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In a recent post we talked about square photographs, and I mentioned I’d be exploring them more in the coming days and weeks.

Which I have been.

Something that’s I’m finding interesting with squares, is trying to find compositions that aren’t the obvious ones. 

With 1:1, often I’m drawn to shapes and compositions that naturally fit. Such as squares and circles, or collection of objects together in a square or circular arrangement.

For the following photograph, my first attempt was rotated 45 degrees, so the outer edges of all of the books almost perfectly aligned with the edges of the frame.

But that didn’t seem to make for a very interesting or dynamic image.

So I shifted the composition through different angles until it did appear more interesting (at least to me), and also severed parts of the books, instead of including them whole.

In the next shot, again trying to line up edges proved unsatisfying, so I got lower, closer, and at a more exaggerated angle. 

Again, I feel it makes the photograph more appealing.

It also made the reflected (and curved) pencils in the vase on the right far more prevalent in the image overall, where this would be lost shot further away and more straight ahead, or directly from above.

A final square shot for now, and again a similar trick – getting close and shifting the angles to get away from obvious vertical and horizontal lines. 

Incidentally, all three images were made with Ricoh GRD III with an in-camera cross processing set up. You can read more on this in my recent post on my colour quest.

How about you? How do you shoot differently with square photos? What sort of compositions and subjects does it encourage you to look for and capture?

Please let us know in the comments below (and don’t forget to tick the “Notify me of new comments via email” box to follow the conversation).

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As I’ve spoken about a number of times before, I’ve been a Flickr user since 2009, and greatly appreciate and enjoy its features. 

My favourites include –

  • The ability to use tags and albums to easily organise your photos.
  • Unlimited storage for Pro users, which I’ve used from early on, and means I’ve been using it as an online back up for my hard drive(s) for a decade.
  • Convenient instant creation of multiple photo sizes from your full size upload, from tiny thumbnail (rectangle or square) up to original size.
  • Ease of posting photographs within WordPress posts – I use the 1024px image Flickr creates.
  • The way it simply displays photos better than anything else I’ve used – Excellent on my MacBook, especially with the “Lightbox” mode (just press L to switch on/off), even better with the iPad app where photos fill the entire screen uninterrupted by any text, icons etc. It is truly an image focused site/app. (I still don’t get how people can be happy viewing photos on Instagram on tiny little phone screens).
How Flickr looks in Lightbox view on my laptop 
  • A rich resource for tips on specific cameras, techniques and processes (though many of the groups have been inactive for a few years).
  • Plenty of space for comments, and a logical response system where it’s clear who you’re replying to. Essentially I used Flickr as a photography blog for years before I started 35hunter in 2015.
  • No ads whatsoever, and generally no annoying likes, emojis and other pointless gimmicks that ruin sites like Instagram. Again it focuses purely on the images and the interaction between the people who made them.
  • Excellent search facilities, how it displays the results – images of your own, those you follow, and everyone on Flickr, and how you can also sort by date taken, date uploaded, most relevant and most “interesting”, ie Flickrspeak for most popular.
  • Ability to search by specific (digital) camera and see images made only by a model at a time.
  • Ease of making one or more photos private, so you can maintain a public portfolio for followers, and use Flickr as an archive for all of your images, simultaneously with a single account.

There’s been much talk about Flickr’s recent acquisition by SmugMug, more of it negative than positive, essentially around the fact that you can only store 1000 photos free, then you have to subscribe.

For me a Flickr Pro subscription is still well worth it.

A pro account gives you unlimited storage at whatever resolution you want, as well as all the features above. For what works out to 76 pence a week.

So I was really excited to see Jim’s post this week about his commitment to Flickr.

And even more excited to see the enthusiasm in the comments section by Flickr diehards still happily using Flickr, and others trying it out after being disillusioned by Instagram/Facebook/Twitter/delete as applicable, with their ads, superficial interaction, increasingly questionable privacy and personal data use policies, and basic premise that you and your preferences are a commodity to sell.

