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Saturday, 10 November 2018


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Glad to hear that you are making progress on the new book.

Any chance that you could make "The Empirical Photographer" available in a digital format on Lulu.com. Maybe for around $10-15?

If it is any comfort, we have snow on the ground in Wisconsin as well.


When I woke up this morning, there was a thick haze from the wildfires north of where I live. We have been warned to stay indoors as much as possible because of the poor air quality. In that context, fresh snow looks pretty good.
My sympathies are with those who have lost their homes, their properties, and their lives. My thanks go to those who are risking their lives to fight these fires.

If by success you mean financial, I expect there is at least a zillion per cent more made writing about photography than actually doing it.

I have never understood----and don't now---snowbirds either. I have loved snow and four real seasons since I was, well, born.

Now that I live in "The Only Country With Four Seasons,"* I rarely see snow, at least in the Tokyo area. Can you imagine how nice it feels to be out in it in the once or twice yearly or every two years snow? For photography an entirely different world. The relative silence of a day with heavy snowfall is a reward in itself.

I try to get to the mountains every winter to get away from concrete, noise, pollution, and especially people to enjoy the solitude and the snow. And the silence. And, yes, the cold. All you gotta do is dress well and move.

I am sitting here watching the leaves slowly turn a muddy brownish colors. I am once again, envious of your snow.

*I am sure people get sick of me talking about the belief that Japan is the only country on earth with four seasons or four distinct seasons, but I gotta hear that crap, believed by probably the majority of people here, nearly every damned day. Pointing out the absurdity, that ought to be obvious to anyone with a 3rd grade education, is an act of futility.

I call it Leica Monochrom time! The ‘shorter’ days, though, are depressing.

Today's blog post is a beautiful piece of writing, Mike. The word-pictures you conjure in the paragraph "The day matured..." are poetic. It would be nice to pair them with photos of what you were seeing. Looking forward to your book.

I’ve lived in Holland until I was 26. I’ve lived on and off in or near NYC since then, thirty years later, with a stint in sunny and hot Cyprus and Vienna, Austria. I still haven’t figured out what I prefer, other than that I want sunlight. I much prefer snow and sun than the gray skies I grew up with during endless relatively mild winters. But I also escaped the Cyprus heat every summer because it was just too much.

+1 on “The Empirical Photographer"...

C.R. Marshall said, "Any chance that you could make "The Empirical Photographer" available in a digital format on Lulu.com. Maybe for around $10-15?"

"The Empirical Photographer" is for sale now on Apple iBooks for $9.99. When I pointed this out to Mike awhile ago, he was surprised, so I'm not sure he makes money off it, but, there it is. "Lenses and the Light Tight Box" is also on iBooks.

The pic reminds me of burn’t twigs and ash, and the acrid smell that lingers after a wild fire. California fall.

YB Hudson III

Wise words from John Cleese, who now lives in California, and is often asked whether he might move back to England. His response (more or less): "I made up my mind never to be cold again." Seems reasonable to me.

We live in the desert. By mid October all the way to April or May is Barbecue weather for us. You can actually eat out and enjoy, even bring a sweater if it’s February. We get a total of about 3 rainy days a year, if you can call it rain, normally after I wash the car.

Snow ? What's that? :)

I'm always surprised by the severity of the US winters, at least in the NE. Here in Sheffield the temperature this morning is 7.5º C. We've had one frosty morning so far this autumn, and that wasn't really cold - just barely below freezing. I'm at at 53º N, Keuka Lake is at 42º N.

Last winter we had about four snowfalls and that was unusually hard. This included one on the 1st of March. I arrived at Manchester airport at 7:30 am that morning, in from Kuala Lumpur where it had been somewhere above 32º, and found myself where it was a bit below 32º F. Not fun, especially as I was still dressed for Kuala Lumpur. But none of the snowfalls lasted long on the ground - within a couple of days the temperature had hoisted itself back above freezing and the snow thawed.

Presently there are still quite a few leaves on some of the trees - it's been a good autumn. Work is still being done outdoors - there's a team of council (public authority) workers laying fresh road and pavement (sidewalk) surfaces in the streets around me. And while I've got my scarf and gloves to hand, I don't wear them every day. And I never wear a head covering!

My first ever business trip to the US was to Minneapolis in mid January. The wind-chill factor on my first night was -30F with a humidity of zero, which nearly killed my sinuses until someone warned me to drink more.

My next trip was in June, and it was 95F in the shade. Seriously?

However, I also visited southern Florida a few times, and can't say that 80% humidity and sudden torrential rainstorms did it for me either. I can't remember feeling entirely dry.

