Blogosphere, Photography

Film photography blogs you should follow (2018 edition)

A great joy of film photography is the community of people who enjoy everything about it: the gear, the films, getting out and shooting, and looking at the resulting photographs. Lots of us share our adventures on our blogs.

Self-portrait (crop)

A portrait of the blogger

The community of film photography bloggers is growing. Since I last posted a list of the film blogs I follow, I’ve found a bunch more! To think this is happening when blogs have generally become passé.

I’m going to list all of the photo blogs I follow. If you don’t see your blog here, I hope you won’t feel put out. Maybe I just don’t know about it. Let me know which blogs I’m missing in the comments!

I really look forward to new posts from these blogs:

  • A Conspiracy of Cartographers — This blog from Eric continues the work he started in his blog Load Film in Subdued Light. He shoots with arcane cameras and expired films and gets just wonderful images. I never miss Eric’s posts.
  • Camera Go Camera — Peggy Anne reviews lots and lots of gear, some of it off-the-wall stuff she bought while living in Japan.
  • Casual Photophile — This site written by James and his crew sets the Internet standard for vintage gear reviews. Excellent writing, excellent images, great cameras. I read every post, from beginning to end.
  • Fogdog Blog — John takes his Nikons and his Pentaxes (and sometimes his Leicas) along the northern California coast.
  • Kosmo Foto — Stephen dispels the myths about film: that it’s too hard and too expensive, and breaks film-photography news. Formerly Zorki Photo.
  • Photography and Vintage Cameras – Mike does great work with his old cameras, especially in black and white. He can make an old folder or box camera really sing.

These blogs are pretty active.

  • 35mmc — Hamish Gill and his crew write about cameras and films and photographic skills.
  • A Fortunate Traveler — Stephan has a smattering of film cameras and shares his work from them.
  • Analog Cafe — A group blog of photo essays, reviews, and stories.
  • Attempts at 35mm — Pekka waxes philosophical about cameras and street photography.
  • Barnaby Nutt — Barnaby documents his life with his film camera.
  • Bernard Prunesquallor — Essays on many topics, illustrated with film photographs.
  • burnt embers — “ehpem” has shot less digital and more film since 2013, and this blog reflects that.
  • Canny Cameras — Gear reviews and photographs by Alan D. This site explained why the Lomography 110 film I use sometimes leaves light spots on some images. A tip of the hat for that.
  • coronet66 — Photos from lots of great film gear from this UK blogger.
  • EMULSIVE — A place for film photographers of all backgrounds to share their knowledge, experience, and thoughts about everything related to film photography.
  • Field Photographer — A group blog about gear and adventure with that gear.
  • Filling the Time — Karen explores photography and film cameras.
  • Film Advance — Gary shares images from his eclectic collection of film cameras.
  • Film Beginnings — Gear reviews and photo walks.
  • Film Photography Blog — A straightforwardly named blog from the Film Shooters Collective.
  • Film Photography Project — You gotta include the blog of the FPP gang.
  • I Still Shoot Film — A group blog about all things film.
  • Japan Camera Hunter — Bellamy lives in Tokyo and finds lovely old cameras for you. And writes about film photography.
  • John’s Cameras — Lots and lots of old-camera reviews.
  • mike eckman dot com — Gear reviews out the wazoo, from common cameras to wacky stuff you’ve never heard of.
  • Olli Thomson Photography — A career ex-pat who lives all over the world, shooting his film gear and sharing his work.
  • Photo Jottings — A lot of film camera tests and reviews.
  • Physical Grain — Personal essays, illustrated with film photographs by the authors.
  • reCap — Gear and photographs. A German blog in English.
  • shot on film — New images from old cameras.
  • the6millionpman — Lots of medium format.
  • Why Use Film Cameras? — Frank in Luxembourg shoots film, proving every day that it’s not as expensive as you think.
  • Yashica Pentamatic Fanatic Photos of gear from his extensive collection, mostly Yashicas.

These blogs post less frequently, but I keep them in my feed reader hoping for more.

These blogs have ceased posting, or appear to have ceased posting, and I miss them.

  • 52 Film Cameras in 52 Weeks – After 366 weeks, Tony’s blog about shooting a different camera every week appears to have gone silent.
  • 52 Rolls — A group blog from photographers who commit to shooting one roll of film a week for a year. Looks like this blog went defunct after 2017.
  • Analog Photography At Its Best – Paul Giambarba was the pioneering brand designer for Polaroid in the 1960s and 1970s. He shares his favorite film photos, usually Polaroids, from photographers everywhere.
  • Beacon 225 — Ted collects quirky old cameras and shoots with them. He used to write about them, too.
  • Between light and shadow, a borderline — Roy shares what he’s learned about film photography and shows us his work.
  • Crossings — A film blog, still up in memoriam of the author, who passed away in 2013.
  • Daniel J. Schneider — Daniel posts gear and film reviews, as well as writes about his photographic journey.
  • Jeanne Yang Photography — Lots of 35mm film once passed through Jeanne’s cameras.
  • Malkimata’s Camera — Norman shoots his old cameras and shares his wonderful photos.
  • My Camera Cabinet — Reviews of interesting film cameras.
  • Picturenoise — A film photographer who leans toward lomography.
  • Short Stories — Gerald in the UK and his black-and-whites. Often with interesting stories to tell about them, hence the title.
  • The Casual Camera Collector – Jim writes short essays about film photography: gear, processing, printing, and what remains of the film business.
  • Through a Vintage Lens — T. Rand Collins, M.D., and his collection of cameras from before 1950.
  • Urban Hafner Photography — Software developer by day, film photographer when he can find a moment.
  • What Is a Film Camera — Richard reviews the old film cameras he buys.
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A blog update and a question for you

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This blog’s author at his desk, replying to your comments. Damion Grey photo.

