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Tuesday, 25 July 2017


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That's interesting. I suspect there is indeed a Harley bubble, likely coinciding with the Baby boom and the rise of their wealth from the late eighties to the housing crash. I have a few acquaintances who keep a Harley or two in the garage, never ridden, kind of like a DSLR with the kit lens that so many people bought and eventually stopped using. Add to that, the Harley rider image is difficult to shake off. Few people are going to ride a Harley with a good full faced helmet and safety gear, at least some of it reflective, but that's what I wear on my Honda (and don't feel weird about it). It's not hard for a fashion item to become out of fashion, like 1970's Stingrays, or huge mcmansions.

I tried getting into model railroading when I was 12. I had three problems:
1. We moved, so the small layout I started was scrapped.
2. Computer control didn't exist yet, so my inability to figure out wirring for anything more complex than an oval was a problem.
3. Anything cool I wanted to buy (e.g. HO steam locomotives) was either too expensive or too cheap.

As an adult, I tried again, but the lack of...I dunno, fanciful and weird exemplars was kind of disappointing. The emphasis on "modeling railroads" kinda boxes in what you can show in Model Railroader. No matter how detailed the layout, and how nice the photos, I can just feel the invisible walls beyond which the hobby doesn't exist.

As for photography - we are in a golden age of photography. Just look at food photography alone: restaurants are now decorating the food and themselves specifically to be photographed! Here's a nicely illustrated article: http://www.grubstreet.com/2017/04/how-to-make-a-restaurant-go-viral.html
(The Verge has a good one too: https://www.theverge.com/2017/7/20/16000552/instagram-restaurant-interior-design-photo-friendly-media-noche )

What I mean is, photography is doing really well as a cultural expression. DSLRs, maybe not. There's a certain size and weight that cameras tend to be across the last hundred years. I think it converges on something the size of a Pentax Spotmatic. So the bigger cameras with the big lenses...I dunno. Seems like that's ripe for a motorcycle analogy, doesn't it?

Playing Overwatch (or insert other computer-enabled activity that didn't exist in 1950) is a lot more fun than watching trains run around on a track.

Motorcycles aren't safe. They won't survive in the future of self-driving cars.

On the other hand, photography has never been more popular. There are billions of photos on Instagram and Facebook, and maybe we have already reached a trillion photos online somewhere.

Right you are, as long as you can hold a camera you can take photos. Heck, when the time comes (later rather than sooner I do hope) I might take a selfie lying on my deathbed. I'm sure my kids would love it...

So far as Harley motorcycles go, all you have to do is check out the demographics concerning Corvette buyers. From Harleys to Corvettes or so it seems to me. (That is the path I took from 2 wheels to 4).

Model railroading was my father's passion much as photography was mine (before I turned professional - now it's more job). Whenever the family moved the arrangement and size of the basement specifically for his model railroad layout was one of the major decision factors in buying a house. More so, even, than the quality of school district the house was located in although I had many years of school yet to go at the time. Now at nearly 80 years of age he "dabbles" more than obsesses. For some reason I was never bitten by the R/R bug myself; but then he was never bitten by the photography bug.

The same thing is happening to golf courses all over North America. Dozens have closed with more closure to come. The younger generation is not willing to spend hours chasing a golf ball.

They've all abandoned Harley because they're all on Triumphs now, trying to catch up with Tamara Raye Wilson, a six-foot-tall, redheaded mechanical engineer at Disney, rock musician, avid motorcyclist, photographer, and writer, seen in fetching B&W at http://www.womensmotoexhibit.com/tamara-raye/ for example.

Just as photographers now are those who use things for some reason still called "phones". The numbers are so overwhelming that no one using a "camera" even registers, let alone a thing called "DSLR", whatever that used to be.

Maybe by next summer I'll be trying a phone too, and give up my last camera thing when it dies, probably like your average reader, who must be in his (his) 50s or 60s I expect. They aren't making new Baby Boomers either.

"What kind of cameras will smartphone snappers want if they get serious, as some percentage of them will?" Not Minoltas.


T.R.W. via TheMotoLady: http://themotolady.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/09/born-free-6-IMG_1372-1300px.jpg Not moving backward.

I suspect that stills photography is aging out. The younger folks seem more interested in video.

