Welcome to Think-Photo!

So welcome to … Regarding Photography!

To the three or four people that have read my posts thus far and to anyone who stumbles across this, let me explain a few things;

The idea behind … Regarding Photography is really simple. After reading some of the bigger online photography blogs and watching a lot of YouTube content I have come to the conclusion that most (not all) of it is repetitive tutorial content or gear reviews. In fact very little has to do with the actual discussion of the philosophy or practice of photography. Actually, there is very little actual thought or in-depth consideration involved.

This isn’t a new phenomenon. In prehistory (before the internet) the photo magazines of the time were the same way – gear reviews, beginner tutorials, and processing articles over and over, month to month. Rarely did you have much written about the practice of the craft or the history or practitioners of the craft.

These old periodicals and today’s web content have much in common as they are/were profit driven (read advertising) and, there’s nothing wrong with that per se. When it is the overall driving force at the expense of quality content and becomes so obvious as to be intellectually insulting, well then there is a problem.

Two of the greatest photo magazines ever, in my opinion, were Shutterbug and American Photographer (which eventually became American Photo). Both of these have gone out of print and are now completely web based and only shadows of what they were in their glory days – and that’s the case with print media across the board. In a sea of mediocrity though, their print content was exceptional.

Time well spent. Unfortunately, that’s the last print issue of Shutterbug on the top.

So what I think is that, photography, like any other art form, requires as much thought from the creator as it does practice and, frankly, when you are obsessing over the latest and greatest equipment – it’s hard to think about the craft or practice the craft.

So, am I saying gear doesn’t matter? No. it’s just not all that matters.

I do intend to offer some camera reviews at some point. Not of the latest and greatest but how tried and true cameras fit into todays world. Maybe even exploring the current state of film cameras from time to time.

I intend to offer a lot of opinion, as you’ve seen already.

I’ll also throw in some technical material, history pieces, and of course, publish some of my own original photography work. I will have some posts about photographers that have influenced me and also some travel pieces. I do intend to post content on a regular basis – every Sunday for the foreseeable future and hope to build a strong reader base and learn a few new things along the way.

Comments and ideas are more than welcome!

Thanks for reading.

The camera is an instrument that teaches people how to see without a camera”

– Dorothea Lange

Computational Photography is Not The End of The World!!

Computational photography is a term that seems to be coming up more and more often lately in photography related conversations. If you don’t know what it means, it refers to mobile device photography – smart phones in particular, referring to how the app developers are now using programming code to create various effects like shallow depth of field (bokeh) that require knowledge and equipment to create in a camera. 

In other words, you select the effect or mode then you just shoot and save the photo instead of choosing a lens, calculating exposure, taking the picture, then refining it in post production.

This seems to have a lot of people upset and they’re talking about the death of photography yet again. It seems that some of the online photography gurus think that somehow their digital camera is substantially different from, and far superior to a smart phone camera. Yes the phone has a much smaller sensor and less exposure control (as a rule), and doesn’t’ have interchangeable lenses, but that’s about it.

Here’s the truth – Most photography is computational, and it doesn’t matter in the least.

I’ll let that sink in for a minute.

comp photo cameras
Examples of computational photography equipment in 2019

You see, If you shoot film, there are some variables but, essentially you are exposing a chemically covered media to light which, after being treated with other chemicals, leaves a latent negative image that can then be printed onto light sensitive paper as a positive image. No computers required. In film’s purest form there is nothing digital or computational about the process, but very few people print traditionally in a dark room anymore. That is the only non-computational form of photography there is, or ever was. 

So then if you shoot film and send it to a lab for processing, the lab will likely send you scans of your shots on maybe a disc or thumb drive. They might even upload your images as digital scans to a cloud based service and give you a password or PIN to access them. They may or may not send you your negatives. More and more often, they won’t. 

Even film has been pushed (pun intended) into the digital era of computational photography.

This is one of the ironies of shooting film in the digital era – you start with film and, ultimately end up with a digital product that you then process on a computer before sending it to a printer (if you actually print photos instead of just posting them online).

If you shoot digital images instead of film, you are exposing a digital sensor to light. The camera’s internal software and processor then create an image. If you want to print it, you either use a home printer connected to your computer, or you send it to an outside printer (with better equipment) who will create a print from your digital file. Of course you can just view the image on the camera’s screen and call it a day. The process, however, relies on digital, computational technology from front to back.

What about camera RAW files? Well, sorry, it’s still computational. A RAW image isn’t really an image. It is essentially just a string of software code that tells the camera’s processor how to make an image. It just leaves out some of the corrections (and compression) that the camera is programmed to process into a JPEG, and every camera processes the information differently. This is why we get the various arguments about Canon’s color science vs Nikon’s vs Sony’s ad infinitum. Raw is not a photo until it is displayed on a screen. 

Most people then use Lightroom or another Adobe product to post process and edit their RAW images – so you don’t really even get to see the real RAW data. You get Adobe’s interpretation of that data. That’s precisely what Adobe Camera RAW is for and Adobe RGB is their own, specific color interpretation. 

There’s nothing wrong with Lightroom or Photoshop, I use both for virtually all of my digital post processing and I think they are well suited to the task, but I understand what they are and how to best use them for my personal purpose. (By the way, the same principal applies to any other brand of post processing or image editing software, it’s computational by its very nature.)

The good news is, it doesn’t matter. Really.

Photography has changed over the last hundred or so years by an order of magnitude. We have evolved from the Daguerrotype to the JPEG and from the large format View Camera to the Smart Phone. At each interval, the photographic community has condemned the changes as being the “death of photography” and criticized them as being “not really photography” yet, in retrospect, it didn’t matter and the technological progress actually advanced the art and science of photography. Photography has continued and advanced, and changed, and evolved, but it hasn’t died because of any new technology.

