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Sunday, 13 July 2014


I'm with Tom Wood:

“The important thing is not to have an aim, I just go out the door and, whatever’s real, I try and deal with that.”


I approach things with a concept wholly in mind. I feel I work far better in a more considered and methodical way than I ever could just going out for the sake of it.

As such I'm always a little in awe of street photographers and to a certain extent documentary photographers who are make excellent candid shots.

If just a bit more of the moon was visible . . then, I think, you would have "nailed" it!

I predict that you'll like this even more in a few weeks. I like it a lot.


Alas, it was overcast when I went out last night, so I didn't come home with any photos of consequence. 8^(

Interestingly, though, I did compose a photo somewhat similar to yours with a nearly full moon back in March ... great minds think alike or fools never differ?

" Right now I'm in that "look what I just made!" phase, where you're pleased with what you did and want to show it around for approval." That pretty much sums up 90% of my internet related activities.

At least you weren't mooned!

Personally, I like it!

Go Germany!! Actually I would be happy either way as long as it's a good game.

Having explored the beejeebers out of North Central Illinois these last dozen or so years, I have a fair idea which location within a two hour drive might be good for any day's conditions. Occasionally things work out as expected, but more often than not, I wind up working with what's available.

It's good either way, of course, but having things turn out as expected serves up a fair dollop of smugness to the result.

I think you need to sell your digital cameras. The cost of shooting film should be able to sober your critical abilities up quite fast.
Best regards

Do you tend to approach things based on your ideas of what you want, willing to work until you get it, or are you more likely just to go with whatever you find and make the best of it?

This has me confused. I use a prime lens (a 20mm Panasonic on an E-M5 for what it's worth) because I want a certain look for my photos. Can I make the photo work with that lens? Great! Can I not make it work? No damage done.

This seems to put me in the first camp, but at the same time it feels like I'm a "go with whatever you find and make the best of it" sort of photographer. Maybe these two stances aren't mutually exclusive?

Mike, I dig this picture. It has a wonderful geometry. By just showing a bit of the moon you make it more mysterious.

I like alternate takes on the moon. Seems like every full moon brings yet more perfectly nice shots of the full moon - zzzzzzzzzzz

I've been living with this one for a few weeks now.

I'm starting to think I may prefer this simpler crop.

Loony Moose

Nothing to howl at unless you're a weirdwolf.

I'm with you. See what works. Problem is that most of the time I'm not happy for quite a while, which is a problem now that I'm running a blog and need to post pictures before I'm at ease with what I got.

Nikon D800?

[Sony A900. The Nikon now lives and works in Hawaii. --Mike]

I also "take a picture" rather than "make a picture" - these seem to be our two main groups. The makers are definitely more art-oriented, organized, and energetic and probably deserving of praise$$ but I can't speak to that...

Maybe I'm only taking snapshots, but I refuse to feel artistically inferior because I like to find accidental/unrecognized art in reality. A junkyard is a gallery to me - at an art sale this weekend I saw a vendor selling only huge prints of (TOTALLY saturated) rusty metal - $400 and up. I should have talked to her, but it rained...

I have done image manipulation (Photoshop since V2, LR now) and it's just too easy to produce great art - in hundreds of versions and after weeks of sitting in a dark room. I will probably go that path after I can't beat my way into the bush anymore, but until then I want to collect original images from the master copies in nature (or whatever).

This is primarily an excuse to be lazy about my image-making. BUT however you produce an image, the most critical photographic skill is editing.

The amount and cost of your work to create an image has no positive effect in the impact and value of the image - it can only be neutral or worse. Sorry

If you are concerned about what others think of your work, only show the good stuff. Only the photographers (hungry ones) will ask how you did it - those who appreciate art will be far more concerned about the story behind the image.

When it's just for me I try to stay well in the second group. I figured out many years ago that I have only a limited number of photo concepts, and most of them fall well into the cliche class. When I fail the worst is the times I try to force a scene to fit a preconception. I'm much better off to go out with a vague idea (or no idea at all) and try to really look at what the world puts in front of me. That way I'm at least a little less likely to come back with something that looks just like what everybody else is doing.

