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Saturday, 18 May 2024


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The problem with your assessment of the edited subset of the original 850 pictures, is who is to say whether the lost pictures you liked were the worthy ones. That was just your taste.

The same goes for the idea that you can't edit your own work, and should rely on others to do it for you. I don't buy that because you are subjugating your views to that of others. Perhaps they are better judges, and listening to them may buy you more popularity, but you're not being true to yourself. Your own feelings are the only ones that matter in the end. Do we really want to be in the position of sub-contracting what motivates us to take pictures in the first place to the whims of others? I don't think so.

I do agree it can be useful to listen to what other people say, and strive to pick up tips about correcting obvious flaws in your own work you may have overlooked, but in the end you have to build the self-confidence to make your own choices. Even if the price you pay is total obscurity.

A better way to develop a sense of where you stand with your own work is not to ask people their opinion of your work, but to look at a lot of other people's pictures you like and figure out for yourself what you have to do to get your work up to the standard you seek. Once you are somewhere in the ballpark, advice on finessing the details might then become helpful.

So glad you re-posted the article here. I must have missed it or wasn't paying attention. As you point out, it is as relevant today as always.

The tragedy of video games? Have you ever played a video game? Some tell epic stories, some require players to exercise their brain to solve puzzles or riddles, some provide meaningful social interaction with other players, some help advance science, some do all of these things.

And some are mindless, but sometimes we need the mindless distraction from our daily slog through life.

Just because it's not for you doesn't mean it doesn't have value to others.

Can games be addicting and harmful? Sure, like everything else if taken to extremes.

You know what else is harmful? Ignorant stereotypes.

Film wins here for me. Fixed ASA. Get the shutter and aperture as I see the image. More selective. Maybe 15 rolls per year. Send out the film. Either I got the image or I failed. Toss the failures. Done. I hate computer screen time.

If I had built a special outbuilding for billiards, I would be cautious about casting aspersions on other people’s recreational activities.

Video games are the only thing worse than social media. That's just science. Bread and circuses will outlive the erudite.

Maybe it should be
"The Sometimes Online Photographer"

A. I didn't, because I save everything.*

B. I did, in that saving everything means they got lost in the crowd.


c. Not quite, as I do on occasion "rescue" previously "lost" photos.

d. It's not lost on me that I could take no more photos and have plenty of material for many years of processing.

e. Tastes change, at least mine do.

f. The capabilities of post processing apps have improved spectacularly over the tears.'


If you've read this far, you deserve a picture.
(Click for large version.(

Recovered from 6/16/2007, Canon 5D.

* Except for focus stacks beyond infinity and ProCapture bursts, but Mike need not worry about those.

> How do you know you don’t throw the best ones out?

You don’t, until you know yourself better.

Take the time to choose, then move on.

If you threw some of the best away, that’s okay, there’s more coming.

> The tragedy of video games.

Carl Sagan, in his book The Dragons of Eden, page 153:

> Computer graphics are now being extended into the area of play. There is a popular game, sometimes called Pong, which simulates on a television screen a perfectly elastic ball bouncing between two surfaces. Each player is given a dial that permits him to intercept the ball with a movable “racket.” Points are scored if the motion of the ball is not intercepted by the racket. The game is very interesting. There is a clear learning experience involved which depends exclusively on Newton’s second law for linear motion. As a result of Pong, the player can gain a deep intuitive understanding of the simplest Newtonian physics — a better understanding even than that provided by billiards, where the collisions are far from perfectly elastic and where the spinning of the pool balls interposes more complicated physics. This sort of information gathering is precisely what we call play. And the important function of play is thus revealed: it permits us to gain, without any particular future application in mind, a holistic understanding of the world, which is both a complement of and a preparation for later analytical activities. But computers permit play in environments otherwise totally inaccessible to the average student.

Here are some video games and books that complement each other: https://hypertexthero.com/complementary-books-video-games/

I had one period, early on, when I worked with somebody else selecting my photos (in college, when I was a photographer for the Alumni Publications Office, i.e. the people who did college magazine and fundraising publications). What she wanted was contact sheets, and then she marked which ones she wanted printed (always full-frame). I still have those marked contact sheets.

I forget how much she told me and how much I had to figure out; the actual product was the story, and visually the page layout. The photos were a supporting player in both. I can't (and couldn't) disagree with that.

The way to avoid throwing out the "best ones" of course is to never throw out anything. However, that risks overwhelming (some) clients with too much choice, leading them to fail to find the ones they like. "Good" (and "best") are essentially subjective, but there will be fairly broad tendencies in what people like, for most photo collections.

For essentially artistic photography, I'm pretty sure that pleasing yourself is the safest way to go! It's different from actual photo-journalism (though those photos are, or can be, art) and from event coverage and so forth. Art is about expression, and people tend to latch onto artists that express themselves in ways the people relate to. Being yourself is much the easiest way to be consistent, and to engage with things you care about so there's some passion driving your work.

When recently I decided to show my photos on Flickr, I set out to make a tight, coherent edit of what I consider my best work. But after agonizing for a long time over which photos to show and which to leave out, I realized that such an edit would be beyond my capabilities, so I just lumped together pell-mell my 'creme de la creme' and, for good measure, the majority of my other 'passable' work, a total of 491 images.

In the event, it appears that I did the right thing because the response has been quite interesting and something to think about. I am surprised that quite a number of my hot favourites are scoring well below my expectations whereas many of the 'second-raters' are highly popular. For instance, on page one of the Stats All time views comprising the ten top-scoring images, there are five which at first I decided to leave out, believing they stood no chance; as it turns out, the by far the most popular image of the lot is one of those five!

In retrospect, if in future I were to do a tight edit for some purpose, especially one to be seen by the public at large, I just don't know what I would do because I fear that most edits are somewhat shots in the dark. I think that knowing your audience in advance might be of some help; in contrast to the response to my Flicker presentation, the images chosen for publication by the several reputable websites I have approached over the years coincide largely with my own preferences. Go figure!

Maybe it seems like just yesterday because you wrote about such a persistent and pernicious issue for photographers. Certainly, it's a source of great anxiety for me (and I presume to many others). One of the worst things about digital vs film, as far as I'm concerned, is that digital makes it all too easy to channel my anxiety about editing into overshooting, second guessing, and overshooting some more, which of course has the effect of making editing even more difficult.

Why should sedentary humans get more time? In reality, they get less, as being sedentary causes all kinds of health problems. If anything, I suspect I will get an extra decade or more from being active. And even if I could get an extra few decades, but couldn't walk, ride a bike, paddle a kayak, or pick up the (hypothetical) grandbabies, what would even be the point?

As my mother keeps reminding me - She's going to say, "Do as you're told..."

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