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Sunday, 05 June 2011

Comments

If you can't take good pictures- take a lot!

There is much to what you say here Mike. I experienced no difference in the volume of photographs attempted when I went from 35mm to MF. Things were very different after transitioning to LF from MF. The nature of the LF camera forced me to think hard about what I might photograph, and of course, the volume of photographs went down. However, the "hit," or success, rate went way up.

Now, unless I am in a situation where the opportunity to think is measured in seconds or less (sporting events, for example), I try to apply much the same approach to my smaller format photography. As long as I really think about what I am doing, my hit rate is still better than it was before I picked up my first LF camera. I may end up with the same number of successful photographs as I would have just firing away, but I have fewer photos to wade through when editing, which is a nice benefit. I also have a better idea of what I did that resulted in a photograph that I found satisfying in some way.

Another Sanskrit word that has a place in every photographer's vocabulary: ekagrata, meaning 'one-pointedness.' The concept is that if one has enough mental focus, free of distraction, amazing things are possible.

Brings to mind a moving story in today's New York Times:

http://www.nytimes.com/2011/06/05/us/05cncbalterman.html?emc=tnt&tntemail1=y

Very nicely put and timely. I always feel that selecting a particular film concentrates my approach - in some way necessarily dictates it. This I find useful - maybe it's the "discipline of constraint" that someone else mentioned in another post. Maybe it's my awareness of the possibilities / imitations of the chosen medium. Just a personal thing - I'm not saying it's better than the freedom of digital. I also like the fact that with film - unless you shoot on the Winogrand scale - you maybe see a shot take one, maybe two and then move on. You see so many people these days standing in the one spot swiveling around and shooting at all and sundry. Digital doesn't make you do this of course.

BTW in the UK "tat" is also synonymous with "any old rubbish"

That's a wonderful Sunday morning cup of tea! I agree most of what is there in cyberspace today is merely 'tat'. A photograph, to be memorable, must ask: "Tatah kim?" --from that, what?

I was tickled to read this as I don't think you are aware, Mike, that 'tat' is an English slang word for something of little, if any worth/use or, commonly, junk. Perfect.
Similarly, 'tattle' as a form of speech is babble, blather, yap or yak, etc., i.e. just worthless, indiscriminate noise to most people.
A succinct, uncontestable (d'ya think ?) post.
Regards.

More Tat, than that ever was....

I have no way of knowing, but I would guess that on any given day there are now more photos made or taken in a single day than there were in the entirety of the first 100 years of this medium.

Just a thought...

... and I'm guessing you feel no need to point out that tat has evolved to mean worthless junk or kitsch ... at least it has where I come from.

On the other hand what is tat for some is gold for others. Is that tit for tat?

Hi Mike

Ouch!

Why are you blaming digital photography?

By your argument, the fact I can now read millions of pointless and idiotic opinions on internet forums, or self-involved and infantile drivel on Facebook, implies a major drop off in human intellect and literacy brough about by the home computer.

Nope, it's just the internet showing us humanity unedited. It's just one big reality show.

There would be a lot less drivel if people had to write in to the NYT by letter, but only because most would not bother and some editor somewhere would have had sorted through the trash before publication.

If for the sake of argument, the number of "worthwhile" photographs produced annually is the same as it was 20 years ago, then nothing has become objectively worse (if fact I am far more likely to hear about them and see them).

One can still choose to view photobooks and gallery shows and ignore Flickr, just as I read columns in the Times more than I read opinions online if I want to know what's actually happening. I simply have to exercise choice.

Flickr is for fun, it's for normal people to share and learn and show off. In short, it isn't aimed at people like you. It's for Uncle George's kids and their friends.

Whilst we should perhaps be grateful that Uncle Georges slides mostly ended up as landfill, how many Vivian Maiers went the same way in the "good old days".

