« What I Ended Up Doing | Main | The Two Requests »

Friday, 10 May 2024


Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.


I'd love to see your take on a few contemporary photographers of your choice: What they do right/wrong, and are they worth looking at. And perhaps the same thing with some classic photogs.

Would also like to hear what you think is so compelling about doing photography for some of us that we waste thousands of dollars on unnecessary gear, drive our family members crazy by photographing their every move, and ruin hiking trips for other people by constantly dawdling behind (OK, I exaggerate. A little).

At this point in my life and career I'm much more interested in the larger issues involved in making art than I am questions of equipment and technique (unless, say, it's really interesting equipment, like the Pentax K-3 III Monochrome).

Thanks for asking!


I entered the photography hobby/avocation via the darkroom. USAF, 1962, Saglek, Labrador, a remote site on the NORAD Pinetree line. For whatever reason, the site had a tremendously well equipped darkroom that anyone could use. A pal tutored me on how to make a print. Seeing a picture gradually emerging in the developer tray just blew me away. I've been in love with the printing side ever since.

FF to now: After several years of thinking about it, I finally took the plunge, into carbon ink monochrome printing. In February I bought an Epson 3880 17" printer I saw on Craigslist. I bought a second one, cheaper because of worse condition, just for the cartridges, from which I scavenged the chips to use in a set of refillable ones. Weeks of fussing trying to develop a set of curves for use in Quadtone RIP. Many pages of good paper later, finally I hit the target.

I'm in love again! I've made black and white prints that are better than anything I had imagined. It's certainly gratifying to show them to people, and see their eyes widen, and to hear "Holy shit!"

So, have you ever written about printing using a dedicated b&w printer?

Update on your nutrition and pacemaker.

Go make some photographs and then show them to us.

My favorite content of your has been the essays and columns on why people photograph, and how photography personally relates to you.

I always liked that you weren't a gear review sure, but more of a "The art and craft of photography" site.

The article on black-and-white tonality that you’ve been saying you would write for 30 years ;-)


How about having more photos analysis or critiques? This is an infinite source of learning and definitely one of your strong points.

How about a survey or retrospective of Magnum photographers?

Gives you lots of material and cross-fertilization of other ideas.

How about something about photographers specializing either in aerial (art) photography, or prairie photography. There are a lot of good ones around.

By the way, after dragging myself through your PhD thesis on cards, you said you bought SanDisk, so that's why I did. I could have saved myself all that dragging by only reading those two or three sentences, or whatever it was.

You seem to get good reactions when you ask general, "what is your favorite...?" Or "If you had to pick one...?" Type questions, so let the readers do some of the heavy lifting with short replies to photography related queries. Or maybe any general subject. Remember the watch thread, which had days of relpies?

Ask us something, we'll tell ya.

Did you ever write about how John Wesley Hyatt‘s quest to perfect the billiard ball changed the course of Photography?

In the days of photography based on the use of light sensitive materials, photograms and other camera-less images were considered to be a form of photography. What is the digital equivalent?

If a photographer makes a photograph of something then some historical event takes place that imbues the image with meaning, where did the meaning come from? For example, my friend Jamie Livingston took many photographs of the World Trade Center. 20 years after he died and 17 years after 9/11, I published a book of them and some people seem to be powerfully affected by them.

The Elmar and the Tessar lenses are substantially the same design except for the location of the diaphragm, which seems to effect the front and rear bokeh differently as it is stopped down in the two designs. The location of a lens’s diaphragm seems to have an effect on the imag in front of versus behind the plane of focus but nobody ever talks about it.

When Margaret Burke White had a studio and was living in the top of the Chrysler building, how did she get away with keeping pet alligators?

If you could bring back any dead photographic process, I am thinking things like Verichrome pan, large format Kodachrome, Azo printing out paper, Polaroid type 655 PN film, what would you choose?

I don’t know, can’t think of anything else.

Mike, you have a special talent for finding interesting photographers around the web. Perhaps it's time for a random excellence column

Any new books? Critiques of images or photographers? Gallery shows? Paris Photo - I've never been.

I personally have been struggling with clients who hire photographers being mostly ignorant about photographs and photography. Visual literacy is quite rare even though so many of today's jobs are very involved with photos. Is there a topic in that?

