#960. On Satisficing

By Lad Sessions | Opinion

Jan 31

Photography is an infinite realm, with as at least as many different kinds of photographs as there are photographers. I want to paint in broad strokes a certain kind that is underrepresented on most photography sites, Dear Susan included, which I will call “satisficing.”

 
 

The term “satisficing” was introduced as early as 1947 by the brilliant Herbert Simon, a polymath who received the Nobel Prize in Economics (in 1978) but whose work ranged across many fields, including economics, political science, cognitive science, and especially management (“administrative behavior” was the title of his very influential book based on his doctoral dissertation). “Satisficing” can be made into a very precise and technical term, but I’m going to do my own satisficing on the concept: I think of it as something “good enough under the circumstances.”

 

The circumstances of photography are multitudinous, and include such obvious matters as gear (including post processing and printing), subject matter (including undestinations!), psychology, and a whole lot more. But I am going to over-simplify the lot to just these three: gear, subject-matter and psychology (the psychology of the photographer in question). They vary enormously: Gear goes from pinhole camera to simple point-and-shoots through smartphones to view cameras (or perhaps to Pascal’s Hassy?), in various permutations that permit makers to squeeze the highest profits they can. Subject matter ranges from landscapes to portraits to astronomy to microscopy, and from near (your own home, neighborhood or community) to far (destinations and undestinations), always under the constraints of personal budgets, mobility, and tastes. Psychology deserves its own book, and perhaps is underestimated; it includes interests, time-management, goals, desires, tolerances, attitudes and much else. It is the vital element of satisficing, for the self is the final arbiter of “good enough.”

 

What does “good enough” mean under these circumstances, and why might it matter? Well, of course it depends. It depends on what the circumstances are, the gear you want and can afford, and especially on who you are. What is possible is a function of where and when you find yourself on the one side, and what you want and what you will tolerate on the other.


I will illustrate from the experience of the one satisficer I know best—me—with a simple opportunistic project. A few years ago, I found myself occasionally wandering the parking lot of a decaying shopping mall with a small Sony RX100, snapping hand-held shots mostly downward. I called the project “(S)mall things.”

Now my gear isn’t the best possible, though the RX100 might have been the best of its kind (1” sensor, zoom lens, pocketable) when it came out. I’m sure other gear could have produced better resolution and rendering. But consider my circumstances: I really couldn’t afford anything better that I could pocket and carry around with me as I wandered the asphalt–nothing with a red dot on it e.g.

Also, I really didn’t, and don’t, aspire to produce works of art, or even anything that would sell. But I did want to enjoy my looking about, believing (however naively) that beauty can be found everywhere, if you look closely enough. And so I took photos of antiques (or junk), weeds, fireplugs, drainwater pools, asphalt cracks, insects, electrical boxes, and so on, delighting in the form and color. Could I have done better? Quite possibly, though I’m not nearly skilled as many, and I didn’t actually have that much time (these were done during a short period after exercise while my wife was still in the gym). Still, I came to see that the photos were “good enough” for my purposes, my gear, and the available subject matter. I still enjoy looking at them, and I hope some of them might interest some of you.

 

Satisficing obviously is a function of circumstance. Others will find themselves in other circumstances, perhaps with better funding for better gear, a greater tolerance for lugging heavy loads, a more resolute determination to find the best photo in any given environment, greater flexibility in choosing times of best light, greater patience in setting up and using a tripod, greater skill in composing that optimum photo, and so on. Their “good enough” may be quite different than mine. There is no absolute standard of satisficing.

I don’t want to disparage the perfectionists among you—actually I hugely admire those who will spare no effort to produce great photos or even just to get better—better pictures, better photographers. Moreover, I think a streak of perfectionism is an essential trait of any artist. So I readily confess I’m no artist, and my “good enough” doesn’t include the goal of producing works of art. But I also don’t think that my circumstances are unusual or that my “good enough” is totally shabby.

Perhaps you can think of satisficing as occupying some middle ground between perfectionism on the one side (optimizing, making the best possible photograph) and laissez-faire (“whatever”) on the other. It’s making something that’s good enough for you under the circumstances. The “good enough for you” is rewarding for you, but not necessarily for others; indeed it may be potentially off-putting to them (maybe they think “I could do better”). I think the only recourse is to offer up for public viewing your images that satisfice you and see what others think. But I also think that what the others think—what’s satisficing for them—shouldn’t be the fundamental goal of your photographic life. What matters is to enjoy the photography you are able to do in your circumstances!

Cheers!

 

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  • Rube says:

    Excellent set of ‘Rubers.’ I have been taking such shots, using the same and similar equipment, and sharing them via email for years (and years). And these shots seem better than almost all of mine, although I am assuming that this post was ‘curated.’
    Congratulations.

    • Lad Sessions says:

      Thanks for this, Rube. I’m glad you enjoyed them. I selected these from among hundreds taken at the mall, “curated” only to display a wide range of subject matter (as wide as an aging mall will provide!).

