I started a blog in February 2005, as a sort of experiment, a way of catching up on how websites were created back then, away from the static HTML code from the Internet beginnings. What would that blog be about? I certainly did not a have a business plan, and as it turned out I mostly wrote about the books I read. At the same time, after more than fifteen years of not doing any photography for photography’s sake, there were no more excuses to further ignore the accelerating digital photography revolution. At first I reloaded a couple of batteries in my old analog Nikon F-801 and bought a second hand Nikon film scanner (Coolscan IV). Some old slide film shots I had taken in Greece when I was 17 years old made it first to my photo-blog.
In February 2006 I bought a Nikon D200 with the 17-55 mm DX lens, and that is what I still use today. The internet turned out to be a great source of information if you read critically! In contrast, reading as a teenager I found it difficult with the limited photography magazines I found in the local library! As you already figured out photography is just a hobby for me, but I admit I toyed with the idea of becoming a photographer when I was young. I still plan to scan some of the black and white shots I made more than 30 years ago. I loved the hard contrast delivered with the AGFA 25ASA OTHO B&W film…
Starting a photoblog in 2005 was fortuitous and I was really surprised about the spontaneous interactions resulting from posting photos. It made me take more photos and I guess I learned a lot just looking at other blogs, as I have no formal training in photography whatsoever. Someone, I forgot who, must have recommended me to Rawshooter, a program I loved and used until last year when I migrated to an iMac with Aperture.
I have no education in computer science either unlike most early photo bloggers. I studied pharmaceutical sciences, as did my father, and it is from him that I learned the skills of the dark room is a place where anotion of chemistry came in handy. After graduating came more studying and research and that was all about computers and biochemistry in what is now called bioinformatics. I lived in the U.S. and in Sweden and it was a happy and busy time with a growing family leaving me no time for “pure photography”, until 2005 when I had left academia.
Maybe the heydays of photoblogs are behind us but for me at least it made a big difference, otherwise I would not be writing this! It made me step outside, drive my bike into town and just pretend to be another Bruges tourist and take photos. I like fine-tuning my photos on the computer, but I never use Photoshop or any other program that makes changes to a “detail” of the photo and maybe this is all the result of my dark-room days.
My intention is certainly not to faithfully reproduce reality and I will change the color temperature to whatever I feel gives the ”best” result, something quite effective in night shots! While on that subject I use a Benro tripod and ball head, superb quality and I think I will never have to replace that part of my equipment and it may even find use in future generations…
As I already mentioned I did not have a “business plan” for my blog and I never clearly set out what to achieve with my photography. When on vacation I carry around my stuff in a Lowepro backpack. I carry the two cameras mentioned earlier together with a 14mm Nikkor wide angle and a 60mm macro and I rarely use tele zoom. Combining vacation with a family with photography is not always easy but I find some time to really observe what is happening around me, and that may be “the street” when the rest of the family is shopping.
Writing this piece made me think a bit more about my photography and I like a balanced sometimes-minimalistic composition. But that I guess is how I see the world (or the world through the lens). But I find it hard to resist some occasional street photography although my equipment is certainly not suited for that purpose. What makes or breaks a photo has several possible explanations, and most of these can be explained with some modern scientific insights from neurobiology and evolutionary psychology. The quest of all those landscape photographers is in part a return to the ideal landscape of our ancestors in the Paleolithic era… For some people this may be degrading to art but I see it very differently: artists knew what buttons to punch long before scientists got some insight in the how and why and that is what matters here!
My blog has certainly not been very busy the last few years and that is because for a couple of years now I have reentered academia part time and that leaves little time for photography.
So what do I recommend: look a lot at other photobogs, never leave a comment simply stating “great shot”, do your homework on the net before buying something, take time to frame a shot (get fit: move around and bend your knees…), and just walk around: anything can become a fascinating photographic object.
I do however plan to buy another camera, as the sensors of today are so much better in low light. I am currently hesitating about the Fuji X-Pro or a full-frame Nikon. I would love to walk around Bruges in the semi dark and still be able to get some street photography or architectural shots without a tripod. Have some patience those shots will eventually appear on my blog: http://photo.hansdeloof.be
Did I answer my question “Photography why?” The simple answer is just because I love doing it and it is a welcome temporary escape from business and science. I also love it if people come around just to watch the photos on your blog without the need to market them heavily.
About Hans De Loof
Hans is a photographer out of Bruges, Belgium. Though photography is a hobby, Hans is also fortunate to have a passion for science, which in turn pays the bills. Hans is a professor at University of Antwerp specializing in phamaceutical science.You can see more of Hans’s photos on his blog at http://photo.hansdeloof.be
Hans De Loof