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Martin D
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Yes, this is a genuinely instuctive graph, a fine example of good data-presentation design. We TOPers owe Sarge a big "thank you". The diagram has four scales, coming in two pairs, and as Patrick Cooney mentions, some of these scales may potentially be misleading. The bottom and lefthand scales are the true scales, counting "years of experience" in the respective medium. This is the question I think most of us tried to answer when we took part. The top and righthand scales then re-interpret these time spans in terms of "calendar year when I first used this medium". But the two do not map one-to-one into each other. Some of us will have had breaks where we did not pursue any substantial photographic activity and we may have counted those years as neither film nor digital. Or we stopped making systematic use of film some time in the past and don't count the subsequent years as film years. From the original discussion, I recall several comments mentioning such considerations when they explained their figures, and in my own case too, my 33 years of film started in the late 70s, and not in the late 80's as the righthand scale suggests. I think the diagram would be more accurate, and not any less impressive, if the top and righthand scales were removed, allowing us to focus on the "years of experience" on the lefthand and bottom scales. This is not a criticism, just a friendly suggestion!
I rather liked the Guardian obituary and felt it brought some genuine insights into Frank's life and work. Frank had moved to other fields a long time ago, and I felt that by quoting those resigned remarks from his later years, the Guardian article sharpened our appreciation of Frank's refusal to stand still. This wasn't a reflection on photography, it was a revelation about Robert Frank. The obituary made me think afresh about the man, and for that I am grateful.
Toggle Commented 6 days ago on Robert Frank 1924-2019 at The Online Photographer
What an intriguing and charming story. We wish the great man a safe journey onward, he has done some powerful things down here whilst he was around.
Toggle Commented 6 days ago on A Chance Encounter at The Online Photographer
Think of Eugene Atget. Well into the 1920s, he roamed the streets of Paris with his ancient 18-by-24 cm glass plate camera, making all his prints as straight contacts at home, his "studio" being hardly more than a table and a few trays. "Obsolete" technology by any standard. But photography by and for the gods.
Toggle Commented Sep 6, 2019 on Everything Has Its Arc at The Online Photographer
The print is the ultimate aim of photography. For me this is not so much because of the superior image quality of the print compared with the image on the screen, it is rather because of the physicality of holding the photograph in my hands, as a real object. This could be a single silver or inkjet print, or a book, or a newspaper spread. Digging a little deeper into my response to the photgraphic print, I find myself to be drawn to the output of the printing press rather than the fine-art photo lab. I wish it were otherwise, but personally I don't actually gain all that much aesthetic excitement from seeing the perfect print on the wall of a museum or gallery. I envy those (like Mike) who do. It just isn't a gift I posess. By contrast, place a book of good photographs into my hands, hopefully well-designed and carefully produced and with images that have at least moderate print quality --- and I am a happy man, ready to spend hours going through the pages. I always have some stacks of photography books lying next to my desk and my reading chair. Interestingly, the situation is reversed for paintings. I own a lot of books with fine art reproductions, but for me these serve as reference points, not as sources of genuine aesthetic experience. For that I need to see the real painting. Hence for paintings, unlike for photographs, I love to go to museums and I have done so ever since I was a teenager. True, I also enjoy visiting photo exhibitions in galleries or museums, but for me this just isn't the main mode of engaging with photgraphic output. The source of these differences is, I think, the fact that the output of photography has an inherent element of reproducibility. Because of this reproducibility, photography is the one visual art that is naturally aligned with the printing press and its modern variants. Printed books and photographic images just love each other. Incidentally, that is why I think that those self-publishing "zines" are a really important and genuine modern expression of the true nature of straight photgraphy. I haven't tried my hand at producing zines yet, but I will.
