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David Dyer-Bennet
Minneapolis
Programmer, SF fan, photographer
Recent Activity
I'm not sure I like you any more! I just barely made my saving throw against the two-print collector package (but fell victim to the one-print version). People should check out his ebook store—we probably all have decently-calibrated monitors (probably more of us have that than have properly-lit print viewing facilities), so while ebooks lack the tactile experience, we can see the photos pretty darned well, and his prices there are exceptionally good. I haven't seen people selling photo ebooks much; I'm trying it for my Words Over Windows project, but that format is not moving at all (paper book, and prints I'm surprised to say, have been doing decently though).
I wouldn't be shocked if Snowden was being deliberately provocative. Certainly the vast majority of photos are created and used practically, with little artistic consideration. I'm not willing to go all absolutist on this, though. It's just one more way (or 96 more or whatever; photography probably isn't "one thing") of putting marks on flat media (among other things it also is), and it's broadly agreed that some sets of marks on flat media do constitute examples of "art". I am most certainly not willing to classify photography as the only way of putting marks on media that cannot be art! Certainly there are plenty of Snowden prints in, say, the National Portrait Gallery there. I suppose, once he's sold them, he can't really stop that. I don't think there's much use in attempting to rule things out of "art". Among many, many other reasons, a significant percentage of artists are stubborn rules-rejectors, and it'll just get them to try to show you're wrong. However, a huge proportion of attempts at making art end up making fairly bad art. One thing happening with the vastly lowered bar to creating images, and the vastly expanded array of images easily available to any Internet user who cares to look, is that we're seeing more and more people's favorite (or highly-liked) images being things that happen to exactly hit their personal idiosyncratic preferences. These may not appeal to that many other people, and they may have weaknesses when viewed dispassionately by art experts. What this may lead to in the long run, who knows? One thing is that, in a few generations, an awful lot of people, maybe most people, will find that their favorite and most meaningful images are rejected by the art establishment. Even when people don't agree on which images they do like, I think it's quite possible they'll unite on disagreeing with, and rejecting, the views of the art establishment.
I have encountered (helped move, in fact) people who had enough LP records that the books were not the main weight moved (they were SF fans, there were a LOT of books; but low thousands of LPs as well). Science fiction is still a good place for me to do just a little book collecting. First editions of Doc Smith are often under $100 (not everything, and not really good ones, and not one the dozen or however many there were sets of the Lensman series hand-bound in leather and put in a box as "The History of Civilization", that goes up around $7k; but many). First editions of Heinlein are too much for me, as are autographed copies. There are also things like the American first of Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett's Good Omens (the source material for the TV mini-series), signed by both authors, which I bought new for list price and got signed by both authors when they were both at a convention I was at, and was worth mid hundreds last I checked which was before the TV mini-series and before Pratchett died).
Both the photo gallery (salon style!) and the photo books suggest some use for a place to sit while looking at them, and I don't hear any seating anywhere in the room?
A Pocket Instamatic was my first toy camera; the first little easy camera I had after I already had a big complicated camera. I remember being deeply impressed reading about the camera and projector lenses being designed to expect the degree of film curvature the cartridges provided (while wondering just how consistent the cartridges were at that). My first practical example that the things we all took for granted (as desirable; not always achieved) like flat film and flat plane of best focus weren't the only way to do things. (I also knew about the shifts and tilts in view cameras early, but that was still discussed based on theoretical perfect planes of this and that.) That Instamatic snapshot looks remarkably colorful and contrasty, compared to my memories of the real things.
Toggle Commented Nov 9, 2020 on Mystery Woman at The Online Photographer
Very nice bit of workmanship there! But where will you keep the rest of the spices?
I wonder if a significant factor in the negative reaction to RC paper wasn't that its "glossy" (or 'F') surface wasn't anything like a real glossy (fiber-based paper dried pressed tight to a very smooth "ferrotype plate" or cylinder)? (I remember reading about an Ilford RC paper dryer that allegedly slightly melted the surface and produced a real gloss; but I never saw prints from one, never knew anybody who had one, and it was too expensive to buy as a total experiment.) Now, not needing to invest in a rather expensive dryer like that may also have been a significant factor in RC paper's success. And less washing time was nice. Even today, the good papers don't include a good glossy, we use "lustre" and things. Which are nice surfaces, just not the same as glossy. At one intermediate point I had an Epson pigment ink photo printer that had a gloss overspray; it would produce real glossy prints. It was wonderful! (I think it was an R800; looks like you can still get ink cartridges for them. The R800 is limited to letter size, though I do believe it had a big brother that did the next size up.)
Ah, the precision needed is in the range I thought—but the clever designers didn't position relative to the lensboard. I should have seen that coming. The two critical parts mate directly, just sticking through the lensboard for physical support, thus leaving the parts that care in control of their own spacing. Thanks to all for the clarifications, especially including the nice clear diagram!
