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Saturday, 21 June 2014


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"I have no idea about the revolver"

I believe you, since it's a semi-automatic pistol, not a revolver.

Was that un-ballistic enough for you?

[You got the joke. --Mike]

Dick Francis wrote one of his books about a horse racing photographer; Reflex. The plot rests in part on developing secrets hidden on pieces of film. A bit dated now but still a good read.

My take would be a some variant of the ubiquitous Beretta 92 for the handgun. Obviously it is not any revolver. I can see a profile consistent with the F3 but the 105 is less obvious to me. Certainly it is not an AIS, but the earlier AI is a possibility, although the ones that i've seen did not have the apparent step in the silhouette.

Not a revolver...a semiautomatic

The camera is a Nikon F4s, and the lens is "an ancient 50mm 1.4" according to Kirk. Here is his post about buying the camera. http://visualsciencelab.blogspot.com/2014/06/i-had-to-buy-camera-yesterday-to-use-as.html

Dude, that's not a revolver. It's a semi-auto pistol.

It ain't a revolver.

Re John Camp's comment - Actually, I think you'll find Dick Francis' main protagonists were also amateurs - in his case amateur jockeys, who did take part in a lot of jumps races in the UK, competing against professional jockeys. They could be identified on the form guide by the use of Mr. against their name.

I enjoyed the "revolver" and "balistic" jokes. Nothing beats the old one-two.

I was going to mention Dick Francis's Reflex, which I vaguely remember reading many years ago, but I see Martin beat me to it.

Looking forward to The Lisbon Portfolio coming out in paperback - I don't get on with e-readers.

Brief follow up on John Camp's remark about older British novels. E.C. Bentley's detective, Trent, was a newspaper reporter. And Michael Innes wrote a few detective novels featuring Charles Honeybath, a portrait painter. (BTW, "Honeybath" has to be close to the top of the list when it comes to funny last names.)

And one more fictional British detective from the first half of the last century: Gervase Fen, Oxford Professor of English Language and Literature, in a series of books by Edmund Crispin. And getting a little meta, Crispin was the pen name of Robert Bruce Montgomery, a composer when he wasn't writing crime novels.

Well, I've just read four chapters of the sample that Amazon kindly allowed me to download and have now given up, despite my considerable interest in both photography and Lisbon. Sorry Kirk.

Ask Jeff Goggin about the TAS writer. He used to work there.

Dick Francis wrote a mystery novel involving photography The title is Reflex and it is available from Amazon as a Kindle book http://www.amazon.com/Reflex-Berkley-Fiction-Dick-Francis/dp/0425206955/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1403395078&sr=8-1&keywords=Dick+Francis+Reflex I read it about ten years ago. If memory serves me ... he got the photography bits right.

I haven't read it yet. But I've got to say I really like the visual appeal of the cover! Well done.

Oh shoot!

I think Kirk is a pro, not a hobby-photographer. According to his previous books and his websites:




Anyway - I'm buying the kindle version right now.

I have endless admiration for anyone who can sit still in one place for long enough to write a proper book. It always seems unfair that authors then face an even harder task: to submit their manuscripts to countless publishers in the hope that one of them might accept the work, offer some sort of advance, and then do something to promote and market the book.

So I am a strong supporter of 'self publishing'. I love the idea that anyone can publish their own work electronically without having to prostrate themselves at the feet of traditional publishers. No rejection slips, no slush pile, no fuss.

But there is one valuable service that traditional publishers provide to authors. They employ literary editors who can assist with matters of style, grammar, structure, content ..................

My advice to any aspiring author would be this: employ an editor. At the very least get someone with editing skills to read the manuscript and comment. Freelance people abound, they are not expensive.

It's just like photography. It doesn't matter how good the scene is, or the photographer's vision, or how early he got up to catch the light, or the quality of the lens, or the file: if it's going to sing it needs to be printed by someone who knows what she's doing.