Sometimes I'd love an Apple Iphone profile option in my Sony mirrorless bodies! Or maybe it lives in Lightroom? Not all the time, but sometimes. Clearly the full-frame sensor is more capable than the tiny iphone sensor, but there are so many difficult lighting scenes that look good straight out of the camera on an iphone and iphone screen that would require significant editing from my Sony bodies? There is in fact something fun about shooting with the iphone because everything just sort of looks great? (until viewed full screen on your computer!)

How many people and institutions will choose to scan film to bring their history into the digital age? My father has an institutional client that he shot for from 1970-2010 that is celebrating a 50th anniversary. 31 years of film - 1000+ rolls of film and 10 digital years. They have expressed an interest in getting some images. They have discarded all contact sheets. They need to decide now - scan the film or it's all dead. Do they do it? This is a great test case around much that I believe in about photography and the value of images as historical records. Their apathy may prove a punch in the gut!

Hi Mike, what I enjoy most is equipment news, reviews, tips, crits and things like that. I want to see the Herb Keppler of modern times. And lens reviews and recommendations.

I'm not much interested in film or B/W developing/printing, although I wouldn't want to deny others those pleasures.

I'd like to hear your opinion on half-frame. Seems like it could become topical.

Get out. Go take some photos. Come back and write about them and why and how you took them. Inspire us to do the same.

Long term goal: raise a little money, buy a high end inkjet printer and use your extensive knowledge of the darkroom to get the best prints out of a modern inkjet.

Short term goal: spring/summer photography.

tomorrow night goal: photograph the northern lights, should be beautiful at your latitude.

PS. I liked the SDXC cards posts, learned something new.

Interesting/offbeat/unique texts on photography

Lens character-perhaps a short series on what makes the particular qualities of a lens

Black and white printing / Black and white editing

Just a few things I’d love to read about.

Keep up the good work

Why not invite some guest posts from you readership? Do it just like your bakers’ dozen photos - post an idea/concept/discussion topic and select the best (in your view) responses …. Knowing your readers here, you’ll get a wide range of views and generate a lot of cross-chat. Post then say) one day each week and that’s 13 weeks of content, no writing (only reading) required from you ….

More camera and lens reviews

Hi Mike,
I would like to hear your views on the Leica wristwatch. Do they think their premium camera prices will afford them the same luxury in the horology world?.
Porsche also tried this market with no great success, IMHO.

Here is my suggestion. How about a post about the often crazy world of photographic forums, like DPR.

There is scope for endless reflection on things like "equivalence", a little inconsequential theorem, that causes heated often violent discussion, or all those, "which lenses should I take on my upcoming vacation to Mars" questions. We must not forget all those questions asking for a new update of a just released camera.

The scope for sociological reflection is almost endless.

Hi Mike
Here's a topic which I have started researching. I guess I'm old school, but I like doing photo projects, and they aren't completed (at least in my opinion) until you have a finished print. In the past, I have primarily had my work printed with C-print, but now I have heard that inkjet are the way to go, as the process has greatly advanced in colour/tonal range and is more archival? More info and opinions in this area would be greatly appreciated.
And, of course, I'm always interested in anything to do with historic photographic processes.

In addition to my Fuji X-T5 (and six lenses) I also shoot film for my documentation projects. I use a variety of cameras ranging in size from 6x9 (Ensign Selfix 820) to half-frame (Yashica Samurai 3.0). After development I digitize the negatives (b&w and color) with high resolution camera scans using my Olympus E-M5II on a copy stand with M.Zuiko 60mm macro, and a Kaiser slimlite plano lightbox. To achieve perfect flatness I sandwich 5-exposure strips of film between two slabs of AN (anti-newton) glass wide enough to accommodate 120 film). I have had three of these 8" long slabs, but after dropping one recently I am now down to two. I then learned that the source for custom AN glass (Focal Point in Deltona FL) has evidently ceased operation.

I'd feel a lot better if I could get a spare slab -- one future mishap could put me out of the precision scanning game. Does anybody have a lead?

How about choosing a photographer whose work you like and who has a good website and providing a critique: what you like, why you like it, what’s been done well or is unique, content-wise, compositionally, stylistically, technically? Something we can learn from as an example.

