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.

Friday, November 23, 2018

A Change Is as Good as a Holiday - Moving from Lightroom to Capture One

I tend to make big changes seemingly impulsively. My move to Apple was on the back of a hissy fit caused by multiple crashes of an old PC (while trying to deliver to a client who had a rather hard-to-meet timeframe). My move to digital was the result of a single conversation with an image editor who complained about seeing grain in a digital scan of Fuji Velvia. Possibly I’m not being fair to myself and these decisions are actually made after months of thinking about it, but a single event causing everything to snowball into shape. So I’ll deliberate in my mind for months and then suddenly dive head first into whatever change it happens to be at the time (the decision to move house has been similar). The move to Capture One followed this thread exactly.

Thursday, November 8, 2018

The Accidental Artist

“The thing that interests me about photography and why it’s different from all the other media, is that it’s the only medium in which there is even the possibility of an accidental masterpiece” 

Chuck Close in Photo Wisdom - Master Photographers on their Art

You could say that photography has sort of exploded over the last decade. It’s estimated that 17 trillion images were created in the last year alone. People who call themselves photographers will quibble over the equipment used and moan about the proliferation of cellphone wielding snapshooters, but the reality is that we have entered an era of the ‘every-photographer’. Platforms like Facebook and Instagram make sure that there is an insatiable demand for imagery to be created. Create we do as millions of people around the globe upload countless images of their cats, to their cars, to their vacations and more. What’s more, we have become addicted to fulfilling this demand. We get a small hit of endorphin when someone, somewhere, clicks a little heart to tell the photographer that they ‘like’ the image (the ridiculousness of this is that often those clicks are automated, but the receiver still gets a high). Slowly our perceptions of self-worth become moulded by the amount of views, comments and reactions we receive from our online images. The ephemerality of it means that an image last barely moments before it is superseded by another image, and then another, and another, and another.

Friday, November 2, 2018

A Brief Introduction To Storage and Backup

As photographers we are now well past the days where we stored all our old film negatives in a shoe box in the closet. Now instead of several hundred photographs to sift through on a Sunday afternoon, we have tens of thousands of images that we need to sort through, store and somehow backup. It is an often articulated concern among the photographers that I engage with as to how to store all these images. More than just store the images, how do we keep them future safe and back them up in the case of loss or damage.

Monday, October 15, 2018

A Love Affair - A contemporary review of the Nikon F3

I was still in school when I first met her. God, she was beautiful. I felt like I was cheating when I switched my attention to her, but it also just felt right and good. Like it was meant to be. Years later I deeply regretted abandoning her for a newer version. It ate at me. I yearned for that click, for the feel in my hands; for the tactile caress and they way it just felt right…every…single…time…I pressed the shutter. After many years, I finally have the Nikon F3 back in my hands, and she’s mine!

Monday, September 17, 2018

Where we stand - thoughts after Canon and Nikon Mirrorless Announcements

2018 is shaping up to be an interesting and important year for the photographic industry. I should probably qualify that it is an important year for the photographic equipment industry though - as opposed to the photographic world as a whole - which I’ll elaborate on below. 2018 is also very definitely going to be remembered as the year where the two giants in the industry (Canon and Nikon) changed course to tack with the prevailing mirrorless winds. If you are reading this you are probably already aware of the introduction by Nikon and Canon of two full-frame mirrorless systems that are pretty much a harbinger of each company’s future development aspirations.

Thursday, September 13, 2018

Zeiss Milvus Review - on Landscapegear.co.xa

Just before heading off for my first trip to Iceland I acquired a Zeiss Milvus 18mm f2.8 lens. I was mad, or so I thought at the time. The Zeiss is an extraordinarily expensive lens for what is a manual focus 18mm prime lens. However, it does offer landscape photographers something that can't necessarily be found in other lenses. After shooting in Iceland and a snowy Drakensberg Mountains, I put together a review for Landscapegear.co.za which can be viewed on this link.

Wednesday, August 15, 2018

Exploring the land of Viking sagas! Natures Light Iceland Recce Trip

 Iceland! It’s a place that conjures up images of longboats riding white capped waves and black mountains jutting out and over pounding dark surf. A land of vikings, volcanoes and ice. As such it has drawn photographers in their droves to explore the island which sits just south of the Arctic Circle. It has drawn so many photographers that it is hard to pick up a photographic magazine or look through the images in a photographic salon without coming across as least a few images from Iceland. It is this allure that had me chatting to some photographers around a fire, in quite the contrary location - Botswana’s Kubu Island, about their thoughts in visiting Iceland.

