.
For the past few days, I’ve been putting everything into my Rudimentary Lathe TiddlyWiki . It may be a bit too much information to share publicly, but I’m interested in the whole “public self-modeling” thing right now, so it works as part of the larger experiment. TiddlyWiki is also the only valid contender that is free and readable, as-is, forever. By “forever” of course I mean “for a long time”.
Using Tinderbox would be ideal. It’s a great outliner, and I love outlines. Beyond that it pays dividends with fancy maps and summaries so with a small amount of extra work, I get fun and useful output. Tinderbox is not free, however, but it is not (yet) subscription based. I’ve been using it for more than a decade, and the author doesn’t appear to have any intention of stopping development any time soon. Also, I usually export my notes every month to PDF files, so that gets me the necessary permanence.
I’m going to use both for a while, side-by-side, and see if the choice becomes more apparent.
Roam is great and I love it. I’ve tried everything else, and nothing beats Roam for easily taking, linking, and re-using notes. I’m still using a private Roam database for work projects and CRM-type stuff, and it’s great for that.
Roam is efficient, fast, clever…and boring. Easy isn’t the same as fun.
TiddlyWiki is fun. It’s playful. I can’t really explain it, but creating new “tiddlers” and messing around with customization and finding new organizing principles is actually enjoyable in TiddlyWiki. I am probably one of only a handful of people who actually prefer the separate view and edit modes.
So, I’m going to return to using TiddlyWiki instead of Roam for my daily notes and scraps. My wiki is still at rudimentarylathe.org , which is a thousand times more fun as a URL than https://roamresearch.com/#/app/jackbaty am I right? I expect Roam will offer custom domains at some point, but so for they don’t.
I feel that TiddlyWiki’s local-first, single HTML file, free and open-source approach is better suited as a place to do “public self-modeling” for the long term.
I’ve prided myself on my ability to shoot a Leica M3 or Hasselblad 500C/M with no meter, no auto-focus, and no auto-exposure. Who needs it? Real photographers certainly don’t! Plus, being fully mechanical means that the cameras require no batteries and should be repairable forever. It’s a badge of honor.
Except, and maybe I’m getting lazy in my old age, I’ve grown to like letting the camera do at least some of the work. In fact, I prefer it. They’ve gotten pretty good at it and if I’m honest they do things better than me most of the time.
I guess it depends on the camera. For example, the big 4×5 cameras are slow, deliberate beasts, so having to adjust things just so is part of the experience. On the other hand, when walking around with a digital or 35mm film camera, I want something fully automatic. Since most of the time I’m in walking-around mode, this means that most of the time I want to let the camera do the work.
The realization that I now prefer automation came to me after I bought the Leica M10-P. The Leica of course has a meter and aperture-priority exposure. But it needs to be focused manually. When I must manually focus, I love using the Leica’s rangefinder, but unless I’m range-focusing in bright light there’s no way I’m faster at it than I am with a modern auto-focus camera. Also, it takes two hands and sometimes it’s better when I can just lift a camera to my eye and press the shutter.
Manually focusing a camera is a pain I simply don’t feel like dealing with.
So, I’m finding that although I have my dream camera available, I most often pick up the little Ricoh GRIII. The Ricoh is much faster to use and, honestly, the images are comparable to the M10-P (shhhh, don’t tell anyone).
The same thing has been happening with film cameras. I stopped using the fully manual, no-meter-having Leica M3 and M4 and started using the M6. I wanted a built-in meter. Even more surprising is that lately I’ve been grabbing the big old Canon EOS-1v or Nikon F100 instead. Those cameras don’t have anything approaching the soul or joy of use of a Leica, but I kind of want to point and shoot and move on, ya know?
I don’t know if this slow drift away from manual cameras is simplyi a mood swing or if it’s permanent, but it’s changing how I think about shooting.
Here are my remaining 35mm SLR film cameras. Clockwise from front-left, they are.
Canon AE-1 Program. An AE-Program was my first real camera. I received one from my parents as a graduation gift. Today, though, it’s my least favorite. It just doesn’t feelgood to use.
Nikon F100. This might be the single greatest deal there is when it comes to film cameras. These are semi-professional, high-end cameras that sold for around $1,400 (In 1999 dollars. One would cost more than $2,100 today). These can now be found for under $300. Great cameras.
Canon EOS-1v. The 1v was the best film camera Canon ever made. Or will ever make. It’s a solid, water-resistant, workhorse brick of a camera. I think if I were forced to keep just one SLR this would be it (with the F100 a close second).
Nikon F3. In production for nearly 20 years, the F3 is was a professional staple for as long as any camera I can think of. Mine is in great shape and works well, but I’m not in love with it. I can’t put my finger on the problem, but I never seem to reach for it other than to be sure and run a roll or two through it each year.
Olympus OM-1n. What a wonderful little jewel this is. And by little I mean little. Just look at it compared to the others. My copy is interesting because it came in a box of gear I bought on Craigslist. It was all dented and bent and basically unusable. The guy I bought it from said that it had literally fallen into a volcano (he was a geologist). I had a local camera repair shop attempt to fix it, and they did. It works great still today. The OM-1n has one of the biggest, brightest viewfinders I’ve ever used. I love it. I wish it didn’t use mercury batteries, though. I’ll never get rid of this one. I used to have a couple of the later OM-2ns and often consider picking up another.
I’ve been thinking of selling some of them. Instead, I’ve been loading them up with various films and shooting with them. It’s been so much fun that I’ve changed my mind and I’ll be keeping everything. At least for now.