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Monday, 06 January 2014


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Mike, I'm 57 and it has only dawned on me recently that I am rapidly approaching curmudgeon status. It came as a surprise after decades as the "cool uncle." Still, it doesn't bother me too much. I'm still fighting the good fight. What bothers me is that if I don't get a few wins in here soon, that I may slip into depressed status.

Mike, for a brief moment I thought I'd send a comment to say I'm in complete agreement with your post … but somehow that just goes against the grain.

Curmudgeon's of the world, unite! (No, maybe better not…)

Thanks for today's post. I have been practicing patience in my processing now for most of the past yea. I believe it is paying off not only in savings of ink and paper, but it does contribute to better images.

Minus 18 degrees. Piffle. Many years ago, when I attended college in Minnesota, there were several mornings when the temperature was -30 degrees. Those were the days before global warming, when winters were really cold. Also, as a small child, I used to walk to and from school 5 miles uphill both ways.

We'll, I think you should embrace the cold. It's been fifteen below here with lots of snow, and I simply decided I'm going to enjoy it . Screw Florida, and their pansy-ass snowbirds. Let's see them in hurricane season ,crapping in their depends.
Now there's a curmudgeon.

"Everybody seems to want to shoot photos just like everyone else's. Why? What's the use?"

This is my biggest objection to the photographic "connectivity" that that Mod guy praised in the New Yorker. Apart from satisfying the mild interest of close friends, of what benefit is it for others to learn exactly where and when a photograph was taken, let alone to wade through links to endless trivia about the subject depicted? Eggleston's tricycle, Christenberry's roadside stands, Robert Adams' subdivisions; to believe that knowing the minutiae behind each of these subjects will somehow enhance one's own photography betrays a fundamental misunderstanding of how strong photographs are made.

To twist the emphasis of one automaker's former slogan, "Find your own road."

I use my OMD EM-1 on a regular basis at -20. Getting the extra battery grip helps the battery life. I usually set up my camera before I head out, but I use the super control panel if I need to make changes. I disable touch control. It works well. I am satisfied with the camera. I use the 12-40mm lens. I have mittens that I wear around my neck, with an old camera strap. I use hand warmers in the mittens. When I take a photograph I do not wear gloves, I just take my hands out of the mittens, when I am done I just put my hands back in the mittens with the chemical hand warmers. Gloves do not keep my hands warm, but mittens do. I have a series of different clothes for different temperatures. I live in Fairbanks Alaska.

"Connectedness" seems to me to enable, if not encourage, frivolous photo practices -- selfies, burst mode shooting, mostly designed for instant gratification at some social site. And there's no need to learn skills since some app will do something or other to your pictures that substitutes for creativity.

We've heard the notion that all those pictures moved to the internet will be there for posterity, though that's a mistaken notion. I've dealt with the loss of photos I stored on 2 photo sites that have folded. Probably a good thing.

I've also noticed that the half-life of artful photographs posted for comments is only a few days and then comments die away -- gotta keep moving to stay up with all the imagery. It seems we've found a way to trivialize whatever art there is in photography.

Whatever happened to the darkroom you were working on, Mike?

I say only only half of it is on the defensive line. The whole offense was just not as good as advertised with King Aaron back.

Given your curmudgeonly outlook today, you'll love Canon's new PowerShot N100 "Story Camera" that can take a picture of the picture taker at the moment of shutter release and put it in a corner of the picture taken. See http://www.dpreview.com/news/2014/01/06/canon-shows-off-new-powershot-n100-story-camera?utm_campaign=internal-link&utm_source=news-list&utm_medium=text&ref=title_0_0 for all the details

First- As a Niner fan, and given the Niner's history in cold weather games, I half expected them to lose. So when I found out they'd won it wasn't so much joy as it was relief. And I think ALOT of Niner fans felt the same way. But it does appear to have been a good game. too bad there had tone a winner or loser.
Secondly- I agree with your thoughts about all the Garbage out there(photographic garbage that is). So I always try to remember something I heard Jay Maisel say in an interview with Michael Reichmann ,….If your not your own severest critic, your your own worst enemy.