Hi Mike,

I might have asked this before.
Are you using any of the traditional filters with your converted camera, or any other filters, for B&W/mono images?

Back in February, Thom Hogan suggested a random number lens use exercise – plan the trip, then pick a random lens and use only that (I've been going with short outings, which I think was the idea – not a multi-day trip). I've been using a variety of the too many lenses that I own, and I'm still working through the project to use every lens.


Anyway… for today's random pick, I went to a botanical garden with my old reliable 180mm on my old reliable D2x, the camera brought out of storage to recreate the outings of a dozen or more years ago. It was fun, and nostalgic, and I might have even gotten a shot or two that will be worth keeping. And then tonight, I was lucky enough to see and photograph the aurora. That was a first for me. (I used more of my current set of Nikkor Z lenses and camera for that.)

I don't know if this anecdote has a point beyond sharing an enjoyable day here at the end of spring. I hope everyone's weekend goes well!

I'd like more posts on the history of photography and discussions of the work of particular photographers (both "classic" ones and new people I haven't heard of).

Write about Photography, or related ... NOTHING OT anymore!

Good morning Mike, I love to read your critiques of other photographers' work also great to see actual photographs that have piqued your interest.

Hi Mike, I enjoy your writing full stop - even if it is about topics that I'm not really interested in! But if I were able to choose some topics they would be photographs (old and new), the practice of making photographs, photobooks and photographers.
Cheers, Simon

Education, for instance on how to get black & white film like looks on digital, both on screen and on print. It can't be just an 'Acros' emulation or the wonderful tones which an Olympus Pen-F (the digital one) can produce, where's that magic in post processing? And so on... plenty to write about, me thinks...
Thanks for your consideration, Mike.

More about photography as artform and its practitioners less about gear. Three reasons:

  • 1 billion people write about gear, few write as well as you about art and practice of making great photographs;

  • gear race in digital photography is probably effectively over;

  • art of photography is interesting to non-photographers, gear much less so.

There are still interesting things with gear of course, I do not mean exclusively.

You did portraits before. Quite seriously if I remember. A three part (or so) article about portraiture. What are the most important points with some examples, on making a good portrait photograph.

Something on old lenses. Maybe compared against more modern ones? You have a lot of practical and theoretical knowledge on that. Again, several parts. On short ones, normal ones and a bit longer ones.
What is important in choosing a lens. And why some are better than others, even if they are not the best lenses.

I know it's a bit retro, but your thoughts on developing black and white film were interesting to me. I know you don't like Rodinal, but the great thing about that is, it never goes off unlike other developers. What's your advice for the six-films-per-annum amateur?

Thanks, Mike. I enjoy your writing whatever you do. There is one thing I'd be interested to see, and that is some examination of digital B&W conversions. I'm doing a lot of that these days, and I'd like some discussion and examples of what works and what doesn't for you and others among your experienced readership these days.

More cameras and lenses and photography related or even processing and printing related anything please. Interesting, educational or funny stories from your past would be nice too or your views on something going on in the photography universe, other peoples output, particularly from the past.

Other than that... just whitter on and that'll be just fine too.

Your photos.

I'd love to see some more Random Excellence please!

There seems to be a no man’s land in the gray area that is a little above smart phone territory and a little below the DSLR / mirrorless territory. Like compact, but quality, almost fit in your pocket models. Olympus rough and tough, little Leicas (well with BIG price tags), Ricoh GR, Fuji X100, Panasonic LX, etc etc. that odd but intriguing category that is the sub up from phone cams and sub down from SLR complexity. Does the grand kids, the graduation, the scenics on vacation, the nature shot opportunity, the close up, the doggie pix. Capable but friendly , too. Your overview experience and analysis could be both helpful and entertaining. Ever onward !

Reviews of the work of great photographers. Both famous and less-known.

Good morning Mike,

If you are Corporal Radar O'Reilly...who is your Colonel Sherman Potter?

Let me guess...Butters!

As to what you should write about, here are my thoughts;
Something OLD,
Something NEW,
Something BORROWED,
Something YOU!

You may define the topics within the above categories with YOU being the (OT) that is likely of interest to the largest percentage of your readership.

