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Wednesday, 22 May 2013

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I can't believe it, but I caught Ctein in an error! He said "there was a steep learning curve I was climbing solo, filled with trial and error." but that would imply he was learning lots, fast. A long learning curve (or shallow) is what he meant.

By the transitive property, I declare myself smarter than Ctein. (g)

Patrick

You have reminded me why I stopped printing Dye Transfers when Cibachrome became commercially available (in about 1975).
These days I can do a virtually perfect Inkjet in an hour what would have taken me days (or weeks) to get a completely satisfactory Dye Transfer from Kodachrome.

Ctein,

I'm curious...when word of the pending T.O.P. sale got out (the last one), but before the particulars were known, did you receive a significant number of orders for your other dye-transfer work?

Best regards,
Adam

My (recently diagnosed) ADD won't let me read that whole column...but wow, is that a beautiful photograph...crummy web-quality and all...I'm imagining in dye-transfer those clouds are positively SILKY.

Dear Robert,

I was wondering if someone was going to bring that up, heh heh.

To make my position clear, I think the whole 10,000 hours thing is utterly bogus. It's brainless pop sociology, nonsensical and unsupported by anything except sample bias. I could spend column explaining why it's completely lame and inherently wrong, but it's not worth the energy. It's the kind of uber-simplistic drivel that catches the populace's fancy. But having said that, let's indulge…

At one extreme, I don't know anybody who's any good at dye transfer who thinks they've mastered it. It's far too complex a craft. In that sense, 10,000 hours or even 100,000 isn't going to do it. We're always learning new things and new tricks from each other, and none of us have reached the summit of the mountain.

But another benchmark might be the judgment of one's peers. By that standard, I might be plausibly considered a master at the point at which Kodak's own experts declared that no one was making better prints then me. Whether they were right about that or not (and I don't think they were), obviously I was operating at a very superior level of craft. And that was no more than 1,500 hours into it.

Personally, I would question whether I had mastered anything at that point. On the one hand I was nowhere near as good as I was going to get. On the other hand, I was good enough to write one of the defining tutorials on the process that was the original learning material for many modern dye transfer printers. So, flip of the coin.

But I'm absolutely certain I had reached the master level by the point at which I had doubled that number of hours. By then, I was making prints that truly were superior, even by my standards, and were widely knowledged as such. I'd also, by then, invented pretty much every major trick and technique that I was going to over my entire career, including the litho film masks and the enlarger adjustments to compensate for lateral chromatic aberration in camera lenses. All of that before hitting 3,000 hours.

The remaining 6,300 hours since? Eh, I've been a slacker [VBG].

(Before someone suggests that all the hours I spent in the darkroom before taking up dye transfer should be included in that “mastering the craft” time, let me say nuh uh. Dye transfer printing is completely different from any kind of conventional darkroom printing. There's almost nothing in that skill set that is transferable. I could make a better case for arguing that the good lab technique I learned at Caltech was more relevant to mastering dye transfer printing than anything I did in the darkroom.)


pax \ Ctein
[ Please excuse any word-salad. MacSpeech in training! ]
======================================
-- Ctein's Online Gallery http://ctein.com 
-- Digital Restorations http://photo-repair.com 
======================================

