Snapshot from the film days. Beginning of Winter in Texas.

 Belinda and the Boy. Camera: Rollei 6008i.

It's just a couple of days till the Thanksgiving holiday here in the USA. In the past it meant endless football games on TV, too much food and lots of family friction for many people. The lucky ones had nice families who never fought and family members who could fix a perfect turkey with all the trimmings. They also sat around and read books or took naps after dinner and never thought of turning on the television. These families are mostly mythological....

Over the years various traditions have been added to the holiday. My least favorite until recently was the "Black Friday/Midnight on Thursday Shopping Hysteria." A prank by retailers who offer a limited number of "deals too good to be true" to lure in hordes of price sensitive shoppers determined to save money on stuff they might be better off without. 

In the Black Friday tradition we photo enthusiasts have recently been subjected to an added circle of hell; we've added the Photobloggers and Review Site Writers Top Ten Lists to the menu. To boost clicks they'll have cunning lists of the: The top cameras of the year! The top photo accessories of the year!! The top flash gear of the year!!! Lenses that will cause you to die if you do NOT own them!!!! and each site will feature their lists in the form of a daily countdown toward the number one item in each category. All with links to Amazon and B&H.

While most sites will choose the most popular photographic items in the hopes that their choices will drive the most click through sales from you, you can bet than Canon, Sony, Nikon and Olympus will be well represented on almost everyone's list. Everyone will, no doubt, toss in an inexpensive medium format camera as well. It's just the season for it.

Now, make no mistake, the writers are in no way representing that they have ever touched, seen or handled a lot of the gear in question. They might add a Leica to their list just to ramp up the perception that the writer is among the elite or cognoscenti of photography, but you can be sure there will be several budget DSLR cameras mixed in that have bigly selling potential as well. 

I plan on participating in my own eccentric way ( I am a photo blogger after all), but I'm going to give the holiday a break and not start into the list making until the first part of December. I'm only going to put stuff on my list that I've actually owned and used. It's going to be a shorter list this year. I might only have three top cameras on it. 

If we were all being honest we'd just write lists with top ten things for our fellow artists/photographers like: 

1. Plane tickets to someplace I've always wanted to photograph.
2. Extra cash for model fees so I can do that conceptual photo shoot I dreamed up.
3. Better coffee so I can enjoy being more awake while I post process files. (Wanna get me coffee for the holidays? Send me a can of Illy medium roast, pre-ground. I'm not much of a snob but this is my coffee of choice, you can get it on Amazon...hint to #1 son).

4. Some faster memory cards so I can make that video about Winter Masters Swimming at the 400 mb/s setting video setting.

5. More free time to walk around aimlessly and click a currently owned camera at random stuff that catches my eye(s). 

6. A season pass to local area art museums for the year so I can see every show without thinking I should just save on admission for the next great lens.

7. A gift of better discipline so I can finally spend the money on framed prints for my show instead of the next great lens.

8. A photo book full of absolutely false (but authoritatively written) reviews that laud pedestrian and affordable gear and trash high speed, state of the art gear, so I have more incentive to stick with gear that I can afford. Such a book would save marriages, budgets and countless hours of internet "research."  Chapter one: "The Panasonic 25mm f1.8 lens is the most under appreciated lens in the lens cosmos. With astringent sharpness even wide open it is peerless at every f-stop and defies completely the physics of diffraction...." 

9. A reverse switch for major internet sites so you could deliver a shock to bloggers who write inane stuff about new gear without having so much as changed a battery in the "reviewed" item. Also a trapdoor for the gaggle of bloggers that want to keep arguing the Jpeg v. Raw war well into the middle of the century...

10. A mute switch for the big sites who profess to have an "on staff" physicist who tries to prove just how many angels can dance naked on the head of a pin while pushing camels through the eye of a needle in order to justify writing 19 articles in one week about a newly introduced wundercamera. All without any rhyme or reason. Let me hear you save Nyqvist just one more time on your way to describing the hermeneutics of aperture equivalence....or whatever your newest religion is...

