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I'm going to have to figure out how to change how my name shows up now. Not that I don't sympathize with the other Dennis' take on Jeff Wall a little. But I'll freely admit that there's just a whole little piece of society that finds something to appreciate in art that I just don't get at all. Staged photographs are a challenge for me, right off the bat, because they're nothing I have any interest in shooting. But I certainly like plenty of stuff I don't shoot. I like Julie Blackmon's family scenes, for instance (and could fully understand it if someone doesn't like her stuff). And I can enjoy looking at (some of) the works of photographer artists, like Stephen Shore and Eggleston. So Jeff Wall's stuff does nothing for me (at least not in a small web image on my laptop) ... that says more about me than it does about his work. One other note - I give artists with that kind of reputation credit for talking about their work. I recently heard about John Luther Adams because he was at a local performance of "Inuksuit" to benefit a local charity. The articles I read talked about him being a grammy winning composer and the whole thing seemed impressive. Someone I know attended the show and said the music was "magical" with sounds coming from all over, though they got a little bored halfway through. I looked into it a little more and watched a couple videos including one in which the composer talked a lot about the work. And the more he talked, the more the whole thing seemed phony. I think that with any art that's not very accessible and depends on context to be appreciated, the artist walks a fine line in talking about the work.
Toggle Commented Sep 14, 2015 on Wall's Walls at The Online Photographer
I'd love to photograph interesting houses and yards; not so much interesting in and of themselves, but interesting because of how they look like with people in them; with curtains, open windows, kids toys in the lawn, etc. Our house was built in 1979 and lacks character. It's practical. Like my cars and cameras. I live in CT, where, according to zillow, the 1950s is most highly represented. I can think of many neighborhoods full of 1950s houses, yet can't think, offhand, of anyone I know who lives in a 1950s house. Older and newer houses, certainly.
Congratulations ! But may I say that as nice as it probably is to work on that porch, it looks like a nicer place to enjoy a cup of coffee or a glass of wine with (or without) company. (I think the region is pretty well known for its wineries, too). I've wanted to get over to that area for a while now, mostly to see Letchworth State Park, though the whole region is supposed to be very scenic. (The Adirondacks are much closer to me, so it's hard to justify the 6-hour trip). Maybe a TOP workshop will be in my future.
Toggle Commented Aug 21, 2015 on Move Complete at The Online Photographer
In reply to Gordon Lewis you wrote: "The smaller, vaguely retro mirrorless cameras are the ones that tend to give me the warm fuzzies" I've been referring to my A6000 with 28/2 as my "digital HiMatic". I used, and still own, a Minolta HiMatic 7sII, with its 40/1.8 lens. I've been looking for a digital version of that for years. There have been other solutions that come close in one way or another, and this option still falls short in some ways, but it gives me a similar enough experience.
Well stated ! With the EM1 and a really good sensor, the f/1.8 primes and eventually, the f/2.8 zooms, Oly "arrived" a couple years ago. Panasonic is right behind. Fuji has an enticing system and Sony is pouring technology into cameras (even if the ecosystem around them is less enticing, depending on your needs). And there are deals to be had on this amazing stuff. My A6000 was under $600 back in December (I recently bought the FE 28/2 for it). And after digicams went through the doldrums, Sony and Panasonic have great (if expensive) digicam lineups. We bought my daughter an FZ200 recently, a three year old camera, and I'm amazed at what she gets handholding a camera with a 1/2.3" sensor shooting backyard wildlife, after having dabbled in it myself with a 400mm lens on a tripod years ago.
I'm partial to "Home" myself. I never knew anyone who had a house with a name; I'd only ever seen that in books or movies about rich people. I can't really see the point of it unless you have multiple homes and need to differentiate them. "We'll have to spend the summer at Twin Pines while Split Rock is being renovated".
Ouch ! That hits close to home ! I am aware of it, and not thrilled with it. But life gets in the way (or maybe I'm not dedicated enough) and it's a lot easier to find time to read than to shoot.