My whole week in Tucson saw temperatures above 100F. Although it was mercifully dry, they don't make suncream with factor 150 so I had to buy a cowboy hat. Still have it somewhere.

On balance, I think North Carolina was the most temperate place I visited. The mad panic buying and highway mayhem on the day it actually snowed reminded me of home.

You too can be a snow bird.
Your business is on the internet so just please plan a trip to a warmer place in February. Then you have December and January to look forward to it, and March and April to remember it.
Two print sales will help pay for it.
Or a special Patreon account for “Send Mike on Vacation”.

Both "The Empirical Photographer" and "Lenses and the Light Tight Box" are for sale at £5.99 on Apple iBooks.

It's Sunday morning and I'm sitting on the couch looking out my window at a magical scene. The sun is rising and backlighting steam rising from our northern lake. The snow on the meadow leading down to the lake is sparkling in the sunlight. I wouldn't trade this view for any southern locale.

Trouble is, and as others have noted, these preferences are very much age-related experiences and changing opinions. When young, I'd spend days plotting assignments that would get me thirty-something thousand feet up in the air and aimed towards some desert island (with comforts!) destination. Cyprus was one such that I worked in a few times - the panhandle up to Cape Andreas in the north-east was pretty much deserted and from the road down to the sea was no hassle at all. More difficult was the climb back to the road and trying to decide whether the car had been parked to the left or to the right... Golden Bay, beside Ayia Napa before it was developed, was good, too. Some nice local wines, by the way, but a shame about the politics that ruined it for everybody, itinerant snappers as much as residents.

Living here in Mallorca brings a lot of summer heat and pretty cold and damp winters. Islands are always damp places. Every winter has snow up in the mountains. In summer I pray for winter, and come winter I think I must have been insane looking forward to it. If winter has a saving grace, for me, it's that for non-pro work I much prefer rainy days. They give drama whereas sunshine gives tourist shots.

Thanks to Steve Rosenblum, I added 'The Empirical Photographer' and 'Lenses from the Light Tight Box' to my iBooks collection. Hope you get a cent or three.

On living with winter (I'm in Ontario), I decided some time back that the only way through it as a photographer, is to buy a set of really good cold weather clothing and get outside. Start with a wool base layer; legs and a top that zips up round the throat. Have a wind proof top and pants, and fill in the in-between layers for warmth, with what ever the budget allows. That way it's possible to be outside for hours at a time with no discomfort. Most Canadians don't dress that way of course, but that's because "being outside" for most Canadians, means doing the dash between house and car, or car and office.

Every now and then a writer puts together a string of words that reach out and touch my heart and soul. You've done that today. "I think I might need a nap!". Freekin' brilliant. I know what I must do today.

Further to my "Golden Bay" location near Ayia Napa, Cyprus, I should have written Grecian Bay. Oops!


Excuse spell checker error in previous comment. New iPhone XR isn’t sizing blog properly!! Very small print.

Nice creative writing in paragraph three.


I just purchased your book through Apple iBooks. You should make sure that they are paying you royalties for it.


Echoing commenters Edelman and Hudson we would swap our smoky environs for an "unpossible" NorCal snowfall in a heartbeat. Air quality is Beijing-like, although the afternoon light is ironically appealing, as long as you can stand breathing the stuff while capturing some.

CalFire estimates Camp Fire control by November 30, so we have that to look forward to.

We've already had some early October snowfall events here in northern Arizona. We still managed to get out and capture some autumn leaf color while mountain biking.

Early season snow along Waterline Road near Flagstaff, Arizona

Christopher May,

I rarely buy prints because I know I'll eventually tire of seeing them every day. But your print I would buy! Absolutely stunning contrast between the canyon and the snow-covered trees and foliage. Well done! (Certainly an understatement.)

Hi Dave,

Thanks for the kind words! I'm honored!

Thanks again!


My relationship with winter may be a bit different. I actually enjoy it. For me it is a time when nature reveals itself, when I can view the secrets she has hidden from view the rest of the year. I also enjoy the beauty of it. I maintain that there are three things that I have managed to haul with me into adulthood that have the same magic as when I was a child. Flight, getting the window seat on a plane ride. When I go to NYC and see all the cars, people and mayhem and I wonder why are there not more killings and anger and hostility? Because the city exists on its own magical realm. Lastly is a snow day. When I awake and see the world completely changed overnight.
Years ago I started a photo essay trying to visualize that certain kind of quiet the only comes post snow and at night. It morphed into an essay on my home state of RI that I entitled "3 mile radius" as a mocking of a phrase a friend from Texas used to describe my home. It can be viewed on my website at stevemasonphotographer.com .

If your current book is even half as interesting as your previous two, sign me up!


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