8.08.2014

Trending. #The Lisbon Portfolio. Get one now.





Yes. Not HDR. Just real life.

Fifth Street and Lamar Blvd. "Red Car."

Is it more honest if you just happen to catch it all in one exposure while you are holding the camera in your bare hands? Is HDR just a reflection of our lack of patience or our need to have everything happen in a controllable way? Does the reliance on a few techniques rob us of our spontaneity? 






Restaurant Counter Reflections.

Bar at Asti.

I had to look at the exif info to see what camera I used. They are all the same now. Homogenization complete. Unless, of course, you are still shooting film...




8.07.2014

What do I want to see at PhotoKina? The wish list for my stuff.

A detail from Sandy Skoglund's installation at the
Denver Museum of Art. 


Everyone will have a different take about the stuff they want to see at Photokina. And I'm going to approach this blog post a bit differently. I'd like to know what you guys would like to see and why. What is missing from your brand of choice? What would you like to buy for the bag? And what do you think will be the successful products from this show?

I'm going to make some predictions and we'll see soon enough if I'm right. I'm not working on any insider information and no one's "suggested" anything to me yet. But I love making predictions because, if nothing else, it seems to clarify my acquisition pathway.  So let's get started and please, remember to chime in via the comment section about what you are expecting and what you want to see. 

Camera Predictions: 

Olympus: They show their first 20 megapixel OMD camera and it actually works well and has even less high ISO noise than their current OMD products. EM-1x? Of course that is accompanied by their 25mm f1.2 aspheric lens. As the photo gods always intended...

Panasonic: The only way to improve on the GH4 would be to come out with a "lite" version of the YACKLW add-on unit. It would be small and light weight and would just provide what most people wanted in the first place, a couple of XLR inputs with pots and a full sized HDMI connector for rough and tough work. Screw those SDI ports. 

Second up for Panasonic would be the replacement for the G6. For want of a better naming concept we'll just call it the G7. Smaller and lighter than the GH4 but with the same EVF specs, the same processor and a smaller selection of codecs. We could really skip the 4K on this model and make it a powerhouse, economical production camera for people on a budget. A tight budget. Keep the body style because I think it rocks. 

Canon: The faithful are finally rewarded with a 28 megapixel body that uses new sensor technology from their new sensor fab. It delivers dynamic range that will make the true believers weep openly. And it goes toe to toe with Nikon at every ISO. The added value? Beyond sensor perfection? 4K video that's sharp. Count on this one. I can see it coming a mile away.


The whipped cream on the chocolate sundae of Canon camera joy? They roll out the same kind of sensor technology into their APS-C cameras. 

The interesting adjunct to the otherwise "all positive" success story? They take yet another stab at the EOS-M series but this time they've paid attention to Olympus, Panasonic and Sony and actually deliver something that focuses within the same hour of the button actuation...

Nikon: The 1 series product manager who obviously came from accounting by way of marketing is fired and sent away. He is replaced by a product manager who gets that this 1 series one inch camera line could actually be a miniature professional line if they stopped dicking around and trying to make it appeal to everyone and their soccer mom. We bring back the integrated EVF (WTF was up with the bone head move of taking it out? Crazy! That's why we fired the guy!).   The body gets upgraded with some external buttons to make it quicker in actual use. They launch more fast zooms and faster primes. People go nuts.

The rest of Nikon's line is pretty fresh. I would guess that the D7100 is the only one up for a refresh but I think we see an incremental improvement, mostly in Live View and video parameters which make the camera a much, much better video competitor for Canon. This one becomes the D7200 and its second biggest selling point is a radically expanded file buffer. 

They spend the rest of the show apologizing for the D600 and promising it will never happen again. Then they show everyone enormous blow ups from the D810, everyone pats them on the back and then asks, "When will we get 36 megapixels in a prosumer body?" The Nikon people shake their heads and walk away. 

Sony: My cynical side says that Sony might introduce two or three different new lens mounts on two or three different lines of cameras along with one and a half lens models for each new line, brag about the cameras being able to shoot at 800,000 ISO and talk a lot about video production but my rational mind says they will introduce new lenses for the A7 line, replace the A7r with a version featuring an electronic first curtain shutter and make other small improvements to that line. They will also most likely introduce the successor to the A99 which will do away with the pellicle mirror and feature the same 36 megapixel sensors as the A7r but utilize the "A" mount and be positioned as a sports and rugged camera.  All Sonys will feature a newer codec like the XVAC S which will make the cameras more usable for professional video recording. 

