#900. DS is dead. Long live DS?

By pascaljappy | News

Sep 09

900 posts. In today’s goldfish-attention-span media industry, that’s a fraction of a second of content. On instagram alone, all the photographs published on DS since day one represent less than 10 seconds. Still, as non-monetized photo blogs go, we can probably call it a good run and look proudly at the past. The time, however, has come to say goodbye.


Goodbye to the old model, that is 😉

As repeated many a time before this celebratory post, we ain’t going nowhere. Our independance makes us far less vulnerable than most. Our collaborative nature makes us far stronger, more fun and more interesting to run.

But everything has to evolve.

Evil is energy misplaced

I found that definition somewhere in a book and can’t, for the life of me, find the reference anymore. It’s so true, though.

I’ll leave the solving of hunger and war to people with broader shoulders than mine, but still want DearSusan to be an agent for good, however small. This means I (personally) no longer want to do some things which, to my eyes, contribute no wellbeing to anyone.


Chief among those are technical reviews. My lens reviews have always been more photo and lest test. And from now on, I won’t even go anywhere near anything performance-related. It’s impossible to buy bad gear today, that’s it (although some is rather unpleasant to use). Anyone trying to talk you into a new purchase for technical reasons is lying to you. End of tech stories on DS (at least from me, other contributors are welcome to continue).

Equally wrong is most advice on making photographs. Read it long enough and it will feel like photography can be summed up in 10 rules and tips. Not that we’ve ever published any such drivel on DS, or ever will. But, from now on, I’ll try to do the exact opposite and dig deep into certain subjects such as creative thinking, artistic intent, the craft of photography, printing …

Not an entirely new direction, then. Simply a different weighting to our various previous foci.

Truth is a dirty job, but someone’s got to do it

As much fun as DS has been, it has its flaws. Its foibles.


First among which is the blog-only format. A kind commentator recently explained how he reads Ming’s blog and DS, sticking almost exclusively to these two, and enjoying perusing old posts on both. As flattering as this is, it also reveals a great weakness of the blog format: interesting posts get lost in the flow. What a waste. Ming regularly republishes or udpates past gems, but I want to try something different.

So I’ll be writing fewer posts in the future. Instead, I want to structure the knowledge contained in these 900 posts so that they are more easily found from the homepage. And create new evergreen resources in the form of indexed pages and courses.


And I would dearly like others to do the same so that we can create or curate a set of really useful free resources for all to use.

This leads me to a first a brief announcement, then to the main purpose of this post, which is: if not actively maintained by a community (not a single author), DS as a blog will cease to exist quite rapidly. Ouch 😉


Red Pill Photography Courses

So, the annoucement: a course page is now online. 1.5 courses have been published (the .5 purely to allow me the use of the plural 😉 ) and will soon be 2.

The first is about what makes photographic prints valuable to others. It’s meant as a guide for all those who want to partake in the print swapping/ selling website we are finalizing. It’s not a scientific formula, it’s not endorsed by anyone who matters in the art scene. It’s a basis for personal reflection, created to ensure understanding between community members wishing to engage in transactions (financial or not). It is 90% complete.


The second is about Photographic composition. This is a vital component of photography and a domain about which so much misinformation has been communicated, it hurts. I start from the ground up, trying to simplify all that rubbish and turn it into something that can actually be learnt and practised.

You can find both in the Resources > Courses menu. And at the bottom of the homepage.

It took some self convincing to publish those, as I don’t feel expert enough to be teaching anyone anything. But there is just so much irrelevant rubbish out there that it hurts even more to not do anything abbout it.

Hence the name Red Pill.

Just as in The Matrix (one of the most important films to show kids, if you have any) you can take the blue and continue living the fake dream while those who don’t suck you dry. Heck, you might even rise in their hierarchy. Or you can seek the truth and take the red pill. Everything worth doing is worth putting effort into, right?

I have just thrown ideas on digital pages, which need proof-reading, completing, accuracy checks … They’re a start, and a great one for anyone strating out. But the fact remains that I am no world-class expert. And those ressources will only become better if real experts make them so. Your input is required.


Together or bust

As John Wick loves to repeat: “consequences”.