So, so weird; I buy fast lenses to let more light in. Very often I'm at max aperture, juggling shutter speed (worried about subject motion blur primarily) against ISO (worried about noise). Sometimes at 1/350 sec (roller derby), sometimes at 1/15 sec (music jam sessions). Going back to TRI-X pushed to 1200 or 1600 or 4000, in the day. (I think not experimenting with Diafine may be one of my worst mistakes photographically; I'm unlikely to ever really know, I don't think I'll go to the trouble to try to do such experiments now when I've got better technology, just to know how bad I should feel about past-me's stupidity!) Admittedly there are rare occasions when there's all the light in the world (I shot some of my Words Over Windows photos at ISO 64 since it was so bright; also so contrasty, so using the "extended", below "minimum", low ISO helped a bit there). I really appreciate the high shutter speeds of modern cameras for that! 1/1000 is no longer the upper limit, and out in the Big Room it's sometimes useful to shoot faster.
"All their people" do not get paid. I'm sure they have some full-time employees, who of course get paid, but nearly all of the content, text and photos, is generated by volunteers, not by employees. There are quite a few of my photos already in use their (none of historic monuments).
Astrophotography started going digital in the 1970s. I heard about it in the 1980s—and that immediately told me that digital would replace film in most photography. I knew, by then, how rapidly digital electronics advanced compared to other fields (it was still new, low-hanging fruit was being harvested, plus a lot of resources were being put into basic research because it returned short-term profits); CCD sensors in fact advanced more slowly than general digital electronics because they needed to stay large rather than shrinking immensely, and much of the basic research was directed to shrinking things. I still wouldn't have guessed, then, that digital would replace film as fast as it actually did. The other thing David Vestal overlooked, probably because the information wasn't widely known when he projected his catch-up year for digital imaging, was that it takes fewer directly captured pixels to make an image that looks good than it does scanned-from-film pixels. The direct digital pixels are much cleaner than the second-generation scanned pixels.
Toggle Commented Oct 16, 2020 on Predictions from the Past at The Online Photographer
I believe the retrophotography project is somewhat simplified in places like Disney World by placing "Kodak Picture Point" stickers on the ground in selected locations :-). Or maybe that was just 30 years ago and they stopped; I've never been there myself.
Toggle Commented Oct 14, 2020 on Then and Now at The Online Photographer
I find myself actively avoiding videos as answers to questions I'm looking up. The big problem of course with streaming media is that it insists on controlling the rate of information presentation. There's also a secondary problem, when the answer is a short answer, that there's a certain amount of overhead on most videos, which is closer to constant than the real content is, so the time wasted on that increases as the answer gets shorter. But videos are great for showing complex physical processes, or even simple ones that aren't obvious. The one that annoys me most often is the one I've been forced to capitulate to. It's not actually that surprising that the best information on video editing and streaming comes from people to whom a video is the obvious way to present their knowledge :-) .
Toggle Commented Oct 14, 2020 on Older Readers (Blog Note) at The Online Photographer
I actually saw a Phaeton parked near a restaurant I used to go to a lot (they've closed since then). Not a neighborhood where you'd expect a Phaeton or anything in that price range. Yeah, from everything I hear it was a very fine car, probably one of the better bargains in that band (if you're not buying for the blatant prestige). The "expensive because it was cheap" situation you describe looks to me to be largely mediated by people doing poor research—taking people's advice, rather than their information and forming their own conclusions.
Isn't Examples wonderful? I learned huge amounts from that, and it was a lot of fun.
Toggle Commented Oct 11, 2020 on tuco and STEPHANE at The Online Photographer
Yeah, less likely you're processing 4x5 in a light-tight tank! I did fine without enough dark to load 35mm and 120/220 into the tanks (I used changing bags), but while I think they exist for 4x5, mine were tray process. Then scan and print digitally, of course. But I don't expect that's what you really want. You can have my Omega D5, including 4x5 neg carrier and 135mm lens (I think that one is a Nikkor) if you want. (Haven't seen the lens in 30 years or some such, not in doubt about finding it but that could mean it has fungus I don't know about.) And I used the standard condenser head, not one of the soft-light devices. But can't help with a place to set it up I'm afraid.
Yeah, this is great advice. Based on my memories from 1982, when I was working to make the jump to sheet film, I was way too concerned with the things that were different from 35mm—having movements, particularly, and hence lens coverage as well. I never did really make the jump, though I still have the camera (does this sound familiar to anyone?), but I got one good session of portraits out of it! (And various bad sessions outdoors that are best not talked about; I guess I learned enough to be able to do the portraits later.) Most of the actual difference in results is from the sheer scale of the film (because, as they say, quantity has a quality all its own). And some, also, from the constrained ways you have to work with a big camera: on a tripod, few shots, etc. Those things do not depend at all on your exact choice of camera or lens. (Sure, the top people in some particular areas of photography who use 4x5s do need to worry about the smaller details. And some of you might, some day, be those people. The chances that you will be those people with your first experience with 4x5 are, let's say, small. There are no doubt always exceptions, people who hit their niche and take off like rockets, but it's rare. Don't plan your life around being one! If you turn out to be, enjoy the ride.) I got a monorail, a Toyo 45D, with a cheapish Rodenstock 210mm lens if I remember this right. I almost certainly would have been better served by a field camera, and possibly a wider lens. (Probably sacrificing that one good portrait session, in favor of actual landscape work.) But...I suspect I would have been even better served by getting a modest medium-format system early and keeping with it. I've owned a Yashicamat 124G, a Fuji GS645, and a Norita Graflex 6x6 with only the normal 80mm lens, and gotten just a few useful things with each (least with the Fuji; mine had terrible pinhole problems in that little bellows, I think the design called for it collapsing too tightly to really be reliable). But the price jump to medium format always put me off, and my main focus was always basically journalistic, where serious 35mm gear was the only reasonable choice (before digital). So, a Hasselblad 6x6, or a Mamiya RB67, or else something cheap and quirky (but they weren't that much cheaper!).
