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Tuesday, 03 January 2023


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You left your phone at home?

I have plenty of lousy phone pictures ... but ... I have some that are pretty good. A few published and/or printed and hung.

And the film is free.

Why don't those opportunities appear when you're out taking photos?

I've got no answer, but all four of your examples indicate places or times when you figure there's a great chance (95%+) that nothing's going to happen. And as a corollary of Murphy's Law, that's when you get the best photos.

But you might get "something" if you have your cell phone with you.

At least your photographic visual memory keeps them alive. My missed opportunities have faded from my memory.

(Like your TypePad troubles, I fight with my cell phone's insistence on capitalizing the next letter after a period -- even if I select lower case letters. So I just let it capitalize the letter, then retype a lower case letter and go back and delete the capitalized letter. Luckily, this phone lets me do that still. I imagine some aren't that lenient.)

These missed opportunities have some of the hallmarks of Raymond Carver short stories or poems. Mind you, he writes like a photographer.

I love my newly acquired, used Q; but ask which camera is my all time fave, and that's my GR, because it totally eliminates the biggest factor for missing shots- not having the camera!

Last year, in the UK, I was out at night and saw a perfectly illuminated bus shelter on a deserted suburban street with an almost silhouetted church in the background. Make a nice photo, I thought though I didn't have my camera with me so it would have to have been an iPhone attempt. Just then an urban fox wandered in front of the bus shelter and paused, looked at it, and then walked away. That would have been really worth photographing but happened too quickly for me to record.
The counterpart of "the one that got away" is the one that serendipitously happens. Many years ago I was on holiday in Los Angelos, exploring with my then film camera. I saw a warehouse in a commercial district painted pink and standing out against a blue sky. In the UK no one ever painted warehouses pink. So I started taking a few photographs of it from different angles when I saw, out of the corner of my eye and about to come into frame, a jogger wearing a T-shirt in the exact same shade of pink as the warehouse. I waited a second or two and got that image. I would share it here but it is still in storage after a recent move and being pre-digital it is not on my computer. But I feel that photo was gifted to me somehow by a benign photo god.

Perhaps the revised Weston sign-off should be something like, “Good light and good preparation” or “Good light and good patience” or “Good light and boldly go”. I don’t see a way to distill these three attributes down to one sign-off so maybe we should just view them as a rule of three thang. :-)

I've always found it hard to understand the whole "go out and shoot" mentality, as if photographs are things that one pursues rather than things that just can happen at any time, any place. So I take my camera everywhere. I take it with me down to the lobby to get my food. I wear it on stage when I play musical gigs. There's no reason not to, so why wouldn't I? That said, I recognize that most people don't do this, and to each their own.

But it's pointless to beat oneself up about missing shots IMHO; it's just something that happens, and you're most likely missing even more shots while you're busy doing that!

I used to get upset about the ones that got away, usually because I had the wrong lens with me or I was in the wrong spot or some such. I tried lugging around a ton of gear, but, by the time I’d changed the lens, the moment was gone and I’d missed it futzing around with equipment. The same with changing position. Often the scene/light isn’t the same from the new vantage point. So, quite a few years ago I decided that if I missed a photo opportunity (for whatever reason) I’d just enjoy the moment. So far, that seems to have worked. But I’m sure the day will come when a duck on the other side of a pond will pull out a whiteboard and start doing advanced calculus and all I have with me is a 24mm.

I agree with you about missed pictures. But,

Let me go on about your note on the TypePad compositor. These kinds of things -- word processors -- are basically designed by engineers who never write anything, but love features. If you can think of a feature, why not put it in? It's like if you wanted to send your daughter's Barbie Doll to the moon on the next rocket, why not throw it in the crew cabin? Well, for one reason, you create chaos.

Microsoft Word is so bad (Google "Why does Microsoft Word suck?" -- I did a moment ago, and got 4,470,000 results) that I'm tempted to abandon it. It its so clogged with "features" that I can't seem to write a simple manuscript. You know what I need to write a manuscript? A blank page and some kind of standard typeface. That's it. I need a typewriter. You really kind of can't get that with Word. To be fair, while Word truly does suck, it's relationship with Microsoft's Windows 11 might be part of the problem. That Windows can't work with Word would be laughable if it weren't so maddening. When I say I'm tempted to abandon Word, I really can't, because it's the publishing world's standard software, and there are all kinds of third party editing software programs that link with it, and nothing else.