All our actions have consequences. And by now, the nature of this post may have become more clear to you 🙂

Deliberately turning my back to the dominant forces in both the photography market (gear) and internet marketing (sleazy content) has one inevitable consequence. It is quite possible that DS will fizzle away.


Let me describe the unassailable mechanics:

(1) I have been responsible for almost 2/3rds of all posts. That will no longer be the case as I’ll be working on resources instead.

(2) DS will get no longer support from industry blogs, as it has numerous times in the past.

(3) DS will get demoted by the search overlords.

A blog that loses 2/3 of publications, most internet searches and most external links soon loses all contributors and all traffic. The END. The website will continue to exist and accumulate ressources for free use, like a library. But if you want the cafe/blog, the interactive discussion part, to thrive (or even survive) then I will need you more than before. Sorry 😉


It’s fine if you don’t want to contribute. As I wrote in the introduction to this post, 900 post is a great run by any standard. But I don’t want to support DS unless there’s explicit proof of its usefulness as a community hub.

You can keep it alive. I don’t want to, for the sake of it. The writer / reader divide simply isn’t how I see the world. I don’t need DS. In fact, DS costs me tons of time and money (bwt, thank you again to the 2 gentlement who donated since we added the button 🙂 ) I do it both for fun and as a service.

I’m committed to creating useful resources and a gallery space for all to use. But my time is limited and the only way I’ll invest in the blog part is if it becomes a real, useful, community hub.


In exchange for the money, work, ideas I’ve put into this website for years, what I would like to ask – if you’re interested – is that you:

  • contribute knowledge, posts and photographs, exchange ideas between yourselves,
  • share posts and other content with friends (via email, phone, social media or paper scroll),
  • comment on posts and on what you’d like to see published, help one another grow …

Communities are the antidote to the cesspit in which the Internet is evolving thanks to the social platforms and search engines.

If the content on the website is not interesting enough to trigger even the most basic tangible signs of engagement that are shares, subscriptions and comments, then it clearly isn’t doing its job or of significant interest to anyone, let alone to a community. Fizzle is then the best way to go for everyone involved. There are plenty of gear-obsessed channels out there to replace us, all thoughtfully repleat with affiliate links for viewers to follow through 😉 😉


So here’s the deal: we’ll watch the blog part of DS rise or sink together. I can’t think of many other media so willing to put readers in charge. Will you see this as a pain or an opportunity? Either way, it’s been a priviledge.



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  • I’m in too! I pledge to contribute posts frequently, until you beg me to stop! Hopefully all the other fine photographers who contribute to the post will continue to do so in order to keep DS strong. Thanks for all your hard work, Pascal – it is much appreciated!

  • Andy Gordon says:

    An interesting read and perspective, one that I found honest and fresh. DS is one of a very few sites I read regularly (Kirk Tucks VSL and Ming probably being the others), most others get a cursory glance now and again.

    I’m not a great poster, but have been involved in photography for many years now as a keen amateur and the occasional paid gig, kind of know my way around cameras, technique and always looking for a new slant on what I see.

    Best wishes with this and I will see if I can summon the courage to have a go at an article or something



    • pascaljappy says:

      Thank you Andy, much appreciated. Also, I’ll be starting several course/resource projects and will ask for expertise on all of these. Any help on these, in the way of posts or other will be useful to all 🙂


  • John Wilson says:

    Pascal – I’ve always wondered how and why you do so much of the heavy lifting yourself. Though, I confess to being guilty of being a “non-contributor”. So here goes:

    I spent 25 years in government and the high tech industry as a writer, editor, seminar speaker and workshop leader. If you need, or want, an editorial assistant I’d be happy to volunteer.

    I’ve had a couple of ideas for articles bouncing around my head for a while. I’ll send them to you; if you like, let’s see what we can do; if not … out with the trash.

    Why don’t you publish a list of things you can use some help with and we’ll see who show’s up.

    • pascaljappy says:

      Hi John,

      Why: simply because I enjoyed it, initially. Now, because i enjoy but also because I feel there is need to counter all that is happening online.

      Your help and experience will be greatly appreciated. It’s never an obligation. But if there’s a topic you feel could be fun to talk about, please do. Also, you make a very good point: I should ask for more specific help. So I’ll launch several projects on various topics such as printing, lighting, composition, collecting … and will ask for expertise/experiences on each, so we can build them together.

