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Sunday, 06 September 2020


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Whew! We've been on tenterhooks for the past few days, wondering whether the last (but really first) of the big three would continue. Fortunately, the answer is yes! Thanks for all you've done and will continue to do, from all of us who love photography and good writing.

TOP works because you provide a friendly "community meeting room" for people who not only enjoy your writing and thinking, but also the thoughts of the people who visit and post. Unlike at a recently shuttered site, I've never once noticed pretentiousness or condescension here.

On your larger theme, I think your analysis is correct, but perhaps not dire enough. As still photography made with cameras other than the ones in phones wanes, people increasingly won't know what they are missing. What we see every day defines what we expect, and those expectations are defined by (and I'd argue decline to) the norm that is phone camera photography. Atget indeed.

Thank you, Mike. When I read the last sentence "above the fold" in the post, I became concerned. I am relieved to hear your decision.

Hi Mike
In case you are not aware, Skype enables you to make International calls at reasonable cost.

I think that you should be able to get an English response from Amazon Germany, English is the lingua franca of business.

The German's English will probably be better than yours. English mind you not American :-)

I vote for more photographs. Deadlines and requirements make things happen. I think you're a good photographer and I would like to see a weekly post of your own work. Because it's due, you'll make it. Get it done. Photography is about, well, photographs. I'm not interested in the next camera release (which I know doesn't help your bottom line), but your work, that interests me greatly!

Good media is good media. I subscribe to Jacobin magazine, a good quality quarterly of the left. It’s put out by millennials ( I met the publisher in 2017). They also put out great podcasts on Jacobin Radio and have a good YouTube channel I watch on TV when Netflix runs dry. They also have a high quality website. But your blog too, is high quality. May it, and you, live long and prosper.

What you said. Blogging, and digital photography, and text. I love all three of those, and combine them in my own humble blog. Which, like yours has had a decline in readership, and unlike yours, has no paying support other than me. And yet, I continue, even in the face of uncooperative software. I'm not entirely sure why. If there's other bloggers in the comment section, put a link to it in the text box, and I'll come visit.


Glad you are going to keep at it. I’m here most every day and I really appreciate the way you write about photography, which has been my life. Thank you!

I'm glad you're sticking with it. It might end up being more a hobby than a volition, but you add something valuable to the world every day here.

I’m old fashion, chugging along in good stead at 64, but definitely not au courant, as the French say. But I was brought up to pay for what I use. I’ve been known to correct a cashier if they’ve not charged me for an item, to get a server to check their Math if it’s off, to pay towards NPR and PBS, and to pay street musicians if I’ve stayed to enjoy their efforts.

Likewise with you, Mike. I come to your old-fashioned website pretty nearly everyday to see if there’s something new posted or to peruse the Comments. A slight sigh of disappointment if there’s no change for a few days, but I get needing time off. And since your site is most definitely part of my daily routine, and I certainly do enjoy (most) everything you post, it seems only fair that I pony up a few dollars every month. Especially because I know many don’t. I wish it were more, to equal my level of enjoyment, but being a retired public school teacher...

So yes attaboy and keep it up! I’ll be back each day to see what you’ve written. But maybe next time, spare me the cliff hanger you put in this post!

Pft. Didn't fool me. I expect you'll be the last one standing and I'll still be reading you.

All I need to go along with my DSLR is a nice Barnack and a nifty 50. Could be an Elmar; could be a Summicron; not sure it matters anymore to me. I can make any of them do what I want and that's see the things I like to see the way I like to see them.

Nothing else matters.

I am glad you came to that conclusion. I have been reading this blog for over ten years and enjoyed it all along. Especially the off topic discussions. You are a writer that speaks clearly and concisely, although you do go on sometimes 🙂. If I don’t find an article too interesting it doesn’t mean I didn’t learn something. As you often say the commenters are also often a high point.

I for one shall be continuing my Patreon monthly contribution as I consider it money well spent! Please do keep up the good work.

Mike! You had me worried there for a moment!

Now Kirk has stopped posting, TOP is the only photography blog I read. There's one YouTube channel I regularly watch. That's it online.