The Nex line is the one that currently needs some expansion and I think there is an opportunity to come out with a "pro" body in that space that is rugged and does a good job with heat management, along with more external controls. Look for more and more hybrid body style mixes like the A3000. 

Samsung: I'll go wild here and predict that they come out with at least two new bodies. The few rumors that circulate on the web are predicting pretty much what I expect: Samsung will announce and launch a very much improved prosumer camera that will go toe to toe with Canon and Nikon's prosumer cameras in the APS-C space. I'm thinking a new sensor with 24 to 28 megapixels, weather proofing, the ability to use a battery grip, a whole new exterior finish with thick, gummy rubber that feels solid and very "pro."  I would further speculate that they've been stung by criticism of their so-so video and will be incorporating some higher end features there as well. Look for 1080p / @60 in 2K and some sort of 4K implementation in the camera. Also, look for a bigger body with double card slots (one SD and one micro SD) along with the usual connectivity cotton candy. Finally look for a faster than everyone else flash sync and a fast (maybe 1/12,000th of a second) high shutter speed. 

The first camera should be enough to scare the crap out of Canon and Nikon while the second one will be the slightly less aggressive consumer model with a lot of the features minus the "over the top" build and materials. I'll consider the camera a successful tool for shooting if they get the EVF just right. And by that I mean it has to be bright, clear and switch at the speed of light from eye level to back screen. No big lag, no hesitation. 

If they get this done and introduce two or three different high performance zooms and a couple of sought after primes (70mm f1.8 anyone?) they'll finally have the framework of a complete system offer. Oh, one last thing. How about a flash that's radio controlled and highly configurable? Oh what the hell, they should also toss in dead on accuracy. 

Medium Format: Pentax opened the "under $10,000"  gate a couple or years ago and now they've wedged a doorstop into the whole mix with a 51 megapixel back that, for pretty much the first time in MF history, actually performs well above its native ISO. There's no going back for anyone now. As soon as Pentax and third party lens makers fill the pipeline with good lenses there will be absolutely no compelling reason for anyone to spend the enormous amounts of money that used to be required to get a functional medium format camera in the past. This means that the race is on for Hasselblad, Mamiya, Leica and Phase One to get product into the mix that gets close to the Pentax pricing model as quickly as they can or risk becoming an interesting curiosity of yesteryear. 

My predictions? The long shot is that Canon steps in with their own product under $10,000 and positions the camera as the ultimate step up from their current EOS line. Look for an adapter that allows users to use their current EOS lenses in crop mode on the new camera while also offering a new line of optics that cover the full image circle. 

The obvious next step is for everyone in the medium format space to get "entry level" products on line to compete with Pentax. What will make it hard is that everyone's offerings right now (not "every" but most) are based on the use of the same Sony 51 megapixel sensor. Phase One still offers a bigger sensor but the price differential is so enormous only people who absolutely don't have to care about money will consider purchasing one. 

My overall prediction by the end of the year is an entry level model with normal lens in the price range of $6995. At least announced by the end of the year.

Lighting gear: No one really cares anymore. The focus of everyone who doesn't shoot for money is on cameras with high ISO potential and in most people's minds that means freedom from lighting and, for the people smart enough to understand that being able to control lighting in many situations really means controlling the quality of light instead of the quantity of light, most will find the battery powered options to suffice. Imagine almost ubiquitous variations with the capabilities of Nikon's CLS system. But in every brand. Profoto will continue selling to aspiring pros who know they need to light well and on a big scale in order to differentiate themselves from the legions of semi-pros and occasionally incurring amateurs. There always be instruments for those who demand the best. So the market will support a low end vendor like Alien Bees, a mid-range vendor like Profoto and a high end vendor like Broncolor. Everyone else will fall to the wayside or shift into LED lighting which broadly appeals because of its ever declining learning curve. Praise to WYSIWYG.

What will we see in the lighting arena at Photokina? Lots of low powered monolights. Lots and lots and lots of LEDs. The LEDs will be divided into two camps, the panels with hundreds or thousands of tiny bulbs and the new, more compact, surface mount LEDs which have led to more fixtures reminiscent of old tungsten fixtures. Fiilex had this market well figured out for a couple of years but now it seems as though everyone is rushing an SMD version of an LED light to market. 

