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Saturday, 29 October 2011


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I missed finding you before. I've now signed up for the RSS feed of your own blog as well, and will no doubt go back and catch up.

I have more to learn from artistic posts than technical posts. I'm more likely to comment on technical posts -- perhaps because I think I have more to offer there.

Always a pleasure to read, a perfect match, both your blogs have been at the top of my photography RSS feeds for a long time (although I very rarely comment), keep doing what you both do so well, I'd certainly miss you if you stopped writing!

"I am sorry I have never written before" (well, almost).
I am one of the many silent readers of both blogs. :-)

I wasn't aware of VSL so I can't comment on that, but this post sounds very promising to me and in line with the reasons that keep me coming back on TOP.
Keep going this way you both!

Hey Kirk-

I am very happy to see your writing here on TOP as well as the resumption of your own BLOG. One of the reasons why I read your BLOG and TOP every day, and have written for and commented here on TOP, is that both places are what I consider to be islands of thoughtful quiet communication in a sea of loud, and obnoxious noise. Moreover, both BLOGs are written and maintained by people who actually have many years of (gasp!) real life experience with photography and photography related subjects. You guys actually know about what you write. I may or may not agree with your musings, but, they are certainly worthy of my time and consideration.

In a world where most of us have access to hundreds of TV channels and millions of websites, it has never been more true that the fact that an individual has a microphone does not mean that they are worth listening to. Your thoughtful contributions are most appreciated.


I know the long form thoughtful writing style is why I read TOP. I think you'll fit in quite nicely here Kirk.

Great to see you here. I'm one of your seldom-commenting but loyal readers who never misses a post on your blog. I must admit I find the posts about the whys and hows of your photography most enjoyable and I love the Lonely Hunter post from Wednesday.

I also like your equipment reviews since they tend to concentrate on what works, or doesn't work, for you and why. The cold hard facts and the pixel-peeping can be found anywhere. But I'm glad the equipment posts are a side dish rather than the main course.

BTW, one of the reasons I don't post comments on your blog is the lack of a Google or OpenID vendor account. As as much as I like the blog, I'm not getting an account set up somewhere just to post.

I am one of the people that read these blogs everyday. I count myself as one of the silent majority. I love photography but make my living doing somthing else so there is a certain amount of vicarious living that I do reading Kirk and Mike's blogs. I understand the tremendous amount of work and effort that goes into producing this content. All I can say is THANKS and remember we are out here.

Thank you, Kirk. I had not known about your blog until Mike mentioned it. Its now on my browser toolbar, along with Mike's, one of those equipment review places, and RFF. Of course this now means that my morning coffee sometimes stretches now until almost lunch time.

I appreciate immensely the "more personal" approach in these blogs. The world has plenty of commercial stuff everywhere else. Its nice to have a break from that and just hear voices of people talking about things they love.

Again, thank you Kirk and Mike for making the effort to share your thoughts, whether they be rants or raves or something in-between. And a dollop of gear-talk on top never hurts. :-)

Hi Kirk, Welcome to TOP. I guess I'm one of the guilty parties who don't participate as much as I should. I'm older, retired and just trying to enjoy photography and Photoshop activities. I don't need or appreciate gear fights and avoid making some comments that might blow up into a cat fight.
When I was reading your article, I felt you might have been reading my thoughts about what seems to get attention today, ie...noise, not content.
Looking forward to your articles and will try to up my feedback contributions where warranted.

Now this is good news for a snowy Saturday in Maryland! I am one of those who checked Kirk's blog everyday either before or after TOP. Thanks Kirk and thanks Mike!

Welcome Kirk. I'm looking forward to reading what you have to say, particularly about the "why" you photograph. You'll be just one more reason to continue reading TOP as part of my daily routine.

I'm one of the silent majority. Keep up the great work fella's, I read it every day.

TOP is one of the few blogs on which I actually comment, and I always get a kick every once in a while of being a "featured" comment.

It's a great bait to encourage you to say something smart; Mike is a great editor of comments in that respect, and whenever I post something, knowing that it could be put under the spotlight, I try to write intelligently.

I hope you will also find your mechanisms to elicit the good stuff. It's a bit like being a teacher in a classroom: there's plenty of bright students who shut up either because of the bullies or because they feel self-sufficient.

