I love photography books and have been building a little library for the past couple of years. Family and friends have been gifting me some books for some time now and I have purchased a few as well. The end result is a nice bookshelf full of wonderful works of art.
I have to give credit to Ted Forbes (The Art of Photography) for introducing me to photography books. On his YouTube videos he showed what wonderful works of art they can be. I believe that many photographers shoot images in a series which is best showed in a book.
I have recently stumbled on a wonderful series of books from Thames & Hudson Publishers. They are publishing small books of various photographers at a very attractive price point. These are going for 8-10 GBP and are small enough to fit in a large pocket. The print quality is very good and renders color and B&W very nicely. These are not works of art but rather an accessible way to be introduced to the work of masters.
The books all have a short forward and then just pictures with the title and the date taken. Simple, easy and wonderful to enjoy. If you want to take a look I highly recommend these books. So far I have bought five of them and am enjoying them greatly.
I find them perfect to take to bed for a quick look or to look through on the train. Normal photography books are typically large and heavy designed to be read at a desk. While I love setting time aside to be able to do this sometimes it just is not possible. These small books are easy to carry with me and read wherever I happen to be. The price point allows me to take it without worrying about damage.
The picture below are the books I have bought so far. I have put a pencil at the bottom to help give you an idea of scale. These things are fantastic and do not break the bank!
Full disclaimer, the photo above was purchased on rf123.com. I like purchasing stock photos as it helps other photographers and helps give my site a different artistic flavor.
I have been traveling since I was a kid. My father had a job that took him to different countries and we followed him. From the US to Argentina and Venezuela. Our life felt like that of a ping pong ball bouncing to each country and back.....I loved it.
Each location gave me a chance to reinvent myself, meet new people and discover something new. As I grew into adulthood all I knew is that I wanted to continue wondering the world. As I arrived in university I began looking to see which company I could work with to increase my chances of an overseas assignment.
Looking back now I can see that all of my decisions have centered around exposing me to travel. Since university I have lived in seven countries (one of them I lived in twice) and have loved every minute of it.
The most important thing I learned about traveling is that it is more a frame of mind than anything else. Let me explain...Travel is exciting because we do not know what is going to happen next. We are exposed to new things because we seek new things out. We eat fascinating foods because we step out of our comfort zone and try them out. All of these things can, and should be done in your own home town.
A few years ago, while living in Buenos Aires Argentina (a city I consider my home town) I decided to sign up for a photography tour. I went out to a coffee shop to meet my tour guide and let her take me around town as if I was a tourist. I saw the entire city through her eyes and it was very different than the city I knew.
The guide took me to places I had never been, introduced me to people I had never met and allowed me to photograph the city I loved through her eyes. The above pictures are a few examples. I was introduced to environmental portraits, in the case of the ones above that of a butcher and a cobbler. The cobbler owned her store which had been in her family for three generations. The photo above her head was taken in the 1950's and shows all the employees they once had. While the guide spoke to her I was able to shoot some images.
Sometimes we become so familiar with our city that we fail to really see it. If you have the time I suggest you try traveling to your own home town and look at it through eyes of another.
*The photo above was not taken by me. It was purchased from 123rf.com.
I have been bouncing around the world for the last 12 years and through a great deal of that I have been carrying my photography equipment with me. As proof of my experience I can show you a wall of camera bags, each purchased while looking for the best bag possible! I can also show you hours of YouTube video watching from a variety of experts telling me what to pack and what to leave behind.
I began making the typical beginner mistake and tried to carry it all. I had a massive back pack, every lens I owned along with filters, tripods and various triggers. After a few trips I decided I should see what the experts told me to do. The vast majority spoke of traveling light and so I began changing. I would take a ton of gear and leave it in the hotel with a smaller "day pack" to carry around with me.
Then I changed over to a truly light carry philosophy where I only packed one camera and a couple of very small lenses. I was light, care and fancy free. But here is the thing...I missed some shots because I did not have the right gear. Was it a massive loss? No, but I kept asking myself what the reason for my travel was.
That is the trick of it, I have discovered. You should understand what is the purpose of the trip. On most of my business trips I take nothing but my iPhone and sometimes my Rollie 35. On a trip to visit family, a simple film or digital camera with a 35mm lens usually works. Going to the beach? One camera and one lens as I do not want to be tempted to change my lens with all the wind and sand.
A family vacation? That all depends on the destination and method of travel. If we are going to be in the middle of Paris and just walk around to see the sights I will allow myself to carry a bit more. If we are going to be jumping on and off buses, trains or taxis then I prefer to go very light, one camera and a couple of lenses.
I never take more that one film and one digital camera. Ideally I select the set to be able to share lenses. My Leica M6 and my M9 are a good example. My Nikon D800 and my Nikon F3, F4 or EM is another.
I will always google the place I am going to in order to create a image list. I then see if a telephoto would be in order or if I should go wide angle. New Zealand cries out for a wide angle lens but a city like Paris calls for some street photography with a normal lens. Going to shoot sports or wildlife...telephoto it is.
Out of everything I have learned, below are the only "never break" rules.
We spend a great deal of money on our lenses as this is one of the largest determining factors of image quality. The above picture is of a beloved Olympus 50mm lens I received with my OM-1 camera. The fact is that the equipment had not seen the light of day in years and was stored in a rather humid environment.
When I saw this on the lens, I did not notice it on the images I took, I began to worry about it spreading to other lenses and what I could do to prevent my clean lenses from developing this. I began doing a bit of digging, a great deal of forum reading and some chatting with various photography professionals. Based on all of this I have developed a theory on lens fungus and a method which I believe will help prevent it. This is my own system and I offer no guarantees other than it is a what I use on my lens collection.
Fungus is Bad:
Ok so here is the first controversial thing I will say. While I would hate my lens collection to develop fungus it can give character to images shot with the lens. It can soften or even present a slight haze to the image. Many of the images that I shot with this lens have a soft quality to them which I love.
The problem is that as the fungus grows, lens elements will be permanently damaged and what may start off as a pleasing character may evolve into something undesirable.
Yes and no. Fungus will grow however if a lens is well put together and has not suffered damage, it should not allow any spores into the lens elements. Fungus that typically grows in a lens was present when the lens was assembled. The spores were present and once a bit of moisture condensed into the lens element then it begins to grow.
The most common reason for the growth which I have found is that the fungus is eating organic material on the lens, typically from oils used in construction. In theory if the lens has not suffered damage it should not allow spores into the lens elements. Hence it is not likely for fungus in one lens to spread to another.
How to Avoid:
Based on the above, the objective is to prevent any spores that were present during manufacturing to grow. The trick is to understand what fungus likes...it likes dark, damp places. Exposing the lens to UV light will deter fungus from growing. Keep the lenses in a dry environment and you should be fine.
What I Do:
I take my lenses out around once a month and lay them out on a table in direct sunlight. I am careful to ensure the angle is such that a fire does not start. I then slowly inspect and clean each lens.
I store all my lenses in an air tight box with moisture absorbing silica gel. These are reusable if you heat them in an oven. When I take my lenses for their sun bathing I pop these little things in the oven and dry them.
The whole affair takes me around 2 hours and I enjoy the process. We all like the gear that we buy so spending a bit of time cleaning and maintaining it is not a tall order.
Patrick...confirmed film & digital photography addict.