As for an upper age limit of enjoying photography, well, just about all cameras are designed for fully able (right-handed!) people. Back problems, arthritis, deteriorating vision, shaky hands, balance issues, difficulty walking, etc., all start taking away from the joy of using a camera -- especially of using a big DSLR with a bag full of lenses. Living on a fixed retirement income doesn't help, either.

Harley-Davidson's problem is that if people want modern cutting edge engineering and design, they don't want Harley-Davidsons.
If people want Harley-Davidsons, they don't want modern cutting edge engineering and design. Their biggest competitor is their own used bikes, because if you want a classic, simple as a hammer bike you are better off with an old classic bike.

Much like Leica's problems in the 70s and 80s as I recall.

Harley sealed their fate when when they killed off Buell , in a move that is reminiscent of how James J. Nance killed Packard.


"When Harley CEO Keith Wandell was hired, he immediately questioned why Harley even owned Buell. Wandell, who had never been on a Harley before being hired, was heard talking about "Erik's racing hobby", and questioned "why anyone would even want to ride a sportbike". He organized a team to analyze "the adrenaline market", and concluded that sportbikes would encounter high competition and low profits, while cruisers had high returns.

And that is how Harley locked themselves to a demographic that bought a lot of bikes at the time , but are aging out of the motorcycle market.

Sort of like what's going to happen to the US automakers when people get tired of driving trucks.

Model trains, the reason I got into photography!
I didn't realise you worked at Model Railroader. Perhaps you need to do an article covering all the places you've worked, I suspect a few more things are yet to be reviewed.

To add to my previous (and yet unapproved) comment, I am old enough (sadly so) that I remember having model trains when I was a kid, and at the time I thought they were really cool, what the train moving around by itself and all. But I can see why children today would have no interest in that. And as a middle-aged adult, it's not a hobby that I would be interested in.

That reminds me of a commenter in a previous post (I forget which post (but one about younger ppl only using smartphones), I forget which commenter), who mentioned that in London one would see young photogs using an old film camera and a smartphone and nothing in-between. Recently, on a trip to Montreal, I noticed exactly that phenomenon: young hipster-ish folks with a Spotmatic or a Canon AE-1 walking along the hip inner-city streets.

This brings me to a second concept (that, I believe, has also plagued the motorcycle manufacturers). When a certain type of product which had had a long, long phase of popularity in the past, rises in popularity again (due to a retro-chic, or a new demographic, or what-have-you) it will sometimes not benefit manufacturers of new products in that same category as much as one would think because of the huge stock of reasonably functional used items. I have a feeling that film cameras and motorcycles both fit into this model to some extent.

Digital cameras have not had this trap because each year the new models have enough improved functionality to warrant some interest from the market, but, as Mike has remarked a number of times, we are certainly reaching the level of sufficiency for almost every photographic need.

So, I wouldn't be surprised if, say in another 15 years or so, there is a new generation of photographers who, for the small number of them who want what their phones can't do, the obvious choice is a 20-year-old "high-end" DLSR (or large-sensor mirrorless) with, say, less than 10,000 frames on it that has been sitting in someone's closet for a decade.

In the past, photographers were as much interested in their equipment as the pictures thay made. Today,probably over half the pictures taken, maybe 75%, are taken with cell phone cameras, and the taker (I hesitate to say photographer) could care less about the equip-ment. He is recording history with whatever is available. He is not intereested in his equip-ment or what it can do, or even how to improve his photography skills.

I can't speak for motorcycling. I've always disliked the damn things and most of the people I've known who rode them. Each summer gangs of hundreds of riders descend onto downtown Chicago choking streets (literally directing their own traffic like renegade parades) and generally non-violently terrorizing the area for a couple of hours before dispersing. The passing of HOG and its peers will be just fine with me.

I can't speak for model railroading, either. I loved it for a number of years as a young boy and eagerly looked forward to buying every month's copy of Model Railroader at the (long, long gone) Bentley's Hobby Shop here in Chicago. It fell to the wayside as I became a teen, although I will still occasionally peek at videos about it. I loved the model-building and planning aspects of the hobby most, interests that carried forward as I entered my studies of architecture.

