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Jim Bullard
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Good post Mike. I enjoyed it. My own belief system defies labels, at least any that I can think of or that others have tried to attach to it. I think that is as it should be. Labels are the first step on the path to conflict.
Some history and thoughts. Many years ago when I was younger and working at a job I wasn't happy in, I had an opportunity to buy a camera shop from a guy I'd known since HS. He was retiring (about the age I am now). I really wanted to do it until he told me he wasn't making money on cameras because the chain and drug stores were starting to carry the cameras most consumers wanted and because they could buy in volume, they could sell those cameras for less than his cost. He carried a few new cameras and listed them at the higher prices he needed and told customers that he was selling service along with the actual camera (sound familiar?). He could offer advice and instruction that made the higher price worth it. Mostly the cameras sat the shelf and his main business was B&W processing which had to be done after hours because he couldn't afford a clerk to tend the store while he processed film. He was grossing about $10K (this was in the '70s) about the time the 800# dealers were starting to kill the local shops. I saw the handwriting on the wall and reluctantly passed. The guy who did buy the business ended up bankrupt. Neither of us foresaw digital. Nikon isn't the first to be sticklers about proof of purchase. I once bought a used Pentax and wrote the US importer asking if I could get a copy of the user manual. They denied my request because they said if they said if they supplied manuals without proof of sale by a US dealer, people would buy overseas models cheaper and then request an English manual. I pointed out that the camera was used and no longer in production but that made no difference to them. That kind of turned me off Pentax and I switched to Canon. I've been buying, selling and trading cameras (both used and new) for over 50 years (more buying than selling, I still have too many cameras). FWIW I've never owned a Nikon. I have owned or do own Voightlander, Graflex, Miranda, Pentax, Canon, Mamiya, Fuji, Olympus, Yashica, Wista and a few others but never a Nikon. The used cameras never had a warranty of course, and out of all the new ones I have bought (mostly licensed imports but some grey market) not one has ever failed in what was or would have been the warranty period had there been one. Of course, I'm not a working pro who is hard on gear. If I were, and was depending on my camera purchases to feed my family I'm sure I'd want the insurance of a well-backed warranty, but as it is, a failed camera is not a crisis to me. Besides, as I said, I have several others if one ever does fail and I've saved enough over the years on used and grey gear that if one did bail on me and an anal repair facility refused to fix it over lack of a sales slip, I could just buy another and still be ahead. I guess I'm playing the odds but my history demonstrates that the odds are with me when it comes to cameras without warranties. As always YMMV.
I agree with your dog theory. My prime criteria for vehicles is reliability and along with that, I hold to the maxim that if I have to drive more than 30 miles for warranty repairs, it is not a good car/truck. Thus I am unlikely to ever own a Volvo, Mercedes or even a Kia since none of those have a dealership within 30 miles of my rural location. Likewise my rule for cameras has more to do with the technological capabilities of the camera than the price. I paid around $1700 for my Canon 7D kit when I bought it about 12 years ago. It has been worth every penny IMO. OTOH I've looked at cameras that run $3000+ that I wouldn't touch because they aren't suitable for the kind of photography I do. I'm considering a shift to mirrorless (I do a lot of hiking and at 71, weight is becoming an issue, both my weight and the camera's) but I want one that has the same capabilities as my 7D.
