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Saturday, 05 December 2009


are you saying that us old guys don't have anything to say?

Hey Mike - What about that new camera? Aren't you going to make getting acquainted your top priority?

Another 2-Lubitels hypothesis, somehow related : the wealthier part of the market buying more expensive cameras had had to be (money-wise) successful enough, which means conforming and adhering to some social rules, and therefore these people are more akin to observe some social conventions, even in aesthetic matters (thinking of the rule of thirds http://www.whattheduck.net/strip/301 eg).
Even harder to prove than yours, probably...

"A "hived" group has everything all together in a jumble: all sorts of styles, all sorts of subjects, all sorts of ways of seeing, black and white and color side-by-side. With TLR shots, even different time periods are represented as well, as people upload work they did ten, twenty, thirty, even forty years ago."

There are ecosystems on Flickr that have over the years, cultivated a system for sorting through, and collecting the quality work. Doing random searches can be a bit overwhelming. Like most things, with Flickr you get back what you put in.

"are you saying that us old guys don't have anything to say?"

No, I'm just saying what I actually said.


"What about that new camera? Aren't you going to make getting acquainted your top priority?"

I'm already acquainted—I had a loaner GF1 for about 40 days, and used it quite extensively.

I'm reading the IB, though.


´...the work done with the cheaper cameras seems more interesting, less conventional.´

I know that since switching from a nikon DSLR to a Canon g10, I enjoy taking pictures more. Quite simply, it is more FUN! The results are techniquely poorer, but for me it just feels very liberating to stop worrying about all this IQ stuff.

Best wishes


"Visual sensibility" - I like the term.

"They're pictures made by people who haven't yet learned what you're not supposed to take pictures of."

Bingo. That's often the charm of photos taken (with any camera) by people who aren't so self-conscious about what they're doing...and are also not self-conscious about trying to appear not self-conscious (as so many current-day art photographers are). "Professional" photography can sure be dull and trite.

>>> looking at work like this tends to emphasize the coherence provided by the use of the same camera throughout<<<

I've been thinking about how using different cameras affects one's photography. Until I bought a Ricoh GRD over three years ago I had been using a Leica M6, which was known as the street photography camera par excellence, but I found that the GRD pushed me to a "looser" and more fluid shooting style that I found that I liked much better for street photography.

More recently, from January through September of this year I used exclusively a Leica M8.2, which I never really took to; and the street photography that I shot with it was generally not as good as what I had done with the GRD and GRD2. Switching to a Ricoh GRD3 in October felt like a liberation after the M8, and I felt that what I did with it was a lot more interesting and better photography than most of what I had done with the M8 — the street shots had an immediacy and intimacy that I just hadn't achieved with the M8.

Last week I received the Leica M9. My initial reaction is that I still prefer the GRD3 for street photography, while the M9 is pushing me to a different, more deliberate type of photography, based on pictures showing more detail and texture. Perhaps I'll write a review from this point of view.


Pbase has a function that allows searching by camera, lens or film type. Not quite as flexible as the "hive mind" feature, but I've been enjoying it for a year or two now.

Is it possible that some of the same people are shooting cheap cameras for fun and expensive cameras to practice their client-pleasing commercial chops?

I don't know what you mean exactly by "cheap", but for me "cheap" means antique or toy (or both), and there's a bit of natural selection exercised by such cameras. One thing you often don't get when you don't pay for it is control and precision. There's a fair degree of randomness, and attendant curiosity, when I shoot the VistaQuest or the Ikomat. They often take more interesting photographs (sometimes in a good way, sometimes not) than I might have if I'd had more say. One either takes to this experimental way of shooting or one gives up in frustration and gets a "better" tool.

P.S. It isn't my place to say, but I hope that's not your standard editing posture. I think I feel a sympathetic ache in my neck.

Well at least your beard hasn't turned white nor the fur on top of your head.

And see too your monitor reflects on your spectacles, gives us all a weird look.

Just hooked up to Skype as a good friend of mine said it is lower in price than a telephone call. The joys of long-distance boundaries. As the crow flies we're close but by telephone we may as well be in a different time zone. And standard long-distance telephone charges can be horrendous.

As to online photo display companies, haven't explored that realm of existence very far; anybody else?

I had a lot of fun one holiday just photographing with disposable cameras. Felt more free and loose, playing with a camera with no settings at all, and experimenting. I actually got a couple of pictures I really liked too.

"made by people who haven't yet learned what you're not supposed to take pictures of"

"You are all individuals"
"Yes, we are all individuals"

"I'm not"
Life of Brian

»…the work done with the cheaper cameras seems more interesting, less conventional. I fantasize that that's because the cheaper cameras are being used by younger people who are newer to photography. There's an exuberance there, a sense of real exploration.«

The reason may not lie in the users or their age, but could also have to do with the cameras themselves and their »nature«, for lack of a better word (hey, my computer tells me it's 2:27 a.m. here right now, my brain is tired).

With the big, serious cameras we tend to be wherever we are partly because of the camera, and that does influence the approach to picture taking.

