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Tuesday, 13 October 2020


Mike, define old or older ?
Funny that you mention, I guess I started reading you maybe ten years ago, no clue... and at the time I thought with pride and delight "oh this is definitely slow food oldie quality content and I'm enjoying this" ! Now ten years later (I'm now 40), I still don't feel in the targeted age group and am still delighted ! So you must be doing something right... quality work !

Congratulations and happy birthday, Herman! Your puns always make me smile, like ... well..you know.

I have the greatest respect for anyone born during Calvin Coolidge's administration. Many more at ya!

Now why don't you visit Mike and teach him how to use that lumber yard camera? All he seems to be getting out of it so far is Brussels sprouts!

Thank you for your comments. Since I received my first camera as a gift form my parents around 1957 I now comprise your grey beard contingent. And quite happy about that! I can't imagine doing battle with the fanbois who comprise the DP Review contingent. Old guys rule!( I have the T shirt).

I too enjoy the company of people who know more than I do. It keeps me humble.

The other day some one asked me how it felt to be a senior citizen, my response was I do not know as I am only 80..... I can still ride 20 miles with a 1000 feet of climbing in under 2 hours so I am good with that.

The saddest part, is my surfer buddy, my rock climbing buddy and my bicycle riding buddy have all passed. Now that makes me feel old....

Mike, I for one, and I suspect many others, are very happy with the content and comments at TOP. That is why we are here.
I took my first photos that I can date accurately in 1959 but am still learning stuff.
Where else can I learn what particular lens goes with which particular healthy food and still not gain weight?

I'm on board, Mike; I never miss a post and I support your site through Patreon.

And happy birthday Herman!

~ David (age 72)

I'm with you. I'd love to know more young people (particularly well-shaped ones), but without me having selected anything, it just turns out that the great majority of my friends are middle-aged or older.
Maturity, background, perspective, thoughtfulness. Not chasing money or sex all the time.

One of my longest internet friends, Ray, is 88 now. He still sometimes bikes around Vancouver.



How hard is it to not click? Whiners.

Well, compared to Herman I’m a youngster. So thanks for writing for me.

So, Boomer*, what's new in your LF adventure?

* (I'm allowed to say that, since I'm in a WAY older generation, and silence is for sissies.)

"I like the company of people who know more than I do. About something, possibly including photography, even."

I don't know if that is an age thing or a maturity thing, which could happen at any age.

I frequent another site with active comments but only as a lurker. Nobody uses real names and the ratio of negative, bordering on contemptuous comments is 80 to 20. No posted photo goes without ridicule and bragging how the commenter can do so much better. My guess is that the medium age at that site is much younger than this site. I'm absolutely sure that irregardless of any chronological ages, the maturity level is much lower there.

If this is a site for older people, I'm glad for it. If not, I'm glad that mostly mature people participate.

Older than what?

I'm only a little more than half as old as some of my cameras. Funny thing is that when I bought them in the 80s they were about 3 times as old as I am.

Older? Guilty. And proud of it.

I'll put my photo production numbers up against any younger person who works five or more days a week and doesn't have time to make photographs.

Happy Birthday Herman. Shutter assist kits are available. Would you prefer blond, brunette or redhead.😄😜🙃

It's my pleasure and an honor to wish Herman a Happy Birthday! I'm only about 2/3 way there and Mike and I are only a little bit apart in years.

Give it another few more, hang in here, and all could become centenarians. In my part of the woods, we have about 1200 of them.

I used to lust after a LF camera to shoot pictures. But today, I don't mind a cheap beater just to display in my sitting room to show how beautiful a well crafted old camera is.

Dan K.