Things change a little when others are depending on me for photos, even if it's just a friend who wants a photo of a new outfit. Having learned about CYA back in my commercial photography days, for these I go out with a plan - something I'm 99% sure I can get. The trick for me here is to not get so caught up in the plan that I don't see better opportunities if life presents them. And for me life very often does present something better, more exciting, or at least less predictable that what I came up with beforehand.

I'm very much of the "walk out the front door and see what comes along" type - mold the clay you're given.

Typically I work at my best with a single prime and no other fripperies, which was a revelation a long time in the making. And I can typically tell when I'm 'on' and when I'm not. When it's clicking, there's just that extra sharpness of thought and I typically end up humming some recently heard tune to myself as I wander.

Interestingly though, I'm in the midst of shooting a new project with a neighbour, which has me out and about at night. I've been noting potentially interesting shots when out during the day and returning at night. I've found that the shot I've gone out to get is rarely the best of the bunch, but it does give me at least a starting point to branch out from. Maybe this is an intermediate point between the two? Setting out with an idea, but then going with the flow and ending up somewhere else in the end.

I take what I can get. I primarily document my life, so I'm always on location. If I see something interesting I figure I can punch up a way to frame it on the spot. It's part of the fun. Sometimes I go out with a tripod and a plan and really try to slow down and take a different approach. It usually ends up with me ditching the tripod behind a tree after fifteen minutes and wondering off.

Mike, I don't really follow volleyball, or whatever sprot they were playing, but Modern Farmer magazine wrote an article on the grass involved. It added to my appreciation of the telecasts. http://modernfarmer.com/2014/07/word-cup-2014-brazil-grass/


Congratulations Germany!

Well done, Brazil.

Damn. I'm so mixed up. I go back and forth. There is a series I am working on, that I have been back to the site again and again over the last couple years. Then again, a lot of what I do end up getting is on-the-spot, reaction to the raw material there in front of me. Sometimes it works, sometimes it does not.

The NY Times had a recent article about whether life is more like baseball (individual effort) or soccer (team effort). Interesting... I see a lot of similarity in these sports: a lot of nothing happening, interspersed with random, unpredictable and excruciatingly brief moments of excitement.

If you play or have played or have children that play soccer or any experience of soccer than you would have appreciated the game today. Your heart didn't plead with Messi to get a miraculous goal from the direct kick in the minute after the penalty time of additional time was over?
Let me explain by analogy-- your inability to see the excitement in today's game is similar to a persons inability to see the art in a B&W photo when they know colour is available.
(Like all analogies, this one is imperfect.)

Hurry, now that you got that over, there's only two weeks left of... Le Tour!

Having grown up in America I know a reasonable amount about football, basketball, and baseball and they all bore me. Dedicating more brain space to yet another diddle-about-with-a-leather-ball activity seems to me like a waste of more brain space.

The moon picture is vaguely interesting, one of those shots that I want to like more but can't quite. As someone else noted, a bit more moon would help.

You've captured the essence of football. Most over-hyped, over-paid and ultimately boring sporting spectacle imaginable. A game ruined by money and precious over-acting mummy's boys

So that was the World Cup Mike. Dare I suggest you try the Tour de France next?

I think you are missing the proper context to enjoy the football match. Anybody tuning in for the first time to *any* sport including the usual 'slow' suspects of cricket, baseball, golf and even 'action packed' sports such as the NFL would surely be bored and have no idea what is going on. And the average NFL game runs far longer than that final did!

I'm only an occasional football watcher, but I was engrossed by the final. The 7-1 semi-final win by Germany over Brazil may have been more to your taste, but in fact was a terrible game and disappointing viewing to anyone hoping for a 'good game'.

Fair enough to give your opinion on your own blog, of course. But most people would take any number of hours of football over having to suffer through a pool match on TV!

["Suffer through" Oh my...heresy! [g] I'll have you know that pool is a big-time sport. The #10 highest money winner in 2014 worldwide, Germany's Ralf Souquet, has earned $32,000 so far this year, and the #1 man on the money list has *almost* cracked $100,000. But not quite. How much do those kickball players of yours get paid? As much as that? What, maybe a little more? --Mike]

I'd hate to see what you'd have to say if you watched a 5 day cricket test. Especially if it ended in a draw.

I was curious about the fascination the rest of the world has for this great sport

Not all of the rest of the world!

