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Saturday, 28 June 2008


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Yes, Mike
remembering an article you wrote for PT, 1999: "I Should..."

That very much applied to me and, I know, to many people.

I don't know if it was ever posted on TOP, but my favorite is, "Eschew Cliche." Laziness seems to be the steady state of the average photographer (or creative person, for that matter) and it takes constant work to see your way around it. Should be read before every shoot.

What I have most enjoyed recently is the discussion about photographers and their books Robert Frank, Turnley brothers and Fred Herzog for example. I can do with more of that :)

Its been very good reading your blog. Thanks a lot for this.

"Top photographers on the internet" comes to mind. Maybe time for round 2?

Keep it up, Mike!

Yep, great photographers on the internet is the one which brought me here in the first place.

+1 for Top Photographers on the Internet. It was what brought me here: one of the best blog subscriptions I ever made.

Congratulations! Keep it coming!

2000? Now is that the site in its present form or is this from numeral one
new and old sites?

Perhaps one of the following:

a selection of the most universally selected
web sites for photographic information. I am thinking here if Mike Reichmann's site or similar.

a selection of the poorest information web sites which simply won't die

and maybe a list and repost of your own
five favourite articles and too,
why you the owner of the site figure these
articles are your best.

Finally when your 2000th post is made,
may I suggest a large birthday cake
be placed in the middle of the column
with all of the candles burning brightly.

It might also be an idea for some of us
to know what you appear to be to the
world around you, and no funny jokes either!

I often think about your post "The Magic Bullet", for two reasons. Sometimes, to question whether or not a purchase is warranted. Most of the time though, I remember this section:

"To be honest, most of my pictures suck. The saving grace of that admission is that most of your pictures suck, too. How could I possibly know such a thing? Because most of everybody's pictures suck, that's how. I've seen Cartier-Bresson's contact sheets, and most of his pictures sucked. One of my teachers said that it was an epiphany for him when he took a class from Garry Winogrand and learned that most of Winogrand's exposures sucked. It's the way it is."

That was a revelation to me. Now, rather than being disappointed by the number of crappy pictures I take, I'm encouraged by the few good ones. That paragraph comes to mind at least once every week or two (and I don't think that's an exaggeration). Thanks

"Great Photographers on the Internet" is definitely a classic. Just trying to think of some other favourites...


Way back there was a post that applied common Flikr-type criticisms to classic photographs by famous photographers ... "horizon not level", "doesn't follow rule of thirds", "some faces out of focus" etc. That post, and its responses, stands out in my memory. Some found it hilarious; but many respondents thought the "criticisms" to be legitimate.

Robert Heinecken, 1931–2006

......... Essentially, the artist decided that in the wake of the media explosion that had come to characterize contemporary life, enough photographs already existed. Rather than make more, he would manipulate existing ones. His art became an attempt to clarify, reveal and sometimes confound the subliminal social, political and artistic codes they contain. ...................

[Just to be clear, these words are Christopher Knight's --MJ]

"Great Photographers on the Internet" would probably be one of the favourites, as well as "The Arc of a Forum Exchange".

I like to think I come here for the more serious posts, but at the end of the day it's the sarcastic ones that stand out.

There have been so many good articles here that it would be difficult to whittle the list of highlights down to a few. I have tens of them marked in my RSS reader. I love the discussions on photographic style and photo books and always appreciate the pointers to good photography available to view online. Taste inevitably changes as you come into contact with more work and there's no better way to find great work to look at than to follow the leads on offer here.

It's also a genuine pleasure to read notes here on technical matters like lenses, bodies and printing from writers whose love of photography itself informs their reviews.

Ctein's erudite, amusing and principled output, in comments and articles, are always a pleasure. And speaking of comments, they've been an education in themselves, from a variety of writers. This is a great place. Well done, and thank you.

I'm like Vikrant..i really enjoy viewing and reading about photographers, their work, their books, their techniques. It would be really great to hear about and see work from other countries like Spain, Portugal, Sweden, Brazil, Italy, Mexico, England, Germany, China, Japan, Turkey, Lebanon, etc. I think every culture is reflected in the work of its artists and it would be super to see more of that. Tech stuff is available on forums all over the place but really good stuff about the work of others is hard to come by.

Thanks for the good work, Mike!

I can't think of one particular post because there have been too many that I've enjoyed but I do like the general Art discussions that pop up from time to time.




Your "how to choose a point and shoot" is still my favorite; I've pasted that link in a few other websites wherein folks were looking for advice on "which camera".

Other posts are more thought provoking or educational - but that one is the one I've found to be the most fun.