Knowing the world of photography as I do for over 60years as a very serious amayuer and collector, pales in comparison to your in-depth encyclopedic array of the imaging world information.

Regardless of TOP's demographic, there is always SOMETHING of interest for SOMEONE that is even mildly curious in the broad field of imagery..from glass or tin plates to Iphone 15+++.

Just an old man's opinion:-))

Just please keep up the arduous toil of self-inflicted article deadlines!

Probably a polarizing answer, but more pool and snooker, please. I have zero personal interest in either, but I enjoy your enthusiasm about them a great deal.

Also, it would be nice to see more of where you live. Not the house or yard, but more of (wider) outdoors and all the plants and animals and neat-looking rocks and funny-shaped clouds that make it so interesting. It'd be nice to have more physical (not geographical!) context in which to put TOP World Headquarters and its hard-working staffers.

contrast the concepts of "art critic" vs "beauty is in the eye of the beholder"

I'd love to see you reengage with photography and the culture of photography. The writing you've done that has the highest value to me are when you are using your insight to talk about actual photos, the cultural history of photography, and how all of that intersects with lenses, printing, gear, etc. I randomly looked at your posts from May 2014 just to see what you were doing ten years ago. I found many more posts about photography. That's what I'm into, that's what brought me to your site in the first place. Standing desks? SD cards? Keyboards? I confess I don't really care about any of that.

Personally, I've always enjoyed when you discuss an interesting photograph or photographer. Also, when you talk about black and white tone, and how to get what you want, I like trying different things that you demonstrate.

Have you ever done a post on grain? What is your opinion of digital "grain" applied for a film look?

Dear Mike,

I am a fan of your essays. Your success rate is high in my view.

I would point out that there has been a number of topics which too often been left out. For instance, where are the promised reviews of the Leica Monochrom and the rare Pixii?

Or where are your thoughts nowadays about shooting film. Haven’t you mentioned some time ago that you could embrace the unsharpness of an analog image?

Looking forward reading on these matters,


Very few photographers touch me physiologically in the way that touching a cat does. German nature photographer Sandra Bartocha touches me more than anyone. When I look at her work, my eyes do not need to move, to "read" the picture. They just are. And they trigger a physiological response which very few other photographers can match.

I very much enjoyed your "submit a photo consistent with the subject" projects. I realize many sites are hosting these but your discussions plus the insights of the TOP hoi polloi ;-) add an extra dimension. I note that several others have proposed restarting these in recent times. Given the time gap, I suspect no one would complain if one with the same subject popped up again. I realize that these are very time consuming and mood dependent on your part but when they were good they were very, very good. You know if they draw visitors.

disclaimer: I made the cut once, but for some reason the yellow one in which I did not make the cut comes to mind

What interests you, Mike?

I follow you faithfully for the pleasure of reading your writing, for the ideas it provokes, and for the thoughtful conversation of your readers/correspondents. If I lack enthusiasm for some of your topics, I still read the full column for the sake of your enthusiasm. Sometimes reading TOP broadens my awareness of the world; sometimes it deepens it; sometimes both. In any case my Patreon contribution is well rewarded. (I also like to feel that my contribution is Supporting the Arts.)

It's tough to be a writer in an age without editors to give you a nudge in some direction or another, to dole out a word of praise or smack up the side of the head (and occasionally both at the same time). Well suck it up, Mike — that's the wretched literary age we're living in. All in all you do damned good work, or we wouldn't be reading TOP. Now stop second-guessing yourself, go to your keyboard, and write.

How about something on Barnack Leicas? They're a little bit more affordable than the M series (although this is changing). Also, Contax 2 and 3?

With best regards,

Stephen S. Mack

I enjoy reading posts about and showing the work of well-known and the unknown photographers. B&W is my jam, but color is OK, too. I'm sure it's a helluva lot of work, but hey, you asked.
I do enjoy seeing your work and the story behind the image.

Now that you’re fully steeped in both analog and digital black and white photography, I’d like to read your musings on the two mediums. I’m especially curious about the print end of the processes; given your expertise in analog printing, I expect you to have much to say on the subject. But I enjoy your writing on all of the topics you choose, so I’m totally ok with billiards/pool/snooker, too.

