I’ve spent the last couple of weeks polishing my YouTube channel up to see what kind of traction I could get, and I’m actually quite impressed with the results of nothing but organic traffic so far. When I set up the account 15 years ago I posted a timelapse video of putting polyurethane on the office floor, which somehow generated 11,000 views over time. I dumped random videos there from time to time but never really took it seriously until I posted the Hudson recovery video last year, which racked up another 11,000 views in five months.

Since the beginning of the pandemic, I’ve spent a lot of hours watching or listening to about thirty channels on YT, mostly “Will it run?”-themed. From what I’ve seen a lot of the top posters in this category have 500K+ followers, allowing them to monetize the channel and buy their own racetracks or move to larger properties and build giant garage workshops. I’m nowhere at that level, but testing out the algorithm and learning how to produce the videos has been fun so far.

I’ve been working mainly with a couple of older GoPro Session cubes, Dad’s 12-year-old Canon Vixia camcorder, and my iPhone to capture footage. The GoPros are great for set-and-forget timelapse shots, which I’ve been leveraging heavily, and the iPhone is great for handheld interstitial shots with narration. I have a Hero Session 5 with built-in stabilization and a Hero Session which  doesn’t, so I use the 5 along with my phone for any handheld work. The Vixia is definitely showing its age. Its sensor is old so it’s very contrasty, and the footage is grainy compared to the modern cameras. However, it makes for a good tripod-mounted talk-into-camera unit, and with a $10 DC-in cord and a $10 XLR to 1/4″ headphone cable, I can use an old shotgun mic from work to improve its built-in sound quality.

I think the working model for filming moving forward is going to be something like:

  • The Vixia is set up on a tripod for into-camera shots, where I’m explaining something I’ve found or setting the stage
  • The GoPro Session 5 is a hand-held/maybe head-mounted unit for showing what I’m actually working on
  • The GoPro Session is set up as a dedicated tripod-mounted timelapse unit
  • My iPhone is used for supplemental handheld shots—usually when I’m taking a break and giving updates.

For editing I’m using my old friend Final Cut Pro but I’m finding that even with an M2 chip in my MacBook Air it’s still laggy at times. I should have sprung for 16GB of RAM in hindsight, but for now it’s getting the job done, and like everything else I’ve ever done, I’ll keep working on a shoestring budget and making it work.

As I assemble each video, what I’m finding is that I have to spend a lot more time planning shots out to get better coverage, and also to narrate what I’m doing in the moment without repeating myself. The pros make it look a lot easier than it actually is. Usually when I’m working on the trucks I’m hustling flat out so that I can make the absolute most of the day, and any footage I pick up is a bonus. I don’t want to slow progress down but I do need to carefully consider what I’m doing, think ahead about how I can set up new shots, and fluidly move between tasks so that it’s not as jumpy. I’m also considering some kind of head or chest GoPro mount to easily capture what I’m working on up close instead of depending on tripod-mounted static shots.

I followed some basic instructions for how to set up a channel and for how to post each video with the right information—adding the right titles, descriptions, keywords, and leveraging the built-in tools to cross-promote other videos in the channel. From what my analytics show, I’m getting a fair bit of views from my embedded posts on The Binder Planet, but there are a lot more folks finding it through organic search on YouTube.

As a basic exercise it’s been really good to practice shooting and editing skills, and develop a workflow for collecting and editing all the footage (there’s so much footage from each one of these) as well as the ins and outs of building a social media channel, which is helpful for work.

Date posted: March 28, 2024 | Filed under photography | Leave a Comment »

I’m one of those guys who has a stack of boxes in the basement that were used to package electronics. Phones, laptops, tablets, watches—I’ve got every one of them down there in a stack. When the thing is unboxed, I collect all of the manuals and wrappers and tuck it away neatly to collect dust downstairs. It feels strange to throw them out after spending all that money, and many of them are objets d’art in their own right.

I’ve also got several bags of decommissioned camera gear: mostly old Nikon D series stuff that hasn’t seen daylight in years. It’s all so old now that I can’t get much money for it; the camera bodies (a D90 and D50) are ancient technology  and the glass is mostly entry-level stuff. I don’t know why I’m holding on to it, but I also don’t know what to do with most of it. I donated a lot of my Dad’s ancient gear and I’ve sold what I could on Craigslist, but there’s still a bunch of it kicking around.

With that in mind, after nine years in the Fuji ecosystem I decided it was time to sell off my gear, as I wasn’t really using it anymore. I had been shooting with an X-T10, which is the cheaper version of the pro X-T1 from 2015, and while I enjoyed my time with it we never really, uh, clicked. Looking back I realize I spent way too much time trying to adjust to how Fuji was doing things instead of finding a camera setup that worked the way I liked, and choices like placing a giant ISO dial on the top and other important settings buried in the menu systems never made much sense to me. Their lenses were beautiful (if sometimes too slow) and I have nine years of beautiful photos to show for it, but it’s time to say goodbye while the gear is still worth something.

