Category: On Photography

The Weight Of Creativity


This post is by Om Malik from On my Om


Leica M11 with 35 & 50mm Summicron and 135 Telmar lenses.

Photography, or rather landscape photography, strums my heartstrings like none other. A trip undertaken to indulge in one’s passion in life is often a reason for one’s soul to smile. And then why do I find myself cringing at the idea of such adventures? 

The answer is relatively simple – I’m not too fond of the gear. To be more specific, I hate the weight of the gear. Is it such an unreasonable reaction? Or is it?

Perhaps, I have become accustomed to the idea of my devices — iPhone, iPad, and MacBooks — becoming more powerful and adding features. And at the same time, finding ways to trim their weight.

The sight of a backpack filled with gear – camera bodies, lenses, and other paraphilia fills me with dread. My two camera bodies — my original Leica SL and Leica SL-2s, along with three lenses — the Leica Vario-Elmarit-SL 24-90mm f/2.8-4 ASPH (2.5 lbs), the Leica APO-Vario-Elmarit-SL 90-280mm f/2.8-4 Lens (4 lbs) and the Leica APO-Summicron-SL 50mm f/2 ASPH (1.67 lbs), some filters, four extra batteries, and a charger, plus a few other do-hickeys, add up to just over 20 pounds on my back. And this doesn’t include the weight of the laptop and the bag itself. A landscape photo adventure means carrying at least 30 pounds on your back. And I am not one of those who camp in the wild. Otherwise, the total weight on (Read more...)

Instagram is dead


This post is by Om Malik from On my Om


Photo by Jazmin Quaynor/Unsplash

Okay, I didn’t mean to be so dramatic. Or use a clickbait headline, but in reality, what used to be Instagram is now dead. It was a wonderful gathering place for photographers to showcase their work and build an audience. Not a day goes by when some photographer friend or the other bemoans how Instagram is no longer a place for photography. 

They willfully ignore what Adam Mosseri, head of Instagram, said almost a year ago:

“We’re no longer a photo-sharing app or a square photo-sharing app.” Instagram’s chief went on to elaborate that “at Instagram, we’re always trying to build new features that help you get the most out of your experience. Right now, we’re focusing on four key areas: Creators, Video, Shopping, and Messaging.” In other words, anything but photography. 

***

“While Instagram initially fueled my passion for photography; rather than being inspired through the art of photography itself, too often I find myself chasing numbers of followers and likes. I realized that all this time I wanted to share my work to get a ‘pat on the back,’ rather than to inspire,” photographer Nicole Malina told PetaPixel. They are addicted to this notion of an audience that gives them credence, and this addiction allows the photographers to keep feeding the monster that doesn’t care — all it wants is to sell sell sell.

(Additional ReadingPetaPixel did an excellent job of curating photographers and their thoughts about Instagram, and it is (Read more...)

PhoToday


This post is by Om Malik from On my Om


It has been over 18 months since I got off Instagram. And by doing so, I have managed to eliminate the popular influences on my work. It has been an excellent way to overcome the meaningless metrics that assign value to a personal creative effort.

I have been able to experiment more and create with relative freedom. This exploration has allowed me to narrow down my focus and find a visual language. Photography, nevertheless, is a journey in exploration, and it is an eternal exploration, and the search continues.

That said, I do miss sharing my efforts with others. I love the feedback, including constructive criticism. How else will I become a professional amateur? And despite having my homestead on the Internet, I find myself not sharing photos. It is because of some of the shortcomings of blogging as a format.

As an experiment, I will try and share photos at least twice and up to five times a week. There will be no titles. Just the date it was published. Unless otherwise stated, I use Lecia SL and an APO-Summicron-M 2/50 ASPH lens. Everything else doesn’t matter.

You can get the daily photoblog post delivered to your email inbox by signing up for my photos-only newsletter. Here is a link to scroll through my previously shared photos.