Toggle Commented May 22, 2016 on Open Mike: Theory of Dogs at The Online Photographer
Somehow this whole debate reminds me of the arguments over whether the Bible is the literal "word of God" but tempting as that analogy is I won't go there. There is a photographer, I don't recall his name, who is blind. He points the camera and trips the shutter. Someone else, I guess, develops and prints the images he makes (he uses film) and since I've seen mention of him multiple times in various media, he has made at least a modest reputation as a photographer. Assuming that his processor is doing 'straight' processing, I think we could all agree that his photographs are images of reality because they are in no way biased by his visual perceptions. I, on the other hand, choose my subjects visually, choose what to include in the frame and what to leave out and process the images to emphasize what aspects of the subject I want the viewer to "see", the same way a writer chooses his/her words to create the mood or emotion intended. That act of choosing is, in itself, a departure of from the 360 degree, 5 senses reality of the instant in which the shutter was clicked. Given that awareness, I hope you will forgive my lack of indignation for editing photographs that are illustrative as (IMO) most of the photos in National Geographic are. When I look at their photos I am fully aware that they make them in much the same manner as I do. Truth to be told, I wouldn't have shot that particular image of the bike taxi and if I had, I would not have brightened, saturated and raised the contrast to the degree that they did. Why? Because (for me) it too greatly alters the mood of the slog through rain and mud. Again, if I had shot it, I would have done much the same edits Mike suggests but unlike Mike I would have completely ditched the white square because it is totally meaningless to the photo and is distracting. I would have suffered zero pangs of guilt over doing it although it appears that I might well have suffered unemployment in today's world of journalism, a touch of irony when I see other much more egregious distortions in photographs which are ostensibly not Photoshopped. I refer here to numerous instances in our current election campaign where news media tightly frame images of a modest campaign event to give the impression of a large turnout (that actually totaled a few dozen to a few hundred) while downplaying (again through framing) a turnout in the thousands, with the message of each reflecting the preferences of the media's management re: the politician involved. They also choose the individual portrait image on the same basis, a flattering image for someone they favor and an unflattering one for those they oppose. All this routinely occurring in mainstream media on matters regarding the future direction of our government. But we aren't debating that. Instead, we are debating an inconsequential photograph of anonymous people on a bike taxi in India in a publication that is largely apolitical (or at least it was before its recent change of ownership). All this disputation over a photograph, the precise truthfulness of which is of little to no consequence, makes me more glad than ever that I got out of photojournalism when I was in my 20s. Jeesh!
I have mixed feelings about this. As a rule, I like to manipulate as little as possible, i.e. I would not have Photoshopped out the guy in the background, but when I do I try to make the manipulation as un-obvious as possible. I recognize that cameras don't 'see' the way we humans do and photography is primarily about seeing for me. A camera 'sees' everything you point it toward. We label that camera seeing as "objective" but that is a human judgment. We could just as easily say "indiscriminate" if we chose to put a negative spin on how the camera sees instead of a positive spin. Humans see subjectively. We pay attention to that which has meaning for us either because we like it, or because it is somehow threatening to us. Moving objects get our attention as do brightly colored things. It is a survival function. There was an interesting video made some time ago that shows up on the web periodically in which there is a group of people passing a ball around and the viewer is instructed to keep their eye on the ball. At the end the viewer is asked if they saw the gorilla. There was a guy in a gorilla suit who walked right through the group of people passing the ball. I missed him (as do the vast majority of people who see the film without being told in advance about the gorilla and I have been doing photography (seeing intently) for over half a century. Should a photographer be honest about editing out things if asked? I'd say yes but I also wonder if we aren't being too strict about "honesty" in photographs. Does it really matter that the guy in the background was edited out? Does it somehow change the story? If it was evidence in a legal proceeding obviously but for a magazine story? Like it or not, every digital photo out there is edited to one degree or another. Digital cameras all shot in RAW format which can't even be viewed without converting to some other format. Even the preview on the LCD is a conversion. That involves modifications to tone, hue and dynamic range either in camera or in "post processing". It often also involves correcting to lens distortion. Perhaps we need to get over the idea that photographs are inherently "honest" and then decide what level of honesty is required for the particular situation.
Toggle Commented May 12, 2016 on Faked-up Photos at The Online Photographer
RE: Twoot. I don't tweet. Facebook already wastes too much of my time. I don't need another time waster.