Re a site for old Guys
I think of it less that way then as kindred spirits who all had the benefit of a unique shared experience. Many of us remember a time when Television was new, and black and white, and a telephone was black, had a wire, and was usually located in the kitchen. The internet was not even a dream, and photography was a well established photochemical process full of nuance for those who took the time to learn it.
The first time we saw a print emerge from white paper in a darkroom we nearly universally described it as magical.
Yet we were also lucky enough to see digital photography emerge and the world wide web emerge and who among us can't remember thinking (at least once) 'I can't imagine using email for anything"

Yet use it and learn it we did, and watched and participated as digital photography advanced faster and better than we could have imagined.
Most of us embraced it and reveled in the fact that it was mostly easier and often better than the processes we grew up with.
Having the good fortune and privilege to live through a time of fundamental change has been a rare gift in human history.
Change used to be slow. To have been born at a time when the speed of change had accelerated enough to have allowed us to fully appreciate both the old technology and do the same for the new technology is a pretty unique experience.
Some of our grandparents used horses for transportation, some of our grand children may colonize Mars.
We are the generation that received that opportunity.
You can't really explain to people who grew up with it, what it is like NOT to have the internet or cell phone or instant news.
But we can talk to each other about all those things, and it is nice to talk with people who just 'get' what you mean.
We've learned to do photography a new way, but there is still a reverence for the old way. The old way and the new way produce results that are similar, but not the same. Each way has some advantages. As a group we get that. As a group we also get that my way does not have to be your way, it is a big tent and all are welcome to participate in the civilized and enjoyable discussion.

There is another benefit, because we understand how relatively difficult old methods were, we get to appreciate and be amazed at what is now within our grasp. I love to be amazed. And what is better than a community of friends whose shared experiences allow them to be amazed together?
Mike took pains to create this gathering place where we all self selected to participate.
We may be unique, because now change comes SO fast that there is not much time to savor and become attached to things. No time for nostalgia to develop.
I don't know how many of you see it this way, but I think we were born Just in time.........

I'm in the older set but I started young. My uncle taught me to contact print old 3 1/4-4 1/4 family negatives when I was 9. I'm still at it at 74 and it takes up all my time. I now sit in front of a screen and print with ink but the images are way better.

I went through it all, from Minox (I thought I was a spy), through 35mm, 6x6, 6x7, 4x5, and now all digital. There were interruptions for education and children but I regret none of that.

Photography has kept me relatively sane in these troubling times. I like to think I'm still learning though it's questionable whether knowledge is coming in faster than it's going out.

Keep going. We'll all enter the "final wash" one of these days.

I was in a local supermarket lately when the checkout cash register balked and required a manager's override. I asked the very young woman checking me out why that happened.

Her reply was "Maybe it doesn't like old people."

My comment was " I'm 70 years old, am still an active karate black belt, and still fly a multi-engine aircraft up in the Alaska mountains. How about you?" Seriously.

Just because one can wear a baseball cap backwards and smirk at a video camera doesn't mean that they have the technical nor artistic chops. Can you say "Dunning-Kruger Effect"?

I am an old reader (66 next month.) I am so torn between using the latest tech or dedicating myself to shooting my Toyo 45 field who often sits lonely and neglected. The Toyo is not real pretty but the movements are impressively smooth. There is no good reason why one cannot do both. Correction, there is and it is called time. The time to master the learning curve any endeavor. Sigh

Like the apparently apocryphal quote:
Growing old is mandatory
Growing up is optional

Hmm, I'm active on various Facebook groups for 35mm photography, medium and large-format, darkroom... I'm 35 and I find there's much to learn both from older members (some of whom have taken workshops with greats of 20th-century photography, or can speak knowledgeably about film stocks and paper from bygone days) and from younger ones (a flexible mindset, freely adopting hybrid digital techniques, sharing their experiences via YouTube videos and so on).

Likewise, both groups (clearly not everyone, I'm massively generalising) also have some not-so-desirable traits – in the first case, being somewhat set in their ways, or condescending towards younger members, and in the second case, perhaps a propensity to seek "easy" solutions and a reluctance to engage with the written word.