I don’t expect it to die any time soon either, especially just because the process is becoming even easier.

Thanks for reading.

5 Reasons to Buy Used Gear!

I am a big believer in buying used equipment. As a matter of fact, the most current camera I own is a Sony A6000.

Why? Because I thoroughly believe in the value both financially and practically that used equipment offers to photographers of all levels.

So, without further ado, here are the five reasons I think you should buy used photo equipment:

1. Value for money. Really, buying used is all about getting as much for your hard earned money as you can. Right now you can buy a brand new Sony A7 with the 28mm-70mm kit lens for $998.00 USD from Amazon or B&H Photo. IF you shop used, from any of the reputable used camera dealers like KEH or mpb, you can get the same combo for around $850.00 USD. Leave off the kit lens and upgrade to the well reviewed FE 85mm f1.8 and you are still probably under $1k. You could probably beat that on eBay.

Going further you can get, what at the time of introduction, was a cutting edge camera – the Canon EOS 5D (original/classic) for around $350.00 USD. Add a 50mm f1.8 for around $125.00 and you have, arguably, one of the best DSLRs of all time—for under $500.00 USD.

Of course, these are both examples of full frame cameras. You can do even better with APS-C cameras.

No matter how you slice it though, it equals extreme value for money.

Let somebody else take the depreciation.


Canon EOS T3i Originally Purchased used with the 18-55mm kit zoom, the 75-300mm add on lens, and a LowPro sling bag for $350.00. I added the battery grip and the 10-18mm EFs lens

2. You can buy better glass. The money you have saved on the camera can go toward purchasing better lenses. 

A lot of people tend to buy the highest spec camera that they can afford, then put a cheap lens on it. Um, no. We all know that this should be the other way around and buying a used camera can accomplish this. 

If you shop diligently you can also find similar value on used, high end lenses and put the glass your camera deserves in front of its sensor.

3. Ecosystem. As time has passed, all the major camera manufacturers have added compatible accessories to their inventory like speedlights, battery grips, and remote releases. Third party companies have done the same. As the camera models have evolved, so have the accessories, and many times, the older accessories show up on the used market at deep discounts. Sometimes the newest accessories are completely backward compatible with the older models.

Also, most major camera companies still support their older models with utilities and PDF manuals.



Canon EOS 50D with EFs 18-135mm lens. Purchased used in 2016 with battery and charger for $450.00

4. Lower anxiety. If you are in any way, serious about photography, you have some serious money invested in gear. If you reduce the amount of the investment then loss, damage, or theft isn’t as painful. If your gear is insured (which it should be) the premium will be lower as the replacement value is lower.

5. Ease of use. Older used cameras have fewer features. This is a good thing especially if you are new to cameras or you are starting in a new system — say, a Canon shooter moving to Sony.

Fewer features means a shorter learning curve and most of the newest models have features that aren’t really absolutely necessary to the average photographer. If, after some time passes, you decide to move to a newer model, you already have the foundation in place. So, instead of learning a complex camera from the “ground up”, you just have to become comfortable with the newer features.

So, now that you know why to buy used equipment. The next question is where do you find good used equipment?

Well the first thing that comes to mind is eBay. Now, this is not for the faint of heart, after all, the internet is full of stories about fraud victims and people just plainly being scammed on eBay purchases. 

The very first thing if you are contemplating eBay, is to be knowledgeable enough about a specific item to ask the right questions of the seller. Beyond that, there are a lot of resources  on the internet to advise you on what to look for in an eBay seller such as feedback ratings and return policies.

I have been buying and selling on eBay for almost twenty years and I think that as a platform, their best days are behind them. However, there are still good deals to be found from good sellers if you do a little research.

Next are pawn shops. These can be a real gold mine. Two of my three current cameras have come from pawn shops and were really good deals. Most reputable pawn shops offer some kind of refund policy. The shops I bought from give two weeks money back and one month store credit returns on digital cameras.

Thrift stores are more uncertain. The employees don’t really know the difference between a camera and a toaster so, there is no discrimination as to what is put on the floor for sale and generally no guarantee or refund policy.

So far we have really been into “buyer beware” territory. The next option is preferable but a little pricier.

Web based used camera dealers. KEH camera and mpb.com are the two big ones. Full disclosure: I am not sponsored by either company nor have I received any compensation for mentioning them.

I have purchased from KEH and it was a seamless, gratifying experience.  When I am shopping for gear, they are one of my first stops. (As a price check if nothing else.)

Both of these companies offer tested and graded gear with limited warranties and the ability to purchase extended warranties at check out. You do spend more with this option, but you gain peace of mind.

So buy used gear, save money and have fun.

New Mirrorless Cameras, or why I just don’t care anymore.

Enough with the new cameras!

I’m suffering a bit of burn out.

Last week Olympus dropped the OM-D E-MX1. A new “pro level “ Micro 4/3 camera.

Who cares any more?

This silliness all started last year, before Photokina, with the much hyped and overly dramatic build up by Nikon to introduce the Z 6 and Z 7 full frame mirrorless cameras that turned out to be kind of meh.

Then Canon introduced the much less hyped but still eagerly anticipated EOS R (again, a full frame mirrorless camera) and, again meh. Then, during Photokina, Panasonic announced a three way partnership with Leica and Sigma to create the S1 and SR1 full frame mirrorless cameras, but from a pioneer in Micro 4/3s format, leading many to believe that MFT is dead, again. Don’t fret. It won’t be available until March. Of course, last week Sony dropped the anticipated yet ultimately confusing A6400.

I don’t care anymore. None of these Cameras is even remotely compelling enough to entice me to spend two thousand dollars or more to buy a camera that will probably be obsolete in one to two years. None of them even remotely resemble real value for money.

So. Can we just stop now?