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Monday, 30 October 2017


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My favourite quote is from Harry Callahan when he was asked about what makes a good picture ... he said (paraphrasing) "I can't say ... it's mysterious ... you open the shutter and let the world in."

It's like that for me too. :)

99.9% of camera and lens technical discussions over the internet are totally futile to photography, I skip them, not interested at all. To me, any camera and most lenses today have the potential to outmatch my photo skills many times.

The consensus seems to be that the new cameras are better that the old, but the old photos are better than the new.

I always have more fun with creative solutions to technical problem, the "that's not a flaw that's a feature" school of embracing the flaws of your tools. More accurately, working within some sort of constraint frees the subconscious to solve the creative problem whilst the conscious is battling the crappy gear.

The great unwashed* have embraced shallow depth of field, non-linear color cast, and light leaks but need software** to do it.

*Thank you Edward Bulwer-Lytton who also originated the phrase "a dark and stormy night" and "the pen is mightier than the sword". Any idiot can use lots of clichés but to originate that many is impressive.

**stomp boxes for photographers?

*** this footnote intentionally left superfluous

In order to make good photographs, you must first learn how to recognize bad photographs.

I take plenty of lousy pictures and I'm sure that none can be blamed on my camera. Recently I learned that it can take pictures at " ... normal ISOs up to 32000." So I took a picture at ISO 32000. It was a sharp and properly exposed lousy picture.

>"Quote o' the Day: Andrew Molitor

"Photographers, culturally, seem to have a terrible problem with looking for technical solutions to creative problems."

—Andrew Molitor

My own comment upon reading the above phrase was to modify the last line ...for technical solutions to "create" problems.

There's always somebody with a better idea or mousetrap.
Now whether the device functions better is a whole other thing.

Almost all art forms are dominated by people "looking for technical solutions to creative problems." I believe the largest guitar forum on the Internet is called "The Gear Page," and not by accident. Probably the most imitated (badly) style of painting is that of Impressionism. The Impressionists were struggling with how to see, understand and represent light; current "plein air" painters mostly focus on how to manipulate paint to best create imitation impressionist paintings, basically a pointless technical pursuit. And so on.

In regard to the previous post about the quality of 1-inch sensors, they might be as "good" as medium format film, but they don't look the same.

As a one-time hippie, before my encounter with the U.S. Army, I can tell you that your reprinting of Desiderata caused a revulsion in me so strong as to be almost physical. Hippies had it posted everywhere as an emblem of their thoughtfulness; if somebody held a pistol to my head and told me to burn a piece of literature, it would be very close to the top of the pile; beneath, perhaps, only the Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam.

"Taking pictures is easy, Making photographs is hard."

(Ahem: Me)

And speaking of creative problems, Andrew has an interesting, new article on photo book sequencing over at Luminous Landscape. Part one is here:


"Careful photographers run their own tests." — Fred Picker

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