Glad you learned your audience. I have now added you to my cup of coffee. Sometimes Mike sleeps late and I had nothing to read.

FWIW, when I first started writing a blog, I too was adamant about attracting an audience. Gradually, I realized the parallel with my photography- I did it primarily for myself. Amazingly, that sounds rather selfish. Truth is, it's about sharing, sharing that which is intensely personal. It's more rewarding having others along for the ride, but inevitably, it's your journey.

Continued success...

Welcome Kirk, welcome.
I read you, I looked at your VSL and I will keep looking and reading, 'cause I like it. On the last Saturday of the month I will stay home, at TOP, the other days I will go from TOP, never change on a winning horse, to LL, to VSL.

Just one question: How could Mike let you in, you, without a beard...

Perhaps Mike/Kirk can add a button similar to a Like button to allow the silent majority to provide quick feedback so you know the general state if how your post was received.

"It's a beautiful day for photography!" and it will be a beautiful week, and a beautiful month and...
Thanks for this article and for the next ones

Welcome to TOP, Kirk... and thanks so much for re-launching The Visual Science Lab. Please include me as part of your "silent majority" that has enjoyed your work all along. One suggestion: Why not call your TOP column "Tuck's Take" instead of " Kirk's Take." I dunno... it just seemed like a natural to me. Best wishes and keep up the good work.

Count me in as one of the silent majority of folks who truly appreciate the blogging of Kirk and Mike. As a daily reader, I find both blogs informative and inspiring.

Thanks very much for your efforts.

Steve B.

I guess your asking may start a storm that will overflow Mike's mailbox, but I'll add my own drop. I indeed visit Mike's page everyday, even when my rss reader tells me there's no new article in it. Should my Internet provider restrict my access to ten pages only, TOP would be one, no doubt about that.

And this happens not only for the quality of his writing and the warm, human, no-nonsense, down-to-earth feeling that pervades all the site, but also because of the quality of many comments attached to the articles. And that probably makes it difficult -even inconvenient, I would add- to comment more often, just to not dilute the quality of the accompanying discussion, and not to overwork Mike with the task of moderating. But you're right, it's probably a good idea to remind him more often how appreciated his work is. Well, that, and not forgetting to use his links.

I loved your article as well, Kirk, and bookmarked your site for further exploration and enjoyment.

Yay, Kirk! Yay, Mike! You should write a few things to get people in, from time to time, because people should know that you're there, but I'm sure the reason people stay is the wonderful, thoughtful content. It's hard to comment on something that makes you think for a day, perhaps much longer, about what it means to you.

Love the self-portrait, BTW. Taken 25 years ago? ;-)

Another great post by one of the finest photography bloggers out there. Thanks again for changing your mind. We've been enjoying your return.

Welcome Kirk!
Mike's place, as we all appreciate, is extraordinary... I am happy that he invited you and you agreed to contribute. Thank you also for reminding that reader input is critically important. (Rest assured, Mike never fails to remind us that!).
Seriously though, visiting TOP every day is almost as vital for me as a good, unhurried breakfast.
Hope you also feel good being part of TOP :)

Good morning, Mike and Kirk! Yes, I really do appreciate TOP and Kirk on the odd times I wandered over to his site. Both of you, keep up the good work.

BTW: If you (Mike) revive the idea of a small contribution, via Pay Pal or a credit card, I'm all ears.

With best regards,

Stephen aka The Sensei of the Snapshot.

Perhaps I spend too much time on Facebook, but I think a 'like' button would be a great idea, for comments as well. I read so much good stuff on these two sites, including the input from your commenters. Keep up the good work guys, it's valuable to me and others like me who love to read and think along with you, but often can't think of a clever/worthy enough comment to leave...

Great article! For years I’ve been what you might call an amateur closet photographer. I love reading all the intelligent photographic related articles posted on the web. That’s what I do, I read. I don’t comment. I’m part of the silent photographic majority. I also get turned off when I can’t go more than 3 to 5 posts deep in a forum topic on some of the major photo sites before the comments turn ugly. But your article has struck a nerve. I must show appreciation to those who spent their time, effort and, heartfelt passion to share their feelings, experience, and insight about a topic I also have feelings for. Or to bring my attention to a topic I didn’t know anything about but discover by reading their words, touches me. If the silent don’t speak then the things we love can disappear. Those that bring us those things we care about deserve our feedback in order to continue to feel inspired.

