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Saturday, 29 October 2011


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Coooool. I just bookmarked VSL. It's right there on my menu underneath TOP. Somehow I missed it until now. Lots to catch-up on. 8)

Kirk and Mike...
I may not sy it every day, but I think it every day: Thanks for the depth and breadth of your writing skills, the application of those skills to your passions for music, art, artists, their practical and philosophical issues, historical context, and the significance of their contribution. You are the best. I feel lucky to be able to read your blogs everyday.
Thanks so much.

Thanks Kirk---

I've added you to my reading list.

And commenting about TOP, I tend to find Mike's comments on books interesting which leads to purchases.

This why you want to check out GoogleAnalytics or similar - they show you who your silent audience is, even when they don't speak up.

I didn't know VSL too, one more blog to check in my end-of-the-day routine.

In Portugal there's not a good quality photography blog in the same molds as TOP and VSL that I know of. The idea of starting a portuguese photo-blog has been growing in my mind recently. I must confess that reading this post made my idea a bit scary, but I'm willing to try it anyway.

I guess I will take te approach of "doing it for myself hoping it will resonate with someone" as I feel the need to write some of my thoughts so they become more organized and eloquent.

Like Kirk, I too feel bored and isolated in the portuguese photography scene. In my view the foruns, galleries and blogs that exist now are only equipment and commercial focused, self-promotional or, in another extreme, artistic/elitist.

Recently, in the most famous portuguese photo-forum, I've read a revealing post where someone inquired the forum users who they favourite photographers were. The responses where mostly shocking and depressing as almost no one mentioned any of the major photographers in history, mostly refering commercial studio photographers or other forum members. I think this was a revelation of the current state of the portuguese photo-scene as it is divided in two extremes: the technic-obcessed but historical/artistically ignorant and the ellitist photo-connaisseurs who don't participate in anything out of their closed community.

Inspired on the good work that is being made here on TOP and some other blogs, I'm thinking of volunteering to try to fill the gap between this two extremes while, hopefully, have some fun. Thinking about it now an adaptation of this comment might be a good way to start the blog :)

wow... that's why TOP is the FIRST site I visit everyday; Articles like this!

Thank you Kirk and Mike for allowing us to read your writings.

The learning from your experiment is quite valuable for all of those that blog.

There are the silent 99% (sic!) who enjoy a high quality blog of thoughtful discourse, even though it's about as one-way a communication as the good old paper. And then there's the 1% which tends to make everything about them and their needs.

Glad you've decided to continue on, and allow some of us to occupy your blog to demonstrate that we do care :-)

I've been reading and enjoying Mike's musings for a long time. As many before have said, I now will add Kirk Tuck's site to my reading list.

Kirk's essay on TOP on the need for photographers to work alone to avoid peer pressure really spoke to me. I'm a retired professional photographer - cameraman - editor - manager who was so sick of photography when I retired that I didn't own a camera for almost ten years. I still don't own a video camera (or a TV).

Anyway, a few years ago I took up photography again, along with hiking. I soon realized that I needed to hike by myself if I was serious about taking pictures, so I obviously agree with Kirk.

However, I noticed another insidious pressure influencing my photography, limiting my choices: since I manage to sell a few of my pictures and since I also know by now which photographs sell, I've caught myself self-censoring myself, not shooting a shot that I knew it wouldn't sell.

External pressure - influences is only one limit. I think internal limits (and I'm sure there are others, in addition to "what the customer wants" limit} are equally harmful to creative growth.

>So I’m back.<

Huzzah !

>I intend to write a column at least once a month, here, for Mike (who has been a wonderful sounding board in my process of coming to grips with my process...) and to continue my "Chaos Theory" schedule of writing at the Visual Science Lab.<

Huzzah !

>While I intend to concentrate on the "whys," I still have a sweet tooth for gear so I can’t totally give up publicly pondering new equipment.<

Huzzah !

>Finally, a warning. If you value what you read each day at Mike’s TOP, remember to say so, often and publicly, and not just here.<

We love you, Mike !

