#689. Monday Post (15 Jan 2018) – Entropy

#689. Monday Post (15 Jan 2018) – Entropy

 

In last week’s behind-the-scenes mail thread – another in the series of conversations that hold much of the DearSusan team together – someone pointed at this article on PetaPixel by Neil Rantoul.

 

 

 

 

In response, my un-penned response was “Aren’t we in danger of taking ourselves too seriously?” Meanwhile, elsewhere, on other fora and sundry sites across the Interwebs, photographers continue to lament the loss of art, suggesting none-too-subtly as they do, that their work is definitely up there with the luminaries.

 

Well, I’m not so sure and my willingness to care is equally hard to pin down.

 

No. That’s not right. I don’t care whether I make art or not. Really.

 

 

 

 

 

As you no doubt know – you do read the Monday Post regularly don’t you? – there are nine contributors here at DearSusan and unless one is hiding his candle under a bushel, there’s not one of us making significant sales of photographs, prints or even leasing work for advertisements, brochures and the like.

 

And that’s not because we don’t want to. Here’s the reality check; if art mattered, we’d be hellish busy, shooting, editing, printing and the like. There’d be new gallery shows opening weekly and (at the risk of censure) to quote Bill Cosby, we’d “…be drinking champagne like we were rich.”

 

But we’re not and the likelihood of that happening is down at -273C.

 

“Stunning”, “Awesome” say the Facebook comments on our posts. I just want to reply; “Yeah? So buy a fricking print then,” or “If you like these images so much, why didn’t you download them when I was offering a free monthly desktop picture?”

 

Taking photographs isn’t hard. Billions of people do it every day, even more at holiday times.

 

Taking great photographs isn’t hard either; you either have to sweat your cobs off working at your images, or get really lucky and shoot that image by chance. Either way, the bad news is that despite your picture being awesome and stunning, you are unlikely to ever make any money from it.

 

****************************************************************************

 

I woke this morning thinking about entropy. Aside from it’s relevance to the engineering of thermodynamics, it also points to lack of order or predictability; a gradual decline into disorder for example; a marketplace where entropy reigns supreme.

 

 

 

 

My thought(s) were definitely focussed on this slightly chaotic interpretation. I suppose recent releases from Panasonic and Sony, spotlighting their designed-for-purpose camera offerings had piqued my interest somewhat. Wide dynamic range sensors, all clustered around 16+mpix, were perhaps guiding my sleeping thoughts. No doubt these are intended as video workhorses, turning out 4k and some even 8k content for all they’re worth. The lower than (now) normal sensor resolution having been selected for video image quality and excellent dynamic range. Good move.

 

It was May 2014 when I last used my last low pixel count camera; a Nikon D700. I was en route to Greenland and (because flights are only available from Denmark) was on a multi-day stopover in Copenhagen, a city I’d never visited before. With me, in a heavy bag full of Nikon kit, was the D700 and its 14mp sensor as a back up body.

 

Needless to say, it never got used for its primary purpose. Instead, I pressed it into service to shoot the hundreds of photographs I’d need to produce InSight: Copenhagen, DearSusan’s travelling photographer’s guide to the city. I really enjoyed using it – its personality entirely different from my D800; easier to use, less demanding of me, yet able to produce absolutely beautiful images.

 

At 14mp, the sensor was more than adequate. Coupled with my (even then) aged pre-AI 50mm f1.4 and 28mm f2.8, I returned to Cape Town with an absolutely perfect set of photographs. I put the D700 away and hadn’t touched it until today, when my awakening urged me to take the body from the shelf and try it out.

 

 

 

After four years, a usable battery would have been way too much to ask, but an hour or so on the charger and there was a usable 36%. Another hour and 75% charge arrived and on went the 28. The 50 went into my pocket.

 

All of the images in this post were shot with the D700 and I do have to ask myself why I wasted a day recently trying to justify a D850, when this one works so well.

 

 

12 Comments

  1. Avatar
    Tony Vidler January 15, 2018

    Unread this blog everyday with great pleasure – the posts keep me balanced and their sanity curbs my tendency to GAS – but having plunged right into the new CL and M 10 rabbit holes I stumbled on my old Casio 5mp credit card camera that accompanied me to Bangladesh. A few digs into the hard drive posted images of street life and Louis Kahn’s Capitol on my new 27” screen – as good as any taken since by multi upgrades!
    Thanks for this post – I will quickly return to my X2!

  2. Avatar
    Tony Vidler January 15, 2018

    I meant of course – before auto correct interfered
    I read this every day
    Apologies

  3. Avatar
    The anonymous grunter January 15, 2018

    Great images & content, Paul. Congrats.