      Looking forward to those ideas of yours. If they are anything like your photographs, I very much doubt they will ever come near the trash 😉


  • Kristian Wannebo says:

    that Goodbye photo,
    the onlooker – the umbrella man – does look startled!
    I was too – at first – but I certainly support you in wanting more time for yourself, and in spending your ON time here more significantly!
    And I think the site plans you told about are great!

    My experience with private group endeavours is that they tend to move towards fizzling out unless there are a couple of enthusiasts who add ideas and take initiatives once in a while (and often enough one of them has to hold the reins) – all of which you have done up to now!

    So I think perhaps you might test some of us a little, e.g. by asking the inner circle to take turns with, say, suggesting new challenges – but, of course, just that might be *your* pet project!

    ( You tried that earlier with “Let there be light”, and some had good ideas for articles – but after your first post it fizzled out, perhaps because that first post already covered several aspects?)
    – – –

    Re. site costs:
    Pascal, perhaps you should let us know what the running costs divided by e.g. the (current) number of regular participants (posting and/or commenting) are. We’d know better what regular donations would make sense.
    – – * – –

    Pascal, your Photos here, a bolder selection than usual, right?
    I like them all,
    but especially #3! (under “..foibles.),
    the last Photo!,
    and, yes, the Tree Silhouette!

    • pascaljappy says:

      Hi Kristian, thanks for the kind words.

      It’s not so much about making time for myself as striving to help more people and make every post more fun or more useful (or both).

      There is so much talent in the DS readers that stays locked into their minds that it’s a real shame not to provide a canvas for sharing all that experience and know-how. I don’t want to get anyone out of their comfort zone. It isn’t an ultimatum. It’s just that I’m sure many readers would enjoy publishing their own articles and that they would help others at the same time.

      Donations: very kind, but don’t worry. I’m going to take the button down. I’d rather provide revenue streams for contributors and take a little part of those for running costs.

      You’re right about “Let there be light”, great memory 😉 I think the idea was good but I lacked experience. It’s a huge topic and there could be multiple ways to address it: challenges and specific posts about smaller aspects. It’s too big a chunk to be tackled in one post. It’s learning by mistake 😉

      You are very welcome to suggest challenges !! In fact, I’ll announce the next one very soon and the idea comes from John Wilson 🙂

      Photographic choices for this post 🙂 I usually have a set of photographs from a recent trip or walk and just use those. Here, I didn’t, so just pick photographs form the existing library that seemed to illustrate a point or an idea 🙂

      All the best,

  • jean pierre (pete) guaron says:

    Well, that’s a change – being invited to speak up & speak out instead of being asked to shut up and sit down! 🙂
    I thoroughly enjoyed your summation of evil, and fell about laughing. By the time I got to consequences, I was wondering where to find the spy camera – I’ve been problem solving all my working life, and one of my favourite games with the customers was telling them “life is a game – a game of choice & consequences – your role is to make the choices, mine is to advise you on the consequences – and if you don’t like the consequences, it’s your fault, not mine – just change your choices!” Some of them didn’t like it (mainly the narcissists, or the ones hell bent on breaking the law). Others found it very helpful.
    On the subject of “reviews”, most of the gear is very comprehensively and sensibly reviewed on the internet already. That was never the point or purpose of DS, unless I’m sadly mistaken. It just started creeping in.
    On the subject of “who’s best?” I think you’ll find a number of us are ardent followers of two blogs – DS & Ming’s – not just one!
    On the subject of history – those same followers have already said they re-read earlier posts. On both blogs. Because these two blogs have a wealth of fascinating and educational material, which helps us improve our photography. Unlike certain others (which I won’t name), that go on endlessly repeating the same message – kind of like the bong bong of the bongo drums, in the jungle – after a while you realise you’ve heard it all before.
    Which leaves us all seeking to support you and DS. And to find ways to do better.
    In a world that takes trillions of photos.
    C’mon guys – let’s see what we can do, and race each other to DS #1000! 🙂

    • pascaljappy says:

      Ha ha. I hope that by the time we get to #1000, 60% of (the next 100) posts are written by new contributors 🙂 We’re off to a good start with #901 🙂