So it feels like, in a small way, there’s something of a Flickr revival, as well as a growing backlash against social media that so many of us have talked about here on 35hunter, on Jim’s blog and other places you and I hang out online.

The Flickr revival is on, then. Will you join us? 

Let us know in the comments below (and don’t forget to tick the “Notify me of new comments via email” box to follow the conversation).

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My favourite camera of the moment (and possibly ever) is the dinky yet divine Pentax Q.

It’s one of few cameras where I can set up the black and white (b/w) in camera and get results I want straight off the memory card, with zero post processing.

This maximises my time out with the camera, which for me is what photography is all about, not then spending as much time (or more!) scanning, processing and tweaking your images when you get home.

This customisability with b/w is why I’ve been exploring some of the Q’s other colour options too, as part of my ongoing Colour Quest.

The Q then, has a wealth of colour and image options.

First via the Custom Image (CI) menu, then through Digital Filters (DF). You can leave either of these off, or use them together in any combination.

(There are further options via the Scene mode on the main dial, or via Smart Effects on the Quick Dial, but let’s leave those for another day.)

So perhaps you might want the Vibrant colour look from the CI menu, combined with the Toy Camera DF, to over saturate the images, like a cheap film camera.

Maybe another day you fancy Bleach Bypass from the CI menu, then removing colour even further using the Extract Colour DF, to make your images feel bleakly apocalyptic.

Or like me, you might choose b/w in the CI menu, and high contrast in the DF menu, to give you the kind of moody monochromes you favour.

The Q is incredibly versatile, like a dozen cameras (or more) in one.

Yet it never feels overwhelming, thanks to the, in my view, intelligent design and layout of the menus and options.

Anyway, back to this thread.

Also within each CI option there are further adjustments.

With the b/w mode, you can then add a colour filter, emulating the practice of actually screwing a colour filter on the end of your lens when shooting b/w, to enhance contrast, give more depth to skies and so on.

Amongst the standard range of colour filters like yellow, orange and blue, there’s also an Infrared (IR) filter option.

I’ve seen IR film images before, but never shot them myself.

It’s not something I would want every photograph I look at to feature, but it’s an interesting and dramatic effect I enjoy from time to time.

I’m not going to suggest the Pentax Q perfectly emulates the look of IR film. Nor do I care.

I’ve just found it’s an intriguing look to play around with, and further evidence I believe of how much fun the Pentax designers wanted Q photographers to have with these little cameras.

What using this setting also does is add considerable extra grain/noise. Which seems to suit the overall look too, and is something I never mind in digital images.

The photographs in this post were all made with the Pentax Q with b/w mode, and the IR filter selected.

See what you think.

Have you experimented with Infrared photography – either with film or via digital means? 

Please let us know in the comments below (and don’t forget to tick the “Notify me of new comments via email” box to follow the conversation).

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I don’t know about you, but I love being organised.

Order brings me satisfaction and calm, whether it’s finding a way to arrange physical items around me, or the thoughts in my head.

Losing things, forgetting things and being late, all frustrate me greatly, so I do all I can to avoid them happening.

By being organised.

So when I started 35hunter I had the best of intentions to use the categories feature to ensure each post fitted neatly within one or more categories.

And on the flip side, so each category had a collection of blog posts of the same topic gathered within it in an orderly fashion.

Early on, I decided to pick obvious categories, like photography, blogging and thoughts. 

Then as I wrote posts on topics that either didn’t come under any of these original categories, or needed additional categorisation too, I created new ones.

The problem with this was I was adding a couple of new categories virtually every time I wrote a new post, trying to be more specialised, more organised.

But then some of the categories had very few (even just one) post under them, because they were so specific.

I also wanted a way of being able to gather together all the posts under certain series I wrote, like my One Month, One Camera project earlier this year, One Frame, or These Three Photographs.

In the end, it all became too complicated.