Anyone remember the 1960s (?) film 'Blow-up'? Set in London and about a young fashion photographer. After photographing in a park, he thinks he may have snapped a crime when he enlarges a smudge in an image and it turns out to be a gun poking out of the bushes. With David Hemming and Vanessa Redgrave.

I will give it a try for sure, after all the story takes place in my hometown!

Oh, geez. Now everyone is gonna go off with half-cocked puns.


-Neil Cla

One of the two Dick Francis novels I've read involved a photographer. It is "Reflex". I really enjoyed it.

Ian Rankin's Inspector Rebus (Scottish detective, wear a sweater when reading these books, you can feel the damp chill of Edinburgh in the writing) is an audiophile.

Who will be the first to find a novel about an audiophile photographer with a Scottish accent who is very short in stature?

Dear Mike,

John only gave you half the recipe for the secret sauce. Here's the other half (which I can't give an attribution for, because just about every pro I know of says the same thing)--

There are three steps:

1) Put the manuscript an envelope and send it off to your agent (or if you are not fortunate enough to have an agent, send it off to the first publisher on your list).

2) Do not think about that book any more. Do not rework it, do not revisit it, do not worry about your precious baby darling who is out in the world. It is not your precious baby darling, it is yesterday's news. Expunge it from your mind.

3) Sit down at your writing desk, and start on the next book.

Seriously. It is not entirely impossible that an author's first published book will make them so rich that they need not ever work again. It is not entirely impossible to retire on the winnings from buying state lottery tickets? The latter may be more probable.

I'll spare readers the arithmetic, but even a novel goes platinum, even if it gets picked up for a movie, it's very unlikely to bring in enough money that you won't have to work ever again. And damned few first novels go platinum and get picked up for movies, to begin with.

That's the whole secret. It's not just finishing the book. It's finishing the book, putting it out into the world and out of your mind, starting the next book, finishing that book, putting that one out into the world and out of your mind, starting the next book...

pax \ Ctein
[ Please excuse any word-salad. MacSpeech in training! ]
-- Ctein's Online Gallery http://ctein.com
-- Digital Restorations http://photo-repair.com

From Kirk's blog, the cover picture is:

" "Henry White" shooting with his Nikon and a 55 mm lens."

I'm just very happy to have finished it and gotten it out the door---Thanks Mike!

I've watched Blow Up as recently as this year (and first back in the film program at college). Great movie (directed by Michelangelo Antonioni, which means more to me than the actors he used).

Most people who want to write a novel never start one. Most people who start a novel never finish it. Most people who complete a novel never get one published.

As Dorothy Parker said, “If you have any young friends who aspire to become writers, the second greatest favor you can do them is to present them with copies of The Elements of Style. The first greatest, of course, is to shoot them now, while they’re happy.”

Robert Heinlein's rules for writers are somewhat more encouraging:

1. You must write.
2. You must finish what you write.
3. You must refrain from rewriting, except to editorial order.
4. You must put the work on the market.
5. You must keep the work on the market until it is sold.

(Only #3 is much argued with, and at least half of that is arguing about exactly what he meant.)

Note that he doesn't promise you'll succeed; he only promises that if you don't do those things, you'll fail.

I spent the weekend with many people who have published novels, including rather a lot that I have read and liked; and even more who have published short stories. For photographic content, I also did a quick head-shot for a local playwright who learned Friday that he needed it, and a friend delivered copies of his Kickstarter-funded photo book to the backers who were present (and the models in some of the photos).

I recall reading “The Exorcist” one night (back when it first came out – the early 70’s), and I just could not put it down. Page after page, tension mounting, my heart racing, I pushed through to the end. At about 3 AM!

“The Lisbon Portfolio” got to me the same way. I began reading on the plane from Philly to Dallas. (To about 20%, according to the Kindle reader app’s little gray note on each page.) We were visiting with some of my wife’s family, but there were periods when I had time to myself, so I’d open the Nexus tablet and plow on. All were amused by my periodic “percent complete” reports. I finished it by the end of the second day.