  • Pascal, I’m in also and will continue to submit articles and plenty of pictures. Your time and effort are really appreciated by me and others for sure. Dallas

    • pascaljappy says:

      Thanks Dallas. You contributions have all been wonderful and exotic. I’m sure I’m not the only one very much looking forward to more 🙂 Cheers

  • Steve Mallett says:

    No! Thou shalt not fizzle! Like other commentators, DS and Ming are the two blogs I read religiously. (And David Thorpe’s sporadic m43 writings.) Your ability and desire to keep writing meaningful, inspiring and often challenging content amazes me. Often I’ve barely managed to read and take on board one post before the next arrives! Whilst I can write tolerably well it takes me an age, nevertheless I am willing to commit to the odd piece . Oh God, did I say that out loud?

    • pascaljappy says:

      You did 😀 Worry not, no obligation, ever. I do remember your previous posts with great fondness, though. So new ones will always be welcome 😉 Cheers

  • Christiane says:

    Cher Pascal, parmi toutes les qualités observées dans tes comportements, en voici reflétées par ta décision : la fidélité à ta vision, ton authenticité, ton courage entrepreneurial et artistique, ta congruence (décision = action), la “gracieuseté” de tes compositions. La grâce n’est-ce pas une des caractéristiques de l’oeuvre d’art ?
    Je remercie aussi les ouvertures au monde offertes par DS (par toi et les autres contributrices et contributeurs).
    Belle vie passionnante à ce que devient DS et à ton projet de maintenant (restructuration du trésor de publications de DS pour une meilleure accessibilité et usage, les cours et conseils sur la composition et la création, CREATION)
    Chapeau ! Bravo !

    Suppléments :
    “Le débat sur l’ art et les catégories artistiques, sur le pouvoir des règles, ne commence donc véritablement qu’avec la grâce, laquelle devient une condition de la perfection de l’Å“uvre d’art, qui requiert la mise en Å“uvre d’une technique de composition des figures et des formes, produisant l’ harmonie et le je ne sais quoi sans lesquels le langage de l’art reste lettre morte.”Jean-François Groulier http://robert.bvdep.com/public/vep/Pages_HTML/$BEAUTE4.HTM

    ” Enfin, avec Plotin, grâce (rayonnement de l’esprit vivant qui transfigure la chair) : « C’est comme lorsqu’on est en présence d’un visage, beau sans doute, mais incapable d’émouvoir, parce que sa beauté n’est pas empreinte de grâce (kharis). C’est pourquoi, même ici-bas, il faut dire que la beauté consiste moins dans la symétrie (summetria) que dans l’éclat qui brille en cette symétrie, et c’est cet éclat qui est aimable. Pourquoi en effet sur un visage la beauté est-elle éclatante, tandis que le visage mort n’en conserve qu’une trace, avant même que ses proportions disparaissent par la corruption de la chair? » ; Du Bien, VI, 7, 22. L’harmonie et l’eurythmie sont, ou semblent susceptibles d’une définition géométrique, tandis que la grâce est moins aisément quantifiable : reprenant une formule latine qu’on trouve pour la première fois chez Martial, la renaissance italienne puis l’âge classique français la nommera volontiers le « je ne sais quoi » (nescio quid) de la beauté.” http://jdarriulat.net/Introductionphiloesth/PhiloModerne/RevolEsthet.html

    “La beauté est une promesse de bonheur.” De l’amour (1822) de Henri Beyle, dit Stendhal

    Et si c’était le moteur de DS ? (déesse ?), cet amour => cf. la dernière photo 🙂

    • pascaljappy says:

      Merci Christiane, pour ces belles réflexions. Celle sur la grâce me parle particulièrement: le souffle qui anime constratés au réceptacle symétrique.

      Partager est une forme d’amour, je suppose. Ce que je souhaite surtout c’est que celles/ceux qui détiennent un savoir précieux le partagent avec celles/ceux qui aimeraient en faire usage. Si l’on peut dire quelque chose du leg des plateformes sociales et des moteurs de recherche dominants, c’est qu’il manque tout particulièrement d’amour et de bienveillance! Je ne pense pas qu’il faille chercher la solution dans la légifération mais dans l’action individuelle. Cet article est la mienne 🙂

  • Pascal Ravach says:

    Always your sincerity…

    And yes, some pics ono this page are very… strong; even Lise in the backlight, as genuine and simple, leaves a lasting impression…in your own esthetic world, you have reached quite a level!