January 27, 2022. San Francisco

Happy Holidays


This post is by Om Malik from On my Om


Grand Tetons National Park. Leica SL2 with 75mm Leica Summicron APO. Aperture f9.5. ISO 400. Shutter 1/500th of a second.

I wanted to take a moment and wish you all very happy holidays and a very merry Christmas. I hope you use the holiday break to spend time with your loved ones and recharge your batteries. Thank you all for being part of my blogging journey this year. Also, no trees were harmed in making this holiday greeting!

December 24, 2021. San Francisco

Glass


This post is by Om Malik from On my Om


Through the looking GLASS

"We're no longer a photosharing app," Adam Mosseri, Head of Instagram, a division of Facebook. 

Let’s face it: everything Facebook touches eventually turns into an engagement honeypot behind which lies an algorithmic whirlpool designed to suck attention that can be packaged and eventually sold to advertisers. And that is why I am not surprised that Instagram is moving on from its photography roots. And why not: it had to keep up the likes of TikTok, who are sucking attention away from Instagram. Not surprisingly, many photographers feel a little double-crossed. Hey, welcome to Zuck’s Planet. 

However, for two big tech refugees, Tom Watson and Stefan Borsje, this is an opportunity: they have created Glass, a photographer-focused community and photosharing service whose primary focus in photos and a community-focused on the art of photography.  (For now, it is available only on Apple’s iOS.)

After Instagram, I had told myself that I wouldn’t put any energy into a photo app. And yet, I have been using the app for nearly six months. What made me change my mind? I would let Tom (Watson) tell you in his words. Here is an edited version of an interview (that was conducted as an email exchange.)


Om: Tom, tell us a bit about yourself and what prompted you to start Glass. 

Tom Watson (TW): I’ve been designing digital products for over 20 years now. I was an early Product Designer at Facebook (2009-2013) and Pinterest (2013-2018). I saw (Read more...)

Leaf


This post is by Om Malik from On my Om


I am mulling on a post about Leica & its history of innovation. As part of my research, I have spent time with one of their more innovative yet underrated cameras — the Leica TL-2. It is essentially a camera made for those of us who have learned photography using the iPhone.

A friend loaned me her camera, and I decided to use it. However, for some odd reason, I wanted to couple it with a vintage lens. I have quite a few vintage lenses, though I rarely use them. I am a creature of habit, I suppose. However, for TL2, I picked the Helios 44 58mm/f2. It is an old lens made in the Soviet Union. I paid about $25 for a pre-owned version. I needed a lens adapter — a well-made and affordable Urth M42-to-L-Mount adapter is all I needed.

I have been out and about with this setup. I am shooting exclusively in JPEG, making it easy to get the Leica-Look on the photos. Of all the photos I made, I really liked the close-up of this leaf, which fell on my head when sitting on my favorite bench in South Park. I just wanted to share it with you.

Alaska on my mind


This post is by Om Malik from On my Om


Glacier View, Sutton: Leica SL 601. Leica 90-280 mm SL Vario lens. Focal Length 95mm. Aperture: f3.5. Exposure Time: 1/500th of a second.

Chris Michel, a good friend, and a photography mentor, recently told me that he is editing photos if he is not doing anything. He is always looking to make sure his library is not clogged with unfinished files. Given the daily frequency with which he captures photos, it makes perfect sense.

I should listen to him. I go on landscape journeys, come back and forget about the photos. Sure, I like to sit on the images, but maybe it is not such a good idea. I was thinking about Chris this morning when I was cleaning my office space and came across many old memory cards that were chock-full of photos from a 2018 visit to Alaska.

Three and a half years later, I can tell these images don’t fit into what I seek in my images today. Still, I feel I was taking steps in the right direction. And that is why I should have edited these images. Instead, I never downloaded any of those photos onto my computer. I did find three negatives that were worth an edit. I used Adobe Photoshop to “enhance the originals,” and then cropped them to give them a bit more balance. They are a good reminder of why I love Alaska so much.