How about a short opinion piece on this service. It's something I've been looking for, and now that I see it offered, I'm unsure about it. It's a family archive that you pay upfront for and supposedly is guaranteed for 100 years beyond your death. What do you think?


Perhaps arrange to have a few more “guest posts” for those dry periods you suffer from.

Well Mike I enjoy your posts 95% of the time. That is a great grade.
I enjoyed your posting of photos you took with your converted Fp. Keep them coming. The photos of the town where you live and environs are motivation for me to get out and use my camera(s).
Your thoughts about life, photography, and I have to say just your writing is of interest to me.
Camera hardware is almost always of interest. I don't currently need/want another camera but I find your views of them of interest.
Cars I have to admit are interesting to me and your adventures with yours. Have you been to Watkins Glen race track? I would really like your views (written and photos) of the place.
That is plenty for now.

How about reflections on photo books —both contemporary and from the past. You’re a good writer so I’m thinking more of your personal interactions with the book and reflections on how it relates to visual culture, other photographers, and so forth. Not so much a review but more like allowing us to listening in on your thoughts about it.

I would love to hear more about up and coming photographers. Profiles of interesting current artists. As opposed to a re-visiting of famous names from the past. I'd also like to read about new trends in photography and maybe some thoughts about the new generative A.I. work that seems to be getting more and more popular. Articles about using alternate "cameras" such as iPhones are always fun. A fun article might be a study of why so many young people are engaging with film photography at this point in time. An overview of gallery and museum shows of current photography. Stories about working photographers like Keith Carter and how they made their transition to being fine art photographers. Reviews of current books by contemporary photographers instead of retrospective works. Occasional listings of current photographer's website which you find intriguing or worthwhile.

You write so well when you find stuff you are passionate about. Thanks!

I’ve been reading here and there that 4/3 Olympus /OMDS and Panasonic will eventually stop making those cameras, and APS-C sensors are a dead end too. Only full frame and larger have any future in terms of development. Any thoughts on the subject? It seems plenty of good photos are being made with these cameras and I don’t understand why all the doom and gloom.

Mike, I've been reading your writings for a long time. In fact, ever since your first magazine articles. You have been very influential in the formation of my philosophy of photography, and although we may disagree about other facets of life, I suspect we are in substantial agreement on most matters photographic.

Since you ask what we (I) would like to see you write more about, I have some thoughts (I used to say suggestions, but Kirk bridles at the term, so I try to avoid using it).

1. I would like to see more of your photography. To be honest, I don't like most of it all that well, but I am very intrested in your process -- how you select subjects, photograph them, edit, post-process, print, and display them.

2. Who are the great photographers today? Once upon a time we knew who they were and had photo magazines to tell us about them.

From my earliest days iin photography I was influenced by Fritz Henle, Elliott Erwitt, Henri Cartier-Bresson, Burt Glinn, the agless Jay Maisel, Ansel Adams, Irving Penn, Richard Avedon, Eve Arnold, Margaret Bourke-White, Bruce Davidson, Dorothea Lange, Robert Doisneau, and many, many more, especially including B.A.King, the greatest unknown American photographer. https://www.blogger.com/blog/post/edit/3786851340213607564/5140407125774080356

But who are the great photographers of today, based on their photographic output? A a commercial photographer myself of many years standing, I regard Kirk Tuck as the consumate commercial photographer.

But who are the others? Who are they, and where can we see their work, now that the few remaining photo magazines have pretty much been reduced to the "gee-whiz" technical level?

If you take on this challenge it should keep you busy for quite a while.

I'd like to see an update on your Solar charged watch. As a result of those two or three columns, I have 3 Solar powered watches: a Citizen, and two Casio,(one is a Wave Ceptor) and a Casio with a 10 year battery. My contribution to keeping the economy going.

I'd like to see more posts on film... for people who are clinging to developing, printing (particularly alternative processes, perhaps with interviews), how to build a 'minimalist' darkroom, older fun cameras (Minox et al), cheap worthwhile lenses to be found on ebay (Jupiter? et al), traveling with both a digital & film camera that can successfully share the same lenses, and more...........

How do I get over my fear of taking pictures with manual controls?

I like a variety of things, and am completely undisturbed by things I like less because I can just skip them. That said, I like to see profiles of, and/or links to, photographers who do exceptional work. Particularly those who do “fine art” work (notwithstanding the fraughtness, so to speak, of that category).

