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Of course I agree with ""photography" as a whole is utterly unknowable because it's so incomprehensibly vast." But as for "no one can pretend otherwise" all you have to do is visit various enthusiast-oriented photography forum sites, where you'll find plenty of people who can tell you, with firm conviction, precisely what photography is and isn't :) I think your closing statements are the crux of it all. There are hundreds of millions of people taking pictures today. Who could possibly hope to discover all the ways in which photography is practiced ? But then, I'm just a guy who takes pictures for fun, so all I really care about is why I practice it. You write about it for a living. It makes sense that you're less comfortable in the knowledge that there's increasingly more to comprehend. (If it helps, I'm uncomfortable knowing that as time goes on, I can wrap my head around an increasingly smaller subset of my field).
I don't have a favorite musician any more than a favorite photographer, but I have favorite musicians! Quite a few of them (and quite a few favorite photographers ;) I don't like all music. There's far more music that I don't like than music that I do. But music is big and there's more that I do like than I can listen to regularly. Oddly, I can probably name favorite albums more readily than favorite musicians. Also, when I think of favorite movies, many of them are heavily influenced by the soundtrack. I can't name a favorite musician - one that I "go to" more often than others. But my daughter has asked the hypothetical "what concert would you see if you could see anyone, dead or alive" and my answer is Harry Chapin, despite the fact that I don't listen to him very often.
I saw your new post ("Yesterday's Post") in which you (jokingly) say that "We're finally going to get to the bottom of whole sharpness thing and settle it once and for all." The thing is, beyond the subjective view of which photos work with subject motion blur or camera shake or general lack of sharpness (and which ones seem to demand sharpness), I think that there are other characteristics (that people who understand mtf charts would probably be able to comprehend much better than I can). There are lenses that can capture fine detail, but that don't look "tack sharp" - I believe it's because they have low contrast, at least at high frequencies - and photos from these lenses can look wonderful. There are lenses that are very contrasty, but don't seem capable of recording fine detail. I'm pretty sure my first "digital lens" (the Konica Minolta 18-70) behaved like this. Viewed small, images looked brilliant, but you didn't have to view them very big to see a distinct lack of detail. I've shot with lenses with "soft corners" (particularly wide open), but also with at least one lens with decidedly "smeared corners". There's a print hanging in my office that, I believe, relies on being sharp, but the foreground corners are soft and that's fine. But I'm glad I didn't take it with that lens with the really bad corners. I'm perfectly happy, as a photographer and as a photo viewer, with sharp photos and unsharp photos (and unsharp for various reasons), so long as the sharpness "fits". (I'm not sure I'd agree that as many shots are ruined by being too sharp, but I agree that the knife cuts both ways). But I'm still going to be somewhat picky about my lenses.
I wouldn't give somebody something with the expectation that they must keep it - that's just placing a burden on them. I've learned to get rid of gifts that I don't want - why clutter up my house with things that collect dust and lose value out of a misplaced sense of obligation ?
Wow ... 28 years with film, but this chart has me feeling young ! It's an impressive piece of work and shows a fun snapshot of (some subset of) TOP's audience .
I'm reading Daniel Coyle's "The Talent Code" at the moment. He talks about deep practice being key to developing myelin more quickly (which, in turn, lets you do the things you practice, better). There are a few key features of that deep practice. The second key (which I'm reading about currently) is ignition, which is partly the reason you start practicing, but more importantly, the reason you keep up those 10,000 hours of deep practice. He talks about when talent hotbeds pop up, like when Russian women tennis players or Korean women golfers started dominating following an inspining headline-dominating victory. And then he talks about an interesting study that showed the expected trend between musical skill and hours practiced among school children, but which wanted to go farther in explaining why some children scored better despite practicing less than others. And after trying to attribute it to various variables, they found a big correlation between what a student got out of his or her practice and a students initial mindset in terms of how long they expected to be playing an instrument. Student data was lumped into three groups: Students who expected to play for only a year or two, students who expected to play through middle school and students who expected to play for much longer. In each group, more practice meant higher skill ratings, but for any given number of hours, the students with the more committed mindsets scored higher - they got more out of their practice. I still have more to read and I'm not sure how, exactly, it relates to this post, but it's an interesting book.
