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Sunday, 21 October 2012


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I like the photo of the bedroom, but I don't see how it ties in with the topic. What does the "c." mean? Perhaps you meant to write "ca."

"Judge not" has become one of the central mantra of my life in later years. It makes for outter peace and inner peace, and thus a healthier life, including literally.

I heard of a guy, leader of a main photo club in DK. He had more big gear than anybody except maybe Mike Reichman. But he couldn't make a picture, not even a sharp one! (I questioned this, but it was sworn to me, so was it.)
Yet, you know, he had his fun, got the coffee with the friends, supported the photo industry, etc. So what if he didn't know in which end of his Linhof to put the lens?

If what you stated here was an obvious truth for everyone, the world would be a much better place. Empathy can bring us peace.

Good point....photography is supposed to be FUN, isn't it? If that means you take pictures that nobody else likes, then fine.

About the Butthole Surfers. I'm sure their name being awkward was part of the reason they chose it. I got to thinking about them a few weeks back when the Russian band Pussy Riot was in the news. There were plenty of mainstream news guys rolling their eyes, "Do we really have to say this out loud?" Yes, you do.

My inner thirteen-year-old wants to win the lottery. Then he would donate ten million dollars to a college only if they named a building "The Stinky Butt Fart Science Center" or something equally silly. But then I snap to and realize I'd probably just endow a scholarship.

Just in case there's some uncertainty, the last but was supposed to be funny. Really.

As I say on my 500px page, I just like to take pictures

Right on, Mike. When I lately read (about you): "Mike is a great writer but perhaps not so much of a photographer", I thought: "Hmmm - that tells more about the person who wrote this than about the one he was writing about". Oh, and what a great bedroom photo!

I've taught classes with similar mixes. It's a challenge to meet the needs and expectations of such diverse groups and your advice is good. I enjoyed it when I did it but don't think I want to do that anymore. Mentoring one-on-ene is easier. I guess I'm getting old and prefer my own work to be my challenge.

BTW I don't know if you intended to test your readers but the accompanying photo is a "What's wrong with this picture" challenge. In any case the answer is the baseboard heater visible on the right between the foot of the bed and the wicker chair. They didn't have those in 1907. ;-)

Back in the late eighties I went to a camera club meeting in a midlands town here in the UK. The guest speaker was a lady in her fifties who projected a series of Kodachrome transparencies of coastal landscapes which demonstrated her "painter's eye" beautifully. Questions from the floor as to the technical details elicited that her elderly rangefinder (possibly a Kodak Retinette or similar) remained set to one aperture and one shutter speed. She didn't understand "what all those numbers mean" but knew that using a tripod and only shooting in "cloudy-bright" conditions she would get a near perfect exposure. Audience dumbfounded!

OK my Exa was getting long in the tooth, but I've upgraded to the FABU Exakta VXIIa so back with contemporary equipment!

Made me smile. My long passed Grandfather whos shot glass plates was Exa then Exakta and he showed me the joys of photography.

My Exa, Exakta and early 50's 4x5 Graflex and 8x10 Burke and James are the only remaing film cameras gracing my life.

A fun article and run of articles.



Nice piece. I couldn't agree with you more.

I tell people that I realized I was a photographer, when I noticed that I liked the process of taking a photo as much, if not more than, actually seeing the finished product. I have thousands of photos that I've never spent much time looking at.

I also enjoy looking through a shoot, whether 5 or 500 images, and seeing the process of getting to the image that I finally thought was "it". (It's probably why I never erase my photos, and am stuck buying hard drives!)

"A little story..." Now there's a classic Johnston, the reason why we come and worship your site ;-)

"Me, I like to write about it."

Something you do well. And we, who check in for our daily fix, are so glad you do.

Very Nice!

Replace the word "photography" with 'life", edit a few details to match, and you have a great, succinct , down to earth, summary of much perennial philosophy.

I love this image; I could rest my eyes on it for a long time. The light is just beautiful, especially on the pleated bed skirt, and my favorite other detail is the cluster of lights (are those bare bulbs?) at the top. I also like the bright light flooding through the right-hand window--phooey on those who would have HDR'd it all to flatness.

The image is lovely, but the post is, too. It is a nice reminder that the most worthwhile goal in photography is simply to please one’s self, without worrying about emulating others or living up to someone else’s expectations. I love the wide variety of categories you listed for people's reasons to photograph—seemingly infinite niches to fill depending on one’s individual interests! Your comment about meeting people “wherever they are” is a sage piece of advice, and I wish more people adhered to it. I admit to having some fairly strong biases in the past toward certain types of photography or photographers. Thankfully, I think I’ve been able to rid myself of a lot of these biases; still working on others :-). A huge moment of epiphany was when I started collecting my favorite iPhoneography pictures from Flickr. (Actually, when I started, I was half trying to prove to myself that there wouldn’t even *be* any worthwhile images on Flickr, let alone iPhone images. I couldn’t have been more wrong.) This exercise turned my photography world upside down, and I realized how terribly narrow-minded my view of photography--and photographers--had been.

Anyway, I really enjoy these kinds of posts and images. Both are seemingly simple on the surface, with staying power and a certain profoundness beyond what might be seen at first glance. (And please post more pictures like this one, if you have them to share!)


P.S. I see on the news that there was a mass shooting in Brookfield—isn’t that only a few miles away from you in Waukesha County? I hope no one was killed, and I’m sorry there have been two recent incidents now so close to you. I know these things can and do happen anywhere, but it still must be unsettling when it's in your own back yard.

Nice anecdote Mike! (if that's the correct word). I'm sure we all enjoy hearing about your past exploits and endeavors and the message in your story is really good too.