Cheers
Steve

"Now you know what I mean when I give my inscrutable oracular first criticism of modern photography c. 2011: too much mere tat." -- Mike

Maybe. But maybe modern photographers are simply doing what those 30s guys would have done, had they the means -- actualizing what they see. Too many of those 30s guys "saved" their film for what now seems merely picturesque, or of such limited personal interest that they are meaningless to people today. Did we, the photo community, ever really need more shots of people in long coats and cloche hats blinking into the sun while a microscopic image of Mt. Rushmore hovers in the background?

It also seems possible that what you see as photography on the net isn't really "Photography" (capital P, with quotes around it) at all, but a kind of conversation, or Tweeting, or Facebook commentary, not meant to have any "Photographic" meaning at all -- it simply says "I" was here and saw this a minute ago, just as some people Tweet thirty times a day to tell their friends that they are now in Macys, looking at socks, and now in Nordstroms, looking at underwear. That is, the photographs are simply conversation that not even the originators give any importance to: just a momentary record that will soon be deleted and forgotten, and which was intended for that demise from the moment the button on the cell phone was pushed.

I started taking photos recently (relatively) and am therefore OF digital i guess. I think mention must be made of the difference between taking pictures of 'merely' tat and displaying said pictures for the world to see. where in this idea does self editing fit in? Winogrand's quote about seeing the world photographed speaks to me. I like to see the world through photographs, BUT i know that the rest of the world can be largely spared the results of my experimentation. Tat may not be the problem... just that everything thinks that their tat is worth looking at.

It was not only in the 1930s that one could be picky about the photos made on a roll of film with a folder. With a medium format camera, such as the Fuji GF670, one can be picky and up-to-date at the same time.

Those who take erotic photos have tit for tat.

I used to think your Sunday columns were for woolgathering, but now I see they are for tatting.

"It's curious to me that in all the discussion of digital "ease" and "cheapness," no consideration is ever given to the fact that...(snipped) ...it made him very picky about what to point at.


Really, Mike? Maybe so from the marketers, but this theme is at the core of countless film versus digital debates on forums I browse.

I totally agree with the sentiment regarding the ubiquity, banality and carelessness in much of today's photography, but the discussion about the discrimination required with 'traditional' photography seems equally ubiquitous.

I believe I read that HCB shot 36 exposures of people jumping over the puddle. As a generalization I suppose you are correct that more photographers today spend more exposures per outing, but there are still plenty of people today who do not spend more than 36 exposures necessarily in a single outing. I believe it was here at TOP where someone recently commented that we're not seeing a decline in photography skill or dedication or methodology - we're seeing an influx of a new class of photographers who fill a tier that previously couldn't have existed due to cost and time prohibitiveness of the craft. There is probably a higher percentage of the overall population taking photographs right now and sharing them - and probably a notable portion of people doing so are not making art nor are even worried about the quality of their craft. People are in every way in our culture now sharing their experience with others regardless of geographic location via the internet. Flickr is like Twitter is like Facebook to many many people.

In the past a photo-enthusiast might join a photography club to share prints with peers. These people needed to be in the same basic area and it took a certain level of effort to print the shots, drive to the meeting spot, and share. Thus the clubs represented a portion of the photography world who were driven to exert the effort - a different breed than a Flickr or Facebook photo-sharer. Below that tier was the family snapshot slideshow - again requiring a certain level of involvement (albeit less) in acquiring and loading slide reels, etc. Now we have technology allowing for a tier below this (I am ignoring working professionals completely and only discussing hobbyists) requiring almost no effort but allowing people to socially connect with peers across the globe instantaneously.

I don't see this as a shift or a decline, I see it as an expansion of the population of photographers. The photo-club enthusiast and the family snapshot guru both still exist. As does the working photographer and the art photographer. We've just added more people who were previously excluded.

Now lets discuss for a brief moment the subjective nature of "interesting." What is interesting to you as a long-time skilled craftsman (possibly artist?) isn't necessarily what will be interesting to John Doe who wants to show his buddies (wherever they are) that pigeon eating some icecream in the parking lot. Never mind that it's blurry and the pigeon is backlit so missing detail while the sky is blown out in a painful way. For him the moment was disposably amusing, and his buddies might think so. Click, upload, then forget it. There's no mind for longevity of the image - this is the photography equivalent of a group of friends walking down the street together and one exclaiming, "Dude, look at that!" and they all chuckle then walk on, the moment forgotten. Sure, doing this with digital photos leads to debris - but technology doesn't seem to mind digital debris; harddrives get larger, connections speeds get faster. And John Doe got to do the modern version of "Dude, look at that!" For him, this is interesting in a mild and fleeting way.