Fortunately, in the meantime, because of my very positive experiences with using tags in Flickr for years, I was also using tags in WordPress.

And ultimately, it’s these tags that I find easier to use, and more logical.

A post about colour photography experiments with my Pentax Q I can tag by subject (photography, colour photography, digital photography), by the equipment used and mentioned (Pentax, Pentax Q) and any series of posts it’s a part of (The Colour Quest, experiments).

I didn’t want a category called Pentax or Pentax Q, or categories for series/experiments, really.

And I was using some categories for virtually every post – photography, simplify, and thoughts for example – because virtually everything I publish here is about me making photographs then writing about them, and honing down the kit I own and use anyway.

So as categories they became so obvious as to be redundant, perhaps like a sign outside a supermarket saying “we sell food and drink”.

Rather than delete all categories, for now I’ve simply switched them off, ie made them invisible.

Just using tags feels simpler and more what I’m used to, as well as easily being able to search for and group posts with the same tag.

In case you didn’t know, if you click on any tag at the bottom of a post on 35hunter, you’ll get a page with all posts where that tags has been used. Go on, try it. Then come back and finish our conversation here.

So I can conveniently link to series like The Colour Quest or One Month, One Camera, by using the URL of the tag, eg https://35hunter.blog/tag/one-month-one-camera/

The foreseeable future for organising posts here on 35hunter involves abandoning categories and using tags.

I hope you find it easier too when you want to explore more posts on a particular topic here.

How do you use categories and tags on your blog? What do you like to see on other blogs you read to help you search and read posts around similar topics?

Please let us know in the comments below (and don’t forget to tick the “Notify me of new comments via email” box to follow the conversation).

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Shooting 35mm for five years, naturally my favoured aspect ratio was the 36mm x 24mm of a frame of film, ie 3:2.

When I starting shooting more digital photographs than film, I followed this ratio through, with cameras like my Pentax K10D and Ricoh GRD III, because I was so used to composing in these dimensions.

The more I got into digital compact cameras though (and phone cameras), the more I started to drift back to 4:3, the aspect ratio I’d used extensively with phone cameras and my first Nikon Coolpix before I even discovered film.

Nowadays, aside from an occasional dip into square format, I’m pretty much exclusively using 4:3 again.

Here are the three major reasons why.

1. It’s the default for most cameras I use.

Although a number of cameras I have can be set to 3:2, 1:1 and 16:9 ratios, all of those also have 4:3. The digital cameras I have that only have a single aspect ratio, are 4:3.

So it makes sense to be consistent across them all, for this ratio to become second nature, and make for as seamless a transition as possible when switching between the handful cameras that remain in my arsenal.

2. It means no cropping is required for 8×6 prints.

I understand why 6×4 inch prints exist, they’re the same aspect ratio as film. But most people these days who want these size of prints are those who want family shots to hand around and put in frames and albums. Photos that have almost invariably been shot on digital cameras and phones with a 4:3 ratio. So every print gets cropped at the top and the bottom.

Even more bizarre are 5×7 prints. I’ve never had a camera which has film or a sensor with a 5×7 ratio. Do they exist? So with 5×7, you lose part of your photo whether you shot it 3:2 or 4:3!

(I’ve been in a photo lab on more than one occasion where the poor assistant has tried patiently to explain why photos made in one aspect ratio won’t fit in a frame of another aspect ratio, without being cropped, stretched or distorted. Still many people don’t seem to get it!)

Anyway, so choosing 4:3 as an aspect ratio means I can easily make 8×6 inch prints. This size is small enough to have a few on a wall and be affordable to print, and large enough to see more detail and make more impact than 6×4 (half the size!).

They look great in widely available and affordable black 12×10 inch frames with a two inch mount around them.

3. It was the aspect ratio of every screen I grew up with.

I think somewhere deep inside my psyche 4:3 just looks right to me on a screen (ie my camera screen) because I grew up in the pre-widescreen days where all TVs and computer screens were 4:3.

