New Year's Walk. Getting into the new decade.

     Tree in Zilker Park.  EP2 with kit zoom.  Handheld.  Tree lit by a street light.

I don't know about you but I think best when I'm out walking around.  Can't imagine spending the first day of the new decade sitting in front of a television set watching sports.  At some point, if you've watched hundreds of football games on TV, don't you feel like you're a participant in that Bill Murray movie, Groundhog Day?  Excuse the digression.

I spent the morning doing a ritual celebration with some of my swim friends.  We'd done a 6000 yard swim on New Year's Eve and we celebrate the next morning by heading to Barton Springs Pool to jump into the chilly, spring water and swim around.  There's a group of swimmers that starts each year with a nude swim (only in the middle of Austin) at 6 a.m.  but we get there at a much more civilized 9 a.m.

After we swim around and dive off the diving board we all bundle up and head over to a friend's house for waffles.  A local coffee shop of note sends over a barrista and the appropriate equipment so that every swimmer and attendant family member can enjoy the city's best coffee, made to order.  After the waffles and coffee we all float off and do whatever else it is people do on New Year's Day.

For me it's all about grabbing a camera and lens and walking around the city.  If you've followed my blog recently you know I'm captivated with the Olympus EP2 and whatever lens I feel like sticking on the front.  Yesterday it was still the little 14-42mm zoom.

     Holiday Decorations on cactus in Clarksville Neighborhood.

I set off from the middle of the old Clarksville neighborhood and headed at a leisurely pace over the several miles to downtown.  I stopped to see what was new at the flagship store of Whole Foods and wandered past the weird furniture store on W. Sixth Street that sells sculpture and Elvis figures.

I loved the juxtaposition of this bizzare bronze in the foreground and the statue of the Virgin Mary in the background although I can't really say why.

I should note that I shot a lot of raw files yesterday and processed them in Lightroom 2.6.  I don't go in for much sharpening, and God forbid I should abuse the clarity or shadow and highlight sliders.  What I usually do is to correct the white balance to make the images pleasing.

I think it's part of the pathology of photographers, no matter what their typical personal style, to not be able to pass up bizzare images of Elvis Presley so, of course, when I saw a figure of him behind bars I snapped a few frames of the "The King".

I'd set my ISO to 800 or 1600 during the waffle bacchanal and had forgotten to change it back to my usual default of ISO 200 but I don't think it made much difference in the enjoyment of the images for me.  I contend that, as a result of only looking at images on computer screens people have become much to sensitized to the "horrors" of electronic noise than they need to be.

After I left Elvis I moved on toward downtown and didn't really see much I wanted to shoot.  There were the many new high rise condominium towers in various states of completion but I felt I'd covered them pretty well in my last long walk.  Instead I went looking for close ups like leaves with Lady Bird Lake in the background.  And, for a few minutes, I understood the motivation of some landscape photographers.  Then I realized that I was just having a viceral response to the beauty of the fresh, clean, late afternoon light that was rubbing it's golden glow over every object it could find.  The light was just shamelessly beautiful yesterday from 4:30pm on.  My first regret of the new year was that I didn't have a beautiful model in tow.  This was the kind of light that could make any photographer look good so long as he or she pointed their camera in the right direction.

I went through downtown and along the Lake toward the pedestrian bridge.  Since it was New Year's day all the overweight resolution makers crowded the hike and bike trail running along with the daily regulars who run year in and year out.  Brand new shoes, brand new running apparel and uneasy looks of discomfort shining in their faces.  Over the bridge and into South Austin where I cut past Zachary Scott Theater and up the road to Flip Happy Crepes.  The light was directionless and liquid at this point and I saw this pile of rocks on one of the picnic tables.  Not sure why I thought it was so cool at the moment but the rocks stopped me while the stacks of brightly colored, incredibly weathered, folding metal chairs kept me shooting for a while.