This creates an online sort of noise pollution, burying the well-crafted photos in piles of imagery that were never intended to be well-crafted. But would John Doe have been happier if he had the proper lens, took an extra moment to recompose so the pigeon wasn't so badly backlit (perhaps framing it against that parked car for a more even exposure), or in general spent more time/knowledge crafting the shot? I don't think so. Would you as a photo-club-level (or higher) photographer be more interested in the image if he did? Sure, but you aren't the intended audience. And John Doe has a good reason to post it to Facebook or Flickr in a public way rather than merely emailing it to his existing buddies: a stranger might also enjoy the disposable moment and might even join up and become one more buddy to share moments with in the future.

I see photography embracing a new cultural context now as part of the overall online community of the internet and the general socialness which the internet enables in a global way. I don't see it merely inhabiting this one new role, instead that's just more territory it can call its own.

We're not less discriminating, there's just more of us with different goals than were possible before, and the resulting photos from one group's goals may not interest members of a different group. We're broader and more diverse, but not worse.

(wow, I sure can ramble on occasion)

. . . or, as Gertrude Stein said of Oakland, "There is no there there."
The descent from "Behold what I have wrought" to "Look what I have seen" to "Lookie here."

I'm incubating a crackpot theory that all photographs are acts of censorship -- of all the world beyond the margins of the frame. A photograph is a work of exclusion. Glass plates and daguerrotypes and film and cropping sort of made us subconsciously grasp that fact in a way that people now armed with the squirt-guns of digital no longer have to. . . everyone now spatters everything against everyone else's windshields. Less used to be more, until more went down in price. Now that more is cheap, more and more of more is close to worthless.

At almost every point in photography's history, it has been easier to make a photo than previously, and more people are making more photos. The things people say about the changes brought about by digital photography are not substantially different in kind from the things people said about the advent of dry plate vs. wet plate.

Which is not to say that the observation isn't true, just that the change in question is basically the permanent situation of photography.

Of course, this is something of a pet peeve of mine. : )

Another, unrelated pet peeve is the way people tend to mythologize Sanskrit. It's just a language, like any other. There are observations or relationships that are legitimately easier to express in it than in English -- but again, that's also true of any two languages.

Well, well. 'That' is also a relative pronoun (as in 'the one blog that I always read is OP'), and a bit of relativising is what I miss in this touch of Mikean agent provocateurism. Yes, a multitude of people armed with every kind of digital device make photos. Most of which we know-alls brand as tat. But the argument that because we use an image maker that isn't digital we are therefore more parsimonious, careful and discriminating, and therefore better photographers is spurious. Digital is cheap pix, that's all.

And as the number of images proliferates, so better and more selective sites arise to skim off the cream. Think 1x, Art Limited, Lensmodern. I am sure there are many more. That's where you will find discrimation.

People used to write thoughtful think

Now they tweet they have sammich

I think randomly browsing pictures on the 'net is like walking into a bookshop, randomly picking a book, and expecting it to be good. Some pictures I put on Flickr only so I can show someone at work something - not because it's a good image.
1x, Caedes, and photo.net seem to have a high percentage of good images.

Are pictures in a photo mag worse now than they were 30 years ago? (must check my boxes in the loft).

Do you begrudge the printing press because it brought affordable books to the masses? it probably put calligraphers and illuminators out of business, but that is an unfortunate by-product of progress.

all the best. phil

Ah, the filmers weigh in with the absolute truth. ;) I shoot often, and when I shoot I shoot less. The ability to check exposure, composition, etc. on the back of the camera makes my life much easier and negates the need for (seemingly) endless bracketing. The idea is usually in my head before I make the photo, and while I will certainly wander around a subject and take many good long looks, I make an exposure ultimately because I know what I want before I make the exposure.