I come here to learn stuff, to see photos or find out where to see them, and find civilised behaviour. But what can we readers do, to help TOP keep going?

Thank you for keeping on!

In reference to Ming & others, I'd be interested to know which photo-bloggers you follow for inspiration and insight?

I RRS & enjoy Thom Hogan's honesty and insights, am inspired by American Suburbs X, and Aperature Foundation NY, and recently, Conscientious Photography Magazine, but the list of non-shills is shrinking.

Many of us appreciate your point of view. Please, rock on!

Mark Twain: "When we remember we are all mad, the mysteries disappear and life stands explained."


Your blog, along with Kirk Tuck and Ming, inspired me to start my own in 2017.

I'm a newbie by comparison. To date, I've put out more than 1000 daily posts in an unbroken streak.

I write about photography, art and my life as freelancer. I draw on forty years of experience as a professional with a camera.

With each post I include an original photo either created for the blog or from my archive.


The most remarkable thing to come from this, other than the daily practice, are the people I've met along the way.

I think everyone should publish a blog!

Stephen Kennedy

Well, damn!

Personally I'm thrilled you're gonna keep the local pub in business. Thrilled enough to get off my sorry fat ass and put a couple of dimes in the tip hat over on Patreon. I mean, after all, every now and then the conversations here are halfway intelligent.

So, you ask 'who reads now'. Here is fact for you: largest fan fiction site on net has about 60 billion words of text. This is about 3/4 as much as all published English-language fiction, ever. Median age of authors of this? 15 years 9 months.

Sorry they do not read what you write, but please do not insult them. Young people read and write: they read and write certainly more and probably better than your generation.

Good for you - I don't always read your stuff and don't always agree, but I believe you're well on the side of the good guys who make the world a slightly better place by contributing what they can.

Steve's Digicams - I knew there was a first-name site that escaped my recollection! In 2008 I sought counsel there as well as DCViews, DCresource and the DPR/IR pair. Definitely a different world in cameras, presentation of same online, and of course in the world beyond.

Glad we will still be welcome to visit you here!

the few, the proud ... glad you’re persevering

If you do something for long enough, it will become retro and therefore cool again. So, be cool and keep blogging!

Mike...Glad you are hanging in. I didn’t realize your daily readership was off as much as you outlined above. Just to let you know you are appreciated I just bumped my (humble) monthly Patrean stipend by 50%. Hope other supporters might consider something similar.

Keep on keepin’ on!


(Ha! Fooled ya.) Mike, you certainly did! First time I was actually happy to have been fooled. Please keep on trucking...PS.. would loved to see that moonlight image of yours.

I don't know if my monthly Patreon contribution makes a significant difference in your life, Mike, but I have no plans to stop. I'm just happy you'll keep blogging!

My "daily" photoblog https://blog.josephholmes.io/ has been chugging along without a break since 2004 -- and I write the word daily in quotation marks because a few years ago I found it impossible to find 5 images a week that were strong enough to share, so I cut back to three days a week.

This fall will see another cutback, since I can no longer carry my camera around NYC like I used to -- at least not without the risk of catching a certain virus via public transit. And my portrait practice, which I found intensely rewarding, has come to halt because no one will spent an unmasked hour with me in a little room. At least no one I'm not married to.

So I'll keep posting images, but it'll either be once a week or irregular. I suppose I can't even call it a "daily" photoblog any longer.

On the plus side, I'm teaching myself how to paint! ...an art I can study and practice without leaving the house. I'll starting post my progress on my Instagram account @josephoholmes later this week.

There, I managed to work two plugs into this comment.

"...but I don't have an international calling plan" Skype?

Bring back the Tip Jar! For anyone not wanting or able to use Patreon.

Hi Mike,

Thanks for your positive decision. I'm not sure that citing your President as a non-reader was a very weighty measure. There are many of us who do read and more importantly seek out and appreciate those "reads" that are considered, grounded in the person of the writer, and encourage thought by the reader. Your blogs certainly achieve all of those important bases. Retirement can be viewed as time to limit the chance you are harming yourself or others by continuing your work. We all do need ongoing motivation and on a personal level a sense of continued worth. I see your communication as being important to you and to your audience. The odd pause for your own life management issues is also perfectly reasonable.

