I’m focused on camera weight. Obsessed with it. Here are the weights of cameras that would work for what I do, from lightest to heaviest:

Sony A7C | 509 g
Fuji X-T4 | 607 g
Leica M10-R | 660 g
Sony A7RIV | 665 g
Nikon Z7 | the 675 g
Sony A9ii | 678 g
Leica Q2 | 734 g
Canon R5 | 738 g
Leica SL2 | 835 g
Nikon D6 | 1270 g
Canon 1DX-3 | 1440 g

Looking at the numbers…

Arguably the best camera on the market (and the heaviest on my list) weighs three times as much as the lightest one 😩.

The A7C has my attention today. The idea of something small yet responsive… 👌

The lightest camera on my list is the cheapest, and newest. 👍

My number one choice on the list weighs half what the heaviest does. 😳

What would I need for the A7C to be worthwhile?

Most likely I’d put a 21/4 or 21/1.4 on it. But could also see an 85/1.4 (AF).

Likes: USB charging, the AF,

Bad: No shutter speed dial on top.

.:.

I’ve been looking at my work from pervious years, where I’ve noticed different approaches I was doing through periods in the past. One that I wanted to bring back around is panoramas. In the past I was taking a lot of swing panoramas with the X100.

So I got out the X100F and for a couple of days was taking swing panoramas again, letting the camera build the massive JPEG files.

Then I was doing some downtown at night with slow shutter speeds and realized I’d have to shoot and assemble it manually.

That was the last time I shot a swing panorama. The difference in quality was serious. From now on, shooting those one frame at a time and assembling later.

.:.

Also, electronic shutter and silence – so tempting. And then you see the photos you made from the passenger seat. Where did those triangles come from. Back to mechanical shutter, after a luckily short period.

The day when they shut down the restaurants. That’s when I started photographing COVID-19 obsessively. An editor directed me to a row of restaurants downtown.

It was so quiet on the street that day. Very few people were out. It felt real. I photographed the empty dining room of a Mexican restaurant, complete with that framed Día de Muertos presiding:

Alamexo Mexican Kitchen, temporarily closed due to COVID-19

I haven’t stopped documenting the impact of COVID-19 since that afternoon.

I started photographing every empty business and restaurant, school or church that I could find. The sheer size of the economic impact is beyond my comprehension. Impacts more cruel are approaching fast.

At this point the photos blur together. I have taken so many. Like a jaded collector, I only notice when I get something different, Now certain shots of these empty and dark establishments will stand out for a moment, like the church I hadn’t seen before or the bar that announced they had removed all alcohol from the building or the beautifully simple reception area at a place that hooks hooked you up to an IV for, “total wellness.”

Everything I’m doing is from my car or my bike or the street. I’m not going inside anywhere, anymore.

In the car I’ve got a 400/2.8 lens on my lap. Somehow I’ve gotten used to its weight (10 pounds) – its presence has become natural. Also in use is a 70-200 lens and a Leica Q. My Leica M and new 21/1.4 lens have been sadly put away for now. There are very few ultra-wide shots to be made.

Yesterday I biked 31 miles around the city. On the bike I carry a Nikon with a 70-200 and a Leica Q. No bag. Both cameras are on my shoulder and ready to shoot. The new bike is a game-changer for my photography- the RadMini.

The RadMini

I can cover so much ground on this bike. It’s like I am flying.

Let’s talk about speed.

There was an old line photographers said when hating on photographers who used zoom lenses:

“I’d rather zoom with my feet.”

Like most photography sayings it’s a good thought but doesn’t hold up to reality. Its real message is obscured.

The thing a zoom lens gives me over a prime lens is speed of movement. Speed can be the most important thing when photographing a fluid situation.

You can’t always “zoom with your feet” in photojournalism. Sometimes you’re locked in position. Other times running across the room for a photograph would be bad form or even insensitive to the situation. And even when you can zoom with your feet, you can’t run as fast as I can zoom. When I zoom in from 70mm to 200mm I’m teleporting myself over great distances, instantly.

The bike is another tool to boost my speed. Riding through the city, I see shots in the distance and get there quickly. If I see a different angle I can adjust on the fly. If I need to be across the street, it takes a couple seconds.

In the first two weeks on the bike I’ve made many photographs that wouldn’t exist otherwise. It’s a secret weapon.

When someone tells you, “I’d rather zoom with my feet,” or some other nugget of photo wisdom they are almost always telling you this:

Think about what you’re doing.

Now that is great advice.

The goal is simple: great photographs.

Going off the rails. This new hyperactive photography thing needs better management.