    Ease of use: absolutely right. I used a Canon EOS 20 D with a higher percentage of keepers than with my following camera bodies – mainly due to ease of use, lesser menu options and more confidence when pressing the shutter button … unfortunately sold it … well, well, it was slow writing on CF card or microdisk, especially when I needed speed for arriving wedding guests, but anyway.

    Maybe I should look for one on the bay and unsell it.

  4. Avatar
    Jaap Veldman January 15, 2018

    Your autoreply however is more intelligent than you expected it to be.
    It knows everything about this site.
    It just went un-destination.

  5. Avatar
    jean pierre (pete) guaron January 16, 2018

    Since I have been pipped at the post, I will try to be sensible for a change – that appeals to me so much, in the middle of a discussion about entropy. BTW — thanks for the class in english, I had to scurry off to the internet dictionary to find out WTF entropy is, Paul, before I could continue. I’m beginning to see some point in the promoters of esperanto arguing for one universal language – I spend every day in at least three different ones, and with the onset of old age I can only say that the one saving grace of it all is that it gives me more things to forget, than other people have. Enough – get on with it!

    I think it was 1967 when I decided I don’t care a fig what other people think of my photographs. And mostly, since then, I’ve either not shown them to anyone or only shown them to a very select audience of close friends. I enjoy them – I know why I took them – I can see perfectly well for myself whether I succeeded or failed – and this way it’s pure hedonism, leonine self-adulation (I’m a Leo! – SURPRISE!! :), and devoid of the chatter of mindless critics – a class of people best summed up by the line “those who can, do – those who can’t, criticise”.

    Of course, those who can’t also run galleries. Places that sell paintings by the square metre, so they fit into the wall space in your lounge room – or match the colour of the “modern art” vase on your coffee table. They apparently do the same with hangings of photographs – Ming Thein is currently running an article on this very subject. Read it and you’ll see at once why I wrote paragraph 2 of this comment (above).

    Moving on – Paul, thanks for this post. You’ve supplied me with a whole new approach to my relentless attack in this Game of Thrones against the world being swept aside by a plague of cellphones and selfie sticks. It’s called “entropy” – much of it is mindless chaos – hence the lack of order or predictability and the resulting decline.

    You touched a chord with your comments on resurrection. In your case, a D700 – in mine, fumbling with my Canon PowerShot G1X mkII. And we share a few features, using them – lighter, lower pixel count, lovely images with what they’re good at. Of course there are things we can’t do with them – but there’s no camera ANYWHERE that can do everything.

    And besides, by re-establishing our connection with these things, we achieve mileposts that others miss. We avoid GAS. We devote our time and attention to improving our photography, instead of spending it in camera shops, or – like that idiot festooned with Leicas who scared the daylights out of me by sitting next to me in a corner of Paris notorious for its underworld population of pickpockets, while I was trying to be discrete with my gear – simply playing with toys, to entertain the passing pedestrians.

    Do I care that my shot aren’t displayed in a gallery? – no. I’m perfectly happy where I am. Your post has driven DS from photography into philosophy, Paul. Do we make art or not? – do we care what the answer is, to that question? No – because (at least for me, anyway) the point is that everyone cannot stand on the same spot. There IS only one Pablo Picasso – there IS only one Monet – one Michelangelo – one Rodin – one Mozart – one Shakespeare – one Gaudi. Of course that’s not an exhaustive list of “greats”. But while there ARE heaps of other “greats”, the point needs to be recognised that not all of us ever WILL be “greats”, and in the meantime, I’m not wasting my money, my time, my life, or my own self esteem, burning it all up in a fruitless attempt to conquer the highest mountain, when all I’d get out of it would be breathing problems associated with high altitudes. I chose way back then – and still choose – to LIVE my life – to enjoy it – and to live MY life, not some other person’s misguided attempt to make me correct their notion of “the error of my ways”.

    What lies behind that outburst is quite simple. This morning, before seeing your post, I found myself reading an article in a similar vein – one of the themes of it was this paragraph:
    “It’s ironic that as photographs have become easier to make and there are more photographers than ever before making more photographs the pictures are worse.”

    – and the most profound and illuminating article I’ve ever read, on the subject of black & white photography, written by an acolyte of Ansel Adams. It’s pure co-incidence of course that they both happened to be in my inbox at the same time, along with your article – and that I opened them both, before I spotted Pascal’s reference to your article. Some people these days would say “It was meant!”

    FYI – here are the URLs to both articles – I think you will readily appreciate why they connect in my head, with your comments in this article.

    https://www.outdoorphotographer.com/tips-techniques/nature-landscapes/case-black-white/
    https://petapixel.com/2016/05/31/opinion-disturbing-trend-photography/

    PS – love your [mandatory] four shots of the bicycles 🙂 Just kidding! – the one I like best is not displayed properly, you’ll never get it into a gallery giving it that kind of treatment in your display 🙂 I had to open it on a separate screen, to appreciate it – then sat back and drooled over it – it’s surreal !!!!!!! – I found it was giving me something vaguely like motion sickness, staring into it, and I DID find myself staring into it – it was kind of like a whirlpool, sucking me in!