Ah well. It's part of the new responsibility of being a photographer/consumer in 2017. I'd put a link to some product at the bottom of this but I'm currently engulfed by ennui...

.....take some time off. Read a good book. Take a photograph of something that actually interests you. And if someone who writes a blog tells you that "pros" only shot RAW then metaphorically punch them in the face with a withering comment...and be sure to post it anonymously. Always pisses me off....


  1. Wonderful picture! Those are the kinds of images you can look back on fondly many years later.


  2. I enjoyed that more than I should have.

  3. Im Pretty satisfied with my current gear and make a lot of effort getting out using it. Think i Can live up to most of parameters set up in This post...... But i need more portable and good lightning. Must search The internet for reviews and prices!!! Got to go now.....

  4. "A season pass to local area art museums for the year so I can see every show without thinking I should just save on admission for the next great lens"

    Shirley and I do that. I am always amazed, though, at the number of people who view art through their iPhone or Galaxy, rather than directly with their own eyes.

  5. Kirk, I really like Illy coffee but it is ferociously expensive in Australia.

    Funny post and most enjoyable.

    Max from Oz

  6. Very enjoyable indeed!

    #6 is a very good idea.

  7. It's absolutely wonderful NOT to read the babblings of the blogger who will recite the specs of a camera yet to be held in said bloggers' hands.

  8. Kt,
    Illy coffee, ground, in a can, stored for only god knows how long? How could you!? Buy some freshly roasted beans, grind them at home according to your favorite brewing method and enjoy a better tasting cupa coffee. You may as well be drinking....instant coffee (had a terrible time even typing that).
    Whatever your taste in coffee, hava great Thanksgiving.

  9. "Read a good book.."
    Your camera owners manual comes to mind!

  10. Jb, I've done the "coffee dilettante" thing before and it's a royal pain in the ass for what usually turns out to be a variable quality cup of coffee. Screw the home grinding and the little rituals. Give me that very well made and measured can of Illy (vacuum packed) and let me get on with my life. I'm betting everyone who went down the hand made, precious coffee route wishes that had all those hours of their lives back. I'll even drink Starbucks Coffee but I have to be damn desperate to do so.... before I do a home pour over...

  11. Very Nice article, but a quick question...have you ever lived in a cold climate?
    I'm asking because my brother has lived in the Dallas/Ft. Worth area since marrying a Southern Belle while in the Air Force in the late 60's. He gets a kick out of Texans and their idea of what the cold is. When his family comes to the north in winter, they practically freeze up here. We grew up in the NYC area. Just saying this because of the "winter" coats in foto.

  12. "Illy medium roast, pre-ground". I like it, but I like better the mono-arabica type, Brazilian and Etyopian over all the others. BTW sorry but you Americans simply don't know how to make a cup of real coffee, so as Tyrell said, "your reasoning is all accademic".

  13. Ah, the Europeans chime in, glorifying their tiny and bitter cups of "coffee." Hurumph. I know you've been brought up with the pixie cups of burnt brew but clear your minds, stave off your life long learned prejudices and just try the Tuck method. Heat 8 ounces of spring water to 203 degrees. Use a cone shaped filter holder that fits on top of your cup. Place a #5 Mellita filter in it. Add two rounded tablespoons of Illy coffee. Pour enough hot water on the grounds to soak them. Wait 15 seconds. Slowly pour in the rest of the water. Wait until it seeps through into your cup. Add Horizon Organic half and half to your cup. Drink, and finally be happy that you've had your first "real" cup of coffee as practiced by the research staff at VSL. All that espresso roast? it's stuff that got burned in the roasting by accident which we foisted off on unsuspecting Europeans and customers of Starbucks....

  14. You're the adman/SEO worst nightmare...not ignoring the man behind the curtain.


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