Toggle Commented Aug 22, 2019 on The Appetite for Work at The Online Photographer
So ... it's not abstract ... it's concrete ? It is a great photo. Reminds me of Jay Maisel talking about how, when people ask "why did you take that picture" about certain images, he replies "how could you NOT ?"
Change the lens on the Sony to a 35/1.8 and see what happens to the size/weight/price. Sure, if you're looking at moving from APS-C to FF as a low light upgrade, you'll only exploit the larger sensor if you keep the lens speed the same. But if you're simply choosing between two systems, you're creating an apples-to-oranges comparison: bigger/heavier/more-expensive versus noisier. Here's what I think is going to happen. Sony has built up a tremendous FF mirrorless system while neglecting APS-C and failing to build up a decent lens lineup. Nikon appears to have no interest in APS-C mirrorless (that could change, though it could also follow Sony by doing primarily consumer grade stuff). And Canon's EOS-M system is low-mid range with compatibility issues. FF camera prices are getting to where they're not much higher than high end APS-C cameras. In short, there's never been more incentive to at least consider full frame. And then, they'll start looking for ways to make FF viable. They'll decide to go for slower lenses, even if it means they don't get to exploit the larger sensor in low light. They'll crop their tele shots down to 9MP to stick with a 100-400mm lens :) Contrary to John Camp's aseessment, I think the market is down to enthusiasts and pros who (a) probably do care (about sensor size) or (b) are simply going to end up pushed to FF by Sony, Nikon and Canon. The problem I see for fans of smaller sensors is that while smaller sensors are good enough that few of us need FF, manufacturers are going to see to it that there are going to be fewer downsides to going FF.
Toggle Commented Aug 8, 2019 on Thom's Fujifilm Roundup at The Online Photographer
Re: full frame tax ... Sony makes a (Zeiss-branded) 24/1.8 for APS-C that's $1100. So maybe it's just a Sony tax. (Or a Sony 35mm equivalent tax ... the 35/2.8, another Zeiss-branded lens, is $800). BTW, if the Nikon F mount equivalent costs less, the new Z mount mirrorless 35/1.8 is a whopping $850 ! At least the Canon RF version is a relative bargain at $500.
Five is too few - there are more than five different genres. And a list of photographers everyone should know should cover a range of genres (or be directed at a specific audience). Right off the bat, I think anyone interested in photography ought to know about someone like Joe McNally to get a sense for what it takes to make it in commercial photography today. I don't know if I could even come up with my own 5 favorites, never mind try to cover a wider range of interests. And then, do you pick photographers for their photography or for what they have to say about photography ?
Toggle Commented Jul 30, 2019 on Dream Team at The Online Photographer
Let's go with 28 (film) and 15. (Different Dennis). I might have started with digital a couple years earlier, but still used film for most stuff, because the early Kodak digicam was pretty bad.
I'll happily make pictures of colors. Still can't take my phone seriously. (And let's not even talk about ice cream !)
Some years ago, when my daughter was a younger child, a photographer took pictures of her on the boardwalk in New Jersey ... at first, my parent's instincts jumped to attention, but he was a friendly, older gentleman wearing a photographer's vest with a couple cameras and he approached us after taking a few shots and talked briefly to us - might have asked for some information, I can't remember. In hindsight, it may have been Bob Krist - I vaguely recall him looking somewhat like Bob does in pictures, and I bought a book of Krist's photos that features some taken on that same boardwalk around the same time period.
