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Scotty Alan Photography

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For me, film > digital

I know, I know, the film vs. digital debate has been done 1,000 too many times. However, I’m not going to write about which one is better as they both have their place. Rather, I’m going to write about why I prefer film to digital… 

In three short words… it’s the process. 


First, I get to choose a film stock which is dependant upon the look I’m going for. Yes, digital can emulate film, somewhat, but not exactly. Next, I have to get a correct exposure for each shot I take. Each frame made costs money. When money is associated with something the owner/user sees that something as having value. In my opinion each photo taken on film feels more valuable than a bunch of 1’s and 0’s written on a memory card. Each actual image recorded on film is tangible. After the film is used its up to me to get that film developed whether I choose to send it to a lab or do it on my own. There is a continued care that has to be taken with the tangible pictures going from camera to reel, to inside of a tank, to developer, to stop bath, to fixer, to wash, to being dried, and scanned. Finally comes the part which digital shooters are familiar with… post processing, or editing as most refer to it. Some film shooting purists may disagree with the last step but I like to get rid of any dust spots that may be on my negatives. I will also tweak exposure and/or contrast in lightroom but that’s all the editing I’ll do with film. I generally spend 3 minutes per photo, 5 minutes max, in lightroom and photoshop. 

I also love knowing I have something to go back to if any of my hard drives fail. Yes, there is enough cloud, but I’m not going to put my hopes in something I can’t see (other than God) over something that been a tried and true method for decades upon decades. 

The pictures are tangible and I love the organic feeling process of developing film. This, for me, is why I prefer film over digital. 

Real Super Heros

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copyright Olan Mills

It’s said that any guy can help make a baby, but it takes a real man to help raise that baby. No one is perfect. We all have our short comings. We all make our mistakes in life. What makes us better people is realizing that we made mistakes and being able admit them, apologize for them, and grow from those mistakes. My father left us when I was in second grade. Since that point my sister and I had a rocky relationship with him which was later restored 10 fold, and we miss him dearly.

However, my mom remarried a guy from our church. This man took me under his wing and treated me like I was his own. We watched sports on T.V. together, we went to Dallas Mavericks games together, and he taught me about cars and the used car business. Most importantly, he loved Jesus. He was a good example to my sister and I of what a father and husband should be. He treated my mom well. He listened to me whenever I needed someone to talk to. More importantly he showed me/us love. He never really told me he loved me, but he didn’t have to. I knew he loved me (and my sister) by his actions.

Now, as I am an adult, I am in a similar role as I have been divorced and remarried. I have a beautiful daughter from my previous marriage and a beautiful daughter with my wife. I also have a stepson. I love both of my biological children with all of my heart and I love my stepson as he is my biological child as well. It’s proven that kids that grow up without fathers are more likely to have troubled childhoods and grow up to be adults with serious issues. I would have to assume that there are some children who grow up with fathers who are not good examples of what fathers should be, and end up with the same, or similar issues.

I have been blessed with a step dad that did the best he could and that helped raise me into the man I have become. If I can be half the father to my children as he was a stepdad to me, then I will feel that I’ve done well as a dad. I/we love you Don Hagin and you will be missed greatly. See you on the other side!

Landscape in 2018

First off, I want to wish every one of you a happy, healthy, safe, and blessed new year! 2017 proved to be a good year for my photography. I released three publications which were: “Automatic in San Diego” , “Black and White On Both Sides” , and last but not least “Folk In Texas”. I also made a few of my new favorite images while working with other artists.  (See below)

This year I’ll feel accomplished if I could publish a total of two publications, “Folk In Texas” vol II, and one which would include my new photography endeavor, landscape photography.

 I would say that there are three main things that have sparked my interest in pursuing landscape photography. I’ll start with the first landscape image that really caught my attention, which is Ansel Adams, Aspens photograph that was made in Northern New Mexico in 1958. 

I know it’s probably a cliche’ answer but Adams is my all time favorite landscape photographer. This is my all time favorite landscape photograph. There is something about this image that just grabbed my attention right off the bat. It keeps my eye moving from left to right starting with the dominant tree in the foreground, moving to the smaller tree just to the right. Finally, my eye moves to the two front thin tree trunks to the far right, then back to the large main tree on the left. I love how the light falls into the scene and how the dark background creates some sort of mystery. There is just something about this photograph that keeps me wanting to look.

The second is a person… Ben Horne. I stumbled across Ben’s youtube channel sometime late in 2016. I ended up subscribing to his channel, watched most of his previous videos published, and I continue to watch new one’s he releases. I was/am amazed at his approach to making photographs. The way he shoots is the complete opposite of what I’m used to. While I do not consider myself a run and gun photographer in any genre that I may shoot (weddings, events, and portraits), I’m used to making a very “healthy” amount of pictures in one session. Horne may make three, two, or even one picture in a day or trip, if that. His style is slow and melodic. There’s a purpose to his approach and I greatly admire how he has the ability to slow down, take in the moments, and create magic. Horne uses a large format camera and shoots 8×10 film. While Ben’s tools are on the opposite side of the spectrum from myself, as I shoot medium format 645 film and 35mm film, I believe he offers up something we can all learn from, even if one is a digital photographer. I encourage each of you to check out his youtube channel and at least watch a couple of his videos. 