The only pertinent questions at Photokina will be, "How do you want to power it?" and "How much output do you need?"

Finally, Photokina has always been a wonderful boost for blogs and sites dedicated to camera reviews and endless arguments about cameras and camera reviews. I think that's quickly coming to an end. The mania for photography as an ever growing and never capped recreational market is quickly dying and page views across all sites are diving. These sites are now pretty much the purview of older men who love gadgets. Myself included. These sites will slowly die off as they become an endless collection of echo chambers, all telling the same stories about the same limited and largely identical products. Oh, yes we could put up pretty photos and talk about our "art" but it's just like grand children and children: everyone likes to talk about theirs but no one really likes to listen to people talk about theirs. The death of gear oriented photoblogs is at hand. I guess we'll go down swinging. 

What would I like to see at Photokina? Really, just a simple but indestructible camera that only shoots raw and has three controls: ISO, Aperture and Shutter Speed. We'd focus with a big ring on the lens and our left hands. Every file would be a raw file. There would be no scene modes, no color profiles, no wi-fi and no NFC. You could buy it equipped with any of the popular lens mounts and the mounts themselves would be interchangeable. That's it. That's all we need to take really good images. Let everything else get taken of phones and fixed up with apps. 

And that's my set of predictions for Photokina. What are your predictions? What would you like to see?


I've also been working on getting nice skin tones in black and white and can report that using


Lauren in Black and White.

The DXO Filmpack 3, Rollei IR 400 profile works well. You just need to bring down the contrast and increase the exposure. It helps to turn down the grain function as well.  Finally getting this stuff nailed in. It's about time.

By the way...for all the sharpness folks....the Nikon 18-140mm f3.5-5.6 lens is very sharp, even wide open. Now if you shoot architecture or other things requiring straight lines you should run from this lens as fast as you can, but----if you just want sharp and tonally well behaved this one is a good one.

Portrait Project. Ongoing. My eccentric thought process/workflow.


Lauren.

You are what you practice. I forget from time to time that portraiture is a process and not just the click of a shutter. You really have to decide what you want from a session and then do the practice in order to make it work. Lauren is one of my clients and I asked her to come into the studio to have her portrait made. She was kind enough to agree and we set up a time and date. 

Then I came to grips with the fact that I'd slacked off doing portraits for fun and portraits for my art over the last few years spending much more time either doing straightforward images for clients or writing about various things on the blog. Frankly, I felt out of practice. 

So the first thing I had to do was go through a selection process. I knew I'd be shooting in the studio but I was unclear about what gear to use. Which lights? Continuous light or flash? What kind of modifiers? Multiple smaller lights or fewer, bigger lights? What kind of background? Plain paper? Muslin with color? (And I still need to work on dropping the saturation in the green channel in post...). What camera should I use? And once I'd chosen the camera then what lens to put on it to get the look that I wanted to see?

Then, of course I'd have to think about posing and what kind of crop I'd like on the final image and even what I might talk to Lauren about to put her at ease and get her into the flow of the session. 

Afterwards there's another slew of process driven questions. What Raw processor would I use for the files? How would I manage color? Would this image be a good one to put through DXO Filmpack and use one of their film profiles? Which program would I use to do a nice vignette? (How about Snapseed?).   And finally, how would I share the image with my check writing audience? 

I chose the muslin background because I had done a recent portrait with it and liked the look. It's bright summer here and we were shooting in the middle of the afternoon and I didn't feel like blocking all the windows to cut down on color contamination from daylight when using fluorescents or LEDs so I chose to got with electronic flash. I used the Elinchrom Ranger to give the batteries a work out and because it has nice, 1/10th of a stop control. The Elinchrom flash heads also give off a nice, warm light. There's no UV spike anywhere as there often is with inexpensive battery powered strobes or cheap monolights. Since I had nearly infinite power at my finger tips I used a 72 inch Fotodiox umbrella that's white on the inside and black on the backside. I also covered the business side of it with a white diffusion cloth. With the flash head correctly positioned to really cover all of the inside space it's a wonderful soft but direction light source. 

I placed two 4 foot by 4 foot black panels to the opposite side of Lauren from the main light to keep the spill from bouncing off the studio's white walls and reducing lighting contrast in the image.  A second flash head, at 1/3rd power (compared to the setting for the main light) was used in a small soft box to light the background. Two lights seemed just right for the effect I had in mind. 

