Getting into Film Photography

• 2 min read

I recently bought a Canon AE-1 off eBay.

It was bound to happen.

For a while I've been following a set of analog photography subreddits and came across a thread on favorite analog YouTubers.

I soon found myself binging a ton of grainydays' YouTube videos and quickly decided thereafter that I needed to get a film camera.

I searched to determine if there was a camera I could have from someone I know, but came up empty.

I decided to turn to eBay. You can find anything on eBay. They have hundreds, if not thousands, of film cameras. Some of them are good and some are just sold for parts.

At this point, I had to decide what model of camera I wanted. Initially, I searched for the Pentax K1000 (a popular beginner camera used in colleges), but eventually settling on the Canon AE-1 since I recalled grainydays' talking about it in one of their gear videos.

After many messages with sellers about the condition of their cameras (did the light sensor work?) and a few lost auctions, one seller sent me an offer on a Canon AE-1 I had previously messaged about. I had no idea eBay had offers, but considered it amongst the going price for a working camera on the site and accepted it.

A few days later, I had a Canon AE-1. After reading the manual (again), everything appeared to be functional. The next step was to load up a film roll, take some shots, and have it developed to verify there were no major issues such as light leaks. I chose the well tested Kodak Portra 400 to for the first roll.

Ryan and I took the camera along during our afternoon walk through downtown Redwood City. A few of the photos are below.

You can see more photos on tanner.photos.

We definitely got that "special" feeling of film while taking these shots: we spent a while framing the shot considering each one and tried to make each shot count. We only had 36 exposures after all.

I'm quite happy with the purchase. The camera works great.

I've got a few more rolls of Kodak Portra 400 and some Ilford FP-4, which we'll shoot over the next few weeks.

Until I've got more to share, take a look at some other YouTubers I've been watching:

Keeping a Dream Log

• 2 min read

Just shortly before New Year's in 2020, I started keeping a dream log.

I had to keep the process simple. I don't often remember dreams a few minutes after waking. Rather than opening Notes every morning and creating a new note, I created a Shortcut that creates a new note with yesterday's date, saves the note in the folder I had set up for dreams, then opens the note.

This worked quite well, especially after iOS had learned this was part of my morning routine and started to suggest the shortcut in Spotlight.

In 2021, I ended up having 243 dreams, which is almost exactly 2/3 of the year (a dream every other day or so).

Most of the dream entires are only a few sentences, but there's a few odd ones out that I was able to recall in much more detail. Why? I have no idea.

I found there to be a delicate balance between writing a detail dream entry and recording the entire dream. Sometimes I'll find it if I try to extract more details from a particular part of the dream, I'll end up losing detail in a later part of the dream or the entire remainder of the dream.

When I started recording dream entries, I attempted to do some post-dream analysis while recording. For example, if I left a room and I couldn't remember why, I'd try to determine why I would have left and write that down. However, this ended up hurting recall and I decided to leave any potential analysis for after writing down the dream.

What did I learn from keeping a dream log? I've learned my dreams are usually about whatever I'm thinking about or concerned about, e.g. work stress, COVID, travel, or anxiety about visiting the dentist. The remainder are random, typically hilarious, stories with attendance of Ryan, my family, or coworkers.

Keeping a dream log has been pretty rewarding and very low effort. It's worth it alone to be able to read previous dreams and marvel at its absurdity or learn what was bothering me at that point in time.

Here's a selection of a few dreams that I thought were particularly entertaining. They've been edited for content and clarity.

Ryan was making something. I was learning how to wrangle a group of large, shrimp worms.
Tom Hanks saves a space robotic from burning in a space fire before saving a human from dying.
Ryan and I went to Chicago. It was great. We went to lunch at a restaurant and all the tables were spaced out for COVID. Our hotel room was the penthouse but the bed was on the roof outside.
Everyone was getting their last vaccine. My grandma got a job at a hospital. The Obamas drove us the the vaccination site, but we had to stop at their home first. We parked a block down the street and did parkour in the parking garage.
Alton Brown was head of the smallest Apple store in a mall. It only had room for like 6 employees and their desks. For some reason, it was more like corporate than not.