From one humble member of your audience thank you for your decision to continue to entertain and inform.

Thank you, Mike. At least the photoblog part of the Earth is not completely shifting under us.

"...And photography is no longer nearly as cool in the culture as it once was..."

I remember watching movies about photojournalist and patting myself on the back when I could identify the cameras used in the scenes and extra credit if I owned that camera. I'd freeze frame "Salvador", "Apocalypse Now" or any historical drama and study the cameras to make sure they were period correct.

One time in Daytona Beach photographing Bike Week, I saw and spoke to Pete Turnley who was also photographing the crowds and I felt like I saw a movie star. None of my friends cared who I was talking to, but I was so happy to be able to tell Peter how much I liked "Parisians" which was cool.

Yep, photography was cool.

"...my friend Kenny got a new iPhone 11. To demonstrate "Night Mode," he held his phone up and casually took a picture of a moonlit street scene..."

There is no pride in learning a craft these days. To me, it's not that you TOOK a great shot, but could you do it again? Do you know WHY it came out good? Can you replicate the process in another situation and have it come out because you know exactly what you did?

Hand any of these "experts" a basic meterless body and a roll of film and reveal the ignorance.

"...so I'm going to keep on keepin' on..."

Wow... that was a long wait after clicking the link.

Thanks for sticking around, Mike!

Well, thanks, really. I'm glad it works for you! I check this site at least once a day, often more, when I am near the internet - which is almost always. I would miss it, for sure.

So keep it going, as long as you like!

Keeping on keeping on? Boy that's good to know. I was gettin' worried there for a while. I'm in for the duration.

Glad to hear it Mike.

Thank you for this perceptive analysis. As a 75 year old into the game since 19??-well about that-let us just go with "since I was about 10 years old". (!) I too have had to face the fact that time passes and things change. We are living thru a period of rapid change that many of us are unaware or refuse to see the tremendous effects of all the changes that surround us.....and so, we soldier on as you say. I am very encouraged to hear a positive mental attitude emerging from your writing once again, (I was worried about you) and I am very pleased that you have decided to recommit.....And to show my appreciation I have raised my Patreon contribution to help make your path both a little easier, and a little more rewarding. I know these are troubling and unsettling times, but then, aren't they all ? Perhaps other readers will reconsider their support through Patreon and recalculate what they get for what they spend at T.O.P. A daily presentation in your blog format still means a lot to me, and I wish you all the best going forward. And I hope more readers can find the motivation to review their support and reevaluate their monetary contributions. Soldier on !

Good on ya Mike.

Dear Mike,

I'm glad you've decided to carry on.

I'll be 60 next year. I got my first camera when I was 10 and I've been taking pictures ever since and recently just about exclusively with a Sony A7 and old film era lenses, when I get the free time. My favourites at the moment are some pre ai Nippon Kogaku lenses I managed to find for sale on line.

I don't get a lot of time to go out with my camera as most of the time I'm tied to the house looking after my mother. She's 91 and has many health issues and drifts in and out of reality. It's upsetting to see and next to impossible to cope with day in, day out. Luckily I'm married to a lovely lady but she does find it difficult to cope with the bouts of strangeness and aggressiveness and hardly getting an hour to ourselves. Alzheimer is a terrible and hateful thing.

When I can't get out the internet is a comfort and I read your site every day and if and when it goes a little bit of the joy of life will go with it.

So, I'm glad you're sticking around and I'm sure there'll be many more people like me who see you and this site as a joy and comfort in this life.

Please don't print this in your comments. Just keep knocking out the good stuff on this blog.


A fun picture of my wife, eating a sandwich.


So glad you're going to continue on. I would sorely miss your insights and good writing. I always learn something interesting when I read TOP.

