Five at Five

My submission to Bren and Ashley Ryan's social photography experiment, Five at Five.

Bren & Ash Ryan are amateur photographers who have created a photography blog called Brashley Photography, which showcases the places they’ve visited on their photography journey. Bren and Ashley primarily concentrate their photographic skills on landscape, architecture and floral subjects.

I’ll let them introduce explain Five at Five.

Well, it is simple really at 5am on every Friday morning I will be posting a new post (hopefully – depending on those who want to participate… And I hope many do), called Five at Five. The idea is that I will ask the same 5 questions to everyone… and ask them to submit 5 of their favourite photos.

The questions were simple yet it took me almost two hours to answer them. I struggled with questions two and three.

Here’s my submission.

  1. When and how did you start on your photographic journey? During the winter of 1988, I took an introductory 35mm film college photography course at Drew Univerisity to meet the art elective requirements. I bought the best camera I could afford at the time; a Pentax P3 SLR with SMC Pentax-A 50mm f/2 lens. I still have the Pentax-A lens, but I sold the P3 last year. I learned the fundamentals of photographing with the camera in manual mode, using aperture and shutter to control exposure, depth of field and motion. I spent the winter completing assignments and shooting most black and white 35mm film stock such as Ilford HP5, Kodak Tri-X Pan and Kodak T-MAX. When not exposing a roll of film, I spent hours learning to develop negatives and make prints in the darkroom.
  2. What subject do you like photographing the most? With a few exceptions, my early photography was minimalist and focused on everyday objects or portraits of friends and family. When I switched to digital in the late ’90s, I rarely shot in black and white and quickly switched to photographing landscape to architecture. While I have been drawn to street photography and bird photography in more recent years, I feel that my favourite photographs are landscapes and cityscapes.
  3. Have you been influenced by other photographers? If so, by whom and why? If not, who is your favourite photographer? That’s a challenging question for me to answer. I don’t spend any time reading books written by or about famous photographers. It’s not something I do. I read a lot of blogs written by amateur and professional photographers, and one could say they have collectively influenced my photography. My favourite photographer is humanitarian assignment photographer David duChemin. I like his non-tribal rule-breaking approach to photography. David seems genuinely interested in helping photographers document life with joy and freedom. I recommend reading David's book, 20 Ways to Stop Messing Around with Your Camera and Make Better Photographs Without Buying Any More Gear.
  4. What is the go-to camera equipment you use regularly, and what software do you use to process your images? I've used a lot of digital cameras (including iPhones) over the years but my go-to digital photography equipment is my Fujifilm X-T3 camera with my Fujinon XF27mmF2.8 R WR pancake lens (~41mm full-frame equivalent). I have used my Fujinon XF16-55mmF2.8 R LM WR (~ 24-83 full-frame equivalent) less often since I bought that lens. The Fujifilm X-T3 is mostly all metal, and it has actual, dedicated, single-purpose, individually marked dials for each ISO, aperture, shutter speed, exposure compensation and metering mode. I love the retro SLR design of the X-T3. It reminds me of the kinds of cameras engineers created before the start of the “disposable plastic” era. Shortly after buying the Fuji camera, I started shooting 35mm film again. My go-to camera for 35mm film photography is a nearly 40-year-old Minolta XD-11. I have a few Minolta lenses, but the XD-11 is usually paired with the MD Rokkor-X 45mm f/2 pancake lens. All my images are imported to and edited in Adobe Lightroom (now Classic CC), which I have used since 2008. In my opinion, it's the most powerful piece of "digital darkroom" macOS software available. Adobe Photoshop, which I learned how to use several years ago, is also a part of my digital workflow. I also use Luminar Ai for cropping and sometimes for sky replacement. I send my 35mm film to various labs for development. I bought an Epson V600 scanner during the pandemic and now do all my scanning myself. I wanted more control. I do not edit my 35mm film negatives.
  5. What is your favourite method of processing an image? (i.e., colour, monochrome, saturated, dreamy look etc.) One of the things that drew me to Fujifilm digital cameras is the film simulations named after Fujifilm’s photographic films; PROVIA, Velvia, ACROS and ASTIA. By adjusting the in-camera settings (highlight tone, shadow tone, white balance, grain, colour, sharpness, noise reduction), I can create film simulation "recipes" that mimic 35mm film stock or something entirely new. My favourite recipe is Fuji X Weekly's Nostalgic Negative which is meant to mimic the Nostalgic Negative on Fuji's medium format cameras. Fuji based Nostalgic Negative on an analysis of the Kodak film photographs of William Eggleston, Stephen Shore, and others. While the work of these photographers was varied, the commonality was low-contrast, high saturation and warmth. The X-T3 LCD and viewfinder can be set in "what you see is what you'll get" mode allowing me to visualise the result better. The recipes produce JPEG images. The RAW file is unaffected. I use the JPEG images as is or as a starting point for editing my RAW images. In short, I am attracted to low-contrast, high-saturation and warm colour images and high-contrast, gritty black and white.