Welcome back Kirk.
I'm guilty of being one of the silent majority of readers that didn't comment.
I was quite disappointed when you announced your "retirement", and I'm glad you're back. I'm looking forward to reading your thoughts on the Nikon one, I hear it's an outstanding little camera.

So glad you are back Kirk and that Mike invited you here, too.

As several have said , it is hard writing a non-trite comment. I loved Mike's article on Naturalism but can't articulate all the reasons why.

Please, both keep up the outstanding work!

TOP is part of my morning ritual. Thank you!


"Just like the coffee and newspaper I consumed this morning, readers want a routine."

Ah, why would you "consume" a newspaper, are you lacking fibre in your diet? If so may I suggest rather than a newspaper (which are becoming very thin these days) may I suggest a regular helping of blogging. Helps clear the system, makes one more aware of bearded bloggers from wisconsin,who seemingly want to avoid at least one Sunday morning posting.

At the rate Mike's giving up weekend blogings, he may well become a M-F/9-5
employee with very little to say. Nah, ain't
going to happen...Mike's patter is well and truly blessed and organized.

From the country to the north which doesn't always fall into an accepted pattern of
behaviour, I remain as myself affected by the comments of certain erstwhile experienced

Well I just read TOP on a dialy basis, bot no comments, I can barely do a family snap. So now I have something else to read :o) Good work guys

Photography aside, Mike and Kirk, it's just so pleasurable reading intelligent articles.

But what terrible "metrics" that the web gives rise to. In the old days, the "silent majority" who liked reading your articles would have to subscribe to a magazine, so even if they didn't send you comments, you knew they were there, sort of. This blog/interweb world isn't like that. We got something, but we gave up something.

Billy Connolly once said he was a huge fan of Frank Zappa. He lived close to Frank and would pass his house often while walking his dog. Never once did he stop to knock on the door and say hi. After Frank died he found out Frank was a fan of Billy's and he regrets never taking the step to knock on the door.

Humans are like that though. Taking the first step is difficult, especially for those of us who are really not worthy. I enjoy TOP but have only commented a couple of times. I don't have the skills and the depth of knowledge that the writers have and I don't have suitable comments that will enrich the blog with wisdom, rather than dilute it with my ignorance.

I do enjoy much of the posts (not all), overall the site helps to show me other points of view and frames of reference on my journey into photography. I appreciate the writers, but I will continue my silence...my ignorant posts can only contribute to take TOP down to the level of DPReview.

I don't know, Steve...I'd never heard that story about Bill Connolly and Frank Zappa before, and that was a good comment. You're actually quite welcome to remain silent--commenting isn't a requirement for visiting here as far as I'm concerned--but don't sell yourself short.


Dear Kirk, thank you for resuming writing on your blog! As I mentioned in my comment on your post called "End of the road.", I followed your blog from the very beginning and loved it, even if I rarely commented. This mostly came from thinking that I have nothing valuable to add to great posts. I bought two of your books (the first and the fourth) and I loved them both. Since you restarted writing I made a habbit of clicking the Like button in Google reader or clicking through to the site and marking the "cool" or "interesting" boxes there, so you will get feedback from your readers. Thank you for continuing to write and I'm glad to also find you here, on TOP.

Dear Mike, Kirk raised an important point: thank you for maintaining such a great blog and for creating one of the most interesting places to read about and exchange opinions! I follow TOP for many years now and have read many of your articles on Luminous Landscape; it is here that I learned first about Kirk, his first book and his blog.

Thank you both and continue to maintain TOP and VSL - they are some of the best photo (and life!) related blogs!

I'm here often though i never say much.

When Kirk decided to turn off his blog. In sadness I deleted VSB bookmark on my browser.

Later I experienced that Kirk start to write again from Mike's site. So you writers and we readers are somehow interconnected.
Now Visual Science Blog comes back in my bookmark list.

PS: I group my bookmarks under several disciplines and go through each morning with my coffee whenever I have time. The list is synched with the firefox server so I can find the same bookmark list on any computer I use.