If you want to call overseas get a google voice number and use that. I use it to call Australia, and its 1c/min ( and free if I call from Australia back to the US. Our cell phone plan, which is a MVNO, includes free international calls to 60+ countries (including Great Britain and Australia)

Glad your hanging on, I have been a fan since the early days and enjoy your posts, each and everyone. Your posts have so often been talk of photography and not reviews gear and that is what I enjoy the most about your blog and sets you apart from all the other folks out there not including Kirk Tuck who I will miss. Thanks for your efforts

With text the words and phrases are carefully chosen to convey the intended meaning. Most videos are verbal diarrhea unless they're scripted which takes us back to the written word...

Mike, let us not forget the 37th Frame, for which I subscribed and throughly enjoyed, when did that start and end? Glad you are keeping keepin up. Kind regards

You don't know me from Adam. But I'm well read. Profoundly well read. And I only read the works of gifted writers. You're a swan in a duck pond my friend. You know you can write but you don't seem to realise just how little LOFT you have in the writing space.

Analogy Warning. I'd just examined a fabulous '57 Fender Stratocaster at the sellers home. And on deciding to buy it, the seller asked what it was that made me sure this was the guitar for me. And I said "I can see songs in this guitar, yet to be written".

You're a '57 Strat Mike. There are multiple books in you, yet to be written. I see it as plainly as I see my hands typing this comment. I dare you. In fact, I double-dog dare you!

Cheers, Mike! I read your blog as part of my regular photography rotation when I was active in the hobby. I mostly just enjoying shooting candids of friend at parties. Nothing heavy duty, but the results were always appreciated. I backed out as other things took my attention and the dust started to collect on my Pentax collection. :(

But I've needed a "full camera" a few times in the last couple years and have started eyeing the m43 system. Better video is also something in which I want to try. That means catching up on the state of the industry, which lenses are good enough for my needs, and all the fun little bits of getting back into things.

Which also means making sure the good photography writers are doing their thing and sharing their ideas. I was really happy to see you still plugging along a few weeks ago and I'm extra happy to see you choose to continue doing what you like to do. Keep it up.

Keep it up.
I read you for your writing more than the subject(s) you cover. I was happy to pay for "The 37th Frame" and happy to contribute to you via Patreon now.
Thank you for the entertaining and often thoughtful moments you bring to my day.

Thank you for doing what you do. I'll be here, watching and appreciating.

much appreciated

Oh, Mike, don't get too discouraged. I know it is difficult, but I think there will always be a place for blogs with the written word that discuss topics that are not thinly-veiled advertisements for commercial products. Sure, the functionally illiterate like our president will not read them, but there are still plenty of intelligent people left (well, maybe not that many in the USA) who like to read and think. Many YouTube videos are horribly and immensely time-wasting. I would much rather skim a paragraph and decide if I want to read it in detail rather than be droned at by some self-appointed "expert" YouTuber. The photographic ones are just awful - fat dweeby white guys who think they are experts and need minutes to get a simple point across. Do soldier on, please!

In thanks for not retiring yet, I went to the Patreon site and increased my contribution by a third. When I visited the Patreon site I saw you are now up to 799 from your 787 earlier. Good for you!
I hope your post gets you across 800.

While middle aged, I feel almost exactly the same. Having a wide rather than deep specialized knowledge is not great for the job market, but in my experience results in a happier life outlook. If covid hadn't made the Brazilian real nearly worthless, I'd become a supporter on patreon today. When I can, I will. Your blog is amazing!

If you really want to call abroad, get an Internet calling service like Skype that you can pay a few dollars and call anywhere in the world over the Internet. Internet calls are so cost efficient that even scammers prefer them!

As for checks, I don't know about the UK, but they are very much obsolete around Europe. I haven't seen a check in my entire life. We have bank transfers that are easy and reliable and work across country. You could even set up your own bank account in Europe entirely over the Internet.

Having gotten the practicalities out of the way, I'm happy to hear you are continuing. I realize I have been photographing as a hobby for 20 years. My gear has changed, my interests have changed, my goals have changed, but I still feel excited about photography, both as a photographer and as a viewer. In my mind, there will still be people who want to engage in photography, even though the total camera buying public and enthusiast site readership is down.

