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Generally speaking, photographers aren’t homebodies. It’s not that we don’t enjoy taking pictures of the cat or what we ate for lunch, but it’s hard to make a living memorializing a grilled cheese.

I’ve been looking for something new, something different, a rose-colored filter to put over my lens to transform my neighborhood into a visually exciting existence. My search led me out of the visible spectrum into an unseen world called infrared photography.

If you’re not familiar with it, here’s how it works.

Our eyes can see but a slice of the electromagnetic spectrum. If you want to get a tad nerdy about this, our visible detection is between 380 and 700 nanometers (nm). The color violet is at the lower end (380–450 nm) followed by blue, cyan, green, yellow, orange, and red bringing us home at 625–700 nm. …


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When I turned on the TV to watch the certification of Joe Biden and Kamala Harris, I did not anticipate seeing images of Americans storming the Capital to gain unlawful entrance. What should have been a day to celebrate the peaceful transition of power had plummeted into chaos.

Immediately, I pulled out my iPhone and began to capture images of the TV screen. The pictures tell a grim story. And it is history that I will not allow myself to forget.

I was alive during the Vietnam conflict. It was a traumatic event in American history that seemed to last forever. I was young then. …


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Fujifilm X100V and iPhone 12 Pro Max

Headline: Smartphones are Killing the Camera Industry!
Body Text: Actually, it’s the bag manufacturers that should be worried.
Conclusion: You can trim your kit to just your favorite camera and a smartphone, and leave the backpack full of photo gear behind.

Here’s one way to do it.

Most casual snap shooters settle on a single camera. That’s all they need to preserve the moments of their life. And in this day and age, that memory keeper is no longer the DSLR hanging around dad’s neck or the stylish compact in mom’s purse. …


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Black and white photography is not merely the absence of color. In the right hands, monochrome pictures artistically blend shapes and tones to help us see life more clearly.

We believe black and white photos are truthful even though the world is in color. The feeling is that we’ve stripped away all the distractions and are left with the essence of a subject.

Try to imagine Alfred Eisenstaedt’s “V-J Day in Times Square” as a color image. As a monochrome, there’s the crisp white of the woman’s dress against the dark tones of the sailor’s uniform. The lyrical curve of her body is firmly embraced by the man. There is other activity in the image, but we only notice it as supporting elements. …


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Years before he died in a plane crash, Galen Rowell spoke at a camera club in Santa Rosa, CA. He shared a valuable bit of information during his talk, and afterward I thanked him for solving my biggest challenge in photography: proper exposure.

This was a moment in the 1990s before computational photography and mirrorless cameras. We had a lot riding on every press of the shutter button. 36 exposures on a roll of film — each one cost money to process and print. And I was tired of wasting my allowance.

Too many of my pictures were excessively dark or light. They perplexed me. I wanted perfect exposures every time. Seemed so basic. …


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I’ve always been fascinated by colorful movie characters who repaired clocks in their quaint shops. They seemed to know things that the rest of us miss. It’s as if the answer to life is tucked away behind those tiny metal springs and delicate brass gears.

In 2015 I began my own version of this story. I started fixing and selling film cameras. It was the most unconscious career move I had ever made. I stumbled into the job by merely wanting to shoot film again. …


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Lighting is everything in photography. The camera is only a tool to implement what is observed. For decades now, the industry has worked hard to create foolproof devices that save us from doing the number one thing any photographer should do, which is seeing the light.

Why do they feel the need to do this? Let’s take a look at a couple scenarios.

Two women at the beach, standing side by side, taking in the scene before them. The subject, a little girl, is 10 yards away — an excellent photo opportunity.

The first woman notices the strong backlight, a white sky where clouds interlock into a glowing curtain that hangs above the water. She squints a little to better see the girl. There’s a photography decision to be made. “How do I make this work?” …


Moments Before the Door Closed

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Venice Beach, CA.

On the morning of March 13, 2020, five of us with cameras squeezed into an Uber in Santa Monica and gazed out the window during the short ride to Venice Beach. We were there on self-assignment. We wanted to document how life was changing in L.A. during the early days of coronavirus. Thanks to my long legs, I rode shotgun in the silver SUV.

“Aren’t you nervous about it?” the driver asked me as we arrived.

“I am,” I replied.

He looked concerned as he turned his eyes back to the road. And he didn’t say another word until we reached our destination.
We gave him a few packets of sanitizing wipes as we exited the car. He opened the first one and wiped down his hands and the steering wheel. …


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If we’ve learned nothing else from the surge of smartphones in photography, we’ve seen that size doesn’t matter, brains do.

The Apple Event on October 13, 2020 debuted the iPhone 12 with Apple ProRaw that can go up against any enthusiast camera for general photography. It provides tremendous capability with an image sensor that’s minuscule compared to those in many interchangeable lens models.

What Apple, Google, Samsung, and other smartphone makers are leveraging is smarts, not muscle. Computational photography depends less on the light-gathering sensor itself and more on the programming and processors that comprise the image pipeline.

It’s revenge of the nerds all over again. …


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Sonoma County on Fire — October 2017 — Photos by Derrick Story

The world was a different place when I made my first journal entry in December 2015. I had downloaded an app called Day One to my iPhone. My plan was to document the details of film photography with this journaling software. I was trying to solve the no-metadata challenge that comes with analog cameras.

Unlike digital devices and smartphones, film cameras don’t record shutter speed, aperture, focal length, nor anything else related to the picture. The best you can do is burn the date on the film itself with a data back — not a very satisfying approach.

My big idea was to take a corresponding picture with my smartphone every time I exposed a shot on film. I would then add that digital picture to my journal with details of the shot. The phone would make my work easy because it automatically recorded time, place, and weather. All I had to do was add my thoughts. …

About

Derrick Story

Photography, podcasting, and writing. More at www.thedigitalstory.com and www.thenimblephotographer.com

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