« The Peeve Pathology | Main | Strong Buy Recommendations »

Sunday, 27 December 2009


Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.

What happens when your peeve has a qualification ... for instance, of all the peeves mentioned, the only one I really share is tilted horizons. But primarily, tilted horizons where I believe it was done accidentally and preserved out of ignorance/laziness. If I sense that it was done intentionally, it doesn't bother me; I accept it as part of the composition. (I may like it, dislike it, appreciate it, think it a gimmick, etc). I have intentionally shot tilted photos and still do (rarely) and some of them are keepers. But most crooked photos bug the heck out of me.

Happy New Year !

I'm not sure. When my focus is off at wide apertures at distances just this side of infinite and a soda can is more in focus than the subject's face...oh, boy. Might not survive the night just thinking about doing that intentionally!

I can just imagine this approach for marriage or relationships. Honey, please do a lot more of (fill in annoying habit)...I think I'm beginning to like it.

A thousand tilted horizontal pictures, Wow!

"I am afraid for your character, you have to decide to play your strength or play your weakness", an advice I got from an retired supervisor of mine many years ago. Yes, in an ideal world, we work on both but in the real world, you may just try to contain the bad/darkness/weakness and improve your good/light side/strength. The complete ideal all-rounded human may not be you but you can still be a good guy with one strength.

No matter what those educator / teacher said, some people are simply not very good in balance it out and become all rounded. Many of us are good at something and just have to control the bad thing not being too bad. For some, spending too much time on weakness may not work at all. Also attempt to become too rounded, it may kill the guys' good side. I think your original post intent to ask people to get over it just like you is better for many of us.

As an example and very sorry to say that but I think the world is much better if a golfer could have continued his good work (sports and foundation) and control his dark secret. Whilst not all of us accepted this but one or two mistakes may be forgotten. We are not all god or angels. May be Obama is now the role model but not too long time ago (and pointed out my economists a couple of years ago), I think the not-so-sure-what-his-race-is guy is my example of diversity I pointed to in real wold, even though I do not play golf at all.

P.S. I still think you may need an instruction sheet on how to check different referral link work e.g. if you push the B&H, they seemed to say nothing. This is very different from Amazon that got a tag, http://www.amazon.com/?tag=theonlinephot-20. How to check it that you can some minor referral fee may be useful to you.

I don't need a self-assignment for my pet peeves because they are also my all too frequent mistakes. I forget to bring a level and just try to wing-it with the 8X10; and of course the result is a "tilt". Or in my haste I don't put the standards in vertical when photographing a building, and result is keystoning. Or forgetting to "swing" for perspective control. I do notice these mistakes in others, but hopefully I show some humility in their critiques.

Just as long as I don't have to appreciate the music of Brahms. It's a blind spot, apparently, on my part... but he leaves me cold. My own photographic peeve is crude colour - not just oversaturation, but also oversimplification into same-y primaries, especially that lurid turquoise blue that comes out easily in skies but that we seldom quite perceive in nature. My printer (Epson R800) has pure blue ink as well as cyan, which seems to resist this effect OK. It also has glop (gloss optimiser) which evens out gloss differential... the first peeve mentioned.

that's definitely the way

Is it old age that makes the mind go down certain tracks?

In my early days I worked for a big computer company and we were warned that if we were successful no one would like us. We were also warned that the unsuccessful would try to distract us and hold us back to their level of mediocrity. Whilst one can comment much about the attempted 'brain washing' of young men (women were conspicuous by their absence) these thoughts and attitudes continued outside work.

What the 'older males' did was not exclusive to the computer industry nor indeed was it exclusive to that era (sounds long ago).

We had to attend long courses away from home for weeks at a time. One of the favoured competitions was 'grab a granny'. The aim was to hook up with the oldest and preferably least attractive woman you could find at the local nightclub. Call me a cynic but I always thought the older middle aged men's attempts to enthuse the younger guys to compete in these 'competitions' was sad/stupid. The older guys always won, the younger guys didn't compete.