I walked on past restaurant row.  Past Chuy's Tex-Mex restaurant and into Zilker Park.  By this time the sun had set and I was walking the dark trails with the aid of occasional street lights.  I kept shooting just to see what the EP2 and the Image Stabilization would get me.  Most of the time I'm shooting wide open on the camera so it's probably not a fair test of lens quality but what the hell do I care?  I'm just shooting this for my self and, for the most part, I really don't care just how sharp this or that photo is as long as I enjoy taking it and subsequently looking at it.  Face it, most of us take images to remember how things looked and what we felt at the time, not as a test for some silly testosterone contest.

As a portrait photographer I spend too much time already trying to walk a line between bringing down too much sharpness without calling attention to the technique of degradation required to render things the way I really see them.

So  I kept shooting stuff like this next  image until the battery indicator in the camera told me to quit shooting now and the air temperature told me to go home.

The Olympus EP2 handheld.  800 ISO.  Tree in Zilker Park.  New Year's Day 2010.

So I'm walking around for four hours and I've hit the hills in Westlake to get home and now it's time to summarize in my own head all the things I thought about during my first stroll of the new decade.  I thought about my friend, Russell Secker's new book, Running Across Countries.  He's an ultra marathon runner who wrote and self published a book about his run across Europe.  His book is available as a "print on demand" book at Amazon.com.  After my experiences creating photographic books I've come to believe that we're about to turn the book publishing industry upside down.  I think ebooks, with video components, will be launched first and then made available as "print on demand" physical books instead of the other way around.

Why eBooks?  Because the markets and the technology and, of course, the products change so quickly that the old method which involved taking a year to come to press squanders some of the potential that the information contains by dint of books trailing innovation instead of helping to grow it.  I'd like to do a book teaching digital photographers important techniques about video.  About lighting and movement and scripting and creating a solid narrative.  The market is here.  Now.  Today.  It is resident in nearly every camera bag that contains a new Nikon, Canon or micro 4:3rds camera.  But traditional publishers will give a nod to the trend when it goes "mass acceptance" instead of getting the book now.

I thought about moving images and how people are using photos in today's life.  The big, framed, posed portraits of yesterday seem dated.  The iPhone snapshot seems triumphant and yet I think portraits that transcend widely done styles from the past and step into the realm of fine art will still have a market.  The model is Jock Sturges and Sally Mann.  Richard Avedon and Irving Penn.  The vanishing market belonged to the carefully airbrushed or photoshopped, posed portrait with the family in matching clothes and each subject carefully lit by four or five not altogether convincing light sources.  Art and craft have to intersect to make good work going forward.  Formula will no longer do the job.  Not for my corporate clients and not for your retail clients.

Finally, I thought about how lucky I am to have such good friends and such great family.  No matter what the economy ultimately does, going forward, we'll weather it with the insulation of love and friendship.  And we'll measure value by happiness and sharing, not by acquisition and hoarding.

At this juncture I've written over 120 blog posts and gotten some good feedback.  If you have a moment to make leave a comment I'd love to hear from you about three things:

1.  I would really like know what you think about the future of book publishing.  Do you buy eBooks?  Would you? What would you like to see?  2.  I'd also love to hear from you about your ideas for the perfect photo workshop.  What would you like to learn?  3.  Are there subjects that you wish I would write about that I've not done previously, here?  Let me know.  The comments cost neither of us anything so if you have the inclination then let it rip.

Thanks for tuning in and supporting my writing.  I appreciate the "con" comments as much as I appreciate the "pro" comments.  I am rarely 100% right and it's good feedback to get called on it.

Here's hoping we all have a great new decade.  Kirk


Bill Beebe said...

1. E-books. I have Stanza installed on my iPod Touch 2G. I have nearly 200 volumes, a lot of them old science fiction novels I read when I was a kid, the exception being Cory Doctorow. I haven't paid for any of them. What keeps me from buying e-books is the growing attitude among many publishers that you don't own e-books the way you own printed books. The best example of this attitude to date is Amazon and the Kindle. Amazon removed a copy of 1984 when it found out the seller didn't have the right to sell it; Amazon deleted all copies purchased and refunded everyone who'd purchased it. That's not the issue. The issue is that some other agency (Amazon in this case) could just come in and delete my book, for whatever reason, and there wouldn't be anyway to stop them. Until I see a better attitude towards the purchaser, and better controls on the system, I personally won't purchase any of them.

jefflynchdev said...

