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Sunday, 10 January 2021


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Assuming that you have a septic system, as I do, you are also faced with the additional task of dealing with the disposal of the chemicals. Not an insurmountable problem, but another task to deal with.

In 2019/20 the top 43 snooker players earned more than £62k prize money (approx $84k). Judd Trump (no relation) earned £920k (approx $1.26M). Maybe your guys should think about crossing the Pond?

[You have the much-maligned Barry Hearn to thank for that. Pool should be so unfortunate! --Mike]

One of my buddies is a pro photographer, defined as someone who makes a living providing photographic services. Google Porchraits by Neil Zeller. This is a tough way to make a living. Really tough. Actual photographic skill is only the beginning. Marketing savvy is probably even more important.

The world has changed so much it's hard to know how to advise people on what career to take up. The advice "do what you love, the money will follow" is a risky bet, though it might be emotionally satisfying. Better is the Venn diagram where these two overlap, "things you like, or at least don't mind doing" and "things with a track record of paying reasonable money in exchange for moderate competence".

The other thing to consider is how big of a talent pool you're competing against. To make reasonable money as a pro golfer, it appears you need to be in the top 200 of all the golfers in the world, and there's a lot of golfers. No idea how many pool players there are.

No photo of the bug??

[No. That was pre-digital and pre-cellphone, at least for me, and I didn't have a macro lens for my 35mm camera. And I only took B&W at the time. Plus I didn't want to get too close to the thing! I was a little bit freaked out by it, to tell you the truth. --Mike]

Ever notice how our friends who are film/silver print/darkroom enthusiasts never...NEVER...talk or write about where they dump the toxic chemicals that their hobby produces? Most of them probably dump the poison into the public waste stream (down the toilet) as I did when I last developed film and made prints, back in the 1980's.

Probably the stupidest thing I ever did was picking up a camera. I went to film school, and made good money—none of my brothers-in-law made more.

I enjoyed the work, and was good at it. I did it all—working on documentary/educational, TV commercials and feature films. I've also shot print ads and editorial for magazines. Even with a successful career I'm sorry that I didn't stay in school, and get a PhD in Underwater Basket Weaving ;-)

I don't have GAS, I haven't bought a camera in 10 years. My paid work was always done with rented cameras/lenses/lights.

The only photo-book I own is Edward Culver's BLIGHT AT THE END OF THE FUNNEL https://www.amazon.com/BLIGHT-END-FUNNEL-First-Last/dp/086719670X

My hobby is photo-story-telling, not photo-gear-collecting. All I use today is an iPhone.

BTW I have not been in a darkroom since I took Darkroom 101 in the 1960s.

I'd agree about the advice to today's wannabe professional photographers. It was difficult to get into it in the 50s, other than as a wedding and passport shooter, and advertising was pretty much limited to capital cities if you wanted to make a lot of money. Sure, there was advertising in the sticks, too, but you couldn't expect to make anywhere near the money of the stars in the Big Smokes. Industrial, within an engineering company, was my route, and where I really learned how to print. But, it was never going to give me what I wanted, nor could I expect a reasonably comfortable life on the pay. So I went solo and into fashion/advertising/calendars. It took a lot of effort and staying power. A lot of staying power.

However, if you had little choice because it was your heart's desire, then it could at least offer you a bit of glamour for a while if you picked the right genres. I got the impression, late-80s/early 90s, that I was slipping off the the piste somehow; only some years later when I got into the Internet, did I discover that I had been anything but alone in feeling in a kind of figure of the past situation - irrelevant, in a new world where cheap and fast was the order of the day. At the time, people all pretended to be doing very well... right until they vanished from the scene.

Irony Alert!

I captured the [bug of the apocalypse], examined it for a few hours, then let it go in a field, without, unfortunately, having the slightest idea what it was, or what its normal habitat was, or even if it was a native species, an escaped pet, or something sinister I would have been better advised to destroy. I've never even been able to find a picture that looks anything like it.

I’m late here, having been preoccupied with the events of the past week. Regarding the bug, I just downloaded an app called iNaturalist that lets you take pictures of plants, animals, etc and supposedly helps you identify them. I haven’t tried it yet but having just moved to the South Carolina coast I thought it might help me identify all the new bird species I’m seeing every day. It might help identify your bug.

I lived for too long in a small apartment that had all of two recessed windows, and not large ones. On printing nights, I'd turn the whole place into a darkroom. I cut black foam core to block the windows, but found them unnecessary, as all local street lamps then were sodium vapor and our street rarely had car traffic, so I shaded the windows but left them open.

Processing was a challenge until I discovered one-tray processing (actually one plus a wash tray (or tank or sink)).

I also once had a basement -- think hole in the ground -- darkroom. It was really dark, because there were no windows. I was working for a newspaper in Missouri that didn't have a staff photographer. When they needed a photo, a guy who worked in a camera shop (yes, there was a local camera shop) ran out and shot them. So, when I showed up with a Spotmatic and three lenses, I was a star. The paper paid me $90 a week for reporting, and $5 for each photo. I bought a very cheap 35mm-only enlarger and a few trays, chemicals, a red bulb and a huge used timer. I made a *lot* of really, really crappy photos down there, but they kept my head above water and helped pay off a $750 car. I once took a photo of a fat bald guy standing in the middle of the highway holding by the tail a huge rattlesnake he'd run over with his pickup. It went on the front page. The basement never had a dust problem because it had a moisture problem; my wife worried that I might electrocute myself. It did have an odor problem -- I think it had once been used to store potatoes -- which the darkroom odors actually improved.