As I was reading your article I was reminded of a joke I heard many years ago. Forgive me for sharing, it is a little corny. A couple had a small family the youngest being a little boy. When he was born he cried when he needed things. Everything seemed normal. But when he got to the age that he should speak, he didn’t. Taking him to experts revealed no reason for this. Then one day at the breakfast table after the boy had taken a bite of his food, he exclaimed “this taste terrible”. The family was in shock all saying at once “YOU CAN TALK”! The mother then asked the boy “Why haven’t you spoken until now”? The boy replied “up until now everything has been perfect”.

From now on I’ll be more vocal, or the perfect things might disappear.

Hey Mr.T - welcome, welcome, welcome. Been a reader of VSL for well over a year and boohood when you decided to flick the switch. But there's a valuable lesson in this for all of us reader/fans of people like you and Mike. While I did occasionally comment at VSL and do at TOP, it was certainly not as often as I might have - when you are #30 or #35 on the list you tend to think "Who's going to read this?". It should have been obvious - both you and Mike review the comments before posting them so YOU and MIKE will read them all. And while it may be self gratifying to voice your opinion on a site like this when it pleases you, its just as important to remind the the writer/moderator/blogger that we are out there reading their work and do appreciate them.

Bloggers too need to fell loved and appreciated too - especially by their audience.

One more from the silent majority. Both of you, Kirk and Mike, are and have been part of my daily routine (+ one technical site). That's all I need. Many thanks for your thoughtful writing. I never comment, but I'll give it a try ... maybe.

Just to add my voice to all those above, I immensely enjoy both sites and I will try from time to time to reflect this gratitude to you in the comments. We all need to feel appreciated!

Tim B

Welcome aboard Kirk,

And thank you for the sensitive piece about the world of the blogger. Thanks also to Mike for having the wisdom to make you an addition to TOP.

As you suggest, the morning ritual is very much to the fore in my little capsule here on the other side of the planet. I am not a blog fan, as such, but I would never miss TOP and now I'll wander off in quest of more of your writing also.



I'm another of the silent majority who read you blogs and don't comment.

I definitely need my daily dose of both TOP and VSL. Thank you Kirk, and thank you Mike. Kirk, you almost sold me on the Olympus Pens and can't agree more that lonely hunting is better hunting. Mike, I just appreciate your perspective on photography and other topics you choose to expound upon.

We appreciate and enjoy your efforts. Thanks.

Kirk, I found your blog through TOP and have been visiting back ever since. I am one of the silent majority in most of the blogs I read and photographers I follow. So this is my dilemma as a person from the silent majority... Sometimes, all I have to say to posts and photographers is 'Wow, I never thought about it that way!' or 'Nice post / nice photo'. The problem is that such comments appear almost banal / trivial and can sound insincere. So I tend to remain silent and appreciate the posts / photos privately. Other times, some other commentator articulates what I have to say, better than I can ever say it. So I remain silent.

So now, I have a question for you and Mike and other writers / posters. If you want to hear from your silent majority, would you be ok if you get a lot of 'Nice post.' comments - though it would not lead the discussion anywhere? Or would you rather prefer people to comment when they have something more to say?

By the way, I have to say this -- really great post Kirk. Looking forward to reading more from you here as well as at VSL. :)

Kirk Tuck on TOP ?

Everybody wins ! :)

I too need to add my past silent appreciation to Mike for his sharing on TOP, Kirk I also only found you through Mike and also appreciate that as well, a'like' button is a great idea, what about 'Tuck In' as a title?, first job and last of the day is TOP, LL, and now VSL, thank you all again, much appreciated.

It's been a pleasure to read your articles, everyday, with my cup of coffee, like so many other people out here. I never really got the need to comment, I don't know if I will comment again, but I just wanted to say "welcome back, Kirk". We, the silent majority, will always be here, waiting for our daily dose of VSL or TOP.

Another member of the silent majority chimes in.