    I had a couple ideas for articles, then… you published them; “community of minds”, always touching…
    The blurred pics is a good example, as you know… and way better written than I could, to be honest… that’s a talent that not everyone has, and yes it can be a bit intimidating (or simpler, we don’t want to lower the quality of the site!).
    But I stiill have a topic or two in mind, so when I will be resting in Asia I will try my best 🙂

    Keep going, Pascal… the more this world pushes superficiality, emptiness and vanity, the more we need depth and humanity.
    I never told you, but to me your blog is way more than just about photography…

    • pascaljappy says:

      Thanks Pascal.

      Don’t think of it as a competition, your photographs are lovely. I look forward to seeing more of them! Cheers

      • Pascal Ravach says:

        Don’t worry, I never see anything as a competition… just as a concern for the global quality 🙂
        But yes, “themes” will be the way to go… let’s see 🙂

  • Sean says:

    I’m on board with this new direction, and will give it a crack when I’ve got something intelligent to cobble together, or respond to, and also to contribute. How’s that sound?

  • Patrick says:

    The new menu looks juicy…..I’ll most certainly try it. And, thank you for the new perspectives and all the hard work !

  • Kristian Wannebo says:

    ( Totally ) O. T. :
    I think there was some interest here a while ago in the
    Laowa 100mm/2.8 2x Macro.
    For the technically interested here’s another review:
    ( Lenstip seems to be fairly consistent.)


    • pascaljappy says:

      Thank you Kristian. Philippe is interested and he’s playing with one right now. Not sure whether he’ll publish something about the lens or not but he’ll at least have a few sords to say about it. The images he has shared with me are very promising.

  • Jay clawson says:

    I like this new approach. I don’t need new gear, just inspiration.

    • pascaljappy says:

      Great to hear, Jay. That’s the way forward for us and a step away from the main current of the whole indutry. One that leads only to a large waterfall. I hope we prove up to the task. If there are specific topics you’d like to read about, please let us know and we’ll dig into them. Cheers.

  • John Inglis says:

    Your site is my favorite

  • Michael Fleischer says:

    Hi Pascal,

    Please include me in as I find this forum a breathing place of interesting human insights
    and experience as well as a playground with a healthy balanced dose of agreeable standards
    in which all sorts of creativity may emerge and flow, also taken into account that
    most of us (no-one excluded) are being a little eccentric ;-).

    I think this reformation process will make a difference and is a sensible proposition
    if mutual muster and sharing from ones passion can be met.
    Focus on pictures and its refinement journey are the way ahead…!

    I do wish to contribute with a photographic post in the nearby future as I’m going to Iceland next month and will try to make a different, more intimate/abstract approach, weather and my mind permitting!

    Thank you for keeping the boat afloat thus far!! 🙂

    Best wishes

    • pascaljappy says:

      Hi Michael, that excentricity is probably the part of this community 😀
      I do look forward to your contributions, thank you. Best wishes, Pascal.

  • Tim Naylor says:

    Pascal, I am one of the masses who has been reading in silence for years, not assuming that we could be invited into what seemed to be a very close-knit community. I found your blog by searching for lens reviews when putting together a gift for my wife. What I found were amazing articles written by artists from all over the world. I have had the luxury of traveling in my younger days with the military, however we have been land locked for over a decade, and the images and words of yourself and your guests have been inspiring, and have taken me on a journey to locations I have only dreamed of. I am not a photographer, however my wife is both university trained, and an exceptional artist, and my son and daughter have inherited her genes. I have always served as the camera bag mule. I bucked that trend this year when I purchased my first camera in over three decades, and broke out my wife’s old Eos film camera. Part of what has inspired me to take on this new journey is what you have provided here on your pages. Please don’t ever underestimate your value to those who have read, but not participated. But participate I will, and I look forward to being an active member of this community.