I sometimes pine for the days of the old wooden framed ITT TV we had when I first watched kids TV like Jamie and The Magic Torch, and latterly the magnificent final Sony Bravias, which I still think were higher picture and sound quality than virtually all flatscreen TVs today.

Anyway, the dimensions of 4:3 make sense because for probably the first 25 years of my life, that was simply the size and shape all screens were.

From these reasons, it’s not hard to see why, despite my fondness for 3:2 from my film days, 4:3 has become the practical and most obvious choice for my photography.

How about  you? Which is your favoured aspect ratio for photography, and why? How does it translate when you make prints? 

Please let us know in the comments below (and don’t forget to tick the “Notify me of new comments via email” box to follow the conversation).

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After you first 1000/10,000/100,000 photos (delete as applicable) I’m sure like me you realised you’d started to find your own style. 

The kind of subjects you like to shoot, the equipment you prefer, the compositions, the colours (or lack of, with black and white), the processing (or lack of), and other factors that all add up to making photographs that somehow feel like they belong to you.

Finding our way through virtually unlimited choices in all of the above aspects and more, gradually gives us a kind of reliable formula – a series of steps we can follow to set up our cameras to create the images we like best.

But then there’s a danger that your trusty formula spills over into being formulaic. 

You end up going through the motions and churning out near identical photographs time after time. However beautiful they might be.

Which becomes dull for you as the creative photographer, and possibly for your audience too.

May 2012, Nikon Coolpix P300 March 2019, Panasonic Lumix GF1

So we need to find ways to keep our photography interesting enough to still be a challenge, but consistent enough that we don’t feel like we’re a complete beginner every time we pick up a camera.

What works for you? How do you walk this fine line between formula and formulaic?

Please let us know in the comments below (and don’t forget to tick the “Notify me of new comments via email” box to follow the conversation).

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Do you prefer to photograph what you find, as you find it, or set up your compositions like a stage?

In many areas of creativity in the past I’ve found that imposing limitations on myself is freeing, converse to what might seem logical.

By defining the edges of the box, we’re able to start filling it as many beautiful ways as we can, instead being daunted by the infinite possibilities of a box with no edges, then not creating anything at all. 

For example, with poetry I had a phase of writing nothing but 5-7-5 syllable haiku, and my creative rivers opened. I composed hundreds in a matter of weeks, and totalled something like 1200 in a year or so.

Similarly, a spell of sticking to different types of short fiction (sometimes called flash fiction) unlocked a regular flow of six word and 50 word stories I enjoyed greatly.

With photography you’re probably familiar with my experiments with older, slower, resolution digital cameras like the Sony DSC-L1 and Olympus C4040 Zoom – both a mere 4MP – as well as my One Month One Camera project this year, and occasional ventures like One Room, Fifty Photographs.

I also like a few invisible rules for when I’m out shooting photographs.

Mostly I set out on any one photowalk aiming to shoot just colour or just black and white, so I can get my eyes and mind focused on the kind of compositions and subjects best suited to this choice.

Another even stronger unwritten (until now!) rule I have is to never stage a photograph whilst I’m out on a photowalk.

What this means is to simply capture what I find in its untampered with glory. I don’t so much move a branch or leaf.

Yes, I’ll certainly explore different angles of the same scene (literally – my daily yoga practice helps with this!).

But I don’t touch what I’m photographing, even if it might add drama or impact. It’s just not cricket.

This way, I can say all of my photography is “Found Photography”.

I simply make an image of what I find, then leave it in exactly the same state as when I arrived.

The opposite of this we might called Staged Photography.

In a studio setting where you might be photographing portraits or food or cars or products, then of course this is the best way to get the optimum lighting, positioning and so on, to create the photographs you want.

It makes complete sense to control the conditions and stack as much as you can in your favour.

But for me, all this imposed will disappears when I’m out on a photowalk. 

I remember once reading about a photographer who went out on a dry day with a mist spray bottle of water so they could spray flowers to simulate early morning dew and then photograph them.