Where will photography go? Unlike motorcycling and model railroading I'm confident that it will endure. That is, I am confident that its motivating forces will endure: the basic human desires to record moments of their lives and to share those recordings with others. But what form will this take in coming decades? If I had to make a bet it would be more towards the personal device/always-with-you photography and much less toward the dedicated camera. I see the shutterbug/camera club culture continuing to fade quickly, perhaps not to black but certainly continuing the relentless shrinkage we're already seeing.

FWIW, here's a rumor I recently heard regarding the development of Fujifilm's GFX medium format camera. The senior management took a now-or-never position on the project. That is, they may have felt that such a product introduction would not be feasible just a few years later. I got this rumor not through the photographic circles but through the financial investment world. Just a rumor but seems on-target.

Mike wrote, " ... in the latter's later years."


Mike, I know someone who is heavily into old Harley's. Pre WWII.
This person has a large collection of old parts and builds old bikes. I asked if he was worried about a decline in his investment because of the aging of people interested in these old expensive bikes and parts. Turns out that, I am told, Asians are very interested in and are paying the high prices these bikes go for. For now Harley's appear not to be following what happened to Baseball Card collectors. The bottom fell out of that market. What would have been new collectors migrated to video games.l

> What will happen when those of us who grew up shooting film start to drift out of the pool of buyers?


No way to "like" so I say "Good One"

Oh man ...HO gauge. My Dad was a railroad man; he worked as agent, telegrapher and dispatcher for all his working life after the end of WWII. He had a nice HO layout which I remember as about the size of a ping pong table, though it was probably smaller due to a small child's memory being bigger than reality.

Eventually he gave up model railroading and took up amateur radio. He said that after working on the railroad 8 hours a day (or mostly nights,) he just didn't have the enthusiasm for coming home to ... more trains.

To help finance the radio gear, he sold nearly all the HO pieces, including a really nice steam locomotive that I recall as Nickel Plate, though it may have been New York Central. Or something else.

I was pretty upset about that; I would have loved to have that particular engine just as a piece for shelf display; I really loved it. But the old man had a great, long run as a Ham. He could send Morse code at about 45 wpm, and read somewhere just north of 50. He chatted with people all over the world and had an impressive set of QSL cards. While he sometimes used voice, Morse code was always his preference. When the population of other hams using code dwindled significantly, he eventually quit the hobby.

So, there's another hobby that likely (I don't know any stats) is likely dying, at least partially killed by the Internet as well as aging demographic.

Has anyone out there noticed the following observations as I have for a number of years, which is as follows: Back when 35mm was king and we all owned at least one body but sometimes two. We had an arsenal of lenses and we carried tripods. Some of us built darkrooms in our homes, we mixed our own film and paper developers, it goes on and on. This was typically a male hobby, yes really it was. Today a see a shift in who I observe carrying camera gear and who are taking all the photographs, it's women. I see them carrying the DSLR around their neck, with the bag on their shoulder which I assume contains the other zoom lens. If there is a male close by (either boyfriend or husband) they are simply observers, no camera gear in hand.

Well, as one who grew up with an HO layout in the basement (my dad took over a supposed Christmas present), I found an alternative. Go bigger! G scale garden railroads- build it outside, no limits!

When I was five or six years old, my 32-year-old father built an elaborate HO train set during the month before Christmas. It spanned two 4x8 sheets of particle board which he cut into teardrop shapes, and he built two tiny bridges for the trains to cross over. There was a mountain with a tunnel, a little station, a town...

During the final stretch, as Christmas day neared, he spent something like twelve hours squatting and finishing the wiring and the details.

And then when he finished and tried to stand, he couldn't do it. He spent the rest of the week walking with a cane.

He told me much later that it was one of the most painful experiences of his life.

Photography has never been better in the regard that more people are taking photographs than ever. The question rather: what device will we be using to take photographs in the future? It may not be a Harley (i.e. DSLR).

Gosh, I really like my DSLR....but I'm one of those old gray-haired guys with a beard, so there's that. Haha.

I have never got the Harley thing. Big, bloated, ugly and unreliable bikes with no style in my eyes. But, Italian ones .... now they spin my wheels. If I'm going to have something that breaks down all the time it had better be nice to look at.

Harley needs to start targeting China, there is a huge population of newly rich people with a ton of disposable income who are attracted to things like Harley Davidson motorbikes. They certainly seem to be able to sell them here in Hong Kong, and not just to aging "Ex Pats".

