Travel and storage

Next year we are planning a trip to Iran. An important issue is sufficient card storage and backups. I want 2 backups, so 3 copies in total of each image file. I will shoot Raw originals stored on a CF card and jpg’s on the second SD card. The jpg’s are meant for quick upload to iPad to check results and show people to get a good atmosphere. I bought the Lightning- SD card cable just for that.

Assuming about 100 Raw images a day, going for about 3 weeks I need about 20 x 100 x 50 MB = about 100 GB primary storage for my D800! Making 2 separate backups means another 2 x 100 GB must be available.

For de jpg about 1/5 of this is enough, so 20 GB. So for the jpg’s I just have the 64 GB SD card. That should suffice. They will be backed up on the iPad, where I have 30 GB space available.

Ok, so now I know what I need. Next question is how I am going to organize this. I prefer 2x 32GB cards over 1 64 GB, but price is much better on 1 64 card. I always buy the Sandisk Extreme Pro cards. I also prefer to empty my card and format it in-camera before the next day. More clear working that way and faster upload to LR. Then, do I need 64 GB? One day will be about 5 GB, so that is enough for 13 days without formatting. But there might be days of 15 or 20 GB, not to mention any video (which is standard stored on the SD card). I may not be able to upload my images to laptop or HDD for a few days. So yes, better go for the 64 GB card. I have my present 16 GB CF card as spare.

Initially, I was reluctant to bring my MacBook Pro (3,5 years old) on the trip for fear of being stolen and the hassle at airports. So I checked stand alone solutions, like the Nexto ND 2901 image tank. This device has a card reader for all cards, a HDD and a USB port for attaching another drive. Perfect for my needs. However, the price for a 1 TB version is about 320 euro. That is close to second hand value of my MacBook Pro :(
It is hard to believe that there isn’t a Chinese manufacturer that can deliver for say 100 euro.

Anyway, I decided to bring my laptop with 2 external hard drives + a CC clone drive.This has the added benefit that I can do all the importing into LR already on location. I’ll start a fresh library for on the road and leave all present stuff at home. More about this later. One hard drive will be stored in the baggage of gf.

The 64 GB cards I will buy close to departure time as prices are continuously falling. I’ll bring also a spare card reader.


Yes, it’s official! I will have my first (and hopefully not last) exhibition next spring. Theme: landscapes. I will certainly include the recent b&w beach series, which I am still expanding. Below another example from that series. I am passionate about this series for 2 reasons: first it reflects memories from childhood when I spend many days at the beach with my grandmother, who lived not far from the coast. Second, it shapes my dreams about space, light, land, sea and sky: about the earth. After all, I am a geologist by training.
I’ll keep you posted on the exhibition preparations: selection, prints, frame choice, size, etc.


Black & White

I love black and white photography. I grew up with analog b&w so I guess it got firmly entrenched in my brain. The photos I made in the north of the country along the beach and dunes over there were made with b&w in mind during the shoot. Luckily my favorite print shop Profotonet just got a new fancy black and white printer with 7 grey inks promising a beautiful tonal range. I was very happy with the result. The photo fulfilled my intentions. Deep blacks, beautiful greys and whites. Judge for yourself. This photo is part of a series which you can find back on my web site


Aspect Ratio

Lately I have become a bit more flexible with the aspect ratio. At first I couldn’t separate myself from the 3:2 ratio, and I still like that the best, but I found that for portraits it leads often to ‘empty’ space which did not contribute to the image. I do not mean functional “negative space” but just superfluous real estate.
So I am experimenting with 1:1 and 5:4. The serie i am making now of people on the square in front of the railway station is very suitable for learning the artistic impact of different aspect ratios. This photo was cropped to 1:1, the diagonal playing an important role in the composition.


Background and foreground

One of the tell tale signs of a more experienced photographer is his choice of background. In particular with travel portraits, to get the background right greatly improves a portrait photo. I have done that wrong (trees, poles, what have you coming out of heads, etc) many times before slowly improving. The main reason is that a beginner is so caught up with the portrait itself that he or she completely forgets about the background. Yet it is crucial. Recently I made an impromptu portrait of a lady in the downtown area, where the background is always messy. I noted the dark slabs of granite used to clad the supporting columns of a skyscraper and I used that as background (see photo). The portrait now ‘pops’ .


There are many pixel-perfect landscape photographs of amazing scenery. The right moment (light) and leading lines. However, often I feel something is missing, but I didn’t know what. The answer is simple: a foreground. Many of these photos are fantastic backgrounds without a foreground. Why? Because it is so hard to get a great landscape AND a compelling foreground. So if you see such a combination, it’s a winner.


