This man can use a break

Importing photos from the cameras onto my computer. Sync them all up to the cloud. Don’t look at the pictures because my mind is on vacation-mode already.

Checking in for the flight online. Work our way through the required Covid paperwork. Submit the papers to the KLM. Receive a message back that we’ve done it wrong. Try again. Succeed. Pack my bag.

Watch cooking videos on YouTube with whatever time there is left in the day. Cuddle with the cats and simp about how much I’ll miss them.

Anyway, this man can use a break. Fortunately, that’s exactly what I’m taking the next two weeks. This streak of daily monologues can not end here though. So it won’t. At the same time, I also don’t want to burden myself with daily writing too much while I try to unplug. So how do I solve that?

Simple!

For the next two weeks, I will continue my daily publications but will limit them to one word. I don’t know what that will do for my website’s SEO but that’s of lesser importance right now.

I might write a thing or two when I feel like it, I just don’t want to have the obligation to write anything at all when I don’t want to. Perhaps I’ll share a photo alongside the single word every now and then as well. Seems like a fun way to continue documenting without much efforts. We’ll see, we’ll see.

Tinkering, releasing, producing, synthesizing, vacationing

I can’t stop tinkering. I just can’t I’m a little too excited. Possibly for nothing. Nevertheless, I tinker and thinker on. Indefinitely. We’ve all been disappointed before, lord knows we have. Despite that, perhaps in full blown naiveness, I’m excited all over again.

So much so in fact, that I can feel the tension increasing in my throat when I’m working on stuff. Like something is slowly firming its grip around my oesophagus, only willing to let go once something of significance happens. There’s hope on the horizon though. I can feel the impending relief that’s bound to happen now. It has to happen now, right?

The next few days will be marked by finishing up work and then producing some more again on Friday and Saturday. Then synthesising that work on Sunday, hopefully finishing it up before our flight to Spain on Monday. The second Monday hits, I will not be thinking about any work for the 11 days that follow. I promise myself that. It’s not Monday yet though.

How I set up my Fujifilm film simulations

I know, I know, another post on Fujifilm JPEG recipes? Who needs that, right? Just leave that type of work to experts like Fuji X Weekly who are able to do the work and be consistent and thorough about it. Nevertheless, I think the way I approach it isn’t mentioned often and therefore might still provide some value. And if that’s not the case, at least I have this post as a reminder for myself on what my current process looks like.1 Okay so here it goes and I’ll try to be brief about it.

I only use two film simulations on my Fujifilm cameras: Classic Chrome and Acros+R for color and black & white shots respectively. I use heavily modified variations of Fuji X Weekly recipes for both. So much so, that I can’t really say that they are from that website anymore but rather the result of my own experimenting. I did start any of these experiments with the JPEG recipes Ritchie2 created though. Credit where it’s due.

Here’s my Classic Chrome setup:

Dynamic Range: DR400
Highlights: -2
Shadows: -2
Color: –1
Noise Reduction: -4
Sharpening: +1
Clarity: 0
Grain Effect: Off
Color Chrome Effect: Strong
Color Chrome Effect Blue: Weak
White Balance: Daylight, +2 Red & -4 Blue
ISO: Anything from ISO 640 and up

As you can see, I do a few things differently than Ritchie. The biggest difference, is that I’m not looking for a nearly finished picture inside the camera. I always edit my photos, even my JPEGs, in Lightroom anyway. Instead, I am looking for the best base picture to apply my edits on. That is why I try to keep my photos inside the camera as flat as possible by using DR400 at all times (meaning I don’t go below ISO 6403) and both highlights and shadows at minus 2. This gives me an JPEG that has all the dynamic range it can get, which I then use to add contrast et al. in Lightroom.

My reasoning behind this, is that while I have the option to boost the contrast and shadows or overexpose the highlights a little in post when shooting this way, I can’t do this the other way around. Once you have added in the heavy shadows or slightly blown out highlights in the JPEG, that data is now baked in and is way harder to manipulate in post. I tried getting a near-finished photo in camera for a while but always ended up with images that are either too contrasty or didn’t have sufficient information in the highlights. My current approach is very similar to the way you might shoot video in a flat picture profile to allow for maximum flexibility in post-production.