In San Francisco, it is the 20 somethings and 30 somethings who are shooting film, opting for slower process image character over the machine-gun shooting and smooth perfection of digital.

Yes there are few of us old farts in the mix, but it is by and large the youngsters who shout "nice camera" when I walk by with a Hassy or Pentax 67.

Is this enough to drive a resurgence of new film gear? Of course not. But it has kept prices up in the used market for classic 35s, old folders, and the most recent generation of medium format gear. Folks who can repair same are also in demand.

I think the modern camera will evolve to utilize a variably curved sensor (with the amount of curve adjusting to the focal length) with simpler and smaller lenses.
Given this design and advances in technology, the camera and lens should all weigh much less than current models with the size determined by ergonomics rather than components.
I expect the evolution will take many years yet.

Mike, living on the other side of the planet, I shouldn't be telling you this, but here is a link that might be of interest to you: <http://wolfstreet.com/2017/07/18/harley-davidson-sales-layoffs-builds-plant-in-thailand-motorcycle-industry-sales/>
There are other articles on carmageddon (what a nice pun) on Wolf's site. But be warned, sites like his are highly addictive. I try to read TOP and wolfstreet almost every day, among other off-beat (it's a complement :)) stuff.

As for the demographic thing, Phil's comment about youngsters using mobile phones and film camera is true at a personal level. My daughter, on a recent two month internship (Physics) to Potsdam, Germany, bought an Instax Mini 90 because she wanted some tangible output to hold rather than look at LCD screens. And she used to send photos of the prints through WhatsApp!

One of the sources of computer hackerdom is the Tech (MIT) Model Railroad Club. They wanted to build control-systems for their layout.

I had trains as a kid and liked them, but too big, not enough space, too expensive, and I never actually was interested in building the models (and wasn't good at it, as I proved with model rockets; I built them so they flew fine, but I never could get them looking nice). I had some interest in control systems for the trains myself, but got sidetracked into actual computers.

No photographs of my old train set, or of old table-top wargaming setups. For one thing the close focus on my Pixie 127 was not good, and the lighting from the ag1b flash bulbs was not good for close shots.

London hipsters shooting film and then following with their phones is a statement in itself. Film for its cache, digital for the certainty of the quality image.
At our college we have 3 sections of basic darkroom and we may enroll 85-90 students. By the time you get to finals it is down to about 30-35. It is the romance, the iconic splashing about in the red kghts and watching the magic image emerge, just like in the old movies.
Cache only lasts so long and then reality sets in. It is slow and tedious work to simply see if your "pictures took." The digital classes are fewer, the 2 enroll about 40 but bring 35 to the finish line. The shorter and more comprehensive workflow makes the wet process look like a waste of time. That process was fine when it was the only game in town.
I loved my classic 90s Bontrager Racelite, a very special steel sweetheart of a racing hard tail mountain bike. It doesn't hold a candle to mt full carbon fiber Anthem Advance 27.5 dual suspended rig. Would I like to ride the old Bonti? Sure, for the few minutes it would take me to understand its limits.

I found it a bit more than ironic that right before coming to read the latest at TOP, I was over at the Model Railroader website! I had to send off yet another letter to the customer service people at MR, because after many attempts to do so, I've still not been able to purchase access to the Model Railroader Online Archive of all the old editions, a feature I find to be incredibly useful. For reasons unknown, everytime I fill out the form to purchase access to the Online Archive, I get the same error message: "We are unable to complete your request..." Let just say that Model Railroader's attempts to go digital are slightly less than ideal.

It's also ironic that Milwaukee has long been the epicenter of model railroading thanks to both Model Railroader magazine and W.K. Walthers, the giant model train distributor, just as it has been the home to Harley-Davidson. As you rightly point out, demographics are hurting both quite a bit. Even though I'm right dead center of the H-D demographic, if I were ever to buy a motorcycle it would be a Honda or BMW, especially the BMW R 1200 GS, as the Harley's just don't interest me one bit, and frankly they never have.

But there is also another factor at play that goes hand-in-hand with the demographic shift, and that's the rapidly deteriorating middle-class in the USA, and the lack of good paying jobs where any sort of disposable income can be had for model trains, motorcycles, or anything else for that matter. Unfortunately, that is an issue that is growing more ominous by the day, with no real solution in sight.