So I came up with a great idea: find another word processing program that can save in Word's format, and then transfer my manuscript to Word after writing it in something else. I auditioned a program called Scrivener, and guess what? It's as clogged up as Word -- it has a manual that's more than 900 pages long. I couldn't even figure out how to start working. So then I auditioned Dabble, was not deeply impressed, but it was a possibility. Google Docs seemed like it was also a possibility, but when you work with it a bit, it doesn't seem designed to handle novel-length manuscripts, though it probably can if you work with it.

Some time back, I switched from Macs to PCs, specifically because Word for Mac didn't play well with Word for PC, and the publishing industry is on PCs, and I thought that would solve some problems. It didn't. So then my son suggested that instead of screwing around with a bunch of odd word processing programs, I crank up my old Mac and try the free Apple word processor called "Pages." He says manuscripts can transfer seamlessly to Word, and will automatically save to the Cloud if I want it to do that (I do. I also save locally.) And that turned out, for me, to be the best of the bunch, so that's where I'm at now.

Here's my billion-dollar idea for all you programmers out there: write macros (if that's possible) for Word, and sell them on the App Store. Each Macro should have a different goal: Letter, scientific paper, novel, non-fiction work with references, etc. Load the app, push a button, and you get the subset of Word that applies to your goal, and you don't have to see all the other crap that clutters up the program.

[A kind reader recommended Nisus Writer Express, which I've been using. I hesitate to recommend it because I wouldn't claim to have mastered it, but it hasn't been frustrating me much if at all.

My favorite was WriteNow, created by John Anderson and Bill Tschumy. It approximated your idea of "a typewriter." From the Wikipedia article: "In the opinion of many of its users, WriteNow represented the ideal Macintosh application. It had a simple, intuitive graphical user interface (GUI), no copy protection, and it worked in practically every revision of the Macintosh operating system, including in the Mac 68k emulator on PowerPC Macs and in the Classic Environment under Mac OS X. Its biggest claim to fame, however, was its speed. It was written in assembly language (Motorola 680x0) by a group of developers who had a reputation for producing extremely efficient code." It was written in Motorola 68k assembly language, so it died when the 680x0 architecture came to an end. R.I.P. Ancient history now. --Mike]


Mike, thought I’d share this story with you, since just yesterday I made sure I didn’t let a photo get away from me.

I frequently go down to our bay front in Sarasota at dawn to take photos. And, as an added bonus, it’s always nice to see other photographers out and about with real cameras.

However, this morning I was really surprised to see another Ricoh GR out in the wild. I walked by this young lady from China who was also shooting with her GR. We pointed at each other’s camera, smiled, and then went on our way. I probably took about five steps and then hurried back and asked her if I could take her picture.

She wasn’t familiar with the GR’s in-camera processing, but she said she liked BW. So I took this quick snapshot of her and let her select the the Hard BW setting. She really seemed to like it and I promised to send her the file.

While this photo won’t win any awards, at least I have the image to go along with my memory of this brief but lovely encounter. I’m am pretty social and my dad always reminded me that a smile will go a long way in getting what you want. However, I still have to push myself sometimes to stop and take the picture. But I assure you, it’s worth the effort.

Cheers and Happy Trails in 2023!

I don't remember lost shots, I don't visualize scenes. . .my bad. BUT I ALWAYS HAVE A CAMERA WITH ME. It might be a Ricoh GRD4 (or GRIII), a Pentax Q7, a Canon EOS M2, or a Nikon J. . .but I always have a camera with me. I may blow the shot, I might be too quick or too slow, I might be in the wrong settings, but I ALWAYS HAVE A CAMERA WITH ME. And 99% of the time it is in my hand.


It’s not a perfect solution but having a dog leash you can clip to your belt can help.
The only perfect solution is a Ricoh GR ㋡ .

My worst "one that got away" story is actually the 36 that got away. I was living in Alaska and my buddy and I were going to Anchorage to photograph a yearly festival that they have outdoors in mid-winter called Fur Rendezvous. I was carrying 2 SLRs, a 28mm on one and an 80-200mm on the other.

I was shooting unbelievable shots with the telephoto camera, the light, the subjects, everything looked spectacular in my finder. I was focusing and shooting, then I checked my film counter, 30 shots. I kept shooting trying to find a break to change film. After 37 shots, I was complimenting myself for loading the roll efficiently, getting more that 36 shots. Five shots later, I knew something was not right. I turned the film rewind crank and felt zero resistance... no film in the camera!

That was 1982, over 40 years ago and I can still see what I saw in the finder in my mind's eye.