And mundane isn't necessarily bad. Some great photographers make photos of the mundane. Our lives are primarily mundane. If I waited for a double rainbow or a unicorn I'd never make ANY photographs. Life is fascinating even as it is mundane.

Digital means less.

Someone needs to come up with a cure for twitchy finger...
I was trained in large format photography, and I still take that mindset to Digital. I look at the scene through the viewfinder, and often I will decide NOT to take the picture. This also saves wear and tear on the delete key on your computer...

Amen to tat Mike,

For me, the more worrisome point regarding the lack of discernment is the thought that possibly in today's "ME" culture nobody produces an image of just 'that' but all works are masterpieces. Or, possibly worse still, "ART".

Networking forums seem not only to sprout streams of verbal diarrhoea but also torrents of visual diarrhoea.

W.

Hi Mike, it seems that with digital, the editing emphasis has shifted from pre-shutter to post-download, that's all. Maybe this tends to make it less discriminatory.
I recall you wrote a series of articles somewhere along the way on putting together a portfolio, where the process of picture selection was a major issue. This may now be more relevant than ever.
How's the dog? cheers

Rob Atkins, thanks for the link. I only wish the article had been longer - I feel they only touched the edges of this gentleman.

"We have greatly relaxed our sense of discrimination, to the point that it might as well not exist."

Sadly to a large degree it doesn't. Daily I see "experts" encouraging the notion that the kind of discrimination you refer to is "old fashioned" and no longer has any relevance.

Have you ever considered creating a Flickr group for readers of this blog? Flickr groups have a nifty tool where you can limit the number of submissions per member per time period. Your group could be called "Tat of TOP Readers" (or something more catchy) and submissions would be limited to one photo per month. I think a very decent body of work could be created over time, or at least it would make people think about what makes a good photo.

I can't find the link right now, but I think it was you, Mike, who pointed to some study of Flickr stats showing that the average number of times a photo is viewed is rapidly approaching zero. Seems that picture viewers (as opposed to takers) are as discriminating as ever, and already agree: What's the point of just pointing at that?

For my own part, I'm using a lot of older photo gear these days, as a kind of deliberate tire clamp. I've only got 24, or 12, or 8, chances to make a good image, so I'd better try harder.

On the other hand, my wife is a photojournalist, and regularly returns from an assignment with 200-300 images to sort through. For her, the digital medium is a godsend. But she still boils that pile down to a half-dozen for the editor to pick one or two. Could it be that the lack of discrimination in the digital age is more of an editing problem than a taking problem?

Once presented, a photograph is more "this." So, less "that" (randomly pointing and shooting and posting) and more "this!"

Perhaps. Or perhaps you just see more 'tat' pictures than when they were deposited in the proverbial sock drawer.

Yes, though I'm sure you don't mean "trivial and mundane" in the objective sense, considering the film and paper that were well spent on things like bedpans, peppers, tricycles, etc.

There's something more or else than just scarcity that makes people more discriminating with larger formats, I think.

Film cost and processing time are really non-issues for me (my digital shots can languish for weeks on the memory card too). But I can take my MF camera for a whole day outing with the express aim of shooting one roll to develop the same night, I'll bring extra rolls just in case I want more, and I still struggle to actually find ten exposures in the course of that day.

Same kind of outing with my digital camera gives me 30-40 shots without trying. I can double that if there's something particularly exciting going on.

Of course, after selecting and editing, I typically end up with 5-6 images I actually decide to save, whether it's from one roll with 10 shots, or one memory card with 60.

I think it's the lack of direct feedback. When you can see the result immediately you see what you "missed" in the real scene and that prompts you to try to cover everything.
When you don't get any feedback you take one or two shots and that fulfils your sense that you've covered the scene. And it seems most often its those first shots that most accurately tells the story you want them to.

What drives me nuts are the folks on, say, Flickr, who post a shot of something barely interesting, and then scrolling down I see they've actually posted twelve or fifteen or twenty more shots of almost exactly the same thing, differing only by a slight angle or some other microscopic variation only they can see. Absolutely zero editing. It's like they tipped a CF card and dumped its contents straight into Flickr.