Two years later, almost to the month I found myself setting foot onto Iceland’s soil joined by some of those same photographers who planted the seed of visiting Iceland in the first place. We had touched down in one of the few pronounceable (for anyone who doesn’t speak Icelandic) towns on the Island, Keflavik. This is about an hours drive from the more familiarly unpronounceable capital, Reykjavik - home to just under a third of Iceland’s 350, 000 strong population. From the air we could see a ring of snow-capped mountains surrounding what to us looked like a flat plain of green and dark grey. We later found the plain to actually be churned up moss covered prehistoric lava flow.

 Read more at Exploring the land of Viking sagas. Nature's Light Iceland Recce Trip...

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

A Tale of Two Plates - Sirui L-Brackets vs. The Competition

Several years ago I was introduced to the value of an L-plate on my camera. Since then my cameras have rarely gone a day without an L-plate attached firmly to their base. To the uninitiated the plate seems a little silly, so let me briefly outline their usefulness: 

The Power of the Polaroid

Here’s a very quick tip for travel photographers. Get a polaroid camera. Well, nowadays it’s more likely to be an Instax camera to be honest. Either way get an instant camera for your travels. It’s the passport you never knew you had.

Years ago, when I was still pretending to be an academic, an ethnographer in particular, I used to carry a Fujifilm Instax 200 Wide camera with me whenever I went on a fieldwork trip. The ‘film’ was expensive for me as a student, but I always found that it was an incredible ice-breaker on meeting people that I wanted to interview. If it wasn’t an ice-breaker it was a fantastic memento of our meeting. As I did return trips to the fieldwork site in the Caprivi, I would often be met by past interviewees with wide smiles and the mention that they still had the photograph that I had given them the previous year. 

Tuesday, April 24, 2018

Laowa 12mm Ultra wide lens review

long exposure image with Laowa 12mm

The Laowa 'Zero-D' 12mm f2.8 lens has become something more than just a Kickstarter project. It is now available at several brick and mortar stores around the world, and not just online and on eBay. After backing the original project I received my lens in the first quarter of 2017. Since then it has become a mainstay of my bag for commercial and industrial work. I love the lens, but isn't everyone's taste. I recently put together a review for Landscapegear.co.za as they are now the official distributors for Laowa in South Africa. 

As an added bonus, if you pick up this lens in the next two weeks, you can get the Nisi 100mm filter older as a bundle with a R1000 discount. This is phenomenal value, and the filter holder outperforms the original Venus Optics holder in every measurable way. Plus, it includes a circular polarizer that doesn't vignette! 

Click through to read the full review on Landscapegear's blog.

Thursday, March 8, 2018

Filters, Photoshop, and Reality - Is it Real and Does it Really Matter?

An image from a series of limestone outcrops on the western shore of Madagascar. Purists would look at the relative paucity of post-production and claim that the image is somehow more real (although detractors of neutral density filters might claim otherwise), yet the black and white, almost infra-red view of the image is quite far from the lived visual reality.

Depending on where, or who, you are reading, perceived reality seems to matter a lot. Looking through some image forums on the internet I came across a fairly large trove of vitriol towards images that were perceived as ‘unreal’ by the viewers. An image by a fairly well known American landscape photographer seemed to arouse a surprisingly amount of ire amongst armchair photographers the world over. These screen grabs were taken from the image in question:

Wednesday, March 7, 2018

Composing The Winelands

This is a photographic workshop that will combine the genre’s of landscape, product and commercial lifestyle photography into what has become known as ‘Wine Imagery’: something quite unique to the South African wine region, known as The Boland.

The Boland is the heart of the greater South African wine region, and the town of Stellenbosch is at the very heart of this exquisite wine region.

And what better location to base ourselves while we aim to produce a range of images, from landscapes of the endless rows of vineyards and mountains, the colourful details and textures, to the wine barrels in the cellar. As well as the product images of individual wine bottles and the commercial lifestyle images of select wine-farm staff, in the vines and in the cellar.

Read more at Composing the Winelands...

Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Photographing with the family

Photographers can be an odd brood. They are difficult to travel with, period. Unless of course they are traveling with other photographers (although tripod rage is a real thing). Pity the poor traveler who has to put up with a group of photographers when they themselves are armed with nothing more than a smartphone. Be prepared for long waits if you happen to be one of those (usually persevering and patient spouses). What about a photographer’s family though. It’s one thing to be constantly the subject of a trained lens, it’s another to have to hang about while mom or dad grapple with a tripod and a set of filters as the light fades. So how do you as a photographer handle it?