I am a long-time fan of both blogs; I read them everyday for inspiration and enjoyment. Thanks for all the time and effort you guys put in, I for one really appreciate it.

Kirk, thanks for coming back, I too am one of the silent majority. I am sitting here in my loft with cat on my lap, wife is sleeping in the BR and I am getting my last photography fix for the day.

I saw your posting and had to respond as I too am an isolated pro and spent so much time doing the down and dirty work that I need a regular pick-me-up from either you or Mike.

I have replied on your site a few times, read all your books and hit Mikes site once a day at least. I probably reply a few times a year but you guys need to know how much we appreciate your being here.



I agree with what Chris Donovan posted in his comment regarding having a like button on each post. I'm one of those who read articles on the Online Photographer (and other sites) every morning, but I don't comment because I usually don't have anything clever to say and even if I do there are usually others who have said it first. On other sites I'll usually just click the "like" button to show my appreciation.

This morning's essay is a fail.

Aaaghh!!! Another verb being turned into a noun!

That's a wake-up call, I'm so sorry. I'm a regular reader who has enjoyed and never commented. I think in my case, though, it's out of a lack of feeling of entitlement, since what I come here for is the aura of expertise and professionalism and I think of myself as no more than an enthusiastic amateur. I'm on Flickr for instance, and learning stuff there, and I know what you all feel about that ... Yes, so maybe daunted is the word I'm looking for. Thanks for all you do Mike, I appreciate it and will make more effort, and I'm subscribing to VSL now, too.

Another one of the silent majority reading both TOP and VSL over coffee each morning. I'm in my mid 30's and working hard in a job unfortunately far from photography. Your words inspire, and amuse, and challenge. Thank you!

Hi Mike and Kirk, I too am one of the silent majority. TOP has been in my Favourites list for a couple of years. Kirk I had not heard of until Mike wrote about him. I don't always understand what Mike is writing and I certainly get lost with some of Ctein's writing but that does not spoil my enjoyment of reading their writings! Kirk, another author of interesting articles rather than technical reviews is always welcome. I too am an author, by trade rather than vocation, and spend my working life writing technical manuals for the oil and gas industry. Your writings for me are light relief from a morass of technical documents. The language you use sometimes confuses me as well, being English I recognise that you write in English but not always using the same words as I do! Keep up the good work.

I have written a few times, and will continue to do so. My morning routine is Online Photographer, Luminous Landscape, and now VSL as well. Don't worry, I like to mix up the order to not show favoritism!

What an interesting post (and one that I can certainly empathize with from my (tiny) experience in trying to start a (tiny) blog)! Kirk, I now look forward to your monthly post here and will surely subscribe to VSL. I suspect I will enjoy working through the "back issues."

I think you guys (KT-VLS and MJ-TOP) should get together (along with some other photo blog sites) and make a photo blog portal. You could charge for access to the portal. Once inside readers can then access VLS, TOP, etc., etc.

No one blog would have to feel responsible for putting up content 24/7. However, there would be enough material between all of the blogs, that charging a "general access" fee would be viewed as "fair" to nearly all users.

Advertising would still stay with the individual sites but the "admission" would be for the collective (and would pay for all of the hosting costs, page designs, etc.).

Though it might be easier if all parties under the "Photo Portal" shared similar philosophies, there is no reason why they should and it could be a much more interesting place if all parties were of vastly differing positions.

Being connected via a portal would "force" a little more interaction between all of the various photo sites. There could be common weekly topics for all to write about. Could you imagine MR, TH, KT, MJ, etc. each sounding off with their own take on the same subject during the same week, etc. Obviously, things could be very heated with various camera releases but in the end, we would all be the beneficiaries.

I read Mike's blog most days but don't comment very often...doesn't mean I don't appreciate him, I do, very much. Now I will be reading Kirk's blog as well...great...thanks to both of you.....Ann

"This morning's essay is a fail. Aaaghh!!! Another verb being turned into a noun!"

It's just "slang," which is a real word.


