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Friday, 17 October 2008


Maybe instead of complaining that Palin's headshot should have been touched up, they could of just said that the closeup was a little too close. You really shouldn't have to break out your nose hair clipper right before a shoot. The to retouch (notice I am inetentionally avoiding the word photoshop - I am beginning to hate it when proper names become verbs) or not to retouch argument misses the point. ch

The quality of the Robert Johnson recordings is not good but the talent of the artist shines through very clearly in every one. I can't help but wonder how he was viewed by his contemporaries within the context of the time in which they lived. I wonder how many other hugely talented individuals were never recorded and are lost to us?

In my mind using a soft focus lens is equivalent to retouching. To take it one step further using a large aperture at acquire selective focus or a long or wide lens to change the perspective or vignetting is also equivalent to retouching. I could also say selecting one picture from many that snapped at a particular instant capturing a particular expression is equivalent to retouching.

At the very least we could say that all these forms of photographic technique may be used to distort the image in a manner that could be questionable.

Thus I would say that it's not retouching that we should be quarreling with but the use of an image that seems to distort our perception of reality.

I also like to keep in mind that distortion of reality is a perfectly necessary technique available to a photographer and that one persons reality may not be another's.

Oh and let me add one other thing.

I have never seen a photo that looked anything like what I saw with my own two eyes.

I would even say that I have never seen a photo that portrayed the essence of what I perceived through my own two eyes and brain.

Photos and reality are different!

I think you strike a good balance between tech and art and general interest. I think that is why your writing and blog is popular.

To treat all politicians fairly perhaps during elections only their passport photos should be allowed to be published. Of course some candidate's passport is quite recent...

I got a kick out of these folks who think Robert Johnson "really" made a pact with Satan at the crossroads. See http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jK4p432u8Ls&NR=1

I had read the Vanity Fair article previously and frankly I was disappointed as it simply focused on the purported Robert Johnson and Johnny Shines photo and the controls over his legacy.

This has been discussed on the yahoo pre-war blues list. Professor David Evans opined there on October 1 "I've seen this photo before (or a very similar one from the same photo session), identified as B. B. King and Willie Nix. The other guy looks nothing like Johnny Shines. I wish I could get a featured piece in Vanity Fair for something as flimsy as this!"

Amy Van Singel, who photographed Johnny Shines in the 60s and 70s, also disputed that Shines is in the picture.

One of the accepted truths which simply ain't so is the claim by Clapton and others that Johnson was the most influential blues artist of all the time. Of course this nonsense is typical of much of rock music criticism. Johnson's influence is projected through the yes of rock enthusiasts who lived decades after Johnson's death and confuse the excellence of his recordings with influence. He arguably had one recording "Terraplane Blues." that had substantial sales (say 3000). His place in blues history is less than such artists as Lonnie Johnson, and Leroy Carr (both of whom highly influenced RJ and who he imitated on his recordings (Listen to Love in Vain and then Carr's In the Evening, and if you can't find Carr's original, you still can listen to renditions by Jimmy Rushing or Jimmy Witherspoon. I forget which RJ tunes are derived from Lonnie Johnson songs, and he is reported to have claimed kinship). And for a listening recommendation, I suggest you seek out the Proper Records 4CD box of Lonnie Johnson recordings.

BTW, the post-war blues list is interesting for its serious discussions of blues artists and lyrics.

For a while there I thought the media were trying to get Obama elected. I now realize that what the media are really doing is interpreting portraiture in new and artistically exciting ways. So I guess everything's OK. BTW, where are the unflattering yet artistically challenging cover photos of Obama?

I have enjoyed in the past your mention of musical items of note,(pun intended) as I see music as a complimentary form of expression when related to photography. Some photos quite literally sing to your soul. Blues music in particular stands out in my mind as a particularly expressive genre, and one I have enjoyed immensely. I think Bob Marley blazed a musical trail as well, though in my opinion, few reggae performers who have followed have measured up. Anyways, thanks for having a wonderfully diverse blog that blends some of the things I enjoy most into one place. Every day when I go online, I find myself looking to see what new or old stuff you've brought out for us to see. Here's to many more posts...(he says as he hoists his drink into the air)
Jim A.

Who says the Palin cover was unflattering? You take Fox News's word for everything? Lots of people don't think it's unflattering at all. I don't. I think it's absurd to even call attention to it.