While I have no idea who the Houston model railroader is that you visited, I think TOP readers would be interested to know that one of the most legendary model railroaders of all time was a professional photographer by the name of John Allen, who built a massive HO scale model railroad in the "basement" of his home in Monterey, California. The railroad was called "The Gorre and Daphetid" and became extremely well known due to the wonderful photos that John himself took of the layout. Kalmbach Publishing came out with a wonderful book about his layout back in 1981, filled with John's own photos, and it is one of my most treasured possessions.

Harley's problem is there aren't enough aging obese Hells Angels wannabees wanting to act antisocial any more. Have you ever seen a young, clean-cut Harley rider? Same for 'vettes- gray haired dudes trying to regain their youth when they watched Route 66 on TV.
I do not think cameras are a comparable marketing problem. Technology has simply made a peripheral feature of the ubiquitous mobile phone/computer as good as most people want for taking photographs and much more aligned with the users' workflow.

Personally, I think that Harleys are very much an "American" thing, and are too noisy anyway:)

Ref. DSLRs and cameras in general, I have two kids, aged 23 and 16. They snap away with their phones, couldn't care less about "normal" cameras. They like photography as I do, they just use a different tool.

I have no doubts that when they are my age (51), the SLR/DSLR will be a nostalgia thing.

Mike --

It strikes me -- as a long term owner of SLRs, bikes AND a smallish 60 sq ft train board -- that hobbies indeed have a generational component. Golf has been mentioned as on the decline; Wall Street Journal has reported it. Another one is moderately sized (~30 ft) mono-hulled sail boats. A not insignificant middle-class hobby in the first half of the 20th century was model square-rigged sail ship building, and -- strange as it seems -- urban indoor bulls-eye handgun shooting.

So bobbies wax and wane. The real generational change that i note in the Millennials that i have on my staff is the decline in the desire for prints. They just do not have room for prints in their lives, save maybe a large wall poster. They are awash with images, but no prints. The images they do have are worthy only of a second's contemplation and a swipe. The idea of taking a moment to study, enjoy, or savor them is foreign. The care and craftsmanship that might go into something like composition or lighting is only hazily recognized.

So yes, it is a golden age of imagining. But that doesn't mean that there are not some disturbing trends.

-- gary ray

Hi Mike, some rhetorical questions: how much of a hobby relates to one's youth, what is/was cool, and what one can DIY? Think meccano, lego etc, followed by simple engines (cars/bikes that pre-date computers).
Since the 70's, many kids have become gamers. Wanna guess what the average age and gender of a gamer is now? And what will they be doing as they approach retirement (knowing this could be the next business opportunity).

Creating a demand? They need to talk to the folks at Leica!

I am confused - the young guy is sitting on his Harley as he would on a Buell. Very dynamic. He does not look like an Angel too.
I am getting old probably, although I do not feel that way: Still playing with film, albeit no more with little trains (no room, daughter only).

I know of several photographers/carpenters who have engaged in vernacular architecture to make room for their 8x10 enlargers with just as much insanity as those railroaders!

Philip says: "In the past, photographers were as much interested in their equipment as the pictures thay made. Today,probably over half the pictures taken, maybe 75%, are taken with cell phone cameras, and the taker (I hesitate to say photographer) could care less about the equip-ment."

I think this is inaccurately remembering the past. I remember disposable cameras, and cheap plastic cameras that took 126 cartridge film. Before that, there were Brownies.

The vast majority of photographs were always taken with inferior equipment. Only a very select few were using Leicas or Rolleiflexes.

À propos Mike Plews' comment, scooters are far more common in Europe where transportation in cities is their primary raison d'etre. Some cities are now implementing electric scooters for rent, à la Velib and Bike Share. As climate change bites and urban pollution becomes more of a concern, more and more people will finally take up lower pollution, more carbon friendly vehicles. I seriously doubt Harley is in that mix.

@Tim Bradshaw, as a K1 owner, I hear you. I wish they made an MX or LX version too, and think they missed a real marketing opportunity. Yet though it feels like the camera is made out of cast iron, I can't seem to stay away from it, and even lug it around the streets of Duluth and scare our good citizens with it (despite having lighter cameras like the GR). What I find is that if I'm immersed in the photography I don't notice the weight, but if I have to walk any great distance and keep it in the bag, I definitely do.

