That On Again Romance with Photography


wisteria-spring-2016-awisteria-spring-2016-a

wisteria-spring-2016-a

One of the first pictures created was said to have been taken in 1838 by Louis Daguerre, which shows Boulevard du Temple, in Paris. Susan Sontag in her classic 1977 criticism On Photography said “to collect photographs is to collect the world,” and as a photographer I often ask myself, hasn’t the entire world been collected yet? Why does the world need one more photographer taking one more photo?

The inventory started in 1839 and since then just about everything has been photographed, or so it seems. This very insatiability of the photographing eye changes the terms of confinement in the cave, our world. ~On Photography, 1977.

The answer often seems much more complicated. What is amazing about Sontag’s words from almost 40 years ago is we actually haven’t yet photographed Plato’s cave, our world. Today we upload over 2 billion images a day to social media sites, and just trying to figure out how many images may have been taken in the world is basically impossible. How, with billions of photographs being taken each day, has the entire world yet to be fully photographed? Because time is always moving forward, and the world is always straining under the constant change that time provides. If constantly changing, the art of photography an always ever changing medium, showing the world we live in 1/250th of a second at a time. A small point in time, but one that will never happen again.

For the past 25–30 years or so I’ve had this long standing love-hate relationship with photography. Mostly love, for the art itself, mostly hate for the business side of photography, never quite able to conquer it’s depths. I’ll shoot non-stop for years. Then comes the demands of life. The experience of skilled knowledge, equipment needs, changes in the industry, copyright issues, lack of funding, unrealistic expectations (from others and myself), lack of focus, busyness of schedules, doubt, lack of “paying” customers, drive, will, desire, on the list goes, until one day I say enough is enough, I don’t need you anymore photography. Then, inevitably, eventually, I come back once again, sad that I’ve been away for so long. I guess everyone needs a break now and then. And realistically, I really never did leave you, I just prioritized you to my back pocket and a phone. I’ve still managed to take at least one image a day for years on end now (half a million images and counting). There is just something special about having that DSLR in my hands that makes it official, to say, I’m serious about you, it’s a photograph with purpose, intent, where you have my full attention.


kodak-instamatic-1982kodak-instamatic-1982

kodak-instamatic-1982

I could say I’ve been intrigued and fascinated with you going all the way back to my first camera (an eternity ago back in 1982), the Kodak Instamatic. Of course I had to give you up when Polaroid sued Kodak and won. That taught me some valuable lessons in photography I still remember today. The joy of seeing those instant results, the disappointment of when you were taken from me, before I was ready. I so fondly remember that first “serious” film SLR (a Nikon N70). You were so kind, but often so unforgiving. Then that first DSLR (the Nikon D100)… once again being able to see instant results just like I did back in 1982. Since 1982 some type of camera has been in my hands practically every day, so see, I never really left you. I have, however, taken a break now and then when you’ve been too much for me to handle.


azaleas-spring-2016-bazaleas-spring-2016-b

azaleas-spring-2016-b

Our longest separation from “serious” work came in May of 2013, and ended today, with the fragrance of wisteria and azaleas blooming in early spring as they do down here. The seductive pinks and purples of spring arriving in the South, beaconing for someone to see them and take note, to capture their brief beauty. You could say it was like a long lost romance returning after many years apart. That familiar look and feel, but refreshed from being gone for so long. Exciting, alluring, the same, yet new once again. Like the past had been forgiven, perhaps forgotten. Together again, present at long last, ready to move on with life, a little older, and hopefully a little wiser.


wild-flower-spring-2016-awild-flower-spring-2016-a

wild-flower-spring-2016-a

How does one keep alive, rekindle, redefine, a 25–30 year old relationship that’s been confined to the back pocket of my jeans for a few years? How did it take this long to be ready for a lively conversation, living life together, discovering new things once again. Why do the eyes see things new and fresh that have been right in front of them day after day after day without notice. Complacency, or maybe just familiarity?

This time around it feels different. There is more purpose, more direction, perhaps more intentionality not to delay anymore. A longing to forego negative opinions and detractors, to follow the will and the call to use the gifts so graciously given. I’m looking forward to what’s ahead. To collect the world once again with purpose and intention, a sliver of time measured in fractions of a second. To find those things, and places, and people that have yet to be confined in a photograph, in Plato’s Cave.

On a practical note… I am creating an actual portfolio over on http://scottfillmer.com, something I’ve wanted to do for years. Head over there for a place to let the photography speak for itself, and stay tuned here on my blog for a more casual commentary on photography


This post was originally written in April 2016, then slightly updated in April 2017 and 2018, and now it’s April 2019, and I’m still struggling with this, still fighting with myself on why photography won’t let me go, won’t leave me alone, why it keeps pulling me back in year after year. This time I think I’m here to stay. I’ve put 30+ years of my life into photography at this point, I’m ready to embrace it.

Post Process of Smelling the Roses


Portrait of Emerson the CatPortrait of Emerson the Cat

Portrait of Emerson the Cat

I finally had a chance to get out and “smell the roses” as they say. I’ve found it to be harder and harder over the years to just slow down and spend an hour or two walking through the property, there always seems to be something pressing that needs attention, and that is not my most enjoyable (or effective) pace. I took a few images here straight out of the camera that were my favorites. There was no post-processing done on these images, they were the jpg’s right off the card (and as such need a little sharpening and so on).