I have am shooting too many photographs to put out. And the entire idea of the Rough Draft blog [here, this site] was to have no limits, no thoughts about editing, not think about quality – just free expression. But at this moment I’ve got 56 new photos lined up, also 14 drafts created, also several GIFs.

On top of that, made at least several interesting photographs today (out of the 150+ unedited photos I just put into Lightroom). What to do with those?

The pipeline is completely crowded and unworkable.

Need a funnel. A lot post [here, this site], the better ones post to trent.photo and the best to trenthead.com.

Have to redesign workflow tonight and backtrack to make sure I didn’t miss anything from March. There were so many photographs.

May 24, 2018

back to work after a week in NYC. lots of photos to edit.

lots to write about from the past month. we went 8 photographers -> 4 photographers and many friends affected by layoffs.

on the other side, so many positive events and much hope and positivity sent out from friends.

.:.

long day, but much sarcastic thanks to the person who stole L’s iPhone and turned if off immediately so we couldn’t track it (yet). hey Apple, why not make it so you can’t turn off an iPhone without a fingerprint, face ID or passcode? that way we could at least track the thing and a thief couldn’t simply turn it off to go invisible.

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April 23, 2018

Reflecting on a design committee I was part of last year… We followed a pattern that now seems like a legacy pattern: section off stories into subject blocks like Technology, Environment, Sports. Each department has their own space to list several stories. People on the committee probably felt good that they were claiming territory to show off the work of their teams. I did.

However.

I’m thinking that this sorting behavior will/has reduced reader engagement. If I am reading a site and see five stories in a box labeled Sports (or whatever), I can decide not to read any of those five stories simply by my reaction to the label Sports (or whatever). If I am not interested in the category, I won’t even read the headlines within the category’s box. One decision eliminates five stories.

My idea is that you should present your best stories to your audience on the front of the site. Give them the headline, maybe a tag that indicates and draw them into the story. There are great Sports (or whatever) stories that non-Sports (or whatever) fans will – and should – read. By blocking content into categories, a lot of it won’t be seen.

That said, categorization and taxonomies are very important to every site I build. I want the data to be sortable, searchable, organized. But you put that in for yourself and the small number of people who will drill down into it. Most of your readers will not drill down, but the ones who will are important visitors to your site and their attention is important. If someone is interested enough to drill down to a sub-cat, reward them.

I saw this link this morning, and I want to dive further into it. Cards and Composability in Design Systems. I’ve been using cards on fovi8 for a long time.

All of this thought is going into how I’m redesigning my own sites. Trent.Photo now has a front page that brings up 16 of my best photographs and GIFs, randomly chosen from 1988-2018. There’s a headline, a date, and a catgory label. Since I’m presenting images only and the cards themselves only link to a single post, I’m leaving the category label on the cards for now.

On this site I am in process of figuring out exactly what I want to do. For example, as of this typing I still have my media diet broken into categories on the front page. I need to change that so it’s pulling x number of recent entries, with category icons next to each entry. Again, I’m only listing the title of a book or film, so the category isn’t stopping anyone from reading the entry (and it’s not like the content is critical to humanity). Also need to change Media to Recommended or something similar.

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April 10, 2018

You ever get a call from a friend who wants you to come to their office because they’ve “got something for you”, and you go and they hand you a Leica M camera? And you get to keep it?!

That actually happened to me last week.

I walked out of the office holding the camera in box. At the elevator, my car a few levels below, I was so stunned I hit the UP button.

I’m still in shock.

This friend has done so much good for me and my family. I could never repay the debt, even before they handed me a Leica.

My deepest, heartfelt thanks!!

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March 9, 2018

I started a post a couple weeks ago as I started a two-week binge of photographing high school basketball games. I had been editing photos from February tournaments from the past decades and realizing the many shortcomings in the typical newspaper photographer (a slur) approach to basketball. The idea I took going into the first game is that I would create an algorithm for covering the games, a system that would maximize the odds for creating memorable work.

The initial algorithm didn’t survive the first game, and I will eventually finish that post with more detail. But building on the idea that there would be an algorithm for how to photograph a basketball game (what lenses you use depending on the score, time remaining, etc.) – I’m learning a ton from looking trough my work, photos that are both below and above average –

And thinking back to early in my career when it was easier to stand out visually – and people would say they could tell which photos in a mediocre small daily newspaper were mine.

This, then: Why not create a visual style guide? It’s something that is already wired into my approach, after years of professional experience. But how could you define, in writing and systems and equations, a way to photograph that produced the most interesting work?

