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Sunday, 14 February 2021


The Nazraeli Press site in the UK shows they still have some for sale.


That barn shot would look great in black and white.

Regarding the idea of specificity; this is, I think, one of the allures of portraiture in comparison to scenic photography.
And, however accidental, to my eyes, the barn photograph is one of your best, not at all devalued by the horror of highlights, nor even a musty period piece.
(alas, it is a fault of mine that I will never be able to free my mind of your criticism of Garo.)[Insert, if not completely happy, then at least kindly face]

Hey Mike, why don't you try to do a Eugene Smith-type of photo essay on the Amish?

A watercolor painter I know uses the phrase, "Another rock, Another tree," to describe this ... what would you call it? .... phenomenon.

I have it in mind whenever I find myself taking a picture of yet another rock, or yet another tree. But, they can be so INTERESTING!

I try to not let it dissuade me. Yes, I've seen much better photographs of St. Marks square, but this one is MY photograph, taken from MY vantage point, with MY camera.

In response to this post and your previous: for me, part of the specificity of any scene is exactly the light. The same scene at different times of day, year, in different weather conditions and circumstances makes for different photographs. Even so, the reason I bother taking a photograph is not so much to make something new or unique, but to artfully document light and experience. A lot of the photos I take wouldn’t mean much to anyone else. But, I enjoy looking at the photos to appreciate the light and my attempt at thoughtful composition. Another aspect of the specificity is that I was there at that time under those circumstances. Even if it’s the sort of scene that’s been done before, on this occasion at this moment I am the one experiencing the light and trying to document it artfully only for the pleasure of doing so.

The sepia in that shot of the barn strikes me as a rare non-gratuitous application of the look. Kudos to fate, or your camera's AI that you activated by accident, or gremlins or whatever it was, but mostly to your presence of artistic mind, skills and experience... Take the credit and smile!

Strikes me as an excellent exercise: set your camera for a look you wouldn't be caught dead ever using, and go out and use it.

“All my best thoughts were stolen by the ancients.”
― Ralph Waldo Emerson

“Only those with no memory insist on their originality.”
― Coco Chanel

“A facility for quotation covers the absence of original thought.”
― Dorothy Sayers , Gaudy Night

But, seriously, whatever happened to the notion of perfecting one's craft over time, through iteration and practice? Aren't we damn lucky that Cartier-Bresson, Ansel Adams, Matisse, Cezanne, etc. tackled the same scenes and images and themes over and over again? That Bach and Faulkner mined the same veins throughout their careers? And for the most part, these themes, threads and ideas were nothing new--these geniuses made them new.

Inventing from scratch is nearly impossible--but making it a little better, or more yours, or more *something* each time--that's the work. Keep at it and you might even earn your way to "original". IMHO "originality" per se is a red herring, a fool's errand, even a cop-out of sorts. Almost by definition, you can't go looking for it.

h/t Goodreads for the quotes

I did one shoot an entire roll of film that I had apparently neglected to load into my camera. Despite (I thought) having built the habit of watching the rewind crank rotate as I advanced the film most of the time. It was on an assignment, too, not just shooting for fun. Not actually sure I was in my 20s yet, though.

How did I get here and how do I get back?

Many years ago, Microsoft did a study of what keys and commands were used most often in Microsoft Word. Number one was ... Undo!

Like Mike, I have occasionally found my camera lost in a mysterious state or mode with no obvious path to more familiar territory. And of course I never carried the 150 page user manual to help me back. But ... I now carry a PDF of the manual in my phone which is always with me.

And of course, now that I have it I've never needed it.

I think the barn works very well in sepia. Sometimes a mistake is a lucky one. I feel for you. I have been in that screwed up buttons situation a few times. When I was an engineer we called it finger trouble.I love Torn Sky. Absolutely worth a shot. I would have included all three cloud breaks in their entirety or just have had the centre one in portrait, but that's just me. Landscapes are the one genre that benefits from a zoom lens most of the time.

Is it beneficial to look at the issue backwards? Since we do tend to revisit familiar territory, is there a good reason for doing so? We must be getting something out of that.

Been there done that. Too many buttons, features not used. I was on one of my photo walks last week. I looked at my camera and the warning "out of memory", no more shots on the card. How could that be?
Easy, I mistakenly pushed the video button. It kept a record of my feet on pavement, the sky, and filled my sd card.
That was simple to fix, just deleting the video but I will be careful with my fingers next time.
I'v never shot in sepia before....maybe next time.
The barn photo is very nice, atmospheric. As is the "torn sky". Worth the time to setup those shot.