And I'm also happy that this blog is in text. I haven't gotten into podcasts. I incidentally checked some Youtube videos today, and even playing at 1.75x speed the information content is too low. Some videos are entertaining and they certainly are useful for demonstrating video features in cameras, but for my primary information needs I still prefer text, since with text I control how I use my time.

Pivot to video? It’s a weird, wild world...it’s why I have a job, actually. I am a copywriter by trade but make videos for an electronics retailer full time now. Despite that, I prefer written articles in the subjects I care about.

So TDS will get or keep your readers?

What a depressive column. Fortunately you switched at the end, I was already reaching for my gun.

And, with this fast a drop-off in the kind of photo blogs that you and at least some of your readers care about...maybe you'll get luck and some of them will end up over here.

I really don't understand
the video thing; it's so slow!

Great post. And thanks!


Started following you on Luminous Landscape for the photography, stayed around for the stereo (wouldn't mind more), books, pool, coffee/tea, print sales and everything else you talk about. Very enjoyable. Thank you.

It's tough when blogging is your main source of income :-/ I blog now and then, mainly to write about unusual things like large format images and cameras - someone has to keep the small amber going - but I don't expect money or anything. More like a semi-written dairy.

Best of luck.

Delighted to hear you will continue, Mike. Your comments are always stimulating and fresh.

Happy Labor Day!


Huh, I was all set for the bad news which would have been you’re calling it quits. Yes many photo sites and blogs are now gone but TOP was and still is so different from the rest of the pack. You are a gifted writer and communicator and you are probably never gonna get rich with those gifts.
I visit and read your site every morning with my cup of coffee it’s my daily ritual. Please continue to share your photos, writings and photo topic diversions, we all need it. I enjoy looking at photographs and really don’t care what camera, what lens, it’s all about that moment in time that is captured and it will never happen the same way again. The farmer on the tractor image you shared recently was a great example.

Cameras come and cameras go, but photography will always be photography.

I wanted to contribute to you so I signed up for Patrion. But, I could only sign up for a monthly payment. I don't want to get into a monthly payment I can't stop easily.

So, no go. I really wanted to help you.

Can you fix that?

I for one, am greatly relieved you decided as you have. I have become accustomed to reading this blog (I never thought I would say that about a blog). Losing the others makes your continued efforts that much more valuable, to us readers. Thank you.

Pleased to hear you're soldiering on, Mike. It's sad to have lost Michael Reichman and Kirk, but to my tastes you've always been the best of the photography sites, losing you would be worse!

Banks and checks from Amazon Europe - that’s so analogue.
Try a digital solution like Transferwise.
Very pleased to hear your continuing.

Yours is the last photography blog that will remain standing, after the rest of civilization has fallen asunder (shortly, perhaps) because it’s not actually about photography. Photograph is just the nidus.

Mike, the blog format and your topics and approach work fine for those of us who are not enthralled by the prospect of being lectured in a narcisstic 15 minute video by people who wear their baseballs caps backwards, have managed the original discovery of the 10 Commandments after a mere three years digital-one experience, and who are unable to reduce their sparse content to a few well-written paragraphs.

Yes please, keep on keeping on.
You’re the cream of the crop,
Mike Johnston is the TOP.

Thank goodness! Those of us who have long loved the photography art form and will love it to the end appreciate reading your posts, Mike. I was a little afraid at the beginning of this post, but glad you are staying with it for the foreseeable future. I've enjoyed too many of your posts, the books you recommended and the photos offered at a very nominal price to be willing to let you go. Live on my friend!

Happy you're not quitting. I think you're on the right track when you attribute most of the changes in photography to actual changes in the overall culture, and just not in the US -- it's world-wide. But, I think persistence may pay off in the long run. Camera sales may be falling, but there are still many thousands of advanced cameras sales every year. I know you'd probably recoil at the idea -- you're a *stills* photographer -- but Kirk Tuck over the past couple of years has turned himself into quite the competent video photographer. You could try wandering down that path. You already have most of the necessary equipment and lenses, I believe, and an occasional video post wouldn't be unwelcome here. You wouldn't have to get as deep into it as Kirk has; just make a few kitchen-table videos from time to time. IIRC from the single time we met in person, you're quite an articulate talker as well as an excellent writer. Don't say you don't have time -- if you have time for pool, you have time to learn video.

