52-Week Photo Project Week 1: Get The Rust Out

Your assignment for the first week: Get the rust out. Maybe you’ve just gotten your first camera. Maybe you’ve been shooting for years — decades, even — but you haven’t been shooting as often as you’d like. In either case, the first thing you need to do to call yourself a photographer is to take photos. So this week, we’re going to keep things simple. Put your camera on full auto (yes, even those of you in the habit of shooting in manual), and just get out there and shoot. It doesn’t matter if you don’t go any farther than your neighborhood, your back yard, or even just your living room. It doesn’t matter if you spend a whole week taking photos of your dinner and your cats. Shoot often. Shoot the best you can, but — and this part is really important — suspend judgment. The goal is to get (back) in the habit of shooting.

Save your work from this week. We’ll be revisiting some of it later. And don’t forget to share on the project’s Facebook group, The First 10,000 Photography Community.

See you there!

2016 52-Week Photo Project

Some of you will recall that a while back I ran a 365 day photo project on this site. That’s still available — you can see it here — but this year we’re going to do things a little bit differently. Rather than a day-by-day project, I’ve decided to have 52 weeks’ worth of photo projects. Now you don’t have to shoot every day (though I’d certainly encourage you to try). You just have to post amazing work once a week. So, y’know, no pressure. :)

The Rules:
1. Use any camera you want.
2. Interpret the assignments as literally or as loosely as you’d like.
3. Use only your own photos, unless the assignment specifies otherwise
4. Shoot something, anything, every day. If that means flipping the script on an assignment, so be it.
5. If you’re stuck, wing it.
6. Don’t do anything stupid or illegal to get your photos. Common sense and safety first, OK?

If you’re coming here because you’re curious about a 365 day photo project or something else that’s designed to get you shooting again but it just seems like an awful lot of work, you can use my “Lazy One-Day Photo Project (TM)”.


Repeat as often as possible.

Now. Get your camera and start shooting! The next post will have the first week’s assignment.


Okay, we’re back. Yes, I know I’ve said that before, but this time should — hopefully — be different. Welcome to 2016, and welcome (or welcome back) to The First 10,000.

Every new year, I’m usually in the habit of making resolutions. I’m going to lose weight, quit smoking, write a book… name it, and at one time or another, I’ve probably resolved to do it. And failed. So this year, I’m making one resolution that I know I can — and will — keep.

Create something.

That’s all. No more, no less.

I’m not even quite sure what it’s going to be when it’s done, but by this time next year, I will hopefully have figured it out. Hopefully as that process unfolds and as I get back into the day-to-day of photography, you’ll be along for the ride. If you’re a past reader, thanks for coming back. And if you’re new here, welcome! Let’s see what comes next, shall we?

Year Two: While We Were Out

Today marks the second anniversary of The First 10,000. It’s been a much quieter year hereabouts than I intended, but I plan on remedying that starting… well, now-ish. There’ll be plenty more coming in the days ahead.

And just because we’ve been away (in a manner of speaking) doesn’t mean we haven’t been paying attention to the goings-on in the world of photography. In case you missed them, here’s a roundup of some things that caught our eye. If you’d like to see more like this, incidentally, head on over to our Facebook page and “Like” us there, since I plan to keep these little incidentals on that page rather than taking up too much space with them here. In the meantime, thanks for sticking around (both of you)!

Let’s get started, shall we?

Greg Bottoms’ “Dear Mr. Eggleston” uses one of Eggleston’s best-known images to spark a discussion, or maybe a reverie, on memory and photography, and the place where the two intersect.


A bit late to the party (as usual), but I feel like I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention Wired magazine’s Raw File, which turns an eclectic eye on photography. While you’re there, don’t miss Raw Meet, which intermittently talks to various movers and shakers in the world of photography.