For those who don’t quite get the often-misunderstood post-processing world, it’s really hard to shoot in-camera today without post-processing in mind, but it’s only a “process” to develop the artistic expression of photography, it doesn’t make bad shots better. Black and White film photographers were probably the ones who perfected the post-process in their personal labs (my grandfather had a great one in his basement). I find post-processing a valuable and perfectly acceptable part of the photographic process. It has always been a part of the art of photography (even Ansel Adams post-processed his B&W’s), and it takes just as much art to post-process well as it does to take the original image well. You still have to create the absolute best image within the camera to start with, otherwise no amount of post-processing will matter.

But, never mind all that today. I did some depth-of-field shots of our roses in the garden, and then again with the wildflowers growing out in the pasture, and then of course of the cat. Have you ever tried to get a young cat to sit still for a portrait? That’s why I’m so impressed with good cat portraits, they really aren’t as easy as one might think.


Rusted Tractor in the PastureRusted Tractor in the Pasture

Rusted Tractor in the Pasture


Red Wildflowers in the PastureRed Wildflowers in the Pasture

Red Wildflowers in the Pasture


Spring Roses in BloomSpring Roses in Bloom

Spring Roses in Bloom

That On Again Romance with Photography

wisteria-spring-2016-a

Spring Wisteria Blooms in the South

One of the first pictures created was said to have been taken in 1838 by Louis Daguerre, which shows Boulevard du Temple, in Paris. Susan Sontag in her classic 1977 criticism On Photography said “to collect photographs is to collect the world,” and as a photographer I often ask myself, hasn’t the entire world been collected yet? Why does the world need one more photographer taking one more photo?

The inventory started in 1839 and since then just about everything has been photographed, or so it seems. This very insatiability of the photographing eye changes the terms of confinement in the cave, our world. ~On Photography, 1977.

The answer often seems much more complicated. What is amazing about Sontag’s words from almost 40 years ago is we actually haven’t yet photographed Plato’s cave, our world. Today we upload over 2 billion images a day to social media sites, and just trying to figure out how many images may have been taken in the world is basically impossible. How, with billions of photographs being taken each day, has the entire world yet to be fully photographed? Because time is always moving forward, and the world is always straining under the constant change that time provides. If constantly changing, the art of photography an always ever changing medium, showing the world we live in 1/250th of a second at a time. A small point in time, but one that will never happen again.

Continue reading

Flowers of Spring Have Finally Arrived

Iris in Bloom in Auburn

Iris in Bloom in Auburn

I took a break from my blog for a while, which always seems to be the case during the cold dark months of the year. Now that Spring is in full bloom here in Auburn things look so full of life and so colorful it just brings new inspiration to everything. Even though I took a few months off from my blog I still kept writing throughout the winter, but for some reason it always seems to be a little different. I wish I could find a way to better merge my offline writing with my writing here, but it would probably change how I write offline. Anyway, hope everyone is enjoying their springtime colors as much as we are down here in the south.

A Good Friday Feet on the Farm with John Deere

Friday Feet on the John Deere Tractor

This is a very late version of Friday Feet today, but it’s technically still Friday. This late post is because We had an incredible, very humbling, Good Friday service today-tonight, (a post which will have to wait until tomorrow when I can get to the images). After finishing up a book review for Liberty this morning, my Friday-day-off became a mow as much grass as can be mowed in one afternoon. That’s not as bad as it sounds, I actually like getting out on the tractor, it gives me an escape of sorts to be able to listen to a book or something like that.

I know many people who do their thinking while they run, or ride, but I do mine while I’m on the tractor. It takes just about as long (that’s a good thing) to ride 30-40 miles, or run 10-15 miles, as it does to mow acres of grass. All that and I have less of a chance to get run over by a passing car too. It’s hard not to think about Holy Week, and the significance of it all, but I’ll elaborate on tonight’s service in the next post.

For now, the grass is green and growing fast, and the garden is about to be washed in purple. Our purple Iris’ (photo below), are about to bloom surrounding our red Double Knockout Roses. You may not look for the symbolic among creation, but I do, and I love the fact that we have purple flowers about to bloom, the day before Easter, surrounding blood red roses… royalty of a King, surrounded by the blood shed for me and you, all displayed in a tiny little flower garden in south Alabama. The larger version taking place on Auburn’s campus is seen just below, but then again, all of creation proclaims the Glory of God (Romans 1:20 and others).

Purple Iris About to Bloom

Azaleas on Auburn University Campus

Cutting the Pasture on the John Deere Tractor

Most Beautiful Dogwood Blooms of any Recent Spring in Auburn

Dogwood Flower Bloom in Spring

OK, so this will probably be the last post of the Spring showing our Dogwood bloom or our Wisteria, but I just love the colors so today it’s my Photo of the Day and my P365 :2012 photo [Day 114]. I don’t know if it’s all the rain we got over the winter or that I’m just another year older, but this Spring has been the most beautiful I can remember in a long time. The Dogwood blooms around Auburn were, and still are spectacular this year. The one pictured above is from our yard and is just screaming of the beauty of creation.