You %&*£%)$ ! I truly had tears welling up before I read on! Just don't know how I would manage yet another close down for good of something so fundamental and bedrock like in my life. Long may you prosper.

I am an almost lifelong photography hobbiest (≈63 yrs) who started with Kodak Brownies, through the Nikon system, through the film to digital transition, and now using a fixed lens digital camera. I got Lens Envy during my Nikon decades and then ‘lost’ in the digital tech babble. I had forgotten what photography was all about, for me. I have found my way again, enjoying my pictures and picture taking.

I came across your blog a few years ago, and I read it from time to time.
I fear that your comments about those who read vs those who ‘YouTube’ (to make a noun a verb — as so often occurs in English) are accurate.

I appreciate your depth of knowledge, experience, writing style, and forthright manner of discourse. And, it’s all about photography from your perspective. So, I’m glad that you are continuing to blog.

Great news and I'm glad you came out to this place on the other side of your deliberations. It's interesting that I've been having a similar internal conversation regarding my livelihood and came to the same ending place. Photography is what I do.

Thanks for being here!

Hi Mike,
First time poster. I don't understand the advantages of Patreon. Why pay a third party a fee? What is the advantage to Patreon? Why not have a direct donation process in place on your website? That would appeal to me more. (I support other websites through direct donation.)

For those of us not familiar with Patreon, perhaps an education session might be in order, (or am I the only one?). Frankly, I'm skeptical of any "Gee-Whiz" third party money solutions. I am reluctant to sign up with another financial process willy nilly. (Yes, I'm old school. Sorry.)

Thank you Mike for keeping on keeping on. I’m a reader and not a video watcher, and appreciate your blog quite a lot, and also the community of readers and their comments. An oasis on the web in my opinion.


Glad you're hanging in there. This past week was really difficult seeing both Ming and Kirk walking away from their blogs.

Any possibility of getting some guest posts from favorites here to lighten the load? e.g., Ctein, Gordon Lewis, Jim Hughes, Ken Tanaka, Kirk Tuck, etc...

I'd also like to see you resume your print sales - how about at least three or maybe four a year? Figure out a way to solicit submissions from the readership here, get Ctein to handle the printing and find an equitable 3-way split of the revenue.

One other suggestion would be to interview a landscape photographer (record it so you can transcribe it afterwards) and present it over three or posts over a week's time.

Anyhow, look for some different avenues to avoid the ongoing burnout that I can only imagine comes from trying to carry the entire load by yourself.

Glad to read that you will be soldiering on! Being a reader of both Ming and Kirk, and having very quickly met both of them, I was starting to get worried. Most of the sites I have been regularly following since have either stopped or changed substantially, Thom and you being the only exceptions left...
Watching videos with my morning coffee is just not the same.
Wishing you well and hoping to still be following you for many years to come.


Thank you Mike.

Still images and printed words are the clearest and most efficient means of mass communication. Your blog isn't dated, it's staying the course and not distracted by the latest fads. Keep it up. I'm here every day looking for new posts and checking the latest comments. Thanks for all of your hard work.

Thank you Mike for soldiering on. I've been happily reading your blog and frequently learn something thanks to you. I start each day on this page as I have for well over a decade.

I had no idea that readership had fallen that dramatically. Consequently, my stipend shall increase forthwith. I, for one, would miss your writing tremendously.

I'm glad you're continuing, Mike. I read every day without fail and I'm a Patreon contributor in a small way. Like Chico, I think I'll bump it up a little because I want you to continue. I also feel the obligation to pay for things I use so I subscribe to on-line newspapers.

What I like is your personal style. We're not likely to meet but I almost feel I know you. What I like to read is your personal opinions and experiences. The piece about the whole food diet and your weight loss a few months ago was especially inspiring and I've kept it printed out.