The final is God. I don’t think there is much to say here. Just as Adams’ Aspen photograph leaves me in awe when I look at it, God is a million times more an inspiration. The mere magnitude and beauty of our Earth and mother nature created by a devine being leaves me continually speachless. While I respect everyone’s right to believe what they wish I’m going to end with this quote by former atheist Lee Strobel: 

“To continue in atheism, I would need to believe that nothing produces everything, non-life produces life, randomness produces fine-tuning, chaos produces information, unconsciousness produces consciousness, and non-reason produces reason. I simply didn’t have that much faith.”

End Of The Year Photography Rant $#!%

I’ve seen so many things over the last several months that just makes me want to leave every social media photography group that I am a part of. Here is the short, quick, and controversial list of my photography pet peeves of 2017.

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Full Frame is better than crop sensors and full frame sensors gather more light than crop sensor cameras. First off, sensors do not gather more or less light based on their size. Sensors measure light per unit area, not total area. Why do I say this? Check out this scenario… If you added more and more light to any given room the room would get brighter and brighter. More light equals more brightness. If the bigger sensors gathered more light statement was true then Sekonic, which is the leading manufacturer in hand-held light meters, would be making light meters for cameras that had full frame sensors, crop sensors, medium format sensors, 4/3 sized sensors, and point and shoot cameras with sensors a little larger than what a cell phone has. That’s not the case. Light meters measure light per unit area just like your crop sensor, just like your full frame sensor.

As for your full frame camera being better than a crop sensor camera…. Just know that for 20, 40, and 50+ years photographers did not want to go to full frame cameras because the sensor/35mm film was TOO SMALL! And here people are now boasting about how crop sensors are just too small, yet there are plenty of photographers making a perfectly fine living shooting with Canon 7D’s, Canon 7D mk II’s and Fuji mirrorless cameras with crop sensors

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I’ve seen this posted several times over the last month… “What is the best portrait lens to get?” The responses have been predictable, quite funny, and sad all at the same time. I’ve seen hundreds and hundreds of people replying with the same…. 85mm f1.8, 50mm f1.4, 70 – 200mm F2.8, 200 F2.8, 24 to 70 F2.8. I’ve seen these lenses being stated over and over and over and over again. First off, there is no such thing as a portrait lens. What kind of portraits are you going to be making? Are you going to be making environmental and lifestyle portraits? Are you going to be mostly doing family portraits and portraits of larger groups? Are you going to mainly be doing portrait work of models in the studio? Are you going to mainly be doing headshots? I’ve seen many AMAZING portraits done with 35mm and 28mm lenses. Please stop the lens discrimination. STOP LENS PROFILING! Not one person is asking the person who initially made the post very important questions that need to be answered before spewing off what they think is best for someone they don’t know and don’t know what they will be shooting.

The last thing I am going to touch on is the dynamic range. All of a sudden there is this dynamic range craze going on in the photography community. Most likely it’s mainly because these camera companies are creating this craze to make us, the consumers, the prosumers, and the professionals we think we are, think we need a newer better camera with more and more of this and that in our camera… But that’s their job. They are trying to make money persuading us we need the newest and the best. While there’s nothing wrong with getting new gear, digital photography hasnt been around that long. No digital photographer has had a life long career doing photography, and if they were to they’d get by just fine with a Canon 7D Mk II, a 5D Mk IV, or the Nikon equivalents just the same. But many will be going out to upgrade again and again without truly understanding what they need and don’t need.  Since 2001 I’ve been doing family portraits, senior portraits, weddings, model portfolios, events, and concerts. I’ve shot both available light and used off camera flash. Not once have I ever been concerned with dynamic range or needing more dynamic range out of my camera. Yes, there are cases out there in the photography universe where more dynamic range may have been needed, but for the majority of what these Facebook group photographers are shooting, cameras that were put out 5 and even 8 and 10 years ago will get the job done just fine.

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(image above is an album cover I shot this year in 2017)

Okay, I know I said that the dynamic range rant was the last one but here’s one more… Be careful of who you take advice from. There are many Facebook group photographers who have been doing photography for 6 months to a year and people are going to them for end all and be all advice and these photographers are giving it out as if they are the end all be all. The same thing goes with these people on youtube. There are so many channels out there pushing photography gear. One thing that you may not know is that these people with affiliate links on their channels are getting kick backs. They are making money off us clicking on the link and buying the gear. Now I’m not saying that all of those photographers are bad people or are a scam. Just be mindful and do your research. There is a big difference between youtubers who are talking about photography and pushing gear, and photographers who are running a youtube channel.

