#734. Photography’s week links (9 June 2018) – Fringe benefits.

By pascaljappy | Monday Post

Jun 09

“On vit une époque formidable”. French for “what a great time to be alive”. Often said in an ironic or cynical way. But I mean it. Really.

Think of it this way. When I was a kid, someone my (current) age was an old man, there were only two TV channels (I think, cause I didn’t have TV) and accessing information was really difficult for most people. You had the media timeline, libraries, and that was it. So much has changed. I’m still fit enough to get beaten up by 15 year olds at karate classes twice a week, most men my age are, and one of my fellow club sufferers is 25 years older than I. The Internet has kept our minds young (YouTube music does that to your brain, or shuts it down) and informed (mostly) and Netflix can fill our longer life’s empty moments with an unprecedented variety of entertainment. Those are great cards to be dealt. And, now more than at any other time before, it is largely up to us to decide what we do with them (which is probably why so many criticise it, our time).

But, on top of longer lives and other benefits of modern life in the lower rungs of the Maslow hierarchy, and virus-free streaming, I think what fascinates me mostin our time is the fast unfolding of history and societal change happening before our eyes. It used to be that nothing much happened in life : some crappy king sent all his young men to death to capture some piece of land that some other crappy king would reconquer a few decades later via slaughter. Men were gutted, women raped, rinse and repeat for centuries. Millenia. Today’s 3-year olds are more evolved mentally. In truth, it hasn’t really stopped, in the crappiest regions of the planet. But much more interesting events are happening right before our eyes, in fast forward speed, thanks to the drastically accelerated feedback loops between cause and effect. Trends, fashions, empires being built and destroyed, the way we work together forgetting the stupid illusion that are frontiers and free of political forces, …

Side effects are not always fun. No one wants to see a Kardashian butt at breakfast or hear the news that the dinosaurs (Google, Facebook, Amazon, governments, zealots …) are forcing upon us. But the global upheaval is there for all to see and is accelerating day after day. Instagram is one of the most interesting sociological labs on Earth. Neither good nor bad, a neutral catalyser for human nature to unfold before us all. My A-level scores in history were abysmal. If negative grades existed, I’d have had them. I blame my hormones, the beauty of my lady student fellows and the baffling inability of my teachers to make any of it even remotely relatable or interesting. Dates, exams, grades. But Instagram, man, it’s history unfolding in real-time.  A time-lapse of human psyche.

Photography is changing. In all kinds of ways. Being a photographer is all about evolution, documenting evolution and fostering our own. Most of photography is clustering around single focus points (leading gear, leading style, leading must see destinations, leading influencers …) but a lot more interesting stuff is happening at he fringes. Hopefully, this will make more sense when you see the links below. If not, ah well, sorry! Onwards.





Hat tips to contributors (there are more and more coming in! Thanks so much for that! Please keep’em flowing)



Furiously Off Topic

(all photos on this page made with the Sony A7r2 and Zeiss C-Sonnar 1.5/50 ZM. Yum!)

So, yeah, the fringes are far more interesting. Tomorrow’s empires will belong to those who manage to looseley coalesce those fringes around cultural and purpose-driven projects, for the benefit of all members. Meanwhile, we at DS will keep plodding along hoping more and more photographers from the fringes will join us when and how they wish to, to share thoughts and experiences. In writing, no less (remember when people read books ?) Who’s in ?


Email: subscribed: 4
  • Cliff Whittaker says:

    Absolutely love these black and white images. On my monitor they look crisply sharp with excellent contrast…. almost 3D. Thanks.

    • pascaljappy says:

      Thanks Cliff. That C-Sonnar is the epitomy of quality over measured quantity. It’s an incredibly well thought out lens from an era when influencers didn’t focus on MTF or test lenses in a basement … We’re lucky it’s that affordable.

      • jean pierre {pete} guaron says:

        The Planar/Sonnar lenses were all part of the same happy family within Zeiss. I loved them. I can & do see improvements, with the Otus & Milvus lenses, the Sigma ART range, various Canon lenses and so on – it’s not all ancient and not all Zeiss. But to be perfectly frank about it, most of the time you’d have no idea what lenses were used, if nobody revealed their identity – these lenses long ago reached a standard where it’s mostly only lab tests that can distinguish between them – distortion (which is easily correct) and CA and vignetting aside!