A thoroughly enjoyable update, Mike.

the extra time in
soccer is analagous
to snow days in june

Judging from your comments on the football, maybe test cricket would be more your thing.

The games can take up to five (5) days and often end in a draw.

Now you've sampled soccer, it's time for cricket.

Not the helter-skelter of a one day match, or twenty-twenty which is over and done with in two or three hours tops, the real thing. A five day test match, preferably rain affected so there is nothing happening (no players on the field, even) for hours (or maybe days) and the result is a drawn match in front of a crowd of dozens. Now that's a sport worth watching.

Always fun watching a bunch of American sailors, in a bar, on shore leave, in summer in Australia trying to work out what the hell this game on the TV is all about!
And, no, you can't change the channel!

It needs to be said, Mike. Even though I watch soccer only once every four years for the World Cup (and the Dutch), I get it and I'm utterly bored by the American sports, such as baseball, football and basketball. Especially football: they play five seconds and then it's a break. And while they're dressed like the transformers, they still complain more about injuries than rugby or soccer players. On top of that, these guys make even more than those soccer players. I don't get that. So, to each his own.

I sympathise with you, Mike. I'm a football fan (that's "soccer's" real name, btw. It was going long before American football which therefore requires the extra word) and I found the first 60 mins pretty dull. In fact, I fell asleep just before half time. It was unfortunate but understandable you chose the final for your first viewing.

Your disinterest is just your cultural bias and ignorance (of the sport) kicking in. I suffer in exactly the same way when it comes to American football, basketball and baseball and I'm a sports fanatic. I can just about watch ice hockey. And cricket? Any activity that breaks for "tea" should be considered a game rather than a sport.

The interesting question in this debate is why practically every nation on earth loves football with the exception of the US and Canada. And, like David in Sydney, I also find it comical that the US has to apply the words Word Series to American football to give the illusion that it is a global sport when, in world terms, it's very much a minority sport.

Sarge said:
Congratulations Germany!
Well done, Brazil.
Surely, you meant "Well done, Argentina" ?

[What, your mean for not scoring a point, and losing? I assumed he meant Brazil as the host nation, no?

But then, maybe losing was doing well? As we've established, I know nothing about, er, un-American football. I was sorely mystified by the fact that, earlier, the U.S. team LOST to Germany... and moved on in the tournament, that loss having apparently been of a good kind, not like the usual kind. --Mike]

That's the best description of a soccer game I've read in a long time. My mind boggles as to why this game is so popular.

Try a cricket test match...
a truly "World Series" - India, Australia, UK.

3 days of not much happening.

I'll work at an image - different angles compositions etc - but knowing when to stop, that you either have something or you don't, that taking another ten photographs won't make a difference, is important for me.
Especially as I find it really difficult to edit down large numbers of very similar images.
Really I should just go with the one that jumps out, but there's always that nagging voice, "perhaps you're missing something in this image, it has it's merits ... times 10"

Sometimes I need to work at a shot because my first composition is lazy, just a record, but then overworking a shot makes it boring; a looser image allows in beneficial chance elements.

Anyway this is a fun record shot of my former neighbours - a strange pair of troglodytes - having a valedictory bonfire in moonlight (burning their bed).
And one I worked at but in the end none of the shots quite had it - moonrise from the stairs - translating a glimpse into a photograph is difficult.
And now impossible because I cut that tree branch off yesterday.

I meant to add, with regard to photographers' patience, Colin Westerbeck said in 'A Tale of Two Cities' that Yasuhiro Ishimoto "spotted some crucifixes in a window whose mullions cast a cross shaped shadow, he returned a week later with a 4x5 in. camera. But he found that the light had shifted. Dissatisfied [...] he waited until the same season a year later to get the picture.":

Hi Mike,

I'm a (British) football fan, and I thought your commentary was very funny indeed.

As a general sports fan (I enjoy watching most, and have even put on pads and played that funny type of rugby you North Americans play), I feel football is the mirror image of basketball.

In basketball it's ludicrously easy to score, so the act itself inspires no tension, simply the amazement at the athleticism of the players. You could ignore most of the match and cut straight to the last 5 minutes for the tension. (I like watching basketball too).

The whole point of football is the difficulty of scoring and the effort required and tension which builds as a result.