Once we all accept that one of the biggest appeals of "Photography" is that there are so many - almost infinite - facets that a guy (or a gal) can pursue and pretty near spend a lifetime and not get it all in. It's helpful to hear from time to time, that there's not much to be gained from criticizing one another over whichever particular sub-sub-subset of photography we persanlly adhere to, or whatnot. At the end of the day, we're all here because photography makes us happy and who could possibly judge another on that point?

I think one of the reasons TOP is as successful as it is is due to your open minded acceptance of all stripes and types of photographic enthusiasts. There's something for everyone here, if not all at the same time, and TOP (and it's colorful Editor in Chief) is the kind of rare place that can bring us all together.

I've said it before and I'll say it again: I've been a loyal follower of TOP pretty much since, what? the Sunday Morning Photographer? (Sorry, I forget) and will continue so for as long as you care to keep bringing us all together on the common ground that is "The Online Photographer".

Thanks again Mike!

Both "c." and "ca." are accepted abbreviations for "circa."

The bedroom picture doesn't have anything to do with anything, but I was getting sick of posts with no pictures in them. Magazine people say "too much gray matter"--gray matter being expanses of unrelieved type.


I would love to have a print of that image.

I agree wholeheartedly with what you've written and envy the clarity with which you did so. Marvelous post.


I am a hobbyist photographer as well as a traditional hand tool woodworker, so that might help explain my rather odd question a bit better...

I love the desk that's featured in your photo for this post. I've been looking around for an Arts & Crafts era desk design for my daughter's room. I especially love the elegant proportions of the one featured here; it appears solid without looking clunky (the burden of most later arts & crafts-era pieces).

Would it be possible to get a cropped detail of the desk so I could work up a design from it?



Once again, thank you so very much for a wonderful post. I've always enjoyed reading your blog, even when I disagree with you or the poster-'o-the-day, and even when I don't get some of the material. But I have a good time, and the posts enhance my personal photo journey.

With best regards.


Beautifully put Mike.

My current direction in photography I owe in no small part to TOP. Here I discovered many artists for the first time and rediscovered many that I never really looked at properly. I bought quite a few books (through TOP links of course).

So it was a relief to find that my pre-existing fascination with the strangeness and impermanence of urban places turned out to be a perfectly valid subject for artistic expression, and one with a long and illustrious history from which to draw inspiration. I still spend my spare hours wandering the streets, absorbing the colors, curves, reflections and surfaces, but with a new sense of purpose and a clearer idea of what I want to achieve. Thanks Mike!

I don't promote my fascination as particularly special, nor do I regard it as more valid than other genres. What matters to me is that I do it well and that I keep learning. But it's nice when someone sees one of my prints and wants to buy it. It's also nice to find another Gursky fan :)

I know it's not everyone's cup of tea. That's perfectly fine too. I know other genres are much more popular and I certainly respect a lot of artists who do all kinds of different work. But what matters to me is that I have found a place to belong and a path to follow and that is an amazingly good feeling


Very nice piece (as usual), but whenever I see a bedroom image, I'm always reminded of either the room in which Lincoln died:


or Van Gogh's Bedroom in Arles:


Too much baggage on my part, I fear.

Do not light match and place near the ceiling fixture.

This room is illuminated by Mr. Edison's wonderful invention, electricty....

No fire, no smoke, simply the warm dull glow of 25 cycle illumination.

"It wasn't that they had never seen electric lights before—some of them had—but none of them had ever seen an electric light with the switch on the wall, way over by the door—pushbuttons, that operate with firm resistance and a crisp snap."

And where I live in brooklyn kids are fascinated by pushbutton light switches too , but because they are just so old. That and the gas lamps in front of some of the houses.

As the old saying goes, different strokes for different folks,it would be pretty boring if everyone used the same camera, same lens and the same subject matter for every single picture.

@ Bryce: "This room is illuminated by Mr. Edison's wonderful invention, electricity.... No fire, no smoke, simply the warm dull glow of 25 cycle illumination."

It was Nikola Tesla who invented the alternating current system for distributing electricity, not Mr. Edison. Of course, the house may well have had it's own generator im which case I can't guess at the voltage and whether it was AC or DC.

I spent a bit of time lighting museum displays and had an entertaining time finding ways of hiding skinny little fluorescent lights in the frames of glass casings, and converting rusted out paraffin lamps (we had loads of them) to electricity so that Victorian shop displays could be illuminated.

By the way, in England in the late 1930s "only about 50% of the houses are wired for electricity" So says my copy of Utilisation of Electrical Energy, by E. Openshaw Taylor, 1950, preface to the first edition of 1937.

"Butthole Surfers" - a band the name of which I've heard, but of whose oeuvre I remain gratefully ignorant - reminded me of a couple of things. I recall trying, unsuccessfully, to persuade someone to call their group "Steely Dan" (from "The Naked Lunch") some years before the first album by the great US group appeared although even now I imagine very few people know what it refers to. I was more successful in persuading a friend to name his jazz quartet "Priapism". The name lasted one, er, insertion, in the local newspaper before they were forced, reluctantly, to change it to something I have now forgotten.

As a retired practitioner of adult education in its multitude of forms, I congratulate you on your approach: "...everyone's different. Deal with the person who's in front of you and meet them wherever they are."

I too really like the picture. It is funny: I had just started writing this, stating how this bedroom reminds me of the Anne Of Green Gables books by LM Montgomery, which I enjoy immensely. Then I click on the picture and see the title: "Anne's Room". Come on! That's too much.

Montgomery really, really captured the early 20th century, and did it with color and warmth and humor.

"Suit yourself, and don't judge others."

"I'm interested in people who are interested in their work, and I enjoy helping enable those people if I can."

This could be a famous quote! Thank you very much for this.

A gem of a post. And illustrations needn't have had any link to the text c.1907 when photo illustrations were a novelty.

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