There's a term for these folks: "former Flickr contacts."

I shoot only film and do everything else digitally. It helps me focus on the "what", when actually capturing an image, but minimizes the impediments in the after capture workflow.

To me, it's the best of both worlds.

For Tat...

People ask, "Why do you shoot film?"

My answer is that there must be a reason NOT to take a photograph. With digital, there is no such reason.

"Ah, the filmers weigh in with the absolute truth. ;)"

Chris,
I'm not a "filmer." I haven't developed a roll of film in ten years.

Mike

This has been said before, but since digital took off we've heard that it's better in just about every way. Well, maybe, but where are all the better photographs? Seriously, where are they? We've had a major leap in technology but nowhere do I see photographs from the digital age surpassing photographs from the previous century. I'm not referring to individual photographs here but rather in a general, collective way.

"But enough about That , what about This?"
You point at that , but you hold this,
That is them , but this is us.

I'm more interested in photos of this , than I am of that.

"present-day photographers will point at anything"

I believe that very thing was said of first generation Brownie users. I also recall hearing that Kodak was very pleased that they did point and shoot most anything.

"Another, unrelated pet peeve is the way people tend to mythologize Sanskrit. It's just a language, like any other."

Nick,
I'm not "mythologizing" Sanskrit. I'm using it as a useful way of distinguishing the concept I'm talking about from the English word "that," which isn't distinctive enough to perform double duty.

Mike

Actually, if we’re going to discuss “tat,” we should understand what its greatest usage is, and realize that we actually want MORE of “That.” Everything we aim for as “serious” photographers is to capture a moment of “That” with a capital T.

In Vedanta, a central philosophy of Hinduism, one of the greatest teachings is “Tat Tvam Asi,” or “Thou Art That.” In this famous saying, “Tat” refers to the Supreme Reality (God, Consciousness, the Absolute Reality), and this teaching says that our individual soul is of the same essence as the Supreme Soul. With this awareness, we can see reflections of the Supreme in ourselves and all of creation, even if we would use very different words to describe it.

So, an awakened photographer will always be looking to capture “the decisive moment” as a numinous revelation of the hidden beauty, spirit, heart, soul, or divinity revealing itself in creation. A careless photo is a small t “that.” A masterful photo is THAT - it captures the moment of something great or mysterious or “real” in the deepest and most complete sense. A really great war photo captures the profound reality of THAT expressing itself in a fully human dimension and experiencing it in all its facets, just as a really great wedding photo does the same in a different human situation. Likewise with a compelling street photo or landscape study.

An indifferent photo commits what Baudelaire, in his poem "To The Reader," calls the absolute greatest sin - ennui, or boredom with life, for it is in many senses a blasphemy, ignoring the magic and beauty that could be captured with a little more awareness and vision.

So, let's have MORE of "That"!

Dear Steve Jacob,

Oh, what you said.

The sole difference between now and then was back in the then, you only got exposed to Uncle George's interminable and execrably boring vacation slides once or twice a year.

In the now, and thank to the InterWebs, assuming you are sufficiently masochistic, you can peruse dozens, nay hundreds of "Uncle George Vacation Slide Shows" a day.

They are not, in average quality, any better nor worse than the screen-in-the-living-room ones of old.

It really doesn't matter if someone makes ten or ten thousand photographs if their sense of discrimination isn't good enough to let them tell an engaging photo from a boring one. And the vast majority of camera-wielders can't. And they never have. And they don't have to, so long as they are happy... and no one is forcing me to sit through their slide shows.

Steven Palmer, you have introduced a most crimson herring. I sincerely doubt that anyone has ever, ever claimed that digital photography means that people will, on average, make ARTISTICALLY-better photographs.

If you wish to stake that out as your arena of argument, you win through lack of opposition.

Does anyone really care? Was that ever the debate? (Are those not rhetorical questions?)

pax / Ctein

"I'm not "mythologizing" Sanskrit. I'm using it as a useful way of distinguishing the concept I'm talking about from the English word "that," which isn't distinctive enough to perform double duty."