Like basketball, there is the dynamism and athleticism of the players and the tactics and occasional absurd individual skill required to break down defensive systems.

The skill of Mario Goetze in controlling the ball on the run on his chest, to volley the ball immediately, was sublime and a worthy World Cup winning goal. Enhanced by the 100 plus minutes of fruitless effort which had gone before.

As for the diving and rolling around, that's them filthy furriners, we good honest English yeomen don't allow any of that over here :-)


Have to laugh on your soccer (futbol) report. On the comedian Jimmy Kimmel's show for the length of the World Cup, they've had the "World Cup Play of the Day" , and they just cut to a scene of the teams kicking the ball back and forth, and nothing really happening. Funny every time!

My Dad's family was from Eastern Europe, altho he was born in America, and he always said soccer was practiced around the world because you didn't have to own anything to do it, you just had to scare up a ball. No gloves, no bats, no hoops, no La Crosse wickets, hockey sticks, etc. The perfect sport for countries that had nothing. Just saying...

when I moved to Chicago in the freezing month of January 2003, I arrived with my usual luggage of preconceived notions of baseball being slow and mindlessly boring. Then the Cubs went on to almost making it to the World (ok, ok) Series, my colleagues went abonk and they taught me a thing of two about the game. Wow, I found out that baseball can be exciting! and I even learnt to love it when broadcast on radio during my commutes towards (not quite to) Wisconsin, your home State.
I promise you, footbal (ok, soccer) can be boring and freakingly imprecise, but it can also be absurdly exciting and athletically artistic. The very fact that Argentina could have won, if only (fill at pleasure), tells you why it is impossible not to be on the edge of your seats for 90, possibly 120, minutes.
Give it a second try, come on. Next year. Watch the European Champions Cup final. You won't regret a moment of carefree distraction...

Very funny piece on World Cup final Mike,I have taken a cursory interest in the game most of my adult life,at it's best it can be a great spectacle,this was not a great game except for those who are either truly dedicated fans or supporters of Germany or Argentina.
Like you Mike I was relieved when someone scored,didn't matter who I just wanted it to end and not be decided by penalty shoot out.

I can imagine a similar article posted by a European after watching his first ever World Series baseball finale that ends 1-0 in 13 innings. Only that would have been a 5 hour experience, not a 2 hour one…assuming no rain delays.

Mike you have visited a great calumny upon the most important sport in the world.

I loved it. And my kids played soccer. And the scrums the 6 year olds form at various points of the field mirror those you describe.

Nature Lover

Thanks for not trying to explain the soccer offside rule or its rationale.

I'm glad you took the photograph, Mike, and glad you watched the World Cup final match. Both are worthy examples of their type. Both gave rise to some fine writing. Everything was shared generously within this community.

All in all, a fine* Sunday; may we all have many more that are as good!

*Even for some of us who were cheering for Argentina — oh that goal was a beauty! Like a full moon half-hidden behind the edge of a roof: the right shot can justify a long time spent seeking it.


First let me say that I'm no soccer fan either but I live in country where almost all are, i.e. to have a conversation with 98% of males you should know how to not say stupid things about soccer to be accepted in the society. So I learned the basics.

Soccer is kind of the opposite of Poker: in Poker is mostly luck, average people think it's only luck but if you know how not to make mistakes you can have an edge; soccer looks like is only sport, but because of the low scoring (1-0, 2-1, 4-0 is a massacre), luck plays an important role.
Americans love Poker - classified as luck game - but not soccer - probably because is "wrongly" classified as sport-only game.

But having a sport that is ruled more than average by luck has its good things and is (probably) the reason it has so many fans: many times, i.e. more than any average sport, the supposed best team loses and this is not bad - it is a more balanced sport.
At the end the confidence of a team, the strategy and the ability to put that in place plays a bigger role. More than in most sports.
It also can drive you nuts - some teams play not to win, typically on national championships. Boring is a common word on those games and I refuse to watch them - yesterday was like that.

I watch a game now an then mostly on cups. In the world cup teams play to win and that makes a difference.
Another reason is that in some championships (Africa and south America) they play more to win than, say, in Italian league. So their national teams have a different or no strategy and games are real games.

