I just acquired the 1976 Minolta AutoPak 110mm film camera and I am loving the simplicity. Add one AA battery for exposure and flash, then load my Lomography Metropolis 110 film and I am off to capture 36 exposures in all it’s retro glory.

Lightweight, fits in my pocket and I love the minimal design.

Zen and the Art of Photography Pt 2

After my previous post I have thought of even more active practices to apply a mindset for more purposeful photography.

Thirty-Six Exposures

36 exposures waiting for something beautiful

When shooting digital images in the past, I would try to capture anything and everything with little to show for it. Using a 35mm film camera, you have only 36 exposure of film in one roll so every shot has to count. Digital is cheaper than analog so I can snap all I want, but with film, you have to be more intentional, more deliberate. Setting a limitation of only 36 images with my digital camera is a good thing. I can relax, focus on the present and focus on those images I want.

One Camera, One Lens
In the past, I would walk out with a camera and multiple lenses because “You never know when you’ll need it.” How many of those lenses were used- only the one. How liberating and relaxing is it not to think about that extra weight carried in the camera bag? Again, setting out with limitations creates intentionality.

Simply The Workflow
Shooting in jpeg as opposed to RAW format produces smaller images and faster transfer times to speed up the process. Removing Adobe Lightroom from the workflow allows me to work faster. Apple Photos app has improved to a degree where no other software is needed. However, if I want to process images even more, I have Pixelmator. Both are tied into the Apple photo ecosystem and allows you to focus more on what I want to do, such as make more images.

Delete Social Media
Followers, Likes and heart emojis do not ascertain your photograph’s worth. They do not reflect on what the image means to you. I publish photos without expectations or delusions of grandeur on my own websites because it makes me happy. With your own website you control the aesthetics, no algorithm, no tracking and no advertising. This is Zen.

Also, publish your work digitally, in the form of an e-book or portfolio. It is a better way to distribute to your website followers and loved ones in a .pdf format than print is. This is the way.

Less Gear, More Comfort
Instead of investing in that shiny new camera or lens, put your money into yourself such as a good pair of shoes. When I plan for a photo walk or hike, I want to enjoy the experience, in the moment without discomfort. If possible, donate your unused gear to someone just starting out. New photography from other budding artists is always a good thing.

Airplane Mode
The desire to check your notifications, read email or catch up on the latest news in your feed distracts focusing on the here and now. Your image quality will be affected. Be present in the moment.

Seeing your image materialize on photographic paper in a darkroom is one of the most amazing experiences you can have in photography. Likewise the experience when reviewing on your digital device. Apple Photos displays images much like an analog contact sheet. On an iPad it is glorious to swipe through, favorite, delete, edit and save. Looking at each image with intentionality is a rewarding experience after all your time and effort.

Reconnect with yourself in the outdoors while shooting. Focus on your breathing while focusing on your image, then snap. Create opportunities to get out and enjoy your surroundings, there is beauty in everything now go find it.

More Practices To Be Discovered
That’s it for now, but until next time- This is photographic zen. This is the way.

Zen and the Art of Photography

After studying but putting forth little effort into the zen philosophy last year, I think I will attempt it again this year. But what if I can apply those principles into something I enjoy such as photography? I can create a hybrid of the two and enjoy both even further.
There are more than seven practices of course, but these seem to be fundamental and can be applied to photography.

Having a camera is a passport to explore the world with different perspectives. By keeping an open mind and seeing your subjects differently we can open up new opportunities and more rewarding images.

Sure, I desire to fly towards exotic destinations and capture those epic scenes, but reality says I must be present in my current situation. This requires the discipline of focus. Likewise if I try to capture all the things around me, I will capture nothing of consequence. Focus on the moment, the subject and the outcome for best results.

I am generally an optimistic person but I haven’t been lately. Staying positive in all situations makes me and those around me better. I can get frustrated if a scene or shot doesn’t go my way. If I remain calm, slow down and focus this will lead to happiness with my photography and my life. Fun fact: zen is dependent on happiness.

Seek beauty in all things
Admittingly, this is a challenge for me. I’ve been disappointed in shooting my current surroundings because they were boring, over-shot, repetitive, and wanting more. If I slow down, focus and stay positive. A good photographer sees something in the moment that no one else does. All things do have a certain beauty in them.

Live in the moment
This can be applied under “Focus” as well. A general acceptance of the here and now. An acceptance of myself, and of others. Minimizing distractions and enjoying where I am currently.

Minimalism or simplicity
I’ve done what I can do minimize possessions and to simplify my life, why not do the same for photography? Why not minimize distractions in the viewfinder and focus on something simplistic? This can include simplifying subjects or a scene, simplifying your gear and enjoying the process.

Walking meditation
A lot of issues can be solved with walking. It offers clarity, strengthens the mind and the body. Taking a camera along for a photo walk affords a lot of opportunities. Your mind and body are clear, so now too your images.