You know, I suspect that another reason some readers are silent, is just that they don't see anything they can add to the discussion. This is certainly true for me. Being a young not-terribly-experienced photographer, I come here every day, read the musings of you and other photo-senseis, and wonder: wow. What is there that I can contribute? Most days, I can't think of anything, so I remain silent.

Here, the quiet student would like to say: thank you, o masters, and keep up the good work! ;)

Well, Kirk, I'm glad to see you here at TOP. I've been visiting Mike since before he was writing this blog. I told you how much you mean to me and my photography when you quit, but I don't think I've ever told Mike how much his blog means to me, so I'll tell you both thanks, from my brain and heart. You're doing it right, both of you, so don't stop. Please.

I want to thank you Mike for introducing me to Kirk's blog. It is a hoot. Who knew he could dance? Of course he has me pegged perfectly. I start my day on the computer with T.O.P., Kirk's blog and Carl Weese's blog. Better than any paper. All of you keep up the great work and feel secure in the knowledge that there is a big silent crowd that loves your work.

Mike and Kirk,
I start my mornings each day looking forward to your thoughts. I enjoy both VSL and TOP because both of you seem to speak on a personal level to me (and every reader.) Thank you both for sharing your knowledge and personal views.

Kirk I can honestly say that you have been one the most positive influences in the way I approach photography, business and in some ways life. I have noticed the change in your writing since your return and all I can say is thanks for sharing so much of you with us.

Hi Kirk,
Reading this the lines "...Don't it always seem to go, That you don't know what you've got till it's gone.." from Joni Mitchel's 'Big yellow taxi' popped into my head.

I'm only on my third camera since the mid 70's so I'm not that interested in interminable camera tests, but more in techniques and viewpoints from people who know and love their subject - that's what lets me learn and think differently.

Reading the 20 or so comments above mine I also realise the quality of the commentators who've nailed my sentiments better than I can.

I like Mike's method of getting guest bloggers which gives a differing viewpoint while following the general trend, and means I've added VSL to my list.

best wishes phil

Kirk, you've inspired me to check out VSL. Mike, I rarely comment but I absolutely love TOP. There are so very few quality blogs that can put out the astounding number of thoughtful posts that you manage. I try to show my appreciation by always using your amazon and b&h links, but here's a written thank you as well!

Thanks for reintroducing me to Kirk. I agree with him completely, but don't know how to tell him. He is now one of my two favorite bloggers.

Another one of silents over here. Very much appreciate the contemplative eloquence and educable, thought-provocing opinions by both Mike and Kirk; that, in a sea of vacant, obnoxious, loud and mispelt (sic)... um, I'm gonna miss a few words here... that is much of current web. Thank you for that.

On the question of why I typically withhold my remarks? Possibly because I possess some - probably just enough - cognitive ability to realize that just because one can holler, it doesn't necessarily mean one should holler; especially so since in exactly one year the point in question would typically pertain to something so outdated, no one would care.

I also don't comment since I visit you, both, to learn. Not to hear myself speak.

But I do appreciate your writings, lack of many comments from yours truly notwithstanding!

oh shoot, now I'll have to either wake up earlier or leave later!


I've read your column regularly, for quite a while, but like Jeff above, I never comment because of that Google account thing, or the Open ID. It's not so much that I'm against those, it's that I don't understand them and I'm not really interested in finding out about them. I've already got one too many things to do on the internet, and one too many accounts in various places with all kinds of passwords. I wouldn't be surprised if quite a few people feel that way. Here in Mike's blog, all you need is your name and your regular email, and you're on.

I do think you've written some of the best stuff I've seen on photography, anywhere -- like this recent post on going to Paris. You also mentioned going to Rome on a similar trip, and it occurred to me, after seeing that, that Paris seems to me to be a black and white city, and Rome seems to be in color...Got any color shots of Rome?


OK. So now I feel guilty. I am a regular reader of TOP and VSL who has never bothered to say "Hi and thanks for all the good work".

I come to these blogs to read about making photographs rather than lusting over new cameras but, of course, can't resist a review of the latest gear. Guilty again.

So, Mike and Kirk, I would like to say how grateful I am that you both write something of real artistic value.