From the zany collection of cameras currently in my possession I selected a Nikon D7100 coupled with an interesting 18-140mm zoom lens. I set the camera to 14 bit raw, lossless compression, in manual mode. The ISO was nailed to 100 and the camera was set to 1/125th and f5.6. 

We chatted and took images for about an hour and I ended up with around 250 image files. I put them into Lightroom to do a quick color tweak and convert to gallery sized jpegs. I'll put the ones I like up in a private gallery on Smugmug so Lauren can make her selections. In the meantime I output the first image of the shoot and pulled it into Portrait Professional to soften her skin tone just a bit and do a few little color tweaks. Then I pushed the file into Snapseed to add a nice vignette---darkening the corners. Finally I pulled the file into DXO Filmpack 3 and converted the image into a Fuji Astia film profile.  I uploaded the portrait to this blog as an sRGB files at 2100 pixels on the long side. 

When Lauren makes her selections I'll first open them in DXO and do my raw conversions there. I'll take large 16 bit tiffs and do my retouching in PhotoShop. From there we'll see where the creative, post production process leads. 

We've had enough columns here about tangential subjects that barely graze the photographic arts---I thought I'd pull myself back on course and write about the stuff I really care about.  That's making portraits.

Edit: I never imagined that each site would compress and display images so differently. Go to 500px to see Lauren's image much closer to what I'm seeing on my screen: 

http://500px.com/photo/78991065/lauren-provia-web-res-by-kirk-tuck?from=user_library

p.s. Thanks Robert for making me double check!


8.06.2014

I now have two white cameras. The latest one is a Samsung NX 3000.

The latest Samsung, the NX 3000.

I am a member of the Samsung Imageloggers. It's a fun group. We have a secret handshake and we meet in secret with the Illuminati to plan a new world order. Well that's not strictly true. We have no secret handshake, or at least not one they've let me in on. And I just made that up about our affiliation with the Illuminati. Really. 

So, the Imagelogger program consists (in the U.S.A.) of about 50 photo enthusiast from various walks of life who get cameras from Samsung and then go out and shoot them and evaluate them and post images to the Imagelogger website as examples of what the various cameras are capable of delivering in the real world. In the hands of a diverse group of photographers. So far I've shot with the NX300 (a great little camera that only needed the addition of EVF capability to be superb), the Samsung Galaxy NX camera, the NX30, which is a shot across the bow of mirror less DSLR style cameras from Olympus and Panasonic (good body size, great lenses, bigger sensor, decent EVF, nice IQ), and a strange little camera that fell pretty far outside my user profile and my demographic = the NX Mini. Designed to be the ultimate "selfie" camera and the first Samsung NX with a 1 inch sensor. Now I've received the NX 3000 which immediately made me think, "NX 300 - Lite." By that I mean the build is more plastic and less metal, the external controls are simplified and the damn thing is white!  (In all fairness the camera is widely available in brown and black finishes as well).

The reason I am calling it an NX300 lite is that it packs the same imaging performance in. While the imaging sensor doesn't feature the phase detection AF of its bigger brother its color, sharpness and 20 megapixel resolution match up. The reason this camera exists has to be the price-to-performance ratio. The package with a (darn good) 16-50mm power zoom lens and the tiny, vestigial flash comes in at around $500. What you are getting for that price is a very, very good, APS-C sensor coupled with a well designed 24mm to 75mm equivalent zoom lens. The lens also does image stabilization.

 I just got the camera two days ago and I'm posting a bunch of photographs that I took on my walk yesterday morning and let you see what I saw. The camera feels good and the interface performance is good.

I was going to get all snarky about the white color of the camera until I walked with it in the hot sun and the camera stayed cool and manageable. Made me think past tradition to practicality.

Here's a short list of what the camera is all about: 
=20 megabyte, APS-C sensor. 
=Works with all current NX lenses.
=1080 at 30p video. 
=Front face-able selfie screen.
=NFC and Wi-fi connectivity.
=Wink mode for self portraits (no. I did not make that up. See = "Narcissism" in the DSM-IV).
=Standard hot shoe for flash.
=Small flash comes with every camera kit.

Here's what the NX3000 lacks:
=unnecessary weight.
=multiple control dials.
=EVF or the ability to add an EVF.
=touch screen capabilities.

I spent an hour walking and shooting around Barton Springs and Lady Bird Lake yesterday.  This is not a "work" camera, this is a "take everywhere and not worry about it camera" or a "hand it to the kids/spouse/stranger/friend and let them take photos" without a massive tutorial session. 

