Brute force photography: 600,000 photos in 10 months with two NEX-5Ns

Started Jan 6, 2013 | Discussions thread
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ikewinski
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Brute force photography: 600,000 photos in 10 months with two NEX-5Ns
Jan 6, 2013

I love my pair of NEX-5Ns. I don't for one second regret getting two: one stock body and one full-spectrum modified body. I can't imagine ever shooting with only one camera again, or not having IR capabilities. I wouldn't trade the pair for any other single camera.

Hang Dog Look - Infrared black and white

The cameras have both been through a lot, sometimes shooting continuously in 100+F heat and lately, -2F for hours. I dropped one on a tile floor not long ago, but it wasn't far and didn't seem to immediately damage it. I have noticed a couple LCD malfunctions on one randomly, and it is possible it will give out soon. It's already had a great life and I'm not going to slow down just to save wear and tear.

Orchard Orbweaver (Leucauge venusta - venusta means 'beautiful' probably from Venus)

I might become a better artist if I slowed down a little bit, but I'd add more cameras some days (and especially nights) if I could readily afford it. I know that I've done some great work that has languished for want of my own time to dig it back out and do something with it. Creating 600,000 photos and 6+hours of compiled time lapses (Feb - Dec 2012) creates challenges. RAW isn't an option for want of disk space, so my approach actually benefits from not requiring a lot of editing.

These mountains are called the Sangre de Cristo range - "blood of Christ"

Some people advise me to post fewer photos and select only those with the greatest "Wow!" factor after careful editing. I'm not that interested in this method for a few reasons, one of which is related to personal laziness and a different kind of aesthetic.

Lightning, stars and moon

What makes art great? What makes a photo art to begin with? I ask myself this all the time. I do some of my best work while I'm asleep (literally). If I didn't press the shutter button, am I still the artist? I come to the conclusion that yes, I had the vision to frame the shot and then aesthetic to pick it out of 2000 other shots before posting it so that makes me the artist even if I was literally dreaming about something else at the precise moment of creation.

There's a rainbow volcano in this busy picture

Every art requires some skill, and it is would be easy to look at other artists and compare myself and give up because my art isn't their art. I think that's definitely a mistake because that inner critics judgments can drown out your muse's whisper.

I like what Andy Warhol said:

"Don't think about making art, just get it done. Let everyone else decide if it's good or bad, whether they love it or hate it. While they are deciding, make even more art."
― Andy Warhol

I definitely have a critical eye and see shortcomings in many photos I take. I know that better lenses would help me a lot. I could learn to fix some of it with photo editing software. Some day maybe I will. I don't mean to disparage the importance of editing to the art. I just don't believe it is an absolute necessity.

On rainbow wings

In general we fear failure in life. I like photography because no matter how many bad photos I take, I've never failed. It has taught me something about fearlessness. Like Edison said, I learned a lot of ways that didn't work. I still have much to learn, and look forward to sharing it with the world. Everything I do I release with a Creative Commons license on Flickr (ikewinski). I occasionally see people sharing my work without attribution. I'm not willing to mar it with a watermark (lazy) and don't care. I want people to share it, attributed or not.

Friends and family want me to make money from photography, more than I want to. I appreciate that I could get better equipment and make even nicer photographs if I did. For now, I'm doing it for the art. If I need money, I think I'd sooner go back to network and system administration than try to create something marketable. There's a lot of competition out there and sometimes I feel bad that I'm giving away what other people are trying to sell.

Orion and Jupiter above, meteor and gravity waves below

I started out believing that nature (evolution) is the real artist and source of beauty I record. I still acknowledge that as the fundamental truth. But sometimes I find ways to show it differently than it has been shown before. I believe in the idea that "everything is a remix" and know I'm paying homage to O'Keefe here who painted her Daturas not far from me:

Violet laser illuminates a datura flower

I call my method "brute force photography" because if you take half a million photos in a year, you're going to get something interesting and worth sharing. You can do it taking only a fraction of that, of course. My quantity isn't only for the sake of brute force. Most of my volume is for time lapses, but I get a little addicted to high speed with the burst mode too and can take a thousand photos in an hour shooting insects easily.

I want to enable other people to do what I do, even if they choose to do it at different scales. I recently wrote a guide to "Cheaper Astrophotography for Beginners" that I broke apart into Part 1: equipment (buy a NEX!) and Part 2: technique. I plan to write more guides this year and document my shoots daily now.

In my first 10 months I used almost 2TB for the 600,000 jpg photos. Video probably consumed at least 1-2TB more. If someone knows someone who produces that show "hoarders", please book me an intervention.

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