I'm a bit of a gear man and I very much like your takes on various cameras. I've even followed your advice once or twice. But I'm put off buying new cameras and lenses by the price these days. I can't justify $2,000 or more, and that's just for the body, especially now that travelling has virtually ended for me. I think camera prices have risen remarkably, to almost unaffordable levels. $1500 lenses? No, sorry.

I think you'll keep writing because you have to, it's in your blood and part of you. That's a good thing. I also write a blog, nothing special, but I just need to say things and show pictures, mostly my own but sometimes special things I find on-line. I have quite a few followers so they must find something of interest.

I've recently found an Israeli genealogy web site that has amazing photo enhancement and colourisation built in (MyHeritage) and I'm bringing my family's photos to life, going back to the 1920s. I'm showing many on my blog. Like you, I don't see myself stopping.


Keep up the good work. I refuse to watch videos. The last one I watched was such a bad experience, and I see no chance for a change. The persons who do this have a limited vocabulary and an inability to edit and tighten up their presentations, along with a far to often need to make little "inside jokes" that are silly and often make strange faces and don't show photos, instead showing short clips of them practicing the art of photography, leading to silly stances that will in no way improve the photos. These presentations often remind me of my Junior High English teacher's advice to "eschew obfuscation."

I respect your good use of the language, and I hope you will continue and Kirk will soon return.

Bill Pearce

Count me in amongst the fooled, one third through the post I was thinking “uh oh, this is a goodbye.” I’m so glad I was wrong!

Anyway, the post made me wonder how long has TOP been around—I know I’ve been reading you for at least twenty years but didn’t remember when this blog started. Was it really November 2005, as the first post in the old blogspot site seems to indicate? If so I am surprised to realize I have you beaten by several months, I started my photoblog in February 2005! Photoblogging, just as photo blogging, has became quaint I guess, but I refuse to play the Instagram game. That medium is terrible for looking at photos, and the dynamics are all wrong. Its contribution to the fall of democracy doesn’t help either.

With any luck, in another ten years or so there will be a bunch of kids coming back to blogging, just like there are many shooting film right now. “It’s just like Instagram/Facebook, but with your own site and you write instead of shooting video!”

Skype costs something. As far as I can tell, Google's messaging services cost nothing, which is preferable. You can also define a virtual phone number which will act as an answering machine. Also costs nothing. Go get those German cheapskates!

You've got 10,000 daily viewers and only 787 of them care enough to make even a small contribution to keep TOP afloat? Shameful! A suggestion... One of the things that makes TOP so interesting -- and, I gather, interesting for you -- is the published comments. Yet you say it takes a lot of work to moderate this dialogue. Well, you should get paid for that. What if you stipulated that only Patreon supporters will be eligible to have their comments published? Bet your financial base would expand quite a bit. And shelling out as little as a dollar a month, if that's all you can afford, is not going to cause anyone hardship.

In any event, this article made me feel guilty enough that I've boosted my very modest Patreon contribution to something a little less modest. TOP is a treasure!

Mike u had me going there for a minute....im thinking I cant lose all my fav bloggers in one week.OK blogging might have lost some of its gloss for some but these days its a bit like vinyl records there are still some of us that love to actually read something and feel in touch with a real human being

Glad to hear the news Mike!

Great writing is a staple of human communication that may wax and wane in popularity, but will always endure.

I have an iPhone 11 Pro Max (my first ever iPhone) with the three lenses, but I hate using it to photograph except for scanning documents and the like. It’s an ergonomic nightmare, and the sensor is tiny. I like to think that the fewer people practicing “proper” photography makes me more exclusive, like your site.

The reason why European checks are so expensive is because no one in Europe uses checks or has used them for over two decades. Europe understands electronic money transfer and with that everything works like a charm. I'm sorry to say that in this respect the US is very much a third world country for every day use.