But on the final they played not to loose and it showed. These games are better when one team score at the beginning so it "opens the game" and teams show more their will to win: the losing team has to advance in the field or loses the game and the wining team takes the opportunities a more advanced in the field (loosing) team creates (defense is more advanced and can make mistakes).

If you had watched Brazil-Germany (1-7) you had the opportunity to see a completely game (and very rare for world cup): Brazil's strategy was none and they wanted to score not matter what so they were not a "team" and it showed by suffering 5 goals in 29 minutes (a world cup record), 4 in 7 minutes (another world cup record). That one was fun. Even you should have liked (try to watch it when you are bored, ate least the first half - 45 minutes - you will notice that after the 30 minutes Germany slowed down it was too much already to the host team).

If you see the world cup results you will see that games like final were the exception (for world cup - I'll come to this later).

So soccer for non soccer fans can be entertaining, but you have to pick you matches right: world cup but not the final, English premier league (very famous), Spanish league (less).

In some national premier league, teams play not to loose and that is boring even for soccer fans. And I'm not.


Same goes for ice hockey in my mind.

I share your opinion of soccer. But I couldn't help noticing that you could change a very few words in your account and it could pass for a description of a baseball game. Of course, I'm not much of a baseball fan either.

As to methods of shooting...I work outdoors most of the time and have learned to work with what nature provides rather than anything I had in mind. I call it the judo method, as opposed to a karate method. Or, to abuse Zen, "Playing ball on running water." I also often say that there is no good light or bad light. Only easy light and challenging light.

[Ach, you've reminded me that I meant to adapt to soccer an old joke about baseball, which is that it's "twenty minutes of action crammed into three hours." --Mike]

Worry not Mike, Football (as it is called, by the majority of people in the world) is played by the ballet dancers of the sporting world - easily broken, highly strung and overpaid. Football didn't used to be like that, it was destroyed by the TV money. Next year though a proper 'World Cup' takes place, the game that your own 'football' tries in vain to emulate...Rugby http://www.rugbyworldcup.com/

Here is a humorous take on Soccer vs Rugby.

Although now I am worried you may make similar disparaging remarks about it too. :)

That's one way to get your kicks.

Photography is like football (soccer) in some ways. You could spend the whole day shooting and come up with nothing, sometimes you have a couple of keepers, and maybe some near-misses.

An interesting picture, but hard to tell on a screen exactly how it looks at a decent size with full tonal range and contrast. It could easily make or break it for me. Always a problem when reviewing images online, especially low key ones.

As for my personal style, I'm more of the "pick your spot in the big top and wait for the clowns" type. I seldom have more than a vague plan, but pick a backdrop and wait for someone to walk into it. Sometimes I get lucky. Mostly I don't. Sometimes I just go on scouting trips for good backdrops and that can produce some nice urban landscapes when the actors are not performing.

Football? Watch any sport when you have no stake in the outcome and it's easy to dismiss the actual game as pointless, because they are are.

Team sports are part of a wider cultural landscape, and get into the blood at a young age. They connect fathers and sons, friends and neighbours. What is unique about football is its accessibility. Any even number of players who can find a ball, some space and something to mark out a goalpost with can have a game. From street kids in Mexico to nomadic farmers in the Sudan, it is played everywhere and every town and city has a team (or two). Even the rules are simple (apart from offside).

However, the world cup is not the place to see a good game. Cobbled together national teams who hardly ever play together, and stagger under the weight of their nation's expectations, are not likely to take risks or be creative. A good mid-division club game is usually far more entertaining, and brutal.

But like all national sports (and NFL football, baseball, basketball and ice hockey are no different) the game itself is less important than the proxy roller-coaster of victory and defeat, whether you are associated through college, town or country. When you have no personal stake in the outcome, it's very easy to dismiss any team sport (especially field sports) as utterly pointless. They are.

As an anthropological phenomenon they are far more interesting, and the only thing all men in a bar can be expert at, or openly cry about without shame.

I enjoyed the humorous soccer write-up - not a rant at all. In fact, it had a bit of a Mark Twain feel to it - so if that is what you were after, mission accomplished, as far as I'm concerned.

[[ It was intended to be humorous. ]]

A goal well planned and scored. 1 point. ;)

I'm not an Association Football (to give it it's real name, not Soccer)fan any more but for people used to higher scoring games who wonder how anyone can watch match after match with hardly any goals, it's not intrinsic in the game (watch junior games, they often end up with cricket scores).

