Tommy Ku Photography

2022 in Review

Let's ditch Instagram for a real life.

Choose your own adventure.

A look at 2022

In 2022 I have taken around 7,420 photos, among which about 1,556 are film photos from 52 rolls of film.

Twelve cameras joined my collection from 2nd handed good sites.

215 photos posted under my Instagram profile @tommy_ku before I have decided to ditch Instagram.

Hoarded film like crazy with rising film price. 2 years-worth of film in the inventory (97 rolls in stock vs 52 rolls used this year).

Tried infrared photography, camera repair, cyanotype, trichrome, stereocopy, expired film, medium format panorama, adapting old lenses onto digital bodies.

Developed and scanned black and white film at home for the first time.


If you spend so much money on film photography, you could've spent the same amount on really good digital camears and lenses.
—random old photographer in Tai Tong

What went well in 2022

Looking back, I have tried many things. Each had taught me some important lessons.

Right at the beginning of 2022 I bought a Voigtländer Bessa R3A with Nokton 40mm lens, about half of this year's camera and lens expense. The camera delivers good images as it should, proving the point that good gears make good photos.

Good is good, I want more Fujicolor C200

After over a year of having a broken camera, I have finally made up my mind and fixed the Ansco Memar. Actually, a simple repair with extensive accounts online with the popular issue with Agfa green grease. This was also the first time I recalibrate focus of a camera.

Front and middle element separated for clean up
Might as well clean the lens

Because of how expensive Bessa R3A was, I refrained from purchasing any gear for the rest of first quarter. Until I wanted to shoot some poor man's panorama with an impulsive purchase of Mamiya Press Super 23. I then continued to purchase some extra accessories such as the 150mm lens and a 6x7 film holder.

Maybe that's when my direction had turned towards a gear-centric style. My GAS led to several other regretful purchases for the rest of this year.

Over the first quarter, I went for a couple photowalks. I had tons of fun shooting out on the street with friends.

Kaito ferry to Mui Wo from Discovery Bay
Kaito ferry to Mui Wo from Discovery Bay (Ansco Memar, Kodak ColorPlus 200, b/w in post)

I stopped daily posting to Instagram on the third quarter, which dramatically changed the way I take photos. Due to the skewed reward mechanism of Instagram (likes/shares), I was rushing to produce as much content in the platform's desire format (post/story/reel) as possible. After quitting Instagram I was able to focus on things that interest me instead.

Ditching Instagram was the best decision I have made in 2022. From there I was able to freely explore different styles. Say, shooting infrared trichrome with partial success. Trichrome in itself has been a challenging topic due to camera shift and alignment issue during post-processing. However being able to produce the image of pinkish foliage was all I wanted, and I was pleased by the result.

Sky, building, hill side
The cloud was moving while the building isn't, yellow-green sky from yellow-green filter

Following my resolution to become more independent from scammy and crappy labs, I had begun to routinely develop and scan black and white film at home. One of the biggest success of the year! The freedom enabled by self-developing is immense as I can push/pull the film to any extend that I want.

Talking of lab—sprocket holes. The lab charges a ridiculous amount to scan film with sprocket holes on a flatbed. With Mamiya Press Super 23 I was able to shoot 135 panorama on 120 camera and the result was impressive. With a better scanning setup I believe that'll be a fun thing to do in the future.

People hanging out at Disneyland Resort Pier

I have read some books. All of them essays. I want to write something like these.

People who liked my photos specifically mentioned shots of people doing weird things on the street, saying "I like that there's a story in the photo". Photos may convey or suggest an underlying story and that intrigues the viewer. I want to take more photos like that. As a first step, I should take more photos with people in it.

What didn't go well in 2022

I opened a virtual exhibition on Mozilla Hub after spending a whole week building it. Around 3 people visited it.

Seeing the rising film price, I decided to give cheap, expired film a try. Simply speak, buying and shooting expired film is just like gambling. The saved film cost can hardly justify the risk after getting 2 blank rolls.

Double exposure, random lday and Sailo
Double exposure, random lady and Sailo

With Nokton 40mm as my first interchangeable lens after Fujinon XF 18-55mm. I got an VM to XF adaptor to put the Nokton lens on XT-20. The lens is able to deliver impressive image, perhaps because the lens was also designed for digital camera. The same cannot be said for the Sigma lenses for Alpha Sweet, with serious chromatic aberration on the long end of focal length.

Since I got the Sports 35 trying to do some stereoscopy, I might as well do some trichrome. This was my second year attempting to do trichrome and the result was still disappointing.

Yellow leaves
Color fringing no longer visible on the leaves on a windless day

Impressionism is an art style I like fondly, yet with the realistic nature of photography, I ventured into AI image editing via Stable Diffusion, GIMP's GIMPressionist plugin and even drawing my own impressionistic drawings. I started photography as an artistic outlet when my drawing skill is abysmal, so of course that didn't go well.

GIMPressionist plugin
Stable Diffusion img2img

On June I sprained my ankle on a photowalk to Central with Semi Leotax. On July and August, I was in a serous case of eczema where most of my hand's skins were gone. Being depressed for the whole third quarter, not much was done during the 3 months where I could have gone for many shoots under the good summer light.

Again this year I tried cyanotype, again the print turned out blank. I was not sure what went wrong there. Maybe the exposure wasn't long enough (30 minutes not long enough?), or the chemical had already gone bad, or the paper was wrong…

I bought SilverFast 9 to go with my old CanoScan 9000F. The scanner produces crappy scan with the bundled software. Purchasing SilverFast was my last resort to squeeze good scans out of the scanner. Sadly this scanner is from an earlier era and is unable to meet the appetite of pinch zooming photo viewers nowadays. Scans for 6x9 and 6x4.5 were ok, but 35mm film better are better off scanning at a lab.

35mm film scan
6x9 film scan

Feeling desperate, I attempted to scan film on my existing gears. I could turn the Nokton 40mm into a macro lens. Or I could put the Sekor 150mm lens in reverse as a magnifying lens. Both were able to yield passable results (no, they were terrible), just not up to par with what I wanted.

35mm film scan on phone

After spending so much time, money and effort on stereography, I was still unable to produce any acceptable result. I am aware of the techniques. But too much trouble converting my existing equipment into something that properly shoots stereographs. Buying a stereo camera would have been easier, but they are seriously overpriced for the value that they deliver. Maybe I will finally build a stereograph rig in 2023 with the 2 Solinas or the 2 Alpha Sweet Digital I have, maybe.

Wigglegram. Very trendy for a time. I did that and then gave up. For the attention seekers maybe that'll make one or two social media posts.

Wigglegram with 3 frames
3-frame wigglegram, made using Google Photo and GIF editing tool

Like those who write about photography, I tried writing about the best photos of the month. Turns out I am bad at writing. Without a proper message the writings became random murmuring. As part of ditching Instagram, I ditched this regular writing. I should write whenever there's something I want to write, instead of forcing it.

An outlook on 2023

The post will come.

Whatever that didn't go well in 2022 except trichrome, I probably need to find a way to re-attempt them.

But that's under my newly found direction of "Choose your own adventure"—to embrace freedom and only do things that interest me, instead of being influenced by gear reviews and other content producers online.