Raw File: http://www.wired.com/rawfile/ Raw Meet: http://www.wired.com/rawfile/section/raw-meet/

Photography in the News (Part One): the internet briefly lost its shit over Swedish photographer Paul Hansen’s prizewinning image “Gaza Burial”. It was initially suggested that it was a composite taken from multiple images, but later analysis would show that this wasn’t the case. The debate over what constitutes acceptable photographic editing in journalism apparently isn’t over just yet.


Photography in the News (Part Two): No sooner had the furor over Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer’s comments on maternity leave started to die down, she stepped in it with photographers. Saying that Flickr would no longer offer a Pro option  because there’s no such thing as pro photographers any more. I was perplexed; this hit the news within days after I’d gotten an email from the service suggesting that I go pro (apparently pros don’t exist, but their money’s still as good as anyone else’s). The considerable number of people who are pro photographers reacted with a combination of anger and scorn, to the extent that they bothered to think of Flickr much at all (the service has lost many of its professional users to other services). My brain hurts thinking about this, much less writing about it. Imaging Resource has a higher tolerance for this sort of thing than I do, and their take is here: http://www.imaging-resource.com/news/2013/05/22/yahoo-ceo-marissa-mayer-apologizes-on-twitter-for-misstatement-about-pros

Photography in the News (Part 2 ½): On the other hand, maybe we shouldn’t be so quick to dismiss Ms. Mayer; the PhotoShelter blog had this rather depressing item about the Death of Photojournalism. It’s a topic that’s bloomed like a hoary perennial for the last decade or so, but given that the Chicago Sun-Times had just laid off the entirety of its photojournalism staff, they may have been onto something. http://blog.photoshelter.com/2013/05/how-the-internet-killed-photojournalism/

The Washington Post avoids controversy with their “Iconic Images” series, which also manages to avoid both context and history… while there’s little arguing with the images they chose to feature, anything of this nature will raise eyebrows (or hackles) with what it leaves out. The WaPo seems to think that not much of note took place prior to 1945, which would be news to some of the best practitioners of the art and craft of photography. http://www.washingtonpost.com/lifestyle/style/iconic-images/2013/04/21/8a7b4ec8-aab8-11e2-a8b9-2a63d75b5459_gallery.html?tid=ts_carousel#photo=1

And of course, there’s some photography.  I’ve come across some great photo projects in the last few months. If they share anything in common, it’s that they’re coming from photographers with a more inclusive eye for beauty.

Photographer Angelica Dass calls Humanæ “a chromatic inventory, a project that reflects on the colors beyond the borders of our codes by referencing the PANTONE® color scheme.” Her project subverts the ways we normally look at, and think of, race and “color.” http://humanae.tumblr.com/

Marian Drew’s Still Life / Australiana (2003-2009) consists of breathtaking shots of roadkill. Yes, I wrote that sentence, and I mean it without a trace of irony. http://mariandrew.com.au/index.php?mact=Album,m4,default,1&m4albumid=38&m4returnid=50&page=50

Rick Guidotti’s Positive Exposure is a direct response to the fashion photographer’s frustration at being told, in effect, what was and was not beauty. His response? Illuminating the beauty of those with genetic differences. http://positiveexposure.org/gallery/

Jens Juul’s Six Degrees of Copenhagen turns a sympathetic eye on that city’s denizens.  http://www.slate.com/blogs/behold/2013/05/30/jens_juul_six_degrees_of_copenhagen_gives_a_glimpse_into_some_of_the_residents.html

Mark Laita’s series Created Equal is a meditation on social mobility and inequality.  http://www.thephotomag.com/2013/05/created-equal-stunning-photo-series.html

Finally, of “Impaired Perceptions,” Brian Charles Steele says, “These portraits show each person’s humanity and force the viewer to see them as individuals.” http://www.briancharlessteelphotography.com/fineart.html


10,000/365: FEBRUARY: The Elements of Style

Let’s try this again, shall we?

January sorta got away from me, but it’s a new day, and a new month, with new possibilities. The object last month was to simply get comfortable behind the camera, and to get in the habit of shooting daily (or, barring that, at least to shoot often, eh?). This month’s projects, on the other hand, are targeted at helping you find, and hone, your personal style.