Then why Sanskrit, and not French or German, or make up a couple of syllables? Or just use "that" in italics? Is it not because invoking Sanskrit makes it easier for naive western readers to accept the rhetorical leap from a simple act of identification to an ontological and epistemological principle?

That's basically what Barthes (citing Alan Watts) does in Camera Lucida when he introduces "tat" in the passage that you seem to be paraphrasing, and I think it holds here as well.

On Ilkley Moor (Yorkshire England), they bar tat.

Following the featured comment from David, I wholly agree with his point. I would go a bit further and suggest that for the general population a picture isn't meant to be an artworthy effort. It's a mnemonic to help them remember the story of what happened when they were THERE. To misquote Walter Cronkite: "and Tat's the way it is".

regards

Gijs

For better the times are changing no more 12 24 or 36 a large dictature.

One or two folks have mentioned that post-production causes one to do the thinking after the shutter has been pressed. Printing, which costs money, causes even more thinking.

I have found that printing has brought back the same mind-set that shooting with film did - it costs money!

The trouble is the 'OK' button on the digital camera. There is a 'bad' button; 'delete', but there isn't a button for 'good'.

We need to add a button and do some renaming. A new button marked 'good', the delete button to be marked 'bad', and the 'OK' button to be marked 'indifferent'.

Indifferent is a bit of a long word to go on a tiny button, so how about 'meh...'? The 'meh' button would just be another 'bad' button.

On my camera the legend has nearly worn off just one button; the 'meh...' button. errr...... : )

Mike,
Speaking of film, can we have a darkroom update please?

And the whole 'Top TOP Flickr' idea sounds like a good one, if you'll have time to administer it. I know that I could use some feedback on my images from people who have a clue.

My own story is that I stated out with a digital camera very early, later I got a film camera to get a better quality. And I got a better quality almost every picture was well thought out, perfectly composed and correctly exposed.... I hated it!

I lost to much, the slight change in angle that changed the picture from good to wonderful, the tenth picture of a girl where a look in her eye just transforms her whole face. I just didn't experiment enough I didn't take a picture unless I was quite sure it would be a good one. So I ended up taking perfectly boring pictures.

You don't become a good photographer by taking one picture a month, you have to practice, experiment, learn the limits and possibilities. This will be much slower with film than with digital because you can learn from you mistakes much faster. Sometimes you have to slow down and think about what you take pictures of and why, but that is a secondary step.

With a digital camera I can choose to take 10 pictures a day, just by buying a smaller card. It is the same as with zoom lenses, I can challenge myself by setting them to a fixed length and locking them with a piece of tape. What I'm saying is that limiting yourself can improve your pictures but that it is not really a question about the type of camera. It is about your own choices.

Saying that a film camera is better because it forces you to take less pictures is like saying that a old car is better because it can only do 50km/h and that is much safer. You can always choose to go slower than the top speed and sometimes that is a very good idea.

"I haven't developed a roll of film in ten years."

Is this a technical play on words or has your New Year's resolution gone that poorly?

Also, didn't you have a series of posts about building a new darkroom in your home? Whether or not you have developed a roll of film in it, this is still saying something about you and film.

Nick,
For better or for worse, that's just the word I use when I think of this idea, following Barthes. Either way, I'm not making a general comment (not even qualified to make a general comment) about Sanskrit.

Mike

And a few days browsing some of the literally endless upload sites on the internet will bring home the point to you very clearly that present-day photographers will point at anything, no matter how trivial or mundane.......sounds like a damning report on Martin Parr

Ken, I think the word and concept you were rambling around toward but did not find in your post here is "intention" and "intentionality." With plenty often comes excess and a loss of the critical focus limited resources (exposures on a roll) bring. That has long been my complaint about the flood of digital and it's been central to lots of discussions and presentations that haven't made their way into print or on to TOP

Roger Bradbury: There is a 'bad' button; 'delete', but there isn't a button for 'good'.