Toggle Commented Sep 2, 2019 on Prints! at The Online Photographer
As I have explained in my comments on earlier columns, my own take on Fuji is that it is a natural "two bodies, three primes" system. Or "three bodies, five primes" if you want to go wider. The whole system then acts as one single camera in flexible re-combinations of its elements. In this context, for me the XH1 is the camera that supports the bigger lenses, at both sides of the spectrum: the 16mm f/1.4, the 90mm f/2, also the 56mm f/1.2. Combined with the 16mm f/1.4, the XH1 forms the most wonderful organic unit, feeling almost light in the hand and unobtrusive in use, despite the relative bulk of the camera and weight of the glass. The shutter is a dream. I am an XPro2 man by nature, but the XH1 has similar depth in its design and gestalt, just taken in a different direction. Those not yet in the system: get the XH1 at the current bargain price and use the savings to also get the out-of-this-world lens that is the 16mm f/1.4. You won't need another 24mm-e setup ever again.
Toggle Commented Aug 19, 2019 on Fuji Fire Sale at The Online Photographer
I didn't do digital until much later, but in 2007 I bought an Olympus E-1 for my wife. That was when Olympus had just introduced the follow-up model E-3, and the E-1 could be had for a couple of hundred pounds new. We still have the camera, and out of respect I take it out for a fun drive every once in a while. A beautifully crafted camera, and if you stay with base ISO, then the 5MP files from the CCD are very good. The camera was introduced in 2003, now we have 2019, that's 16 years of active service, not bad at all for digital. My own main camera now is the Fuji XPro2, which was introduced in 2016. I won't force the issue just to win records, but I wouldn't mind keeping the Xpro2 for at least ten to twelve years. Film? Back in the early 2000s I had a phase where I was going all classic and worked with Barnack Leicas. I still have a small set of these elegant early Leicas: a Leica II (1932) with the Elmar f/3.5, a finderless Leica If (1952) with the Summaron 28mm f/5.6 and the external 28mm viewfinder, and the last of the screw-mounts, a Leica IIIg (1956) with the wonderful Elmar f/2.8. I loved the simplicity and functionality of these cameras. I don't really use them any more, but Barnack's dual-window design that uses separate finders for viewfinder and rangefinder has prepared me well for my current XPro2, where I use the lower-righthand corner of the OVF for the tiny focus-peaking LCD, in much the same way as my eye was switching between the two finders of the IIIg.
Toggle Commented Aug 11, 2019 on Old and In the Way at The Online Photographer
Thom Hogan has described us Fuji users absolutely correctly, I think. Not too concerned about those final bits of resolution or focusing speed, very keen on traditional ergonomics, looking for a camera and a lens that let us become part of the flow. His own criteria are slightly different, of course, and I am delighted that he has taken the trouble to write down his carefully considered assessment of the Fuji lineup. He always writes with such precision and genuine respect for the real issues, plus his sharp insights into the marketing side of the industry. Does Fuji have too many cameras in their offering? I can see Thom's point, but I think Fuji plays it absolutely right. Their real offer to us photographers is is a tailored "2-body 5-lens" camera. For each sensor generation, Fuji offers a whole family of bodies, all sharing a common design philosophy and taking the same set of lenses, but each tailored to a different use pattern. The differentiation between these use patterns is meaningful, not artificial, and because the sensor & processing engines are the same, the files and therefore the later editing stages are the same for all bodies from the same generation. (Mike had posted a note about this aspect a few days ago.) This makes the Fuji system a natural multi-body system, and every photographer who has one Fuji body has the potential of becoming a two- or three-body user. The resulting ensemble of 2-3 bodies and, say, 4-7 lenses then really acts as if it is one single camera that changes shape according to need and circumstance. Myself, I am based on the XPro2 as my primary camera, but I also have the XE3 for compactness and the XH1 for those bigger lenses or when I need the image stabilisation. If Fuji didn't offer the XE3, I could go for the XT30 or XT100, but I probably wouldn't, the form-factor just doesn't appeal to me and I would rather stick to using the XPro2 on its own. Other photographers would prefer other combinations, of course, and I think the current spectrum of bodies allows each photographer to set up a system that is exactly tailored to their personal approach. Even if you go the whole way and really buy two bodies and, say, five prime lenses, you will still spend less than your buddy who buys a Nikon Z7 and two zooms. When you go out shooting, you pick up just one body and just one lens from your Fuji cabinet, and hey!, you are light and look like a harmless snapshooter, as we all want to.
