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Seeing the photograph with a new camera

I recently upgraded my camera to a full frame sensor, so began an unexpected, exiting and scary journey. I need to learn how to see the photograph again.

In 2004, I began my digital photography journey with an HP Point and shoot, before that I was on film. However, my photography journey began when I was given a Minolta Pocket Autopak 450E Rangefinder for my 12th birthday and I began to snap away. Many years later I loaned my mother’s Nikkormat FTN SLR and finally bought my own Minolta Dynax 500si. The latter has auto-focus, TTL, automatic programmes  and a popup flash like modern DSLRs. You may ask what this has to do with “seeing the photograph”, my first DSLR was a Canon EOS 300D and mostly because I came from a digital point an shoot I did not notice the differences caused by the 1.6 crop sensor but I understood the camera’s technical aspect because I had an SLR cameras before. The switch to a crop sensor was seamless, besides at the time like many I shot mostly in automatic or program mode. It was 2004 and I shoot mostly wildlife. 

Fast forward to 2012, after a long line of 1.6 cropped sensor cameras I now have a full sensor camera and my photographic life has just got a little more interesting. I have difficulty seeing the photograph, the framing has changed dramatically. Over the past 8 years I have learned, to the point of becoming second nature, to frame with a cropped sensor. I knew that at 16mm, without looking through the viewfinder I would have a defined result. Sure over the past 8 years the technology helped me to get better photographs through better sensors, auto-focus, … But I had a constant the “frame” was the same. This has changed! And so I embark on a new photography journey where the unexpected is not my new standard, where I need to learn how to see the photograph trough the viewfinder again.

1.6 Crop vs. full sensors
1.6 Cropped sensor
Full frame sensor
Click on image to enlarge.
Camera: CANON EOS 7D
Focal length: 24 mm
Focal length: 24 mm

There are other noticeable differences, I originally thought these where limited to the Canon 5D MkIII and that I was fantasizing or dreaming but having used a MkII for a week this was dispelled. There is something else, colour rendition and depth of field feel different too. The whole photographic experience has changed, but I will address the technical aspect with examples in another post.

Photograph vs. Snapshot

The definition of Snapshot:

  • An informal photograph taken quickly, typically with a small hand-held camera.
  • A snapshot is popularly defined as a photograph that is "shot" spontaneously and quickly, most often without artistic or journalistic intent. Snapshots are commonly considered to be technically "imperfect" or amateurish—out of focus or poorly framed or composed. Common snapshot subjects include the events of everyday life, such as birthday parties and other celebrations; sunsets; children playing; group photos; pets; tourist attractions and the like.

The definition of Photograph:

  • A picture produced by photography.
  • A photograph (often shortened to photo) is an image created by light falling on a light-sensitive surface, usually photographic film or an electronic imager such as a CCD or a CMOS chip. Most photographs are created using a camera, which uses a lens to focus the scene’s visible wavelengths of light into a reproduction of what the human eye would see. The process and practice of creating photographs is called photography. The word "photograph" was coined in 1839 by Sir John Herschel and is based on the Greek φῶς (phos), meaning "light", and γραφή (graphê), meaning "drawing, writing", together meaning "drawing with light".

Strange, I must be taking a lot of snapshots but wait snapshots are photographs right?
As a photographers we must think about what we say before we say it and remember that beauty is in the eye of the beholder. A “snapshot” may be more sentimental then a so called professional photograph. In my opinion, we can not degrade a person’s work and “snapshot” seems to be, in this context, really degrading even arrogant. We should cultivate a spirit of sharing and teaching. What does a professional photograph (or photographer for that matter) mean anyways?

If you are wandering why I wrote this? Just an incident that happened not so long ago, I was present not involved but it got me thinking on how I criticise other’s photographs and photographers, I am hoping I never come across as anything else than helpful and encouraging.

Some developer news


After a long absence as a developer, I have decided to come back to my roots. Though I never left the development world, I have been engaged in other facets of it. I am now developing again, full time.

Having closed all my other blogs over the past few years, I decided to add a Development category here, call me lazy if you will. I hope that my photography followers will not mind. If you do, leave a note on this entry.

The technologies and methodologies will vary but most of it will be Microsoft based from ASP.NET Webforms and MVC to Microsoft SQL and everything else I might touch.

The site is now split better so you can follow what you want according to the categories.

Let the devolution of an insane developer begin, again.

A new job, a new car and new ideas.

The past few months have been rather interesting, I moved to a new job as a senior developer in the Media 24 group and found life rather odd, I was on the same project a few years ago and he I am back, though not with the same company. So far so good, good people and good atmosphere, I could not ask for better at this time.

Disaster strikes, though. My old Nissan Almera, with 350,000 km on the clock, broke down on various occasions as I started my new job. It could not have be at a worst time. So, my wife and I decided that it was time for a new car. It had to be fuel efficient, compact, reliable, affordable and comfortable. That left us with a very few choices, Renault and Peugeot (and Citroen by association) were out of the running and we wanted a diesel, this was not negotiable. Eventually, we opted for the VW Polo 1.6 TDI. I must say that the first 100kms were a revelation, the car is very comfortable, I would even say it borders luxury without the price tag. Many of it’s features are expected of far more “premium” manufactures, the cruise control just works, the air conditioner is the same, though the latter is not controlled, and it has traction control. Traction control! WOW. But I’ll report on it more deeply once it has done far more than the mere 100 kms.

So what are the new ideas? Well, soon. December is around the corner and so is “The rude frenchman”, another one of my wacky ideas that had to happen, and more photographs, reviews,…

Photo walking

Photo-walking is one of the ways I am forcing myself to pick up my camera and go to “make” photos as opposed to sit at my desk working.

There are pros and cons to going photo-walking. The pros outweigh the cons every time. So why do it?

Mark Straw, one of the men behind the ever-growing Joburg Photowalkers, asked this very question on Facebook the other day and the answers were varied.

In my opinion, being with other photographers and the immediate synergy is a serious attraction. But there is so much more to it, meeting interesting people and making friends. Discovering your inner photographer, discovering new interesting places in your own backyard and you get to have some exercise to boot. Photo walks are for everyone from beginners to professionals and what is more is that no one will turn you down or laugh at you if you have a problem on site. It’s all about the socializing and enjoyment of sharing one passion, photography.

One more advantage is that Photowalkers end up criticizing each other’s work and I found that the criticism is rather positive.

So how about getting involved in photo walks in your city?

In Johannesburg, follow Joburg Photowalkers and PhotoComment for the next walk.