About this Blog

Photo Writing is the web version of the Photo Writing mini-magazine produced by Limephoto and Emil von Maltitz since 2010. As of 2015 it is now completely online. Feel free to browse through the articles and please leave comments in the comments section if you would like to engage with us.

Monday, November 1, 2021

DSLR or Mirrorless

DLSR or Mirrorless

Two conversations within two days of each other with two photographers on either side of the country made me realise the amount of angst dedicated photographers are feeling as to their equipment choices and the future of their gear. I am talking about mirrorless and the apparent death of the DSLR of course. It’s a trending topic on camera forums, clubs and amongst enthusiasts the world over. Should you move to mirrorless, or stick with your DSLR?

The conversation usually revolves around a concern for the longevity and value of the system that you have opted to use for your own personal photography. In reality though there are more complex emotions at play, often with unconscious brand bias, and a fear of being left out. Regardless of the motivations, photographers are questioning the equipment they have, and the brands they have chosen in the past.

Wednesday, July 7, 2021

A Love Letter to a Lens - My Voigtlander 40mm f2

Voigtlander 40mm f2 Ulton on Nikon D780

That photographic equipment is getting increasingly better and better is something of a truism. Considering lenses and cameras from twenty years ago, it’s easy to to see the progress that has been made both in imaging as well as in optics. Client’s expect these changes too, and you can look back at commercial images shot in the 90’s and it’s very easy to see the limitations that our photographic techniques offered. That’s not to say the images weren’t good. They were excellent. Photographic heroes of mine all shot on film with varied cameras from half-frame Olympuses to the Sinar 4x5 cameras. However, film grain, blown exposure and lens defects all contribute to a perceived ageing of the image…apart of course from the clothing styles and haircuts. No, today the images that are created are clean, sharp, perfectly exposed, devoid of blemishes….and all the same.  

Friday, July 2, 2021

Ain’t It Pretty and About Bloody Time! - First Thoughts on the Nikon Zfc

Nikon ZFc and FM2

So, is the new Nikon Zfc a vanity project by Nikon, or a long overdue simple ‘dials’ and buttons take on modern cameras? As ever, the internet and commentators everywhere are divided on the issue. So this means that the Zfc is very definitely going to be a contentious design decision. Spoiler alert up front, I absolutely love the idea of the Zfc. It’s something I’ve been wanting Nikon to make, not for years, but for decades. I wrote this article back in 2011 essentially wishfully asking Nikon for a ‘retro’ take on the modern DSLR. Of course, Nikon did toy with the idea of a retro inspired camera in 2013 (yes it’s that long ago already) with the Nikon Df. This was a hodge-podge of parts that resulted in a clunky to use camera that was essentially a re-badged D600 with controls that didn’t quite merge the design ethos of analogue and digital (my take on the Df is here:). The Df continues to have its followers, but overall was not a sales success in the long term. 

Monday, June 7, 2021

A Review of the New Nik Collection 4 - lack lustre update, or must have app collection?

Last week, with very limited fanfare, DXO launched their now annual update to the Nik Collection of plugins and standalone image filters. This ostensibly brings the suite of applications to version 4. Although in a bizarre naming twist, only two of the apps are actually at version 3, with most of them still at version 2, and some still at version 1. The last properly major update was in 2019, and I wrote about it in this article. Version Three came out in 2020 and was essentially some bug fixes and the inclusion of a miniature filter and the start of a theoretically non-destructive workflow. The new version is essentially a reboot of two of the Nik Collections apps: Silver Efex and Viveza.

Wednesday, June 2, 2021

Shooting Distance

Arguably, the first thing that novice photographers attempt to ‘fix’ in their images is the issue of flatness, the sense or feeling that an image is 'flat' when looked at. The way we perceive our world is three-dimensionally. Images are not three-dimensional though, hence our interpretation of the two-dimensional is often one of flatness. The complaint tends to go along the lines of ‘this doesn’t do justice to what we saw’, or ‘it looked a lot bigger in real-life’ or simply, ‘it looked very different when we saw it’.

Monday, May 3, 2021

Space - The First Frontier

For many photographers, the first mistake they make in composition is trying to fill the picture frame. I’m guilty of this myself, particularly with wildlife photography. There’s the big lens theory that you need to get a big fat piece of glass on the front of the camera so that you can fill that sensor with the leopard in a tree. For landscape photographers there’s the opposite - little lens theory - that you get as wide a lens as possible so that you can fill the frame with as much of the landscape as possible. Then with all these wonderful big and small lenses we wonder why our images look dull and uninspired. It’s because filling the frame is not necessarily the best way to create a meaningful image. Sometimes, you need to leave it empty.

Wednesday, March 31, 2021

The 'Rule' of Thirds

The Rule of thirds

There is a rule that seems to be taken as a biblical guidance caste down in stone as the 11th commandment for photographers: The Rule of Thirds (hereafter referred to as RoT). This piece of guidance is viewed by many as a starting point for composition. It’s muttered like a mantra at camera-club meetings (woe betide the photographer who dares not use it at one of these gatherings), and is often the first thing that is mentioned in books on photographic composition. The problem with such a strong term as ‘rule’, is that photographers will sometimes feel that they have to craft the image so that it fits the rule, rather than look at the elements and allow them to fall into place in a manner that works best for both the subject matter at hand.

Tuesday, March 30, 2021

Advice In Looking for that first bit of work experience

Every now and again I get a request from some young photographer asking if they can shadow me on a shoot, be an intern, or more baldly, be given a job. Some of these requests I entertain, as the photographer has caught my eye in some way. The reality though is that I doubt that many of these job/intern/shadow seekers get much success from the email approach. The hit rate with me is probably 1:20. I have found myself writing a response to several in the past as to why their missive hasn’t struck the right cord. So this is a post written to all those out there who are wanting to get noticed by a potential employer.

Monday, March 1, 2021

The First Order of Composition - Frame

Classic use of objects within the frame to frame other objects, creating layers of frame-subject relationships
One of the defining characteristics of a photograph is that it is two dimensional. Being two two dimensional means that there has to be an edge to the picture as an object. This is very succinctly put by Stephen shore who wrote that “the photograph has edges, the world has not” (Stephen Shore -The Nature of Photographs: 1998). Part of the photographer’s goal is to delineate their experience of the world within a frame and so depict their ‘view’ of the world to a viewer in another time and place.

Wednesday, January 13, 2021

A Brief Rant About Lenses

2021 started with the announcement of a new lens. It started with a whole lot of other stuff besides, but the lens is what I am going to concentrate on. The lens in question comes from the Chinese optical filter manufacturer, Nisi. On paper it looks fantastic. A really great option for mirrorless (it only comes in mirrorless mounts at the moment) admittedly, and one which I would no doubt be considering if I weren’t still shooting from behind a mirror. So why am I irked?