Well, this looks like a sort of victory. Culture, thought, research, sensibility, art taking some stronghold over the cheap riff-raff fora and so-called experts and web-induced trends and conformism (as Nassim Nicholas Taleb would say, "never trust an expert").
I discovered your VSL in 2010, and was hooked up imeediately, through you i afterwards discovered TOP, and that was another win. I am 46 now, 30 year into photography, 8 years as a pro: well guys, i learned lots and lots from you both, and i am grateful that you both share your uniquenes as persons and photographers with the rest of the world.
I am one of the morning-coffee-readers, very happy and with a great start of the day when you post some juicy article to read, less so on the empty days. But:
thank you guys. you both do a great job. A special one.

Kirk, I like your 'real life' reviews. They are much better than the techno babble of dedicated review sites.

Kirk, thanks for keeping going - your blog is new to me, but I will now follow with interest!

Mike, onlinephotographer has been my 'home page' on my browser for a couple of years now... Sorry for not telling you sooner ;-)
All the best for the future.


A brilliant post that hit close to home with me (i.e., I, too, have a website nobly intended to inform and not offend). Thank you, and thanks to Mike for consistently excellent blogging on all things photographic. I support TOP with a modest quarterly contribution, and I encourage other TOP readers to do the same. You guys give a lot more than you get, but it's a given throughout the history of civilization that there are givers and takers. Givers sleep better at night.

keep up the good work!



I'll add my voice to the many others who are delighted that Kirk is posting on TOP, and delighted also that he's resumed the VSL. I look forward to reading both every morning, even if I don't drink coffee.

Both Kirk and Mike are unusual (maybe unique) in combining their great expertise and photographic culture with an articulate, personal voice, all expressed in lucid, readable, engaging prose. Huzzah to you both!

My name is Scott Campbell, I shoot images because I *have* to. I also read TOP because I *have* to. I can't imagine life with out either.

Hi Kirk, Yes, I am another who appreciates your 'why take pictures' writing, follow TOP and VSL, but never comment. I will try to make an effort to change that. BTW, also enjoyed your books. You could, I am sure write an excellent one on the lines of your non-technical posts. An author/photographer I like who seems to have a similar philosophy is David Duchemin. I wonder if you know each other?

I'm a relatively silent reader of both blogs. What surprises me is not so much that I easily become engrossed in Mike's thoughts on naturalism, or Kirk's on photographing strangers, but that you both manage to hold my attention even with your (occasional) equipment reviews. Thank you both!

Perhaps when people read articles about what you're passionate about and what's vital to life; they get inspired, turn off the computer, and go out to indulge in creativity (taking photos mostly). That's what happens with me very often when I read something inspiring. Glad you're back.

Another silent happy reader

OK, I confess to also being one of the *silent* readers who read TOP daily but rarely comment. Now I will also have the pleasure of adding your blog to my morning ritual. My primary reason for not commenting is to avoid taking the writer's valuable time, as my comments would generally be either insignificant or already stated by another reader. Mia culpa.


I only recently discovered your blog, and I have made it a semi-regular visit. So thanks for keeping it going!

And Mike, as a neighbor I hope you know how much I appreciate your work. And hey---you got me to like raw fish... :-)


...and Im another. Read TOP every night, simply because you Mike, and Ctein, come across as though you are one of my/our circle of friends who are free to walk in the door, sit down with a coffee and chew the fat. After they have left I always know my day has been the richer for their visit. This is my first comment for ages. Nearly forgot, now there are three of you guys with the addition of Kirk. Great stuff all round.
Kerry Glasier
Cornwall UK

I was certainly glad to see Kirk back and posting, and happy to see that he will be posting here occasionally too. I get two of my favorite blogs in one. I was/am one of the mostly silent readers of VSL who usually usually checks one of the "funny," "interesting," or "cool" boxes below each post instead of commenting.

I would guess that one of the reasons people comment less on posts about the philosophy of photography, is that it is much harder to do so. It takes a lot more time and thought to write a reply or comment about that sort of thing than it does to respond to an equipment review. Opinions about cameras and lenses are much more cut and dried and anyone can comment without much thought. I suspect most of us already have our opinions, right or wrong, formed.

Responding to something like "why we photograph," is not so simple. I have thought that over for quite a while, and still could not give much of an answer. I mean, I could answer, but whatever answer I come up is not an answer.