One more thing: I really like the lens and will almost immediately pull it off the NX 3000 and put it on the more capable NX30 for some more serious walking around photography. They should be a good match. Well, that camera is black and the lens is white but I think you know what I meant about the match.....



























8.05.2014

Drone-enabled CEO portrait session becomes a disaster. What went horribly wrong?


I can't chalk it up to anything but hubris. I love to live my professional life on the cutting edge and I was blinded, for a moment, by the siren call of technology and progress; the promise that my creative life was about to be launched with the acceleration of a rail gun. Instead my prospects started heading down quicker than the gas gauge on my old GTO...

Here's the sad tale:  As you probably know I've spent most of my career making portraits of corporate executives, scientists, engineers and entrepreneurs. My crew and I would spent hours getting the lighting just right and we'd select incredibly relevant props and I worked with my acting coach for months at a time to get my rapport, my camera side manner, just right. But lately everything we photographed just seemed boring. It felt like we'd already "been there, done that." I was ready for reinvention and ready to take the whole business to the next level and that made me vulnerable.

We were in the process of setting up a shoot for the CEO of Zancotar. The company is not a household name but they lead the world in two things, the creation of artificial intelligence weaponry and the harvesting of a certain very ugly and dangerous fish species, the oil of which is used to polish upscale stripper poles. The fish business is a side line, Zancotar's real money maker is their line of killer robots which, in peace time, can be configured to work in car washes and beauty salons.

At any rate their ad agency wanted to "take it up a notch or two" and do something new and different for the CEO portrait. They were aiming for insertions in Wired Magazine and Russian Weapon Quarterly and they knew the visual competition would be stiff.

I met with the creative director of WebFlushMonsterNumbers.com (the agency) and we brain stormed over drinks at our favorite bar, The Truncated Troll.  I was on my seventh or eighth Sloshy Selfie (a mix of diet Coke, absinthe, pomegranate juice, tequila and Vick's cough syrup) when inspiration struck: We's do a two-for-one slam. We'd jump into the current drone craze and we'd add a video layer on top of that!!!! The creative director was way ahead of me and just before he became unconscious he gave me the thumbs up and I helped guide his limp hand to sign the contract and purchase order I had wisely prepared before our meeting.

Here's the general idea. We put the CEO of Zancotar up on a pillar about thirty feet in the air. The pillar was standing in front of their world headquarters building right here in Austin. It's up on a hill, with a view of the city skyline way off in the background. While the CEO stood on the pillar looking like a triumphant Caesar we launched our series of high powered, remote controlled drones.

The main drone carried the latest Nikon D810 (because no real  pro would shoot with anything less). We had a Blue Rock Macro rig on the camera that allowed us to change focal lengths on the lens and a trigger that would allow me to fire the camera from the ground. We also had radio triggers that would fire a bank of flashes at every firing of the camera's shutter.

The five other identical drones each carried a Profoto, battery powered mono-light configured with a 3x4 foot soft box. These lights would each be triggered by the radio trigger on the camera. A seventh drone was equipped with the new Sony A7s so that we could have behind the scenes videos of everything (which turned out to be a bonanza for the other side's attorneys....).

Now, we never do anything by half measures around our studio so these weren't your conventional, off the shelf, electric motor, battery powered, sissy drones. Yes, it's okay for entry level pros or amateurs to strap a Go Pro to one of those tiny self powered kites but that's not the way the big boys do it. We were able to source our magnificent drones from a military surplus supplier in Kharzakystan.

8.02.2014

Celebration Post. Landmark. Milestone. Crazy accomplishment. A "Thank You" to the readers who have stuck around over the years. And more.

At Eve's Organic Bed and Breakfast in Marathon, Texas. 2010

I'm glad I took a peek at the statistics for the blog site today. Serendipity. This post is the 2,000th post I've made to the site since I began writing it in the middle of 2009. I've been writing about photography and you've been adding your comments at the rate of about one post per day. When I add it all up that means we've spent a lot of time together on the 'ole' world wide web.

Other metrics include just a little shy of 30,000 comments and nearly 18,000,000 page views. 

As I glance through the history of the blog I see a few common themes emerging. Probably the most consistent is the idea that the only practical way to get better at taking photographs is to spend more time taking photographs. And, oddly, since the blog seems to be a big time sink, the blog has helped me make more photographs because to my mind the blog is always voracious for visual content.