Toggle Commented Aug 8, 2019 on Thom's Fujifilm Roundup at The Online Photographer
Yes, there is something very special about 40mm-e lenses. Or rather, 40mm-e is a perspective that really is "normal" and "not extreme", and it is this pure normality that makes the 40mm special. In the Fuji universe, the XF 27mm really is very nice, and it is soooo light and tiny. Not quite the robust mechanical feeling of the other Fuji lenses, and sadly no internal focusing, but it combines super well with all the Fuji bodies. Put it on the XE3 and the camera becomes something like a genuine pocket camera, and put it on the XPro2 or XH1 and you ooze "Ignore me, I am just taking some snapshots". I also have an old Leica M Elmarit 28mm for my Fujis, it is very compact and it too combines beautifully with all the Fuji bodies. I love it on the XE3. But, but. In the end, when I want to take out a 40mm-e, most of the time it will be the humble Fuji XF27mm. That lens just means to used.
Yes! This is the secret to the perfect camera setup: (i) a nice spectrum of ergonomically solid prime lenses; (ii) a set of 2 or 3 camera bodies, sharing the same global design features but each with its own characteristic design twist that makes it especially useful for a distinct type of usage; (iii) a common sensor & processing technology that is shared between these different body types, leading to identical or near identical files for the editing stage. In use, this whole setup acts as if it was one single higher-level camera. Fuji have got this absolutely right, and they make a real effort at maintaining points (ii) and (iii) across successive sensor generations. Myself, I reside in the "third generation", and my various primes are paired up in different ways with an XPro2, an XE3 and an XH1. I am ignoring the current fourth generation and may consider an update two or three generations down the line. The strange thing is that in this recombining system, the same lens will adopt different personalities, depending on the body with which it is paired. The 16mm for me feels like a close-up people lens when on the XE3, but more like a wide-vista cityscape lens when on the XH1. Three bodies, seven lenses, resulting in endless permutations of different usage patterns. What a powerful system. The mutliplicity of use patterns could be over-whelming, but I make sure that at any given time, I work with only one or two if these permuations, to allow for a sustained experience of their capabilities. I am willing to call this a "perfect camera setup", but the amazing thing is that for this perfect system to work, the individual components absolutely need not be perfect themselves. They just have to be good enough, and they have to combine well.
You have mentioned the "full set of lenses" quite a few times recently, in various contexts, and I think you have been yearning for such a set and you will benefit from it. Having such a set will open up new directions to your photography. One camera one lens is good. One camera and two or three lenses is good. But having a wider range of lenses at your immediate disposal affords new creative challenges and joys. To everything // There is a season // And a time to every purpose // Under heaven. For you, personally, now is the time for a full set of lenses! Listen to the multitude of creative calls that come to you from your lens cabinet! Our fellow TOP reader Jay Burleson has done the right thing.
Toggle Commented Aug 1, 2019 on I'm a Fuji Man Again at The Online Photographer
Eugene Atget, Lewis Hine, Josef Sudek, Andre Kertesz, Walker Evans.
Toggle Commented Jul 30, 2019 on Dream Team at The Online Photographer
33 years Fim - 10 years disorientation - 1 year digital. Film started properly with the Rollei 35 that my godfather gave me for my confirmation. I still recall the moment, about one year into that time, when I pressed the shutter and knew I had done something significant. My last camera in that period was a Fuji GW690, perfect simplicity. Not a perfect camera, but perfect simplicity. And, ah!, the joy of putting a 6x9 Agfa Scala slide onto the lightbox, loupe in hand. I hated the destruction of the old analogue universe by digital. I kept a few Leica screw mount cameras and used those occasionally, and I got myself a Sony Nex 5 to take family pics, but my photgraphic spirit was crushed. My twin daughters arrived in the middle of that period and the Nex 5 was fine for keeping track of events. Finally, last summer I took the plunge back into serious photography, with the Fuji X-Pro2. A happy man ever since! Still have two or three Barnack Leicas in the cabinet, and next to my desk stands my Canham DLC metal field camera, with the Sironar 210mm mounted. My daughters enjoy the magic of the image on the ground glass. What kept me connected in those middle years of disorientation? Your blog, Mike!