  • jean pierre (pete) guaron says:

    I don’t see Hassy going out of business. It can’t impress customers who paid twice as much, seeing a crash in resale values of their rather more expensive purchase, and I see so many things like this happening in the photographic world than I wonder whether the people running these companies have any business acumen, but that’s a whole different page.
    The X-1-D is, by all accounts, a very good camera and selling well. And I wish them every success, because they do raise the bar on quality. And with the great unwashed giving up on cameras and turning to cellphones instead, I believe what’s left of the “world of photography” is really mostly people who need “cameras”, to run their businesses or take the photos that they are after. Anyway, that’s how I see the “evolution” in photography that you mention in your introduction, Pascal. And I see it all over – including among beginners, who have a cellphone but want to “take up photography” and use a camera to do it. Not just mule headed old bastards like me who refuse to make the change and regard cellphones as an instrument of the devil, that looms up in your field of view and spoils your photography.
    I like NG – and I like the fact it encourages a high standard, in photography. I don’t however take a great interest in their competitions (apart from looking at a few of the winners) – any more than an interest in Instagram. As to the article on that, I was completely lost – the only thing I could think of, which would make the article make sense, is that there are people trying to conduct a business of selling copies of their photos on the internet – they choose Instagram as their virtual shopfront, to do it – and end up being drowned in among other similar photos taken by a horde of “wannabe’s”. Sigh – t’was ever thus – genius ALWAYS ends up surrounded by people imitating them, and while it’s flattering in one sense, it’s often very bad for business. It’s wildly unlikely that I would want to sell mine – but if ever I decided I did, places like Instagram are not where I’d set up shop.
    10 common mistakes? – there are heaps more, also common – I think we’ve probably ALL done some of them – but not often, hopefully.
    Libraries? – next time I am in Lyons, I’d like to have a look at the library there (along with numerous other things in Lyons – 🙂 ) Public buildings lend themselves to treatment as great works of fine architecture – God has always inspired this, but for some centuries now the other spheres of human activity have joined in. Yes it is a puzzle – why so many photos of what my late brother once referred to as “God boxes”, and so few photos of the temples of the every day, more pagan side of life?
    Image building – yes, architecture lends photographers a helping hand – providing them with plenty of “cannon fodder” for their Canon cameras (or whatever else they’re shooting with). As a child, I had a similar interest in architecture – helped a friend of mine with his architecture studies, to make sure he obtained an Honours degree – and apply what I learned, to creating a suitable home to live in. Can’t explain why you didn’t persevere, Pascal. In my case, doing what I wanted was out of the question, because my father refused to allow it – I’m afraid he was one of those people who live out their own fantasies through what they perceive as their children’s achievements. I can’t say my career was “uninteresting” or “unsuccessful” – it just wasn’t something I would have chosen. But it put bread on the table, so it wasn’t all bad.
    “Pass” on Lightroom’s masking thing – not suitable for my style of photography (and I’m leaving it there, to avoid causing offence). I will be buying DxO ‘s Nikcollection, though, out of curiosity (in the wake of my recent attempts to compare different post processing packages), and because one or two features seem to fill a void in the range of things I can do in PP.
    Philippe, my idea of posing for a photo is to turn my back on it – I take photos of other people – I freely admit it – but I have a pathological hatred of being photographed.
    And Pascal, you might not like this comment – but I do have a problem with Sony’s RX100 range. I think I may have mentioned it to you before. Apparently, to cut costs, Sony had it made in China. The result was issues with quality control. When I looked into buying one as a “take everywhere” cam, it ticked most of the boxes – but then I started to hit comments in Sony chat groups and elsewhere, that put me off completely. One guy reported that he had bought all 5 models (including two of one model), and had problems with the lot. And Sony is not alone in this. I started looking into lenses suitable for bird photography and very soon started finding similar reports on high end lenses made in China for some of the major camera brands – all very well to save money that way, but at the expense of image quality? – forget it! – there’s no point, after that – you might just as well give up, and go buy a decent cellphone!
    Off topic:
    1 – why do they need to create an AI psychopath, when there are way too many psychopaths out there already?
    2 – apart from the appalling treatment of animals, I think that clip is something you shouldn’t encourage me to look at – it will only encourage bad habits 🙂 I love Monty Python – especially the “head” rolling around on the ground and refusing to stop fighting – or the box of fingers – in fact, the totality of its bizarre sense of humour.
    3 – ??????????? – where I grew up, there was a chinese guy who went to a rival college and ended up not long afterwards in charge of the [then] Highways Department. Like must dumb city leaders, our city fathers had succumbed to the wiles of big oil and replaced a perfectly good electric tram service with a fleet of diesel buses, which was supposed to reduce traffic congestion and had the opposite effect. When said chinese guy looked at it, he had an inspirational solution (very much like this MIT one). Example – in the central business district, he banned right hand turns (driving is on the left here – reverse this for Europe) altogether, because you get the same result making three left turns. He also told people turning left (for Europe, read right) they MUST give way to pedestrians. With that, there was no need for a separate phase for pedestrians – only two required now, since none required for turning traffic – and they were east-west, or north-south. Then, he re-timed all the traffic lights, so that they were paired – the next two intersections go red, simultaneously – the following pair go green, at the same time.
    The result was astounding. Instead of cars bunched up everywhere, rush hour traffic cleared the most congested part of the centre of the city during peak periods within 15 minutes – and you HAD to drive at 60 kph, until you cleared the city centre, or you’d miss the green light and have to wait till the lights changed again. This is called “lateral thinking”, I believe. Oh – and he did it half a century ago !!!!