Love the sepia barn!

Find similar photos based on the photo itself, as opposed to metadata about the photo.
Once we know for sure that all photos have been taken, what’s the point of taking more?

An experienced user of a machine getting stuck in its settings ... this is as if I got stuck only being able to play the D string of a guitar. A user interface which even allows this possibility was not designed to be used by human beings.

Of course everyone gets stuck in their creative processes: often I get stuck playing certain phrases, chord progressions, or clever tricks which become annoying twitches. And there are ways out of these traps that our teachers explain to us: play only 9th chords, use an odd tuning, play instead the piano. This is to be human.

But to be trapped in a user interface: this is to despair. The machines we have built are eating our minds.

Your barn picture, like most barn pictures, begs the question, "What's in there?" But few get to know. Did you find out what's in there?

[No, sorry. --Mike]

I think everyone goes through inspirational droughts. Some thoughts...

I've moved around a lot in my life and I've often experienced the sort of thing that David Bailey (I think) described (paraphrasing) "For the first 24 hours I take photographs like crazy, because after that everything starts to look the same".

On the other hand I've often photographed the exact same location, or experience, and each image retains an individuality because of context, personal mood etc. Not just static scenes like landmarks or landscapes, but cafes, pubs, events, stations, buses etc.

I've never found the idea of going out looking for photos very fruitful, unless you are documenting.

"The best photos arrive uninvited" - Jane Bown (paraphrasing again)

Photography is a very broad church with many rooms.

FWIW I'm in a bit of a drought myself at the moment

It might not be for you, but I found that the ideas in the book Seeing Fresh. The Practice of Contemplative Photography helped me produce photographs in a style that I had not produced previously.

Hey Sepia ain't bad! Thank your lucky stars it wasn't accidentally jpg as I did the first outing with the X-T1 6 years ago. And the shot is lovely just the way it is with that warm evening light. I'd lose the truck though ... to my eye it's just a distraction.

Mike - on second thought ... keep the truck. It works fine that way.

I do get frustrated at times in the same way. I have started calling them my “comfort shots”, which helps me not just accept them but sometimes lets them feel like they’re more about warming up, exercising (there’s one particular photo I take every time whenever I visit the city, just because it makes me giggle inside). The quest for newness is important to me, but I try to balance it with a quest for what I like - repetition seems inevitable. And though they are never quite exactly the same, many would say my aesthetics are exactly as boring every time too. Ah, well, the eye likes what it likes.

Incidentally, on its way to me are a camera and lens I feel I have long been moving towards - a Fujifilm X-Pro3 and a 23mm f2 WR (it will come home to a 35mm F1.4 sibling). I expect there to be lots of clouded-in, moist, textural, tree, rock and mist photos in my near future. Repeatedly.

I just took a shot of ice fisherman last week. In Arizona.

Both the sunset shot and the barn shot are quite good, and I tend to classify these things with kitten photos, puppies, covered bridges in the fall, and boudoir. You have a good sense of composition, but especially tonal control of the dark areas that to me makes these stand out. Okay the old truck and the barn together might be over the top, but sometimes you just have to go with what's in front of you.

I think the pandemic has forced everyone to at least try and see anew- I stitched together my first digital panoramics. In my nascent digital career (which I will never outgrow) my menu selections/options would go askew every other push of a button, intentional or not. Now, I at least have a general idea of which menu rabbit hole to descend before I start cursing aloud. Some electrical tape 'fixed' a 'self moving' dial below the ISO dial on my X-T1.

Some in the photo art world take to degrading Kenna's work- whatever one thinks, at least he keeps it small and humble, which alone is more than can be said for some...

Take another 25 pictures of barns, and make a book "TwentySix Barns". Instant classic.

Maybe shake up your lens selection. We just got the fuji gf 250 with the 1.4 teleconverter. Dirck took that load on a walk. It was fun! We met this excited guy.


Given the current situation in which I have been working from home since last March and only venture out for walks with the dog around our apartment grounds, I’m becoming depressingly familiar with taking the same photo. The tree just outside our patio might well be in he running for “world's most photographed tree” if I keep this up! iPhone, 2 different micro four thirds cameras, 35mm black and white, Instax, Polaroid, even medium format and a 4x5 transparency...all of the same subject in multiple seasons, every kind of light, you name it. Maybe I need to curate it all into a project of some kind!

