Here's a thought

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July 2023

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HT1610 - Extension Tubes

When I think of extension tubes, I immediately associate them with macrophotography. There's another use, however, that is much more frequent for me than close-up work. I use a short extension tube with my long telephoto lens to create an even shallower depth of field.


HT1611 - The Mystery of Accomplishment

A very common response to an exquisite work of art is, "How did they do that?" I've noticed in recent years that question is easily dismissed with disdain: "It's Photoshop." Mystery explained, wonder removed, accomplishment diminished. This is an ever-growing problem for those of us who approach photography from an art making point of view.


HT1612 - Media Proliferating Like Rabbits

We live in the age of media. But think back, say, 150 years ago. There were just two media - the printed page of text (newspapers, books) and drawings (painting, sketches, pen and ink). Since then, media have bred like rabbits - radio, recordings, movies, television, the Internet. No wonder photography's status in the hierarchy has slipped a few notches.


HT1613 - First Person Photography

When a novelist begins a new work, one of their first decisions is whether or not they choose to write in first person or third person. I think this is the same for photographers. Is there any doubt that Vivian Maier photographed in first person, or that Ansel Adams photographed in third person?


HT1614 - Photography Is the Opposite of Painting

Painting and photography are often considered cousins in the visual arts. They are not. In fact, in many ways they are opposites. Painting starts with a white canvas; photography starts with a dark box. Painters add brushstrokes; photographers subtract the distracting and unimportant. In general, painting is additive whereas photography is subtractive. What are the implications for generative fill with this in mind?

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HT1615 - Ted Orland Was Right

Orland humorously advised, "If You can't make a spectacular photograph of a mundane subject, at least make a mundane photograph of a spectacular subject."


HT1616 - Post-Production Progress

It's so satisfying when a project is completed. Now that it's done, we can let go and move on. It's been my experience, however, that I universally have what I call "post-production revelations." A few days or weeks after I've "completed" a project, I'll discover one more tweak that often improves the project significantly.


HT1617 - A Dedicated Space

I'm a fully committed digital work flow photographer, but there is one thing I miss about the dark room. It was a sort of sanctum sanctorum, where for extended hours I was totally focused on art making with no interruptions and no distractions. I miss that.


HT1618 - Just Start

A prevalent premise in today's culture is that you need to know how to do something before you begin. You need 16-20 years of training in school before you can be a professional; you need a learners permit before you can drive; a certificate of graduation; the blessings of some authority. Except in artmaking. Just jump in! You'll learn along the way.


HT1619 - RAW Capture Comparisons

Camera comparison websites and YouTube videos always use the unedited RAW captures in order to eliminate non-comparing variables. The problem of course is that none of us ever use unedited RAW files. That's just the starting point for every image we finish.


HT1620 - Losers, or Are They?

About 2½% of the images in my Lightroom catalog have been used in a project, printed, or finished in some way or another. That leaves 97½% as "losers." Is the selection and editing process that binary — just winners or losers? Maybe some of those losers just need a little more parenting and TLC.


HT1621 - Eastern States vs Western States Photography

The difference between photographing in the western states and the eastern states is not one of landscape structures or even vegetation. I found the primary difference is that the roads in the west are wider with places to pull off. There are more dirt roads, more public lands, more places to do photography. It's much more difficult here in the east.


HT1622 - Just the Right Amount of Tired

Neurologists, I suspect, could explain why I seem to be more creative, or perhaps more receptive to a creative idea, when I'm just a bit tired. If I'm too tired, I get lazy and don't want to leap into action no matter how good of an idea pops into my head. But just the right amount of tired can be the ideal environment for creative thinking.


HT1623 - After Learning the Basics

We all know the old maxim that learning never stops. That's true, but I think it does definitely slow down. There is a bell curve to learning and that applies to photography, too. Eventually doing replaces learning and that's where the trouble sets in.


HT1624 - Routines

One aspect I miss from the world of analog photography are the necessary routines that allowed me to be productive without having to stretch my creativity. Sometimes it's really lovely to just be employed in things that don't require too much brain power but yet give us a feeling of accomplishment. Welcome keywording and meta data updates.