Many digital cameras do have a "protect" feature: a button you can press when reviewing pictures, to label them with a lock icon. Those thus marked, will be spared by the "delete all pictures" command.

It maybe depends whether you are thinking of this process as separating out the successes, or as separating out the failures. Sadly, the boundary condition is in my opinion, where most of the interesting stuff is to be found.

The "meh" response, in our impatient age, is now the "show me another" button. We don't even trouble to reject what does not interest us; so flooded are we, that we can't afford even the minimal involvement of boredom.

Next!

Hmmm. John Szarkowski in the introduction to The Photographer's Eye has this quote:

"In 1893 an English writer complained that the new situation had 'created an army of photographers who run rampant over the globe, photographing objects of all sorts, sizes and shapes, under almost every condition, without ever pausing to ask themselves, is this or that artistic? ...They spy a view, it seems to please, the camera is focused, the shot taken! There is no pause, why should there be? For art may err but nature cannot miss, says the poet, and they listen to the dictum. To them, composition, light, shade, form and texture are so many catch phrases...'4"

4 E. E. Cohen, "Bad Form in Photography," in The International Annual of Anthony's Photographic Bulletin. New York and London: E. and H. T. Anthony, 1893, p. 18.

So, nothing new?

J.

Dear Ctein, regarding your comment...

"It really doesn't matter if someone makes ten or ten thousand photographs if their sense of discrimination isn't good enough to let them tell an engaging photo from a boring one. And the vast majority of camera-wielders can't. And they never have. And they don't have to, so long as they are happy... and no one is forcing me to sit through their slide shows."

Amen (as a Hindu would say) to all that!!

And here's another thought. If millions of people buy cameras for no other reason than to assuage their existential angst, does that not still create a mass market? Without that mass market, would the pace of development be anything like as rapid, or the cost of our (absurdly) capable gear be anything like as affordable?

Hardly.

Regards
Steve

Tat stands for "Trans-Activator of Transcription". Just saying ;-)

I get what you're saying,sometimes I feel overwhelmed by the "everybodies shot everything worth shooting"so I might as well give up.Thing is so much of life is utterly mundane,the workaday make a living/survive side.We all need a bit of art in our lives,just to exercise whatever poetry there is for us.

Mike,

Tat was a nice post......holding a lot of thruth......but having said tat, I would like to say, what is Flickr anyway, or Facebook, or Hyves, or Myspace, or all those so called Social Network sites. Nothing but a bunch of dilletants, so as I read somewhere (I guess here in a comment on a post) that a picture of HCB was booed of Flickr, I wasn't at all suprised. But there is a danger lurcking in those Social Media sites. We as photographers live from recognition. For some it pays the bills, for others it makes or brakes their day (I don't know what is worst). And if Facebook gets you recognition you will eventually be forced to join the ratrace. To submit your work to the dogs of average (at best) and let it be judged by millions of dilettants in the hope that one soul with enough mental luggage sees and welcomes your photos. That frankly was to much for me to bear. So I opted out and deleted all my accounts, from Linked in to Flickr, from Vimeo to MySpace......I don't want to be part of tat digital culture anymore. That is one of the reasons I sort of ditched my GF1 in favour of an GX680. Mind you I couldn't give rats ass about photography becoming easier to use. But I do care rats ass if dilettants with a few tweaks and plugins in P-shop can turn anything into a stunning picture unless you know of course which tweaks and plugins they happen to use. Artistic skil and craftmanship is thus superseeded by I don't know what but I'm sure not happy with it. Technology now perverts photography into a digital manipulation game......and personally if I see a picture that only derives it "I like it" to speak in childish Facebook terms, from the fact that a totally mundane shot was guilded by a nice set of cheap plugins I start to vommit.....in CYMK to be precies.

Greetings, Ed

In fact, many of my friends, while not artistes with fancy cameras, are pretty good photographers - but their flickr/facebook albums are absolutely loaded with redundant or pointless photos... like, the same landscape 5 times at slightly different zooms. They just have no idea how to discriminate what photos are worth sharing or not. And then they tell me they're not a good photographer, and I'm like, duh, I take just as many crappy pictures as you, I just don't show them to the world...