I'd love to see you tun your "Minimalist Location Lighting" book into a full day workshop in the Austin area. Teach the classics of lighting good on-location portraits mixing natural light and flash for a softer and more natural look. Be the counterpoint to what you see on Flickr that bothers you.

As for the future of book publishing, I see it going two different directions. I see more and more "how to" books going to ebook (PDF) format and being updated continuously, perhaps even on a subscription basis. Given the rate of technology change (cameras, lenses, lighting gear, etc.) it makes better sense to be able to continuously update and distribute this in ebook format rather than printed.

I also see more and more fine art (coffee table) photo books being self published in very small lots and sold predominately online rather than through book stores. The quality of these self published books in both hardcover and softcover is exceptional and the costs of electronic printing has dropped the unit cost significantly in the past few years.

This direction allows the photographer (and his team) to control the final product much more closely and to reduce the inventory and distribution costs associated with typical publishing schemes. This will (hopefully) allow the photographer to keep a larger portion of the profits for himself.

I'm not sure how this will play out, but the change from large-scale publishing to self-publishing has the potential to revolutionize the publishing industry just as the iPod did to the music industry.

Geir said...

I imagine that Photography books would work well on eBooks. But for me to get to grabs with the old Paperback in an eBook, they must put in the rugged feel and smell of a new paper book. It's half the fun.
I haven't seen any of your workshops either online or anywhere else, but what I am looking for, is an understanding of a good image. Why is Cartiere Bressons "The decisive moment" such a titanic image, and not my almost identical image shot from my E-500 recently? A workshop dropping the technicalities and focusing on creativity and timing.

Tobi said...

OK, three questions -- three answers:
1- I don't buy ebooks. I like to hold something real in my hand if I spent money on it. Besides, I don't trust DRM. It will always turn me away from buying anything, be it ebooks or music. I do however buy scientific papers for my work -- sometimes there's simply no alternative.
2- I probably won't attend one of your workshops since you're halfway around the world, but anyway: I want to learn to see. I don't care about aperture, ISO and all that stuff, I know this. What I'd really like is to get an understanding of why people do something the way they do it, to learn their view. This helps me to better see myself. In fact, I think the most valueable 'workshop' for me is shooting with friends and discussing images as we go.
3- How about some step-by-step insights into your thought process? Show an image that's not right, explain what you dislike, show what you changed and why, then the perfect end result? Something like my second answer, online different.


Argos said...

OK, guess I'll go first...

1) You bet I've bought eBooks -- to be particular, I've purchased all but the last one that David duChemin's put out. Lacking any formal training in photography (but being an engineer), I primarily look for material that I think will help me get a better grasp on the artistic aspects of photography. So I'm always looking for new takes on composition and such.

2) The perfect workshop (for me) would involve a lot of give & take, lots of opportunity for the sharing of different perspectives. So, maybe all go out on a quick photowalk, then huddle together and compare / contrast everybody's pictures. The kind of feedback I really like on my shots: for each photo, pick one aspect of it that you think is strong / good, and one aspect you think is weak (preferably with suggestions for how to improve the weak bits).

3) Can't think of any new subjects off-hand -- but I do have a question for you. Does blogspot and your blog theme / template support categories for posts? It would be nice if we could dig through your old posts by subject as well as by date.

Thanks, and please keep up the good work!

Anonymous said...

To be honest I never even thought of ebooks until just now. I just assumed they would be the future, but now I'm wondering how that will work for photography books. I have a bookshelf of photography books, some that are out of print and now sell for 10 to 20 times what I paid for them. I didn't buy the books as an investment, but I would be skeptical if Sally Mann put out an ebook of her latest work that it would ever gain any real value.