I also like your more philosophical takes on photography and other subjects, although I realize those can be the more difficult ones to write (which makes me appreciate them even more).

I would like to read more about prints and books and photographers. I don’t care too much about gear except if it’s about lenses.I enjoy reading about what is going on your part of the state actually.

I agree with the others like Mark Sampson who suggested "Go make some photographs and then show them to us."
Basically tell us what moved / inspired / compelled you to make a particular photograph?

How about some interviews with photographers whose work you appreciate? You could begin with your thoughts about their work, how or if it enters into the broader conversation of themes, and then talk directly with that person about intentions, motivations, process, and perhaps a bit about how their gear choices matter to what they do. Something for everyone.

Some will be a single article and some can last a few days over the week. There are a lot of interesting people out there who would have so much to offer a bigger audience.

This deeper dive is sorely lacking these days. Most blogs are written by photographers who only talk about their own work, which can get pretty repetitive. How refreshing it would be to have someone like you, a person who does not write about your own work all the time, write about other people.

I'll second/third/whatever the requests for photographic review—books, websites, videos; your choice of photographers. They don't have to be famous, well known, popular, or the opposite, just photographers that you personally think of interest.

And here's a curly one, a history and assessment of photo manipulation from the early darkroom days with double negatives, burning, dodging, through to Jerry Uelsmann's multi-negative compositing and the subsequent digital efforts to equal and surpass what could be done in film along with discussion of what's permissible and when, things like why it's wrong to remove Jeffrey Epstein from a photo of someone else, why it's OK for Jerry Uelsmann to put a tree in a living room,. At an even more basic level when it comes to truth/reality and photography, why it's OK to pose some photos but not others.

The AI debate is a rehash of things that have been argued about for well over a century so what about a post which really addresses the ins and outs of image accuracy., about why a press photographer can't remove people from their photos but why in a court where cameras are not allowed it seems quite OK for press artists to create sketches/paintings which don't show everyone in the field of view and can even misrepresent the appearance of people in the illustration to the point of lampoon. Why hold one sort of visual artist to a different set of standards than another sort of visual artist when they're both producing images meant to portray exactly the same thing for publication in the press? I think there's a serious discussion to be had about this but all too often I think it gets presented in binary terms, any change is wrong vs no change is right, and even in some cases almost reduced to assertions that this is what digital has led us to as if film photographers in pre-digital days never manipulated prints in very extreme ways with their work being highly regarded and respected.

And I wouldn't mind hearing about Margarete Bourke White's pet alligators. Is she the source of the alligators in the NY sewers urban legends? :-)

More photos please; we are photographers and respond best to visual stimulation, but TOP is rather short on photos. On that note let's see some more Baker's Dozens; three or four a year would be about right.

One Baker's Dozen theme could be to take a photo away from your house and garden, but not more than 500 feet (150 metres) away. Another theme could be to take a photo on a given day only.

There's probably a few readers doing photo projects; call for them to send in some of the project photos with an explanation of what the project is all about, and a link to the rest.

My all-time favorite featured the photo-booth self-portraits of Ansel Adams.

Having pretty much settled on my equipment, materials, and process I am mostly interested in discussions related to actually taking pictures.

I’ve only just found out about the LEICA Sofort, and shortly before that, the Fuji Instax. Thoughts on instant cameras?

I'd say go off topic. It's been a bit since you wrote about music, either artists you're currently following or the equipment you're listening to. Just a change of pace.

Do a Kirk Tuck, get out, do some walking, make some photos, show the good ones to us.

I want more frequent articles…but not necessarily by you. I understand how this can be a dreary grind for you sometimes so get regular guest pieces, regular editorials, opinion pieces, even rants, etc.

The most irritating thing for me (aside from lengthy pieces about heart rhythm disturbances- retired doctor,) is no new column day after day.

Use your knowledge of the field and your lifelong connections to get some other notables to share the work, pick up the pace and prevent yourself from burning out.

I'd like to read an extended digression on how to envision, create, edit and curate a body of work. Creating not just a single good photo, but an extended exploration that holds together as a work of art in its own right with many components that fit together with a kind of synergy. A whole greater than the sum of its parts.