Another thank-you to both Mike and Kirk from someone who avoids "me too" comments (perhaps to a fault).

Another frequent reader, rare commentor. Usually, anything I would want to say has been said, probably better than I would say it. And I am not going to send a "Nice post." comment, it feels like one of those "Nice shot." comments on photo critique sites.

But, I should say thank you, I love the site and visit everyday.

I would also like to thank Marcus Newey for the whoville reference, I really did LOL.

Hi Kirk!

I am glad to hear that you will be posting on TOP on a recurring basis.

Thanks and I look forward to continuing to read your column.


Hi Kirk, you got me writing a comment, I don't do it often. I'm one of those who go almost every day to read VSL and Online Photographer, because I don't seem to find other places where I can read intelligence, fun, reflection, interest and some notches over the usual comments. I'm not even a good photographer but I love photography for the artistic side of it,the passionate side and the geek side of it. I'm happy to read you again, you and Mike and all the others here and on VSL... keep on trucking, you're all very much appreciated.

This reminds me, I need to renew my TOP subscription because Paypal cancelled it when my card expired.

Thank you to Mike and the other tireless scribes of the intertubes that entertain, amuse and confound me for so little in return.

Slightly late in the day, but I want to add my appreciation for this blog. I haven't commented before, mostly for the reasons other people have given of not really feeling I have anything to add. The other reason is that I always seem to be at least two days behind on TOP. I catch up occasionally, but then something happens, I don't get to read it for a couple of days, and then I'm behind again. It does mean I get to read most of the comments other people have left, as most people seem to have commented by the time I get round to reading the posts, so it does have that bonus.

Hoorah! Glad you're back...I'll shut up now...

Seriously though, as another blogger it's really interesting to hear about your experiences. I think it's important to focus on what you're doing it for, and not the numbers. As a blog follower, I might not say much, or even be able to call in any day, I just want to read something interesting!

Wonderful first article! I wasn't aware of your blog until Mike announced that it was discontinued. I am happy to see that not only you would continue to write there (I've already subscribed to its RSS feed in my Google Reader) but there will be an extra series of articles here in TOP! I am one of the silent readers mostly enjoying the philosophical rather than the technical side of photography at the moment so I am very happy to find that now there are two great blogs to have a look at!

I'll throw my hat in the ring and comment on this post, as well as on "THE ONLINE PHOTOGRAPHER". I have been reading TOP for at least 4 years, but have yet to comment. It has been my first stop on the internet for the last 3 years. I want to say that I really appreciate Mike's blog, and really admire his guest posters, Ctein in particular. I just started reading Kirk's blog in the last month when Mike mentioned it. Another top spot in my schedule.

Really, this is just a big thank you to all who have worked so hard to furnish such good and basic information and inspiration.

For my own self, I had a Spotmatic with a 55mm Super Takumar f1.8 that I took to Africa in 1969, but I didn't use it much after that. In 2007, I bought a Pentax K10D and have been hooked ever since. I consider photography my prime hobby, and I don't expect to make a living from it, so my age really doesn't slow me down.


Thanks Kirk for such an enlighting post. And thanks Mike for the new addition to the writing staff. As I work night shifts, waking up at about 11 PM, I guess you could say TOP is my daily "morning reading". Because of the time difference, though, it happens to sync nicelly with almost every update.
To be fair, I must confess I first found out about it trough Tom Hogan's excellent but more 'gear oriented" bythom.com. I wish I could make time to comment more often, but you have such an interesting and diverse group of readers that most of the time I end up finding someone already posted exactly what I had in mind. Most bloggers can't (or shouldn't) brag about their comments, but TOP is a good read through and through.
On top of everything, you guys managed to got me hooked on VSL, and my "morning" is just not long enough to keep up with everything...
PS: Please excuse my English. Feel free not to post this comment. In any case, just try not forget about all the people who really appreciate what you got going here.

Great article Kirk!

Really eye opening.I Usualy read your articles a couple a times o mounth. I am too being guilty of being one of the silent majority.From now on i will comment more often!


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