I reserve a particular dislike of H-D because of their inability to make decent mufflers and therefore the antisocial noisiness of their bikes. Perhaps it is the desire of their riders to announce their presence to everyone within a 10 mile radius? Why? No other normal bike has the same appalling noise level, and it baffles me as to why this is allowed, when you would be pulled over with a car as noisy and given a ticket for a defective exhaust system. Compare and contrast with a BMW, Honda, Yamaha - or even MotoGuzzi or Ducati which are acceptably quiet at non-boy racer speeds.

Another thing is why do H-D owners seemingly all wear a uniform? I thought it is meant to represent "individuality" and "freedom", but they all seem to be required to have the Harley leathers (complete with vest) and the "cropped Stahlheim" helmet. As you can tell, it is a pet aversion of mine and actually a lot of people I know too.

I never got the whole Harley thing. Harleys are fun in a biplane sort of way, but if you need to get somewhere you're better off with a Lear jet. It's why I ride a Goldwing.

I think there's more going on than the graying of America. I think very successful immigrant groups don't share the common history/culture that we baby boomers grew up with and perhaps have more pragmatic values. In terms of cars, it means a Toyota or a Honda, something that will last 200,000 miles with minimal problems. The Dodge Hellcat or Mustang GT inspires nothing. It means "Why would I want to get rained on or be cold on my way to work?"

On the bright side for American industry, Harley has significant market share and has come a long way since its AMF owned days when you'd be lucky to take a trip down the shore without a mechanical problem.

There may be other factors as well. A lot of people are buying 70's Yamaha's and other vintage bikes. Look at companies like Dues ex Machina from Australia, who are taking old bikes and modifying them. There is so much more competition now for Harley. I was in Spain last month and say a store selling Royal Enfields. Just like cameras, hipsters are turning to nostalgia. In NYC I have been seeing the trend of adding small motors to bikes like they were originally. I mean how fast do you need to go in a city, 30 miles an hour?

I love Harleys and was at the museum not too long ago, but I would prefer maybe a vintage Triumph or Indian. I am still waiting for some good electric motorcycles at reasonable prices. I have already told my wife that if we move to Spain I am buying a motorcycle.

Was going to comment the other day and as with most things time passed me by. Motorcycles: started riding at age 18, about the same time as I constructed my first model railroad. Now at age 71, neither have been able to sustain my continued interests
t. Photography has always been 99 percent railways and one percent other. The freedom
of riding a large displacement motorcycle in my case a fully dressed Honda Goldwing, later with an attached sidecar. First it was a BMW
motorcycle for years and year, until said device died with many miles on the odometer. Purchased my first Goldwing in 1980, and rode it with sidecar for 25 years. The machine as with the owner succumbed to the infirmities of disease and age;have not ridden since 2006.
With my first diagnosis of Lupus and related disease, my world changed!. Model trains; Lionel from age 10 when my parents went to New York City to purchase Christmas gifts and at Christmas 1956 returned with a GP9, cars and track. Until the 18th year when I reverted to HO Scale, it just kept going. Photography also bit my interest about age 16, and for many years model railways and photography were my interests when I was not working.

The noise quota of straight-piped
Harley-Davidson's is obnoxious as is the image portrayed by many who ride said machine.

Cameras too have changed; the primary recording method is a computer chip, the once popular colour slides are dying. My friends who own a computer have had no problem transitioning to digital ; problem is most of my friends are older than I am, and none of them have either the money or need to be connected to a computer to look at digital images. They enjoy what they take as images years previously; in my own case am slowly selling off my extensive (30,000) slide collection; so i have some extra money to live upon. My Nikon F did not sell with the recent clearcut of all my camera gear so it remains, on a shelf in a box. The joy of photography is simply no longer there and yet am in the process of construction once again a small HO scale layout. Weird eh?

I very much agree with Tim Bradshaw’s comment, the escalation in size from Canon A-1 to T90 to Eos 3 to Eos 5Ds, which are all roughly at the same market level, is quite depressing.