My own age group, of course, is perfect in every way ;)

More Large Format, please! It never gets "old." The latest digicam? Ho hum...But then, I am approaching 70.

I’m 53, but no better at photography than I was at 33 — so I’ll consider myself young, for TOP’s intents and purposes....

And another thing - why are all the policemen so young these days?

Few years back, the wife asked how old someone was, I replied, "He's an old guy, must be in his fifties." Then realized I was in my latter fifties.

Your audience is not just old, is very male.

I ran small program of my devising which finds, classifies commenter names on some TOP posts between March and September 2020. It found 1100 distinct commenters. 81% it is sure male name, 2.7% it is sure female (it would not guess me but I told it that). So very conservative guess is 81% male, more likely guess (assume same statistics apply for people who it could not guess) perhaps 95% male.

My program sadly is rather racist: it only really knows names of white european origin and a few obvious others as was trained on that.

But without evidence I guess that your commenters are also very, very white.

Nothing problematic with this demographic at all of course. Does certainly show that interest in cameras is terrible way to meet girls (or people who aren't white): probably everyone knows this.

Mike I think you are putting yourself into a ghetto. We all come here for the wisdom, knowledge, self doubt and thoughtfulness regardless of age. There is a difference between print and video but even that is not straightforward. You Tube is a prime example which has tons of shallow garbage for photography but also lots of really interesting stuff too.

This is a place for grown ups in a world that is currently designed for infants. By infants I mean 3 to 35 years olds that think that everything revolves around children. I miss those days when you could go down to the bar in the hotel for a drink. Now, you see the whole family,with running, noisy boys and screaming little girls and crying babies. You go to a bar and you have to listen the new disco music that teenagers listen to nowadays. It seems that the only place where you don’t see children is in normal people porn sites...

Mike Hurd preempted me 😆

But hey, I was reading your articles since the LL days. So I started out as a younger reader, and we've grown older together.

As far as photography goes, I can't even remember the last time I posted a photo anywhere other than Instagram.

I did finish an old roll in my Isolette the other day, but that roll just joins the dozens of rolls I have unprocessed.

Age is just a number.
The speed limit is just a number!
Six feet under is just a number!!

Years ago, my wife and I laughed at a sign in the window of a restaurant in a tourist town:


Not so funny any more...

Old in format but not in content. Have you considered videos or content in other forms? I personally prefer reading text, but that might not attract the Tok generation.

I have never paid attention to astrology (Cancer, born in the Year of the Rat...oofta!) but I’ve decided to embrace the Kanreki tradition that I learned about here on TOP. The last few years have been rough (personal & societal) and I could use a reboot. Karenki says that after a 60-year cycle (born 1960) of five trips through the Chinese zodiac I get to begin again and am at the beginning of an exciting second childhood. I’ll take it. I’ll take whatever I can get. Because of this, I might just be your youngest reader. I think I’ll begin rekindling my youth by picking up a vintage Fisher-Price camera, eating a healthy ice cream breakfast (milk, cream, sugar, egg yolks, and vanilla bean), perusing old TOP posts, and trying to worry less.

At 71 I’m feeling the physical limitations creep in but my interest in reading your articles has been steady since the beginning. There is so little good writing around today and that makes yours a treat. You are often sending me to a dictionary but without making me feel that you are talking over my head just to show off. That takes skill.

During this time of pandemic, everyday I ride my bicycle for a few miles in my countryside neighborhood when weather allows. There is nothing “photogenic” on my daily route, but I still carry an EM1 with a tiny 40 mm-150 mm kit lens on my back as I ride.

The other day two old ladies (much older than MJ, I am sure :-) ), in the typical bicycle riders’ outfit with shiny saturated colors, fast approached from behind as I slowly pedaled. At the instant they passed me, one of them said “Still using a camera? GO get a PHONE!!”

