I have used a lot of different bits of software and services over the years to manage some kind of online photo gallery. However, none quite worked in the way that I wanted, or were simple enough for my needs, so I cobbled something together myself. This site is based on Hugo which — together with a little Python script that I wrote — creates static photo posts for a folder full of images on my local computer, pulling in EXIF data to populate the elements of each post. The images themselves are stored in a AWS S3 bucket, after being pre-processed with the ImageOptim API to create six different sizes of optimised image for retina 2x/3x screens, thumbnails and so on. If you click the ‘i’ icon below the image when you are viewing a single image, you should be able to see a table of various bits of information about the image (speed, aperture and so on). You can use the escape key to dismiss the table. I’m an absolute newbie with Javascript, so I’m quite proud that I managed to pull off that bit of basic interaction! The comments are also static, enabled by using Staticman. I highly recommend this setup, as it is neat, works well, and means that your comments are stored as YAML files alongside your Hugo posts. If I ever wanted to migrate to another setup, a quick script to process the text files would enable me to move the comments elsewhere. You don’t need to sign up for anything as a commenter: just add your name (which can be a pseudonym like mine!) and an email address (which is hashed and won’t be shown publically). Once submitted, your comment triggers Staticman to make a commit to Github, which in turn triggers Netlify (where I host the site) to deploy the new commit. And — hey presto! — your comment should show up on the site. This may take a few minutes.

If you’d like to find out more about the system powering this blog, I wrote a post about it on my main blog, and the source for this photoblog and the processing scripts are available on Github, and will probably get updated every now and again. Feel free to fork them and build your own photo posting thing by adapting them.

I have images in other places (on Flickr for example), and will likely continue to do that for ease of quick posting, particularly from my phone, but I would like this site to be where I gather together the images that I am most proud of, and also write the odd image-heavy essay from time to time.

I mostly use a Fujifilm X100T at the moment, using RAW format, and process the images using Phase One Capture One Pro. I love ths workflow, and I make a lot of use of Capture One’s Processing recipes to format and title images ready for export (both to this site, and to import into Apple Photos).

Finally, you may be wondering about the title for this site. I have had photoblogs in various forms over the years, always called ‘Wings Open Wide’. It’s from a line in a David Sylvian song, ‘Orpheus’:

Sunlight falls, my wings open wide
There’s a beauty here I cannot deny

It’s a lovely song, and I always loved those lines particularly. I don’t flatter myself that the photographs here are always beautiful, but the difficulty of capturing beauty (in all its forms) is what motivates me to take photographs, and is what I’m always struggling to achieve. I post them here because I would like to share with you what I have noticed and found to be beautiful.