Photography is probably the one hobby that I have enjoyed the longest. My father had photography as a hobby when he was younger and I started to borrow his camera rather early in my life. At the time my father had several Leica houses and lenses. The prices where not so ridiculous as they are today so, although it was still expensive, with some effort, Leica equipment was affordable. So my first camera was a Leica SL followed by an R4. The latter I still have although it’s never used since it’s next to impossible to shot on classical film without considerable effort nowadays and I do not have a dark room in my house so…
It’s a shame though since you spent much more time and effort on the photos in the good old days. At least I feel like I did. Sure it’s nice to be able to just point and click, let the autofocus and auto exposure do it’s job and don’t care about film costs or the roll running out on you. It’s probably true that you get a lot of photos that you wouldn’t have taken otherwise either because you conserved your film of simply because you weren’t quick enough with the manual focus.
But at the same time it’s too easy to get into a bad just-point-and-click habit. With the Leica you were forced to think a bit about the photo you just intend to take. And when you have to think about the focus you’re much more likely to think more about how you frame it. And then while you’re at it anyway, you start to think about whether this photo would not become better with a different aperture and so on.
Well, so much for nostalgia…
Today Leica equipment is financially out of range for most mortal people so when I got the first camera of my own I turned to Canon and got a EOS30e. When digital photography finally started to become a viable alternative I got myself a Canon EOS 350D which was my main camera for quite some time. Then in November 2011 I finally managed to get my hands on some more professional equipment again. Leica was still way out of range financially but I could stretch myself to a Canon EOS 5D Mark II paired with their EF 24-70mm f2.8 L USM lens which is what I use almost exclusively now. The only exception being situations when I cannot or will not schlepp around a big SLR camera so I bring a compact one instead.
Naturally I shoot most of my photos using RAW format. The post processing options are just so much better that there’s no point whatsoever to use anything else if you have the option so shoot in raw (which my current compact sadly doesn’t have). Also, it’s a hobby after all so why miss out on the opportunity to tinker a bit more with your photos?
In the beginning I used DXO Optics for my post processing of the raw images. It’s a very capable software but it’s user interface really bugged me every time I used it. When Adobe Lightroom v3 came out I downloaded a trial and after a while I decided to change to Lightroom which is what I have been using from then on. The latest version (v4) is very nice to work with.
I use Windows Live Gallery from the Live Essentials suite a lot as well. This is primarily for managing the photos on the file system, people tagging, searching etc. though.
Digital photos, especially RAW ones, use a lot of storage. One of the reasons I wanted a PC with dual HDD’s was so that I could set it up in a RAID1 (mirrored) configuration since for redundancy. Then I use the Western Digital NAS unit (also RAID1) I have attached to my network as a backup unit. The problem with that is of course that both of these units are in the same house. Not good for disastrous events since both units would probably be damaged at the same time. My solution was to get another Western Digital unit (a USB one) which I hooked up to my PC at CERN. I then use Goodsync file synchronization software to push my photos from my home PC to the USB drive in my office once a day and voila, I have an off-site backup.
I used to keep a set of publicly viewable Photo Albums on SkyDrive and I still do for some stuff since it is quite convenient and the SkyDrive volume is automatically available on all my PCs, tablets and phones. However, since a while back my main sharing of photos is done via Flickr.
As with the rest of my hobbies photography is just that to me, a hobby. I like to take photos, I like to process them and tinker with my collection but I don’t really try to make it any more professional than that.
Another reason for me to keep these photo albums are for friends and family that still lives in Sweden. Thus my photo albums contain pictures that I just happened to like (of course) but a lot of them are of family character more to for the purpose of showing events in our family life than to be pieces of art. Having said that, some of them are chosen just because they are nice photos from photo/art perspective.