I still can't get over Barack and I doing parkour! 🤣

New Photo Section

• 1 min read

Yesterday, I announced the new photo section for my site:

We've started taking more photos with our Fuji X-T30, which has led to an overwhelming desire to share these photos with friends and family. But which platform should I use?

I've been frustrated for some time with various photo sharing sites and platforms that exist. Either there were too many features, too many social aspects, or the platform was limited to mobile.

So, I built my own.

It was designed from the start to be simple and minimalistic. It has no social features. There's not even a database – the grid of photos is generated from a hierarchy of photos on the file system.

The site was built using Next.js and deployed using Vercel. Ryan has used Next.js in the past and encouraged me to give it a try. Since Next.js is built upon React and has a built-in image component with image optimization, the development process was very smooth. Most of the time was spent not on the backend, but trying to make CSS grid have the desired behavior as the browser viewport changes size.

There's a few more features that I plan to add to the site, but as it stands right now it's a pretty good photo portfolio for sharing photos I've taken around town or from trips.

Let me know which photos you like most!

California Road Trip

• 2 min read

Ryan and I took a road trip to Southern California in the first weeks of October. We brought along our Fuji X-T30 and shot photos to capture the experience along the California coast.

The New Normal

• 2 min read
CalTrain Tracks at 6 AM

I'm a total morning person.

During the week, I wake up a 6 AM, shower, and take a half hour long walk around Redwood City until it's time to go to work. On my walk, I start off listening to NPR's Up First, followed by BirdNote, and then listening to the podcast I was last listening to the day before.

Sometimes I listen to books instead during my morning walk and my commute. I figure if I can listen to an audiobook during my morning and afternoon commute, that's around an hour of listening a day, which means I could finish a book in about a week.

When I get home from work, Ryan and I will make dinner and either watch YouTube videos or the next episode of whichever TV show we're binging.

Wash. Rinse. Repeat.

Lots of the activities I have in my routine are related to my hobbies. I enjoy baking and 3D modelling quite a bit, so it's no surprise Ryan and I will watch Gourmet Bakes by Bon Appetit or Corridor Crew critiquing bad CGI in movies. Some of these activities, I do less frequently than others – I don't always spend my walks listening to audiobooks or a podcast. Other habits, like exercise, I fit in wherever I can - walking, going to the gym, or choosing to take the stairs.

All of this, my hobbies and routines, all changed when the shelter in place came into effect.

We already know that our routines changed. We no longer commute to work. Going out to eat isn't an option anymore. Forget going to the gym. We're at home, tending to our pets and family probably for a longer single duration than we've had to in quite some time.

All the habits I had and hobbies I enjoyed previously have all fallen down. I've almost entirely dropped podcasts. Reading has come to a standstill. I haven't baked anything in weeks. It's not that we don't have time - if anything we have more time.

Part of it is due to the new lack of structure in our lives. We wake up, shower, make breakfast, walk five steps to work, then relax. Hopefully those all occur, in that order, and each in a different room. We have to invent new boundaries for edges of our lives that previously we didn't have to build because they occurred alongside other activities in our lives, e.g. commuting or the influx of chit chat as coworkers arrive at the office or get lunch. For me, this has just been set times to start/stop work, eat lunch, plus scheduled times for breaks and coffee.

We've also developed some new hobbies. Since we're spending all day inside, we've started to take long walks through the neighborhood after working. We now have a nice streak of completing the New York Time's mini-crosswords. We've even purchased a puzzle subscription to try our hand at the "real" crosswords. I've finally finished a video game I bought in January and have picked up playing a few more.

Quarantine has been going on for so long now that we're starting to get used to the new normal. In a weird sense, it's nice.

It'll be weird going back to my old routine when shelter in place is over. I'll miss the routine I have now.