Take bad photos if you wish.


Have you ever seen Thomos Ruff's Jpegs?


I know these are acquired and manipulated photographs and might not even be in the spirit of this article, but I love them.

Here's my own personal favorite tilted horizon picture. Now I'm hating curved horizons. Oh well.

Well went out with my quite new G10 this morning after reading your post on the bus and shot Jpegs with different colour settings. Enjoyed myself immensely with the freedom to shoot without worries about Raw lightroom or Camera Raw. All went well until I went to the local camera shop and got my Jpegs printed in the local digital printing booth something I had never done with my G10 and only once before with my 1DsII. That´s when the fun ended and when went to back to seeing all I hate in digital. Anyway thanks for the suggestion Mike. I´m going to get my old Fuji 6x7 rangefinder and follow your sugestion to shoot for one whole year with a Leica. Won´t be my Leica I sold it a few months ago.

My approach to all art work photo or other wise is to look at the subject matter and if I like what I see I pause and enjoy it if I do not like what I see I move on.

I do not approach any artwork as a critic. I am not a critic; critics seem to revel in being critical.

As to “Peeve Pathology”, I have no problems; I just will not ride any bicycle made of carbon.

San Diego, Ca

Mike said: With lots of sickly yellow-greens, and day-glo reds never found in nature.

I sound like a broken record but, you may want to limit this to "rarely" or at least not often in Wisconsin. The world is full of color on the level of day-glo etc. Ever snorkel or dive in the tropics? Ever climb a mountain in the himalaya and see the alpenglow at sunrise? Ever look really close at certain flora in the desert, that seems to be from another planet and shares the hue of antifreeze?

I think we are in agreement on the gist of your peeve, I'm just sayin'

"...if I like what I see I pause and enjoy it if I do not like what I see I move on."

Seems like you have the perfect name then....[g]


"I'm just sayin'"

I hear ya.

Also, I've been less strident about my coloristic aversions since I learned that aging eyes actually see the world slightly more veiled and yellowed than young eyes, due to the fact that our corneas and lenses aren't as transparent as they once were. Apparently it's often reported by older people who have their natural lenses replaced that colors through their new lenses immediately get brighter and more saturated. Since I heard that, I've been trying to be sensitive from time to time to the slight "muting" that might be happening to what I'm seeing, vs. what I saw when I was young. This doesn't mean I'm down with cartoon color, but at least it has shut me up a little. [g]


I really, really, want to see the bokeh article, and the related "how a lens draws" article. I'm not looking for "full characterization" of a lens, but I AM looking for shots demonstrating exactly the difference between two lenses IN THAT ONE SITUATION -- so I can be absolutely sure we're seeing and talking about the same things.

On the topic of good vs. bad out of focus effects, I’ve been fascinated for years by the strangely oval-shaped blurriness created by an inexpensive zoom lens my wife gave me as a gift during the late ‘80s. It’s easy to say, well, it’s a truly awful lens but I’ve gained an appreciation over time for the challenge of applying the look successfully to an image. A problem all of us have is we just want all of this photography stuff to be easy when, in fact, those of us who see this as a hobby should be striving for the challenging and difficult.

In the twenty-some years I’ve had the awful zoom lens I haven’t taken a wide-aperture shot with it I like but there is always hope. With a little luck I’ll have the lens with me when I discover a large group of folks playing with hula-hoops or one of those plate balancing guys with a dozen dinner plates spinning on sticks.


Interesting that you posted the peeve's articles when you did. I just shared my own photographic peeves with my family over the holidays. This is quite the challenge!

To take the time to intentionally shoot the non-composed, highly over saturated, wide angle distorted scenes that seem to permeate the younger generations concept of "artistic" photography, ouch... that's going to be a mental muscle stretcher.

Hmm, on the other hand, maybe I'll send this posting to the few "professional" photographers in the area who do this type of work and let them deal with the pain of learning to create artfully composed, desaturated images ;)


(moderator, please delete my previous comment and post this instead, I used faux-html tags to indicate sarcasm on my last sentence and the website removed those)...