The tension between dog walks vs. photo walks: I hear ya, Mike. I have tried so many elaborate leashing arrangements, while I attempt to hold the camera still for a shot, to somehow keep my tugging dog tethered and out of trouble. None of them really work, because sir Rocco always interrupts my composing somehow, or at least threatens to, and that distracts me from getting the shot and even just hunting the shot. Instead I'll hastily take pictures just to prove that "Ha ha ha, Rocco, you didn't foil that one!" even when in reality the picture is just a tosser because of my haste.

Of course I gotta be grateful to him because *he* is what gets me out of the house most times, especially in the dead of winter.

Hear me out, though. Dogs have been bred to help us hunt animals. Can we get them, within a few litters, to help us nab a great picture? Breed a pointer to look around for us? A setter to remind us to check our f-stop? There would be treats in exchange.

'...many, many modern interfaces add intrusive "helper" features just because they can, forgetting that control is actually more satisfying than being "helped" when you haven't @#$%! asked for help.'

That includes online interfaces. For example: I just spent an intensely frustrating 45 minutes trying to order a print of one of my own images from an online service. Can I specify a print size of exactly 4:3 proportions, so I don't have to crop? No. Can I get the image printed, intact, centered on a piece of paper, with borders that don't encroach on the image? No. Do I have to read chirpy unsolicited emails about how cool it is that I signed up for an account? Well, of course. Can I delete that account? No. What I long for is a global "F*** Off" button that will return the online (and maybe real) world to its status quo ante, in which I got to tell the service provider what I wanted rather than vice versa.

So: does anybody know of an online print ordering service that will print my image full-frame, uncropped, at the center of a piece of paper whose dimensions I specify? Every provider I have tried so far is obviously working UP from the drugstore-print model; what I need is one that works DOWN from the darkroom-print model. Does such a beast exist? Thanks.

[I don't know, but I could sure feel your pain, reading this. --Mike]

A two dollar carabiner-type clip on your belt makes an easy way to attach a pet leash loop. If you've got a fancy retractable handle type of leash, you might have to find a larger one to fit around the handle.
Simple, secure and easy to use.

Missing out on capturing a stunning photo(s) happens to me mostly because either I forgot to load the camera with an SD card or roll of film. It happens a bit more often as I age...

It seems I ned to quote Jane Bown at least once every year here.

"The best photos arrive uninvited"

Ghosts of Photos Not Taken
We all have them. Just recently I failed to take advantage of a moment while I had a camera in my hand and was just a few feet from the primary subject. I felt like a yutz. Like fish stories, these missed opportunity memories often become more indelible, and embellished, in the photographer's mind than a photo taken might be.

This photos-not-taken is such a common theme that someone actually compiled a collection of them from various renowned, and not-so-renowned, snappers. It’s now available on Kindle:

Photographs Not Taken Kindle Edition: A Collection of Photographers’ Essays

(Honestly, while some of its stories are interesting I found it mostly a bore when I bought it 10 years ago.)

Yours remind me of a dog photo I haven't got: Irish Setter sitting pretty as a picture with her leash disappearing upwards into the shut door of a portalet, one in a row set out for a Saturday concert in the park. I walked in range to fit maybe four of the structures across the frame but then the door opened and the spell was broken. At least the dog's human didn't find me pointing a camera in his general direction as he stepped out.

It's not every day that you get to see the word "crepuscular" in print!

For simpllified word processing try GrowlyWrite. Written by someone who did a lot of development on the early and simpler versions of Word.


The mind is basically a camera, so they don’t really quite get away.
My favorite film scene on that topic.

I have an extended photography project, when I need to build (model) my subject before I can take a photo of it.
So I see photos all the time, yet my dilemma is that to take the photo, I need to spend hours on the model, composition, lighting, etc.... so I end up with a long list of photos in my head, that I've not nearly enough time to realise!

I use Nisus InfoClick (only USD15), which is the missing search for Apple Mail. I’ve never used Nisus Writer Pro but I’d bet a small amount that it would be good for writing books.

'...many, many modern interfaces add intrusive "helper" features just because they can, forgetting that control is actually more satisfying than being "helped" when you haven't @#$%! asked for help.'

I encountered a 'helpful' HP photo reader app in an archive a couple of decades ago. I've refused to touch any HP product since...

(Also a bit of a Nisus Writer Express fan.)

When I taught, the school supplied Microsoft Suite, and I was required to use it. I wouldn't say I like Word, but we had to use it for school business. After I left teaching, I returned to using my iMac and Nisus Writer Pro exclusively. It does what I need it to do without annoyances. I had never spent much time looking through its features, as when I had initially set it up for my font choice, etc., it does what I need it to do from there. I could never write a novel, but I write 2-3 page articles without problems. I get the feeling I do not use much of what it offers, but it does not matter to me as it is not clunky, junkie, or annoying.