In order to do that, we’ll be approaching style from several angles, thinking about how photography — both as a genre, and our own personal practice — has its roots not only in the world we encounter day in and day out, but also in all that’s come before us. Sometimes that’ll be a mental exercise (thinking over who our artistic ancestors might be, for instance); other times, however, that mental approach will be combined with attempts to understand how classic photos work by trying to recreate them ourselves.

As with some of last month’s projects, you may find yourself stumped from time to time. That’s okay. Do the best you can with what you’ve got, and above all, have fun!

Keep up with the project, share your progress, feedback and questions:
Project page (where you’ll also find a FAQ and other goodies)
The entries day-by-day (the blog entries)
10,000/365 Flickr Group (to share and discuss your shots)

January 8by10

10,000/365 Days 16 and 17: Backlighting and Sidelighting

Today felt like Groundhog Day, in the sense that the sun would periodically peek out from the clouds, see its own shadow, and then skitter off again, leaving the day nearly as overcast as most of the past week has been. However intermittent, I’ll take it over no sun at all. Here’s the result of squeezing yesterday and today’s assignments in between bouts of shadowboxing with old Sol.

Keep up with the project, share your progress, feedback and questions:
Project page (where you’ll also find a FAQ and other goodies)
The entries day-by-day (the blog entries)
10,000/365 Flickr Group (to share and discuss your shots)

Day 16

Postcards to the Shore

A couple of months back when Hurricane Sandy hit New Jersey, I shared information in this space about several individuals and nonprofits in this area who’ve been helping out in various ways. Part of the rationale was so that those who needed help might be connected to what they needed; the other part was to encourage those who might want to help, but who weren’t quite sure where to start.

To that end, I’ve launched a project called Postcards to the Shore, which I’ve set up as a means for people to share their stories of the Jersey Shore, in whatever form those stories take. If you’re reading this and you call New Jersey home — or maybe you’re a transplant to or from the Garden State, or you’ve just vacationed here — feel free to head over to www.postcardstotheshore.com and tell your story, in any way you’d like to tell it… through photos, video, fiction, memoir, haiku or koans. The site’s admittedly a bit sparse right now, but with your help (and your stories), it won’t be for long. Then tell a friend, and encourage them to do the same.

We don’t need to wait for the history to be written; we’re in the middle of it, living and writing it day by day. Our stories are our history, our testament, our love letters and our hope.


10,000/365 Day 15: Reflections

I don’t like shooting in the rain (well, that’s not entirely true; I just don’t like my camera being exposed to the elements when it’s crappy out). But since that’s all we’ve had for the majority of this week, I found myself a good doorway and made the best of what I had. If you’ve got the right rain gear for your camera, shooting in the rain — especially at night — opens up some interesting possibilities.

With all that said, it’d be nice if the weather cooperates for Day 16, which will be side lighting.

Keep up with the project, share your progress, feedback and questions:
Project page (where you’ll also find a FAQ and other goodies)
The entries day-by-day (the blog entries)
10,000/365 Flickr Group (to share and discuss your shots)Day 15

Full Frame vs. Crop: Which is Better?

A short while back, I explained the differences between full frame and crop sensors. I’ve since gotten the question, “Well, which one’s better?” The short answer? Both. And if that didn’t work for you, here’s a slightly better short answer: Depends.

Since neither of those answers is particularly helpful, let’s try this again. Let’s start, in fact, by re-framing the question, and then looking at the pros and cons of each. Which one will work best for you, and why?

DX has a “crop factor,” typically in the neighborhood of 1.5x to 1.6x. Here’s what that means in plain English: first of all, it means that the image you’re taking will be enlarged, similar to the effect of using digital zoom but without the loss in optical or image quality. Second, it means more reach on your long lenses. You bought a 200mm lens? Congratulations. It’s going to work like a 300. If you bought a 300, it’s going to give you the magnification of a 450mm. Great news if you routinely photograph things like birds and wildlife. DX, in other words, is like having a built-in teleconverter, minus the added cost and hassles.