My go-to model is probably David Plowden's huge body of work on small towns and farms.

More about photos, photographers and the art of photography. This is where your strength lies.

Less gear reviews. Not that you do them poorly, it is just that these are limited in the number of folks that you can appeal to... e.g. if one is not interested in buying memory cards at the moment your recent articles are likely of limited interest.

More about your photographs and what motivated you to make specific exposures. Hearing the 'background' to a photograph is always interesting to me, and hopefully others.

Occasional 'lifestyle' (i.e. non-photo topics) articles are okay with me, just not too many in a row nor too many on one topic. These keep TOP a personal project rather than being a corporate/business activity.

Stuff about photographs, and particularly about why some are "better" than others (perhaps "do their particular thing better" is a more suitable phrase).

Advanced printing. You know something about that! Many of us know lots of techniques, but the question always is when to apply which techniques.

One I've been on about for a decade or so, and is now quite possible (if not actually easy) -- to what extent do different lenses really give different "renderings"? It's now quite practical to produce photos with 2 different lenses in front of the same sensor and pointing at the same subject -- how much difference is there really?

The idea of letting a few of the commentariat loose for an article is also attractive -- most of us know enough about some particular corner of things to be dangerous, and people talking about their specialties are nearly always interesting.

I'd like a systematic exploration of the f/64 group. This would involve a discussion of technique, style, and subject matter.

I’d like to see a thorough going-over of lens character… what is it, what causes it, and of course, examples from some characterful lenses.

An essay about Martin Parr?

Maybe he is not hall of fame like HCB, but he's really, really, really, really good.

I still want to hear about the year with a view camera.

So many great suggestions from your readers. May I add that there have been two masters of photography who died this year; Elliott Erwitt and Brian Griffin. Some words about them?

How to work a picture - like how to get from something you see to the final picture, other than "spray and pray".

Or: Take us with you on your photografic (self-)assignments.

I’ll add another vote for photo critiques. It’s always nice to hear why an image works, and we get exposure to images we might not see otherwise.

Post your own photos from a day out and critique them. Invite fair critiques, which of course would be moderated. Could be a good way to find images for print sales.

Guest posts.

The SD card post was informative and I learned a few things. I’m not sure how many other topics like this you could mine that aren’t covered elsewhere many times over, but if you can find the right topic that could be interesting.

How about:
Interviews with photographers?
Either with a fixed list of questions for everyone or questions that focus more on the specific work of the photographer.
In the case of the former, it would perhaps be particularly interesting if your readers could beforehand also contribute to formulate the questions they are particularly interested in asking photographers!
And, very importantly, at the end of the interview the photographer should present one of his pictures that has special meaning for him and to which his heart is attached - and his reasons for this.
I think that would be really great!
For everyone involved.

Pros and cons of legacy lenses. I find myself drawn to putting my old Pentax manual primes on the front of either a Pentax DSLR or one of my M4/3 cameras (the latter is more user-friendly in fact, given focus peaking). But rationally this doesn't make much sense - to the casual observer my inexpensive Lumix kit lenses produce results that are pretty much as good. So why do I do it? Why do so many people debate the relative merits of old glass on endless YouTube videos (to which I am also addicted .... )

Help! I am more into classic photography than the trendy stuff I see constantly online. For me, the most interesting photography is done "in the documentary style" as Evans said last century. But that style has evolved and I'm out of the loop. There are things I don't get. Portraits of people standing/sitting around doing nothing instead of candid photos of them in their activities, for instance. I'm also at a loss understanding the genius of modern photographers like Alec Soth yet I am somewhat in awe of Raymond Meeks.

What I would like is for you to provide some clarity on current photographic aesthetics. Help an ignorant old fart like me to understand.


Perhaps a discussion on social media sites. Where are we posting, what sites truly promote photography, issues with posting, trends in social media as they affect photographers. AI is it the future dodging and burning?

Hi Mike,

I have followed you since "Camera and Darkroom". I greatly appreciate all you do. It must be hard to work and not always get the feedback. As the young'uns say... I see you.