Tiresome repeats of similar compositions are inevitable when always using the same (or nearly so) wide angle focal length lenses. Those ice fishing subjects would present all sorts of possibilities at 200mm to 600mm (equivalent). Given the freedom implicit with shooting in APS-C or micro 4/3, one doesn't need to be a packhorse anymore to explore entirely different options. Just add a tripod and a cable release.

A Nikon D500 + this…https://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/1275036-REG/nikon_20062_afp_dx_nikkor_70_300mm.html
…light weight tele present new vistas.


I enjoyed the old barn photograph. I sympathize with your frustrations concerning your S.O.S. (stuck on sepia) camera. I can just imagine you shaking the thing and telling it that you never had these problems with film cameras. :>)

One of the things I appreciate about the Pentax digital cameras is the "magic" green circle button which resets certain settings. Plus, it resets itself to your stored settings on the User 1 . . . User 5 settings if you switch to a different User setting, then back to the setting you were using. (Turning the camera off, then back on will accomplish the same thing.) You must go into the menu to actually save any changes, which is another fail-safe feature.

The torn sky is a photo I don't remember seeing. A very unusual and thought-provoking photograph in my opinion. The dark areas are foreboding, but there's hope from above that all is not doom and gloom. I'm so glad you had a camera with you! That's a keeper.

I went out with my camera today and found a bunch of activity on the frozen lake. Snowmobiles, ATVs, a bicyclist and even a unicyclist. And I luckily got a shot with both cyclists in the same frame. The longest K-mount lens I have is the 77mm Limited, so at "full-zoom-in" on the computer, the subjects aren't really sharp. But at least I got something.

You just never know what you'll find. Even if it is an unintentional sepia-colored barn. Good work, Mike!

I have that in mind any time I catch myself taking an image of yet another rock or another tree. Yet they might be so sexy!

Don't you have Memory buttons where you can store presets? My Panasonic DC-G9 has a get-out-of-jail - free button marked iA (Intelligent Auto) which I resort of over flustered

For inspiration look no further than Ruth Orkin, "The World Through My Window". An entire book of beautiful photographs take from her apartment window overlooking NYC Central Park.

Part of our "job" is to present the oft seen in a new and revelatory light. (Pun intended). I've seen an exhibit of the contact sheets for many of Cartier- Bresson's most iconic images. There were many so-so photos until he found the "decisive moment".

Like writing, we may all use the same words, it is how they are arranged on the page that creates art.

Barn pic is great. For me, repeatedly taking photos of sites I’ve already snapped is like keeping up with, and documenting, some old friends. And besides, the light changes even if the location doesn’t. There is always that hope that the light will really elevate that one pic that one time. And then, if the light is regularly good, there’s that place you always snap that reminds you that you can still take a good pic, even when the others just aren’t happening.

I kind of get the "been there done" that attitude. I'm a scenery guy, so I mostly feel that on the next trip to somewhere familiar I feel like there is the possibility of better light, and even the same photo is going to be different (and better) because of the different conditions. Sometimes I even see something in a familiar scene that I haven't seen before - a new angle, a different element to include. So you can get tired of a scene, but it takes a lot for me to feel I've worn it out.

Try giving A Lesser Photographer by CJ Chilvers a read (and the complete book is now available online: https://www.cjchilvers.com/a-lesser-photographer). In my opinion, its a great antidote to the feelings you have written about in your recent posts. When I get frustrated that my images are not turning out better than the masters' most famous work, I reread it to recenter my attitude and expectations.

Mike, your sepia barn picture is interesting. I’ve never seen that barn or it’s kind before. If you don’t like the sepia treatment, it can be easily undone.

The Ice-fishermen photo reminds me of a Pieter Bruegel (the Elder) scene.
Regards, Yoram

It's interesting to read the varied feedback on this set of posted images. Torn Sky doesn't do much for me, but I do respond to Ice-fisherman (converted to black and white) and Sepia Barn. As time goes on you may find yourself liking Sepia Barn more and more, too. May I suggest you ask around and to try and find some history on this structure as additional back story. Also, I think this barn would make a nice subject for a 4x5 film shot, too.

My attitude toward photographing similar subjects repeatedly comes from sports; not art.
I don't golf but I have a brother-in-law who does. His willingness to hit that little ball over and over comes from looking forward to those times when it's hit perfectly. Maybe a lesson from pool, also?

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