Personally, I'd rather not be seen in one of those photo vests. I am already rather deficient in the fashion department, and I want my young daughters to accumulate the right sort of memories of their dad! I don't need such vests to look even more geeky. :-) Here are two good ways to hide. The first is what I normally do, the second I still have to try. (1) Wear what a regular person walking the streets would be wearing. This will vary with the area where you operate, and it must be consistent with who you are. I recall the short stretch of film showing Cartier-Bresson in the street: eleganty dressed in a light suit and with proper shoes, taking pictures in the market place. He doesn't pretend to be a street trader, he just looks like the gentleman of leisure that he would be if he did not have his camera. Since this is authentic, he remains unnoticed. I think this approach works equally well for the clandestine and the open styles of street photography. Whatever you style, you will look authentic and thus non-threatening. (2) Here's a radical option from the other end of the spectrum. Put on one of those "hi vis" yellow jackets that are worn by construction workers. Perhaps also a construction helmet on your head. Plant your tripod in the middle of the road, with camera attached. The bigger the camera, the better. Take your pictures, not showing any regard for the people around you. Everyone thinks you are doing some surveying work for the city authorities and will see through you as if you are air. Obviously, this method works only if you prefer to take pictures unnoticed. I have heard people taking clandestine street shots with a large-format Linhof in this fashion. Personally, I never had the guts to try this myself, but some day I will.
Toggle Commented Jul 12, 2019 on Disguises at The Online Photographer
The trust element is key to "street portraits" such as here, but it is equally relevant in "reportage". Sebastiao Salgado once explained what happens when he enters into a new social environment, say photographing the workers in a shipyard. He said he starts off with a longer lens, keeping his distance. As he gains trust, he moves to a wider-angle lens and gets closer to his subjects. Then, as the project reaches its conclusion, he naturally reverts back to a longer lens and some distance re-establishes itself. Sadly I cannot find this interview, and I probably mis-remember the details, but I always found this account very moving.
Toggle Commented Jul 11, 2019 on Street Portraits at The Online Photographer
Very sharp insight here in the comment by richarplondon. Yes, "editing with the shutter finger" is the key. The decision not to take the picture is a creative act.
Your observations are so true, and so deep. A different universe entirely from the aggressive and antagonistic style of some New York street shooters, "24mm lens, get very close, take a record of their surprised and (preferably angry) faces". Perhaps even add a flashlight to intimidate the subject! Here, by contrast, the approach is deeply, deeply human, gentle, humble, appreciative, and the result is so much more revealing of the true nature of both the subject itself and the photographer's interaction with the subject. You have to be have a real sense of human fellowship to be able to do this. I am truly and deeply impressed. So much wisdom, and such good photography! Makes you proud and humbled to be a fellow human being; makes you excited to be a photographer. Inspiring.
Toggle Commented Jul 10, 2019 on Street Portraits at The Online Photographer
Dear Mike. I am so happy that all went well. Your selection of past pieces was wonderful: all of them very much alive and fresh, regardless of the original publication date. Your site has become such a powerful source of photographic reflection. For now, make sure not to overdo it --- stay away from the screen for a day if your eyes need some rest. Your readers won't walk away.
Toggle Commented Jun 28, 2019 on I'm Back at The Online Photographer
Interesting reflections in the comments on the difference between "focal length" FL and "angle of view" AOV. I have computed some examples, based on an APS-C sensor (I have taken the exact measures of the Fuji X sensor and have worked with the diagonal angle of view). FL length (in actual mm) translates into APS-C angle of view (in degrees) as follows: 16mm -> 83°; 28mm -> 76°; 23mm -> 65°; 27mm -> 55°; 35mm -> 44°; 40mm -> 39°; 50mm -> 32°; 56mm -> 28°; 90mm -> 18°. When comparing two focal lengths with each other, the ratios based on FL are slightly larger than the corresponding ratios based on AOV, and this effect becomes much stronger at the short end of the spectrum. For example, in FL the 35mm is 1.52 times longer than the 23mm (35/23=1.52), but the AOV of the 23mm is only 1.49 times wider than the AOV of the 35 (65/44=1.48). For 23mm versus 16mm, the FL ratio is 1.44 but the AOV ratio is 1.28, quite a big difference. For 40mm vs 27mm the FL ratio is 1.48 and the AOV ratio is 1.41; for 56mm vs 40mm the FL ratio is 1.4 and the AOV ratio is 1.39. We can see that the difference is fairly small in the mid range and at the long end, but much more noticeable at the short end. This makes sense: as you get closer and closer to a full panoramic view of 180 degrees, you can cut down your FL by any factor you want and you still won't get the AOV beyond 180 degrees. (Ignoring special optical designs, of course.) At the long end, the geometry won't stop you to make the angle of view as narrow as you want). Thus using FL ratios rather than AOV ratios slightly exagerates the difference, but unless we go to extreme wide angles the difference is not massive.
