I didn't think I'd write something like this anytime soon. I thought I'd left the Mac world and I thought I basically did that at the right time. When Marco lamented the state of Apples computers (and their software) a while back he of course focussed on what Apple themselves put into their system. Lately I've been looking at the world of computer Operating Systems more in terms of comparing ecosystems - the OS with the (3rd party) software it gives you access to. To be fair there is great software for Windows, for Linux and for the Mac. In fact as far as Windows goes I feel Microsoft these days makes great software, who'd have thought I'd ever say this 10-15 years ago.
Putting care in how things look and feel
The thing that strikes me with quite some software for the Mac (and also did in the years ~2006-2012 when I was a Mac user exclusively) is the care that a lot of the developers in that world seem to put into how their software feels. To be fair, neither Microsoft nor a lot of Linux Distributions make it easy for developers to achieve a similar amount of polish, though it's certainly possible. As somebody who enyojs using software that looks and feels good I find this rather lamentable. I'm sure there will be people who tell me I shouldn't care, just as there are people who will argue that the fact that software is maybe open-source would more than make up for any lack in the design department. However I find myself disagreeing. All these arguments for or against some piece of software exist at once and for different areas thei may be weighed diferently.
In defence of Microsoft
I cannot really blame Microsoft for any of this. Todays Microsoft creates awesome opensource software, they care more for the design of their products then at any time in their history (at least so it seems) and really try to be an inovative company.
Where to go from here?
This is a good question. I am actually considering splitting my time: I have no problem working on Windows at work and even having my main workstation at home run Windows for the forseeable future. After all my computer isn't that old and will be quite powerfull for a few years still to come. However with my Microsoft Surface Pro 4 showing itself to be rather on the weak side (granted I got a small model, so this may not be Microsofts fault) I find myself looking for something to use when I'm not at home. Right now the iPad Pro and the MacBook Pro are both in the race. The iPad would grant me the option to use a lot of software I already own by having bought it for the iPhone. The MacBook would be more of a full fledged computer.
What might right now push me more towards the mac then towards the iPad is Webdevelopment. While I know there are people who work on iOS devices in quite a productive way I feel that I am way too much of a classical computer person for that. I like having a mouse-point and love to use a terminal
As it stand right now I am not actually ready to outright leave facebook yet. It has its uses for me, I know people that are on there and I am in a few groups I do not want to leave at this time. However I am also one of those people who are really taken aback by the things we hear concenring privacy issues with the company. I'm not going to say I'm surprised by these things because I am not in the least bit surprised. However even more then before it brings to mind a need to controll what data an company like Facebook can get access to.
As it turns out there is at least an intermediate step that is fairly easy to take - deleting their app from your phone. To my mind Facebook as a website is something way more controllable then as an app that's constantly running in the background. The app after all is able to access geolocation (If you've authorized it) in the background etc. Also the app is very well able to suck in your time since there are few things easier then tapping an icon on the screen of your phone to kill time - or loose time if you want.
So for that matter, this one app is gone from my phone for now.
Years ago, when the iPad 2 had arrived, I was a happy user of Apples tablets for some years. Of course my iPad aged and after enjoying quite a long life with me it finally had to go. The technology was of course still new with it just being the second iteration of the tablets. Later I went to Microsofts Surface Pro and I've now used this for roughly two years. It's really cool, and it's propably not for me.
The good parts
The Surface as a piece of tech feels nice, so does the keyboard/cover Microsoft produces. Even though I've basically got the smallest version the experience of using the device for the first time is great. Actually it really reminded me of the experience when I got a MacBook in ~2006.
Ambitions and where they may fail you
Microsoft has the really cool idea to create a unified OS for Desktops, Notebooks and Tablets. However in practice there are, at least in my experience with the device, some shortfalls to this:
A lot of the applications are clearly not designed for touch-use.
It feels like Windows doesn't handle the resouce limitations on a tablet as well as iOS.
With applications not being as well-designed as they could be I've basically stuck with using the Surface as an underpowered notebook. Microsoft is not really at fault here I think, it would be up to the people who create the applications to make the experience of using them great. After all, Microsoft themselves certainly does put in the work with Office, Edge etc. Sadly it seems that as far as UIs go the Apple world simply has developers who put more care into this (I am aware that there are really great exceptions).
There is one more thing: while I've gotten the smallest version of the Surface Pro it still has a price that puts it in almost the same region as the iPad Pro, and for that it feels slow. I've started quitting more and more applications (didn't have to do that on the iPad) and it still feels slow in something like Chrome. I'm not sure how much of this is an issue with the device itself (speed of the used SSD storage etc.) and how much of this is down to people writing programs not really taking into account that they have to work with limited resources. Still this puts a damper on what could be an awesome experience.
So what does all this come down to? Currently I'm considering going with an iPad pro for the near future. Having an iPhone I own a bunch of Apps that I can use on there and that promise to work seamelessly with what I've got on my phone. So that would certainly be a plus. I'm gravitating towards the smaller 11" version for portability. I guess there will be a post when I eventually decide to go for it and I'll share my experience.
While this is a bit off the usual path I'm taking here I thought I'd link this here. In case somebody is interested in open position as a web-developer in Cologne Germany. we're looking for some backup: some details on the job
Since I finally found some time to do this: my photography-related posts can from now on be found at film-rewind.com. This blog will return to be more of a mixed bag of general posts. Also the Photo Resources pages has moved over there.