The second place idea that I write about over and over again is that the type or brand or size of camera you use is hardly ever as important as your vision and your intention and those are developed by spending more hands on time actually taking photographs. 

The third idea I've shared is what I think moves work forward and that is experimentation. New subject matter, new points of view, new styles and even new gear.

I've written many time about new equipment, and of old equipment that I still like and use, but nothing seems to resonate with both my viewers and visitors from the greater space outside the blog than the times that I write about or review the Olympus micro four thirds cameras. There is a passion connected with those cameras that seems to transcend all other brands and types. At least as it is represented on my site. The review of the lowly (but very capable) EPL-2 is still the most popular equipment review article I've penned for the blog. I'd be interested to know what makes us all so passionate about this particular line of camera other than the fact that it represents a sea change from the status quo. 

I've written a number of times about shooting etiquette both in the streets and at corporate functions and the article I wrote about asking permission still sits on the "top five" list of all articles. A short version: Don't be a dick. Don't make people uncomfortable. Fit in. Blend in. And get the subject's real, tacit or implied approval to make their photograph. 

It probably seems that I've got the attention span of a fruit fly when it comes to acquiring and changing camera systems but that ties into my belief that you acclimate to the constant change in culture and even around your own sphere of existence by embracing change and discovering what it has to offer. It may be that the popularity of the new, mirror free cameras is directly connected to the fact that they push one to make images in a different way, and that each camera pushes you to overcome it's liabilities or limitations by putting you in touch with your own creativity. That creativity depends to some extent on a catalyst to bring it into action....

We've shared a lot together. I've brought you along on my honest journey through the depths of the recession which was an extreme trial for self employed creative people. And I've welcomed you along on the the story of our ongoing recovery and reinvention as a result of that economic downturn.  And many of you have buoyed up my spirits with off line notes of encouragement and support that went a long way to keeping me calm and focused on maintaining my vision and intentions for photography through that tough time.

You read patiently through the noisy launch of five different photography "how to" books that Amherst Media published for me and you are currently and patiently waiting (I think) for me to get over my joyous enthusiasm over having completed my first novel.

The image at the top is a signifier for me personally. I took it in 2010. Work was sparse and the income from books was most welcome. At that juncture a very large publisher wanted to have me write and to have them publish a dream book for any photographer. It would be a book about going on a road trip and making art. The problem was that the contract was quite a bit one sided. I'm sure the publisher felt like the book was such an opportunity for a freelancer that no one in their right mind would turn down okay money+the chance to do this book but their negotiating hubris stuck in my craw and, after weeks of very one sided negotiations I finally told them to take a hike. I stuck to my guns. I did not do the book. 

But I did take the road trip. I looked at my business checking account and took out $400 for ten days on the road. That left precious little operating capital in the account at the time. Scary little. I cared but I didn't care. I figured that I'd figure it out. I took the cash and my Honda Element and several Olympus EP2 cameras and I hit the road for West Texas. Just to see what it would look like photographed. 

Most of the time I camped out under the stars or, when the temperature dropped, in the back of my jaunty Honda Element. I shot whatever the heck I wanted on whatever schedule I wanted and when I finally got bored I packed it in and headed home. But the image above is one that I've always enjoyed looking at from that shoot. The richness of the color. The ability to see and make square images in the camera. The discovery of something different and new. And finally, just the rich color contrasts that still please my eyes. Done with a m4:3, twelve megapixel sensor camera with a "tiny?" sensor.  For my own enjoyment. And that's the basic and enduring message of the Visual Science Blog. It's this: Forget about what people did in the "good old days." Forget the rules as learned by unchanging techno-weenies. Forget the subject matter that gets the most "likes." 

Shoot for the fun of it. Shoot for your own self-discovery. Shoot for the glory of having seen something unique and having savored it well. Sharing images is over sold. Make the images as extensions of your own fragile memory. Let them be your personal touchstones and prods to memory of stuff well seen. Fifty years from now pull a photo up on your screen and remember what if felt like to be fifty years younger---maybe in love---maybe lonely and on your own---maybe surrounded by family. Let the images you take be your enduring guides to your own vision and your own past and leave it at that.

