By Nathan L. Walls

  • Sunflower Field/Raleigh
  • Attention/Raleigh
  • Empty Cases/Raleigh

🔗 Photographing Art

Zed A. Shaw writes:

Photographing art turns out to be very difficult. You would think that you could just point a camera on your phone at a piece of art and it would come out correct. In fact if you’re at a museum it might actually work because the museum controls the light that is on every painting. In my house though I do not have high quality museum lights. What I have are crappy, yellow, florescent, warm, and plain terrible lighting. So when I take a photo of my paintings it usually comes out looking kind of like I took the photo under a streetlamp.

I like this post as an example of explaining a problem by writing through the thinking process to solve a problem. It’s not written as a professional photographer, it’s written as a painter who needs to solve a photography problem.

🔗 2018 Student Camera Project, Part I

My friend Magnus Hedemark is starting to assemble a $300 learning camera kit. Besides budget, the key is that it’s a student camera, which he explains thusly:

A student camera is a camera that someone learning serious photography can use to effectively develop their knowledge and skills while creating images that are pleasing enough to make the whole experience worthwhile. They don’t require a lot of features.

Here are some of the things I would require out of a student camera:

  1. Easy manual aperture control.
  2. Easy manual shutter speed control.
  3. Easy manual ISO control.
  4. Interchangeable lens system with a common mount.
  5. A prime lens in a “normal” focal length (effective focal length between 40-58mm).

I’m very interested with where this goes.

Unlazy writing and thinking

I spent a lot of time reading and writing on Twitter in 2017. I haven’t pulled together a 2017 corpus of tweets, but there’s some thinking I was happy to share in thread form. There’s also a fair amount of time I spent that I’d struggle to consider as well-spent on Twitter.

Mentally, I’m ready for something different than what I’ve been doing. Twitter’s format, even at an expanded 280 characters, doesn’t encourage me to develop my thinking and writing the way I would like.

I want my writing to embody and encourage proactive thinking. Both in myself as a writer, and hopefully within whatever audience I’m fortunate to have read this. I want write less from a reactionary perspective. Some of that this past year has been snark. Some has been shouting into the void at various horrors politic. I think my motives are fine, but I can better channel the writing I do than I have been.

My hypothesis is I’m better writing thoughts on a particular topic out in long form. I’ll set it down for at least a bit, then return to edit and refine. I’ll post it on this site and then share a link on Twitter. I think I’ll have better work than the work I produce hashing out my thinking in an unwieldy and uneditable Twitter thread.

I’m interested in quoting and linking with citations to source material. I’m interested in updating a piece, fixing misspellings or poor phrasing when I find it.

Twitter as Endless River has been easy for me to indulge in as a lazy writer and lazy reader, particularly given a pretty busy year at work. Flick, scroll, open some tabs, maybe read them, refresh, repeat. My fear of giving in to laziness as both a writer and a reader is that said laziness encourages lazy thinking.

My desire to shift direction on writing has another element, ownership. Andy Baio wrote about this in 2016:

Here, I control my words. Nobody can shut this site down, run annoying ads on it, or sell it to a phone company. Nobody can tell me what I can or can’t say, and I have complete control over the way it’s displayed. Nobody except me can change the URL structure, breaking 14 years of links to content on the web.

I like that approach, too. It’s the approach I’m using for this site. Similarly, there are services like micro.blog to provide longer, non-siloed places to write. I’m interested in RSS and JSON feed as content sharing mechanisms. I’m keenly interested in writing on and for the Open Web.

Here, I can post as much or as little as I (and I’m guessing with this), my audience can stand on a given topic. If a post needs 3,000 words, that’ll happen. That’s going to be far easier to read here than a 60 tweet thread, whether or not I used Twitter’s new threading tool. If I want to post a lot fewer words, perhaps just to say I liked a link, this site should fit that need, too.

I’m interested in approaching where I read and what I read in 2018 differently. Specifically, putting more emphasis on reading clear, articulate writing from others outside of Twitter.

My hypothesis is that active, considered reading will lead to more considered thinking. That will lead to active, considered writing. I plan to be doing more of that here this next year.

A photography newsletter appears

I’m launching a photography newsletter that will be published approximately monthly. The first issue will be out within the next week or so.

I’ll be focusing the newsletter on highlighting new work from me and revisiting some older work I want to shine a light on. I’ll share lessons and experiences from my 22 years of active photography practice and work from other folks that I find interesting and inspiring.

Finally, I’ll be offering photos for sale soon, and this newsletter is going to be a great spot to hear about it.

Visit the sign-up page here. Thank you very much.