An Amateur Photographer

John Samuel

I started photography some years back. I think that the primary inspiration came from my father's analog photography; even though most of his photographs revolved around family and friends. But he had stopped photography a long back. And all I recall is that his analog camera no longer worked. Nevertheless this apparently inutile device left a lasting mark on my mind. And as soon as I could afford a mobile phone with a camera, I purchased one with quite humble camera settings. Here again, I followed my father's footsteps. Most of my initial photographs revolved around my friends and family. Family events and the surroundings of my home caught my initial attention.

Slowly I started travelling, making smaller trips to nearby towns and cities. I had realized by this time that I required a much better apparatus to record my travelogues. But once again, I lay my hands on a smartphone, though this time, with much better camera settings. It had not been a difficult decision. I had done enough research on internet, compared multiple smartphones and their camera settings before finalizing my travel record device. Slowly, my pictures focused more on the objects around me than on myself or people. Trees, roads, hills, monuments became part of the majority of my photographs.

Digital Camera

Then came the big change in my life: a shift from traveling to several cities in my country to visiting various cities in different countries. Being aware of the limitations of smartphone camera by then, I made my choice: an appartus targeted just for the one thing: photography. Finally, after all these years, a digital camera became part of my life.

I started with the automatic mode and practised with it for a very long time. I tried different zoom settings, now that I could zoom without worrying about losing the quality of my photographs. Slowly I started reading blogs on photography and checking the works of other photographers. It didn't take me long to recognize the fact that I was a really a novice. I learned about ISO settings and adjusting the focal length. It had taken me a significantly long time to be at ease with these settings.

I took a lot of photographs. The initial photographs were usually my first impressions on arriving at a spot. Slowly I reduced the number of photographs by first looking around the spot to find a location from where I could get a better perspective. Now when I look back, I feel a glimpse of my experiments, my learning progress. I do not consider myself a professional photographer at all. I have still got a lot to learn and still feel that most of my photographs and based on my first few moments of impression. Nevertheless I do want to share some of my amateur experiments.


photography started with mobile phone, moved on with digital camera


Automatic to manual mode

automatic focus

color or black/white

use of filters?


raw pictures or jpeg format? size? experiments?


Watermark or not?

Some reworking

changing contrast/brightness?

What is permissible post-production? A lot of websites and web applications allow the user to upload photographs, apply filters. But sadly after uploading, the original picture cannot be recovered (or not available to the end user). Applying fitlers in such a manner to loose the original work is not productive. Different works may require a variety of color themes, but the original photograph must be protected. Consider desktop applications like darktable2 that permits non-destructive raw photo editing that not only lets the user specify multiple post-production features (without occupying too much of disk-space) and yet keeping the original photograph in tact. One would suggest to save the post-production photograph under a new name and keep the original photograph. However, it must be remembered that such an approach requires increasing disk-space. Non-destructive photo post-production has the advantages of less disk space as well as the ability of handling a large number of images with same post-production technique. After testing uploading some of my photographs on some of the existing web applications, I feel that I miss such an important feature. I require the ability to upload my photograph and apply different filters (or post-production techniques) to the same photograph on different occassions or events. Considering the current capability of computing devices and advancement of web technologies, it is possible to achieve such real-time non-destructive post-production.


large photographs? Non-destructive photo post-production.

Open Questions

version control limitations?

git large files?

git performance considerations? 1 gb

megabytes-sized photographs compared to kilobytes sized svg diagrams?

open question: current image formats to svg?

existing tools (based on edge detection research) like potrace?


An ongoing learning: lessons from friends, professionals and diverse photography blogs

reference straight lines, horizon, vanishing point

lots of experimentation

A long way to go


Why straight lines as references?


  1. Potrace
  2. darktable
  3. ...

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