This is also why I don’t add grain inside the camera but save that for the edit later. Adding grain is way easier (if not impossible) than removing it again. Instead, I do keep Noise Reduction down to a minimum as much as possible, to still give the images that little bit of structure at higher ISOs that I enjoy very much. I keep clarity off as I don’t like the way it slows down my camera and just add that in post as well.

My approach is practically the same for my black and white photos based on Acros+R:

Dynamic Range: DR400
Highlights: -2
Shadows: -3
Noise Reduction: -4
Sharpening: +1
Clarity: 0
Grain Effect: Off
Color Chrome Effect: Strong
Color Chrome Effect Blue: Strong
White Balance: Daylight, +2 Red & -4 Blue
ISO: Anything from ISO 640 and up

The biggest difference is that I have shadows set to +3, because I enjoy a good contrasty black and white photo. In color I might shy away from deep blacks but once that is taken out of the equation, I go all the way on the contrast. I might as well grab that in camera then anyway. This is also the reason why I keep both Color Chrome effects at their max strength — it adds that little touch of darkness to the lighter parts the images.

You’ll also see that I don’t shoot with auto ISO but rather set that parameter myself, depending on the amount of light available. In fact, I shoot in full manual and therefore don’t need the exposure compensation dial at all. I do try to overexpose about 1/3 or 2/3 of a stop but only when the scene allows for it. I’ll preserve the highlights whenever I can!

Of course I could just shoot RAW, if my ultimate goal is to have flexibility in post but then I’d loose the speed of working with smaller JPEG files (my computer is starting to show its age) and the — objectively better — color-science that Fujifilm use in their cameras. Sure, I might grab a RAW file when I encounter a scene that is particularly high in contrast and the Adobe versions of Fuji’s film simulations are close enough then.4 Shooting JPEG also allows me to transfer a picture to my phone every now and then when I need it, an option I sometimes missed when I was still a RAW-only boy.

So there you have it, my approach to shooting JPEGs in camera with my film simulation recipes disclosed in full as well. Shall I do another write up on how I edit my JPEGs? That might complete the dissection, wouldn’t it? We’ll see if that happens but if it happens, you’ll find it linked right here.


  1. Obviously assuming that’ll change in the future, as it always does. You have to stay evolving folks! ↩︎

  2. Who’s the guy behind the Fuji X Weekly website, stay alert guys! ↩︎

  3. Older Fujifilm cameras need ISO 800 for DR400 to work ↩︎

  4. I shoot RAW + JPEG for these situations, just to be sure. ↩︎

Two things (again)

I’m sitting in an Indian restaurant and I truly appreciate the pragmatism that rules here. The food is great, though not overly decorated. The service is polite and quick but without the fuss. You sit down and they immediately offer you a free started or papadum and dips. And with ‘offer’ I don’t mean that they ask if you’d like anything. They just put it down, assuming you’ll be accepting. If your plate is empty — or it seems like you’ve finished eating — they’ll just grab it saying ‘can I take it?’, already presuming they’re correct. They offer you something to drink and once you finish it, take the glass almost instantly.
They don’t offer a new drink right away though. You can ask if you want it, can’t you? Cutlery? You can reuse it. Why give you new ones every course? That just puts strain on the kitchen, which isn’t pragmatic at all. Though if you ask, they’ll bring you everything in duplicates within seconds. Everything is nice, smooth and straight to the point. I love it.

The other thing. I attended the second Unmute Us today. Apparently, the first one didn’t have the intended result, so we’re taking to the street again. A good photographic exercise for me, as it was challenging to take different pictures compared to last time. I think I succeeded but I’ll have to see the results on the big screen to make the final verdict.

Now I’m slowly sinking into a near-comatose state, nearly awake enough to drag my weary body home.

Synthesizing

Doing the work is only half of the work. The other half is synthesizing it, turning it into something more than the sum of its parts. Wether that’s a book, a movie, a gallery online, it’s all a synthesis of the smaller parts you create along the way.