I have never done a photo workshop, mainly because I have never seen one that is interesting enough that doesn't cost an arm and a leg. With the tough times right now it's hard to justify spending several thousand dollars on a workshop.

I would love to hear more about tough photo assignments. Times when the lighting was bad, or you had technical problems, or even dealing with customers that might have unrealistic expectations.

Michael said...

I have to say, so far I've not been a proponent of eBooks. I still enjoy the feel of a printed book in my hands. That said, I do use the 'net for reference a lot and with a multi-monitor system I normally have material up on both screens. I'm also starting to think about a Kindle, so maybe my opinion on eBooks will change this year.

I haven't attended much in the way of workshops lately, though I get together with a few local photogs now and then to swap stories or wander around with cameras in hand. The workshops I've taken in the past have often focused on a particular niche that interested me for one reason or another. My favorite was probably a series I took on airshow photography back when I was still using film.

I can't say I feel a burning need for you to do anything here on the blog that you're not already doing. I always find it an interesting read when I swing by!

murman said...

1: I have never bought an e book (downloaded a free one once, haven't read it.) I like sitting in a comfy chair with a book in my hands.
2: For me the perfect workshop would focus on photographer/model interaction.
3: See # 2
I appreciate you sharing your knowledge and insight with aspiring photogs such as myself.
I also agree that noise in a picture on a monitor doesn't ruin it and frequently isn't noticeable in print.

Anonymous said...

Kirk - I think you are spot on about eBooks. Apple is going to release a tablet device this year that will likely do for publishing what the iPod did for music... i.e. turn the industry upside down. Those that embrace the new paradigm first will profit first but more importantly establish name brand recognition. Imagine a full color (with video) version of amazon's Kindle, but with a touch interface etc. like the iPhone. I think it would be a perfect paradigm for publishing books for photogs.

Boriann said...

Kirk, I think you do an ace job writing books and blogs. Just got -a physical copy- of your Commercial photography handbook, and loving it.

And yes, I don't yet fancy e-Books, especially if it concerns photographic works. A computer screen (in whatever form) is in front of my face often enough. Perhaps the graphic technology is good enough and yes it is likely to be the future, but still ... I choose to wait.
Nevertheless, I do think a new -broader- market will emerge. More people will be able to publish their works. Independent publishers and DIY e-publishing methods, like Blurps, will assure that the photographer even will get paid a little for it.
And I'm quite sure that if one is good enough, the rest will follow.

And workshops; yes please, a series that discusses the aesthetics of imagery. What is it that makes an image nice and ... sellable.
Do you do workshops in Belgium/The Netherlands?

Further, I like your kind words on 4/3rds... it's soothing knowing I'm not alone carrying that stuff.
But you're starting to become victim of your own success, because I now actually prefer your posts that do NOT concern an opinion of a specific piece of gear. I do however understand that reviews make a blog be noticed. ;-)
So if you find time, do continue writing on how you handle commercial assignments and artistic ideas. I find your ideas very inspiring.

Thanks for all your contributions to the e-community.


Paul Amyes said...

1) I think the market for E-books will be initially in the how to genre. I think that it will lend itself well to the format. As far a looking at portfolios then the well printed page is still for me the medium. I heard Elliot Erwitt once say that a photo book is permanent, an exhibition is ephemeral. I agree whole heartedly with the sentiment and I see e-books being really ephemeral.

2) I'm not likely to ever attend any of your workshops unless you plan on doing some in Western Australia. The few I've attended have been very equipment orientated, they didn't intend to be but they ended up being so, and that bores the pants off of me. I'd like to see stuff like portfolio evaluations, more stuff on aesthetics and the philosophical approach (the why you approach a photography the way you do and how this influences the way you work).

3) I stumbled upon this blog by chance, some thing you'd posted on a forum on Flickr attracted me. I like the way you are looking at photography in the digital age, your rejection of the continuous upgrade cycle promoted by Canikon. So for me I'd like to see more of the same as I feel that the average photographer is completely over gunned for what they do. My work never gets printed larger than a double page spread, much of it is only destined for the web, so why do I need more than 12 Mp? I'm sure a lot of photographers never even print their photos. So your blog was a breath of fresh air and long may it continue to be so.