'We're here, we're here' shouted all the whos in whoville.

Mike, I'm sorry I've never written before now. I very much enjoy your writing and wish for you to continue.

Kirk, I've never read your site before but will start now. If this post is representative I'm looking forward to quite a treat.

I'm one of the almost silent (I think one comment) crowd that does read your blog daily. And thanks to you, I read this site daily also. I'm no pro, and may never make a greenback from photography, but your site is always informative including the business aspect. The best part of your blog is you say what is on your mind. Honesty. And, posts like latest post on Paris is the kind of article that inspires me to get out there a do it, instead of reading about it.

Thanks, Kirk
Mike Shwarts

Kirk: Thank you for saying what I've quietly observed for years: That the "metrics" that determine the "value" of Web sites (and all media, for that matter) are hopelessly flawed, and only useful to advertisers who want an easy way to count eyeballs. You and Mike have provided us with much interesting and thought-provoking material that we don't get from the "gearhead wars" sites. I appreciate it, and I know many like me appreciate it. Sorry if we don't say so often enough.

Sensationalism and conflict sells newspapers--and blogs. But so many of us are hungry for things that truly matter. Thanks to you and MIke for being among the good guys.


Thanks, Kirk, and thanks, Mike, from another of the mostly silent majority. Please keep up the good work.

The few times I have commented have usually been about very specific points, but I now realise that a general "thank you" every once in a while is important too.

Hi Kirk! I only heard of your blog very recently, through TOP. I'm adding you to the roll.

I read a lot of blogs, many of them with a large following, and most seem to do two things counter to what you wrote: They don't post every day. And they don't stay slavishly on message.

The best blogs (by an individual that is), seem to post about 3 times a week. It's probably a good balance between making time for good, thoughtful posts on one hand, and not have people forget about the blog on the other.

Also, they all occasionally post off-topic and personal things, like Mike here. Either separate posts whenever the need strikes, or comments and asides sprinkled into the regular posts. A blog that relentlessly talks about one single thing feels more like a marketing effort than somebody with a genuine, personal interest.

Don't feel you have to post every single day, or even every single weekday if that pace feels forced. Mike here does, of course, but he does it with help and with a healthy sprinkling of off-topic stuff.

Well, I'm not quite silent. But I do check TOP at least twice a day and I comment much less than twice a month so I'm hardly vocal....
All of which is to say: "Thank you!" to Mike, and "Hello, I just added you to my bookmarks bar" to Kirk.
cheers - I'll see you both in the morning.

Well I never commented, but I did buy an epl2 (through here) after reading your piece.

The main reason I never commented on your site is that you have a really terrible and inflexible commenting system. Having to be forced to use a google ID or whatever is very frustrating. I just commented on one of your posts, but I was forced to use the option of my wordpress blog identity, which is not really relevant to my "photographer identity."

Here I can link to the "photo me". It's how it should be.

But in any case well done for coming back.

I'm one of the silent majority Kirk. I read VSL and TOP almost every day. Many thanks to you and Mike Johnston for your tireless efforts to bring quality commentary and discussions to the web.

Brilliantly written article - thanks for reminding us to keep our part of the bargain.


Kirk, I like what you wrote about routinely visiting blogs. I read TOP before I crack open the local paper. Mike's musings are more thoughtful and compelling than what I see in the local rag.

Thanks, Kirk, for your honest and heartfelt writing. I am one of those who rarely comments, but deeply appreciates your candid reflections on the art and craft of photography. I have been reading TOP faithfully since I discovered it about six months ago, and now read VSL as well. Each of you, in your own way, addresses our motivations, affirms our passions, and broadens our horizons, in addition to offering the "lighter" fare we enjoy so much. I admire you both for your dedication to writing about the subjects we care about so much.

Awesome, my two favorite blogs (any genre) in one post! Oh yeah and nice quirky self… Thanks Mike for your part in all this of course.

I think part of the reason there are more comments on gear reviews is that they are on first glance more concrete, easier to grasp and rigidly framed than an article on the art of photography. To me, they also serve different purposes.