While i was working on my photos of flowering tulip fields and other typical Dutch low lands scenery, I stumbled again about the usage of the verb edit in photography. I am not a native speaker. I have the following phases when I come home with flash card(s) with photos:
        1.        storage: images are uploaden to backup(s) and imported in photo application (e.g. Lightroom); LR DNG files and catalog are also back upped,
        2.        Raw selection: the files are put in a collection and checked for total failures. These are deleted completely, not wasting unnecessary space,
        3.        Rating: I start rating = selecting by giving 1-5 stars. Lately, I abandoned a fine-grained selection and rather give 3 stars, meaning good/maybe and 4 stars meaning very good. I find this selection process difficult, I talk about that in another post.
        4.        The four star pictures are further processed in LR and sometimes PS, during which phase more photos drop out of the race.
        5.        The final images are set in a separate collection (called ‘select’) synced to mobile and distributed or uploaded elsewhere. Typically this is a ‘long list’ of 5-10% and a short list of 1% of the original set.
Which of these phases can be called editing and/or post-processing I do not know exactly.
How would you describe these activities?



What can be more Dutch than tulip fields? I feel a pity for the tourists that dream of seeing the tulip fields in full bloom: it requires either careful logistics and timing or luck. The flowers bloom ‘somewhere’ in spring for a short period, depending on the weather.Can be easily missed. Fortunately, there are the gardens specially for tourists, but nothing beats the real thing. I was lucky. Going for low-countries landscapes i found myself amidst millions of flowering tulips. Challenge: how not to photograph cliché postcard style photographs. Not having a helicopter, i choose the wide-angle option: on my knees in between the flowers, hoping to give a sense of being surrounded by flowers. I also did the more conventional pictures, all with wide angle and fairly high f stop. I started with f/8 and ended with f/16. Light was abundant.
If you really go for it, rent or borrow a ladder. I noticed that being at 1 or 2 meters high is probably the best. Next time.


Fuzzy water

A benefit of the Internet is the easy distribution of knowledge. This applies strongly to photography, as this is truly an international activity. This benefit has its flip side. Take the technique to make moving or falling water look smooth and soft by choosing a long shutter speed and small aperture. This ‘trick’ made it to all the “tips and tricks” lists (click bait) and now it seems that every beginning photographer thinks this is a ‘rule’. But more often than not, it ruins an otherwise fine photograph and instead of a ‘pro’ quality it gives the picture a cheap “Bob Ross” quality. In my view, the movement of waves, drops or streaming water or a waterfall gives the picture a dynamic character: nature (and physics) in action! There must be a clear vision or intent to blur this dynamism and give it a soft, painterly atmosphere. For instance, for a model shoot it may work well as it is in line with the softer, rounder shape of a model. I vote for the return of crystal clear waves, droplets, waterfalls.


And I do not mean photographs, but Apple’s new photo management software. Since half a year I work in Lightroom + PS. I wanted to change for quite a while, since Aperture was clearly left to die. I liked Aperture and was comfortable using it, but lack of upgrades, lens correction and other functionality made me eye for LR. So when Apple announced Photos to replace Aperture last year I made the changeover to LR. I did not massively transferred all my old stuff to LR libraries or catalogs. No use in doing so. I took only the best photographs to import into LR and left 3 large Aperture libraries (700, 200 and 150 GB) and 1 iPhoto waiting for the new Photos app. Obviously the Photos app is not for professionals or prosumers, but it is fast, clean and optimized for new hardware and software. I created one small active library for casual pictures, family and friends shots and the like. I do not want that sort of pics to clutter my LR collection. As a bonus, it is directly copied to the cloud. Photos calls this the system library. The other 4 libraries I converted to Photos without a hitch. I renamed them and made a copy of each as backup, making sure that there are always two copies on two different hard drives. An improvement for the future is to have also a copy in the cloud. I removed all old Aperture and iPhoto libraries. On my laptop, where my main LR activity takes place with a few external drives, I removed also iPhoto and Aperture to free up as much space as possible on my limited SSD of 250 GB. I have still Photos of course.
That completed my transfer. I expect Photos to become better in functionality in the future, but since I work with LR now, I am not bothered. Back to photography!

The flood of photography information

The daily amount of information on photography on the Internet is astonishing. Almost 200 years of photography combined with practically the whole world population making pictures generates an enormous amount of information on gear, tips, tricks, etc. A beginning enthusiast photographer can easily drown in so much information, it can become a full time job reading online articles and you never touch a camera. Rigorous selection is required. If you just bought a nice camera there is no need to keep on reading every camera review. If you are ambitious, focus on the most difficult aspect of photography: seeing the shot, expressing your view on the world, being creative. Be aware that most, if not all, “10 tips for xxxx photos” or “how to make xxxx photos like a pro” are simply click bait. You do not really believe yourself that what a dedicated professional costs many years to accomplish you will learn by just reading tips and tricks. So, being selective and knowing what you want are important presets for successful absorption of other people’s experience. Next time more how I try to build a sustainable learning loop.