Toggle Commented Aug 4, 2015 on Diversions at The Online Photographer
There's some nice technology in some of the recent cameras (Sony & Panasonic, in particular) ... but I wonder how they're going to make out at these high price points relative to previous models, when all that's changing is electronics (not lenses) and the market has gotten accustomed to digital toys getting cheaper and/or better over time (not more expensive). The RX100-IV is amazing, but $949 ($1300 for the latest RX10) is a high price to pay for a pocket camera ... $599 for a 1/2.3" sensor camera (FZ300), $1200 for the new Panasonic GX8 ... maybe $500 DSLR kits will see a resurgence in popularity.
Toggle Commented Jul 17, 2015 on I Take It Back at The Online Photographer
The LX100 is a nice camera and a lot of people could be happy with it. It's $800 for a fixed lens camera, so if/when it breaks, the whole thing needs to be replaced/repaired. The zoom range is modest and a lot of average people like more magnification. It's compact. Should be easy to use and generate great results. I have to think someone should be able to put a 1" sensor in a more "mainstream" body for $500-600. The RX10 is probably on the big side for a lot of people, but I'd tend to recommend it over the LX100 thinking that the zoom range makes it more appealing to more people. But I don't think there is a single easy-to-recommend camera any more than there's a single easy-to-recommend car.
Someone above wrote what's probably a common sentiment: "BTW why would an "ordinary normal regular non-enthusiast" want to purchase a camera? Hasn't the iPhone replaced the camera for the great unwashed 8-)" I know a lot of my friends have had smartphones for years - my wife has had an iPhone 5 for 2+ years (I only got my first smartphone earlier this year). I don't have a good sense of how long the majority of people (in the US, anyway) have been using a smart phone as their primary camera. But I'm seeing anecdotal evidence of "phone fatigue". People who gave up the "big camera" are finding that the phone just doesn't cut it all the time. Two of my friends have recently said they're planning to buy a camera soon. No idea if they'll actually go through with it. My daughter (age 12) loves her camera and vastly prefers it to her ipod touch, even if it means waiting a day or two for dad to download the pictures to her computer, and she has at least one friend who has a camera (and a tripod !) who is dabbling in photography and video as a small hobby. Recommendations are tough ... the RX100 line (never mind RX10 !) is expensive; cheaper digicams suffer from a combination of small sensor and slow lens (the exceptions are the ones to look for) and anything with a big sensor is only reasonably affordable and compact when used with slow kit zooms that carry compromises that might not be ideal for a lot of people.
The A7R II is awesomer. But most people would would choose the Canon. Because at the end of the day, you still have to put lenses on it. And yeah, I know the Sony supposedly focuses faster than a speeding bullet with Canon lenses, but the Sony is only awesomer with Sony lenses; with Canon lenses it's a Frankencamera, not an ubercamera.
Toggle Commented Jul 9, 2015 on Reigning Übercamera at The Online Photographer
I don't know ... let's say a cheap Versa (either base model or demo with an automatic transmission) is $12K. Put $2K down and finance the balance over 4 years and you're paying $200 or so a month. Buy a car outright and start saving that instead. You'll have repairs covered in no time. Sure, you don't want a lemon, but a mechanic should be able to help you avoid that. The problem with a cheap little car like that is that by the time you've paid it off in 4 years, you're probably dying to upgrade to something with padded seats and acoustic insulation. I'm making that up, but when Kelly Blue Book's review says that "better candidates include" the Ford Fiesta and Honda Fit, this doesn't sound like a satisfying car. Lack of power windows and door locks sounds aggravating enough. It strikes me very much as a "starter car" which implies short term ownership and cycle of debt.
I would advise option 1. Get out of the cycle of debt ASAP. It costs more to be poor because you're always behind; anything outside of your budget requires a loan. There's a difference between wealth and income. Wealth (some relative degree of it) can come from savings. Buy the used car and start saving for the next car (plus maybe some repairs along the way), drive it into the ground (you just have to figure out when it's starting to cost too much to maintain, which is always tricky). Ideally, when you have enough for your next car, you'll *still* keep driving the old one until you have enough for the next one plus a new washer and dryer :) (Get a Speed Queen).