Wishing all the best for the operation. Equally important: in the period after, may you have the ability to let go and just take care of yourself! No worries about your readers, they will be thinking of you whilst you are away and will be here when you come back!
Toggle Commented May 31, 2019 on Pre-Op Blog Note at The Online Photographer
Several comments ask for "fewer but better pixels", and I agree. In one of your inserted comments you mention the Nikon D4/Df, which seems to do that. There was also the Sony A7s series. On the whole though, camera and sensor manufacturers seem to use the ever improving noise performance for making ever smaller pixels that yield overall slightly better noise characteristics than the previous generation, foregoing the option of bigger pixels of the same type that have massively better noise and dynamic range. Pity, but presumably that is how the interplay of technology and product strategy works out best for them. As a user of a 24MB sensor who needs only 8 or 12 for output --- is there a magical way of turning these 24 good pixels into 8 excellent ones? Please excuse the naivety of the question, I know less than nothing about "post".
I make my Fuji system do double duty and use the XPro2 as my main camera and the XE3 as the pocket version. After a lifetime of working with only one or two lenses, I have now allowed myself to get the full spectrum of focal lenses, from 16mm (24 eq) to 90 (135 eq), all covered by primes. But strangely, I find myself using primarily the pair 27/40 (40eq/60eq), effectively a wide standard and a long standard. Not quite the two step gap you suggest. This just happens to get my eyes into the right frame. I even have two lenses for the 40 eq, the lovely little Fuji 27mm and an old Leica 28/f2.8. For the 40mm I have the magical Voigtlaender 40/f1.4, which lives permanently on the XE3. When out with the kids, I take the 16mm/f1.4 and get those crazy close ups with them. Life is good. The system is it's own backup.
Your mention of Montaigne has triggered some further thoughts in me. What kind of photographer would he be? Gentle observations, non-judgemental, pursuing subtle hints in his subject matter with quiet persistence and without ever forcing a conclusion, always allowing for apparent side issues to enter into the argument. Not for him the aggressive closeness of a 24mm street shot, nor the cold distance and restricted focus of the 90mm. There can be no doubt: Montaigne would use a 40mm! At a small aperture! (But in truth of course he would use Fuji, so if we were to meet Monsieur de Montaigne on the streets of New York today, we would see him with a well-used X-Pro2 and the 27mm f/2.8, set at f/8.)
Toggle Commented May 23, 2019 on Bad PR at The Online Photographer
Dear Mike. Your friends here on TOP are feeling with you and wish you well for the operation. Interesting that you should mention Montaigne. I too regard him as my friend, and now that you mention him I can see that there is a certain Montaignesque element in your writing, and this could be part of an explanation of why your site is so important to so many people. Something to think about.
Toggle Commented May 23, 2019 on Bad PR at The Online Photographer
Hi Mike. As a dedicated daily reader, and a Patreon supporter: Just to say that I would not want you to restrict your writing in any way. TOP is such a wonderful meeting place because of you and your writing, and the freedom of your writing. I appreciate your off-topic pieces, and if I am not interested in them I simply don't read them. Others I am sure do the same. As it happens, your food essays did not interest me much, and I did not read them :-); but I certainly did not mind you writing them and publishing them in TOP. If you are happier not writing them, that is fine too, of course. Just know that your regulars love your site in all its variety. Most importantly: all the best for that eye operation!