Years ago is was normal for scores like 6-4 (or even 1 -7). What has happened over the years is that players have become very professional, very fit and very, very organised. The defensive side of the game has developed much more successfully than the attack side. Against a top side it is almost impossible to score, it takes either an act of sublime skill or sheer luck to fashion a chance at goal. And, generally, important games like the world cup final are cagey, tense affairs with teams unwillingly to take big risks in attack for fear of leaving themselves open to counter attack.

These days I'm a rugby union fan (also called rugby football even though the ball is mostly carried) and in rugby the better team is usually more honestly reflected on the scoreboard. In football it is not uncommon for one team to dominate during the match but fail to score and for the result to be decided by a single piece of luck or skill that leads to the winning goal. I prefer the rugby way (which I presume is also the American football way) but many people consider the thrills of the lottery that is part of football football to be what makes it an exciting game....

It's not soccer: it's football! The clue is in the title. It's a sport where the foot (ocassionally the head) is used to move the ball. American football was invented an age after football. Why anyone would invent a game that involves moving the ball by hand and then give it the same name as an existing sport where the ball is moved by foot is beyond me.

"Soccer" appears to have been coined around the same time as "football" but throughout the world the game is almost universally known as "football" with the appropriate translation, eg fussball. "Soccer" is now mainly used by Americans to distinguish football from American football. Why couldn't you guys have just given American football a different, more appropriate name, such as handball? I'm pretty sure - could be wrong - that American football is older than the game we now call handball. At least that would have made some sense whereas football is largely oxymoronic for the game played in the US.

Your brilliant description of soccer reminded me of a classic bit of humor by Andy Griffith on the subject of football. He recorded a comedy album (I know you are familiar with albums) back in the day when we communicated with smoke signals instead of cell phones and it was called "What it was was football." It may be available on the internet. The story is a country boy accidently attends a football game and describes his experience.

[Here it is! --Mike]


How about some moonglow to open up the clouds a little?

I take things as they happen and make from that. When I shoot in the studio, I am a bit more focused since it appears to be more work for me (I have never understood that).

I am a baseball fan, so no knowledge about soccer from me, although my cousins are fans and reading their current Facebook postings is a little bi-polar like. I have one set of cousins that grew-up in Los Angeles with an Argentinian mother, and another set of cousins that grew-up in Norway with a Norwegian mother, and they share the same father, my uncle. They appear to play nice, but if I read one more "Don't Cry For Me Argentina" posting, I am going to point them to your commentary for an uplifting and hopefully humorous therapeutic experience. Thank you, I needed that!

Wassamadda Yank!?! Not enough stats for ya?

Baseball games sometimes run as long as six or seven hours and 20
plus innings. I remember one mets game that I believe ended at about 4 am. Really the unpredictable nature of baseball is the only thing I find interesting about it, the uncertainty of a game that can last anywhere from 1 to 7 hours.

Mike, I could not agree more about soccer. Like others however, I must gently chide you and say "pot/ kettle". Were you to break down any football code you could make a case not too dissimilar to the one you make about soccer. NFL immediately springs to mind. As a Rugby Union tragic I can but encourage you to give it a try when you have an idle 90 minutes or so - maybe start here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rDfkCftBurQ. As a bonus, you'll get to see the NZ team do the Haka.

They say people who live in glass houses shouldn't throw stones. Mike, have you ever consider just how bizarre the Super Bowl is to non-Americans? I had the misfortune of being invited to a Super Bowl party in 2002. There was so much jingoistic imagery one might have thought that an aircraft carrier was parked on the playing field. And the damn broadcast took forever. The recent World Cup final was a model of restraint and brevity in comparison. To each his own I guess.

[Here's the thing, guys. I know I'm an American, but I actually have no control over what "Americans" collectively do. I'm not even consulted, if you can believe that. I have no veto power over anything. The Super Bowl was not my idea and I'm not in charge of any part of it (think of it though--the New York Philharmonic playing Beethoven overtures as the halftime show!!! That would be AWESOME. Oh, and the flyover would be a blimp painted with hippie flowers. Maybe I should do a column someday about all the things that would change if I WERE in charge of America. That would be entertaining. Bizarre, but entertaining.).