Robert said...

I'll have a go at this also:
1 - I think the direction will be ebooks, but like many others, I much prefer paper. The ebook I would want, would be able to, on the fly, pull up any extra information about something in the book that you may not understand or to provide background. Don't know if that concept came out well in text...
2 - I haven't been to a workshop since I'm poor and trying to pay off all my student loans, damn Engineering school... I think the workshop I would want is you, Don Giannatti, and Zach Arias doing a brain dump on lighting, running a photography business, and good/bad images and why. There is no community college class on photography lighting and that is something my wife and I need to understand more as we're getting asked to take more and more portraits for people.
3 - I don't know off the top of my head any ideas for topics, but if I think of a good one, I'll be sure to let you know.

Thanks for writing this blog, it is a great resource and the fact that it's down to earth just makes it an enjoyable read. I'm expecting your books to be written similarly, they're on my gift list for next year.

Henrique Pereira said...

Dear Kirk, Happy New Decade!

1)almost every piece of information I get comes from Internet: Politics, art, religion... and photography is no exception. E-books are in line with this tendency and I will buy it more and more in the years to come, specially when they are related to technology. These books have to be easy to buy and read in my mobile (right now, Iphone) and computer (Imac). I know, I am almost screaming: Itunes.
2) I would love to go to a seminar to hear strong arguments about the future of photography as a business.
3) Keep writing whatever is bothering you. Don't even worry about the answers. You have a great intuition to find the right questions.

John Krumm said...

Hi Kirk,

To answer your questions...

1. I bought one $5 pdf book by a photographer, I forget who. Don't really care for magazine or book style reading on the computer much, and it didn't make me want to buy more. I like books. I have hundreds and hundreds (perhaps over a thousand) pounds of books in my house. Books are rich content, and electronic devices have trouble handling such rich content in a way that is pleasing to me.

However, if a really, really good ebook reader came along that cost less than $200, the ipod of ebook readers, I might consider it for the convenience. For most people mp3's didn't exist until the ipod came along. I figure it's the same for ebooks--still waiting on the right device.

A photo ebook, though, would have to have a least some nice looking photos, so perhaps e-ink wouldn't work, and then we are back to computers.

2. Perfect photo workshop...for me would be right here in Juneau for one thing. Never been to a workshop, so don't know about perfection, but I have a feeling I'd like one.

3. Can't think of a topic off hand, but I like what you've sone so far.

zijon said...

Kirk, I really enjoy your posts. I like their simplicity and openess that touches the strings of reader's soul and reveils true life values in their mind eyes. Thank you very much and good luck!

Poagao said...

I have yet to see a Kindle or Nook or any other e-reader in person, so I can't say much about them; however, I do always have at least one book in my bag, and I can't see any of those machines taking the abuse, the knocking around, the drops, the food stains and dirt I get on my paper books. I think e-books will gravitate towards certain types of literature, the kind we don't mind reading on a small device, but not for pleasure.

As a lighting expert, I'd like to hear more about how you handle natural light, actually. I'm not yet convinced that "vision" can be taught, but I do think that talent can be nurtured. Despite the fact that everyone these days has a camera, not everyone is a photographer, nor should they be.

The blog keeps me coming back; that's all I can ask for.

Richard L. said...

Lovely pictures, thanks for posting them.
For your questions:
1. No. No. I love having a printed book in hand, the texture, the smell, turning pages. If everyone turns to ebooks then I will just frequent used book stores. I'll never manage to read all the books I want to in the time I have!!
2. Composition. All the technical stuff I think most people can read about, and learn through trial and error. I would like to spend more time on understanding what makes some pictures so much more interestning then others.
3. Haven't read enough of your posts to knwo what I would like to see more of.

Kyoko said...

On Topic (1): I haven't yet jumped on the ebook train - I spend most of 5-6 days/wk on the computer but I still prefer to read substantial material on paper. A few weeks ago, I resolved to set aside more time to read and so I've started buying more books (including some of yours). However, I can see pairs of publications with the bulk of text in an ebook and a companion paper publication mostly of images.