"The local summer grocery store near where my new house is ... is open from May 1 to October 31st" That's not raising any red flags ? I suppose coming from Wisconsin, you'll be ready for anything. Maybe your Museum of Photographic Curiosities would, in turn, be featured in a future book of roadside attractions. Which, of course, you could feature in the museum.
Toggle Commented Jun 30, 2015 on Photo Geekery at The Online Photographer
I remember someone telling me "two moves equals a fire". That seems like a gross exaggeration, as our only real move (20 years ago) resulted in virtually no damage. I wish you good luck with it all. So making Eastlake a photographers destination would make the area even more compelling. I'm about 5 hours away and have been thinking about visiting Letchworth State Park. (We have vacationed in the nearby Adirondacks a few times recently, though). Like a few others, I'm not too surprised at this turn of events :)
Toggle Commented Jun 30, 2015 on Blog Note at The Online Photographer
John (Slaytor), That was a great blog post on the christening w/very nice photos - the family must be happy. You wrote above that pixels are irrelevant since the Nikon D70, yet on your blog, in your D810 review, you wrote: "The depth of detail in images is bewildering and I realise this is a medium format camera. In 2005 I started off with the Nikon D70 and over time upgraded. This is the first camera that startles me with its ability to capture detail." All around the web, wisdom that "3MP is all anyone needs" and the like is countered by rave reviews of high res cameras and sharp lenses. The truth is all of it all rolled together, somehow. And our society isn't one that was built on an embracing of sufficiency. When I watch a DVD, it looks great. When I watch Blu Ray, it looks better. (I've only seen 4k once a couple years ago, and found the compression too distracting, but in time, I'm sure it will be better still). I guess the big question is: does sufficiency have any relevance ?
I don't remember ever having been an idiot, by I checked with my wife, and she says I have.
I've probably always owned a 50 (when shooting film) but never really embraced it. Until around 2004 when I was anxiously awaiting the recently announced Konica Minolta 7D and decided to pick up a 50mm lens to use as a portrait prime. Turns out I never got along with 50mm on APS-C (too short or too long for just about everything) but had a blast with it shooting 35mm until the DSLR finally arrived. I recently upgraded my NEX-5 to an A6000 and plan to get a 'normal' for it very soon. The 35/1.8 is sensible for its image stabilization; the Sigma 30/2.8 for its price (and performance) and the Touit 32/1.8 an outlier (at current prices, not so much an outlier). In preparation for this decision, I scoured through my Lightroom catalog (very easy to sort by lens, BTW). I used a Minolta 28/2 on my Sony A700 (and KM 7D before that). And I use a Nikkor 35/1.8 on my D7000 now. The difference (to my eyes, at least) is profound. The 28 clearly works for me; the 35 not so much. The 35 seems constrained, much more on the "very slightly tele" side of normal than having any chameleon properties (though with a 1.54X crop, it is more like a 55 than a 50). The photos taken with the 28 "breathe". I love the natural look that FOV offers. More importantly, I'm far more successful with it at taking "great" (relative to my own collection !) photos with it. I have more favorite photos taken with that lens than any other. I also own a HiMatic with a 40/1.7 and loved that lens (now we're getting into another of your classic posts - "Why 40mm". In any event, the new Sony FE 28/2 looks like the slam dunk choice for my A6000. And in reply to the inevitable "just zoom with your feet", that's just not a viable option. Perspective is everything. - Dennis
The universe is said to be unfathomly big. So big that it would take light 13 billion years to get across it (and by the time light made it across, the universe would be bigger still). 13 billion is 13 x 10^9. A light year is approximately 6 x 10^12 miles. So that makes the universe around 8*10^22 miles across. 4.2 x 10^26 feet. 5 x 10^27 inches. A measly 1024x768 web image at 8 bits RGB allows for 2^18874368 or around 8×10^5681750 possible image variations. If you were to print them and stack them, the stack would stretch from one end of the universe to the other 2x10^5,681,721 times (figuring 100 sheets to the inch). Even in the likely event that I've messed up the math, I think there's plenty left to photograph. Even if only 1 out of every 10^5,681,721 possible photos is a potential keeper, that still leaves you a stack that traverses the universe. Twice.