Now the bad news. Shooting architecture? A 24mm f/1.8, which would generally be adequate on a full-frame sensor, is now a 35mm. Wide, in other words, but not that wide. You want a “normal” lens, you can pick up a nifty fifty, only to find out that it’s closer to 75mm (so you might end up going for something in the 28mm-35mm range instead). There are wider lenses for DX (several of which start in the 18mm lens, with other options starting anywhere between 11mm and 17mm), but some of these are terribly expensive, or distort at certain apertures.

I’ve also heard crop sensor shooters complain that they’re losing too much at the long end if they shoot in full frame. Having done both, I’ll concede you have a point there. Full frame cameras generally have a crop option built in, however, so you can always switch to that if you need the additional reach. This wasn’t always a great option since you’d lose several MP in resolution, but one upshot to the new crop of FF cameras having a ridiculous number of pixels is that you can now shoot in crop mode at 10mp or more. That doesn’t sound like much, but consider that several older SLRs only shot 6MP. Those 10MP give you all the image quality of a Nikon D60, itself no slouch. That’s also with a newer processor and larger pixels, so it’s not a bad tradeoff.

How about depth of field? As a rule of thumb, smaller sensors give more depth of field, even with all else being equal. f/2.8 on a point-and-shoot, versus a crop-sensor SLR, versus a full frame SLR, will all give different degrees of DOF, even at the same distance to the subject. For some purposes, that added depth of field is a great thing (landscape or macro photography, for instance), but at other times (say you’re shooting portraits), it becomes more of a challenge to throw your background out of focus, and yet rendering your subject with a reasonable degree of sharpness. Remember, even though your lens might shoot f/1.4 or f/1.8 wide open, lenses are usually going to be sharper once you’ve stopped them down by at least a full stop. On a small sensor, that can end up making a significant difference.

Then there’s ISO. If, like me, you like shooting in low light without flash (or you’re shooting sports, and can use an extra stop or three of shutter speed to freeze action), good performance at higher ISO is extremely helpful. Sensor technology – and the processor technology to which it’s linked – gets better every year. My current compact (a Fuji X10) runs rings around the Kodak that it replaced in terms of IQ and high ISO performance, but it couldn’t hold a candle to my old D7000 or my D600 in either respect at high ISO. And I’ve seen a significant step up in noise control between the crop sensor D7000 and its full-frame counterpart, the D600. High ISO may not be your be-all and end-all (especially if you’re shooting with flash, or a full lighting setup), but on the off chance that it is important to you, sensor size can (and often does) make a difference.

Finally, there’s image quality. There are several variables that influence how your images will look (exposure, sharpness, good lenses, filters of good quality if you’re in the habit of using them, camera settings, et cetera, et cetera). With that said, larger sensors tend to give higher picture quality (partly due to resolution, partly because the photosites (pixels) are larger) than their smaller counterparts. They also tend to give more latitude in terms of dynamic range and rescuing shadows or highlights that are under/overexposed. Take a look at the photos out of a Phase One or Mamiya medium format camera versus your average SLR, and there’s a pretty significant difference there.

These are hardly the only considerations, of course. There’s weight, cost of bodies and lenses, controls, and a lot more. The broader point, then, is if you’re buying your first interchangeable lens system – whether it’s going to be Micro 4/3, Four Thirds, APS-C, Full Frame or something else altogether – you’ve got some serious research and thinking ahead of you. You’ll want to think about your budget, and what you’re comfortable schlepping on a long day’s shooting, to be sure; but don’t forget to give some thought to your subject matter, as well, since that’s going to have a significant impact on the kind of bodies and lenses you’ll want to check out.

Your turn. Have you shot with multiple formats (including those of you who shot with film for years before shooting digital)? Sound off about your experiences!

