Our nomadic lifestyle

We are on the road again, and we share a few thoughts about the nomadic lifestyle we've had over the last 2 years. From Chicago, Illinois, where I also make some images.

They're not here to capture an image, but to maintain one

Nobody sees the barn. Once you've seen the signs about the barn, it becomes impossible to see the barn.

They're not here to capture an image, we're here to maintain one. Every photograph reinforces an aura... We've agreed to be part of a collective perception. A religious experience in a way, like tourism...

They are taking pictures of taking pictures.

A quote from the novel The White Noise mentioned in this video, which Rachel shared with me because it reminded her of this post.

My thoughts on the new a6100 and a6600

As an APS-C shooter, I was interested in what Sony had to announce today. These are some of my thoughts on the new a6100 and a6600:

  • Both cameras have 1:1 aspect ratio!!! Finally, after all these years.
  • The a6100 looks like a wonderful camera, a true successor to my beloved a6000. The pricing and the feature set put it too close to the supposedly superior a6400, though. Should we expect a price decrease soon after launch?
  • The a6600 is a minor update to the a6500. Price was expected, but I was hoping for a price drop on the a6500.
  • Nice to see the Z battery making it to APS-C, but I don't understand why they didn't use it in the a6100 and a6400 as well. Now we have models within the same line that use incompatible batteries. Being able to use the same batteries is one of the greatest advantages of my combo a6000 + a6500. Maybe they see the a6600 as a b-camera to a full-frame body?

I have no need for a new camera as of right now, but if I had to buy one (for stills)... which one would it be?

To be honest, I'd just go for another a6000. At $400 is half the price of the a6100, I think it's still one of the best deals in photography. Now, it's still unclear how much they've improved the sensor and the processing capabilities. The a6000 does suffer of some banding, and it'd be nice to know those issues are fixed in the new entry-level body. With what I know now, though, I'd have to go with the a6000 as my choice.

That lens, though

Something I'd been thinking about was to add a longer telephoto lens to my system. I really like the compactness of the 55-210mm, but sometimes I just wish I had more reach. The only choice I had was the full frame 70-300mm... until today. Sony announced the APS-C 70-350mm f/5.6-6.3 lens, a very nice 105-525mm equivalent range!

I'm seriously considering it for when it comes out in November. My only concerns are the size and the weight, it is definitely bigger and heavier than my compact telephoto, and I think twice and three times before increasing the size and weight of my backpack. We'll see.

Lastly, the 16-55mm f/2.8 looks like the dream lens for APS-C cameras but it's not something I need (neither the optics nor the speed). I'm very happy with my 16-70 f/4, a slower lens but much cheaper, more compact and with longer reach.

Be a closer

I'm currently reading Atomic Habits by James Clear, a book I'm enjoying very much. There's a passage that caught my attention:

On the first day of class, Jerry Uelsmann, a professor at the University of Florida, divided his film photography students into two groups.

Everyone on the left side of the classroom, he explained, would be in the “quantity” group. They would be graded solely on the amount of work they produced. On the final day of class, he would tally the number of photos submitted by each student. One hundred photos would rate an A, ninety photos a B, eighty photos a C, and so on.

Meanwhile, everyone on the right side of the room would be in the “quality” group. They would be graded only on the excellence of their work. They would only need to produce one photo during the semester, but to get an A, it had to be a nearly perfect image.

At the end of the term, he was surprised to find that all the best photos were produced by the quantity group. During the semester, these students were busy taking photos, experimenting with composition and lighting, testing out various methods in the darkroom, and learning from their mistakes. In the process of creating hundreds of photos, they honed their skills. Meanwhile, the quality group sat around speculating about perfection. In the end, they had little to show for their efforts other than unverified theories and one mediocre photo.

(source: jamesclear.com)

This is yet another good example of why we shouldn't aim for perfection, why we should experiment and try different things and shoot a scene as much as we need.

We want to avoid overthinking our photography and become paralyzed.

Planning, strategizing and studying are all good and useful but eventually we will need to take action.

We need to finish what we start.

We need to be closers.

Loosen up

Usain Bolt is the fastest man in the world. In a sport where every millisecond counts, you'd think he had the best running technique. He didn't.

The real difference comes to light when you compare him to his rivals. While everyone is tense before the race, he's smiling and already having fun. While everyone runs like perfect machines, his form is natural, light, and yet powerful.

Is he having fun because he's so good? Or is he so good because he's having fun?

I believe it's the latter.

Perhaps we could apply this to our photography. Perhaps we should loosen up, have more fun, improvise more, think less, forget about proper technique, dismiss proper composition.

Where does "aows" come from, anyway?

This is a question that comes up every once in a while.

Years ago I decided that I wanted an email address like adrian@otero.com. It looked cool, I guess.

otero wasn't available in any of the major domains, so I started to look for alternatives. I eventually found ws. This is the domain for the country of Samoa and I guess they weren't selling many because they started promoting it as an acronym to website.

adrian.otero.ws

adrian - otero - website

That was the idea. I liked it.

Today, I don't know of anyone using that domain in that way.

Anyway, about that time, Twitter launched and I had to get a username. I went for "adrian otero ws", aows. I loved how short it was.

Over the years, I kept using the same username in every social network and platform I signed up for, including Instagram. That's where my photography career started, and since I couldn't find a better / easier username I stuck with it.

And this is where aows comes from.

Perseverance

What makes a photographer great is not their camera gear or their skills.

Photography is about the long game, it's about perseverance.

When everyone else sees nothing, they find something. In times when others shy away, they perform their best.

Determination is invincible.

Taking the Rolleiflex out

I took the Rolleiflex out and tried to make a few images in Chain O'Lakes, here in Indiana. I talk a little bit about the main features, what I like, and what I don't.