    • pascaljappy says:

      Pete, that’s a fascinating story about that Chinese engineer. One thing we humans seem pretty good at is forgetting the most creative among us … Reminds me of “quality superhero” Juran who was neglected in the West for 20 years while he was performing miracles in Japan. Oh well. At least the miracles took place somewhere, that’s all that matters.

  • Kristian Wannebo says:

    Very nice photos!
    – – –
    The future is no more what it used to be…
    – – –

    # “weekly round-ups from readers on the BBC website (or elsewhere) feel a lot more alive to me”
    They do! (i.e. to me too)

    # “10 common photography mistakes and how to avoid making them”
    See also
    ( A very nice collection.)

    # “https://nikcollection.dxo.com/”
    Until recently you could have the previous version for free from DxO.

    ( My PP for the moment:
    Lens corrections in DxO or Canon software,
    Denoising (for high ISO) in Nik,
    Presharpening in Nik,
    DxO “Optics Pro 11 Free” for PP
    (“Smart Lighting” often enough goes a long way.),
    Resizing + Postsharpening in Nik.)

    ( I haven’t started learning to use Nik Silver Effex (for b/w) yet – whichever slider I try it does something nice, but it’s hard to figure out exactly what it does…)

    • pascaljappy says:

      Thanks Kristian 🙂 Great post by Ming (they usually are …)

      What is smart lighting ? It’s been a while since I used DxO and even then it was more or less on autopilot, to correct the abvious aberrations in my single lens of the time, the Nikon 18-200. Pretty magical DxO, for that kind of use !

      Nik is really nice because you get the wow effect of presets but with far more control. Not sure I understand what every slider does either but it becomes an intuitive rather than intellectual process after a while (if that makes any sense). I really miss Nik now that C1 is my tool of choice. C1 doesn’t interface with anything else and that sucks. I hear LR callin’

      • jean pierre (pete) guaron says:

        LR would have to yell its head off, before I hear it!
        I’m getting DxO’s Nik (actually, I installed a 30-day trial today), because I use DxO anyway. DxO PhotoLab is some slight help – but Nik should super charge that. DxOViewPoint is wonderful – sometimes you have to use it on manual, but most of the time it corrects verticals or whatever on AUTO quite happily. From there, for the finishing touches, you need something more. Capture One Pro is my next stop. And funnily enough, I still use PhotoShop for a couple of final tweaks before I print them shot.
        The more I use C1, the less interest I have in LR.

      • Kristian Wannebo says:

        DxO Smart Lighting is like managing shadow, medium (and highlight) sliders together.
        ( I first adjust exposure to bring the histogram to an ETTR position.)

        Slowly increasing Smart Lightning brings up the shadows and at the same time manages the whole tone curve so that contrast transitions (mostly) look good in the whole range. (Usually the suggested value is close to where I end up.)
        [ https://www.dxo.com/us/photography/community/tutorials/using-dxo-opticspro-10%E2%80%99s-dxo-smart-lighting ]

        ( I also used to apply a small amount of the Microcontrast slider, but with Nik sharpening I rarely use it now.)
        – – –

        Pascal, I agree.
        Using Nik *is* rather more intuitive!

        ( But having at least some understanding of how a certain slider manages the tone curve helps with learning in which order and by how much to apply different effects, although the Nik manuals are quite good and well written but rather concise. And there are a couple of good tutorials on the ‘net.)

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