I have been a photographer for a long time. My first camera was a Nikkormat FT, and later a second body: a Nikkormat FT2. I still have the FT2, though I haven't used it in quite some time.
For a very long time I did static pictures: flowers, buildings, rocks... things that I never had to interact with. For those types of pictures I occasionally used a 4x5 inch Crown Graphic press camera. For fine detail, nothing can match a 4x5 or larger negative taken with a good lens. Most of Ansel Adams' famous Yosemite work was taken using an 8x10 inch view camera. Unfortunately, the lens I had, while very good optically, had an essentially broken shutter. The only pictures I could take with the thing HAD to be either inanimate or dead! The fastest shutter speed I could use was 1-2 seconds.
Since I started shooting digital as well as film, I have changed my tune about what to shoot. Oh, I still take the odd picture of a flower or something else that strikes my fancy, but these days I find myself more interested in people photography. Mainly portraits, and mostly street portraits.
I love wandering around with a camera on the lookout for interesting faces to photograph. Then the issue becomes "Do I ask permission or not?".
The results are profoundly different. Pointing a camera at someone without their permission can create all KINDS of problems...anywhere from simply having them turn away or raise a hand to block their face, to yelling at you or to even more extreme behavior. I have never experienced anything but the first two. No one has hit me...yet!
But if you ask their permission, you often get the 'snapshot smile', which I HATE! I'd rather have a picture showing me some hostility or mistrust. I have often instructed subjects to try and look really annoyed. Unfortunately, that just makes most people laugh.
And I really like shooting film more than digital. In all seriousness, an image made with a good lens on a reasonably fine grained film is JUST BETTER than that same image made with a digital camera.
But you sure can't beat digital for convenience. And digital can help defuse any tricky subject problems. If I can show someone the picture I just took, that will often make them more favorably disposed to me as a human being!
As far as shooting digitally goes, I will most often shot in RAW mode and then use Adobe Camera Raw to process the image. Shooting RAW gives you much finer control over the image, and can be used to great advantage to correct problems. In one case, I was in Africa shooting in tungsten light, and had set my white balance for tungsten light. I then moved outside into a gray and rainy day but forgot to reset my white balance. Since the pictures were shot in RAW mode, it was a simple operation to change the white balance of the affected photos.
I will also shoot in manual mode when the lighting conditions indicate that the camera metering system might have a problem. Modern camera metering systems are really very good, but there are situations where the camera will get it wrong. Anyone who has tried to shoot a picture with a lot of snow or ice in the frame has seen the problem. The camera's meter tries to make an exposure that averages out to 'middle gray', and so you end up with a picture with lots of gray snow! If you understand the basics of exposure and know how to use your camera in manual mode, you will know how to solve these problems.
In 2006 a combination of a charity auction and a bit too much wine put my wife and I in a position of having just won a photo safari trip to South Africa. To celebrate, I immediately went out and bought my first REAL digital camera...the Nikon D200 and some lenses.
My friend Tom (also a photographer) and I decided that since it was a once in a lifetime opportunity, we should plan an extra week of just him and me photographing in Botswana. After that we would meet up with spouses in Johannesburg, and drive the Garden Route to Capetown to complete the trip. So we spent a week in Botswana shooting from our own vehicle, complete with a driver and a tracker. When we were in lion territory, the tracker would shift from riding outside on a fender seat to riding in the truck. The lions are used to seeing the trucks and won't (normally) attack. But riding outside...well, you never know.
It is somewhat surreal to be driving down a fairly normal looking dirt path and see a herd of elephants standing under a tree about 20 feet away from you. Or driving back to the camp just after dark and seeing a hippopotamus grazing in the campground. Or entering a picnic area for a rest stop to see a spotted hyena seated at a picnic table!
And it is most definitely out of one's normal routine to sit in a vehicle watching a pride of lions chowing down on a water buffalo from a distance of about 20 feet. The lions would look up at us occasionally and then go back to their business at hand.
I put this web site together in order to use some tools I learned in the Web Development program at Boston University Center for Digital Imaging Arts in the Winter of 2010.
During that course we were exposed to a LOT of software. Because of my rather extensive background in traditional software development and some specialization in database issues, I thought it would be amusing to put together a new web site using some of those tools.
The major tools and languages we studied at BU are:
On my original web site I just used Dreamweaver and hacked together a site using tables for layout. Using tables that way is no longer considered a best practice, and there are no tables anywhere in this new site, and all the code is hand-written by me. And no small animals were injured or alarmed in the process.
So the tools I used to build this site are:
You should now see two more buttons at the top of this page. Use those buttons to get more information about what goes on on the front page and on the gallery slide show pages
There is very little actual HTML code on the front page. There is a header file that contains a bit, but most of the code is generated by PHP.
The site is database driven. There is a MySQL database that contains a table that describes the galleries that are available and an images table that contains all the information for the available images. There are three versions of each image:
The image changing on this page is approx. 300x200 pixels.
When the front page loads, a connection to the database is made. A query to the DB is made to return the names of the galleries that are available. (Each image in the images table belongs to one of the galleries). From the galleries available, we make a list of them, which is what appears on the left side of the front page. Each of these entries is a link to a gallery page which will show all the pictures available in that gallery.