Thus endeth a very short week on TOP, truncated by the Fourth of July on Monday. Here in Western New York, a few stragglers were still blowing off fireworks last night—perhaps to celebrate July 7th, 1520, when Hernán Cortés and the Tlaxcalans defeated a numerically superior Aztec force at the Battle of Otumba, Mexico. The Battle of Otumba must be important to some Americans, I guess. Must be some reason for those firecrackers yesterday. Maybe that wasn't it.
If I were rich, I know where I'd go over the Fourth of July weekend: England! Might be just the place to get away. Surely they're more reticent and quiet on that date over there.
It would make a certain amount of sense: like roughly a fifth of the white American population during the American Revolution (as well as many blacks, not all of whom, contrary to common belief, were slaves), at least some of my ancestors were Tories, a.k.a. Loyalists. Is that safe to admit now, or is it too soon? Although the ones I know about didn't go back to England or to other parts of the British Empire during the war or afterwards, as many "King's Men" did. One, the owner of vast tracts of land in Maryland, did get stripped of most of his holdings after the war, however. When we moved to the Maryland side of D.C. years ago I tried to figure out if our house sat on land once owned by my ancestor. That would have been cool. My research was inconclusive; where are the History Detectives when you need 'em?
This week we started out talking about sensors, and my fears on that score were realized—people who own medium-format digital cameras, like Tex and Darlene, did have glowing things to say about them. Apart from a few snaps with Jack's S2 (...a portrait, of course, which had way too much resolution), I've never tried one. It's a gap in my education. Not a single such camera is remotely close to affordable for me, however, so I think I'd probably better go on sleeping in my darkness.
After that we talked about the Olympus E-M1, which readers couldn't make up their minds about; where the dust settled and the numbers ended up with our book sale; TOP's style sheet and how to properly write "Micro 4/3"; Alex Ross's article about violent music and music as violence; "Vemödalen," which means that, as the Preacher said, there is nothing new under the sun—although of course there is; why high resolution sucks in portraits, even when you don't take them with an S2; and, THE most expensive photobook you can buy new...even though we had no idea what it costs (now we do: $25,000 and up).
A short week, then, but we got some stuff in. One last post to go before I knock off tonight for what the French call le weekend. (Seriously, that's what they call it. Despite possessing a wonderfully expressive language, they don't have their own word for "weekend." By the way, the US would never have won the Revolution without the help of the French, so if you're an American and your ancestors were Patriots, I hope you kissed an attractive Frenchperson on both cheeks four days ago. It's as good an excuse as any.)
Ding, Junhui & friend
...So if I did go to England maybe I could see a snooker match in person. Although I never write about pool or snooker, I will mention that I just finished watching the finals of the 2016 World Championship between Ding Junhui, of China, and Mark Selby, who apparently either comes from Lester or knows a guy named Lester, who might or might not be a soccer player and who apparently just won something too. I didn't follow the connection—British sports is like a giant Masonic secret society, which to outsiders looks like a smooth impenetrable stone wall in the corridor of a dungeon unless you know which wall torch to pull. Ding had a case of nerves out of the gate and lost the first six frames, which was great for Selby, because over the remainder of the contest Selby got outplayed 14–12. But of course won anyway, on account of those first six frames. It was a Titanic match that had everything except O'Sullivanesque speed and fluency. Most notable were the grueling tactical frames with some otherworldly safety play. I cannot even imagine how those guys do what they do. One of the frames lasted more than an hour—and the match was best 18 frames out of 35. I watched the entire thing, every shot, and I'm proud of that—the entire contest took 13 hours, two minutes and 28 seconds all told! Kudos to Mark, but if Junhui ever comes out confident and stays that way, he could be the one to walk away with the big cup.
Anyway, I never write about that sort of thing.
...As you know.
See you on Monday, when we'll feature a Guest Post by Gordon Lewis. That gives me enough of an excuse to once again post my portrait of Gordon which I like so much. (Disclosure: it's Photoshopped.)
I hope you have a very nice weekend, and that wherever you are, your lenses are blessed with with the best of light.
P.S. For extra credit, guess how the picture of Gordon was Photoshopped:
- Photo actually taken by Gordon in a giant mirror, reversed in post.
- Original subject was the late Muhammad Ali, but was Photoshopped to look like Gordon.
- Gordon isn't actually that handsome.
- Gordon isn't actually that trim.
- "American flag" was originally a huge banner ad for tampons.
- Photo taken in backyard in suburban Philly; New York background taken by B unit comped in later.
- There was a bit of a newspaper box and a lamppost showing at the far left edge. Begone!
- Three men in rickshaw on sidewalk removed.
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A C Eckert: "I would guess #7 if I didn't instantly recall your Sunday Morning Photographer article, 'This Bothers Me,' from back in 2002. That article profoundly affected my approach to photography while I was starting out with my first serious camera around 2008-ish. It gave me an appreciation for imperfection and a respect honesty in photography, and was just the right antidote to the nitpicky, light on substance, photography advice that I was reading other places. So my vote is for #1!"