Friday, April 13, 2007

Welcome To 'Please Excuse Me..."

This is the new 'starting' page for this blog -- read on to learn about who I am and what this blog is about.

Executive summary:
This blog is aimed at financially-impaired amateur photographers shooting using digital SLRs. I focus on:

  • Acquiring useful hardware on a budget
  • Combining acquired equipment with cheap do-it-yourself solutions
  • Technique (including the lessons I've learned)
  • My personal progression as a photographer
About Me:
I am a graduate student studying Computer Science (focusing on robotics) at Stanford University. I am a husband, father of two, an SAT tutor/teacher with Revolution Prep, and an amateur photographer. My overall goal is to become a better photographer and eventually get to a point where I can make a little money on the side from photography if I choose to.

My main photographic interests are nature and people, especially macro photography and portrait photography. But I like to try a little bit of everything.

Oh, and I shoot Canon. But this blog is far from Canon-centric.

About This Blog (and some history):

Back in January, I started this a photo-a-day blog named Stanford Photo-A-Day. The primary goals were to get me to shoot more often and publish pictures, both of which happened. What I didn't foresee was my life getting more busy from my second job and eventually posts degenerated into a picture with a sentence or two saying something like "this is a tree". So, after almost three months, I abandoned posting a photo each day.

The nice thing about the PAD experiment was I really did take a lot of pictures and there was (is?) a definite progression as my skills in taking the pictures and processing them got better. For that reason, I am leaving the archives up, but don't be surprised to see similar pictures on successive days as I was scraping the picture barrel.

Since I started, I realized that there really is a niche on the web for information on cheap entry-level camera gear. Most informational photography sites on the web are from professionals, so they really have no need for a $100 lens. Yet, if you try to get into this hobby on a budget, you'll probably only have $1,000 to spend (if you are lucky) and you'll need to fill your equipment needs with $100 lenses and used e-bay accessories. To make my selections I've often had to spend hours searching in Google, old forum posts, and cobbling the information I need together from a number of sources before I send $30 out for the item I want.

I think putting a lot of that information in one place could be really useful for some new photographers with limited funds. That is my goal.

I must admit the biggest influence for the retasking of this blog has been David Hobby's Strobist. Until I saw Strobist, I didn't realize how a simple blog structure could be such a great resource for a novice (many blogs are... well... scattered). But, rather than being quite as focused as Strobist, I'm going to let other parts of my photography leak into the blog (and some parts of my life). I'd like to continue to document my learning curve and the lessons I've learned along the way.

For now, the name of the blog is Please Excuse Me While I Clean My Lens, but I actually don't like it very much. Over the next few weeks I'm going to figure out a better name that fits the subject of the blog a bit better. For historical reasons, I've left the url as but I may change that in the future as well (please don't sue me!).

Navigating this Blog
Borrowing from Mr. Hobby, I'm going to bend the usual blog conventions and edit previous posts to reflect up to date information when necessary (such as this post).

The best place to start is the site navigation links at the upper right of the page. It includes links to each of the series of posts, including Articles (essays using my photographs to illustrate), Quick Tips (simple ideas that have helped me make better pictures), Reviews (both hardware and software that I use), and the Anatomy of a Photo series (where I break down the process that went into a given photo).

At the right I've also provided links to the sites which I have found most useful or visit every day.

Finally, feel free to look through the archives... if you dare!

[Useless disclaimer thingy: The opinions expressed on this blog are mine alone and don't reflect opinions, policies, or anything related to Stanford, Revolution Prep, or my wife. If I say something stupid, blame me, not them. Oh, and I don't hold any trademarks of anything on this page. But I do hold the copyrights on my original pictures on this blog.]

Update: If you are still interested, the next post you should read is the brief overview of 2007. It includes handy links to all of my most popular tabs and is an easy way to hone in on your interests.

Also, I'd love to get feedback on what you like and don't like about the site and the 2007 in Review: Sound Off! post is a great place to do it. Thanks!


Kim said...

Sean - I am writing a story on rebates and saw your experience with the deadline- would it be possible to talk to you about it? Thank you, Kim Palmer (Please email me at kpalmer(at) usnews (dot) com.

Abhishek said...

Hi Sean,
I stumbled across your blog when looking for reviews for a good mirror lens. I'm a beginner and found your blog posts really helpful. I have a few points that I would like to run by you, but I'd rather do that over email than through comment to an unrelated post. Is it possible for us to communicate over email?
Please let me know.