Today, a rare update on some things going on with this blog.

Changes to tags

I’ve reworked this blog’s tag scheme and I think you’ll find it to be useful. Tags are a way of categorizing posts, and they appear on every post. They’re under the title on the right, below the date and my name. This post has two tags: blogging and writing. Click either tag to see everything I’ve ever written about that topic. (The categories that appear above each post title work the same way.)

That has always existed. What used to also exist was a bunch of related tags I created to help searches find my posts. But I see no evidence after more than a decade of doing it that it worked in any significant way. So I’ve deleted all of those tags — about a thousand in all.

I am also adding tags for common topics and tags for cameras and films I use a lot. That way, when you’re on a post where I shot Kodak Tri-X film, clicking the Tri-X tag will show you everything else I’ve shared from that film. I’ll complete this in my idle time over the next several months. But one tag is fully in: the one for my delightful Pentax ME camera. Try it: click here to go to that tag.

I’m behind

I have just two posts in the queue right now. I normally have two or three weeks’ worth written and ready to go. I feel behind.

I just haven’t had as much time lately for the blog. And the considerable stress I’ve been under has left me with little to say. Fortunately, I know some techniques for priming the pump, if you will, when the well runs dry. I hope I can make enough time to use those techniques soon.

The question for you

Being behind makes me ask you something I’ve been wondering about: do I post too often? Do you find it too hard to keep up?

I’ve kept up this six-posts-a-week schedule since late 2014, and it correlates exactly with a giant jump in readership that has grown slowly but steadily since. That enabled me to make a little money off advertising, enough to pay for this site and for some of my film and processing costs. And I love the process of making the photographs and writing the words that I share here. All of this has been wonderful for me.

I’m thinking about the experience I have reading other blogs. When I’m very busy I skim and skip posts in my feed reader — especially from blogs that post frequently.

Yet I never skip or skim some blogs, even if I have to bookmark a post to read much later. One characteristic most of them share: they post only when they have something really good to say. Their posts feel like morsels to savor.

I want to publish a blog that you savor. I know that, given this blog’s eclectic nature, you don’t connect with every topic. But I try hard to make every post be interesting in some way so you don’t skim or skip them.

Please share your thoughts in the comments. No need to couch your thoughts; just tell me straight. I’ll weigh everything you say as I consider this blog’s ongoing posting schedule. I plan to find that right balance that keeps readership growing, fits the reduced time I can give to blogging right now, and consistently delivers photos and stories that you find to be interesting.

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Blogosphere, Life, Photography

Chasing fake Internet points

The primary reward I receive for what I publish online is interaction with you.

Some of that interaction is of high quality: namely, when you leave an interesting comment, especially one that teaches me something I didn’t know or helps me see something from a different perspective.

But most of what I get is in the form of likes. Or hearts or upvotes or favorites or claps or whatever it’s called on whichever platform I’m on. It’s a form of acknowledgement that whatever I posted resonated somehow.

One of those platforms is Imgur (here’s my user page), where Imgurians call them “fake Internet points.” Being Imgur, there are memes.

wonderfulFakeInternetPoints

It is fashionable now to pooh-pooh chasing after fake Internet points. Chasing them is, at the end of the day, a waste of time and accomplishes little.

hateFakeInternetPoints

Yet each fake Internet point delivers a small dopamine hit. In moderation, what’s wrong with that?

dayBrightenedByFakeInternetPoints

The primary place I go for fake Internet points is Instagram. I have tried to use it as a way of promoting this blog’s film-photography posts, but it’s not really working. I might get one or two clickthroughs from each Instagram post.

But my followers keep clicking the little heart on my posts, and it feels good to get them.

When you chase fake Internet points you need to consider return on investment and opportunity cost. Do the good feelings you get from likes, favorites, et. al., seem like a reasonable reward for the time you spent posting? And would that time you spent posting have been better spent doing something else?

make time to write in this blog: I get up early and write in it each morning. It’s because the reward I’ve received for doing it seems to be worth it. Your comments have taught me so much. They’ve also affirmed me as a photographer. Also, it’s just smashing fun when one of my posts gets shared around the Internet and gets a lot of visits. But most importantly, I’ve found community through this blog and many other photography blogs.

I post to Instagram opportunistically, that is, when I have some downtime that I couldn’t profitably use in some other way. When you find a new Instagram post from me, you can assume I had five minutes between appointments with little to do but wait. It’s a nice use of my wait time for the return I get in those sweet, sweet fake Internet points.