This photo was taken handheld, and is seen basically straight out of my Nikon D7000 camera body, with a little added saturation processing from Adobe Lightroom. You can see the full exif data from over on my Flickr site. The background blur comes from the lens I was using, a Nikon 50mm f/1.4 G version (a very fast and inexpensive prime lens), shot almost wide open (i.e. f/1.4) so the depth of field was very shallow. The purple and green, two incredible contrasting colors for a white flower, come from our purple Wisteria blooms and the trees in the background. This wouldn’t necessarily be considered macro photography (see my previous examples here), but it was shot at the lens’ minimum focal distance.

Hope you have been able to get out and smell the roses this Spring, even if they are in the form of Wisteria and Dogwood blooms.

The Most Colorful Macro Flower Edition of Friday Feet

I thought I would make today’s Friday Feet the most colorful set of flowers shot in this series. I spent most of the day in blasting 100*F heat cutting acres of dry grass so this was a nice break. The flowers are from the Stephens family from after their service yesterday (see previous post). They were nice enough to let everyone take home some flowers from what turned out to be one of the most beautiful displays of flowers I have ever seen at any service, and now they can live on forever on the interwebs. In fact, there were so many flowers that everyone who wanted any got to take some home and the lobby of the church was still filled with flowers when everyone left.

The shots below were macro shots taken at a 1:1 magnification ratio or greater. The orange rose with the water drops was slightly greater than 1:1 by using what is called an extension tube (basically 27mm’s of air between the lens of the camera body). I love macro photography. It has a tendency to show all kinds of details that we just don’t see through casual observation like the oil and water colors from a few weeks ago. The first show below of the two pedals is the big flower on the very top by the basket handle above. No special lighting or anything, the flowers were just that colorful. Have a good weekend everyone.

Southern Drought No News Wants to Cover :: Friday Feet

We have been in this drought for some time now, it seems like years, because it has been. For about the last 5 years or so we just have not had any steady rain at all. The best evidence of the drought, at least on our property, is our pond. This is basically a 2 acre pond that is rain fed. From the feet shot you can see it is dry as the Arizona desert. From the shot of the pond area, almost the entire view of the photo should be under water, in fact I am basically standing where the water should be. Anyway, I know it’s not the most photographic Friday Feet but it’s what this summer is turning out to be like on our side of the world. We could really use an active hurricane season where we get some nice slow moving weak storms over and over again. I know the fish shot is kind of gross so I left you with my moms yellow flowers blooming like mad in this 100* weather.

Coming up soon, some uber cute shots of my nephews in their Chick-fil-a cow costume for their annual photo contest. It was quite something to shoot people in cow costumes in 100* weather. Have a good weekend.

Macro Photography of the Phalaenopsis Orchid Flower

I took this set of photos of my Father-in-law’s orchid while I was at his house for the festival and just now got around to posting some pics of them. This Phalaenopsis Orchid apparently comes in a huge variety of colors, this one just happens to be white with a tiny bit of yellow and red. Reminds me of a tiger orchid if one exists by that common name but anyway… you can see the EXIF metadata here and here if you are interested. Both of these shots were taken as shown in the third shot above, on a tripod, and had about an 8-10 second exposure, meaning there was no breeze or air movement whatsoever for the 8-10 seconds, didn’t happen very often in the hour it took to get the shot I wanted.

I have always loved macro photography (see some examples). Somehow you get to see something the human eye can still readily see, just not in such great detail unless you really pay close attention to what you are looking at, and most people don’t. There is a tiny little world that exists between the microscope level and exactly what we see with the naked eye, usually existing from what macro photographers call 1:1 or closer. Both of these shots above were taken just about at a 1:1 ratio or just a few millimeters shy. You can achieve some great macro photography results with very little equipment like the kit lens that came with your camera and an extension tube like the Nikon PK-13 (I picked up on eBay for $20 this week). For the most realistic results a digital SLR will work better than a typical point-and-shoot, even if you just have the kit lens that came with your camera, then just start testing out the minimum focusing distance your lens will achieve and see how close you can get. Try adding an extension tube between your camera and the lens and you might be surprised at some of the results.

Saturday Morning Macro Flowers Before the Heat Arrives

I think I spent an hour or longer last night looking for a single wildflower to shoot and found nothing. We have had so little rain here this summer that nothing wild is blooming, until I woke up this morning and looked right outside my window. I always forget about these tiny little violet wildflowers. They open every single morning and are gone by about 9am. Of course they get more water than the rest of the scorched earth around here since they are close to the house. Ebby unwillingly sat among the flowers for me, so patiently. She can be like stone when you just place her somewhere, poor thing. If you want to see the EXIF metadata for the macro shots above go here or here. They were taken at “life-size” or a 1:1 macro. I love the reflection in the water droplet (and no I didn’t place that there, God provided a nice bit of dew on the flowers just for me this morning). You can actually see the house and my camera if you look close enough. Hope everyone has an enjoyable Saturday, and has someplace to stay cool.