I do still have the large-format camera that I've had since the early 1980s. I've even used it this millennium; though not this decade.

But maybe some of this film vs. digital discussion has actually born fruit for me. I think I've realized why I didn't like working with the large-format camera much. It's because it forced me to close off options (artistic visions) much sooner than (then) 35mm or (now) digital do. Because it's necessary to have a high success rate, it pushed me to the "safe" pictures that I was sure I could make successes of.

My daughter's first word was "ta" (her take on "cat", pronounced with a short a, like "tat" without the last letter). And of course the running joke is that everyone gets a new camera, promptly takes a picture of their cat and posts it for everyone to see. Somehow that seemed connected.

I think flickr can be a great source of photos, but it takes a bit of work to get started. I've got or 3 groups on flickr I've found whose photos seems to be, on average, much better than just "happy snaps". Groups where the members are at least trying to present their best work. The strobist group, for example, limits members to how many photos they can submit and is much better for it (that group's probably not your cup of tea Mike, but I'd guess there's something out there that is).

@Erlik - this to me is the advantage of facebook:

I can upload anything my friends want to facebook, while only uploading my good photos to my website.

"What I'm saying is that limiting yourself can improve your pictures but that it is not really a question about the type of camera. It is about your own choices."

Thank you, Chrbrandt. Thank you.

I've seen websites by pro wedding photographers. It seems that some of them don't bother editing, other than weeding out the bad ones. Not only that, they have everything in two versions - colored and B&W. Trying to increase their chances of a sale, no doubt. But in my case, I was looking for a particular photo of our group and gave up.

"Mike replies: Yes, in the transition to digital and the web, the biggest casualty might be the necessary editor...."

Yet, I think, the audience is becoming much more proficient at editing and filtering what they take in. The editing job has always been shared. Maybe the balance is just shifting.

Great morning coffee read, Mike! I have a mother-in-law who is a "pure narcissist" in the most descriptive sense of the word. One of her famouse conundrums is the usage of "tit for tat" when she is once again trying to trivialize others, or to let them know why she did something to reduce their opinion on something.

So, I don't know where "tat for tat" came from, but I sure do know that it can be used as a pretty powerful rationalization tool.

Regarding your Farmers' Rain...I like to look at any gentle, warm rain here in western Washington as "Rain Forest Rain" since that is when I scurry up into the rain forest valleys to try to produce images that actually have a chance of coming out okay. The sun is my enemy in the rain forest, with the evil contrast going over the top of charts.

'Yesterday I got accused of mythologizing Sanskrit.'

OK, so I'll be the one who blasphemes:

If "Tat is a word we might use for the basic fact of a photograph",

Is "Tit for Tat" Sanskrit for Nude Photography?

feel no qualms about posting it for the world to see even if it is devoid of any discernible interest or distinction or meaning or visual grace whatsoever.

Of course, one person's meat is another's visual poison.

I'm still waiting for the insightful commentary about flexible LCD screens emulating the WLF of MF and whether that might signal a return to slower shooting, and/or shooting from the gut (meta- and -physically).

Ed Kuipers, great post. I digitally agree with you.

m3photo! You might be on to something there regarding my question about "tit for tat". I like the no holds barred inference from you that it might mean Nude Photography in Sanskrit.

However, this STILL does not address my blathering and woeful words about what The Beast (my mother-in-law) means about her narcisissitic use of the term.

An example: She did not assist in any way with her husband in his last days of life; instead, she said she was going to "sit back and make sure the REST of the family does this for me, because you all have never helped me. As far as I'm concerned, this is tit for tat for everyone. You pay all this attention to HIM (jerks her thumb over to her husband on the hospital bed), and so now I'm the odd person out. So I again say, "tit for tat on ALL of you."

This is an annotation, but is very close to the actual conversation. This narcissistic Beast always referred to her husband as "HIM" with a jerk of her thumb towards wherever he was laying.

Geeze, sometimes it's a cruise with in-laws, and other times it's a purely amazing exercise in seeing just how crappy a person can be! :-)

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