Tommy Ku Photography

2023 Outlook

2022 had been a fruitful year. For what happened during the year check out 2022 in Review. In 2023, many things can be re-challenged and many new things can be done.

The only solution I can think of is to consciously throw the switch the other way: avoid paying any more needless first prices, and set your lifestyle around paying certain second prices, so you can finally enjoy the long-promised prizes waiting in your bookshelf, storage room, and hard drive. This was my original intuition behind the Depth Year concept—to designate a whole year in which you stop acquiring more ways to do cool things, and start doing the cool things in earnest.
— Davis Cain "Everything Must Be Paid for Twice"

In the last quarter of 2022, I felt that new gears no longer interest me. Knowing the fact there's pleasure in acquiring new knowledge and experience, and not simply new equipments.

My gears are now more or less complete. Any new lens or camera may bring better image quality, yet little enablement for any breakthrough.

In 2022 I ditched Instagram for a real life and began choosing my own adventure.

In 2023, I choose to deepen my knowledge and expand my capacity with what I already own.


There are still something I need.

A good tripod that's light enought for travel and sturdy enough to support a Mamiya Press.

A tele lens for Fujifilm XT-20 to use on travel and pet photography. Maybe a Fujinon XF 50-200mm or XC 55-230mm, or even a Tamron 18-300mm.

And an CLP filter.

Probably (hopefully) that's all.


At this point there are a couple things I want to do in 2023.

Alternative film development

Once I have started developing film at home with D-76, I have wanted to try out other developers or techniques.

My photographer friend suggested interesting ways to shoot and develop black and white film. Say to overexpose by 1 stop and pull develop by reducing development time by 20%. I quite like the resultant contrast and details.

My 2 packs of D-76 developer are using up soon. Now I am considering whether to switch to a different developer say Rodinal and HC-110 that have longer shelf life and more cost-effectiveness.

With an abundance of developer, next is to try out different development techniques like stand development.

If I can actually buy my own real estate this year, then maybe even making my own prints with an enlarger. Before that happens I still want to create cyanotype contact prints of my medium format negatives, maybe third time is the charm…

Agfa Solina stereo

Stereo cameras are too expensive and too niche for me to actually buy one despite my tendency for buying weird camera.

However I still want to capture a flashing (pun kinda intended) moment which the cha-cha method of taking one image after another is not going to work.

By joining two Agfa Solina cameras of the same model, or two Alpha Sweet Digital, I should be able to simultaneously trigger the shutters to capture an instant. After taking enough shots that I want, I can separate them and use as normal camera, thereby avoid having to buy a stereo camera.

Agfa Solina stereo camera
Agfa Solina stereo camera

To fire the shutters at the same time, I need some sort of spirit bubble to keep the cameras horizontal and two cable releases joined together.

Panorama with disposable cameras
Many cable releases joined together (川上賢司)

Infrared photography

While being the most impressive, not all infrared photos have to look like the pinkish Kodak Aerochrome.

In 2022 I have done enough colorful infrared shots that I feel more productive to shoot those on a modded digital camera.

However I've decided to dedicate 2023 to using my old gears, so for the time being I wish to explore the monochromatic side of infrared photography, most probably on landscape.

Garden view in infrared
Monochromatic side of infrared photography

Bulk loading film

This may not be the cheapest thing to do. Bulk loading requires upfront hardware cost of the bulk loader and some reusable cannisters.

Being able to bulk load my own film brings me closer to an end-to-end photography workflow, which makes me happy.

Kodak E100 and bulk loaded Kodak 5294 (50% cheaper)

Film scanning

My film scanner CanoScan 9000F is lacking in sharpness and resolution. In the past it was able to produce passable scans for medium format film, that eventually persuaded me to still scan from the lab.

Then the lab scans medium format at a resolution even lower than 135 film for the same price! This is to scam the customers to scan at high resolutions with extra cost.

I am fed up with the scammy practice of the labs. In 2023 I want to build a scanning rig that produces scan with better quality than my CanoScan 9000F.

Without a particularly sharp and high magnification macro lens (my best lens Nokton 40mm is only 1:4), I already know I'm handicapped from the start. But first let's see how far a macro extension tube can takes me.

Home scan from CanoScan 9000F
Lab scan from a Noritsu

Zine making

Whenever I want to produce a collection of photos for virtual exhibition or a zine, I struggle to find a theme.

It's not like I have much to write or express that'll fill up a zine.

In 2023 I want to come up with several themes and stick to them throughout the year, and try to again produce a physical zine.

Reapply foam to a camera

My Olympus XA2 is suffering from light leak. The 1.5mm high density foam I bought in 2022 has proven to be too thick for the camera, so I ordered some 1mm foam instead.

1.5mm foam in Olympus XA2
Foam so thick the back couldn't even close

Then I went to apply the 1.5mm foam to a Mamiya Press film holder than has proven to be too thick again. That film holder doesn't even have light leak in the first place.

In 2023 I'll need to apply a correct foam thick enough to eliminate light leak while not too thick that it stresses the hinge on the cameras.


Let's do it properly this time. Fujifilm XT-20 has built-in panorama function that requires quite precise panning to work. My phone also shoots panorama but the stitching is terrible.

With proper panorama stitching software such as Hugin I want to create panorama from discrete shots, which eventually should apply even to film photos.

Then I can go spamming the last couple shots

Incredibly good panorama when I'm lucky


For one last time, let's try it, properly. I still want to produce contact prints using cyanotype because I don't have a darkroom and enlarger to produce proper prints.

If I can get cyanotype printing to work, I may simply use that to print my zines by the end of the year.

Learn to use Alpha Sweet Digital

It took me over a year to learn how to use my Fujifilm XT-20 properly for it to produce the images that impresses me all the time.

Alpha Sweet Digital, albeit lacking in the resolution department, sometimes produce images with good color. I'm pretty sure by getting used to the control, I'll be able to consistently churn out photos that I want.

Sailo looking back
Photo that I want

2023 Outlook

2022 is a year of discovery and expanding the breadth of my photography. 2023 should then be a year to deepen my knowledge in specific domains and get the best out of the many gears that I own.