I was aghast!

No, this is cheating, you’re turning a natural scene, something you find, into staged photography!

If you want to photograph dew on flowers, go out early in the morning in the autumn when it’s there naturally! Which is what I do.

So my simple rule is to focus only on Found Photography – photographing what I find, without touching or moving anything.

Keep it simple, keep it natural.

How about you? Do you follow a similar “Found Photography” approach? Or does anything go, and you happily to rearrange what you find in nature to change the scene more to your liking?

Please let us know in the comments below (and don’t forget to tick the “Notify me of new comments via email” box to follow the conversation).

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This is the latest post in my ongoing quest for colour where, having been happy with my black and white output for some time, I’m trying to find similar satisfaction with colour images.

Last time I experimented with my little Pentax Q and its “Vintage Colour” settings, after realising that I didn’t want to make colour photographs that look exactly like the subjects do to my naked eyes.

Since then, a comment by Doug was an absolute revelation for me.

What he suggested – and how I further interpreted it – is we are so saturated with high quality colour images from all directions – TV, online, shops and vehicles plastered with posters – that we’ve become bludgeoned into boredom by it.

What I realise has happened for me is – even since the height of my 35mm film days six or seven years ago – I’ve sought out colours that are deliberately shifted from what we see all around us, just to see something different. 

So with film I loved cross-processing (also called x-pro) slide film, making my own redscale film, exposing both sides of the film, and of course black and white.

The colour film I settled on with most consistency was the lovely saturated FujiFilm Superia 100, which took nature and amped it up.

And now with the Pentax Q, so far and most recently with its on board high contrast monochrome, and “Vintage Colour” options, again I’m exploring colours that are quite removed from what I see all around me every day.

So it made sense to follow this trail of altered colours further.

In the meantime I came across Steve’s review of the Ricoh GR which reminded me how much I love my older version, the GRD III, and how it hasn’t been used for a few months.

So I dusted it off, and rather than going with my default black and white set up, decided to play with the “cross processing” options.

Having cross processed film in the past I know what it can look like.

The Ricoh’s x-pro output of course isn’t quite the same as film, but does give a similar palette of shifted colours I find interesting. 


I also remembered what a fantastic camera the GRD III is, especially its wonderful lens (f/1.9 and focusing down to 0.01m), and its handling being second to none.

All of the photographs in this post were made with the Ricoh GRD III and a cross processing set up. 

It’s not a colour approach I’d want to use every time I go out, but certainly one I like more than enough to try again soon.

The Pentax Q also has cross processing options, so it will be interesting to compare that with the GRD’s too.

The colour quest continues!

What kind of colour photographs are you making currently? 

Please let us know in the comments below (and don’t forget to tick the “Notify me of new comments via email” box to follow the conversation).

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With the vast wide world out there waiting, and millions of cameras and lenses available to us, how do we choose what to photograph?

I’ve been pondering this lately and have honed down what and why I photograph.

Essentially, I practice two kinds of photography.

1. Family Photography

Defined as – 

Any photograph of a family member or members that is taken either to record a memory of a time, or to become a print to display or send to someone.

Why make these kind of photographs? 

As with most of us I imagine, we like ways to take advantage of the magic of photography to capture moments that our memories might not remember so accurately otherwise.

Once I had children this amped up massively, and even though we are still quite modest in the volume of pictures we take, our children of 10 and 6 years old must have each had thousands of images made of them already.

In fact I expect that there were more photographs of our youngest made in the first five years of his life than I have had made of me in my entire life, such is the prevalence of photography and the ubiquity of smart phones with decent cameras these days.

From this, the subject matter is obvious, my family.

2. Artistic Photography

Defined as – 

Any photograph I make with the deliberate intention of capturing something I find beautiful in the best possible way I can.

Why make these kind of photographs?

The short answer is because I can’t not do it.

The longer version originates in fact with my discovery of poetry (as a writer, rather than a reader) in my late teens. This evolved over the years, into writing 5-7-5 haiku almost exclusively for a few years, which led me to photography.