Suspicious Birds_mini

10,000/365 Day 14: Shadows

I rather like shadows. They’re useful; after all, they emphasize texture, create a mood or sense of mystery… and it’s really hard to create silouhettes without them. Every once in a while, you can even get a shadow that’s more evocative than the thing that’s casting it. Don’t be afraid of contrasty, shadowy photos; embrace the dark side!

Postscript: Cheated slightly on this one; it was shot on the last sunny day we had here. While I got a couple of shots in earlier today, overcast lighting really isn’t the best thing if you’re chasing shadows.

Keep up with the project, share your progress, feedback and questions:
Project page (where you’ll also find a FAQ and other goodies)
The entries day-by-day (the blog entries)
10,000/365 Flickr Group (to share and discuss your shots)

Day 14

10,000/365 Days 12 and 13: Texture and Light

This weekend’s subjects between them could easily inspire several blog posts (and some time soon, they will). I’ve put them — along with tomorrow’s subject, shadow, together because each relies on the other to a large degree. Used correctly, light can emphasize — or obliterate — nearly any aspect in a photo, whether it’s shape, texture, color, or quite a bit else. Texture, on the other hand, can be used to give your photos a sense of dimensionality, and can even be used as a subject unto itself if you’re in that sort of mood.

More to follow.

Keep up with the project, share your progress, feedback and questions:
Project page (where you’ll also find a FAQ and other goodies)
The entries day-by-day (the blog entries)
10,000/365 Flickr Group (to share and discuss your shots)

Day 13

10,000/365 Day 11: Color

Today was a dull, overcast day — which is great for catching color, generally, but it was also raining, which tends to put a damper on photography when you’re used to shooting outdoors to change things up. Today’s photo is an object lesson in why you should always have your camera (since I snuck this photo under the noses of the people in the local supermarket).

It’s also about color.

Color has always been a factor in photography, even before color photography (it was common to hand-color prints in the days before color processes became common). And it’s no wonder. Not only do we see in color, but color also has different cultural, artistic, and even emotional associations that can add layers of resonance to a photo when it’s used properly.

That’s a post for another day. To whet your appetite in the meantime, there’s a very good explanation of color theory and its use in photography here: http://www.framedreality.com/color-in-photography-color-theory

Keep up with the project, share your progress, feedback and questions:
Project page (where you’ll also find a FAQ and other goodies)
The entries day-by-day (the blog entries)
10,000/365 Flickr Group (to share and discuss your shots)

Apple to Oranges
Apple to Oranges

10,000/365 Day 10: Shape

If we want to strip photography down to its barest essentials, it’s all about two things: lines, shapes, and light. Think about it a second: everything else can either be stripped away (take out the color and you’ve still got a black-and-white) or related back to one of those things. Depending on your personal preference and style, there are different ways you might choose to deploy those things, or visually “accessorize” them, but those are the essentials in your toolkit.

So today, it’s all about shape.

Sometimes your shape is your subject. For instance, you may find yourself wanting to emphasize the shape of something if that’s the most striking thing about your subject. Luckily for you, there are several ways to do this:

  • Backlighting can help to wipe out some of the surface details of something by portraying it in silouhette
  • Backdrops can be useful for subjects that can be moved or posed
  • Black and white is a good remedy if the shape of something works but the color in the image draws more attention than the shape (as in the two photos of the meters below)

At other times, the shape of something might be incidental to a larger subject, but still serve a compositional purpose. It’s also useful to remember that shapes are themselves collections of lines; because of that, shapes are capable of serving the same compositional purpose that lines do in terms of drawing attention to or through a particular part of the photo. And don’t be afraid of asymmetry, since asymmetrical shapes, besides having a certain visual appeal, also do a better job of leading the eye through a photo.

It’s not just photographers who are concerned with this sort of thing. Picasso’s cubist work, and abstracts by the likes of Joan Miro and Piet Mondrian (artists’ names link to representative works) throw realistic depiction out the window and reduce the visual plane to a series of shapes, although in Picasso’s case, the shapes are still — albeit loosely — deployed in the service of something vaguely figurative. We’ll be delving into abstraction later on, but for now, pay attention to shape in the arts and crafts, as well as in the world beyond your door.

