I sent out my first newsletter yesterday. On accident.

I sent out my first newsletter yesterday. On accident. It’s not a big deal but I do feel like I could’ve sent out a more proper first email to my subscribers. Oh well…

Anyway, I did figure out a good format for the newsletter, which is called Dialogue by the way. I also realised that refusing to call it a newsletter and instead referring to it as a mailing list wasn’t constructive and unclear communication. So I folded and now I call it as it is, a newsletter.

Next to that, I worked on the Dialogue tagline and settled (for now) on “questions about photography and other things”. This might be a good method to stay true to the title of the newsletter.

I plan to lead every issue with a photography-related question and then try to find an answer to it. Hopefully people will find my questions interesting enough to weigh in themselves as well.

I also plan on doing interviews with local photographers. It will probably be a question/answer-format where I ask the same questions to everybody. Just so we can have a little conversation.

It might be a good idea to publicly work on a list of questions, right here on the blog. I think five or six questions might be sufficient.

Asking questions and doing interviews is a good format that fits the title. The success of the idea probaly depends on how well I execute it so I’ll give it some more thought and then turn to execution soon.

After all, I accidentally started already.

Photo projects, on projects, on projects

Photo projects, on projects, on projects. Lately I’ve been enjoying an increasing amount of ideas. It’s a blessing and a little bit of a curse. The blessing being that I now have sufficient reason to go out and shoot. A curse because I don’t know where to start. So I’m asking myself questions:

Are all my ideas good enough?

Are they worthy of a project?

Does any of that matter?

I find comfort in the thought that any of this is just practice. I explicitly choose to be patient with my work and let things unfold as they come.

All these project ideas are only to sharpen my skills. One day I’ll be ready to make or do the big things. Like an actual book. Or do some public speaking. Open a studio. Stuff like that. For now I’m just keeping my head down and focus on the work.

Come up with a project, figure out a way to structure the work, combine it, make a print or two. Stash it in a safe place for future reference.

A quick peek at some of my ideas:

Viewfinder Magazine, a quarterly Zine that bundles all the images I’ve shot the past three months that I haven’t been able to find a purpose for. These images deserve to live somewhere else than a harddrive and a simple Zine is a good place to start.

Black & White Squares (name pending), where I shoot 1×1 black and white images during the course of the winter with a focus on portraying the cold. I plan on finishing the photographing part this project by March but perhaps it needs another winter to complete. The end product should be a Zine as well as some fine art prints.

The Thousand Euro Photo, a photography art project that includes the best image I can make and will be presented as an actual art piece and everything that entails. Something I’m still figuring out but will elaborate on more in the future.

That’s enough peeks behind the curtain for now.

Becoming a zen master

Today’s story might be even more uninteresting than usual (at least to people that aren’t me) but I’m writing it specifically for documentary purposes.

I set off last year with a goal of becoming a zen master. Not that I wanted to join a monastery and become a monk (not at this time) but I wanted to experience more inner-peace. I haven’t quite reached that goal in 2020. I did have some moments where I felt more centred than I’ve ever felt. I also had some moments where the challenges overthrew my efforts for calmness.

Still, at the end of last year I could say I had made some strides and ended up more self-aware and relaxed than I started the year.

Come 2021 and I vowed to continue my efforts in becoming a zen master.

The year is only a few weeks old so there is no way to tell my progress. For the past few days though, I did notice a noticeable increase in mental clarity and bodily calm. Not to say I’ve had a major breakthrough and my goal is now suddenly reached. I’m writing this merely to document a few things that I have been doing for the past few days.

Maybe, when I look back on this in a few months, I recognise things that turned out to be beneficial.

Without further ado, here is a short list of things I think that bring me inner-peace:

  1. Exercise at least twice a week
  2. Write everyday
  3. Built things for myself
  4. Listening to this song while cycling.

I should write more bad stories, like yesterday

Yesterday’s story wasn’t that good. I knew it when I wrote it and I know it now. It took me longer than usual to complete and the quality was a little more lacking as well. I still posted it because I promised to write something everyday. It did not feel good though.

Then I got to thinking.

The fact that I choose to write everyday does not make me a writer. It means I’m trying to become one. That takes time, effort and missteps. Yesterday was an obvious misstep.

And that’s okay.

When I’m looking at the quality of my writing, I’m comparing it to established writers that have been doing it for years. It’s a good benchmark on what is considered ‘good’ but I should not be sad when I don’t reach those levels.

Especially when I wish to write a little story every day.

Good writing takes time, as I mentioned before. Solid well thought out articles require research, contemplation and revision. I don’t give myself the luxury of those things for my daily writing. Nor should I want those.

I put the pen to the figurative pad on January 1st without any preconceptions about what daily writing should entail. What it should provide. At this moment, I think it should be nothing more than an exercise. A sharpening of the pen. A deepening of the understanding.

My writing can be pretty good when I take my time. I believe that. If I want to, I should be able to produce these lengthy essays that I look up to now. I know it’s within my range of powers. At this time though, it’s time for patience.

I should write more bad stories, like yesterday.

Make something for a group of people, not everyone

I find myself staring in the distance as I hear the sound of a new email coming in. It’s another one of Kyle McDougall’s ‘Field Notes’ emails.