The Sony A7 series theoretically cured that but, practically, the only lens which makes good on the promise is the 35/2.8. Even old manual glass can get a bit front heavy once the adapter goes between body and lens.

I never had either a bike or a model railway. But I did have - in the late 60s - a scooter. A Lambretta TV200, usually referred to as a GT200. And I wore a parka and hung out at a scooterist's coffee bar and went on rides with my mates. I loved it.

Somewhere around the end of the 60s we moved to a different part of the UK. I fell in with a different bunch of friends, and within 6 months I was a (weekend) hippy. I went to the '69 Isle of Wight festival (Dylan! The Band!) on the scooter but felt very much out of place. So it went, and with the money I bought what I needed - an Afghan coat, flared crushed velvet trousers, and the obligatory Cream/Airplane/Doors albums. (Also some Moody Blues albums, but we won't mention them...)

Other than perhaps photography, I've never bought into a generational thing. I still listen to new music - I'm currently enjoying the new album by London Grammar, though today I've also listened to some Small Faces, Pat Benatar, and Florence + The Machine, while post-processing some shots taken yesterday on a 10-mile walk over the hills in the Peak District.

I'm have memberships at the Art Institute of Chicago and the Chicago Botanic Garden. I use my cameras at both. What I have observed in the last few years, at those locations and I'm sure others, are a remarkable number of young (twenty-something) women with some very heavy photographic artillery. Lots of Nikon DSLR's and especially Canons with white lenses. And, at the garden, a popular location for wedding shoots, the bulk of the photographers are women. Young women... very few young men. I have no idea what this portends for the future of photography.

My impression is that the younger generations are more inclined to distinguish themselves by the things they do rather than the things they own. More drawn to travel (including overseas travel) and adventure, I think.

Want to see a younger person's car? If they have a car at all, look for the battered Camry. The shiny new Porsche beside it belongs to grandpa.

Hobbies: Scrounging through the grandparent's attic for ideas! Dual turntable and Canon AE1 cameras, anyone? But not much sense of competitiveness or aspirational buying. It's a good time to be selling Olympus Trip 35s, but Leica screwmount cameras or Nikon rangefinders, not so much.

I think model railroading and photography share an attraction. Both allow you to create your own little world if you are so inclined.
Here is a link to a blog dealing with the model railroad at the Clay County Fair in Spencer Iowa.


We spend a week in the Iowa lakes region every September and about every other year take in the fair. This is not far from the Iowa Maritime Museum at Arnolds Park. If you like wooden boats the museum is a pleasure you should indulge yourself in and it's free.

That last one kind of nails it-- its a lot like "slow food"- if you want a fast camera, that's the smartphone.

If you really want in on the photographic process, go artisinal. Don't even stop at chemical, go alternate processes like diazo, wet plate, platinum printing...

DSLRs-- they are for enduring, printed photographs of your kids, who do what they do in constant motion, bad lightning, far away.

At this point DSLRs and mirrorless aren't fast because of any of the post work you do to share the output. I can't seem to turn around an image from my x100 in less than an hour. Iphone? 20 seconds to share.

(at least this is what I found as a former 30-something who lived in the bay area, member of one of the last public darkrooms in the US, and now parent)

Harley are still making the same bikes for the same people. Not surprisingly, they're getting older. Mature American buyers seem to be more in love with Triumph, so retro still has its appeal, but it needs to be modern retro - fuss free and refined. Harley are hamstrung by a motor that's way past its bedtime.

As for photography enthusiasts, I think there are more owners of 'advanced' cameras than ever. Phones are not replacing DSLRs and Mirrorless cameras, they are replacing disposables and point-and-shoots. Most of those who use phones would never have considered dropping the equivalent of $600+ on just a camera.

However, I don't think we have really defined what the standard 'advanced' camera of the 21st century is going to end up looking like. I suspect Nikon or Canon will come up with something suitably generic, but it won't be much different from the average Sony or Panasonic mirrorless solution, with better connectivity.

Regarding, "Loud pipes save lives", I've ridden two bikes along the same high street, on the same day. One was a quiet machine with a factory exhaust. One had a rather louder exhaust. Guess which one had pedestrians ambling out in front of me...

Having said that, I am no fan of extremely noisy bikes. This seems to be the province of those who are more concerned about how "impressive" they think they are; (There are photographers like this) I ride to impress myself.