Based on some quick research, you should be able to change it so that instead of a check you get a bank transfer even in the US, see https://affiliate-program.amazon.com/resource-center/receive-your-international-affiliate-earnings-in-your-local-bank

And Amazon.de does also speak quite good English ;)

I second the request for the tip jar. I dislike Patreon's methods and even eBay add cost to simple transactions.

Just a short comment to thank you for your decision, Mike.

I am one of those few who deeply enjoy your writing, and no matter how fashionable it is, I will come here regularly to read your articles on pretty much any topic (except diets!). Fine writers do not abound these days, especially in internet, and I very much appreciate your contributions. So keep them coming!

Mike, you big tease...

Everything you say is absolutely true, of course, but essentially a description of how it feels to grow old. Suddenly, all the action is somewhere else, in a part of town you never visit. And too LOUD.

I am truly appalled by what you reveal about Amazon and the banks, however. I have been looking for an excuse finally to stop using Amazon, and this is probably it. I'd rather increase my Patreon contribution.

As for declining stats, I feel your pain, although in a homeopathic dose. At its peak (also around 2012/13) I was getting THREE HUNDRED regular readers on my blog "Idiotic Hat", but now I'm only seeing around fifty. But these are probably the fifty most intelligent, astute, and well-informed readers on the planet! (well, apart from the ones related to me, the ones I was at school with, or the ones to whom I owe debts no honest man can pay... So, OK, the twenty most intelligent, etc.).

Samuel Johnson is alleged to have said that "No man but a blockhead ever wrote except for money". Well, I can think of better reasons to be writing, and I'm glad you can, too.


I agree with Dave Stewart's comment regarding an alternative to Patreon. I subbed for a while but part of the reason I stopped was that I was paying an additional 20% tax to the UK gov, which just made no sense to me.

First the usual positive comment, just not as explicative as many other.

Secondly. The US banking system. Amazon mails cheques deliberately, I presume. Thousands of small cheques "bouncing" must save them millions over the years.

I live in France and Germany. I can transfer small and large amounts to any bank account in the Euro Zone without incurring any charges, neither to me or to the recipient. The transfer is usually completed in less than 48 hours, less if within one country and then it is mostly overnight.

Can't Trump issue Executive Order to deal with this problem?

There are lots of places to satisfy a gearhead. Not many to satisfy someone interested in improving their photographic skills -- technical and creative. This is why I'm waiting still for more of the museum-related photographs and critique. And I'm waiting still for more of the print reviews.

Your readers put some effort into submitting photographs but we haven't heard back. And this type of critique is what TOP is good at. Possibly what TOP does best -- just not often enough.

In today's world of on-line publishing and free news I still subscribe to a small number of printed magazines. But my monthly contribution to TOP is larger. TOP is important and useful and accessible and entertaining. Please don't stop.

I second (or third?) others' suggestion to use Skype for international calling.
You nearly gave me a heart attack, though! :-) Having read your observations I have a renewed sense of appreciation for what you do and how well you do it on a daily basis. I'd just like to say Thankyou!

Best regards,

I'm probably in the quite small minority of the Millenial generation who prefers reading good writing over watching good video (although I enjoy both). I was sad to find out Ming and Kirk were retiring their blogs, and am glad that you're going to keep blogging. I find reading much more time-efficient than videos.

I enjoy the writing here, and also the comments, and hope you keep going for a long time. There seem to be fewer and fewer places to find interesting tidbits on photography and cameras that aren't shilling to sell something (especially with the latter :P)

Bit of a scare. Not huge.
Did not feel like the way you would announce such a thing. Still ...

Woke me up, so I clicked the Patreon button and signed up.

Thanks so much for creating and sharing this magnificent blog.

+1 for bringing back the Tip Jar.

Thank you, for before now and continuing after now. I've grown tremendously from your words and those of the commenters. Through all the changing times, both good and bad, you've always been a hub, an anchor of peace and intelligence

I've had a weekly photo blog for over ten years. Web traffic disappears in July, August and the first week or two in September. People have lots of other things to do in the summer and reading blogs is not high on the list of things to d when the weather is nice.
I'm disappointed with web traffic at this time of year, but readership should pick up in a couple of weeks.

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