I realised that a haiku and a photograph are essentially the same – defining a moment and a scene in a sensory and memorable way.

Behind the actual act of making photographs, the need is to find compositions I find beautiful and interesting, capture them as vividly as I can, and share some of them with others, to show that despite all the chaos and destruction in the world, beauty is still there if you pause to seek it out.

The subject matter comes from this, and I guess what I find “beautiful and interesting”.

In reality it’s usually something in nature, often decaying. Or nature reclaiming something man made that’s decaying.

How do you choose what to photograph? 

Please let us know in the comments below (and don’t forget to tick the “Notify me of new comments via email” box to follow the conversation).

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My camera evolution has led me to shooting digital compacts almost exclusively these days.

Obviously a major appeal of these cameras is the pocketable size.

I grew tired of having an SLR, then DSLR, or even a Sony NEX with adapter and vintage lens, swinging across my chest.

I prefer a camera I can have on a wrist strap and hold in the palm of my hand.

In my experiences of the last few years, I would categorise the cameras I’ve used into four sizes.

Palm – A camera you can virtually hide it in your hand, like the Canon Digital IXUS 870 IS or Sony Cyber-shot DSC-L1.

Jacket pocket – The typical size of your average digital compact, still very small and light compared to a DSLR, but not tiny enough to secrete in your hand or a trouser pocket. For example the Ricoh GRD III, Pentax Q or Panasonic Lumix LX3.

Wrist strap – These cameras are too big for most jacket pockets, but still compact enough to have on a wrist strap and in one hand. Many mirrorless cameras are of this size, like the Panasonic Lumix GF1.

Everything larger – Even a small DSLR is a bit cumbersome on just a wrist strap, and generally these bodies are more comfortable with a strap across your chest or out back in a bag between shoots.

On the whole, it follows too that the larger the camera, the heavier it is.

But in favouring small, light cameras, there is a limit, an optimum.

I haven’t simply gone for the smallest and lightest possible cameras available. For the same reason I’ve tried on a few occasions to rely only on a phone as my main camera, and quickly remembered it’s not going to work.

This is all about how the camera feels in your hand(s).

You can have a tiny camera, but the handling is so awkward, and space and grip for your fingers so lacking, it can be more challenging – and more annoying – to use than a far bigger camera with excellent ergonomics.

A surprisingly significant factor I’ve also found is the screen, and its size and position on the back of the camera.

Having a larger screen obviously means you can see your compositions better, and make better judgements on the hoof about exposure, focus, depth of field and so on.

But again, if the screen takes up so much of the rear that your thumb has nowhere to rest firmly, and/or the buttons have been made so minute to accommodate the larger screen you can’t operate them easily, it’s a major downside for me.

So in assessing the size of my ideal camera, whilst there might be general rules, there is no single magic formula. 

The Sony Cyber-shot DSC-L1 on paper is too small to be comfortable to use – just 95mm long, 44mm high and 26mm deep.

But details like the 1.5 inch screen being small enough to get out of the way (but big and sharp enough to still compose ok), the ample space for your thumb on the rear, the clever position of the angled wrist strap lug and raised metal texture to aid grip even more, the lens being positioned on the far left of the front of the camera so your fingers have plenty of space to close around, and the curved front face following the shape of your partly closed grip, all add up to a camera with brilliant handling.

Something like the A series Canon PowerShots (eg the A95) are much chunkier than the diminutive Sony and into jacket pocket territory. But again, excellent handling – even one handed – and intelligent design and layout, make it a winner.

Clockwise from top left – Canon PowerShot A95, Canon Digital IXUS 870 IS, Sony Cyber-shot DSC-L1. The names of these cameras are often bigger than they are…

How about you? How big is your favourite camera, and what makes its size so ideal for you?  

Please let us know in the comments below (and don’t forget to tick the “Notify me of new comments via email” box to follow the conversation).

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