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Sunday, 02 October 2022


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...Have you noticed the blinding speed at which the world is becoming illiterate?...

Yes. And it will get worse. And there's nothing we can do about it, unless an EMP ends the interwebs.

I get the tool versus the note pad thing, but my fear is the once in a lifetime shot that you captured as a "note" because you had only that body with you, not anticipating any real photography.

In April 2012 (in case anyone wishes to look it up) I was in a Publix supermarket in Deland, Florida. Suddenly there was a crashing boom and all the power went out. All you could see is a giant hole in the ceiling and liquid fire pouring into the store and igniting everything in its path. A plane lost power from a nearby airport and crashed vertically into the middle of the roof, continuing into the store with all its burning fuel. I saw two people on fire fall from the rafters as the crew compartment was hung up in the buildings framework. It was not pretty.

My military training kicked in (I was bombed in the middle east) and I grabbed people and made my way to the front exit. I ran out to my car which had, not my Nikon D700, but my just-in-case note taking camera, Canon G12 with its tiny 1:1.7 sensor which could barely tolerate ISO 400. I was the only person there with a camera, but I'm almost embarrassed to look at what I shot. The quality of those early cell phone was worse than my Canon, but the Canon was not good enough.

Lesson for me: my note taking camera has to be equal to my art camera. The Canon was traded in for another Nikon (now a Fuji X-T2). I will not be limited the next time I see Elvis get out of a flying saucer piloted by big foot.

And by the way: The current generation of photographer that came into photography seem to think they can use different labels. It's no longer film photography but analog photography. The only problem is which type of photon collector are they referring to: the older generation of cameras that use film or the newer technology that use electronic sensors. Both collect photons. And both are analog devices. Your modern digital cameras use a analog-to-digital chip to convert the data (photons) into digital info that the processor can use.

So which analog device are you talking about?

So to keep it simple, and less confusing, lets stick to using the terms film and digital.

By the way there is very little in a digital camera that is digital. The processor being the primary digital device. Your sd card being another. Maybe the focus motors being another. But the vast majority of a digital camera is no different than your old film camera.

Interesting post, Mike, and I enjoyed reading the content about your journey to where you are now.

“One camera that could do everything”. One problem that I see is that if you mean “everything”, you need a broad set of lenses. That R5 and the 24-105 will be pretty good at the sort of photography you like to do, I think, although the f4 maximum aperture might be a bit restrictive. But I suspect that your definition of “everything” is ignoring whole swathes of photography. Wildlife and birds in flight, for example, for which you’d need at least a 600mm on the FF camera; or macro - just to give two examples. Is it possible that you really mean “one camera that could do everything that I’m interested in doing”? That’s fine, of course - very few photographers want to do “everything”.

Tomorrow (Monday) I take delivery of my iPhone 14 Pro. It’s going to be my “one camera to do everything that I’m interested in doing”, which is travel, architecture, flowers/gardens, and quirky odd things. At this stage in my life I shall be happy if I can master its capabilities in these areas, and satisfy my photographic ambitions thereby.

My favourite 'note taking' cameras are my now ancient in digital years Sigma DP1 and DP2 cameras. They are tiny and slip in a bag or coat pocket, give me a couple of focal lengths. I shoot them zone focussed through an EVF. I much prefer them to - say - my iPhone, which takes perfectly good photos but which I don't enjoy using as a camera, so I don't. The problem with using 'note taking' cameras in that way is that inevitably see and wish to make an image suitable for large scale exhibition but then don't have the right gear. I've tried my Q2 which works perfectly but is too large (and too expensive) to be chucked at the bottom of a bag or in a pocket. I had some success with my RX1 used the same way as the Sigmas but 24 mp doesn't really solve the problem - I might try with a RX-1Rii but won't be able to zone focus with all that resolution. What a lovely problem to have!

I’m not a writer and know it, still, I like words. Two writers who are ideologically the opposite to me are favorites; George Will and William Buckley Jr. I used to rant at Buckley and still do at George Will but totally admire their writing.

As for having the wrong camera, don’t talk to me, buddy. I recently paired a 30yr. old flash unit with a recent mirrorless only to have the pairing foil my grand vision. The flash unit, a Nikon SB-25 that still works but really should be used with an external power pack. The camera, a Panasonic Lumix GX9 is good but its auto focus system has limitations, and the fact that I forgot to uncheck the ‘no shutter release if focus is not verified’ option. My grand vision should have resulted in masterpieces but instead I got, and didn’t get, stuff.* It was my fault. All the preceding I know yet managed to overlook and forget.

All kinds of curse words.

Looking forward to your book, Mike.

*Yep, I know, masterpieces are a dime a dozen.

Talking about pet peeves, the one that grinds my gears is 'drug' instead of dragged.
How did that curiosity creep into the vernacular, one has to wonder ?

I'd like to hear more about that giant viewfinder on the fp.
Do you like it?

Mike, your frustration with the misuse of "loose" and "lose" is shared. In fact, the replacing of "lose" with "loose" is so prevalent I wouldn't be surprised if, a thousand years from now, "lose" has been dropped from the English language.

"On accident" often suggests that it is a Freudian slip toward "on purpose."
I meant to do it but can't admit it.

As a matter for consideration rather than argumentation, it’s been my observation that artists are in the artist mode 24 x 7, regardless of the tools they have at-hand. One of Cezanne’s watercolor paint kits, for example, now traveling with the show that just opened at the Tate, looks like something from a child’s toy chest. And yet he did many quick and marvelous plein air paintings with just such a kit. Art is a communication and expression process, not fundamentally a craft, eh?

