The blog of photographer Kim Ayres

Computer... AAAARRRGGGHHH... and Episode 79 of Understanding Photography with Kim Ayres

Without warning, my computer died almost 2 weeks ago.

I left the room.
I came back into the room.
The computer was dead.

No amount of pressing the power button, or unplugging it and plugging it back in, made any difference.

A deep, gut wrenching, soul withering, primal panic gripped my insides.

The last time I felt like this was when I drowned my car.

The computer is so much more than just something to send emails and watch funny cat videos on.

I run my business, I do the podcasts, and especially since the pandemic it has been my major vehicle for interacting with the world.

It's like suddenly seeing a thousand futures all slamming their doors in front of you.

Massive over-reaction and what feels like an infinite stretch of time before the practical, problem-solving part of my brain kicks in, feels a bit too familiar.

And just as that practical, problem-solving part of my brain starts to surface and says, "Calm down, you have everything backed up...", guilt sauce gets splattered all over it as I remember it's several weeks since I last did.

Breathe? What do you mean breathe? I'm hyperventilating here!

Rogan! Let's phone my son, Rogan – he built the computer for me – he'll know what to do.

Strange how as we move through life and there comes a point where our parents stop being the first people we turn to for help, and then a couple of decades later, our kids become the first port of call.

It's not long before I have the panel off the side of the computer and am trying to take a photo of the insides with my phone, to send to Rogan. The thick layer of dust coating everything isn't helping.

Fortunately we had already arranged to head up to Edinburgh to see Rogan for the first time for nearly 2 years, so a couple of days later we turned up, computer in hand. He tried a few things, and then I left it with him.

The following day he said it was definitely the power supply which would have to be replaced. Unfortunately, until it was he wouldn't know if anything else was fried, so other bits might need replacing too.

However, when we had last seen him face to face, my computer was already 3 years old and we'd been talking about upgrades. But before anything could be implemented the world went into Lockdown.

So if he was going to be replacing various bits just to make it work, why not do some upgrades at the same time?

Once we talked through all the improvements I wanted it became clear he was basically going to have to build me an entirely new computer.

Hopefully, if all goes according to plan, this Friday I should be heading up to see him and can pick up my new beast-of-a-machine.

It can't come soon enough.

One of the immediate causalities of the death of my PC was my live weekly video podcast.

For the past 12 days I've been using my 10-year-old laptop which overheats and one of the screen hinges is broken – meaning every time I open it up I'm half expecting the screen to break off entirely.

I postponed last week's podcast straight away as I knew the laptop wouldn't be able to operate the programmes I use for screen sharing and live editing submitted photos.

The first time in 18 months I didn't do the podcast.

Felt weird.

I didn't want to postpone it a 2nd week, so I decided to go ahead last night with a focus on it being more of an interactive chat. I asked people to send me questions, and in turn I had questions for the viewers.

I was quite convinced no one would turn up. In fact I'd already received several messages from people saying they wouldn't be able to make it along. So I was pleasantly surprised to have over a dozen viewers show up and join in the chat.

In some ways it felt like the most personal and interactive podcast I've done.

However, I'm looking forward to operating with a proper computer next time – not least because the laptop temperature rose to alarming levels while I was live streaming, and I had to have freezer packs sitting underneath it to take the edge off!

Next week I'm going to be talking about symmetry and asymmetry in composition – an understanding of which can be a really useful extra tool for photography.

But in the meantime, enjoy Episode 79 of Understanding Photography with Kim Ayres below, and be utterly amazed and impressed that I get to the end without the laptop computer literally melting on me...


0:00 - Welcome, explanation of why this podcast is different to usual, and dealing with an overheating, 10 year old laptop...
2:15 - What's coming up, greetings and comments
7:30 - When did I start in photography?
11:05 - Problem of interacting with people in Street Photography
15:40 - Understanding the power balance between the photographer and subject
19:35 - ASK THE VIEWERS: what is your most common camera mistake?
31:10 - How many lenses should you have?
36:45 - In-camera photographers
41:41 - What lens should you use?
46:20 - Triggers and off-camera flashes
50:00 - We learn from all the things that go wrong, not from things that go right
54:48 - How far in can you crop?
58:45 - What's the difference between a full frame sensor and a crop sensor?
1:05:15 - Shooting from ground level
1:08:28 - ASK THE VIEWERS: Fantasy Landscape - where would you most like to photograph?
1:15:48 - How to approach photographing "dreich"
1:23:12 - A bit about abstract nature photography and in-camera-movement
1:25:00 - Indoors vs outdoors photography
1:29:18 - How do you get people to feel comfortable behind the camera?
1:31:08 - Is there a maximum click count we should take into consideration?
1:33:00 - ASK THE VIEWERS: what is the best piece of photography advice you've been given?
1:43:30 - For black and white, should we do it in camera, or take colour photos and convert afterwards?
1:45:00 - Coming up next week
1:48:50 - End

If you found this interesting/useful/entertaining, then please consider supporting these podcasts and blog posts via

Be sure to subscribe to my YouTube channel - – to be notified of new podcasts and behind-the-scenes videos.

And, or course, if you would like to submit a photo for feedback, or just ask a photography related question, then either email me or join my Understanding Photography with Kim Ayres Facebook group and I will put it into the following podcast:

No comments

All content copyright of Kim Ayres. Powered by Blogger.