In conclusion, do your research before purchasing gear. Seek advise from those who’s work you really admire and who have been around the block a few times. Ask questions and keep asking questions. Don’t settle for short answers. Ask why they recommend something. Know your gear. Learn how it works inside and out so you won’t have to rely on people who may or may not mislead you. As for leaving all of the social media photography groups, that most likely won’t happen. I enjoy helping others too much to do that. In 2018 I challenge you to focus on vision over gear and books over gadgets. Go out and create your magic and share it with the world!

NOTE: All images in this article and on my website were shot with a crop sensor camera or a camera that was produced in the 1980’s, 1970’s or 1950’s.

Another Street Portrait Adventure

My background in photography has mainly been portrait photography both on location, in the studio, with flash, and without flash. However, I’ve been following street photographers online for several years now and I have dabbled a little in the genre a few times. Over the last month or so I have really taken on making street portraits. I’ve combined street photography with my photography background, and I must say, doing street portraits has brought a fresh of breath air to photography for me. I have already met and photographed so many interesting people. I’ve been able to experiment with a few different types of films and processes and I think I have found my niche. I really like shooting with Fomapan 400 film and using a flash to illuminate my subject. I use a diffuser on the flash to soften the light a bit and I prefer to get in as close as I feel my subject will allow. Of course, at times there are those portraits where I feel I need to get a little bit of the scene around my subject. As this year comes to a close, I will be publishing a 2017 Street Portraits zine in early 2018. Be on the lookout!

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Getting into photography on the cheap…

I recently did a poll in a few different facebook photography groups. The average amount spent on a DSLR kit was $1500. Given, some people stated they spent $4,000 or $5,000 on their last DSLR kit while others spend $500 to $800.

Do you want to get into photography and cannot afford to spend $1500 or even $1000 on a camera and lens. Maybe you cannot even afford $800… No worries… you can get professional looking images for $400 or less. 

Introducing the Pentax K1000… 

I picked up this camera and 35mm f2.8 lens for $50. Both are in good working condition and the lens is in near mint condition. This Kentmere ISO 400 film can be had for around $3 per roll.

Yes, you’ll need some extras… if you want to keep it on the cheap still you’ll need to purchase film developer,stop bath (some do without this), and fixer as well as a tank and reel and a scanner. I picked up a Canon canoscan 9000F mark II on sale for around $150. Even when. Otherwise on sale it can be had for around $169 to $179 on Amazon.

If you don’t want to get on the developing side of things there are other options as well. There are still labs that will develop and scan your film into digital files for around $20 per roll. Some labs are less, some are more. Another option is you can scan yourself and get the labs to develop the film for around $6 per rolls.
So for under an intial $400 or less you can start to make high quality professional looking photos, given you know exposure as this is an all manual camera. But hey.. even if you don’t know exposure you’re not going to make the best images possible, even on digital. There are also older film cameras that do offer some auto settings and can be had for not much more and maybe even less than this old classic.

Yes, we are in the digital age and while many may disagree about this approach some just cannot afford to spend hundreds up front on a camera system. This way can be a great option if you just want to get out and create photos on a tight budget. This way will allow you to “pay as you go” in a sense instead of dropping  $500, $800, or even $1000 all up front. 

NTxFP Meet up: 12.09.17

On the second Saturday of every month the North Texas Film Photography group meets up for what’s called the Second Saturday Social. Sometimes the group meets up just to have some coffee and talk photography, and other times the group does both and goes on a photo walk. Here is the gear I used and some of the images that I made during the photo walk.

Gear used:

  • Bronica ETRS
  • Zenzanon 75mms F2.8
  • Ilford Delta 400
  • Vivitar 285hv flash
  • Diffuser on flash
  • Developed in Ilfotec DD-X

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Street Portraits with Fomapan 100

I have been doing street portraits for about a month now, and I am still trying to find my “style”. I’ve been experimenting with different films and lighting techniques. Sunday, December 10 2017, I hit the streets again loaded with Fomapan 100 to see what the pictures would look like. This was the first time I’ve shot Fomapan 100. The results and gear used are below.

Gear:

  • Bronica ETRS
  • Zenzanon 75mm F2,8 lens
  • Fomapan 100
  • Vivitar 285 flash mounted on speed grip

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Lomography Cine 400 :: You be the judge…

In the summer of 2017 I took a photography class called Toy and Vintage Cameras. At the end of the class I received a variety of films to shoot. One film in particular that I was excited to expose was Lomo Cine 400 film. Lomography only produced 4,000 rolls of this film so to find it now it might be difficult. I honestly don’t feel like rambling on any further so here are some of the results. I will say if I ever do get a chance to shoot this film again I would like to shoot it with more light and maybe overexpose it by 1 stop. Leave a comments below and let me know what you think.

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