Like others I do enjoy the biting satire posts. Great photographers, Arc of a forum exchange. There was another good one sending up the debate about film photography being honest & digital inherently dishonest. You posted some classic film images & made up absurd stories about how they had been faked.

I will never forget the photobooth self-portrait of Ansel Adams.

Picking a favorite TOP post is akin to picking your favorite potato chip out of a bag of chips. Everything on TOP has value - some has value in its satire (Top Photographers of the Internet), while others have value for their educational value, topical value, thought-provoking value, or to raise awareness and the level of discussion on current events.

Sometimes TOP delivers a Dorito, other times a wheat cracker, and yet another time TOP gives me a steak dinner. Asking me to pick my favorite TOP post is like asking me to pick my favorite foods. There's so many, it's just impossible to choose.

Regardless though, of whether it's a Dorito, a cracker, or a steak, it's always food for thought, and that's what has made TOP s excellent (for almost 2000 posts now): it makes you think!

Congrats on the upcoming occasion - I am sure the next 2000 will be just as informative!

IMHO, your best post the spec for DMD camera. Not yet implemented... but it eventually will. :-)


I am working my way through the archives one month at a time, and so far August 2007 was your best month. Please don't tell me how it ends.

I really enjoyed your discussions about 50mm lenses; I think the series was called "The Myth of 50." I just love to read about lenses, the differences in rendering, coatings and other technologies, the perspectives, etc.

There are many to thank you for. The post of 5/31/07, "They Needed to Talk" as an example of including the story that goes with a great picture is very nice. This is my favorite genre of post followed closely by the technical diatribes.
Please keep them coming.

Thanks for the site Mike, I think of it of a island of sanity among the gear-head dominated universe of the internet. Keep up the good work of what is really important; capturing images.

I just love the variety of this blog, as well as the fact you are not afraid of being controversial.
Keep up the good work.


P.S. This link fits well with "Great Photographers on the Internet"

Top Photographers on the Internet is undoubtedly also my favourite.
Unrelated to the above but maybe, coming up to #2000, you might be open to the following suggestion: could you please,please have an alternative easy to remember URL? When I'm away from my home computer where your site is bookmarked it always takes me several goes to get to you. Much better if you could register something simple and easy to remember - say topphoto.com - that would automatically relay to your actual typepad URL which I appreciate you cannot readily change.
Anyway - thanks for being so continuously interesting.

I most like those posts where you discuss the art of photography, rather than the technology. I read every post scrupulously and with enjoyment though, so don't think I'm not a huge fan. But the how and wheretofor of good images is the talk I like best.

That's easy. The reasons I read here are the quality of writing in general, the sarcasm, the humor, off topic, and then all the other stuff. There's plenty of sites with reviews, nuts and bolts comparisons, details, etc. Mike, you and your contributors do a nice job of mixing in all the other stuff. Thanks.

p.s. If I had to pick one post, it would be "Great Photographers on the Internet"

There have been so many that make me stop and re-think some pre-conceived notion that it would be hard to pick a favorite! The Sunday Rants, off topic posts, are enjoyable too.
Thank for a great site!

That's an easy one: I've forwarded the URL to your "Feet Are Optional" from 7-10-06 many times. The story has a real punch and should be read by every parent, every educator, every photographer.


there are so many, but two posts especially come to my mind: the one about the obvious "mistakes" in iconic photographs, and the north light exercise (unfortunately, none of my windows faces north). And pre-blog: "getting better" on Michael Reichman's site. Oh, and the post about how to look at a photobook!

The posts I especially like are those that deal with the psychological problems of being a photographer, and the struggle to improve.
Here are just some examples...

Oil Shots
"First task when I go shooting: get those first 50 shots on the card as quickly as possible. Only then does the metal-on-metal stop squeaking and grinding. Then you can get down to it."

Play to Your Strengths
"For anyone hoping to create something coherent and lasting, though—anyone trying to accomplish something—knowing your strengths and not spinning your wheels chasing things you're not good at is key."

How to Read a Photographic Book
(search for title on http://tinyurl.com/6d3yv6)
"... a method of paying attention to books of photographs. A quality and a level of attention similar to what you might devote to reading a printed book of text."

The Magic Bullet
I totally agree with Aaron's comment above, on how helpful I found this post.
This is the sort of advice you can't get from most web sites, or photography books for that matter.



The joy of your site isn't any one article, but the variety, all filtered through what you find interesting. I like that you aren't afraid to say what you like and don't.

Sometimes I agree, sometimes I don't, but both cases are equally interesting.

I also like that your writings can look at different sides in a civil way, and for the most part, your commenters follow suit.

Thanks for your time and efforts!


The top 10 greatest Black and White films immediately comes to mind.