Toggle Commented Jul 12, 2019 on Disguises at The Online Photographer
I think almost anyone can be a good photographer, with effort. Whether a person can be a *successful* photographer depends on additional skills: perseverance, self-promotion, people skills, etc. But one individual is going to be more or less likely than another to develop any of those skills - your next door neighbor may be just as capable as you of developing the skills to be a great photographer, but has no interest in it, so won't. You may be just as capable as the next guy when it comes to developing the business skills, but won't, because you're too humble to participate in the self-promotion. And so on ... I've read that the number one thing it takes to become a successful musician is a driving need to create music to the point that you couldn't imagine life without doing so. The message being that you have to work like heck and if you don't have the motivation to work like heck, then you're not going to make it because the market is saturated with musicians who do work like heck. I think this is where all the "what color is your parachute" type of advice comes from ... we're all capable of doing lots of things that lots of other people do, but we're more likely to put the effort into a few things than others. Regarding creativity, I don't know whether I believe that can be developed but I think that comment gets more into photography as Art and there's an awful lot of room to be a good (or great) and/or successful photographer with no pretense of being an artist.
Toggle Commented Jul 8, 2019 on Houses of Many Mansions at The Online Photographer
Mike asks: "Have you ever been locked out of something by rising prices? " My problem is that as better and better stuff gets to be within reach (a combination of better financial situation after years of working and saving coupled with advances in design and manufacturing), my eyes and ears no longer demand it ! I will say that my sense of taste has gotten marginally more refined over the years, but my daughter complains that my nose whistles and I don't hear it, so my threshold for audio quality is pretty modest.
Toggle Commented May 20, 2019 on Locked Out! at The Online Photographer
Before I opted to upgrade my DSLR (recent deal on D7500) I seriously considered moving to FF mirrorless (I also have an APS-C Sony that I've decided is not in my long term future). Nikon is an obvious choice - the cameras are competent and I have Nikon lenses. But the 24-70 is ONLY 24-70 (I prefer 24-105) and the 35/1.8 looks awfully big for a 35 (bigger than the Canon) and goes for $800+. So I started looking at the RP. It's dirt cheap, but has dual control wheels (so it's not TOO entry level). Competent, basic, looks "fun" (don't know how to quantify that). Lacks IBIS, but the 35 and the 24-105 both have it built in. It started to look like a really good option to bigger, pricier kits (or, for that matter, to competing APS-C mirrorless kits). But then I saw the refurb D7500 for $699 and I had my eye on the Sigma 100-400 that was on sale for $650 and decided it's a great time to upgrade my trusty DSLR and ride off into the sunset, clickety clack, clickety clack ...
That's a pretty solid bargain. I recently bought a refurb Nikon D7500 for $699, though (only to have brand new ones go on sale for $799 a month later). I'm not kicking myself over that (though I'd probably opt for new for the extra $100). But I am kicking myself for not holding off, because it's available with the excellent 16-80/2.8-4 for only $1399. So that's my vote.
I doubt that Synchrony is providing (all the) funds to B&H, as Bob suggests. They're probably benefiting by not paying 2-3% to other card companies. But B&H got big as a discount mail order business. MAP pricing (or whatever the technically correct term is) leveled the playing field for small, local businesses by preventing the volume retailers from selling at a discount. Avoidance of sales tax kept some buyers shopping online, rather than buying locally and now that benefit is gone. Lately, big online retailers have been offering freebies in bundles to make it more attractive to buy from them. This looks like another way that B&H can try to get back to their traditional model of taking less profit in exchange for volume. (Amazon, Target, Best Buy and probably others have had store cards that offer 5% in cash back credits for a while). They're collecting and remitting sales tax; they're charging list prices; they're just offering an incentive to use their credit card. The thing that strikes me as a little odd is that the card provides no benefit to buyers in states where B&H does not collect sales tax. I don't know if there's a legal reason for that, but you'd think they'd offer some kind of incentive to use their card (and avoid having to pay the fee to other card companies) and gain loyal buyers. I wonder if they'd avoid some controversy by doing 5% across the board, rather than a state-by-state percentage.
IIRC, your old Konica Minolta had a "degree of shake" indicator, too.
Can't argue with your choice. I also like "Procession of Nuns", have always liked "Taj and train" (though I don't think I'd choose that one for a large print) - I think I'd choose "Mandalay, Burma, 1994".
A little late on this one and you don't have to waste your time posting it - just wondering if your dream girl's (Magda's) last name is Miata ?