Keep up with the project, share your progress, feedback and questions:
Project page (where you’ll also find a FAQ and other goodies)
The entries day-by-day (the blog entries)
10,000/365 Flickr Group (to share and discuss your shots)

Meters 1Meters 2

10,000/365 Day 9: Perspective

Having experimented with lines, let’s go a step further today and take up perspective. As it relates to photography, perspective is simply how an object appears to the naked eye (or your capture medium) based on spatial relationships. Perepctive can vary depending on several things, such as the lens used, our position relative to our subject, and subjects’ positions relative to one another.

The form of perspective that most of us are familiar with is linear perspective. This manifests in two ways: first, as objects become more distant they appear smaller because their visual angle decreases. Second, if you have strong lines or edges in your photos, they will appear to diminish toward what’s called a vanishing point. The further away you are from your subject, the more pronounced the perspective effect; this is also, in turn, influenced by the type of lens used. Take the photo of the row houses as an example; the part closer to the photographer appears much larger, and diminishes as the distance from the camera increases. If the houses were longer, there would be an even more pronounced vanishing point, ’til the last houses in the row would appear very small if they were visible at all. The building is the same height from end to end, but because of the perspective, its far side appears much shorter than the near side.

Compression depending on focal length: If your photo contains multiple elements, you can use perspective as an element of composition to change the apparent relationship among those elements. Let’s try that again in English. The images of the bicycles below show how the use of different focal lengths effect the apparent “distance” between the bikes. The shots were taken at 24mm, 50mm, and 85mm, with the framing of the shot more or less the same from one photo to the next. You’ll notice that the bicycles haven’t been moved; they’re in the same position. I wasn’t (I had to keep stepping back as I zoomed in to maintain the composition). You’ll notice that in each shot, everything appears a bit closer together even though it’s still occupying the same physical space.

Perspective comes into play in nearly every form of photography, including portraits, nature photography, and pretty much any other form you can think of. It’s a reason to choose your lenses carefully, but it’s also a good reason to decide whether you want to “zoom” with your feet or with the lens, since it’s not just the “size” of the subject that will change within the frame, but also its relation to the rest of what’s depcited.

Keep up with the project, share your progress, feedback and questions:
Project page (where you’ll also find a FAQ and other goodies)
The entries day-by-day (the blog entries)
10,000/365 Flickr Group (to share and discuss your shots)


10,000/365 Day 8: Lines

I’m a day behind on writing, but still on time with the shooting… which, I suppose, is better than the other way ’round. Anyway, today — by which I mean yesterday — it’s all about lines.

Power Lines
Power Lines

Strong lines in a photo serve a few purposes, but one of the most important is to lead your eye through the photo, or to emphasize a certain portion of it. Paying attention to the kinds of lines you have in your photo, and where they lead the eye, leads to stronger compositions.

Too many lines (as in the shot of the power lines) just create confusion and disorientation. The sidewalk shot that’s featured here, while it’s visually “busy,” features the strong curve of the bricks against the straighter linear jumble of the concrete (and the color contrast also helps). So pay attention to how the lines “work,” or don’t, in your photos. We’ll get to the color, and quite a bit else, in the days ahead.

Strong verticals and diagonals (among other things) lead your eyes upward.
Strong verticals and diagonals (among other things) lead your eyes upward.

Stepping away from photography for a minute, let me give you an example. Think for a minute about church architecture. If you stop to think about it, regardless of what they might share in common in terms of iconography, church buildings all share one feature in common, whether the rest of the building looks like a saltbox or Saint Patrick’s Cathedral: for the most part — inside and out — they feature strong diagonals and other architectural features (like buttresses) that, in addition to any architectural functionality they have, serve to lead your eyes up.

