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The hallway track conference

A sign over a door that says "FEEST FEEST"

If you have ever talked to an experienced software developer about tech conferences, you have probably heard them say something like this: “Oh, I mostly ignore the talks and focus on talking with people in the hallway.”

I’m one of those people. It’s a bit sad: the speakers have spent a huge amount of effort to prepare their talk and we travel there from the other side of the world to ignore them.

A week ago I attended the Heart of Clojure conference in Leuven, Belgium. What was so great about it was that they had plenty of time and space for the hallway track and not too many talks1.

They had long breaks, including the extra-long siesta break in the middle of the day, and non-talk activities such as a sketchnote workshop, meditation, and a screen-printing workshop (I was delighted).

In the evening there was the Adventurous Dinner, where the participants were randomly split into groups of eight or so people and sent to different restaurants around the city center. This was great for meeting a new group of people and chatting with them about the day. Afterwards we congregated to a noisy bar for a more traditional conference after-party.

The result was that everybody was talking to each other. People made new friends and seems like everybody was having a great time. There was a real feeling of community. Often at conferences you have to be a speaker or otherwise an insider to get the full experience. This time everybody got the insider experience.

I’d recommend the conference but understandably it looks like that Heart of Clojure won’t happen again.

  1. Out of the talks I attended, my favorite was the keynote by Rachel Lawson: My opensource project; It’s all about the code. So topical for the Clojure community!

Interpreting Moriyama

Close-up of a metal door with a sticker saying SULJE PORTTI HILJAA

Daido Moriyama is one of the best-known Japanese photographers. So I read in his and Takeshi Nakamoto’s book How I Take Photographs.

His name did not ring any bells but I’ve seen his photos before. I doubt the photos in the book are his best work but at least the interviews are interesting. He talks about how he only takes snapshots.

Based on the book I couldn’t understand why he would be the most important Japanese photographer. Where’s the appeal? This inspired me to try to imitate his style. Here’s how I interpreted it:

Click here to view the resulting series.

The hardest commandment to follow for me was to go closer - especially since I shoot with such a wide lens. I’m going to keep practicing.

Ricoh GR III - initial impressions

I’ve got a new camera: Ricoh GR III. I got it when it first became available in early April and since then I’ve shot about 2500 frames with it.

I haven’t explored it enough to offer any kind of conclusive review. Heck, I’ve mostly shot in P mode with JPEG output with default settings! Still, I want to share my initial impressions and some pictures I’ve taken with the camera.

A bit of background: GR III is a fixed lens compact camera with a fast, 28 mm-equivalent lens. It’s a successor to GR II, which has cult following in the street photography circles.

Good. The build quality and the form factor is great. The pictures are very sharp and the colors are nice (but maybe not as nice as Fujifilm’s). It fits well into a pocket. The touch screen is great for choosing a focus point. It can be charged over USB-C. The exposure compensation joystick is quick to use.

Not so good. The battery life is so-so – get an extra battery! I get maybe one day worth of travel photography out of one charge. The P mode skews too much toward wide-open aperture for my taste. Manual focus is cumbersome (but there’s the snap focus mode).

Autofocus is usually fast but it has problems with low-contrast scenes. There’s a firmware update that promises to improve the performance. I’m deferring my judgement until I’ve installed the update.

I’m carrying the camera with Peak Design’s Leash sling strap. To get the anchor cords through the attachment holes in the camera body, you have to place them just right and use enough force and a piece of string (you need to do this only once). Leash is light and easy to adjust and slides well over my clothes, so I’m pretty happy with the setup.

In summary, Ricoh GR III is a great pocketable choice for travel and everyday camera if you’re okay with the battery life – and if the idea of fixed 28 mm-equivalent lens makes sense to you in the first place.

All photos in the post have been shot with Ricoh GR III.

For more posts, see archive.