Chris is so right — if you don’t get to editing sooner, you leave many moments (Read more...)

Yellowstone & Climate Change


This post is by Om Malik from On my Om


Photo by Om. Made with Leica SL.

I was recently speaking with Jeff Olsen, a former park ranger turned tour guide, at Grand Teton National Park. As we cruised around in his big truck looking for the elusive wildlife, he pointed out the destructive role of Instagram in attracting hordes of people to iconic (and not so iconic) locations in the Grand Tetons and Yellowstone National Park. His insights were sobering and prompted no small amount of self-reflection on my part.

Like many of those tourists, I have found myself making a beeline to these two National Parks — after all, there are a short flight away from San Francisco. They give me a chance to explore the landscape in search of visual Zen. While I may not be looking for the perfect selfie, I am seeking the unique splendor of these sacred places. But such opportunities may be dwindling. The harsh reality is that these beautiful environments might be vanishing right before our eyes (or maybe right behind our Instagram filters). 

The influx of self-interested visitors comes at a particularly fragile time. A new research report offers a very sobering assessment of the harsh reality of the Yellowstone ecosystem. “The climate assessment says that temperatures in the park are now as high or higher as during any period in the last 20,000 years and are very likely the warmest in the past 800,000 years,” writes Adam Popescu for Yale Environment 360. Some salient findings: 

Five Photography Tips Worth Remembering


This post is by Om Malik from On my Om


Tony Kuyper is well known to many of us who tend to spend a lot of time in Adobe Photoshop. He makes an editing panel that allows photographers to create exact luminosity masks, which in turn help with granular and subtle editing. Of course, his panels do more than that, but his mask-making shortcuts are a blessing for my editing style.

Today, I ended up on his blog and found a gem of an article. He was philosophizing about photography, what it means to him, and what it has taught him. Kuyper has always eschewed what is popular and instead marched to the beat of his own (visual) drum. Kuyper shares five lessons from his extensive time as a photographer and developer of tools to help photographers.

  • Stop chasing the light and focus on where it might be hiding instead.  
  • Don’t ignore the ordinary.
  •  It’s easier finding light once you’ve found your style.
  • Taking the picture is only the beginning.  Developing the image personalizes it.
  • We are all photographers, even if we don’t take pictures.

Indeed we are. “Exploration isn’t always about traveling significant distances or spending lots of time reaching a destination,” he writes. The pandemic brought me to a similar conclusion and forced me to think creatively about photography.

June 9, 2020, San Francisco

Read article on Tony Kuyper's Blog

Mallmann, Oh Man!


This post is by Om Malik from On my Om


Francis Mallaman, sharing his signature fish baked in salt.

For over a decade, long before Netflix’s Chef Table made him even more popular, Argentinian chef, dandy and raconteur, Francis Mallmann had been on my bucket list of people to meet before I kick the mortal coil. It was not for any particular reason other than just meeting, chatting, and simply enjoying their magnificence.

Earlier this year, I got a chance to interview Nitin Sawhney, whose music has been the soundtrack to my life as an immigrant. And this memorial day weekend, I got to meet Mallmann in a private ceremony. There he was — in chef’s whites, trying hard to hide a colorful check shirt. Wearing Gucci slides, a Montblanc pen in his pocket, vintage sunglasses covering his mischievous eyes, and his blue linen hat, he looked youthful. I didn’t get to chat much, though we did share a moment about Paul Simon’s music and the divinity of fire. We discussed my newsboy hat. I might have remarked about the joys of writing with a fountain pen.

There was some talk about cooking in the pits (and tandoors,) but mostly, it was Mallmann doing what he does — cooking on an open fire and turning the simplest of foods into the theater, a spectacle, and an evening to remember. I don’t eat red meat or the sweet stuff, but I did enjoy the fish, warm after being taken out after baking in salt on an open fire. And I (Read more...)