(Oh, yeah, 150 mm ... :-P )

The greatest problem that age has brought me regarding photography is that every time I feel tempted to drop a sum of money on cameras or lenses, the awkward self-questioning arises: how much time do I have left to use this stuff; what am I going to use it to shoot; isn't it better to keep the money in the bank so the kids can inherit it and get some real value from it?

I'm in my eighties - have been for three years - and know that life has changed a great deal, and things that I used to shoot (and still desire to shoot) won't come my way again, leaving me with substitute subject matter. In fact, substitutes for desired reality are one of the discoveries that age brings. I'm fortunate in that I have full use of mind and body, but initiative is the growing problem because of knowing that anything open to me isn't what I truly want. Yet, I still believe that photography is the thing that's kept me going after the death of my wife.

Funny thing: I never felt old until after I got my watch stolen last October as I walked down the street. The bitch who mugged me took something a lot more valuable than my Submariner.


I find myself actively avoiding videos as answers to questions I'm looking up. The big problem of course with streaming media is that it insists on controlling the rate of information presentation. There's also a secondary problem, when the answer is a short answer, that there's a certain amount of overhead on most videos, which is closer to constant than the real content is, so the time wasted on that increases as the answer gets shorter.

But videos are great for showing complex physical processes, or even simple ones that aren't obvious.

The one that annoys me most often is the one I've been forced to capitulate to. It's not actually that surprising that the best information on video editing and streaming comes from people to whom a video is the obvious way to present their knowledge :-) .


I was thinking the same thing as Zyni. The lack of women on this site makes me feel at times as if we're taking a narrow view, despite the wide-ranging knowledge of the commenters. There's so much knowledge here that I don't realize we're missing another viewpoint very often. (Most other photography websites are the same way - without the expertise of T.O.P.)

M. Perini's comment reflects my general view, but is better stated than I could.

We really were born at "the right time". I was a kid when all the cool mid-to-late '60s muscle cars were around. (My parents had a '67 Mustang and my uncle had a '66 Corvette coupe, so I got to see some cool cars up close and often.) Coming of age in the '70s, there was so much variety in rock music, automobiles, fashion, etc. We had to endure the over-played disco songs, but then Van Halen and Boston sure turned things around!

I remember talking with some younger people twenty years ago about being able to see the moon landing. One of the younger ones said, "I've seen the moon landing." I replied, "Live?" She nodded, understanding.

Luckily, I was born after the war, so I didn't have to worry about that. Plenty of relatives did serve.

The lack of cable channels allowed us to "unplug" after the late news (and Johnny Carson, when we were older).

I'm happy to see some younger people experimenting with film. Having to work with the limitations of film seems to intrigue them.

Jason, of the grainydays channel on YouTube, has some of the funnier videos I've seen. He shoots with various films and cameras, but his "10 Questions for Christine Bartolucci" video -- well, I don't know how he and Christine kept straight faces during the intentionally-awkward interview. (It's less than 10 minutes long, if you're interested.)

There are some other YouTube videos which are pretty decent. I may not be learning all that much, but it's fun to watch them discover new films and lenses.

My Pentax digital camera's great points are the in-body stabilization and Auto ISO. The thing I have to remind myself is to set the white balance. With film, it was either outdoor or indoor slide film and negative film was automatically compensated when the prints were made. I never had to remember to watch the white balance. It's a fair tradeoff, I'd say. I've taken some shots that weren't in very low light, but the shutter speed was much slower than I expected. The info would state a shutter speed of 1/10 second with a 77mm lens, yet the photo was sharp. I never could have done that well without the stabilization.

This old dog is trying to learn some new tricks, but I'm not going to pretend that I'm young. I doubt I'll ever join any social media site. (Not with the way they take as much personal information as they can get!)

I do get a kick out of talking with young people who wish they weren't so hooked on their phones and social media sites. Some even opine that they wish they had new music that was as good as the music from the '70s and '80s. When that happens, I might mention a rock group that doesn't get as much notice as some of the other older groups, to give them something new to discover.