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Reflections on 11 years of blogging

On this day in 2007, quite on impulse, I started this blog. I was recovering from an ugly divorce and was looking for things to do that I would enjoy (as joy had been in short supply) that didn’t cost much (as I was nearly broke). I once made my living as a writer and missed it, so starting a blog seemed like a natural thing to try.

This blog has had four phases. The first was the “I’m not sure what I want this blog to be” phase, where I told stories about myself and wrote reflections on my faith that I find now to be a little too preachy. I posted sporadically, two or three times a month.

The second phase began when I started writing about my trips to explore old roads. I had always been curious about the old two-lane highways, and spending all day exploring one was a splendid distraction. I used to document my road trips extensively and exclusively over at my old-fashioned HTML Web site, but in time I stopped updating it and wrote about my road trips only here.

It’s an odd hobby, this search for truss bridges and abandoned brick road segments. But the beautiful thing about the Internet is that any odd hobby can find a following. Soon other roadfans found my writing, and they led me to an entire old-road subculture. Many other roadfans became regular readers. Buoyed by having found an audience, I committed to posting twice a week.

Have Camera, Will ShootMeanwhile, I had restarted an old hobby of collecting vintage film cameras and was happily putting film through them and learning the mechanics of photography. I started posting about my old cameras here, too, and went looking for other old-camera blogs. A film-photography community began to form around our blogs, and I wrote more and more about using those old cameras to make photographs.

And then the WordPress.com staff found my blog, featuring it an astonishing four times on its daily Freshly Pressed feature in 2010 and 2011. That brought a deluge of visits and many regular readers.

It was at about this time that my old-camera reviews started to become popular on Google search. Turns out people want to know things about the old camera they found or about where to have their film developed. Searches for such things drive a very large percentage of this blog’s page views even today.

Feeling encouraged by increasing readership, I began this blog’s third phase by posting three times a week. I also bought a custom domain name – actually, a subdomain off my preexisting jimgrey.net domain – and bought upgrades to customize the look of the blogging template I use.

I also began experimenting, writing about other things to see which subjects would stick. It seemed natural to write about software development, as that’s how I make my living, but you stayed away from those posts in droves. So I started a second blog about it (here) and promote it separately. I’ve written some opinion posts that have been well read and discussed, such as one about bullying (here) and one about standardized testing in public schools (here). A series of posts reviewing fried chicken prepared at restaurants all over Indiana (example here) was really starting to take off when I discovered that a gluten-free diet eased a pesky health issue that plagued me. So much for that! I’ve also written about old TV shows (example here) and about raising sons as a divorced dad (examples here and here). And I’ve told many, many stories from my life (like this, this, and this).

But my photography posts had become by far the most popular. And I had come to really enjoy photography. And so this blog entered a fourth phase: as a photography blog, published six days a week. But I still sometimes write about my life and about the old roads. I also started sharing my favorite blog posts from around the Internet every Saturday morning. And that’s how you find this blog today.

Sometimes the words just come. When that happens, I set aside lots of time to write them down and soon posts are scheduled four to six weeks in advance. Other times, especially when my stress is high, I find I have nothing to say. I always hope those times come when I have weeks of posts already in the can! In either situation, writing my blog keeps my mind sharp. And seeing you read, comment on, and share my work is a rush that keeps me at it.

And so on this, my 11th blogiversary, I ask you: how did you find my blog, and what topics that I write about do you enjoy most?

This is an update of a post I first ran in 2014 on this blog’s seventh anniversary.

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2017’s greatest hits

It’s my tradition at year’s end to review the most visited, commented, and liked posts I published all year. It always surprises me which posts get the most attention.

Chillin'

Garrett at rest

But as usual, none of my personal favorite posts made the cut. So here are what I think are my five best posts of 2017. I hope you’ll have another look at them; I really put my heart into them.

Thanks largely to having been widely shared around the Internet, these posts were most read this year:

You had the most to say (in the comments) about these posts:

These posts found people’s itchy Like-clicking finger most often:

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Recommended reading

My weekly roundup of blog posts: a sure sign of higher civilization.

Seth Godin points out that most people want to work with familiar people doing familiar tasks, and be praised for following the rules. He argues that this is why so many workplaces resist change. Perhaps, he wonders, whether we could become familiar with the feelings of the unfamiliar. Perhaps that would allow change. Read In search of familiarity

I never actually saw the photo of our President’s severed head (in effigy) that features comedian Kathy Griffin. Thank heavens. But Scott Adams has an interesting take on it: how your reaction to the photo reveals which movie of the United States of America you are currently watching. There are two, and they aren’t related. Read The Kathy Griffin Controversy

Stephen Dowling has slowly been cataloging all the films still available to film photographers, and he’s issued Part 2 of his list. Read All the 35mm films you can still buy: Part 2 – Fuji to JCH Streetpan 400

I work in the software industry, albeit in the Silicon Cornfield of Indiana, not the Silicon Valley of California. I don’t see the traits and behaviors here Aaron Renn calls out as endemic of Silicon Valley. And he paints an unflattering picture of those traits. Read The Silicon Valley Mindset

This week’s film-camera reviews:

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