Gear is inherently antagonistic for most of us. Most don't have vast amounts of disposable time, income and space so even the mst magnanimous will choose one item over another. In order to use that more efficiently, we look to distilled (and hopefully qualified) sources of information and then go off to a shop to try a shortlist out (or, and I think this is a big part of the issue, buy blind online).

Then one needs to be happy with that choice. If a person is, then they might want to share that rightness of choice with others, sometimes forgetting that their individual situation is not the world. Sometimes they are not completely certain and go off into constantly buying and selling. Sometimes that uncertainty transmutes into a rabid brand loyalty (if one can convince another that a choice is right, that can validate the choice).

That doesn't even consider the qualification of the commenter - given those limited resources, the person has probably only extensively tried one version whatever is being talked about, so may not have a proper frame of reference. Thom Hogan describes is better than I can in his discussion on superteles.

And then there's the misinformation. Being a photographer and understanding the science behind the camera are entirely orthogonal and only sometimes coincident in the same person. I think to be a good photographer requires understanding the response of the camera, and how to achieve the desired response. I don't think it requires the understanding of optic theory or signal theory or statistical physics, and the comments I read seem to bear me out :)

The fuel of personal investment, insufficient experience, incomplete knowledge and emotional attachment to a necessarily exclusive choice is added to the oxidant of different people being well...different. All that's needed is the spark of a new item release.

Thoughts on the creative process, personal taste, and the how of photography on the other hand? These can be described and expressed, but cannot be quantified in the same way, though many will try (and those same efforts generate commentary). The last few posts on TOP have been a great example - the "descent into naturalism" I'll call it. There is so much to take in that needs to be pondered, mulled, and revisited every so often like grass going through a cow's stomachs and absorbed into our image making, and that happens even if we disagree in the detail (which I do incidentally re: naturalism. Dalí is probably my favourite artist, García Marquez and Hemingway my favourite writers, and I like a style of music built on the imperfections of electronic sound. We couldn't disagree more in matters of taste :)). It's the overall content that matters: the articles' contents are a trigger to contemplation, and contemplation isn't loud. It is wonderfully stimulating and productive though, which is why they're my favourites.

(I think a similar phenomenon is responsible for the overreliance on metrics in business. If it can't be measured it can't be accounted for, can't be predicted and therefore may as well not exist. So the (near absurd) reasoning goes, anyway.)

Kirk--It is great to see you here as well as at the VSL! I am one of those who reads TOP then the VSL, followed by a couple of other blogs while eating my Frosted Flake (Reduced Sugar) and guzzeling a cup of coffee every morning before work. Thanks to both you and Mike for the fine work you do in producing the excellent blogs. It is truly appreciated.

I'm another regular reader who does not comment. So I'd just like to thank you both for the enjoyment I get from reading your blogs daily.
Bill C.

Another quick comment from one of the 'silent majority'. I have commented occasionally on both blogs, but often find that the quality of the writing and thinking behind the original posts means I feel ill-qualified to comment. Somewhat perversely a lack of comments really could be interpreted as a stamp of approval.

Perhaps the problem for Kirk, but apparently not for Mike, is that a segment of your audience simply lacks the self-awareness to realise that their comments just aren't contributing anything useful to the conversation.

PS. I love Mike's Featured Comments, something I don't think I've noticed anywhere else on the web. It helps set the bar, and reinforces that reading the comments is an essential part of the experience at TOP. By contrast, I rarely read VSL's comments, but I think the comments already published here provide ample evidence that there is significant sharing of audience between the two sites.

Kirk Tuck and TOP. Two of my favorite things, finally in the same place. Kirk, I always love reading you. And I'm going to try to comment more.

I always felt that your 'essays' were of greater interest than the equipment reviews because they presented something unique: the creative mind of an individual. Thank you for sharing that with us, and sorry for not saying it sooner!

Dear Mike and Kirk,

Just to let you both know that I am one of the silent majority who enjoys reading both your blogs. Actually I don't normally read the equipment reviews; I have so many cameras already and I have little intention of buying anything at the moment.

I enjoy the more abstract stuff, on lighting, on what motivates us and especially Kirk's thoughts on portrait photography.

I'm also keen to see the results from Mike's full plate camera - I live in hope!

Keep up the good work!