@ Charles Hueter - ("I'm not sure. When my focus is off at wide apertures at distances just this side of infinite and a soda can is more in focus than the subject's face...oh, boy. Might not survive the night just thinking about doing that intentionally!")

I think that sounds like social commentary in the making. I can envision a series of portraits where a product near the edge of the frame is in crisp focus and the "obvious" subject (a model, perhaps extravagantly dressed) is out of focus. I like the idea and encourage you to follow through with it!

I, on the other hand, have no peeves as every image I create is perfect in every way. (now to get my tongue out of my cheek...)

I agree with Dennis.

I'm skeptical of this exercise... I think there's a qualitative difference between subtle "peeves" (interpret as error, technical flaw) and exaggerated or emphasized ones (artistic choice).

For example, mine is vignetting, particularly if it's abrupt or off-center. Three corners very dark? Sure, could be interesting. One corner of blue sky with a minor but very present dark fleck? That's just annoying, and I don't see how working with the former will help me develop a better understanding/tolerance/etc. for the latter.

But, Mike, are you not viewing the photographs of this world through the same eyes you view the actual world.

So, if a photo looks garish in comparison to reality to you, it shouldn't matter if the photo was made by someone with younger eyes because you are still comparing your own seeing of their work against your own impression of reality.

"Also, I've been less strident about my coloristic aversions since I learned that aging eyes actually see the world slightly more veiled and yellowed than young eyes..."

Mike, this is a bogus argument. If this were true then you'd see the photographs in the same veiled way so all would be normal. The purveyors of ADHD-Color may try to use this argument to justify their cranking the volume up to 12, but it still doesn't make the photographs any more likely to be enjoyed than a television commercial where the audio has been cranked to the point where every light on the spectrum analyzer is pegged.

It's the common issue of "If the photograph ain't interesting, make it more saturated. If it still doesn't fly, print it bigger. If that doesn't work, convert to B&W, tilt the horizon, crop half the heads off, add fake grain, blur it and have your dog puke on it."

Then you can sell it as "High-Art"


I've been doing that for about 30 years.
Hate portraits? do nothing but portraits.
Hate color? do nothing but color.
Little precious perfect prints? make 50 inch prints developed with a mop.
Hung up on the decisive moment? use the self timer and let the camera chose the moment.
I can't remember the reason for the spell using unwieldy handheld 4x5 cameras, except that my current obsession with using old fast lenses wide open might be related.

I'm not sure I have the stomach for doing a batch of "rule of thirds" photos, they hurt to look at.

Brian Eno and Peter Schmidt's "Oblique Strategies" is (are ?) an interesting take on the problem.


When I first looked at this winter solstice bonfire shot (LX3 at ISO 800), I was appalled at the noise. After reading your "Modest Suggestion" I think it captures the mood better than some flash shots of the same event.

"I can envision a series of portraits where a product near the edge of the frame is in crisp focus and the "obvious" subject (a model, perhaps extravagantly dressed) is out of focus. I like the idea and encourage you to follow through with it!"

I did a portrait of A.J. Foyt once that was something like this...a pamphlet showing his face and name held in the hand of a fan waiting to get him to sign it is sharp, and he himself is slightly out of focus. Worked in that instance, though I'm not sure I'd try it again. [g]


I've mostly conquered my peeves, at least the technical ones. Noise, I'm fine plus it often helps when the photo is printed. Ni-sen? It's difficult to abhore it when my longest lens often produces it. Tilted horizons? They are just fine and are known to produce more dynamic photos. But I've got a built-in tilt towards left. Just a little bit, a degree or two, and that bugs me. :)

It still doesn't mean that I'm always fine with any of the above. The nitpicker can win. :-/