As a long time computer dork (been doing it since junior high school in the 70s) what I'll never understand about the reaction of "normals" (if you will) to the technology is the extent to which they are incapable of ignoring it.

This thought usually comes into my brain when I read another breathless piece in some magazine of newspaper about some writer who just finds it impossible to work with the constant distraction of the Internet around. Why, how can you get anything done with all those emails showing up all the time? Well, you can ignore them.

Just because you shoot a picture with an iPhone and spend some idle moments tweaking it with an editor on the iPhone and maybe even show it to a few of your best friends from twitter from the iPhone doesn't mean:

1. You must deal with *every* picture this way


2. The existence of the network must compel you to share pictures that you might think are in retrospect marginal without a due course of editing.

It is no harder to wait to show a digital picture that it is to be forced to wait to show a film picture. If we want to be forced to wait, why not have everyone go back to wet plates? Then you have to wait a LONG time. I see no inherent advantage to forced waiting.

Of course, here I am replying to the Internet when I should be doing something else. But oh well.

[Okay, that made me laugh. --Mike]

Quite right, Mike—let's stop the tsunami of garbage imagery!

I've done my part by not uploading any new photos to Flickr since August 2008. Do I get an Honorary Curmudgeon badge or something?

Oh dear. It was only a football game, Mike. And a pretty entertaining one at that!

Get out there and feel the cold for a few minutes. (That camera's displays will freeze pretty quickly.) Look at the majesty of winter just 90 miles south of you! I guarantee that a little frozen nose hair will do wonders to chill your disappointment!

Chicago's Adler Planetarium floating in a steaming Lake Michigan, temperature: -15F.
January 6, 2014

[Hey, no fair, you took that from your balcony! [g] --Mike]

"two-year-olds who're proud of their poop" and "when you're over that first flush"

That was a great combination, whether intentional, or subconscious.

When Andy Rooney passed away, one of the networks initially called him a "crudmudgeon" (they later corrected the spelling). Maybe that's an appropriate name for those of us upset about the current state of photography. So many seem to want to document their existence with stuff that should not exist longer than a nano-second. I wouldn't go as far as Gary Winogrand in waiting to even develop my film, but I do at least wait till I have a print in hand before sharing with others.

Mike, forgive me for saying this but I think bad temper brings out the best of you.
Sharp, accurate insights in this one. How true!

"The proper response to the image tsunami is to show less of your work, not more of it. In my opinion we should all become far more critical editors of our own work. We should take more time between taking and showing, not less."

Hear, hear.

Lately, I've been thinking to myself, that if René Descartes had been alive today, he would likely have coined the phrase "I share, therefore I am".

It seems that you're willing to accept 'connectedness' on a photographers terms. Maybe in time, you'll accept photography on connected terms :)
I'm not there yet, either, but acknowledge that it's not "us" ... readers of your blog and other enthusiasts ... behind the wheel. I'm not even in the passenger seat or a back seat driver, for that matter. I'm the stowaway in the trunk. Let me out when we get there.
All the stuff about sitting on your photos to be sure they're suitable for sharing doesn't pertain to the vast majority of pictures being shared, because they're not meant to last. Immediacy is more important than longevity. And if you're not in constant communication, you'll be forgotten. Photographers who share less might as well still be in that invisible world of prints you talked about recently.

@ Mike: "We should take more time between taking and showing, not less", and "Everybody seems to want to shoot photos just like everyone else's. Why? What's the use?"

Absolutely spot on, Mike. I couldn't agree more.

Dear Mike, that was a hard loss to swallow. I never expected the Packers to give such a good fight after all the injuries they suffered through the season (and also in that game). For a moment I though they could win it. Once again, Kaepernick won with his legs, something that really irritates me in a quarterback.