A reasonable amount of noise is fine, so long as I can ride home late at night without waking up the neighbours.

Regarding HD, in 1977 they brought out the XLCR. It was a cafe racer. The Harley guys didn't buy it; it was a cafe racer. The cafe racer guys didn't buy it; it was a Harley. It's now a collectors item.

I am pretty sure that Leica will have this problem.

By far the most important demographic for their non-rebadged (ie Panasonic/Fuji) cameras has to be people in their 60's and 70's who either used or wanted to use Leica cameras in the past, and who now have enough disposable income to afford it.

Most young people and professionals will be put off either by the pricing or by the impracticality/inflexibility of the majority of their camera range.

I got into photography because of model cars. I think they may have become generational too.

Aging out. I have often hear that the older generation is turning to mirrorless because dSLRs are just getting too heavy. I don't know if there is any actual evidence to support that, as most of those who are carrying the larger "professional level" D500s, D5s, and Canon equivalents are men in their late 50s and older, at least in Tokyo. Those fellows and wealthy male Chinese tourists middles age and above. Others include those who really need a good dSLR such as waterfowl photographers, but they tend to be older men too. But if you ask me who uses mirrorless, I could not form a stereotype. Smartphones? Everyone, it seems.

Of course that's all based on the flimsy evidence of casual personal observation in one locality.

Before I go, Harleys and motorcycles. Every Sunday, I watch guys gather at a nearby Denny's with all kinds of nice Harley's. There is even a Harley shop within a few minutes of my home. Many riders and shoppers are beyond middle-aged, though I see a smattering of younger men. Even an occasional young woman on a Harley. And no, Harleys and motorcycles are generally NOT used just as transportation here, but used very similarly to the US as a hobby or, yes, as a fetish. I'd say most motorcyclists ride as a hobby first and transportation second, even though Tokyo is not in North America. Loud exhausts? We got 'em. The infamous punks, the bosozuko. We got others who figure that degrading engine performance by (illegally) removing baffles is way cool. Some even do it on scooters. "Loud pipes save lives?" Show me the evidence.

This comment is a bit of a mess. Anyway, I now want a Janus.

I drive a car that is extremely quiet at low speed (BMW i3). Here in the crowded UK I'm more concerned about hitting pedestrians or cyclists who haven't heard me than hitting a car. Car occupants are better protected and often can't hear other road users anyway.

It's particularly a concern in shared use areas such as car parks and city centres. Some electric car drivers want a loud warning sound, but given a choice, I'd opt for the sound of horses hooves.

When I was a teenager in the late '70s the only motorized mode of transport I could afford had two wheels. I bought a Kawasaki. I shortly thereafter traded it in for a nicer, smoother, quicker, larger Kawasaki. Rode through NYC during the transit strike to get to work in heavy traffic on the FDR. I was rear ended by a BMW automobile on purpose in bumper to bumper traffic because he didn't like the fact I pulled in front of him. About a year later a careless driver turned in front of me and I hit the side of her car and flew over it luckily landing on grass with bumps and bruises. That was the last time I ever mounted a motorcycle.

Scott Kirkpatrick, thank you so much for the link to Capt. John Miller. I read "Lee Miller: a Life" by Carolyn Burke and found Lee's life fascinating: wild child, high fashion model, muse to Man Ray, war correspondent, and ultimately a gourmet cook on the vanguard of the nascent Foodie movement(ahead of her time, as usual). I wondered what her brother's life was like, having inherited similar genetic make-up, whether he did well with his talents too. Glad to see he was respected in his own right.

REINCARNATION. I go with that idea, which has been widely argued above. These days there are so many people in the world that almost any pursuit can surive in some corner until sniffed out by the hounds of cultural appropriation.

BTW, I noticed Harleys in the 60s, when riding one generally was a very blue-collar thing: you were born into it or you weren't. My college kid peers and I rode Brit bikes. Stopped on the side of the road with a mechanical problem? All bikes in those days had problems. The Harley boys would stop, give you a hand and then leave, having said hardly a word.

Decades later business tycons, celebrities and senators rode them, Harley finally had made them user friendly - they'd been the least that way back in the day - and had them dripping with nostalgia.

I think they'll continue to have a run in, say, Asia. And then? Who knows?

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