Congratulations, that's one hell of a lot of posts!


there is a lot to like here, from equipment "reviews" that are profound, really and also fun to read, over book reviews, general info and discussion to very artsy topics.

I don't know what I like most. But I think the most valuable for me are the posts that are concerned with real photos or kind of philosophy on photography.

Like: Cropping: A Duh Moment
or: http://theonlinephotographer.typepad.com/the_online_photographer/2008/03/random-excellen.html
and the random excellence in general

just to name a few examples.

Not to forget the plurality of opinions and views from the contributors and also from the audience.

Great site, keep it going!

Best always

1. Any post that reminds me "It's not the gear, dumb-ass."

2. I also like the gear reviews. Hence return to #1.

The one that got me hooked, back in the SMP days, was "The 50mm Lens and Metaphysical doubt." Then, like a lot of others here, "The Magic Bullet" which extends the basic theme. How comforting to read, from someone who had seen them, that HCB's contacts sucked. And finally, and also long ago, the comment in "Two Nikons and a Minolta" that the F100 just seemed to disappear sold me one and initiated a long and happy affair that only ended, when antishake, which I also first read of in your pages, promised an antidote to the palsy of old age. But I don't really like "workflows" that go much beyond "drop it off at the lab" and my K20D, though marvelous, is certainly no DMD. My DMD would be much like yours except that it would produce jpegs of such quality that no post processing except resizing for the web would ever be required.I earn my living at a computer. More time in front of one is not fun. So screw raw and the horse it rode in on! As somebody I admire even more than Mike Johnston put it, "I'm a hunter, not a cook."

Too many great posts to pick favorites. It would have to be a long list.

I was wondering - a little off topic maybe - why you never merged the two sites into one big, more dramatic (well, larger content anyway) place to hang out?

So much good stuff. And not only here at TOP; I've devoured The Sunday Morning Photographer ( http://photo.net/mjohnston/ ), too.

Thanks for writing, Mike—it's a pleasure to read!

This is my favorite blog and I visit this site almost every day. My favorite post is the one titled "Great Photographers on the Internet" from June 24, 2006.

Thanks for the excellent content.

""Top photographers on the internet" comes to mind. Maybe time for round 2?

Keep it up, Mike!"

(great photographers on the internet? you know the one...)

agree totally. that was laugh out loud and I have linked it from my blog several times! thanks!!!

Picking one or two best is way too tough. But what has kept bringing me back all these years is the many strong opinions expressed by the gracious host. When I agreed I usually learned something. And when I didn't I had to think long and hard on why I didn't. My photography usually got better either way. Thanks Mike, keep it up.

Some months back there was an article based on the process of 'redacting.' It was one of those reads that kicked me in the ass photographically and in other ways.

I struggle greatly with the process of wrapping my arms around what I've already done. Images shot for work that have other potential. Family images, etc.

It may have been that article or another that I relate to it that hinted that it is this ability that separates the men from the boys. And I really do agree with this.

Finding a voice in your images, editing well and crafting an end product is very difficult and important work - work that I struggle to pull from the backburner.

Thanks for the article. The recent simple note on labeling images was great as well.



Wow, I appear to be the 1 millionth person who found ToP through "Great Photographers on the Internet", which is a great article that still makes me chuckle when I re-read it.

My other favourite is "Photography Rules":


In fact, these are the only ToP articles I have bookmarked. I guess 2 good articles out of 1950 is not a great batting average, Mike. You need to work extra hard on the upcoming 50 to improve your stats by the time you hit 2000 ;-)

You once had a post (or perhaps a few) about the importance of finding one's personal style. If memory serves, you commented on how many serious amateurs have portfolios of photographs that have a few "street" images, some postcard-type landscapes, some close-ups, a couple of nice portraits; most of them competent, few, if any, of them outstanding.

This cut me straight to the quick and I spent some time trying to figure out what my personal style is. I'm still an opportunistic shooter so I'm still creating all kinds of images in all kinds of genres and many of them remain derivative; but I'm much more selective in editing what I show and what I keep private - I have an idea where my personal style lies and I'm trying to move in that direction (see the "featured galleries" on my website, if you dare).

For me, these types of posts are more valuable than the hilarious satires, the fascinating philosophical debates on digital vs silver, the sane & balanced perspectives on equipment and even the education in great photos to look at and books to buy.

Please keep it comin'

Just found another favourite:

This Bothers Me


My favorite has always been "The Case Against Zooms".http://theonlinephotographer.typepad.com/the_online_photographer/the-case-against-zooms.html

Rip roaring funniest and one that I have use to open the eyes of many a photo critic is the legendary "Great Photographers on the Internet". http://theonlinephotographer.blogspot.com/2006/06/great-photographers-on-internet.html

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