That begs the question, "what is a SERIOUS photographer?". I have been a pro (many years ago) and a freelancer after that but gave up any notion of making a living at it. I'm not particularly successful at selling prints which all I've ben doing with it for several decades now. All the same I consider myself to be quite serious about my photography. Like Tom I am a "happy snapper" but it is much more than that. I'm truly serious about my photography. I can't quantify that for you though. It just is.
Toggle Commented Mar 28, 2016 on Know Thyself at The Online Photographer
What is reality? I'm serious with that question. If you've ever dealt with someone suffering from a mental illness you quickly learn that their reality is not the same as yours. Granted some things are objectively real, but there is a lot of room for interpretation. Just look at out current election campaign. And all those people are (allegedly) sane. What I try for in my photography is to show the reality that is my perception of the world I interact with. Sometimes that requires color, sometimes the drama of B&W and occasionally it requires the dreaded Photoshop manipulation.
Just tell us the title already.
Many moons ago when I was a poor college student I read "Living Poor With Style" by Ernest Callenbach. As I recall the recommendation he made regarding cars was to buy a 1-2 year old car (after the initial depreciation) and drive it until the annual repairs were costing as much as or more than the payments would be on a new one. I believe the second cheapest way was to buy a new one and do the same. The book is still available on Amazon I see and it answers all sorts of questions like this. Well worth reading IMO.
Better idea: Make three prints on 8½x11 paper and put them in Itoya portfolios. Keep one at home and farm the other two out to your designated archivists. The folios will fit a bookshelf and can be looked at like a book without mangling the prints. In discussing with my wife recently how I should preserve my best work, that is exactly what we decided to begin doing. The other copies will probably be sent to our two children.
I am a bearded old grumpy guy and I too hate those wheels that look like chrome plated Conestoga wagon wheels.
Ya know... I wondered about that. Although I don't believe that an 'heir' should automatically receive rights to the creations of a relative he/she never knew and wasn't named in a will as the heir to those rights, law is a weird and complex thing. That whole issue might have played out in the "lost Ansel Adams negatives" had they not been determined to be by 'Uncle Earl'. Even so I suppose the niece could have sued for possession. I have a book of Vivian Mayer's work on order that hasn't been released. I suppose this means that won't happen.
In a traditional (but probably fanciful) America children grew up, got married lived no more than an hour away and had grandchildren that we parents could dote over. Then there is reality. Too many years ago for my taste our son emailed me from his first job (6-7 hours away) and said he was torn, he had an offer of an interview for his dream job working for New World Software. His current job was boring but relatively near while New World was all the way across the country in California. Reluctantly I advised him to go for it. He didn't own a home and had no children. If he wanted to chase a dream, now was the time. The alternative was for him to stay in the boring job and wonder when he was 40 or 50 "what if I had...". He went. Years later he ended up in Austin (the opposite of Kirk and his son). You never stop missing them but on the other hand it resulted in my going places and doing things I likely never would have otherwise just like his birth did. His dream didn't work out entirely as he envisioned (dreams never do) but he's done well. Roll with it guys. Life is what happens while you are planning other things. :-)
Mike, Regardless of the state of your vision (mine is deteriorating too) you can determine whether an area is totally black in Photoshop using the Threshold or the Curves tool. In a Threshold layer. Just move the slider back and forth* to see whether the whole area appears/disappears at once. If there are lighter areas they will show up as you move the slider. If there are lighter parts just select the area of the lighter bits (lasso them) and burn them in on the image layer then ditch the Threshold layer. *My grandfather was fond of saying that the expression should be reversed, "forth and back", since you can't come back until you have gone forth. Something to ponder as we go forth into a new week. :-)
Toggle Commented Aug 18, 2014 on 8/18/14 Morning Coffee at The Online Photographer
Not crazy. Just can't afford it, either the print or the airfare to Hawaii. If I had the money to travel I'd visit my son in Texas. I don't know anyone in Hawaii, well only one person and we aren't close friends. As for a print sale, I'm open to it if Mike asks. I've submitted stuff when he did ask.