Anonymous said...

1. I would really like know what you think about the future of book publishing. Do you buy eBooks? Would you? What would you like to see?
I would hope book publishing would remain primarily in the realms of paper and ink. Having convenience in a kindle like object is fine, but there is substance and permanence in bound pages. Having said that, print on demand seems very interesting, and i believe digital content will be very promising to authors who find it hard to gain acceptance with publishing houses. Hopefully allowing the production of more alternative info sources.

I also dont believe that using thousands to millions of disposable, partially recyclable, un-share-able (not a word but gets my point) obsolete-able items is good for our society. We lend books, re-read them, re-sell them, buy them new, second hand etc etc. We can grow paper in a sustainable way, I dont think we can grow objects like kindles in any such way. With the drastic reduction of electronics such as Laptops and Smart phones, i dont see where this specific device sits. Those who like to read books, mostly seem to read the paper kind, those who dont read books but enjoy online content normally dont have the patience for 150pages of the stuff. It may work well for specific purposes... but i dont think it will hit it off... IMO

2. I'd also love to hear from you about your ideas for the perfect photo workshop. What would you like to learn?
First i would like to second the idea of a workshop that talks about difficult jobs, and how the problems were overcome. As well as a workshop that discusses a variety of say, portrait styles, conventional to very unconventional... focusing on the positive aspects of the unconventional.

3. Are there subjects that you wish I would write about that I've not done previously, here? Let me know.
Nope, i enjoy your narrative.

Thanks and have a happy new year.

Don said...

E-Books are definitely a future medium. My experience with publishing them is that the same marketing challenges exist. But in the right niche, they do make sense. I think that added value makes them even more powerful though, and I see a mix of E-Book / subscription / POD as a real value for both the writer and the reader. Buy the book, get the subscription for more updates over a configured amount of time, order it POD if you want to have it as something to hold. Let the reader decide. My friend Stever Burger does that with his Photoshop books.

Workshops? I got no idea.

More from you: I like your approach to this blog so much... part insight, part opinion, part great photos. Love it as it is.

Walter said...


I've purchased approximately 1500 e-books over the last five-ten years. Initially reading them on a palm pilot and later buying the first generation Kindle.

With the exception of a duplicate copy of Light, Science, and Magic (I have a regular copy) all the books have been fiction. For reading fiction, the current generation of readers using e-ink technology are wonderful; however, they are sadly lacking in resolution and ease of use for books to be studied that rely on drawings and pictures.

Light, Science and Magic is a perfect example of a great book that translates very poorly to this technology. Just my $0.02

kirk tuck said...

Walter, what kind of fiction do you read?

Dennis Elam said...


I have not bought an e Book but I did pitch the idea of a blog devoted to financial derivatives to mcgraw hill, I teach accounting at the college level in way of explanation for that topic. I think that the speed of change, call it swirl, makes blogs websites e books much more practical than as you say the one year lag of traditional publishing. The emergence of e book platforms is moving this along and the book publishers at the college level really want this to happen. As it is they only make money the first time a book sells. After that the book store gets the money. And so we have pointless new editions that usually discard worthwhile material priced absurdly high while the last edition sells for ten bucks, how ridiculous is that. I suspect the about to be released Apple Tablet will get things going e book wise.
And You Tube and the explosion of easy to do video makes your e book ideas a larger reality. Of course the people running book publishing companies are not 25 years old like the typical You Tube publisher or things would be happening faster which is how the sites like twitter, facebook have exploded. Those guys did not have to get permission from a publisher.....or rejected by an editor......

I agree with an earlier post, I think you should do workshops on mimalist lighting. I like to take casual photos at school and minimalist lighting is what that is all about. Most magazines only talk about cameras and lenses but photography is the process of capturing reflected light! Yet it is only blogs like yours that discuss that process, no money in selling reflected light I guess!