HT1625 - DNG Lossy Format

Does anybody use DNG Lossy format? I've been doing some tests and I can't find any reason to NOT use it, but there might be some. I suppose the first question would be is it that critical to cut my RAW file sizes in half? Am I that desperate for conserving hard drive space? Or is this a technology that we can easily ignore.


HT1626 - A Life-Changing Image

I've never met a photographer who couldn't identify a life-changing image, mostly from some famous photographer, but occasionally one of their own images. This always strikes me as a great example how the success of a photograph requires both a photographer and a viewer.


HT1627 - So, So Precious, I Guess

I was mentioning to a friend that I had printed a 10-foot long panorama, just because I was curious to see if I could do it. The problem quickly surfaced that it would be incredibly expensive to frame it. I suggested just thumbtacking it to the wall. Audible gasps. Why?


HT1628 - The 8-foot Mona Lisa

Last week, I visited the Italian Renaissance Alive exhibit at the Biltmore House in Asheville, North Carolina. What an odd presentation it was!


HT1629 - One to Represent You

The other day I was asked if I could identify one image of mine that best represented my photographic career. My first thought was, what a fruitless exercise! But the more I thought about it, the more I realized there may be some value in going through my archives to see if there was one such image or, if not, if there was a trend.


HT1630 - Is White Mat Board Classic or Dated?

During the entire 50 years that I've been involved in photography, there has been only one approved method of presentation — the bevel white mat board. In the last few years, however, I'm starting to emotionally react to white mat board as a dated form of presentation that makes the photograph feel like it came from the '70s.


HT1631 - No Two Alike

When contrasting the analog workflow to the digital workflow, most commentators focus on the material and means of production. It occurs to me that one of the most primary differences is that every print from an analog darkroom is different whereas every print from a digital workflow is identical.


HT1632 - Two Phases of Artmaking - the Creative and the Performance

It seems to me that every work of art is a blend of creative thought and some sort of performance. In photography, we choose what to photograph and how to photograph it, but eventually that creative thought must be converted to actions that complete the performance of the original creative concept.


HT1633 - Having the Experience

I learned very important lesson this summer as I was traveling across America. There were a few places where I was concentrating almost exclusively on photographing rather than on having an experience of the landscape before me. In fact, I was so singularly focused on photographing that I more or less missed the opportunity to experience the place.


HT1634 - Practice

Pianists practice. Ballet dancers practice. Do photographers practice? Should we? What would that be? What kind of practice would improve our performance? Is it mechanical and muscle memory that we need to practice? Or is there something about creative seeing that might be more useful?


HT1635 - Painting on Photographs

Twenty years ago, we had a LensWork booth at Art Expo in New York. We showed gelatin silver photographs and photogravures and aroused very little interest. The booth across the aisle, however, sold millions of dollars of artwork that was a fascinating combination of photography and painting.


HT1636 - Hesitation to Engage

Fairly commonly, at the beginning of a project, I find myself hesitating to jump in. I know what's about to happen in terms of the artistic battles and frustrations. Sometimes, I'm just a little reluctant and feel guilty about that.


HT1637 - Rounded Corners

A recent chapbook purchaser asked why I use rounded corners on my images. There's a very good reason to do so, but it's not a photographic one. It's an aesthetic decision based on a bit of practical experience.


HT1638 - Paper Weight

In my earliest days of photography, I was taught to always use heavy weight photo paper, referred to then as "double weight." It was always implied that double weight was the choice of serious photographers and that single weight was amateurish. I'm not so sure about that.


HT1639 - Slowing Down

Bad habits rarely arrive fully formed, but sneak up on us in the sneaky ways of a sneak. I've noticed in the last few years that I have developed the bad habit of working too quickly in the field. Needing a way to slow down, I remembered my large format dark cloth.


HT1640 - Volumetric Satisfaction

In the intersection of art and commerce, there are two opposing strategies. Sell relatively few pieces for a high dollar amount, or sell lots of pieces for a low dollar amount. Which volumetric approach appeals to you the most? High volume dollars per photograph, or a high volume number of photographs?