There's a peeve all of my own, though. I should wear glasses. I don't cause I mostly don't need them. But my right eye sees a bit better than the left one and I noticed that my photos I like often have the subject of interest placed on the right-hand side of the photo, particularly in the lower right corner. That's been bugging me ever since I noticed it. I'm trying both to ignore it and to move the subject elsewhere while shooting. :)

You'll notice that I didn't mention the wide angle distortion. By pure coincidence, I was shooting a disused building about a month ago with an ultra-wide lens, as an experiment. Instead of regular head-on architecture catalogue photos, I decided to use the distortion. I like it. It creates a bit of an unsettling effect, something that reminds me of Escher. Not much, but it's there. You can see the results in a small gallery on my site.

Someone was kind enough to nick our old but much loved car a few days before Christmas; I noticed a tilted horizon in one of the 6x4" prints of the car I was planning to include as requested with the insurance claim form and after that, just couldn't put the print into the envelope. I found myself rotating, cropping and reprinting without the slightest hesitation. For an insurance claim form! Jeepers. I knew then that there was something the matter and the last couple of articles have just confirmed that. :-) (And I even like Winogrand—makes no sense, does it?) It was therapeutic to see John's picture above…

This is a truly amazing photograph. It looks like the virtual image of a monster.

Mike, I can almost "see" the picture and it looks great! That use of focus seems like it tells a story really well, and I like the idea of that.

I don't even shoot people, but this idea is sticking with me, I might give it a shot.

"I really, really, want to see the bokeh article...for shots demonstrating exactly the difference between two lenses IN THAT ONE SITUATION..."

It strikes me that an m4/3 camera might be useful for such comparisons--with the right adapters one could compare lenses across systems, not only in the same situation, but with the same TTL metering and the same sensor (though on the other hand we'd be looking at only a center chunk of the image circle).

Alas, your suggestion would not work for me. It's not the absence of perfection (however defined) that bugs me... it's the near achievement of it.

So a wildly tilted horizon is fine... one that's 1 degree off is not. A deeply out-of-focus image is great... but not one that's a hair less than sharp. And so on.

As for tilting horizons.. I often take a mundane scene and rotate the camera frame around its axis to see if the result becomes more interesting. A case in point is my image "Downstream" taken along the Potomac River.


Rotating the camera to the left created a dynamic that draws the eye deep into the frame and forces tension into the composition. For this image it would not work if the trees and their reflection didn't form a pair of darker round tonal areas. Using a red filter and printing on a higher contrast paper with lots of dodging and burning helped to accent the white sycamore trees and pale clouds against the darkened water.

Although when a sloping horizon is merely laziness that does bug me because it is so easy to fix!

Mike (and others) - Here's an article that goes through a bunch of lenses and gives brief descriptions of their Bokeh as far as problems and how pleasing the writer thinks it is. Not sure if it syncs with your tastes/thoughts, but I thought it might be a good reference...


I, personally, am not very picky at all about bokeh. Maybe since I started out shooting a small sensor P&S with everything in focus, I see any bokeh at all pretty much the same as any other.

Thank you, Mike, for pointing out this. I'm an idiosyncratic person (and a former view camera photographer), and used to have a strong peeve pathology about sloping horizon.
Until the day when, suddenly, in the attempt to get the whole scene of a wide situation in my photograph (I couln't step back), I deliberately tilted my camera and found out how strongly the composition arranged.
Then I started working on diagonals, which drove me to explore triangle-shaped patterns after a while. I was lucky, that day, not having a wider lens in my bag.

Re: tilted horizons. A local newspaper photographer produces many tilted horizon shots, both interiors and outside stuff. While I noticed them- they seem contrived and always caught my attention because of their annoyance factor - it was not until the paper produced a two-page spread of the photographer's 2-week journey on a cruise with maritime academy cadets. About 60% of the photos had tilted horizons, and when laid out side by side, some editor should have cried "TILT!"

The photographer is, however, a fine lensman and his work is generally excellent.

The comments to this entry are closed.



Blog powered by Typepad
Member since 06/2007