Practicing the art of zen photography emphasizes who we are and is reflected in the images we make. Do I make the world around me a better place, am I a better person for it and do my images reflect this? I don’t know but I am eager to apply these practices the next time I go out with the camera.


One of my goals this year is to create images that leave viewers guessing. Or, if nothing else, makes them think. I still haven’t had a chance to work on it but I will. For me, the aesthetic leans towards not just black and white, but heavily contrasted black and white highlights.There is always something to shoot, even the mundane, so why not spice up the mundane?

This can include different lighting and understanding how light/shadows work with your subject.


Daily Life

Mundane Made Interesting

Photography Workflow Using the iPad Pro M1

I had first published this guide in early 2019 in an effort to simplify my post-process photography workflow using the 2018 iPad. After decades of desktop and laptop processing, I wondered if the iPad was a solution for me.

Previous year articles from 2021 and 2019

Can the iPad replace the laptop for my photography post-process?

So much has changed since then that I have continued the series and decided to write a new post about it. The evolution in gear, software, and process has been a fun process to look back on and wonder how we managed to get anything done at all. But where there is a will, there are many ways. I will cover what my photography workflow looks like, but ultimately, everyone needs to choose what’s right for them. Workflows are personal and modified as needed. This topic seems to be a crowd favorite because each year these posts receive a lot of traffic and attention (thank you!)

A few months after that last post, I upgraded to the 12.9” Apple iPad M1 (5th Gen) and fine-tuned my workflow. Now, I also upgraded the laptop to the 2021 MacBook Pro M1, and it is no slouch. However, the photo workflow is different, limiting and feels almost antiquated. For now, the MacBook is a tool for me to curate my digital photo archives using Adobe Lightroom Classic, and that’s it. Here are some of the ways an iPad is more beneficial to me:

Multi-input workflow

Photography is a hands-on experience, and it is a joy to continue this on the iPad. Much like using your hands to develop your film negatives, so too are your fingers, the keyboard, and the Apple Pencil for finer control. Using a mouse to manipulate images is too impersonal for me now.


Thanks to the iPad and cloud services, there is an easier, more secure way to store images you’ve taken. This allows me to focus more on what I want to do (photography), rather than moving files around. I have 2 TB of iCloud storage waiting to receive my image uploads from either my camera or the iPhone. There is another 20 GB of storage in the Adobe cloud. Current images I am shooting are uploaded, stored and easily accessible on any of my devices.

My data transfer and storage needs to be effortless, to the point I don’t have to think about it. I mentioned the MacBook and my archives previously- that’s the only time I want to think about storage. I do organize images on the hard drive and then migrate them into the Archives stored on the 10 TB external hard drive.


The iPad has been granted a full-time job from me. It is the most powerful, fastest, and more interactive device I own. The ability to handle images in RAW format while asking for more work to do is remarkable to me. Battery life is spectacular, although it has a massive screen. Speaking of that massive screen, nothing makes me happier than reviewing my photos on such a beautiful screen. Much like the analog contact sheets, I can sort through quickly and determine which are the keepers and which get tossed into the digital bin. That M1 chip really knows how to process faster and distribute power evenly.


Sure, the 12.9” iPad is large, and the magic keyboard that it magnetically attaches to adds weight. But it is still smaller and lighter than lugging a laptop with all the dongles, charger and cables around. Something else I am enjoying is the 5G connectivity. The ability to travel, make images, load them up into the cloud instantly is nothing short of brilliant. Want to check the forecast for the next day’s shooting? Care to watch that video tutorial of local street photographers while you travel? Start post-processing your images and have them secured until you get back home? Publish your work while on the go? It is all possible with that iPad.

Hardware & Software

Below is what I minimally use to produce a maximum photography workflow.

  1. Apple 12.9” iPad Pro (5th gen) – My mobile photo lab.
  2. Apple Pencil – Precision editing tool
  3. CharJen Mini stick- A USB-C adapter with SD card port, charging port
  4. Apple Magic Keyboard for iPad Pro – All in one keyboard & cover
  5. Apple Photos – Store, review, edit.
  6. Adobe Lightroom – for photo post-processing, organization
  7. iCloud – for backup and syncing across devices using Photos app
  8. Adobe Creative Cloud – for backup and syncing across devices in Lightroom

Extra Tools In The Darkroom

Capture tools include Sony A7III, iPhone, iPad Pro and a collection of analog film cameras. Post-processing labs include Adobe Lightroom, Pixelmator Pro, VSCO and Hipstamatic. Portfolio and galleries that host the final images can be viewed at PhotoDenbow.com and ChrisDenbow.com


The iPad is a great workspace for editing your photos. It is my personal, mobile photo lab. I can process my images in bed or on a plane, or even in between photo shoots when I am out and about. This makes the iPad the perfect tool for my photography.


Something I’ve been wanting to do lately is creating intriguing or compelling photographs. The not-so-obvious images that is designed to make people think. A simple scene that tells a story but leaves the viewer wondering. I have some ideas but not the means of executing them at the moment. Work in progress.