For example, couldn’t you say that in photographing a

wait, not that,

couldn’t you work out a style

just like writers use the AP Style Guide to have standardized grammar and naming conventions, a photographer could take common situations and create an approach that was repeated and adhered to (while at the same time improved upon after each use).

Common situation: head shot or close portrait of single speaker, interview subject, etc.: Fill frame with face, lighting where possible, crop from top of head instead of chin.

“But everything would look the same.”

But if it was interesting, and excellent.

More on this coming, as it all processes.

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March 6, 2018

From Lens Blog this morning, a fantastic piece on legendary photographer Ralph Gibson (link below):

“I wanted to make photographs you could look at for a long period of time, photographs that were not ephemera, photographs that were made to last and could support a great depth of content,” he said. “That’s the opposite of working for the media.”

As I’m continuing to edit the photos from my career, these words ring very true. Closing in on mid-March I am realizing that a lot of photos are making it through because I’m thinking about the people in the photograph, and the idea that somehow they will find it, it will part of their life’s history, or something like that. But then, these aren’t always great photographs.

The answer might be to create a sub-category of photograph that denotes less important work, and then lower the visibility of that content.

Is the project a portfolio or a retrospective? Should it be expansive or select? I’m leaning toward select in many cases.

It’s becoming clear that if 2018 is the year I get everything posted, 2019 will be the year I refine the edit.

[contentcards url=”https://www.nytimes.com/2018/03/05/lens/the-surrealist-photos-of-ralph-gibson.html”]

.:.

Here is a fun question – if you were coming out of some kind of drama situation, which of these two outcomes would be preferred:

A) you get everything you want, but feel a lack of respect.

B) you don’t get everything you want, but you feel respect.

.:.

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February 10, 2018

“Let’s just pretend it never happened…

and what would we create?”

—Kathleen Hanna. The Punk Singer..

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February 5, 2018

You are a creative, a photographer, a writer, a producer of content. My thought is this:

Last night I photographed a local event where a lot of really cool things happened. Women gathered and over the course of three days, learned to play instruments, write a song, rehearse, and put on a live concert.

I met and photographed a lot of great people, unique characters, tender moments, and really, high points in people’s lives.

Let’s use that scenario as a setup to my thought.

As I was editing the photographs, I found myself saving several photographs of certain moments (even though there was always a clear “best” shot). I also found myself saving mediocre photos because they might have been the only one I had of a certain person I met. I was saving those mediocre photos not to ever show anyone, but in case I might someday cross paths with these people again.

My thought is this – when editing photographs I should be thinking, Is this photograph worthy of having my name under it?

In other words, and less narcissistic, I should only be showing work that is excellent.

But the thought, Is this photograph good enough that I will put my name under it, seems like it could be a clarifying rule for editing.

Most photographers mentally attach their name to every photo they take. My thought with this entry is that I will reserve that designation until the editing phase, at which point many and most of the photographs I take will never receive my name on them. They will be destroyed in an effort to keep my body of work as strong as my abilities will allow.

In continuing to edit my archive of decades of photographs, it is apparent that my work,

Enough about me and my work. Use this for yourself.

This thing I’ve just created. Is is excellent? And if not, why would I ever put my name on it? Why would I ever release it into the public?

Nike (I know, I hate Nike).

Vans doesn’t release every new shoe design they come up with on a daily basis. To myself in year’s past: Why do you post every photo, every attempt at greatness, that you make?

It’s now part of my editing process – the question: Is this photograph good enough to have my name under it?

January 31, 2018

I stopped in on a photo exhibit the other day. Amazing portraits done in some sensitive situations. One thing missing: the photographer’s name.

Later today there’s an event for the exhibition. In the event announcement on the venue’s blog? No mention of the photographer’s name.

And here in my writing, something missing because out of my control: the photographer’s name.

A travesty.

.:.

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January 30, 2018

You need to take on projects that are

It’s become

Big projects. Taking on large tasks. That is where I have ended up. Do something every day for a year. Completely remodel the web presence, removing (deleting) content that is weak. Adding content that is strong.

Every day I am posting photographs from the past thirty years of that day. Which means I’ve got to edit at least thirty days of photographs daily. The January edit is complete, the posts soon to be live.

Biggest lesson in all of this, one month in, is to walk away when it stops being fun.

.:.

The most beautiful thing one of our children’s teachers said to us the other day, “We want our children to thrive.”

Yes. Anything that gets in the way of that will be eliminated ignored.

.:.

I watched the film Faces Places yesterday. If you give in to this film, and are lucky, you will be brought to the verge of tears by the beauty of everyday humanity and a love of creativity. Such goodness in this film.

.:.

Photos from January 30th

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