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Tuesday, 20 January 2009


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I'm disappointed to hear that. I started to subscribe to the magazine based on your recommendation quite a while ago. Always enjoyed the magazine, and your column was one of the highlights.

I decided not to renew my sub to B&W this month, not really been great since Ailsa Macwhinnie left IMHO, now I know you are no longer there even worse!!

I noticed the last issue of B&W photography didn't have your column in it and assumed it was an aberration.
The magazine seemed less than whole for the lack of it.
At least we can still get your thoughts on everything here.
Thanks for that Mike.
(and I always use your link to Amazon-UK to buy stuff although I don't understand how it still links my purchases to you after all the window-shopping I do).


Will miss your articles in B&W Mike but of course will continue to read your wise words on this blog. I confess I gave up my sub to B&W several months ago - never seemed to regain the sparkle it had under Ailsa's editorship. Still one of the better mags in UK.

I learned about virtual distance in mirrors from refracting. The letters on an eye chart are meant to be viewed at twenty feet. Rooms are usually not that long, so a mirror is part of the set up. It's ten feet from the chair, so the image travels ten feet to the mirror, and ten feet back to where you are sitting - voila, 20 feet.

I remember taking a photograph of an image in a mirror. I said to my wife it's actually at infinity. She replied that it looked ten feet away. So I said right, but I had to effectively double the distance to get the inage in focus. So she learned.

Thanks for posting this. I wish you had terrorized that professor.

I have been told that the best place to watch a movie is at a distance from the screen equal to the width of the screen. So a 30 foot screen means sitting 30 feet out. And you should sit near the center of the theater to equalize the sound coming from the speakers on each side.

The only explanation for this, that I have been able to deduce, is that is would put you near the apex of a 45 degree triangle which would give you a viewing angle of about 90 degrees. That would roughly fill your visual field with the screen.

I generally try for this when I go out to the flicks, tho that is becoming a rarer event.


"I have been told that the best place to watch a movie is at a distance from the screen equal to the width of the screen."

...Which, not entirely coincidentally, is the case with the angle of view of a 35mm lens on a 35mm camera, which takes in roughly the same angle.


Then that's the last B&W Magazine for me. It costs about $18 here in Australia - as much as 6 rolls of Arista Premium 400 (which seems to be knock-off Tri-X) with which I will gain a lot more than the increasingly advertorial and content-anaemic B&W.


Very sorry to hear that you're leaving B&W - just like your blog is my favourite on the web, your column has been my favourite part of the magazine.

Sorry to hear that Mike, I recently received a gift subscription of Black & White Photography magazine (as I always buy it) and always enjoy your column! Oh, well, at least there's still here :)

best wishes,

Ah, that's a shame about B&W Photography mag Mike; your column was often a highlight. But, as others have said, it's not been quite the same since Ailsa left as editor... And there's not much else good here in the UK either.

Awwww, say it aint true!

Mike, it's sad they have discontinued your column. However, the mag has gotten way too pricey for the contents, IMO. I'll stick with Lenswork and B&W from now on for stimulating writing and photography in magazine format.

The proper viewing distance for a photograph is divided into two groups; photographers and civilians. Civilians will give you mathemeatical rules about image size and viewing distances. This is nice.

As photographers, we all know the only appropriate viewing distance for a photograph is when your nose is just about touching the surface of the print. Style points are awarded if eyeglasses are perched on top of your head when viewing the photograph.

I am sad to hear that you will no longer write for Black & White Photography. It has been one of my favorite photo mags for the last few years, and it will lose some of its attraction now. May I ask why, in only the most general terms, you have decided to leave?

Hmmm, that seriously will make me rethink my subscription which is up. Bummer! Sorry to hear about it!

I smile, thinking of the folks who look at my prints as if they were border guards looking at a passport to decide if I belong in their country or not. I suppose, in a way, some of them are.

So many different kinds of galleries welcome photography now. If you, the artist, do not think about how the scale of your work fits into the given space, you should assume the gallery director is.

I'm not sure I agree that the "scrutinizing" standpoint adjusts based strictly on print size (excepting extreme cases such as the Gadget Show test).

I think it has more to do with the image content and the amount of detail present in the image.

Content-wise, people will often stick their noses into a landscape image looking for small details. On the other hand, most of us have no interest in counting nose-hairs in a portrait. It also seems that prints where the objects are much larger than actual life-size don't get scrutinized quite as closely (because even at a "normal" viewing distance you feel as if you're scrutinizing the objects in the image, since they're bigger than you normally see them).

Image detail also comes into play, the more highly detailed the print is, the more closely they'll examine it. For instance take a 30x40 print from a 12mp camera and hang it next to a same-sized print from a 125mp stitched image, and people will subject the latter to closer scrutiny because there's more information there to scrutinize.

S***! And I have just renewed my subscription.

I'm another one who hasn't bought it since Ailsa left.

For the cost of one magazine (which is usually discarded after one reading) I can often buy a secondhand photography book from our local Oxfam charity shop.

A source of longer lasting reading material and a better use of my money.

Sigh, there goes the last reason I had for reading that magazine.

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