So, really, to assume that critiquing the World Cup Final is the equivalent of defending American practices in any area is a non sequitur. Now, if I were actually in CHARGE of America, I admit you'd have a great point.... --Mike]

Hours of physical effort, endless attempts through a crowded field, all for just a single successful score. I just don't get landscape photography.

The great thing about football is that Ann Coulter thinks it's socialist: http://www.clarionledger.com/story/opinion/columnists/2014/06/25/coulter-growing-interest-soccer-sign-nations-moral-decay/11372137/

Nice try at The Beautiful Game Mike, but reading it I couldn't help thinking of a Flickr photographer walking trough an Eggleston exhibition, bored to death until the last wall, where he finds a picture that slightly reminds him of the rule of thirds. ;)

I loved your humorous account of the world cup final, and more than an element of truth to it too, but knowing that you come from the nation that follows baseball (how many hours and *no-one even hit the ball*??), and gridiron ("we interrupt this 6th hour of commercial breaks to show you 1.7 seconds of a man kicking a ball over the boundary"), your exasperation about the length of the game are a bit rich! ;)

I presume the underlying theme being that a culture not understood is essentially time wasted. Ahem.

You know soccer is going mainstream in the American Chattering Classes when you see articles in both the NY Times OpEd column and the NY Review of Books that talk about "space" in football.



Perhaps David Brooks will replace Alan Hansen on BBC's Match of the Day next year?

[How many people know both David Brooks and Alan Hansen?]

Tip: When watching a soccer match don't just watch the guy with the ball. Watch the other guys too. See how they move around and look for "space". Think about possible future moves and passes. Look at what the formations are and how the formations interact (and change) to generate or close down "space".

The generalization from this: The more history you know; the more of it you've seen; the more you take time to understand something the more you'll see in it.

That works for sports, theatre, film and photography too. Anything that requires active interpretation in your mind.


Thank you for the wonderful description of the World Cup Final - I had tears running down my cheeks as I read it.

My wife is British, and one of our (many) cultural differences is love (or not) of soccer (the use of the word "soccer" for the sport known by most of the world as football actually comes from the British, a fact of which I am fond of reminding her).

Thanks again for the chuckle.


Mike, This is an invite to Melbourne Oz for this Christmas. Then I will take you to the Boxing Day test match at the Melbourne Cricket Ground - all ... five ... days ... of ... it - after that baseball, let alone soccer, will seem fast paced and exciting for the rest of your days.

PS Moon pic looks fine on monitor. Doubt it will print, though.

Geez, if that is how soccer/football affected you, don't ever, ever watch cricket. Nothing happens for days at a time.


As a writer,you owe it to yrself to try to read some of the writing about football on The Guardian.
The humor, the insights, appropriate cynicism will amaze you. Very, very few sports writers here have ever reached the level they hit on a daily basis.
It's brilliant.

"How much do those kickball players of yours get paid? As much as that? What, maybe a little more? --Mike"
Puzzled by this comment. I am a non-fan of football but I was sure Premier League footballers are paid astronomical sums and a quick search shows they get on average £30,000 a week and the top paid gets £160,000 a week.!

If you couldn't understand Football - it was an amazing World Cup Final, every minute of it - then you might find it even more difficult to decipher Gaelic Games. But I'm truly surprised how many Americans are playing Hurling and Gaelic Football.

Sunday was a big day in our house as Cork played Clare in the Munster Hurling Final, both played and replayed the All Ireland Final last year. It was a sublime Sunday of sport both regional and international. A global village indeed.



Thomas, I think you mean "Moonrise over Hernandez" ....

And yet you live in a country that has baseball. A lot less happens in what seems a lot longer time in baseball. What's with all that standing around? At least on tv if has ads to cover some of the tedium. It must be coma inducing live.

So like soccer, I guess there must be something more to it. We need the history, the culture and having grown up with it.

A quick scan indicates that "Goal Shootout" has--mercifully, perhaps--not been mentioned.

Anyone wanting to mess Mike's brain up about Football/Soccer might tell him about that odd part of the game.

Re: the World Cup game, relax, Mike. Football season is just around the corner. Go Packers!

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