Nevertheless I absolutely get your meaning. I long ago realized that many of the images I’m proudest of were recorded with small pocketable cameras. Two weeks ago I bought a brand new Canon G5X Mark II (introduced 2019) to eventually replace my aging, groaning Sony RX100 Mark VII. Yes, I continue to have wonderful, big, sophisticated large camera systems for more premeditated, deliberate work. But today’s excellent small cameras would probably have more than satisfied HCB.

You featured a comment from Tom Duffy last December.

I’m also annoyed that so many publishers have seemingly stopped proofreading their material before launching it into the world. The best example I’ve seen was a headline in the Washington Post last week: “.N. tech standards race…”.

I’ve worked in technology for 40+ years, and had never heard of the .N. tech standards. Then it dawned on me that they really meant “U.N. tech standards…”. They had been too lazy to proofread the first letter of their headline. Sure enough, the story had an updated headline a couple hours later.

I always keep my phone with me for record-keeping purposes. I also keep it with me when I'm out doing serious photography. It serves two purposes for me:

1. It acts as a sort of digital contact sheet. I can take a quick shot and look at it to determine if pursuing a more serious image is worthwhile. The phone has a much bigger screen, allowing me to check for compositional errors like distracting foregrounds that I might otherwise have ignored.

2. Because I shoot in RAW format exclusively, I can shoot some quick takes with the phone that I can share easily with friends and family. I obsess over my RAWs, so it is usually quite a while before I'm ready to share them.

As a very new father, I am suddenly in love with my iPhone. I can take soooo many easy snaps. It is regularly there to capture moments with my daughter. I would be missing so much if I followed my normal picture-taking process with her, and the deliberate use of a "real" camera might intrude on the moment. Sometimes her look, and the light illuminating her, makes great shots despite the equipment, and they are too fleeting to be worth grabbing the Equipment.

That being said, we've got 100s of snaps of her, and it has only been a few weeks. It's really hard to not pick up the phone when any smile or any yawn happens. Makes me wonder what it would have been like with film. And I do have to allow myself to instead just experience the moment.

Even so, I know I won't regret having such a rich record of her.

Heh. Been on a MF film kick of late (the newly available Kodak Gold in 120 for cheap hasn't helped 😎 )

Got out my Rolleicord III again and I am waiting impatiently on a Zeiss Super Ikonta A 531 6x4.5 folder.

And the Leica type 240 is always there too. Much fun 😊

Your I-Phone for photos. Sounds fine until it gets cold. Three friends have found their shut off in temperatures from 38, 35 and 27 degrees(f). They die in the cold and the Apple folks tell them this is "normal".
Can't even call a tow truck if they get stuck in the snow.

I would also argue that rather than illiteracy, what we are experiencing is a level of language change unseen since the Middle English of Chaucer. Communication changes but remains communication.

Remember when newsmen had good vocabularies?

I read an article by Penn Jillette, of Penn and Teller fame, in a late '80s PC Computing magazine. He had a space for his musings at the back of the magazine for a year or so.

He wrote at length about a handy use of the word "metonymy" at your next stuffy soiree.

Behold, a reader's letter to the editor appeared about five months later.

The reader described how he irritated newsman Edwin Newman until Newman called him an "a-hole".

The reader replied to Mr. Newman, "Metonymy, right Ed?"

The group around Mr. Newman suddenly hushed. (Maybe this irritating man isn't such a buffoon if he knows of such a word?)

Edwin Newman thought for a second and said, "No, synecdoche!"

The irritating man slunk away from the uproar of laughter.

Th Guardian U.K.Sunday newspaper has a regular side column decrying the decline of the language.
My current hate is the use of 'floor' instead of 'ground.' It's infuriating.

[I don't think I've heard that one. A UK thing? I'll be on the alert for it. --Mike]

I have not noticed the blinding speed at which the world is becoming illiterate. Because it is not becoming illiterate. Is in fact, becoming literate. How many words of written natural language do you think exist today? How many were written in the last twenty years?

Well I do not know this either. But if we take just fiction from google corpus then up until 2000 there were 61.3 billion words of it (is not reliable before about 1600 I think). Between 2000 and 2010 another 29.4 billion words were added (and probably much more since then).

So probably more fiction has been written in the last two decades than existed twenty years ago.

This means two things: language is changing more rapidly than it has for at least a long time, and more people and a wider variety of people are now writing than ever have done before.

And so the language changes. The word that was once pronounced ˈvəːsəs is now becoming pronounced vəːs, just at the word that was once pronounced ˈmɪstrɪs is now pronounced either ˈmɪsɪz or mɪs or mɪz and has in fact become three different words and grown new meanings.

Here is the thing. People have complained about language declining for thousands of years.

And yet today we speak a rich, complex language, just as we have always done. It is not the same language: we no longer speak the language of Bēowulf, or of Chaucer or of Shakespeare. Not many people can even read Bēowulf, Chaucer is very hard and Shakespeare is mostly possible but I think still a bit hard:

It was the Larke the Herauld of the Morne: / No Nightingale: looke Loue what enuious streakes / Do lace the seuering Cloudes in yonder East: / Nights Candles are burnt out, and Iocond day / Stands tipto on the mistie Mountaines tops, / I must be gone and liue, or stay and die

This is hard even for native English speaker I think?

So the world is not becoming illiterate at blinding or any other speed.

[Sorry if the English here is not perhaps perfect: it is my third language and sometimes gets infected with the others.]

Regarding words, I follow and enjoy the Grammarphobia blog: https://www.grammarphobia.com

Also, folks might enjoy Mother Tongue : the story of the English language by Bill Bryson. https://www.worldcat.org/title/608015155

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