There's one other aspect of phone photography that occurred to me this morning after revisiting this post and that's because my daughter is thinking about upgrading her phone to one with a better camera. My comment that Mike featured recently had to do with whether smartphones are "good enough". It seems to me that we're at a point where we were with DSLRs many years ago where they're good enough to use, but not good enough to be satisfied with them for long. I'm shooting with a 9 year old DSLR and a 7 year old compact, but I suspect that if I were shooting with a phone, I'd want a new, state of the art $1000+ smart phone with (at least) dual lenses rather than my good-at-the-time iPhone 6, and I suspect I'd be eagerly looking at $1000+ upgrades in two more years.
I've read enough similar comments from other photographers to know that you're far from alone in finding the phone fun and liberating. It has to be very individual, though, because I find that if I see a compelling scene and all I have on me is my phone, I don't bother trying to take a good picture and kick myself for not having a camera on me. Not because the phone isn't good enough, but because I don't find it to be a satisfying camera to shoot. Beyond that, though, I wonder about a couple things that you wrote. One is how you can settle for a single, wide angle focal length after an RX10. The other is probably obvious: You like how the phone simplifies things by removing all the menu options that you had to verify before a shoot, but it seems to me that you could have that simplicity with a camera in P mode. My guess is that there's some combination of the phone forcing that simplicity and the phone doing a better job with photos than a camera in P mode that would explain that. Ultimately, I'm discovering that the right camera is not much about image quality or specs (though I'm sure that's not true for everyone) and, instead, mostly about what makes you want to take pictures. So congratulations on finding a new joy in shooting with a phone. I'm trying to narrow that down for myself so I can do away with 2 different ILC systems and a couple different 1" sensor cameras in favor of something simpler and more fun. I'm glad that Mike posted your story because I plan to spend some time looking at your websites (I started with the digital site because we're talking about phones and it looks like there's a lot worth looking at).
Marco asks "How do you decide that you are going out to take snapshots (phone) or something more serious (camera)?" Mike, I know you don't encourage discussion in the comments, but this gets to my earlier point about phones being the best camera (despite weaknesses) for the intended usage of most people. For me, it's not about carry convenience. If I want to take pictures, I take a camera. If an ILC is a bother, my RX100 is convenient enough. My pictures get imported into Lightroom where they're available for making prints of photo books. There's no urgency to share them. My phone is for "visual texts" - reminders, amusing anecdotes, things I want to show people. But not for photography. Image quality, at least at 28mm and under the right conditions, is fine. But it's not a camera that lends itself to enjoyable, contemplative shooting. In a prior post, Mike mentioned the complexity of modern cameras, but phones are too easy - in order to get it to do what I want, I'd have to find the right app and learn how to control it and it's not via dials that I've been using for decades. So for me, it's straightforward. If I know (or suspect) I'll want to take pictures, I take a camera. Because, while the phone is the best camera for sharing, my cameras are better at taking pictures I want to keep. (And I'll have my phone, anyway).
Well, I can't very well reply TL;DR after you called my comment brilliant ! I started photography as a kid with a camera in the late 70's, but I never did my own darkroom work. If I had to go through anything close to the bother you describe, I'm sure I would have abandoned photography as a hobby. (I did develop one roll in the high school darkroom with a friend who sort of knew what he was doing and it was fun to do ... once). To clarify my comment a little, I think various people have different reasons for wanting a better camera in their phone - maybe low light picture quality, probably a telephoto for most - but I don't think most people are bothered by the image quality they get from their phones (most probably get better images from their phones than they would from a DSLR, thanks to the intelligent processing they incorporate). But we're somewhere in the middle of a period of rapid improvement in phone cameras, precisely because manufacturers know their customers want more out of them. As for convenience, I used to do all the picture taking in the family. Now my wife gets her phone out to take a picture of anything she wants to share, because she doesn't want to have to wait for me to get home, download the file, tweak it in Lightroom and email it to her. Not nearly as onerous as your old workflow, but it may as well be - if it happened yesterday, it isn't interesting. All of which gets to the purpose of taking pictures. For most people, the phone is the best camera for what they want to do with their pictures. Even if they do want a zoom lens on it.