Photography-ing Again!

Reflections on picking back up a hobby I love but had let lapse.

November 03, 2019Filed under Art#photographyMarkdown source

Assumed Audience: people who find photography and/or personal biography interesting.


For the past few months, I have been picking back up my long-dormant interest in photography. I started trying to learn how to take good photographs back during college—first with an inexpensive point-and-shoot with a decent built-in zoom lens, then with an inexpensive Canon DSLR that was my college graduation present. I spent a decent amount of time on the hobby over those years, including doing some family and engagement photos for friends. (They were serviceable, not good; but I was learning a ton and it was a lot of fun… and my friends didn’t have to pay for them.) I was just starting to develop a more serious interest in the technical aspects of the art… when we moved to North Carolina and I started seminary.

For the next five years, I took essentially zero photos with a camera not attached to my smartphone. It was not that I was no longer interested; it was that I simply could not keep up that hobby and everything else I was doing. I was doing a lotprobably too much. This summer, though, I found myself wanting to pick it back up in earnest. I was making good use of my phone camera, and I dug out my old DSLR and bought new batteries for it and started taking it with me on a regular basis. I knew the old camera had some serious limitations, but I wanted to see if I enjoyed and was able to make good practice out of shooting with it anyway. No point in buying a new camera if I wasn’t actually enjoying using the old one, if the hobby didn’t stick.

It stuck. This time, all the interest in technical aspects came back with a vengeance, so I have spent a not-inconsiderable amount of time wrapping my head around the physics of lenses. The limitations of the lenses I had for the old camera were very apparent every time I tried to take any kind of low-light shot, and its auto-focus performance was, well not bad for an inexpensive DSLR from a decade ago—if you take my meaning. Having gotten a much better handle on the physics involved, though, I initially thought that I might be able to get away with just keeping the old camera and investing in good lenses for it. Unfortunately, as I started poking around, I concluded that I basically couldn’t get some of the lenses I would want for it in the long term: wide primes with low 𝑓 numbers. Canon makes lenses in this bucket, but once you account for the crop factor of an APS-C camera like my old DSLR, your options for actually wide lenses are pretty limited.

A lot of my time over the last few months has gone to reading—a lot—about my options in the space. I discovered the mirrorless revolution (most of a decade late), along with the dizzying array of lens options for full-frame cameras. Curious about how this worked in practice, I rented one of Sony’s full-frame cameras for our family’s recent trip to North Carolina, and fell in love. (That’s an affiliate link for LensRentals: we both get $25 off a rental if you use it.) My own copy of the camera I had rented came this week, and I may have driven poor Jaimie slightly up the wall with all the pictures I’ve been taking since.1

Once upon a time, I tried to include some photos in my blogging. I never got very far with it—in part because of the same lens limitations I ran into once I picked the hobby back up, but also because my old blog flow never really supported it well. (Sorry, 2012-era WordPress, but it’s true.) As I’m getting back into it, I want to find a way to make that flow work. This is yet another requirement for my much-delayed website redesign. I don’t think I’m going to have a solution I’m happy with in place by the time I ship (more on that soon, I hope!), but it’s something I do want to get in place before too long.

This also has me wishing there were better options for social sharing around photos. Indie blogging of the sort I so value is wonderful, but at the moment it doesn’t lend itself well to interaction around items like photography. I have a lot of thoughts on things like Webmention, including how I plan to use it on my upcoming site redesign… but those are for another day. For today: thanks for reading!

Black & White Coffee, Wake Forest, NC – Sony FE 35mm F1.8 – 𝑓/2.2, ISO 400, ¹⁄₁₂₅s (see full size)

  1. If you’re curious: a Sony α7R IV. It’s kind of ridiculously pricey… but I expect to get at least the next decade of shooting out of it, and the resolution is just bonkers, and the feel of the thing is absolutely delightful to me. If I were making a recommendation for an entry into the Sony mirrorless space, I’d point you instead to the Sony α7 III, which is itself a phenomenal camera, and I almost got it instead.↩︎