That's okay by me. I hate (as in HATE!) April fools jokes anyway.
Toggle Commented Apr 2, 2014 on April Fool's Day... at The Online Photographer
This is the second time I've been offered a great deal on a used Miata and alas, like the first time I'm not in a financial position to do it (two mortgages). If you find a buyer for our old house I'll buy the car. :-)
Toggle Commented Apr 2, 2014 on Miata for Sale (OT) at The Online Photographer
So when do we get to see the pictures? "Real soon" like in The Adventures of Buckaroo Bonsai across the 8th dimension?
" I am thoroughly, thoroughly sick of Winter, more so than I have ever been in my life. I just want it to go away." You have a lot of company on that sentiment Mike. A whole lot of company.
Toggle Commented Feb 25, 2014 on Off-Topic Week at TOP at The Online Photographer
I just wrote my own blog post about this. I've been pondering why one would tie their sense of their individual style to the technical limitations of a given medium or in this case the limitations of a specific portion of the medium, a particular type of film. When we look at the larger art world most artists use different mediums routinely sometimes very different mediums. Think for a moment about Picasso who although known primarily as a painter also worked in such diverse mediums as sculpture and pottery. Like the vast majority of other painters he drew in pencil, charcoal, whatever. Granted the drawings of painters are usually preliminary to painted works but the point is that their 'style' is not tied rigidly to the medium to the point that they feel obliged to make the finished product look like a medium other that what it is. If they do so it is a matter of choice for aesthetic reasons, not something that they feel compelled to do to achieve a "consistency of look" to other work. For my own work I have long believed (with apologies to Huey Lewis) the the heart of photography is seeing. My style derives not from the materials I use so much as the way I see, record and present the things I choose to photograph. The media and techniques I use to create my images are simply a matter of choosing among the options that are available to me which will result as nearly as possible in the result I am seeking. In my early years I used a lot of Tri-X 35mm because it was the camera I could afford and the film that worked best over a broad range of lighting. If I could have shot a different ASA/ISO for every photograph choosing a lower speed and finer grain for more brightly lighted scenes I would have. I do a lot of photography while hiking. If I could find a camera that fit in my pocket and would provide the equivalent of ASA/ISO 50 8x10" film and I could afford it, you can bet that I'd use it. Art is in seeing and communication of our vision. The technology is just details
Toggle Commented Feb 5, 2014 on Survey says . . . at LensWork Daily
I remember reading the TOP article as well as some comments that he used that methodology because the grain in the ISO 400 & 3200 films he used to use were "part of his style", thus the work was more recognizably his. FWIW I think that when one's "style" becomes an impediment to producing the best possible images it is time for the "style" to change, or in more positive terms to grow or evolve. To me degrading one's images to a lower level of quality signifies getting stuck. The world changes, technology changes, growth and progress are the norm. I still like film but no longer shoot 35mm film because I couldn't get the results I wanted when that was all that was available to me. I can't imagine deliberately mimicking work that I was less than fully satisfied with in the past.
Toggle Commented Feb 3, 2014 on Salgado's Genesis and Grain at LensWork Daily
Take care. Get well. We'll find something else to do. ;-)
Toggle Commented Jan 14, 2014 on Blog Note at The Online Photographer
Winter didn't have any welcome in NNY. We got blasted by snow storms followed by freezing rain and sleet that left 7-8 inches of ice on our roof damaging our skylight and chimney when a thaw made it decide to slide off in one sheet. Then there was that Polar Vortex thing. We now have a more moderate system that almost seems tropical by comparison. I been thinking about making some prints (digital) but I'm so burnt out from just surviving that thinking is as far as I've gotten. Maybe I should fire up my ColorMunki. That wouldn't take much energy.
Toggle Commented Jan 13, 2014 on Winter Doldrums at The Online Photographer
I'd seen that one Mike. I even saved a copy. :-)
Toggle Commented Jan 8, 2014 on Shortest Post Ever at The Online Photographer