We can do the same thing with our photos; lines are one way of delineating the geometry of a photo, but they also act like railroad tracks, or steeples: done right, they lead our eyes through the photo, adding emphasis to some parts and de-emphasizing others. Just the same as we try to avoid extraneous “stuff” in our photos (like telephone poles sticking out of people’s heads), extraneous lines — too many of ’em, or in the wrong places — can undermine an otherwise good photographic composition.


Keep up with the project, share your progress, feedback and questions:
Project page (where you’ll also find a FAQ and other goodies)
The entries day-by-day (the blog entries)
10,000/365 Flickr Group (to share and discuss your shots)

10000365 08 Lines

Rule 53: Travel Light — But Not Too Light

It doesn’t happen as often as I’d like, but every so often I actually do manage to take my own advice. Case in point came over the weekend while shooting a play that a friend of mine directed. Not knowing where I’d be able to find seating, and wanting a degree of flexibility in my shot options, I decided I’d pack the camera with the 28-300mm lens attached. All done, right?


Even when I’m traveling light — body, one lens, small bag — I try to be careful not to travel too light. My D600 has two SD slots (each of which usually has an 8GB card in it). My battery, rated for 1,500 shots or so, had been charged that morning. And with an all-in-one lens, it’s not as though I needed to carry my big bag, with my other four lenses. I could easily have shot the entire evening on just two memory cards and called it a day, in theory.

That’s all well and good, except that at some point, theory collides with practice, and that’s when things start to get hairy. In this case, things getting hairy involved my first memory card flashing an error message about fifteen minutes into Act One. Luckily, I hadn’t packed only the camera, lens, and monopod; I also had a spare battery, four spare memory cards, and a cleaning kit. I was able to pop out the defective card (which at least retained the shots I’d already taken, even though it’s now dead as a doornail), put in another, and continue shooting.

I understand as well as anyone that camera gear is bulky, heavy, and sometimes quite literally a pain in the neck to lug around. I don’t necessarily suggest carrying every last piece of your kit everywhere you go. There are times you just don’t need everything. At the very least, however, make sure you have enough. Have “spares,” whether it’s an extra lens if you’re shooting somewhere hazardous (if you fall and clobber one lens, you’ve got something else to shoot with), an extra card (because they can, and do, fail) or a spare battery, even if you’re in the habit of keeping them fully charged (if you’re shooting in the cold, your battery life shortens markedly; you can warm the battery back up in a pocket, but you’ll still need something with which to shoot in the meantime). Cleaning supplies are also a must; it doesn’t even have to be an elaborate cleaning kit. Just one of those lens cloths in a neoprene pouch can be a lifesaver if your lens gets smudged, or if your glasses get so filthy that you can’t see the viewfinder properly.

How ’bout you? What are your absolute essentials when you’re traveling light? Have I left something out? Sound off in the comments!


10,000/365 Day 7: One Photo Per Hour

Probably not for the last time this year, I’ve fallen short on my own project, which was to shoot one photo per hour today. The point of this exercise — which I’ve actually done at other times, and will likely revisit at some point soon — is to get you in the habit of shooting. Nothing more, nothing less. On Day 8, we’ll start getting a bit more specific about elements of photography. Stay tuned!

Keep up with the project, share your progress, feedback and questions:
Project page (where you’ll also find a FAQ and other goodies)
The entries day-by-day (the blog entries)
10,000/365 Flickr Group (to share and discuss your shots)


10,000/365 Day 6: “Before”

Today’s assignment is to find something in transition, or that will soon be in transition, and to photograph it. You’ll come back to it later this year for an “after,” though you may also want to revisit it periodically at other times of year to chart its progress. I’ll confess that I’m using a photo from November for my Before in this instance; it’s from the boardwalk in Point Pleasant Beach, NJ, and reflects what a part of it looked after Hurricane Sandy.