I live in San Antonio and have lived in Austin so I really enjoy reading your blog. Another idea, how about a walking workshop tutorial, granted that would be dependent on the weather, but it would be interesting to walk the same route you did New Year's and discuss how we should see the potential for photographs in our everyday surroundings.

Finally I have an Oly 510 and various lenses and am not happy with my progress, perhaps it is just too many bland off white backgrounds at school that make capturing a good photo difficult.


Anonymous said...

Kirk, I have bought e-books from Digital Outback and I would buy one from you on video techniques.


Semilog said...

Tobi: "I do however buy scientific papers for my work -- sometimes there's simply no alternative."

There is an alternative! Sharing reprints is an old tradition. Most scientists will send you a PDF of a paper they published if you just send them a polite e-mail.

Dave Jenkins said...

1. E-books. I have no fixed opinion about this, but I will say that I often print out your blog posts and articles by architectural photographer Alan Blakely (who writes, as you do, for prophotoresource.com) so that I can read them on paper and save them in a 3-ring binder.

In the future, my own books will probably be print-on-demand. The designer I work with has done some of this and is pushing me in that direction. Since they will be coffee-table books, I don’t see them being issued as e-books.

1a. What book(s) would I like to see? As I said in response to another of your posts, I think many of your blog posts could be selected/organized/edited/expanded into an excellent book. Maybe a casebook on dealing with clients, organizing and conducting a shoot, choosing equipment for specific purposes, etc. Abraham’s workshop request: “I would like to second the idea of a workshop that talks about difficult jobs, and how the problems were overcome” sounds to me pretty much like the kind of book I would like to see. It might be like your Commercial Photography book in some ways, and there would probably be some overlap, but the approach would be different – more of a case/example approach, as in your blog posts.

2. Workshops: I don’t much attend workshops, and haven’t been helped much by those I have attended. I have learned my trade by reading and by doing. (And a bit of looking over peoples’ shoulders.) As Poagao said, “I'm not yet convinced that "vision" can be taught, but I do think that talent can be nurtured.”

3. Other subjects? You’re doing great. Keep it up. I check your blog every day. I’ve been doing commercial photography longer than you, but you’re ahead of me in some areas and I’m happy to learn from you.

Kind regards,
Dave Jenkins

gmaustin said...

It's nice to see someone else in Austin enjoying their E-P2. I've had mine about a month now and a walk around Lady Bird Lake was one of the first things I did. This camera is too cool! Thanks for the commentary and photos Kirk!

kirk tuck said...

Dave and everyone else: Thanks for some very valuable feedback. I can see that the "case studies" are popular with almost everyone. That's great to hear.

I'm leaning toward doing some very specialized books and I was vacillating between eBooks and POD. I think POD with a Kindle Chaser makes the most sense.

I love having so many smart, focused people to bounce ideas around with. Thanks to everyone and happy new year.

Walter said...

Kurt, I read a mixture of science fiction, fantasy, and mysteries/spy novels with a smattering of other genres. Right now I'm reading a novel called Greenmantle by J. Buchan. Curiously this is the first "real book" novel I've read in a while.

David McDonald said...

Hi Kirk,
First of all, Happy New Year/Decade to you & yours.
On the Photo books:
I love my big printed photo books (your Minimalist Lighting is among them) but they are of no use to me whatsoever as reference when I am out with my camera 'in the field' - a place where I often do need to check out some technical aspect of lighting/equipment etc. But I do have my iPhone, with loads of apps on it for consuming media, like Stanza. Kindle, Eucalyptus and Instapaper.
I'd read your Minimalist Lighting book a lot more if I could access it on my iPhone!
These apps mean I can cary an entire library of reference with me all the time. Ken Rockwell has authored the content for some terrific iPhone apps for Nikon camera guides, way more useful than the paper manual that came with my camera. Check these apps out, they are very well made and also offer the publisher more opportunities (via in-app purchasing and upgrades). I think this is definitely the future for manuals and the 'How-to' style reference books.
I'm also aware of David DuChemin's ebooks, I'm sure the content is great, but PDFs are not ebooks, they are a print format and leave a lot to be desired compared to a well crafted iPhone app, probably soon to be iTablet/iSlate publishing format too. I think PDFs are too awkward to read on screen (for large docs) and there is no point in me printing them out as I will not carry them with me for reference.
Having said that PDFs are easy to create and can look great, but easy (mobile) access and searchable/interactive content trumps all else for me when I need to reference materials.