I have never been a street photographer, so I do not think I could qualify as a photographer who can say "The One That Got Away." I am more of a nature and landscape photographer these days. At my home, we have some nature as my property butts up to a greenway. Deers visit my property often, as well as the occasional opossum, raccoon, fox, and armadillo. Once I had to help a baby armadillo (without touching it as they can carry leprosy), get out of a fence corner, and I could see they were about blind in daylight as I had been told. Poor thing was scared (with big claws); I got it back where it needed to go. We have lots of lizards, and my two house cats love to sit at the back screen door and chatter at them. These lizards are pretty friendly with people and are not large like the iguanas I was accustomed to when I lived in south Florida. And yes, iguanas do fall from trees down there if the temperature reaches 40° or less. Below is a quick snap near the back door of a lizard that almost got away, but thanks to my boy Joey and his unrelenting chatter, I snapped it fast with my Fuji X-Pro3.

Mike, your web platform dulls and blurs images, as this image is so sharp it could cut your eyes on my screen. ;>)

The one that got away.

Was driving at night in fog and came up on a wind farm that was lit from behind by the reddish orange glow from commercial green houses a few kilometres away. The black towers with their red warning beacons vanishing up into the clouds and the orange glow behind. Looked like a Simon Stålenhag painting. I just briefly saw the scene through a gap in the woods. Had my camera with me but it wasn’t safe to stop and get out to take a picture.

I bet my mind made it more dramatic than it was, but the again my wife said wow too.

Three out of those four opportunities involved dogs.

A tip for Nicholas is to "print" the image to jpeg, then send the jpeg to the printer. Lightroom has this feature, and it works like a charm. You can make it as large as you want, with whatever margins you want. As long as the paper has the same dimensions of your jpeg, you should have what you want. Just tell the printer to print borderless, unless you want even more white space.

Wear a small camera, over your shoulder or around your neck.

LOGIC: When you meet a stranger, they'll notice the camera. Thinking "must be a photographic enthusiast, otherwise they'd just use their phone".

If you decide you see a photograph there, tilt your head slightly, then smile. Then ask to take a picture. They be primed for the request. And it's only a small camera, so, no big deal.

The head tilt is to show them that this is a spur of the moment thing. The smile is to show that you're no threat.

Once you get the 'okay, sure' - you are then free to take out that badass Sigma photon monster.

I use this process often, and it's only ever failed me when I was too cowardly to ask.

I hope you have the courage to try that Mike. You're never too old to be bold. Three successes in a row and you'll never look back.

Camera(s) sit by the front door. I pick up one or two as I go out.

Dogs…. Just get a Border Collie. No leash needed. The bank has a sign saying “Dogs must be on a leash”, so I put it on, and she carries the other end in her mouth. Collies aren’t really classified as dogs in rural Wales, more as people.

Here’s my favorite movie scene about taking someone’s photo. Watch at 1:20. https://youtu.be/DFEuOUNeoD4 - from the movie Before Sunrise. Highly recommended. It’s part of a trilogy.

I got a GREAT photo once, in my mind.

It was 1989, in Java, Indonesia. I was coming back from the Dieng Plateau (think cool mountain climate, rich soil, vege gardens) in a small private bus. We rounded a corner and there was that Cartier Bresson image, a small promontory overlooking a vast valley with the setting sun illuminating the misty air. In his case, he had the Indian women in his shot but I'm sure I could have arranged something.

I had all my camera gear in my bag on my lap. If only, if only I'd had the gumption to yell out to stop for a photo. They would have done, we were all tourists. But I was too shy, and the shot got away. I guess the good part is that the image is still in my mind, even 34 years later, even though it's not actually on film.

Lesson: be bold, don't be shy.

I have three missed pictures I think about - the first of them from my youth in the 80s in London. I was on a protest march and went down to some subterranean toilet around the startpoint before we got moving (I forget exactly where). The setup was a long row of urinals in a white-tiled room, and between the entrance and the urinals a low tiled wall with the sinks. Standing in a long line at the urinals were maybe 15 bareheaded bobbies (policemen), and neatly lined-up behind them on the low wall 15 helmets (the traditional type, in a time before riot police were a thing). Even if I'd had a camera with me, I might not have taken the picture, but the image was a perfect example of its type.

Two other images were coincidentally barbershops: the first one was also from London in the 80s or 90s: walking past a traditional Soho hairdresser, with all the clutter and decoration that goes with that profession, I caught a frieze of a bald barber cutting short the long flowing locks of a young man sitting in the barber's seat, staring frozen in horror at the mirror in front of him.