When I lack creative juice I let myself disappear into old friends;

Eric Clapton. Same old blues.
Dire Straights. Telegraph road.
Pink Floyd. The whole of "Wish You Were Here"

Then after I've recovered I look to take some nice macro shots of flowers and/or bugs in my garden.

Then I find a friend to eat with and plan my next outing.

Oh! I remember a few years ago I attended a drawing class. It was one of those "Drawing and Right side of the Brain" classes. It was great as a photographer just looking at light and line...Well worth it to rejuvenate your eye.

One point of art is to 'feel'... So I'd love to see just a regular weekly article about what art brings you joy. Or maybe not just art, Butters grin?


The best part of this blog for me have been the posts on photographer bios both posthumous and living. They have opened up new ideas and appreciation for photographers living and past. Gear information is available in many venues but information on photographers and their photographic processes is not.

What Voltz wrote -

"The article on black-and-white tonality that you’ve been saying you would write for 30 years ;-) "


As others have mentioned, more of your photos. Think of it as MPOW…Mike’s Photo of the Week. With no more than 250 words describing the photo. If you ran it, say, every Wednesday, I’m pretty sure you’d notice a nice bump in your site visits.

Print sales. Not sure what happened with your print offer of Mennonite Boys, but it disappeared into the vapor. If you did 4 print sales a year, you’d potentially have a new income stream.

My 30 Day’s with XX Camera. A hands on review of cameras that are new or of interest to your community. I’m sure you could borrow, for example, the Fujifilm X100VI (in a year maybe), the Pentax K-3 III Monochrome, the Leica Q3 or the Ricoh GRIIIx from B&H. Your take on a camera would likely provide a different insight than what folks get from reading DPReview or PetaPixel.

Baker’s Dozen. I’m sure your site analytics would confirm this has been one of your more popular posts. A Spring and Fall edition would increase traffic and likely generate links from other sites…since many folks are more interested in seeing photos than reading the endless gear talk that floods our inbox.

The NYC Photo Scene. You’re really not that far away from the city. Maybe a twice a year report on new exhibits or events. Except for promotion pieces, nobody is really doing a good job covering what’s going on in the epicenter for photography in the U.S.

A critique of a photograph or two. Or photography book recommendations are always welcome and yours have led to purchases in the past. On the course I am on at the moment we're doing an exercise on how one photograph can be responded to with another, and so on, until we have been round the group - it is interesting to see how the topic develops. Maybe you could do something like this on the blog somehow?

I enjoy your musings on the social and cultural aspects of photography, so more of that please.

I would second all the comments about photography as an art/random excellence/magnum review etc. I am one of your patreon supporters as a (very) small way to steer things away from gear content.

Well, whatever it is I'd like it to be strongly photography related. I like your sidebars on other topics, but I think you've got a fair balance on those.

I'd like to see (as others have said) more ---not critiques, exactly---but "observations" about photographs and photographers from any era from your point of view. I keep abreast of gear from other sites, so when I come here it's for something else. And that something else is a bit hard to find on the interwebby.

Many of us never worked in the darkroom. The rude arrival of the need for learning processing was forced upon us with the digital arrival. Quite a cold plunge for those "happy snappers", but it led to a greater understanding of and appreciation for the art and craft of photography. But still, decades later, I wonder if I truly understand what I'm doing when I employ the tricks and clicks I've learned. Is there ever an arrival at the place of absolute competence and certainty in processing?

In my efforts to present a passibly pleasing digital or actual paper print, I may make something visually representative and even pleasing to view, but did I miss seeing potential greatness in that shot? Am I fooling myself that there's anything rewarding there at all?

How can I trust my satisfaction with my work compared to viewing a gallery show that someone has vetted and arranged in a pleasing, authoritative way? How much does the setting grace the viewing and reception of the work, viewing in a gallery versus shuffling through prints at someone's dinning table?

With the seeming renaissance of B&W, there may be lots of newish photographers out there who have no idea what all those coloured filters were for; yellow, red, green, etc. Maybe an educational primer on what they were for, when to use, what are their effects?

Maybe a discussion of badly done B&W?

Yeah, don't know how you survived the technical minutiae of all that- phew! Books, photography, photographers other than the usual brand names much as I may love them myself- you know... the (actual) joy of photography!

The comments to this entry are closed.



Blog powered by Typepad
Member since 06/2007