This blog entry made me realize that I was once a professional photographer. That had never occurred to me before. People considering photography as a career should ask, "Am I a business person?" Because it's much easier to become a competent photographer than a competent business person.

That golf money, by the way, was official money. Golfers earn much more for endorsements. I know a former pro golfer who *never* won on the tour, but confided to me that he made upwards of $200,000 annually in endorsement fees, which means he walked around the golf course looking like a billboard. I read somewhere that Tiger Woods is worth half a billion.

Before you took up pool, had you considered the possibility of darts? Way cheaper.

"Ever notice how our friends who are film/silver print/darkroom enthusiasts never...NEVER...talk or write about where they dump the toxic chemicals that their hobby produces? Most of them probably dump the poison into the public waste stream (down the toilet) as I did when I last developed film and made prints, back in the 1980's."

Mike - it's a bad habit to let people get away with these sweeping and disparaging generalizations about film-users.

I find that new darkroom enthusiasts are generally very conscientious about the possible environmental impact of their hobby, and discuss it often (take a look through Reddit's film discussions, for instance).

I only ever used a darkroom a couple times at university, but I know the contemporary public darkrooms in my hometown take waste disposal very seriously - there is no way the waste is just flushed down the drain.

otoh I do find that digital enthusiasts never talk about the chemicals and base elements, often dug out of the earth by dubious means with massive human suffering, that go into making their new cameras and gadgets. And the impact on the environment when these are discarded in an 'upgrade' cycle every couple years.

No pic of the insert ?! That is unacceptable. (In forum they quit at that point and given it is not I continue :-))

It is not like the snake which tried to attack me all 1/3 body up in the area looking and I have a Minolta macro lens on manual. Or the corba I nearly step on the staircase outside my garden.

You have lots of hours.

A crime of the century for a photographer may I say.

When I was 19 I decided that I was going to have photography as a hobby/passion and remain an amateur. And go to the University and get another occupation to finance my photography. 34 years later I still think I did the right ting.

I had a conversation like the one you reported above. For years I had a complex that I was really slow, unfit, etc, mostly because my best friend was one of those all around fast twitch muscle type record breakers. So I did a fitness test at University.
Doc: You have all the physical characteristics of an olympic standard water polo player.
Me: I hardly swim.
Oh well.
In the end I did compete internationally at Touch Rugby.

BTW, Keith B. Just an FYI:

I was the head of a large mid-west retailers photo department during the last days of film, and we did thousands of rolls of black & white film per year, as well as prints and proofs.

Because we lived in a highly "Germanic" area of the country, I had to provide extensive paperwork associated with the toxicity of what we were pouring down the drain when we expanded our darkroom facilities. I worked hand in hand with Kodak directly to supply these materials.

Believe it or not, the net result was that most of the stuff we were pouring down the drain was easily soluble and had zero impact on the cities water supply and filtering process; with the possible exception of fix, and that was fine once the silver was filtered out (which we did). Now there's so little silver in film, it's no problem at all for a home processor!

As far as anyone is concerned, the major ecological concern on the home processors side, is the use of fresh water. The use of Perma Wash and all these types of things cuts that way, way, back.

No one wants to get into a pissing contest about what's more ecologically sound. The resources and ecological impact used in electronics and sensor production will grey your hair! A relative of mine used to be an executive director of a science museum, and he would tell you keeping a 1967 Cadillac alive, and burning gas, is more ecologically sound and has less of a carbon footprint than even building a brand new Tesla!

I just completed building a darkroom in my house... one reason we bought the place was that there was a storeroom that could be (and now has been) converted. I've made silver prints in a darkroom for 45 years, minus the last two, and look forward to printing new and old negatives.
As for Keith B.'s rather snarky comment, all the people (and businesses) I know who do chemical photography are very careful about chemical disposal. For the record, most home b/w chemicals are not particularly dangerous... developers oxidize and break down quickly, and stop bath is just vinegar. Used fixer is the bad one. You can recover silver at home but it's usually not worth it. There are two commercial photo labs in my town; they are required to recover silver (and have the volume to make it practical) so I just donate my used fixer to them...I solve a problem and they are happy to make a few pennies.

The mystery critter was the magical commercial success bug. Few ever see one. Almost no one kisses it to receive magical fame and fortune.

That description you gave conjured up an assassin bug for me. Pretty much would be an AT-AT to any other bug around.

I noted with some nostalgia that you lived in Woodstock. My father was born there in 1915 and lived there until he joined the Army in WW II. My grandmother and aunt lived there until they died. My grandmother lived on Jackson in an old Victorian home that the city subsequent to her death declared an historic home. Some of my great memories are going with my folks on summer trips to Woodstock to visit family. There was even a plan for me to attend my senior year of high school in Woodstock until my uncle suddenly died from a stroke. A few years ago my wife and I were in Chicago and we drove out to Woodstock. The square still looked familiar. I used to have a darkroom in a bathroom of our home which worked quite well until we moved. When we recently did a remodel at our current home my wife graciously indulged me and we added a small room completely designed as a darkroom. My trusty Omega D2 continues to churn out b&w prints. I very much enjoy your columns, particularly when they involve analog photography.

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