I manage to bring myself back to the present and open the email. The e-mail contains a list of DOs and DON’Ts for 2021. Interesting. I quickly scan the email as I notice my eyes linger over point number three in the list of DOs

Make something for a group of people, not everyone.

Funny. I was just thinking about that. I continue reading the email but find myself stopping again at point number five in the list of DON’Ts.

Don’t try to please everyone

There’s even a parentheses that reads “this one is especially important!”.

The timing couldn’t be better as I was just doing some soul searching regarding my own work. Sometimes I can’t help but wonder if I’m being too friendly with my work. Too safe. Too scared to receive some bad comments.

It’s not like I haven’t had them before. Though in the past, a bad comment has lead me to trying even harder to make better work. Now I think that’s a bad strategy. Or at least I try to think that as often as I can. When somebody does not like your work, it might not be for them. It might be for somebody else.

I figured I should write a more articulate point on the matter of producing work for yourself, or a core audience, but I haven’t structured my thoughts well enough. Let this first blog post be the first step in formulating a coherent opinion. Hopefully I can write down a better story in the future.

Let’s just leave it at that for now.

A new homepage for my website

A new homepage for my website. Finally. After 115 revisions and iterations, I think I have settled on a new homepage design for my website that I am happy with.

Why did I change it?

The old design was nothing more than a gallery of images. It looked nice but it did not serve its purpose anymore. It was a leftover from the time I did nothing but host images on my website. Maybe a contact form. I had nothing else to show to people. Or at least I felt like I had nothing to show.

That has changed now.

I started making Zines, I am about to make fine art prints and write these daily updates now. It’s all part of a bigger whole that I can now confidently tell people I do.

I’m sure I’ll make some iterations here and there, like update some wording or shuffle some elements around, but at least my homepage now is a more clear reflection of what you can expect from me.

The old homepage is moved to a separate ‘Gallery’ page but perhaps I’ll change that for a proper ‘Projects’ page in the future. First, I need some more projects to display. For that to happen, I need to make them.

Time to focus on photography again.

Photo editing vibes on Friday night

I sit down after a long day at the office. I open my Heineken and drink it straight from the 33cl can. Today is not a glass-type of day.

I take a first, refreshingly invigorating, sip.

I turn off Night Shift and True Tone on my iPhone to let my eyes adjust for what I’m about to do. I need proper color accuracy.

I open the Spotify app and type in ‘Frank Ocean Cayendo’. I hit play on the top hit and set the song to repeat. I let it all pour out of the tiny speakers of the tiny computer I’m holding in my hands. Tonight is not a headphones-type of night.

Frank Ocean croons the line ‘Si esto no me ha partío’, ya no me partiré nunca’. I’ll have to look up wha that means but it feels right.

I then browse to my App Library and look for Lightroom Mobile CC. My editing app of choice. A few days ago, I’ve set myself up for this moment and synced any fresh photographs on my MacBook to Adobe’s Creative Cloud. I love sitting down with the images in my hands. Manipulating them with my fingers.

I take a second sip of my Heineken beer. And a third.

The cats start to wake up from their afternoon nap and break the otherwise dormant room.

I look back at Lightroom Mobile and notice an album called “20.01.01 Bowie & Cobain”. I should use this moment and edit the pictures I’ve taken of them. Their youthful play reminds me they won’t be kittens forever. It’s a good thing we’ll always have the photos.

Just as Frank Ocean restarts his song for the third time, I arrive at a shot that catches my eye. It’s different. A little more… artistic?

I take the final sip of my beer and immediately get up for a new one.

I take another look at the photograph and notice how abstract its composition is. Am I even looking at a photograph of a pet? There’s a symmetry. A simplicity. A balance. And still, a story.

Bowie gets tired of running around the house and joins my editing session by laying down on my lap. I show him the photograph I’ve made of him but he doesn’t seem to care much. He’ll care more when he’s older, I’m sure.

I finish the photo set and return to the one shot that caught my eye earlier. I distinctly remember myself thinking

I should post this photo on my blog”.

Modifying a Voigtländer 50mm f1.8 for my digital camera

My afternoon was marked by de- and reassembling a vintage Voigtländer Color-Ultron 50mm f1.8.

You might think I’m crazy dismantling such intricate and technical objects but I think it can be quite fun! To me it’s a little challenge and it’s nice when it works out as you planned.

What was I to succeed in though?

To understand my goal, I have to tell you about how this lens works.

To avoid making this a history lesson, an important trait of many vintage lenses is that they have a little pin on the back that needs to be pushed in to give you access to the full range of apertures.

Using this lens on my digital Fujifilm camera, this pin isn’t pushed in automatically. Some vintages lenses have an switch that allows the lens to be set to ‘manual aperture control’ which basically locks the pin in a pushed down position. This allows you to use the lens on modern day cameras without any issues.

My lens does not have such a switch.

What now?

Well, I could buy an adaptor that is made to push the pin in. That’s the easy solution. I could also open up the lens and modify it to have the pin pushed down permanently.

Guess which option I’ve chosen.

It took me a solid 5 hours from start to finish. Especially putting it all back together properly is tricky business!

I’ve taken a few photos along the way. They only were for myself as a reference but I’ll share them here so you can have a quick look as well. I converted them to black and white for A E S T H E T I C S.

You can see in the GIF that I managed to keep the pin pressed in. Success!

The only issue is that the focusing is now reversed. Sight…

I’m saving that for a different day.