The last was only interesting because of the subject: the (former now) Prime Minister of Sweden also getting his (not so abundant) hair cut in a local barbers - I walked past just as he was heartily laughing in the mirror, the barber poised above him, and everything perfectly arranged. As I whipped out my iPhone his bodyguard, who was standing outside, stepped in front of me and gave me a big no. Obviously a moment later the image was gone.

Easy, or maybe not so easy, solution to dogs tugging on leads is training.
When I was growing up we always had dogs, working dogs admittedly, but they would never ever pull on the lead when walking, just trained not to.
You stopped to take a shot they sat.

How many times have I forgotten to take the lens cap off on the rangefinder....too many to count.

Unfortunately, your post reminded me of a similar memory of lost photographs. About eight years ago I borrowed a friend’s Pentax MX film camera with his 50mm 1.7 lens, loaded it with a roll of black and white film, and wanted to try it out. I put in my best effort and just somehow knew that I was getting some of my best photographs of my kids when I hit the shutter button. I was excited to finish the roll of 36 exposures, turned the crank to rewind the film, opened the back to take out the film, and lo and behold the film was not rewound. I developed it anyway but nothing was there – it was exposed to light from not being rewound at all. I loaded it with another roll, bought my own MX and 50mm 1.7 combo, and tried putting in the same best effort with the deliberative film shooting process and tried to mimic that process with my mirrorless digital camera. Still, I never could get those same decisive moment photographs of my kids – the memory of those missed photos fades but still comes back to haunt me. I probably need to find a psychotherapist who specializes in working with photographers.

Very early in the 80’s I was having dinner in this pizzeria in Puerto Vallarta. In the table next to us was a family of four. Probably americans, maybe canadians, not sure.The daughter, maybe 7 or 8 years old fell asleep, her head on the table, beautiful long braided blond hair. On her leg, also sleeping, a green iguana. My camera was back in the apartment, maybe 8 blocks away. I asked my friend to wait for me and ran for it, when I came back the family was still there. I asked the father for permission to take the shot and he said yes. Of course it didn’t came out the way I saw it in my head, but still got it somehow.

In the "Camera 35" days, one of my favorite columnists was Jim Elder. He wrote one particular column that I'll always remember called, "The Filter Factor of Inertia". In it he recounts his internal debate about whether to take a several block walk back to his car to get his camera when he came upon an interesting static subject. He does but remembers all the times he didn't. Clearly the message was to be energetic about setting up conditions that enhance your opportunities to get the picture. The impediments may be physical but most of the time they're mental.

My Dad used to train dogs and something he always said was that if a dog is tugging on the leash, then the dog thinks its in charge. This behavior can be trained out of them, but takes some disipline to achieve. Most people won't take the time, but a well trained dog is a site to behold. Think real service dogs. (Not the fake kind that people are always trying to sneak on the airplane)

My "lost photo" are ones I tried to take but didn't get, so I have the bad negs/files to show for it. Like the one from 1972 that's on my screen downstairs; still can't really see how to salvage much (possibly the last photo taken of my father and his 4 siblings all together).

Dan Winters wrote about being filled with anxiety that he would miss a masterpiece until he realised that masterpieces are happening, unphotographed, all the time.

There's an easy solution to this problem. Just ask Jeff Wall. All you have to do is hire some actors and a crew and restage the photo opp. Should only take an investment of 100 grand or so per picture.

On word processors, don't laugh - I'm still using Lotus Word Pro. Even though it's 20 years old, I will challenge anyone to reproduce any magazine layout in their favourite WP and I'll do it perfectly, and faster, in Word Pro.

When I was working, I even used its drawing component to do basic diagrams, schematics and block diagrams. Much easier than AutoCAD.

I started with Ami Pro and mastered all the short cuts and macros. When Word Pro superseded it, I had to learn a different set, but I still prefer it to any other WP.

However, I will give a shout out to WPS Office (for PC, obviously). It emulates MS Office, but betters it, in my opinion.

Total solar eclipse, 1999, Lake Balaton, Hungary.
I have some very nice photos of the solar corona, but I had no camera to make a photo of a handwritten card to the local store: "Today we will open at 2 P.M. because of the Total Eclipse" (in fact, it was in Hungarian).
Next Total Eclipse in Europe announced for 2026...

Where was your iPhone for all of these "missed" opportunities?

[They weren't iPhone pictures. They were fp-M pictures. I generally can't help seeing in camera-specific ways, although that might well be just me. --Mike]

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