If you have followed Kirk Tuck’s Visual Science Lab blog for any length of time, you can get a sense of who the man is. And I think Kirk Tuck is “The Lisbon Portfolio” protagonist Henry White. But, Henry White is not Kirk Tuck, even though they both hail from Austin, Texas. Not unless Kirk has been keeping his NSA and CIA adventures a secret from us. Just today (Monday), Kirk describes his gig at the RLM Math Conference in Denver, and it could easily have been a passage out of the book, as Henry Smith describes how he plans to shoot the Global Data Systems (GDS) 4-day international conference in Lisbon. He even brings in references to his Leica cameras. (Hint: a film Leica plays a significant role in an exciting scene in the book.)

Having spent the last several decades in the Corporate IT world, I could relate to his depictions of the GDS annual sales conference, aka “the dog and pony show,” intended to entice current and would-be customers to take the chance on the next (buggy) software release. More interesting to me is the depiction of GDS itself, (which seems to conflate both IBM and Ross Perot’s EDS), as the kind of amoral and controlling transnational corporation ably portrayed in Kim Stanley Robinson’s epic “Red Mars,” “Green Mars,” “Blue Mars” trilogy. The minor notes also ring true; for example, GDS’s ability to remotely access the hardware it sells, and reconfigure it on the fly. I can attest that that’s not fiction.

This is one of those stories where I wish I had taken notes of each new character as the plotline moved forward. Good guys, bad guys (and gals), who they work for, or against, or both at the same time. And an increasing body count. The timeline jumps back and forth, with rapid scene changes typical of an action movie. The narrative flow reminds me of Tom Clancy’s “Red Storm Rising.”

Do I recommend it? You only get one guess. And remember to look up from the page every so often to catch your breath.

Good job, Kirk!

Blushing Thanks MIke!

This is a terrific book. Thanks Kirk.

As a former IT guy having endured many conferences, his jabs at corporate marketing extravaganzas are spot on.

His evocations of street shooting are a superb paen to the joys of photographing people being people.

The comments re the weapons on the cover are pretty much on target but the real hunt is inside.


"And the standalone senior point goes to: 'success comes to those who finish things....'"

I wholeheartedly agree.

In parallel one of my friends once had a realisation:
"You're either talk about things or you do them. Not both."
It's an interesting observation. I never found out exactly why, but you will notice that the person who talks a lot about say making a company, never get it done. And the person who *does* make a company usually suddenly turns up and has the company, he has not been talking about it.

Thanks Bob! I too have endured hundreds of corporate events and spent way too much time at the food service table trying to put together a dinner of meat balls in orange gravy and stuffed jalapeños. The best advice I've gotten about writing is to write what you know. And my swim coach in high school always said, "I don't care how crappy your swim race is as long as you touch the wall and finish!!!"

Thanks for reading!

Dear DDB,

I suppose that arguing about exactly what Heinlein meant by Rule 3 is a lot like arguing about what the Second Amendment means (inside joke)… But it seems pretty clear to me, given that Bob did rewrite extensively before submitting a manuscript (at least in his earlier work -- don't know about towards the end of his life). He was saying pretty much what I was citing in my second step: be done with it, don't keep revisiting it, don't try to second-guess yourself after the fact. Just get it out there. Resist the urge to revise unless someone wiser or more powerful than you (e.g., the editor) recommends it.

No doubt there are works that are exceptions to his rules and the steps I cited, but I'm inclined to think they are infrequent enough that they do not make good advice to the novice aspiring to become a successful fiction writer.

pax \ Ctein
[ Please excuse any word-salad. MacSpeech in training! ]
-- Ctein's Online Gallery http://ctein.com 
-- Digital Restorations http://photo-repair.com 

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