The one favor I ask all my friends is this: Please resist the temptation to show me your work on the screen of a phone. I'm 58, the screen is too small. Either share that image large or enjoy it on your own. I'm not looking for more excuses to pull the reading glasses out of my cardigan sweater, I'm too busy yelling at those damn kids to get off my lawn!

Finally, I have two things to ask of you. Especially if you enjoy reading the blog. (Maybe only if you enjoy reading the blog...) : First, it's always nice to see the numbers grow in the followers box on the home page. Sign up if you can.  If you can't do it that's okay---you are still most welcome here. And, secondly, I'd really appreciate you taking a chance and spending the $9.99 to buy the novel I took a long time to write. Some of you already have and I appreciate that you were  early adapters and also took a leap of faith to click on the "buy this book" tab at Amazon.com.  I'm so appreciative of the great reviews the book is getting. I'm grateful for the feedback from early readers----please note that we jumped right back in and made numerous corrections you suggested which made the book even better. But so far only a small (tiny) handful of VSL's thousands of daily readers have taken the plunge with the book. 

I'd love to have your support for the book. Buy it. Read it. If you hate it, return it for a refund (if you must). But give it a shot. You may find that you like my fiction much more than you like my daily posts.

Thanks for reading through the 2,000 blog posts I've put up over the years. I don't plan to stop any time soon. We're in a new photo industry transition and I get the feeling there's still a lot to write about. It's going to get even more interesting. Keep your lens clean, don't keep cleaning your lens.  Get out there and shoot. 




8.01.2014

I hate change. It always makes things different.


(Above) This is the pool I swim in most mornings. We get here at 7 am in the Summer and we do a good 3200-3400 yards in an hour, with our coaches yelling at us from the deck, and then get on with our days. In the winter the workouts get longer. Then it's 7 to 8:15. We get some more yards in. There's another workout from 8:30 to 9:30 and if you didn't get enough yardage in the first one you are welcome to stay for the second one as well....as long as you do the workout the coach puts up on the white board. In the winter there is a third workout every week day; it's at noon. 

I've been swimming masters workouts daily at the pool for about 18 years. That adds up to 16 million+ yards.  But the pool is more than that. It's where tiny Benjamin learned how to swim from five or size different Olympians. It's the place where I spent countless Saturday mornings as the "official" volunteer photographer for the Rollingwood Waves (Ben's swim team) during their Summer swim meets. It's the place where we've had countless barbecues with dozens of other families. It's the place at which I served as vice president of the board of directors for about ten years (seemed like thirty...). And on Monday it's going to change. Big time. 

The bath house we've had on the property for 22 years is being demolished. Torn down. Destroyed. Hauled away. The new board decided to build a beautiful, new bath house with air conditioning in the locker rooms for the wimpier members. On the plus side it will be fully ADA compliant. On the minus side it is too beautiful and too sybaritic. But the real minus is just that I hate change, resist change, don't do well with change---unless it involves changing camera systems. 






(Above) Is the very utilitarian interior of the men's locker room. We call it a locker room but we don't even have lockers---just hooks from which to hang your clothes and stuff. We generally get here most  of the year in the morning twilight and change into our swim suits and head to the pool. No special amenities necessary. The locker does have a heater. But on Monday all that goes away and we get a "country club" style locker room. I haven't taken the tour yet. It may even have lockers. But I don't care because I don't like change.


The image just above is the exterior of the current bath house. The covered area out front is where we all stand around when we clear out of the pool for lightning and thunder. We stand under the cover and try to convince the coaches that the sound they heard was just a garbage truck somewhere wrangling a dumpster and that they should let us right back into the pool--- but they never buy it. 

As I was changing back into my civilian clothes after this morning's workout I realized that I didn't have any images of the old bath house. Not even an iPhone snap. So I grabbed a camera I've been testing out and headed back the pool around 3 this afternoon. I snapped my perspectives of the bath house.  At least I'll have the images to play with....

We don't get to use the pool all next week. The demolition will be loud and dangerous and at some point they have to lay in a new gas line to the new bath house across where the existing structure is and only then will we be able to get a certificate of occupancy. I'll be swimming at one of the other clubs. Probably Barton Creek Country Club. But I won't be happy because that will be change too. It's not as bad because it's just a temporary change but still....

Today I was testing out a traditional APS-C camera just to see how different it is from what I remember. It's a Nikon D7100 outfitted with a fun but funky 18-140mm lens. The VR works really well and the files are saturated with detail. But it's different from what I shoot right now and, as you might be learning, I hate change.