It’s less fun to sit behind a computer and turn the work you’ve made ‘out there’ into something another thing that can live out there. But it’s just as important in the process of making things. You capture, you synthesize, you create. Effectively returning to the world what you took, though now drenched in your own sauce.

That’s how you leave a mark. At least for a couple more moments than the one we live in.

Walking the Grebbe Line

I should’ve done this way earlier. This afternoon, after a couple of hours of online research and general uncertainty if I was making a mistake or not, I went out to start walking parts of the Grebbe Line (Grebbelinie, in Dutch) for the first time. An old defence line, based on inundation (flooding parts of the land to protect yourself from enemies) that’s still largely in tact. The idea started to form in my head when I cycled past a large part of it on my ride along the Valleikanaal a few weeks ago. Riding a bike is way too fast to focus on picture-taking though, so walking is a more suitable type of exercise when taking photos is your goal.

The plan is to walk more and more sections of the Grebbe Line over time, until I eventually have walked all 91 kilometers of it. Though we’ll see how far we’ll get with that goal. Until then, I’m enjoy photographing these sights of significance in my area and hope to be able to do little write ups on the experience as I progress. The combination of words and images really help me capture my memories and preserve the story for whatever cause that might prove useful in the future. I enjoy it so much that it makes me a little sad I only started doing this now.

I remember mountainbiking through the hills of Northern Mexico, hardly taking any photos and I sure didn’t write anything to capture my thoughts and experiences. A shame, the human memory fades slowly but indefinitely. I hope I’ll get better at this writing and photo thing and keep doing it for the rest of my life. The goal of my Monologues 365 project was never to write for a full year but rather to become a writer. The daily writing this year is merely to kickstart that habit. Something I think I’m succeeding in so far.

This also leads me to play with the idea of writing larger essays with a little more — research backed — background information. I don’t think I’m ready to do that type of work yet but perhaps after this year ends, I’ll have more room and writing dexterity to start thinking about a way to do this. A larger write up on something as historically significant — but also as largely forgotten by younger people around me — as the Grebbe Line makes sense in my head. I believe you need a good balance of things that are interesting enough but also not covered endless times before. This doesn’t mean I want to write history lessons but using a route like this as the connecting entity is, in my opinion, a very nice way to have some direction as you go along (much like Craig Mod writes about Pizza toast while walking the Kumano Kodo, for example).

The ultimate goal with this would be to have my story published by other outlets, though finding those will be a challenge in itself. A good place to start would be at a travel website like hatlastravel.com whom share images and stories from travel photographers so people can get inspiration for their next trip. They already use some of my images I shot in my hometown as well, so working with these kinds of publications doesn’t seem too far fetched for me. Eventually I’d love to write for publications like The New Yorker, The Atlantic or maybe keeping it a bit more local. I don’t know. Nor do I care that much right now. First, let’s just get these walks in, take those photos and write those stories.

Dear Bowie and Cobain

Dear Bowie and Cobain,

God, I remember how small you once were. Look at you now. No longer kittens that fit into the palm of my hand. I know I sound like some nostalgic parent when I say that but that’s actually kind of how I feel. A little silly maybe, but I don’t care much about that. You deserve that love.

Thank you for bringing life into our home. Wether that’s by your constant yapping when you’re playing with your ball or by tearing down our wallpaper every now and then. Thank you for blessing us with the loudest purring I have ever heard from a cat and also for destroying the plants in the process of taking down a fly. We know it’s not necessary to sing songs for you – that stuff doesn’t matter to you – but we did it anyway. It’s your first birthday only once and that should be celebrated.

I hope you enjoy the new stretching post we got you and I hope you enjoyed the extra treats. Happy birthday. I hope there will be many years to come.

How a robot turned me from a hobo to a bohemian

A few days ago, I purchased one of those little circular robotic vacuum cleaners with the promise of never having to vacuum again. I’m pretty sure I can’t trust that machine to completely eliminate the need for me to clean every nook and corner of my apartment but any lightening of the load is welcome. Is it too early to write up some thoughts? Probably. But I’m doing it anyway.

