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Thursday, 31 October 2019


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Sharing images, with the same device you used to capture it, is another compelling feature of the in-phone camera. And most, if not all, of your image library is also there, ready to be shared.

I, like many TOP fans, am “old school;” 4x5 was for many years a favorite vacation camera. I shot Kodachrome almost exclusively for many years with an OM-1, and still use a Mamiya 645 for an ongoing B&W project. Now, I use a Fuji X system for my “crafted” work.

I think back to the times when the options for sharing images was through a lengthy process of either me in the darkroom twice (developing film, then printing) without really knowing if I would end-up with a remarkable image, or farming out the process to a lab (ditto the not knowing part). Polaroid was a game-changer that solved some of those issues. But sharing remarkable images would still mean carrying around a curated selection of good prints (even those Polaroids), or a projector and carousels (!). Not to mention the cost and time invested to even get the finished goods (more !!).

I love photography in its many forms. I love to use my “traditional” cameras for intentional, crafted work. The phone camera has made 1) capturing the decisive moment much easier, 2) the ability to share from the whole collection 3), at the moment you want to share it (e.g., seeing an old friend in line at the store, “Hey, let me show you…”) 4) with the device you pretty much always “have with you,” at 5) almost zero marginal cost to making it, is pretty much a dream come true for me.

As you have often pointed out, archiving remarkable images for the future is still a significant issue. But even that is much more easily accomplished, if only I had the discipline to do it consistently!

I just don't get why humans kill harmless creatures for "fun". They call it sport, which is bullshit. I don't expect this comment to be published as it does not address your post. I got totally sidetracked by the bison (and yes I know that they probably need to be culled - not relevant to my point).

[I don't make a big deal of it, but really—by which I mean deep-down—psychologically—heart of hearts—I'm apparently a nonviolent pacifist. At any rate I shade closer to St. Francis of Assissi than I do to the warrior-destroyers of history like Alexander the decidedly not-Great. I understand how such a stance is impractical in certain circumstances, and that the need for the tribe to kill is why evolution has preserved psychopaths in the gene pool. But I'm not really talking about that. It's not a stance. Nor a political opinion. I'm just talking about how I actually feel. To put it baldly, horror and pity were aspects of my response to the bison picture.

The other day the dog snapped at a chipmunk and then stood there looking at it. It was clear to me that the chipmunk's back was broken--it was in fear and pain but it couldn't voluntarily move its back legs--so to "put it out of its misery" and keep it from dying a slow death in pain, I killed it with a shovel. For some time afterward I found myself musing that one human can shoot and kill a magnificent elk merely to hang its antlers above his fireplace and be nothing but delighted by the experience, whereas I feel stricken with remorse and regret for the twenty-four hours after being forced to kill an inconsequential rodent as an act of mercy. I can't even say that the one attitude is more realistic or "better" or "worse" than the the other. I just feel how I feel is all.

Takes all kinds I guess. --Mike]

Obviously, you don't hang around with groups, especially with several women who have iPhones, and especially those who are traveling together.

Our living room, dining rooms in Bhutan, friends' living rooms, a pub in Dublin, Kilcock, etc, rented houses in Utah and Ireland, wherever . . .

What they all have in common is Airdrop fests, with the day's crop of phone pix being shared between phones.

A new form of social interaction, facilitated by tech, but highly personally interactive.

I know what you mean about being drawn to such sharing moments. I stumbled upon an analog version of a phone huddle just last week. I was in a burger joint last Friday and as I sat there reading TOP and getting french fry grease on my phone I noticed a group of older guys in the corner booth discussing photography. One had a Red River paper box in front of him and was holding a magnifying glass. Another had placed a sleeve protected 12x18 print in the center of the table and all were taking turns viewing and discussing it. While it’s not the norm for me to stop and speak to strangers I just had to intrude on my way out of the restaurant to say hello and view/compliment the print. In hindsight I wish I had plopped down and joined the conversation but that’s not my nature.

"Remarkableness" is one photographic element that can be argued is lacking in much of today's art photo scene- from the rise of "deadpan" portraiture, to the general over thinking found in many a dominant MFA photo degree, to the everyday overabundance of selfies and "what I had to eat shots."

I'm not trrying to spoil the party, and I'm the first to show many pictures in my phone but, do you know what happens to me all the time...? My intended viewer says 'sorry, pal, I cannot see it well without my glasses...'

Don’t look now but the role of photography in society has substantially broadened as social currency. As Moose indicated above, people Airdrop everything with gay abandon. A photo is no longer as much the wall trophy as it is a passport stamp. (I write this sitting in the middle of the Pacific Ocean on one of the most beautiful places on Earth. If wireless photo transfers were visible this whole island would look as though it was under a permanent fog,). People’s phones already ARE often collections.

The other side of that coin, of course, is that photography has become devalued in society. If HCB wouldn’t be willing to Airdrop, say, that snap of a guy jumping over a puddle to hell with him. Chances are ten other people have the same shot these days.

One other effect: the high-res “Retina” display has become the standard reference display for color work. I’ve long been ensuring that images look “correct” on that display rather than just my million dollar calibrated NEC monitors. It’s just a matter of practicality for anything that will be displayed electronically.

Hi Mike, Fantastic Post! (or at least extraordinary)
When I was looking for a name for an instagram blog about bad architecture I thought about the terms uglyarchitecture, crappyarchitecture and terriblearchitecture, etc. But I ended up going with remarkable architecture for the reasons you just described. It allows me to post the occasional photo of something really good or exceptional (another word that doesn't mean great or good). I like the word fantastic, which shouldn't mean good at all but is almost always used as such.

Have an impressive day,


Good idea.
I saw an article about a guy who goes around flea markets and buys boxes of old snapshots. And many of them are actually... very nice images. It's a bit like dadaist "found art".

This reminds me of something I've been thinking about a lot lately - and something I've mentioned on here at various times. In this day and age when the capture part of the equation is much "easier" there is a much bigger premium placed on editing, curation and sharing. There is much more of a NEED to develop ideas and curate those images into sets that can be shared in some physical or digital form. Otherwise all of the marvels of technology available to us are wasted.

Hope the twin toddlers with one in the refrigerator doesn't et shown to the wrong person - or Child Welfare will be at the door.

So many clicks on phones and such and so few of them will actually be saved in any form the grandchildren will be able to view in the coming decades.

No more Shoebox of old pictures in the drawer or in the attic. Digital ephemera that no one will be able to open to view.

So easy to take and even easier to lose.

[Refrigerator deaths are very rare since the 1956 Refrigerator Safety Act was passed, which mandated magnetic doors that can be opened from the inside. FWIW. --Mike]

Looking at pictures in the digital age.

Tormba meets the Digital Age

I used to like to hunt. Now I don't. I understand the thrill of "real" hunting; stalking and outsmarting very smart and aware prey. But I have never killed anything bigger than a rabbit.
I think people who sit in a blind and call it hunting are misguided. Maybe what they really like is the equipment and camaraderie. If you are really hunting for food because you live a subsistence lifestyle, no problem. But for fun, not so much. I think that the bigger the animal you kill for fun,the worse a human you are.

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