    • pascaljappy says:

      Hello Tim, this is a fantastic story, thank you. The community is closely knit, but we all met via DS and got to know and appreciate one another over time. I’m glad the blog is providing interesting journeys and insights, that’s really cool to know.

      As much as your wife and daughter’s art is very welcome here, anytime they wish to share, I must say your personal story of camera mule turned photographer is at least as interesting 😉 I look forward to hearing from you, whenever you feel like it!!

      All the best, Pascal

  • Chris Stump says:

    I think what I love about this post is that it’s not an appeal for donations or the like. It’s a call to action for all of us, of a like mind, to contribute.

    That is what I’ve loved about DS…the opportunity to post and contribute without any requirement of recompense…from anyone.

    That there are no ads or other gratuitous sales pitches here is very refreshing. It seemed to me from the start that the site moderators and readers all appreciated novel content. I felt that concise, thoughtful posts on a subject for which the author was passionate would be accepted at least, and would likely be appreciated and commented on.

    I always learn something from posts I read here, and also feel good after posts I make, as if I’ve contributed something. I’d like to continue in that tradition. Huzzah to you Pascal and your mates. You’ve created something good here, and I, for one, hope we can continue.

    If it’s not too ‘gear head’ I have a post brewing in my head which contrasts two classic yacht races on the same water with two different camera systems. We’ll see if that passes muster.

    Meanwhile, carry on with your good work. 🙂


  • I can contribute now and then; I’d sure like to see DS keep going!

  • Johan Mocke says:

    Since I found this blog, I always followed up and read it. Thank you – I will go on doing it – I may not have the confidence to contribute, but once or twice enjoyed it when somebody saw something from me and asked to contribute more about that specific. Regards.

    • pascaljappy says:

      Thank you Johan, I’m happy you like the blog. We regularly run fun challenges. If you don’t feel like contributing an article just yet, you can maybe try sending a few photographs for the challenge. It’s all very friendly, you will see 🙂 All the best, Pascal

  • Johannes Hüttner says:

    I´d love to see DS continue to thrive. This blog has been a great source of inspiration for me and I´ve learned a lot over the time I have followed DS.
    DS has inspired me to go out and shoot with whatever camera I could get my hands on. A result of last years shooting was used in this years FIFAD flag and I´ve been very proud to see my picture presented this way. I had hoped to contribute more to DS both in comments as well as the challenges by sending in pictures. My job got a bit in the way of that and forced me to spend far too much time at work shackled behind a desk. For about a month now things have gotten better and I look forward to spend more time behind a lens again.
    I’m looking forward to the future of DS and especially the print swap project.

    Thank you for creating this amazing resource!



  • Mikael says:

    There is one thing I totally agree with you, it is the loss of posts through time ! I spent a lot of time on DS a few years back, the shots, the compositions, attention to colors, it was what drew me in and keep me coming day after day because it was great and different of the rest (à la Ming Thien I think). And then posts about the all great smartphone futur of photography started to pop, and it’s ok, just not my own opinion and experience, so I stopped reading.
    But recently I started lurking towards the M4/3 for video work, and I remembered a lot of great things I saw briefly on DS, beautiful landscapes, impressive and subtle colors, things I did not dwell in at the time, but I wanted to now. Because video is one thing, but I wanted to know what kind of results where possibles in good hands (this way I’m sure it’s not the gear who’s faulty but me, and so I can try to “git gud” and it’s always a nice journey.) And then came the not so great research system so I did not found it.

    Anyway, I hope DS will stand, and if I can found the posts I was looking for, I will gladly share them to friends whom I introduced to M4/3 when they started photography a few months back 🙂

    • pascaljappy says:

      Hello Mikael, thank you for your comment. I’m really sorry the posts on smartphones turned you off. They were only a minor part of our production, don’t worry. It’s undeniable that phones are getting “better” (although, by now, they feel too complicated to be fun anymore) but we don’t want to abandon our cameras for them 😉

      As for the search and loss of information, that is a real issue which I am trying to fix. Here’s a post on m43 with landscapes: https://www.dearsusan.net/2016/01/14/19280/. There are a few more in this search: https://www.dearsusan.net/?s=m43. I will try to progressively bring structure to all of this. Hope this helps a bit.

      All the best, Pascal

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