[It only irritates me because there's only one surer path to injury than being a quarterback, and that's to be a running quarterback. --Mike]

A lot to... connect to there!

As 'legit' cameras get increasingly connected, the pace will only quicken, the torrent will only increase. More online photos each and every day, more self published books we never get to see (some quite excellent), a lot of good work crowded out and drowned by the plethora of mediocrity released upon us with every new day...

Question is- do we reach a point of satiation where a critical mass agree it's time to slow down this speeding train wreck? It's impossible to know where we're headed right now because we no longer have time to study and reflect on what we already have (from the day before). Fifteen seconds of fame is starting to sound like a lifetime's career.

I use mittens with my EM-1 like Stephen above, and also use the grip (for gripping mostly since I leave the battery out of the body and keep batteries warm inside my jacket). I found I can use the shutter button, and if I'm careful, adjust exp.comp without taking them off. Otherwise I have some thin internal gloves to help with more complex adjustments. The EM-1 with gloves is not like using a large dslr with widely spaced buttons, but it works.

Hi Mike,
It's been wet and windy here in the UK (my coat is currently in the tumble-dryer and boots in front the fire), so a bit of calm and cold would be a nice change.
This pic is of a disused bridge (bypassed by both river and road), and normally has a few homeless persons' tents under it as it's warm and dry; but not this winter.

stay warm.
best wishes phil

"The Packers lost yesterday, essentially because our defensive line doesn't understand the definition of the word containment."

Oh good, my son will be in a good mood.

I have not followed football for many years, but recall how it works. Your comment seems to me mean-spirited.

Is it not more likely that "your" Packers' defensive line understood their job perfectly well, but, on that day, in that place, were simply less capable than the opposing offensive line?

One might even say that your comment is curmudgeonly.

I agree with much you say about the curmudgeon. But you leave out one thing, an important one to me. Whatever the causes, curmudgeonliness is essentially mean-spirited. It works to spread the curmudgeon's own sour view of the world, justified, to him/herself, or not, onto innocents.

In my youth, I expected, based in part on the curmudgeonly behavior of some old folks around me, and a general cultural set of expectations, to be unwell and unhappy in old age. So I looked forward to curmudgeonhood; fighting back, as you put it. I clearly recall doing sums in my head, and figuring any life after the turn of the century would be crap.

As I rapidly approach the end of my 70th. year, I find instead that I am healthy, happy and far more interested in expressing compassion in my own thoughts and deeds and encouraging others to do likewise.

That seems to me both a more useful and more enjoyable way to spend my later years than contributing to the already great supply of meanness in the world.

Might the discovery of love and compassion earlier in my life have something to do with the way I can enjoy it now? Might spreading love and compassion to others help them to avoid or start to abandon being curmudgeons?

I wish a healthy, happy year full of compassion to all.


Curmudgeonly reading (from Amazon, of course):



Maybe it's the cold weather, maybe you're just plain angry today, or at least annoyed, but gee, Mike, you're hot today. (Or, by now, yesterday).

Anyway, your writing is spot on.

Hey, I'm still planning to scan colour film shots from years ago for a yet-to-be website I'm thinking about.

I started a blog a few years ago where I challenged myself to 'shoot, edit, post, and write about a photo everyday'. I never quite kept up but I came close. Looking back is there a lot of garbage? Yes. Am I a way better photographer because of it? Yes.

[But that, I think, is admirable. I'd never slag anyone for learning. Or working hard. Or trying hard.... --Mike]

Some random thoughts occasioned by this column. What difference does it make what others do with their images. If they want to post 100 pictures of their cat eating pizza on Flitter who cares, it doesn't hurt me as long as I'm not forced to look at them. Personally I regularly post a few pictures on 500px and enjoy that hundreds of people actually have viewed them. It is better than the old days when next to nobody saw them. It is simply encouraging and gets me out in bad weather to get a few good pictures, though.not this past weekend, I whimped out too. By the way the last picture I posted took 40 years to get from darkroom to scanner to iPad and the files of the NSA.

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