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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?” …


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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. …


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I finally understood what happened the other morning. The epiphany revealed itself during a Sunday walk when I noticed a garage sale down the block. The host was a lovely lady, probably in her late 70s. Everything was meticulously organized and displayed.

I looked around for a few moments, then asked, “do you have any vinyl records?”

“Why yes I do,” she replied. “Not as many as I used to, but you’ll find what’s left there in the corner.”

I thumbed through the albums and cherry-picked “Tony Bennett’s All-Time Greatest Hits” (two-record set!) I also found Dionne Warwick and Carly Simon selections. …


Who doesn’t love a summer romance? Everything comes together so perfectly. And you think to yourself, “this is better than I could have imagined.”

That was my feeling when the Nikon Z5 arrived at my doorstep. It was an arranged meeting, and only for a while so I could write a review. I decided the best way to get to know one other was on a road trip. I packed my bags and we headed to Lake Tahoe.

You know how it is in the beginning: long walks by lake, sunsets on the balcony, and more moments together than apart.

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“Fractured” — Nikon Z5 with 24–50mm Nikkor Zoom. Photo by Derrick Story.

I like this camera. A big part of its appeal is the new 24–50mm compact zoom lens. And even though the Z5 features a full frame sensor, it feels lighter than you’d think. …


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When I teach photography classes, I notice that there are two basic types of students. The first has an observant eye and a knack for composition, but isn’t as strong with technical details such as exposure and white balance.

The second can tell you every specification about their camera and lens, but struggles to find an interesting composition that tells a story.

For one, seeing is easy. For the other, it is not.

If I had to decide which to be born with, I would choose to be the visually perceptive person who is technically challenged. My reasoning would be that such details as aperture and shutter speed can be learned. Vision, on the other hand, is more difficult to develop. …


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PhotoPlus Expo in New York City was the last holdout. That is, until this week when they acknowledged reality and cancelled their in-person event scheduled for October at the Javits Center. It will be replaced by PhotoPlus+, an online experience.

Like many changes in 2020, failures that have punctured our current economic model are blamed on the pandemic. But the reality is that we’ve been on this road for years, rattling more out of alignment with each pothole of globalization, terrorism, and environmental change. …


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A Nikon D700 once occupied the back of my photo cabinet. Born in 2008, it was an object of desire for many photographers. But that’s no longer the case.

The camera was built around a 12-megapixel sensor, the same full-frame chip featured in the flagship D3, but in a more enthusiast-friendly body. The D700 was suitable for capturing the moments of our lives without overstraining a shoulder or the credit card.

Full-frame digital cameras are the sirens of the photography world. Serious amateurs and pros can’t seem to resist their call. The term full frame points directly to their 35 mm film ancestors. …

About

Derrick Story

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

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