Recently I've gotten into printing photographs, starting out with a Durst F30 enlarger end currently considering an upgrade due to some smaller frustrations with my particular enlarger. For everybody who does film photography if you have the space to this I can only urge you in the strongest of terms to give the world of darkroom printing a try.
A few years ago I did some inkjet printing but actually working with an enlarger is really quite magical by comparison. There certainly is a significant learning curve to it, but the reward for taking this particular plunge is the experience of a fascinating photographic process. While there seems to be an almost endless depth of things to learn the good thing about all this is, that to get started you don't need a lot. Just an enlarger, a dark room, and bit of chemistry. Also you don't need to have a permantent darkroom, I'm moving my enlarger in and out of my bathroom to do this.
Leica M4-2 and the 50mm collapsible Summicron, almost 1 year on
It is not really one year yet, but I felt like giving some of my impressions on what my time with this camera has been like and what I feel like this has done for me.
Before I start with this maybe a bit of personal history on how I’ve gotten into photography. I started at around 2004 and originally what really inspired me were the images of the likes of Cartier-Bresson. However, being rather shy and apparently at the time all to willing to give in to that for the longest time I did neither reportage nor street or portrait photography. Instead I focussed on landscape and nature, something where I wouldn’t have to face other people. One of my reasons for getting a rangefinder was that I felt they lend themselves to kind of things I’d like to do in a nice way and thus would make it harder for me to make up excuses. While I can’t say that I’m totally there yet, I can say one thing: this has set me on my way. This is of course more a thing about me then about the camera but it’s relevant to what this has done for me.
Why the M4-2
When I began to consider getting into the M system I quickly came across the M4-2 as being a combination of a few things I wanted to have: it’s relatively affordable, it offers 35mm framelines (unlike the M3) and also I prefer(ed) the design of the film-rewind to the M3 and M2 (yeah, because that’s really important …). So, I found one on ebay and one day I finally succumb to it and was on its way to me.
After almost a year of using this camera I can say that my initial impression of this being a totally pleasant to use and rock-solid photographic tool has been confirmed. I know that rangefinders are I bit of a thing of personal taste: some people love them, and others don’t – it turns out that I like this way of working a lot. The viewfinder that show everything in focus gives me a much more direct outlook on the world out there. Focussing with the rangefinder patch, once you have grown used to it, is a dream. Plus, and this is also a thing about typical rangefinder lenses, the lenses for these cameras often have a focus tab that assists with focussing quite a lot. After a while you develop a feeling for where the tab or infinity lock is in relation to what distance from you is in focus. Also, can I just say that this camera feels like the most solid piece of kit that I’ve ever used? It really does.
50mm collapsible Summicron
When I got the M4-2 I wanted to have an actual Leica lens to go with it and the first generation 50mm Summicron M was what I came across on ebay. It is a pleasant and fun to use piece of 1950 optics best pared with a UV filter to protect its rather fragile front element. In the long run I’d like to get a more current 50mm lens in addition to this one, but that’s not a priority right now for me. Also, it’s not through any fault of this lens – I’m simply curious for the newer ones. All I can say after all is that I am having a lot of fun with this lens and I am happy with its output, even knowing that more modern lenses will deliver a higher optical quality.
For me certainly trying to get a 35mm lens I like and then use that a lot. Something I really like about the Leica system is that I somehow don’t feel like I have to own all the lenses. A 35mm and maybe a 90mm (for some rare occasions) lens and I feel like that would be it.
More importantly: getting people into my pictures. While I’m slowly getting used to shooting in the streets and feeling good with that (seeing that nothing bad happens when you are seen taking a photograph) I’m still shying away from photographing people. I should probably just dive into a tourism-heavy place (like cologne where I’m going every day anyways) and make use of the fact that people there are used to folks taking pictures. So yes: that’s what’s next.
Before the end of ACROS was announced I had ordered two rolls and meant to try it out some time. I since have shot one and I am really loving it. Guess I didn't really pick the best of moments for this ...
I tend to advertise developing your own film as something that’s approachable and at its core quite simple. While that holds true I’ve also learned these days to always mind the basics. In my specific case my fixer became saturated and I must have really blanked when I tested it. It took my several days and films to figure out that I didn’t have any form of light-leakage anywhere but simply had to mix some new fixer.
Of course the great thing about this is that you can fix it afterwards to a great extend: I’m currently retroactively fixing the films that were involved in this and seems like most of the pictures can be saved quite well. So developing your own film is still great.
For a few years I have often watched Ted Forbes youtube channel “The Art of Phtorgaphy” and back when I started this channel was in a bit of a unique place: it really was about the art side of photography. Yes there certainly where tech-focussed videos on the channel: mostly on older analogue camera. But a lot of the content was about things like creative process, developing film (ok, that’s a tech-topic …), on past and present photographers and so on.
I like talking about cameras and lenses as much as the next person and also, I do understand some of the things behind making a living by creating these videos. On only needs to look at the public view-numbers to see that a video on some Sony, Nikon, Fuji or whatever camera gets a lot more views then a great and insightful video about, say mid-century portraiture (just making something up here really). This in and of itself is nobody’s fault particularly: it’s probably all our fault. I’m not sure about the solution right now but I sure hope there is one, because there are way more then enough tech channels, sites etc. out there and way to few about the things that really matter.
Hoping for the magic to return
So Ted, on the off chance you’re reading this: I miss the good old days. And yeah, I’m hoping you might bring some of that back sometime. After all that show (together with “On taking pictures”) is what brought me back into photography some years ago.