I don't understand why some young people don't like to read. Maybe because too many of them can't turn off their phones long enough to spend an afternoon beside a lamp, dreaming of fantastic places or happenings. I'll always prefer the texture of a book's page to the hard display of a computer.

One personal observation about women and photography: Many years ago, when I decided to experiment with online dating, I was surprised by the number of women (most of whom were in their 40s and 50s) who claimed in their profiles to like photography.

I found this encouraging, because my photography was usually a point of friction with most of the women with whom I have been involved over the years.

Alas, this also turned out to be true for most of the women I met online who had claimed otherwise. It seems they were interested in the idea of photography, but not so much its practice.

A good example is the new-to-the-neighborhood woman who was walking her dog past my driveway yesterday while I was adjusting the lens mount for one of my FrankenKameras.

She smiled and said "I love photography" but after I took the bait and attempted to engage her in a brief conversation about it, she quickly confessed to knowing nothing about taking photos, didn't own a camera besides the one in her iPhone, and couldn't name any photographer other than Ansel Adams.

I've come to the conclusion that, by and large, most women who claim to "like photography" do so as a ruse to meet middle-aged men who actually do like photography.

And it obviously works, too, because we are going to meet early this Saturday morning and walk our dogs on the trail that runs along the northern edge of the nearby reservation. 8^)

[Have a nice time. Don't talk about photography! --Mike]

Young readers: there were always a lot o people who didn’t read, it may be no different today — more research needed!
Women readers of TOP: maybe this is just a result of the older demographic, fewer women photographers long ago? I’m not so sure about that as the other photography websites I’ve read seem to have mostly male commenters — hard to be sure given anonymous “handles” and so on, but it’s my impression.

Yes, I have to agree with Zyni: There are only a few woman commenting on TOP (if any) and probably very few (if any) persons of a diverse ethnic background. So: Male, white, old.
It's like a traditional club. I can almost see the leather overstuffed chairs, smell the left over scent of cigars not permitted anymore on the premises and the amber glow that lights up the glasses - used to be liquor, now it is roibush tea. It feels like a private gathering of likeminded people of a time passed.
Does it matter? As a female, white and old, I'm somewhat of an outsider but not that much of one. I do enjoy the company enough to read along.
Why I do not post as much (if at all)?
Well, it seems that males like to compete and show off. Males like to know better, have more experience, praise their own accomplishments. How often do I see commenters here who introduce their substantive comment to a topic with a lengthy description of what they have achieved in the past, how many cameras they have owned and so on to establish credibility or status among the likeminded. Fine. That can be entertaining but is not really to the point. As an older woman, I'm used to that: Listen, smile, nod in the affirmative, knowing how much a man needs that.
As a photographer, I don't need this affirmation. I know what I want to do and go ahead and do just that. This is not arrogance, it is peace.
I also noticed that in online forums such as this a woman's voice is not taken as serious or challenged much faster than a man's voice. I remember a discussion with someone here on printing. This ended up to be a long exchange of e-mails with no result other than me wondering why this person would not believe that I do get great prints.

So, how does this reflect on TOP? It is just right for the audience. Keep up the good work and maybe think about all the women who read and don't post. We see you.

[Well you should comment more often! --Mike]

To close the loop, the dog walk I referred to in my comment above went just fine. 8^)

The subject of photography never came up, although I did bring a camera with me (Sony RX1) and took a few photos of her and her dog, as well as Miss Abby (who looks like a standard poodle but is really a ham, because she always strikes a pose whenever I point a camera at her.)

I had a blast reading the comments. Just the other day, I was annoyed that it's so hard to get good E6 development when I occasionally want to use it and it would be great if Fuji still made Astia 100F. After reading the comments I feel very young here.

But the trends are certainly in favor of video, entertainment and click-bait headlines. However, I think readers here enjoy, as I do, the more traditional focus on enjoyable writing, interesting topics and the fact that the layout of the site is very straightforward and never changing, so that I can read the posts easily.

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