With the smaller cameras it is more likely to be the other way round: they happen to be there because we are there. They are just along for the ride, and the pictures that are taken benefit from just being part of an experience rather than the reason for it.

Your description of the "hived" group pictures could probably serve as a motivator for oneself to push one’s limits.

I was thinking a lot about a similar issue (and by pure casuality wrote about it today), looking at it from the edge of "consistency" and how to avoid it. Because if you’re only worried about consistency in your photography, while you may become a technical master, you also may become pretty boring.

So the question would be if you can push the boredom quotient by just trying new things, new "sorts of styles, … sorts of subjects, … sorts of ways of seeing, black and white and color side-by-side" - probably also with the help of new gear (like Robert Thorp did) or a new place to shoot…

Old people have better equipment.

Young people have more beautiful subject matter: each other.

Old people go places for the express purpose of taking photographs: Yellowstone, etc., often in paid groups, where they take the same photos thousands of others have taken thousands of times before.

Young people just live their lives and bring a camera along. They shoot life as it happens.

Far be it from a 53 year old codger like myself to disagree with David S's take on the relative abilities of old and young photographers, but I've found that a lot of young people's efforts with a camera reflect about as much depth as their self-absorbed, pin-ball semi-consciousness allows. Or would that be a wild, unsustainable generalization?

What year was that self portrait? I was just looking at my driver's license from 1970 that has a similar looking young fellow.

Personally, I find that my most creative images (but not necessarily my best images) are those captured with my everyday "carry camera," the one I try to always have within arm's reach and which have generally been of the less expensive variety. (Depending upon your perspective, I suppose the same could be said of my present E-P1/20mm combo, but I figure once you cross the $1,000 threshold, any claim to being inexpensive goes out the window, no matter what the object is.)

I speculate this is because most of the images I capture with these cameras are impulse-driven and captured with very little forethought: A scene catches my eye, the camera is powered up, raised to my eye (often single-handedly), the shutter is triggered, the image captured, and then it's lowered and turned off.

By contrast, for my serious photography, I'll generally spend time "working" a scene before I setup my tripod -- and I almost always use a tripod -- and as a result, the images I ultimately capture this way tend to be the product of considerable forethought. I'm not suggesting either approach is better than the other and I suppose the ideal is to somehow combine the best qualities of both. Hmm...

"pin-ball semi-consciousness"

James, I'm afraid that "pin-ball" dates you very much. :-)

(And here's speaking somebody who played the old-old style mechanical pinball machines. :)))

"I've spent a very enjoyable couple of days looking at two-and-a-quarter square pictures.."

And then you can move up to large format and look for images in the likewise well-known ten-and-a-bit by twelve-and-a-half cm-format.

David S. must be speaking from more experience than I have about going in "paid groups" to places like Yellowstone. I wouldn't know, having never done anything remotely like that in my 63 years.

I am happy though to concede to youth an extra measure of strength and energy. An example for me is the very responsive way Joel Meyerowitz handled his 8x10 Deadorff when photographing "Cape Light" and other books in the 1970's and 1980's. That takes more energy (not to mention ability!) than I've got these days. Now I just bring something smaller than a view camera along and shoot life as it happens.

After many years shooting with heavier DSLRs I found that occasionally using the diminutive D-Lux 4 could be rather liberating. It resulted in a number of fresh looking pictures I would never have made with the bulkier equipment.


Personally, I know I had more energy, and was more spontaneous, inventive and creative when I was younger. I had a far greater passion for just about everything, including the mundane and everydayness of life, and far less inhibition about exploring it. It is not my better equipment that has turned me into a boring old fart, but the aging process.

Sorry to be blunt, but I hold this as a self evident rock 'n roll truth. Youth has that (typically short arc of) creative spark. Anything else is just Jack Bruce, sans record contract, whinging that no one appreciates skill and technique. Sure, there are a few photographic Neil Young's out there, but the truth is, most of us don't do anything interesting after our second or third photo album.

(at 3:20 or so in the morning)

I like the old guy comment. It's a neat division between youthful experimentation and an older approach that is more about technique. Ideally, one should keep the excitement and add the technique. Sadly many replace the excitement with technique.

I have seen a similar progression in my shooting from when I started: going from no technique, to trying to perfect technique on shots that had nothing to say! Now, I'm trying to find something to say, and use the technique needed to say it....

BTW...nice picture of Ctein on the wall :)

I was hoping someone would notice that. Note also Gordon's "umbrella lady" in the frame.


Is it really so that older photographers do boring pictures ?

When considering painters one might be forgiven to come to the conclusion that age, and experience, and technique make the better artist. What starts at the art school with formal sessions and the production of boringly classic pictures later in life evolves into something fascinating if there is talent. There is often a shift towards the abstract, sometimes the non-figurative. With age these artists get 'wilder'. Witness Paul Klee, Picasso, Mondrian, Zao Wou-Ki.

I dare to say that few painters who immediately started with abstract/non-figurative work made it to the top.

So why is it that the opposite should apply to photographers ?

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