I'm back at BLTSUWHQ (Bitterly Lonely TOP Secret Underground World Headquarters) this morning, after brief visits yesterday to Detroit and Chicago and a bus ride from O'Hare with stops in Kenosha, Racine, and several locations in downtown Milwaukee. It was a longish but easy day of travel, the only problem being the #$@%! Colorado Rockies, who had the Brewers 10-1 as we passed by Miller Park, causing loyal fans to abandon the Crew in droves and clot the freeway for miles. The bus driver was a nice guy who chatted with me all the way home, but who—especially considering he makes the same trip twice a day—got amazingly exercised at the merging habits of Wisconsin drivers in the traffic jams surrounding the ballpark. That guy really needs the Serenity Prayer—unless it actually is possible to control other vehicles by yelling at them from behind the glass in the driver's seat of a coach liner. At least he was good-natured about it. More or less.
This morning I'm rather astonished by some of the comments to Ctein's perfectly straightforward and innocent post of yesterday. A few of them were quite strident, including one I cannot even publish(!) from a reader who is normally to all appearances mild of temper, generous of heart, and capacious of mind, who got quite intemperate, called Ctein names, and threatened to delete TOP from his bookmarks.
Let's review: A master printmaker who normally makes 16x20-inch dye transfer prints from 6x7-cm color negatives carries a 35mm point-and-shoot (point-and-shoot, nota bene) so he can have a camera with him all the time, and finds it doesn't quite serve, except occasionally.
That's controversial?! Really?
What Ctein was not (note: not) dismissing was:
- 35mm photography
- 35mm cameras
- 35mm photographers
- pictures made with 35mm cameras
- anyone who likes any of the above
He was just relating what worked and didn't work for him, back in the film days, and remarking on the similarity to my attitude towards the iPhone camera vis-à-vis my X-T1.
I wonder if it occurred to anyone who thought we were dismissing 35mm that Yr. Hmbl. Ed. (i.e., moi) was mainly, and deliberately, a 35mm photographer for 23 years, from 1980 till 2003*.
The picture above is a little confused by reflections from the glass; the sun rays at the top left are in the print, which, by the way, is 13 3/8ths inches wide. The print is perfectly nice for 35mm of the era assuming your tastes are similar to mine.
I actually preferred 35mm to larger formats. I liked its portability and ease in the field (i.e., when yer out takin' pitchers) and I liked a bit more challenge in the darkroom...and some grain in the print. (Really.)
Another commenter, also normally good humored, insightful, and not insecure, excoriated me for my alleged bad attitude towards iPhones, saying "Mike wants the iPhone to fail, so it does. Over the last few years he has made numerous, frequently completely absurd objections to this device as a camera."
I never like it when people put words in my mouth—I have enough of them crowded in there already—and I deny that I have a bad attitude towards iPhones. I am enamored of, and besotted with, my iPhone 6+, which I love nearly as much as I can love any inanimate piece of gear. And actually what I did was make one objection to this device as a camera, and then to respond to criticism by exploring its use as a camera for several months, an experience that was just as enjoyable as my other explorations over the years of many other offbeat cameras, from my Cousin Katie's disc camera to Kent Phelan's Deardorff 8x10**. I have an accurate attitude towards iPhones.
In fact I was using it so much as a camera that I got this objection from yet another commenter, in response to my Finger Lakes photos: "I am accustomed to [the] kind of lousy snapshots that you habitually post on your site—normally to illustrate some interesting idea but just ho-hum images complementing something from the text. But with these photos you have proven that you are a real photographer."
Well, um, thanks...? I think. Of course most of the shots on this site are just to illustrate some interesting idea to complement the text! For instance, both of the "lousy snapshots" in this post. Including this one, a "selfie":
I'd like to propose that this simultaneously illustrates the strengths and the weaknesses of the iPhone as a camera. I couldn't have made this shot except with a camera that fit in the pocket of my jeans, and that was small enough to hold in the air with one hand, and that had a back-atcha (front-facing) viewfinder. But of course it's a snapshot, with all the visual and technical shortcomings of the genre, and the blown highlights across my face would mean that I couldn't make from it a print that would satisfy me. (Note emphases!)
How can anyone who reads this site regularly not understand why I might like a Fuji X-T1 more than a smartphone, most of the time? Again, really?! Makes me chuckle. I'm guessing most readers here are more sympathetic to my love of nice cameras.
...And here I haven't even gotten 'round to my main topic, as indicated by the post title. I guess I'll have to add "Part I" to this post and write a Part II for tomorrow. Ah, the felicities of the relaxed and casual blog format! I love it. In the meantime, I'll go post some of the comments from yesterday, still awaiting attention because of my trip.
[Part II is here. —Ed.]
*The exception was an extended series of reviews of various medium-format cameras for Camera & Darkroom magazine and a deliberate attempt to familiarize myself with large format. Well, plus I shot two and a half of the three discs of disc film that my then-11-year-old cousin Katie got for Christmas with her new disc camera in the '80s, which shocked and amazed her ("Mike! That much film would have lasted me till summer!!"), but which I doubt qualifies me as a hater of formats larger than 8x10 millimeters.
**Both of which I was bad with. I tried to do way too much with the disc camera, exposing its many and severe limitations, and I was not nearly patient enough to shoot with an 8x10. I'd usually get bored and frustrated before I had finished setting up a shot.
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(To see all the comments, click on the "Comments" link below.)
Featured Comments from:
Ben Rosengart: "What surprises me is anyone's surprise. You've been pretty consistent in your likes and dislikes, and I found your take on the iPhone camera to be perfectly ordinary. Maybe just because I'm used to you saying exactly what I think. :-) "
Herman: "From your selfie I gather that you need a dentist in order to make room for the words that people want to put in your mouth."
Dave in NM: "I like the fence shot, Mike. Portriga?"
Mike replies: Galerie.