    • Avatar
      paulperton January 16, 2018

      Pipped this week Pete, because I was very dilatory about finishing the Post.

      I lie. I was flip-flopping about the content and only started to get an idea how to finish the piece quite late in the day.

      I also needed to haul the D700 on my daily walk and shoot a couple of images that confirmed said camera still worked – they are the last two at the bottom of the post. Not as satisfactory as some I’ve more recently shot with a Fuji of some stripe, but most satisfying.

      Sorry, I’ll try to be better prepared next week 😉

    • Avatar
      Cliff Whittaker January 17, 2018

      Good read, Pete.

  6. Avatar
    Cliff Whittaker January 16, 2018

    For some reason the movie Like Sunday, Like Rain is one of my favorites. And, one of my favorite lines from that movie is when the protege 12-year old kid explained why he did not intend to become a professional musician. To paraphrase, he said, “Art is a dead language. It doesn’t matter what I say or how I say it because no one is listening anyway”.
    That’s exactly the way I feel about my photography. I still make lots of photographs but I only do what pleases ME, with no thought toward sales. I have stopped printing anything new to display in the gallery because I am tired of “show and tell” with no sell.
    This development has occurred gradually over the last few years. I used to sell enough work to cover expenses and new equipment every year. I continually upgraded, studied and improved the quality of my work, had fine art printing on the best quality printers and paper, and had museum quality framing for my presentation. And the harder I worked and the more the quality of my work improved the worse sales became.
    Now I don’t care. I like my work and enjoy doing it. If I want to “show and tell” one of my new bird pictures or whatever, I just post it on FB. I get all of the feedback I want without the expense of printing, framing and feeding inappreciative audiences at gallery openings. I can pay as many bills with a “like” on FB as I can with, “Oh, that’s beautiful work, Cliff. I always come to the gallery to see your pictures.”

    • Avatar
      jean pierre (pete) guaron January 17, 2018

      Exactly – I couldn’t agree more, Cliff. 🙂

      And lately, I’ve been following the comments (VERY extensive) on an article where pros are mostly just bitching about NOIT being “allowed” to shoot what they want – being told by the clients (generally by someone with no idea what photography is all about) what THEY want – and being basically forced to do as they’re told, or go without any work.

      I’m glad you chose a parallel with a musician – I’ve played the piano for over 65 years, but I only went onto a concert platform twice – and hated every minute of it. These days I live in a commercial street, and play the piano after hours, when the shops have all shut and everyone has gone home. And cringe, when any of the locals tells me later that they stood outside listening to it all.

      Applause isn’t the answer, either – I just didn’t like the whole experience, not even the walk out from the wings to the centre of the stage. The internet is different somehow – I’m naturally shy and being in the public eye is what slams me in the guts – I can deal with that here, because all the “people in the audience” are somewhere I’m not.

  7. Avatar
    Kristian Wannebo January 16, 2018

    Aah, picking up older digital cameras…
    I’m afraid I can’t keep up, mine are both broken – except my first, a 2.5mpx EVF IS zoom (ISO 50-400, best kept at 50-100) boxed with my analogue cams in storage since I moved.
    ( I suddenly needed a very silent long zoom camera to document a friend on stage and found no analogue alternative.)
    – – –

    Instead, Mystery Camera:
    Ming Thein gives (or gave, 2015) his, as usual, good thoughts on gear and photography:

    https://blog.mingthein.com/2015/02/18/review-mystery-camera/

    https://blog.mingthein.com/2015/02/26/the-mystery-camera-revealed/

    Enjoy!

  8. Avatar
    Adrian January 20, 2018

    In a very different way but for similar reasons, I often wonder why I don’t use my Sony A7s all the time, as it’s 12Mp sensor offers mostly sumptuous image quality throughout any “reasonable” ISO range, and all the benefits of smaller file sizes and larger pixels.

    • Avatar
      jean pierre (pete) guaron January 21, 2018

      I don’t exactly use the PowerShot “all” the time, Adrian – but I know what you mean – like your A7s, its 12.8MP sensor gives great image quality and despite its more limited ISO range and slower lens, I treat it as my “everywhere” camera, and even use it for night shots. Not that I expect them to be as good as the faster Otus lenses, or the D810’s greater ISO range. I don’t have the technical knowledge on this, but it seems to me that there’s a trade off between more (inevitably smaller) pixels and the quality of colour in the resulting images. And for the shots where it really is suitable, it takes astonishingly high quality images, for a cam with such a low pixel count, small sensor, etc.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Sign up to our newsletter!