Check out Newsweek's "Black & White" cover of around July 9th. Very unflattering of Obama.

Third, you need to ask yourself, what's the most famous magazine cover of this political season? It wasn't a photograph, and it was *intended* as satire, but didn't it show Obama in muslim garb, Michelle Obama dressed as a revolutionary with a machine gun, and an American flag burning in the fireplace?

Google "Obama cover" and hit "Images" and you'll see it far more than any other cover.

Mike J.

Thanks. I'll keep 'em coming if you keep coming to read 'em....

BTW we're coming up on our third anniversary. There was a time when I would not have believed that I could keep posting several things a day for three years straight. But would you believe that there's too MUCH to post? I really make an effort to pick and choose so as not to overwhelm the page. Kind of amazing, really.

Mike J.

In regard to David Pogue's article; I understand he has a responsibility to write in a way that is suitable for his readership - and that is tough in his case due to the publication.

However, I think his general point that tech writers should not use these terms is misguided. For many of them their readers will be more technically involved and not only expect the general terms used today but would find it amiss to use alternative terms. There are good reasons why most of the terms he stated are not known by the plain English that he suggests; that is they are too vague. (To take his first example - If he were to say that TOP web pages weren't very good (not that he would of course), would he be implying that the writing was poor (content) or it looked bad (design) or both? To many this distinction is important.)

And to suggest that FireWire is a "self-descriptive" term is a little stretching!

I believe he may be slightly underestimating people's capability to extend their vernacular. The actual definitions of acronyms are unimportant; their generally accepted meanings quickly become understood. I believe, due to his position, that he does have a responsibility to introduce these terms to those not familiar, so that we can use the correct terms and in time there will be no doubt.

Done. ;)

Actually enjoyed reading the article, and sadly the music and business sides do not always mesh with a harmonious effect--though that is nothing new. Now only if another photograph of Blind Blake showed up!, than the only one that has ever been seen. Actually one of his previously "lost" 78's turned up last year, which was akin to hitting the lottery for someone who worships Blind Blake, as I am guilty of. :-)

Re the Robert Johnson photo. It's interesting that the same diligence hasn't been applied to locating the other person with an interest in the copyright. The original photographer, probably dead now, but under the 70 year persistence of copyright someone still has the reproduction rights to this photo regardless of who the subject turns out to be. It's an interesting example of a true "Orphaned Work". Credit to the discoverer for recognizing its possible significance. Shame if it just becomes another scramble to make money off the back of a dead legend and the unknown photographic artist.

"Blind Blake"

Dry Bone Shuffle? Like gettin' money from home....

Mike J.

Mike--I should have known you would know Blind Blake :-), as he and other great blues artists recorded for Paramount records, which was located in Wisconsin.

I'm partial to Tampa Red myself. [s]

I went through my "blues period" in college, and actually managed to amass quite an impressive record collection, which unfortunately I sold entire during a bout of penury. I've never revisited the enthusiasm although being a jazz fan I get periodic reminders of blues form....

Mike J.


I think it was an unflattering portrait of Palin. It showed only part of her face, not the beautiful whole, and with skin blemishes. Maybe they were trying to make a point about the real Palin, warts and all, or trying to deconstruct her appearance. Either way, I don't remember seeing similar treatments of Obama or Biden.

I agree that the "Black and White" Newsweek cover image is not the most flattering portrait of Obama, but I don't think it's bad, and it's exceptional. Flattering portraits of him are typical, including some that show him backlit as though with a halo. Maybe I'm missing something but I don't think Palin or McCain is getting nearly as sympathetic treatment.

And isn't the New Yorker cover intended to poke fun not at Obama but rather at Obama's critics?

The tagline on the Newsweek cover was "she is just one of the folks". Maybe retouching would have made her seem more like a celebrity and less like the average person she appeals to. She looks good anyway.

The author of "Tech Terms to Avoid" is generally right. Some terms, are overused, like "content" and some manipularing like "DRM" instead of "copy protection". However he is wrong sometimes.

* "E-mail client" is much different from "e-mail server" which are both "e-mail programs".

* RAM specifies only memory which can be changed, and is much more specific than just "memory" which includes also ROM.

Using too much simplification only leads to confusion.

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