Kirk, welcome, great insightful post! Beautifully written. It takes a lot of time and effort to put one's thoughts into such concise, eloquent words. This is of course equally true for posting as for commenting. In our fast paced world we sadly end up consuming more than being creative ourselves. Guilty as charged. I am constantly surprised by the quality of articles and comments here.

Like a number of other commenters, I wasn't aware of VSL before. Since I followed the link, I've lost the last 45 minutes reading it. It's now added to my list of daily reads alongside TOP.

Very informative and thoughtful, as always Kirk. And you're right - I'm in a different time zone, but VSL and TOP are always my morning-coffee-must-reads. So often, they give me food for thought for the day. Thanks to both Mike, and to you for this.

+1... I was thinking about adding VSL the first time around, when Mike announced that you are not quitting... well I added it now.

There are four websites that I regularly frequent (one sport,one tech, TOP and one news), looks like there will be five now.

It is very hard to find a website which has a honest tone mixed with interesting information... a lot harder than it may seem in the days of "internet freedom" where anyone can write whatever they want. The issue is that most of it is unsubstantiated opinion.

There are very few people with experience who also know how to write and can be bothered to do it for "free", or almost free on daily basis.

I've enjoyed TOP with my coffee for years, have commented and even written a piece or two for it. I've read VSL on occasion (found it through TOP), and will now bookmark it for more frequent visits. Just catching up now with the past few months of VSL has been worthwhile. I'll try to comment just enough to show that I am there.


Part of my daily routine. Thanks Mike!

Not always necessary have feedback.

"I am sorry I never commented before but...." I'm in this boat. Even here on TOP I don't comment as much as I'd like even when the subject is of great interest to me. It takes a lot of effort (to me at least) to write a comment with a bit more weight than just "Great text, thank you". Because English is not my first language and I'm not as articulate as a you. And I suspect it's the case for many people reading TOP and VSL.

Oh and BTW I must admit, I knew about your blog because you were the pro switching to Olympus. And you were the author of a book I bought in 2008: Minimalist lighting.

Kirk Tuck is a welcome addition to the TOP stable of contributing writers. As on his own blog, he provides well written, interesting articles minus all the self-congratulatory statements that some seem unable to avoid. His photography and his writing speak for themselves, as it should be.

So now I've added VSL to the list of sites I visit daily. So now you'll both be hearing from me. And thank both of you very much!

Dear Mike and Kirk,
one more regular reader here (Netherlands, Europe), enjoying your blogs: thanks!!

Thumbs up for Kirk and Mike. Thank you for giving so much of yourselves.

Mmmm...coffee...welcome to another silent majority reader's morning ritual.

Yet another long-term fan of TOP who rarely comments.
My daily dose keeps me sane. Keep it coming.


Thanks Mike and thanks Kirk. Often one reads a post and finds it informative or insightful but has no need to comment on it. A "Thanks" button would do the trick as others have suggested. Actually, they suggested a "Like" button but I think "Thanks" feels more appropriate.

Kirk and Mike,
I am one of those who has become a silent reader. I go to both blogs most everyday. I must admit that I have chosen to become a silent reader as it is hard not to send comments that are not always positive when the camera wars get started. Frankly I also am not that good of a writer, I am a better verbalist. I can never seem to get my point across well in print. Either way I am generally part of that silent majority who do to my position in life is somewhat isolated from real quality photographers and surrounded by those who think that spending money on the latest equipment makes them "pro". I prefer to remain an amateur in the original sense and I read these blogs primarily for the articles of substance. Thank you I am clearly better at photography than I was because of both of your blogs.


This seems like a good opportunity to say 'Thank you, Mike!' I first started reading TOP two years ago when my husband got interested in photography. I was annoyed that when we were out walking or on holiday he'd now regularly take 5, 10, 15 minutes (and the rest) trying to get just the right shot. As far as I was concerned, the view/subject was there, he was there, the camera was there, so it shouldn't be taking more than a minute or two to come away with a photograph. He couldn't explain the magic to me, but suggested I start reading TOP to get a sense for what goes into photography, what goes through a photographer's mind, and why it matters.

Within about a month I'd stopped complaining. Two years on, reading the blog is a valued part of my daily routine. I'll never be a photographer, but I now have a real respect for those who are.

Kirk - I'll be subscribing to VSL now as well.

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