Thanks for all your writings and inspiration too. Particularly loving the E-P2 posts, would love one of those cameras - they had me at OM1 ;-)


kirk tuck said...

David, Thanks for writing and especially thanks for sharing how you deal with books. Just so you know the first book, Minimalist Lighting on location is available as a Kindle book. Hopefully the others will be as well. I think they are quite backlogged in making conversions.

Happy New Year.

Marshall said...

Hm. In about 1993, I got a pass to the Nikon School as a Christmas gift. I think that might qualify as the last photo "workshop" I went to, but it really isn't a workshop so much as a day o' lectures.

I have thought about going to a couple workshops, and would like to do so this year, time and budget permitting. I think, maybe inaccurately, of workshops in a couple categories: location-driven workshops, where you are basically there to shoot in a great location, while - bonus! - learning from great photographers in a creative environment. Others are more technically oriented, such as a lighting workshop.

Anyway, trying to circle in for a landing:
- lighting and working with subjects would make for an interesting workshop, and one which you are clearly qualified to lead.

For books: I'm wondering where the convergence will be for electronic reading devices, and what it means for the ongoing availability of titles purchased today. I'm not sure I'm interested in purchasing titles that I can't use (for my own purposes only) on whatever device I need it on. I know that ebooks are the future, and there are great reasons for it, but I'm not quite ready to go there yet with the Kindle or other proprietary device.

- Marshall

Arsenio Locsin said...

I see e-books in the future but don't own any in the present. I'm waiting for a standard that everyone will use. There are currently three e-book readers with each having a different standard. If you pick the one that gets discontinued, you've just lost your investment. I think the Kindle has the lead today but at one time, WordStar and Wordperfect had the lead.

Wess Gray said...

Kirk, My problem with e-books ... 1) what happens when the drive crashes (and we all know it will) 2) what happens when 50 years down the road, someone needs the information (just this week I found a book on e-bay about the psychology of photographing children in the modern way, published in 1957), and 3) how will people stumble upon a book they didn't know about (like Arnold Genthe's autobiography from 1936) I found in a bookshop in Pittsburg, Kansas 10 years ago?
But to quote the Rolling Stones, "Time waits for no one".

robert e said...

Hello Kirk,

I don't think I've commented before, but I've been following and enjoying your blog for a couple of months.

1. Since you ask, I used to read ebooks, and may again, but they were the text-only variety, which I read on a Palm. When my Palm broke, I stopped reading and buying ebooks. I don't want to read ebooks on a PC. I spend too much time at my desk as it is, for work and for pleasure. When I dig into a book I want to get away from the distractions of the desk and the desktop. Not sure how well a photo-oriented ebook would do on an ultra-portable device, but with today's screens I think they are becoming feasible.

2. My ideal workshop would more or less recreate a day or two in the life of a late-19th century working photographer--preferably an itinerant with a darkroom on wheels, perhaps more a fictional composite conversant in a few generations of techniques and processes. We'd go to a location--perhaps a county fair--set up, prepare and shoot tintypes, daguerrotypes, collodion plates of portraits, landscapes, publicities, etc., perhaps even sell a few items to paying customers.

I've only been reading your blog a short time, and I keep coming back, so I have no comment on #3.

And, one you didn't ask, but I just wanted to mention that while I don't mind noise in photos, compression artifacts do annoy me. For example, I can sense that the first shot in this post is probably a beauty, but when I click for a larger image, the sky is marred by very digital-looking jpeg artifacts, I suppose a result of the compression algorithm interacting with the noise. Not sure what one can do about that, though.

Thanks for all your hard work and passion, and best of luck in the new year.

- robert e