Keep up with the project, share your progress, feedback and questions:
Project page (where you’ll also find a FAQ and other goodies)
The entries day-by-day (the blog entries)
10,000/365 Flickr Group (to share and discuss your shots)

Day 06 PPB Boardwalk_mini

Gloves for Photographers

If you’re reading this right now in the Northern hemisphere, odds are better than even that it’s flippin’ cold out; if you’re reading from the Southern hemisphere, bookmark this and save it for a rainy (or rather, freezing) day and come back when you need it. Today we’re going to talk about one of the most fundamental things for cold weather photography: keeping your hands toasty, since nice gear doesn’t count for much if your digits are frostbitten.

There are quite a few options when it comes to gloves for photographers; I’ll be listing a few and discussing the pros and cons of each.

Let’s start with Thinsulate gloves. These are great when it comes to keeping your hands warm in cold weather. When it comes to shooting? Well, now, that’s something else again. Thinsulate’s great when it comes to keeping the cold out, but it can also feel like your hands have turned to sausages. It’s difficult, if not impossible, to feel the controls under your fingers, and equally difficult to finesse things like function keys and touchscreens. Even gloves that are designed with fingertips that can work with touchscreens tend to be a bit too bulky to ensure getting it right the first time, and if you’re trying to catch a skittish deer or a bird in flight, you really don’t want to miss the shot because your gloves decided you’d rather adjust your white balance than, say, your exposure settings.

Another option are gloves or mittens that allow you to remove the top portion to leave your fingertips exposed. These work fine in principle, since it leaves your fingers free to manipulate dials and buttons. Problem is, you end up either having to yank them off every time you want to shoot or change a setting, or you just say the hell with it and leave that part off, in which case you’ve got cold, numb fingers. That won’t do either.

So you can try thin leather gloves. Some are insulated, so they’re warm. They’re also thinner than many cloth gloves (though they can be stiffer in some cases), but they can still be clunky and stiff unless you’re dealing with driving gloves, which aren’t particularly practical in the cold. So leather also may not be your best bet.

What to do? There are photographer’s gloves out there, but like everything else marketed to photographers, some can be a bit pricey. Luckily, unlike some things made for photography, you’ve got good — and inexpensive — alternatives. Case in point: a pair of Hatch Specialist all-weather shooting gloves that I recently received for Christmas. They’re designed for hunters and law enforcement. It’s a different kind of shooting, but the principle’s the same when you get right down to it; you need the gloves to keep you warm, but otherwise, you need them to stay the heck out of the way. The gloves I’ve got perform pretty well in both respects. They have a degree of touch sensitivity that allows me to be a lot more confident when I’m changing settings on the fly.

Three cautionary notes about these gloves: first of all, I don’t know where they get off calling these “all-weather.” Granted, they’re water repellent (not waterproof) and warm, but not quite as warm as my bulky Thinsulate gloves or my nice Isotoners (one or the other of which stays in my jacket pocket for the times when the camera’s not out). The Neoprene material feels like it’d likely be sweaty on a hot day, though at that point you’re not likely to need gloves for photography anyway. The palm and finger surfaces of the gloves also conduct cold. The other evening, shooting in what felt like low 30’s/upper 20’s (Farenheit), my hands and fingers stayed warm enough, at least until I had to actually use my camera, or open doors; in both instances, the rubberized parts of the glove reminded me in no uncertain terms that I was gripping something cold.

Second, regardless of the type of gloves you decide to use, make sure you wear them. Cold temperatures, especially if you factor in wind and/or precipitation, can do a number on your hands. No matter how good a day’s shooting you have, it probably won’t compensate for things like frostbite or nerve damage. Third, make sure the gloves fit. If you’re doing something — like shoveling snow — that doesn’t require much dexterity, a little extra bulk or tightness isn’t a terrible thing. But when the whole point of a particular pair of gloves is to make it easier to get your digits where you want ’em, even the right glove in the wrong size isn’t going to be your best option.

Any other suggestions or input? Sound off in the comments section!

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Hatch Specialist All-Weather Shooting/Duty Gloves
Hatch Specialist All-Weather Shooting/Duty Gloves