So I went to the basement and dusted off all of the Fuji boxes I’d carefully kept, repackaged four lenses and the camera body, as well as extra accessories I’d picked up along the way, and packed them neatly into a larger box for a reseller to appraise and exchange for cash. I felt bad leaving the package sitting behind the counter at the FedEx store, after taking that rig with me almost everywhere for nine years, but it also feels good to relieve myself of stuff and work on a little personal growth.

When I got home I set up another quote for two of the Nikon lenses and a flash unit: they offered a little over $100. I think I’ll take them up on it, just to get the shit out of here.

Date posted: January 26, 2024 | Filed under photography | Leave a Comment »

Huh, this finally looks like it turned into something: the I’m Back Film digital back for film cameras looks like it’s a shipping product; the claim is that it’s an adjustable unit for any 35mm film camera, shooting a 4/3 image sensor, which you can then use with a wide-angle adapter for “full frame” size images. At ~$500 it’s pricy for use as a walk-around toy, but it’s nice to see the technology is advancing. (previously.)

Date posted: October 16, 2023 | Filed under photography, shortlinks | Leave a Comment »

This seems like something that should have been A Thing five years ago, but is only now just appearing: Orion is an app for the iPad that lets you use it as a second monitor for any device with a HDMI out port—things like digital cameras or video game consoles, for example. The obvious choice here is a digital camera; I’d love to try this with a camera up on a 10′ pole to preview the image, for example, or to really take time to compose an image and see what it looks like before hitting the shutter button. Brought to us by the folks who built Halide, a more powerful (but somewhat obtusely designed) camera app for the iPhone. One caveat: it requires iOS 17, as Apple finally built external webcam support into that release.

Date posted: October 10, 2023 | Filed under apple, photography, shortlinks | Leave a Comment »

Collectiblend appears to be a pricing website for antique camera gear, pulled from current eBay pricing and other online sale locations. There’s an option to build your own collection; I’m currently waiting for the admins to approve my submission.

Date posted: March 29, 2023 | Filed under photography, shortlinks | Leave a Comment »

Well, that fucking blows. Amazon is announcing all kinds of cuts across the board, and one of them affects a site I used to use quite regularly: Digital Photography Review was bought by Amazon back in 2008 and has an incredible archive of detailed reviews spanning 25 years. They will be shutting down, offering the archive for a short while, and then…?

I remember when it was a viable business model to start up your own review site, get a foothold on traffic, and make a living off of it. And companies would send stuff to you for free! So it goes.

Date posted: March 21, 2023 | Filed under photography, shortlinks | Leave a Comment »

Chronophoto is a game where you have to examine a series of 5 photos and guess when each was taken. I love this kind of stuff.
(via Kottke)

Date posted: January 27, 2023 | Filed under photography, shortlinks | Leave a Comment »

A couple of months ago I took advantage of a sale offered by Kodak, the folks who digitized four reels of 8mm film from the Dugan family archives, and sent off the remainder of our family film—eleven reels in total. Nothing much happened for a while, but to their credit they sent me an email every couple of weeks with an update. I got an email notifying me they’d started digitizing last week, and with the space of four days I got download links for all of the reels and a box UPS’d back to the house with our film.

Overall, I’m pleased with the results, but I would have appreciated it all more of they’d focused everything better. I understand that there’s grain in the film, and that the light meter on dads camera wasn’t reliable, but I feel like I’m able to get sharper results with his old projector than they did with whatever system they used. I set up the projector in the den while watching football yesterday and waited for darkness to test out the focus: I was able to get a clean sharp image on a simple white background, but when I tried recording it with the DSLR I got very noticeable flicker. They must have some kind of interpolating software to remove that flicker, which could be the reason the images are blurry.

I’ve seen a lot of old film run through image processing software, both to clean up and sharpen the footage; I wonder if any of it is available at the consumer level…

Date posted: October 24, 2022 | Filed under family, photography | Leave a Comment »

Cousin Margaret was awesome enough to send me a box of antique cameras few years ago, and there’s one sitting on my shelf that I’ve been meaning to load up with film since then. I haven’t really been shooting much of anything over the last couple of years, but I’ve been thinking that we need some updated family portraits. What’s been stopping me is the film loading method for this camera, which is much different than the Rollei and my current Yashica; there are no guides or arrows for starting the counter—there’s no counter on this camera at all, actually. I did a little digging and YouTube delivered, yet again: this nice man explains the difference between what I’m used to and the simplicity of how they did things in 1938.

His camera has a counter, but it’s the little window at the bottom which tells you where your film is and when to shoot; there’s no mechanical assist with the shutter button on mine. Good to know.

Date posted: September 15, 2022 | Filed under photography | Leave a Comment »

From The Verge: Nikon will reportedly discontinue DSLR production, citing slowing sales. can’t say I’m surprised.

Date posted: July 12, 2022 | Filed under photography, shortlinks | Leave a Comment »