About this blog

Hello!

Welcome, and thanks for checking out my blog. I’m a composer and photographer living in Singapore. I tend to travel a fair amount, and take photographs and make sound recordings pretty much wherever I go. This blog is my avenue for sharing the sights and sounds I encounter.

I started this blog posting either a photo or a sound recording each day. Since mid-November 2012 – the one-year mark – I’ve shifted to primarily posting words: essays, criticism, and reflection on photography and phonography and related concerns.

You can visit my main web site here: http://www.stevenmmiller.net

Background

Sound

I’ve been interested in sound and music ever since I can remember. My parents always encouraged my interest in music, and I freely experimented with various little audio recorders (cassette, reel-to-reel, etc.) as I went along. In high school and college I focused on playing pop/rock music, and studied audio engineering & production as well as composition and electronic music. Over the past 20 years my interest in sound beyond music has greatly intensified, and I’ve been involved in areas such as acoustic ecology and soundscape studies as an educator, sound artist, writer/editor, and sound recordist.

Photography

I first learned the basics of black & white photography – shooting, developing, and printing – when I was 15 and spent the summer with friends of the family. My father had a Nikomat EL with a few lenses (50mm prime, 43-86mm zoom, and 300mm telephoto – all manual focus) that he’d purchased a few years earlier on a trip to Tokyo. Being the family jewels, I was hard-pressed to get free access to it, but I was inspired, nonetheless. Over the next couple decades I used various small-format (110 & 126) cameras and much later a small HP digital camera, as I focused on other things in life (no pun intended).

I incorporated photography into a number of projects I did over the years – both my own and others. My MFA thesis project, for example, consisted of two parts: a gallery installation for live algorithmic sound environment, photos (slides), and video on which I collaborated with video artist Michael J. Saul; and a concert of live electroacoustic music with visuals. I’ve also done music and sound design for theater, dance, and performance art, furthering my interest in combining sound and visual works.

Finally I got myself a decent digital SLR camera and have been spending more time and energy on photography again over the past few years.

Equipment

Sound

My current portable recording rig includes a Zoom H4N digital recorder, Røde NT-4 stereo condensor mic, and Rycote windshield/shockmount kit – all packed in a Pelican hardcase/shoulder bag combo. I sometimes use the internal stereo mics on the Zoom, sometimes the Røde (especially outdoors with the windshield), and sometimes both for 4-channel recording. I also use some clip-on contact mics from Korg for certain projects, as well. I do most of my stereo audio editing and mastering in BIAS Peak Pro, and multitrack and multichannel mixing in Steinberg Cubase 6.

Photography

I currently use a Nikon D7000 and a few lenses (35mm f1.8, 50mm f1.4, 18-200mm f3.5-5.6, and 10-24mm f3.5-4.5). I tend to use the 18-200 most frequently, as it’s very convenient and gives great results, though the 50mm is excellent for shallow depth of field and low-light situations, and the wide-angle 10-24 is amazing for landscapes. I also finally got the old Nikomat EL and lenses from my father as a gift, so I occasionally use that, as well.

I use Photoshop on everything, and am slowly learning the whole digital post-production end of things. I’m particularly getting into the various methods for converting to greyscale (b&w) and exploring some use of duotoning, etc. I try not to do too much retouching unless it’s necessary, but am finding the ability to work with varying levels of exposure, color, and greyscale to be inspiring. I’m also beginning to learn the artistic power of a good crop.

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