It is cold in Ottawa. Yesterday was -18ºC (0ºF), and that was warmer than the day before.
We get lots of snow, plus this kind of thing:
While I’d rather have this:
Or perhaps this:
All of these environments present problems for cameras, through. Cold, heat +sand, and humidity, respectively.
Always carry a spare battery; keep your camera clean; do not change lenses when there’s dust; and when in the cold, carry your camera back inside within a plastic bag and keep it in that bag until it warms up.
I have always recommended shooting a roll of film every now and then. Film – that stuff they used like in the 1800s. And if you are artistic, black and white film.
So I shoot a roll of film every now and then. Because it’s cool. And because I remember to respect the click. Every time you shoot, you spend a few dollars. And you need to get it right: no feedback, no second chances. So you think about photos.
I use my Nikon FE:
And that’s why in my store we also develop film – and in the case of most black and white film, we even do this in-house, right in the store. Here’s some of the equipment, and today’s film drying (35mm as well as 120):
But you don’t need a pro camera… sure, hipsters use cameras like mine, but young women instead love single-use cameras, or better, the simple brightly coloured Kodak snapshot cameras (yes, and we sell them):
I am having a lot of fun with passport/ID/Visa/Residence photos. As I mentioned before, every country is different…:
And the fun is to see a lot about a country by the requirements. As in…:
The Chinese are control freaks, with the most complex size requirements in the world – but the Dutch are not far behind…
For Iran, any muslim female over 9 years old must wear a hijab.
French photos have a “white background forbidden” rule, while the rest of the world requires white – just to be different?
Europeans are, to an extent, standardized – but only to an extent.
Bureaucracies are bureaucracies… invariably a country will have different requirements depending on which bureaucracy needs the photo (visa vs passport vs license: all different)… just imagine the efficiency gains that could be made by having one standard!
The Brits have strange requirements that involve being an approved photographer using some approved British system…
The Canadians are the only ones to do it right: great sizing requirements, bigger photo than anyone else, meaning lots of space for people, with an afro, or with a very long beard, our with a wide face, and so on.
Fun stuff! And we love doing them… and the one thing they al have in common is: no smiling, “neutral expression”… don’t blame us for that one!
…of which right now I have quite a lot. My store/studio (www.michaelwillemsphoto.com) is still open, but only for passport/ID photos and curbside delivery/pickup, so the days are super slow.
So I get to do some hobby stuff. And my hobby intertests are wide. They also include electronics and computers, and the other day, I bought an Arduino-based Altair 8800 simulator kit (from www.adwaterandstir.com). An excellent kit, by the way, highly recommended.
The Arduino is a modern microcontroller, and the Altair 8080 was really the first personal computer, way back in 1974.
After seeing that article, a couple of young students from Harvard decided to write a BASIC interpreter for it, and the rest is history – you may recognize the names in the Altair BASIC manual:
Anyway, the Altair looked like this…:
And the simulator I built looked like this:
And then it looked like this:
And now, after seven hours of soldering and constructing, looks like this:
And it works! So now I can watch blinking lights (loom up “blinkenlights“). And I can program some BASIC to calculate primes:
..and I can rum CP/M, play Othello and Star Trek and Zork, and in general, do the things you could do in 1977.
Why on earth would I want to do this?
Because it’s a cool conversation piece. And it looks super cool: the Altair with its lights and data/address switches was based on the Data General NOVA.
And because it’s a special thing to run the original Bill Gates/Paul Allen Basic (even “Micro-Soft” did not exist yet) – the project that made Gates $100 billion, and that is responsible for most computer stuff you have now. And to type the same “PRINT 2+2” command that Paul Allen typed in New Mexico to demonstrate the project to MITS, the makers of Altair, and to see the same “4” appear that impressed them enough to buy this BASIC, is quite an experience too.
And above all else, because just like photography, this takes me back. Back to the 1970s and 80s. I feel like I am 20-odd years old again!
And it’s always handy to know prime numbers. I guess.
One of the most important things to do in photo composition is to decide the crop.
A tight crop can be good, like here in my dinner last month:
That tight cop makes it simple, and simplicity is everything in photos – and it draws attention to the subject win a clear manner. So that’s a good crop.
Other crops are less obvious. For example this photo:
That’s all good – except if you were to frame it. The frame’;s mat would cut off the photo very close to, or even on, the top of the head.
Also: you need to crop for the frame. And a 4×6 has a different shape from an 8×10, for example.
So the wise thing to do is to shoot a little wide, so you can crop the image to size later. Do not have your subject touch the edges of the photo, in most cases!
We can often add extra sides to your photo that we fill in to look natural, by the way. Like when you ask us to print a 4×6 as an 8×10! But if you shoot wide ion the first place, it isn’t necessary, and that saves you money!