I've yet to read any of John's novels - I saw a bunch of them at a used bookstore and decided I wanted to research them to find out where to start (since they seem to use common characters). But now I know where I'll start ! (I don't read much fiction these days, but was always a fantasy & sci-fi fan). So I headed over to Amazon to read the synopsis ... space ship, alien contact, suspense, ok, seen this in movies before, but no, wait, governments are racing to get to it and bring home the technology first - brilliant ! Of course they are ! Aliens might be scary, but not as scary as letting the Chinese get hold of their technology ! Too bad it won't be out in time for summer vacations. (OK, maybe it won't be my first John Sandford novel after all).
Toggle Commented Jun 5, 2015 on INCREDIBLURB (OT) at The Online Photographer
I have two ways of looking this potentially discouraging thought. One is that I photograph stuff that's specific, and from that point of view, hasn't been photographed before. Much as you argued above. It's today and tomorrow, here and now, my family, my town. Generally similar to stuff that's been done, but specifically unique. The other is that even if it has been done before (like Kodak picture spots in Yellowstone), it's never been done by me. And even if it's been done better by 1,000 other people before me and 1,000 more after me, their photos still aren't mine. Mine will remind me of my trip better than theirs will. If I ever get around to going on a safari, I guarantee you my photo of a lion will be far better than anything Andy Biggs has ever taken - not to your eyes, but to mine, because every time I look at it, I'd think "holy cr*p ... I actually SAW that lion !" I guess those are two types of photos - photos that I take as personal memories (the latter) versus photos that I take because I love photography (the former).
Following on from my suggested follow up question, another fun thread (or subject for a book) could be "best of the worst" ... show us your best shots of these worst cliches. (But then does best mean shots that best exemplify the cliche or those that succeed despite the cliche ? I think I'd rather see the latter).
Toggle Commented Jun 2, 2015 on The Worst Clichés at The Online Photographer
Close ups of elderly Indian mens faces processed with the clarity slider pushed to 100. Peggy's Cove. Ultra wide angle shots taken in a field of wildflowers. Broken/dirty dolls on the ground. Abandoned buildings. Follow up question: once you have a 'final' list ... ask readers how many of those cliches they have "keepers" of. (Only edit it so that it doesn't end with "of" !)
Toggle Commented Jun 2, 2015 on The Worst Clichés at The Online Photographer
I'm inclined to say that expensive bags are overrated, but having never used one (I'm frugal !) I guess I can't. But I will say that cheap bags are underrated. I'm torn about whether to get rid of a bag right now. I bought it in the summer of 1984, after graduating high school, when I flew out to California (my first commercial flight) to visit a friend who moved there. He'd been there a month or two and had a part time job at a strip mall camera store, and I used his employee discount to get a camera bag for around $15. Your basic no-name padded nylon bag with a shoulder strap and a zip top, big enough for an SLR and a zoom lens. If it ever had dividers, they've been lost (the bag wasn't big enough to divide back in those days and that's one of the reasons I bought a new Kata bag - I was using it for my camcorder and needed to keep it and spare batteries and the aux mic from banging into each other). The zipper tab broke off, so I use a paper clip. There's a gold toned plastic logo that used to say "Mustang" but it broke in half. Otherwise, the bag is the same bag it was 30 years ago. I think these cheap "ballistic nylon" bags walk all over high end and well pedigreed waxed canvas bags when it comes to durability; certainly for value. Though I freely admit, they've got all the appeal of a Pontiak Aztek. But that's me all over. A teacher at my daughter's school asked me to come in and talk to a class about what I do for a living. My daughter said that would be okay, so long as she could pick out my clothes.