Dear Adam,

I've been getting a steady trickle of orders for the other dye transfers in my portfolio; I don't think the TOP sale had a noticeable effect one way or the other. But I have been flogging that horse for 6-8 months.

~~~~

Dear Patrick,

Oh thanks, you sent me off on one of those fascinating etymological quests that I am helpless before. [Grin]

You know what? We're both right. “Steep learning curve” is its own antonym.

Originally, it meant what you said. But that rapidly became inverted in common usage because, intuitively, people think of a steep hill as something that is slow and hard to climb and that thinking got transferred to the phrase. So, now, both usages are common.

See? We're both geniuses!


pax \ Ctein
[ Please excuse any word-salad. MacSpeech in training! ]
======================================
-- Ctein's Online Gallery http://ctein.com 
-- Digital Restorations http://photo-repair.com 
======================================

>To make my position clear, I think the whole 10,000 hours thing is utterly bogus. It's brainless pop sociology, nonsensical and unsupported by anything except sample bias. I could spend column explaining why it's completely lame and inherently wrong, but it's not worth the energy. It's the kind of uber-simplistic drivel that catches the populace's fancy. But having said that, let's indulge…<

Let me save you the trouble Ctein some people still fight pop-culture.

http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0160289613000421

So lets yel three huras for oldfashioned talent again!

Greets, Ed.

About steep learning curve....no your both are somewhat missing the point (and so is general public). The learning curve steepness is related to the amount of effort people have to put into an activity to get an accepteble/usefull result.

For instance Photoshop Elements has a rather shallow learning curve since the biggest dombo can use it almost instantly to adjust his pictures using the automated "enhancement" features. Now these results won't be breathtaking but enough to satisfy the John/Johanna Doe photographer (and his or hers audience). So I do not have to learn a lot in order to be succesful with the program.

Now compare that to Blender (www.blender.org and then download if you dare). The interface is purely driven by composed keyboard commands (so you have to memorize these) in order to create anything more interesting then basic 3D shapes. On top of that you have to learn how to manipulate in 3D space using a 2D screen while learning those commands. Now that can be done in a few hours as well (depending on talent) or never at all, since the amount of matter learned is much, much higher.

But never mind all that nitpicking since I understood what Ctein meant and that is all that counts.

Greets, Ed.

P.S. Learning curve of software is (naturally) a big thing in UAT (User Acceptance Testing) and I have managed UAT's for a living.

Ctein,
I've been seeing your signature "[ Please excuse any word-salad. MacSpeech in training! ]" for quite some time now, and I don't see any word salad in your responses. Maybe it's time to declare that MacSpeech has attained mastery, whether it took 10,000 hours or not.

A learning curve is a significant factor in training analysis. However, the curve varies in lengh and shape, as well as duration. A steep learning curve can be short or long, and can be steeper at the start or in the middle or even the end. It depends on criteria of performance.So a 'steep learning curve' is good as an expression of non-specific perceived difficulty, not as a real measure.
Given your charging rate $$ for printing, spotting, etc. how have you done?

Dear Renault,

That's because of careful (???) proof reading. Dictation generates lots of errors, and sometimes I don't catch them all. The tag line alerts people to not pay to close attention to any oddities.

~~~~~

Dear r,

"Given your charging rate $$ for printing, spotting, etc. how have you done?"

Ummm, I don't understand what you're asking.

pax / Ctein

Ctein,
To clarify; most printers I know, when printing from someone else's negative/file, charge a flat fee for the print, and an hourly charge for any prep work, spotting, etc. I was wondering how you did for the hours you listed, in terms of what you charge your customers. Not looking for actual numbers, just do you think the return financially was worth the hours?

Dear r,

Ah, OK, I think I get it now.

I don't mind talking specifics. I don't share the American neurosis about discussing personal finances, which is the ultimate taboo in this society. People think its OK to ask about your politics, religion, personal philosophy and even (oft times) your sexuality, but heaven forbid that they should ask how much money you make or have. Verboten!

And ridiculous.

So, without further ado:

My habit is to charge a flat rate for custom printing. Some jobs prove easy, some prove tough, but the rate is the same. By the end of my accepting custom dye transfer printing, it was up to $1,500 for the first 16x20 print and a third of that for duplicate prints ordered at any time. For a long time, it hovered in the $1,000-$1,100 range for first prints (all in current dollars, of course). Some long-term clients, like Jim Marshall and Ronny Schwartz, got a discounted price, typically 20-25% less.

How much I made from this is a little harder to sum up, without a lot of data mining, because my bookkeeping doesn't break income from dye transfer sales out as its own category. But here are the biggies: The three TOP sales brought me about $140K adjusted gross income after costs. I grossed circa $100K from printing for Jim and likely more from printing for Ronny. The latter's harder to figure because it was scattered over many more projects and was all 20-30 years ago, so there's a big inflation fudge factor. Still, minimum of $100K and more likely $150K.

Then there's a bunch of miscellaneous smaller clients over the years, plus the sales of my own work, which is even harder to summarize, sans different bookkeeping categories. $150K? Easily. $200K? Quite possibly, maybe more.

Have to subtract from that all the supplies I bought over the years. Even harder to guess. Definitely more than $50K, probably not more than $100K.

So, put it all together and my a.g.i. for those 10,000 hours was $400K-$550K or $40-$55/hr. Which is tolerable.

pax / Ctein
==========================================
-- Ctein's Online Gallery http://ctein.com
-- Digital Restorations http://photo-repair.com
==========================================

The "Deliberate practice: Is that all it takes to become an expert?" paper that ed references is on one of the author's website for free.

http://www.msu.edu/~ema/HambrickEtAl13.pdf

The original suggestion was popularized by Gladwell's Outliers but was originally from research by Anders Ericsson in 2000.

http://www.psy.fsu.edu/faculty/ericsson/ericsson.exp.perf.html

The idea became well nown in the management world after an articl in Harvard Business Review

http://hbr.org/2007/07/the-making-of-an-expert

I think it's become popular in the management and "life coach" community because the original idea that only "deliberate practice" not talent was a limiting factor for any expertise as Ericsson found that there were no exceptions to this pattern.

http://www.slate.com/articles/arts/books/2010/05/give_it_a_rest_genius.html

As Ctein says "it's not true" and continuing research seems to back that up.

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