I guess a lot of people do turn over their equipment that fast. But I've never been one of them. Nor does it seem common among actual photographers I know.
Toggle Commented Sep 29, 2020 on The Camera You Click With at The Online Photographer
I had a Spotmatic; at the time I had it it was already out-of-date (must have been roughly 1973-1977); stop-down focusing, and screw mount for lenses, had both been passed by for good reasons. Solid cheap camera, and I traded into a system with a wide range of lenses, as a supplement for my Leica M3 which I used for the commonest focal lengths (35, 50, 90 in my case, all Summicrons). Made sense for me at the time but I feel no nostalgic draw. Didn't have a Nikon FE, but had various FM and FM2 (maybe as many as 4 at once at one point? Seems excessive, but they got cheap). Didn't care for the automation in the FE, but the FM was a solid, capable camera, with a fully mechanical shutter so there was nothing lost but metering if the battery went. (The more I think back on it, the more I think that was a really dumb thing to worry about; in all my years I never had a meter or shutter battery die on me without a spare on-hand. Carrying a spare was simple and easy. And the electronic shutters were more accurate. Still, the FE was also more complex internally and more expensive.) Arguably the best bit of design Nikon every did (the FM, somewhere in the FM series). Never had an OM2n, but had a pair of OM-4Ts. A clear mistake. They were fine cameras, but I switched to them at the wrong point and had to switch again only 7 years later (when autofocus became necessary to me). I didn't find them in any way revolutionary the way others did, though. They didn't seem notably lighter or smaller than the FM, or my Leica. The OTF metering got a friend more into night shots—but using my Nikon FMs I got technically equivalent shots, so the automation wasn't really changing what was possible. (I say "technically equivalent" just to side-step the question of whether mine were "as good as" theirs; if they weren't, the reason wasn't exposure.) I don't seem to have nostalgia for photo gear in any great amount. I kind of like talking about how things were done in the old days, but at least partly that's because it feels so good to know I don't have to do it that way any more!
Ooh, should try to remember to check for comments more often!
Toggle Commented Sep 20, 2020 on Items (Blog Notes) at The Online Photographer
Several people, including Ctein (who has photographed multiple solar eclipses) recommended I not plan on photographing my first one. Felt all wrong to me, so I planned on photographing it (though not to insane levels; I hadn't traveled to a great viewing site, just to one of the closer places it would be total). I wasn't heavily committed, I could quit at any time. And the maybe 6 decent photos I got on that trip (three of them involving the sun as an actual subject) are very valuable to me; I don't think I'd feel the trip had been worthwhile if I didn't have those photos. Now, we barely saw totality, through thin clouds and only briefly; maybe it would have been different with clear skies? I dunno, that is my only solar eclipse so far.
Toggle Commented Sep 9, 2020 on Look Hard at The Online Photographer
The trick is enjoying the view more than you miss the photo that you can't get!
Toggle Commented Sep 8, 2020 on Look Hard at The Online Photographer
And, with this fast a drop-off in the kind of photo blogs that you and at least some of your readers care about...maybe you'll get luck and some of them will end up over here. I really don't understand the video thing; it's so slow!
Wait, more commonly used apertures are f/5.6-11? Boy, not around here. Got tired of waiting, but here's the first 4 months of 2018 (as interpreted by Bridge; I've tried to omit obvious duplicates like rendered jpegs). f/0.95 17 f/1.4 115 f/1.8 206 f/2.0 84 f/2.5 4 f/2.8 2187 f/3.5 87 f/4.0 104 f/4.5 2 f/5.6 1 f/6.7 1 f/8.0 1 f/13 19 f/16 3
Interesting; the first thing that struck me was that, in the first pair, I didn't like the bokeh of either lens much. On the later pictures, I simply couldn't find differences. But I did work just with the small images, not pixel-peeping. No real differences in veiling glare, something I seem to be bothered by more than a lot of people. It's possible that the contrast differences around the lamp in 1 actually show a difference there, but it's so tiny as to be irrelevant to me. On 2, what I noted is that neither one was adequately corrected (or they picked non-flat brickwork; that would be mean, and hence is exactly what I would do if I had some handy). And it's something trivially corrected digitally without messing up other things much. This confirms what I've been strongly suspecting for a decade—I don't need lenses as good as the top manufacturers are making these days and I'm rather unhappy with the top prices.