I find these machines quite expensive still1 and didn’t want to spend multiple hundred of euros on a vacuum cleaner. So I got one of the ‘dumb’ ones that just bounces around your home randomly, until it decides it probably got everything and then returns to its base station.2 Despite its lack of intelligence, it still at least looks like it is actively making decisions as it moves around the apartment. For example, it does not simply default to a 90 degree turn on each obstacle but instead sometimes decides it can go a little wider (or less wide). Other times it chugs along in a straight line, then seemingly gets bored in the middle of the room, stops, and heads off in a totally different direction. I have yet to find its motivation for switching directions like that but I guess I’m guilty of the same behaviour, so who am I to talk.

The biggest hint of its level of ‘intelligence’, is when it runs into an obstacle that’s too low for its sensors to pick up, or its bumper to bump into, but too high for its tiny wheels to conquer. At first, you can almost see the confusion in it when it repeatedly tries to drive over the obstacle — like a Sims character desperately trying to reach its waypoint which you’ve sadistically placed in the other room while locking all the doors. The vacuum cleaner trumps the Sims character though, as it eventually gives up on its dreams of overcoming the obstacle, stops trying and just goes somewhere else. Something I’m still learning to do.

Wrapping up this very unnecessary story about a vacuum cleaner, I really like it so far with the most important aspect of that being: it gives me back control of my home. For the past year, especially with the addition of two cats, I just couldn’t keep up with keeping the house as clean as I’d like it to be. I’d spend hours vacuuming the place, only to having to do it all again two days later (which, obviously, I didn’t, because who has time for that?!). Now that this little robot is taking care of the bulk of the vacuuming, at least the house stays relatively clean and it doesn’t make me feel like a dirty hobo as much anymore. I now have sufficiently more time to spare for my other interests like endless tinkering with html files, upgrading workflows without actually producing anything and walking circles in my neighborhood without a clear goal. And that, my friends, is how a robot allowed me to be my true bohemian self.


  1. Though you could argue that it’s a technical marvel that we can get actual robots to take care of chores for a price most people can afford. ↩︎
  2. Or I presume it does, as I’ve sent it home prematurely each time I’ve used it so far. ↩︎

Categorization, pun intended

How many cat photos can you pull off before people start to categorize (pun intended) you as the pet photographer? I hope it’s not too many more, as I presume I will enjoy photographing animals a lot more than dusty office people.1 I’m never going back to doing that again. In fact, don’t even reach out unless you have a four legged friend to photograph. Otherwise I’m way too busy walking and riding circles around my hometown, photographing whatever I come across, until I’m ready to commit to a longer term project again.

Anyway, I shot this one this afternoon and really like the vibe. Though my cats are straight vibes anyway so I couldn’t fail to begin with.


  1. Yeah I said it. Partly because I’m still mentally separating myself from that. Partly because I’m still not sure what is next for me instead. This whole year of writing Monologues has been a cycle of repetition and minor breakthroughs so you’ll have to excuse me. ↩︎

Two minor things

It’s time. So far, only one color preset and one black and white preset have been living on my Fujifilm X100V. This afternoon another color preset was added. Heavily leaning on a Fuji X Weekly film recipe, I’ve added a version of Bleach Bypass to my camera. Next to warm analog-looking photos, I really like harsh tonalities and low saturation so Bleach Bypass is perfect to give a try. It’s sadly not part of the X100V by default but the Fuji X Weekly version seems very nice on first try. We’ll see if it has a place in the second slot of my Q-menu.

In other news, I came home with a robot vacuum today (as a sort of surprise for Charlotte and a gift for myself) and we’ve been looking at it doing the rounds for the past half an hour or so. The cats keep a wary eye as well, though probably not to make sure the machine doesn’t trap itself somewhere.1 You can find a straight out of camera jpeg — with the new film sim of course — below. Oh, and it’s shot at ISO 8000 with the 2x digital zoom function and I missed focus so please forgive the grain.


  1. I’m sure they even secretly hope it gets stuck. ↩︎