We were also asked to provide links to our five favourite photos. That part took even longer than responding to the questions. These were my five choices.

The Statue of Liberty, Liberty Island, New Jersey
Liberty Island, New Jersey | 15 August, 2012 | Nikon D40 | AF-S DX Nikkor 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 VR
Lower Manhattan Cityscape from Harborside, Jersey City
Lower Manhattan | 28 July, 2018 | Canon EOS 5D Mark III | EF24-70mm f/4L IS USM
Paulus Hook Ferry Terminal, Jersey City | 20 February, 2020 | Apple iPhone 11 Pro back camera 1.54mm f/2.4
Red Mill Museum and Main Street Bridge, Clinton Township
Red Mill Museum and Main Street Bridge, Clinton Township | 26 January, 2019 | FujiFilm X-T2 | XF16-55mmF2.8 R LM WR
ababoned freight car in Lambertville
"Look", Lambertville | 10 October, 2021 | FujiFilm X-T3 | XF16-55mmF2.8 R LM WR

The Introduction

Today's Blogging University, Blogging 101 writing assignment is to introduce myself and my blog.

Who Am I

The thirty-second introduction: I'm an information security professional, Apple geek, web developer and avid photographer. I'm also an ale coffee snob. This weblog is where I share my incoherent and random thoughts and rants about technology, photography, coffee, diabetes and life. I am the principal of Monkey Hill LLC, a consultancy I [started last year after my role at my former employer was eliminated]. I have multiple degrees and industry certifications, with more than 20 years, of experience in information technology. I am also an open-source web developer, although I don't do any web development these days. Back in the day, I did most of my development work on Perl and PHP, but I am slowly learning about Node.js, and most of the development work is restricted to using my Raspberry Pi in interesting ways.

I bought my first Mac, a Mac mini, in 2005 and fell in love with the OS. OS X is a Unix with a world-class GUI. What's for an engineer not to like? Soon after buying that first Mac, I bought a MacBook, an iPad Touch, and then an iMac. Then the iPad was released in 2010, and I had to have one. Then I bought my first iPhone and then an Apple TV. We are an Apple family. The iPad is my go-to computer, but I use my iMac heavily for photo editing. I'm an app junky, and you can find many iOS and OS app reviews on this blog. Although you will not find much science fiction content on this blog, I love science fiction, especially cyberpunk, Japanese animation, and superhero graphic novels. The name of the blog, *Island in the Net *, is taken from a novel, Islands in the Net, written in 1988 by science fiction author Bruce Sterling. It is a story of "data pirates, mercenaries, nanotechnology, weaponry, and post-millennial voodoo". It represents a future where people can use the Internet to topple governments, change lives and make history.


Yep, that's me.


I'm an avid photographer, and if the weather suits me, I spend my free time increasing my knowledge of photography. I take a camera bag with me everywhere. I prefer natural light and outdoor photography, but I'm comfortable shooting anything that interests me. This blog is filled with images I've taken in and around the woods and streets of Princeton Township and Montgomery Township.

I take photos regularly, both for myself and for others. I do almost all of my editing and exporting from my iMac. As far as gear goes, I use two different cameras: my iPhone and my Nikon D5100.

I use many different lenses. My lenses aren't expensive, but they’re versatile in general photography. Probably 90% of the photos I take are with one of two lenses -- an AF-S Nikkor 35mm f/1.8G DX and an AF-S Nikkor 85mm f/1.8G.

I also shoot with my iPhone. I enjoy this casual photography, snapping and sharing things with my friends and family, and playing around with various filters and editing apps such as VSCO Cam and Photogene on my iPhone.