  • philberphoto says:

    What a fascinating concept! And what captivating pictures to make your point. I am most receptive to those pictures where the lack of perfectionism endows them -or is it the look your talent deliberately achieves ?- with a spontaneity, a sense of devil-may-care- that I find wonderful, and so clearly lacking in my pics. You have given me a lot to think about, and try out. Congrats and thanks!

    • Lad Sessions says:

      (I don’t know a proper form of address) Thanks so much for the appreciation and comment; glad you liked them! These are all found objects, only composed by me. Best wishes in your own satisfying.

  • Nancee Rostad says:

    I think you’re downplaying your photographic talent, Lad! You clearly like to document interesting subjects, and more than a few of the included images show real artistic flair. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with thinking your images are “good enough” because isn’t that what we should all think about our own photos? The fact that you like them (and I’m sure many DS readers will like them too), isn’t that all that matters in the end? It’s not the camera that produces great (or good enough) images, it’s the person holding the camera. Thanks for sharing!

    • Lad Sessions says:

      Thank you, Nancee! I have long admired your photos and photo-sensibility (perfectly matched to Japan, I think), and so your comments mean a lot to me. You are right about the final judge of what I’m doing, but it’s nice to know others also find some things of interest. Lad

  • Frank Field says:

    These are far better than “good enough” images. Taken as a whole, they tell an interesting story about aging buildings (and infrastructure) that is a valuable statement about the state of the country (images obviously taken in the U.S.). For most of us, it’s the development of the eye for a good image that takes the longest to build in photography – the technical stuff is easy by comparison. Yet, you have done that by apparently shooting frequently and often with a camera that is not a burden to carry around. Far better method to refine your aesthetic approach than to shoot less frequently with larger / heavier / more awkward kit that simply can not be with you all the time. Thanks for sharing these images.

    • Lad Sessions says:

      Thanks so much, Frank. I do appreciate your comments. I’ve been shooting since high school, and more frequently now with digital. And now a septuagenarian, I want something I can carry, and this tiny camera fills the bill. Yes, these were taken in the US, though I imagine crumbling asphalt is rather more widespread.

  • Jean-Claude Louis says:

    Thank you for an interesting read and a great set of photographs. Your images are not just “good enough under the circumstances”, they are also “good enough” for public display, as demonstrated here. I am really impressed by the images you have collected in such a short time; some of them are real gems, my favorites are #7 and #9 from the top of the page. I’m also confident they bring you great satisfaction :}.

    As you indicated in your post, satisficing (satisfy suffice) is an important concept that postulates that an individual/corporation, when confronted with a myriad of options for a given goal, will select an end-product that is “good enough”, rather than spending time, effort and resources on finding the optimal solution. While this theory finds applications in many fields, including business, management, artificial intelligence algorithms, even sociology, I’m not sure it applies to the practice of photography as an art form.

    At least, it doesn’t for me; the “satisfy” part is the one that matters to me. My images need to meet a number of criteria and standards, most of them not being readily measurable (for ex. the aesthetic, emotional response aspects). The “suffice” part is rather irrelevant to me, as I am willing to spend all the time and resources needed to achieve my objective, i.e. the best possible image to satisfy my senses (not the “perfect” one, that path would only lead to frustration).

    That’s just my opinion; others may think differently and approach their photography in different ways; there is no right or wrong way. Thanks again for sharing your thoughts and, more importantly, your images.

    • pascaljappy says:

      Interesting debate, Jean-Claude. I think it’s important to show your work. And, very often, procrastination and a search for perfection are real obstacles to that. It’s all to easy to keep our work to ourself because we don’t deem it good enough (whether that’s true or just a pretext).

      On the other hand, one of the main reasons for showing work, is to get feedback, to put one foot forward and be brave enough to continue the search for *truly satisfying work* (thanks to that feedback). As you rightly say, not perfection, but work up to the standards you set yourself.

      So, like you, I don’t want to settle for “sufficient”, in absolute terms. But “good enough to show others”, meaning “I made an effort and am not entirely sure how to move forward from here”, is a form of sufficient that I find useful.

      Lad, I said this privately, so let me say it in public: wonderful images: the chairs blow my mind, as do the trace on the wall, the worm, the rusty electric box, the watery corrugations … Thank you again.

      • jean pierre (pete) guaron says:

        WHACK! – “It’s all to easy to keep our work to ourself because we don’t deem it good enough”.

        That’s so terribly true! I’ve been doing that most of my life. It wasn’t always like that. But a particular shot set me off down that path. I liked that shot – but I received some savage criticism of it from other people with a different agenda from what I had tried to capture. So I’ve pretty much kept my photos to myself, ever since. Why should I allow their “opinions” to spoil my fund, when I don’t particularly care for “opinions” anyway? – and I’ve always “done my own thing”, rather than worrying about what other people thought?

      • Lad Sessions says:

        Pascal, I don’t think you’ve ever made a comment I didn’t appreciate and learn from. 🙂

      • Jean-Claude Louis says:

        Pascal, you’re absolutely right, it’s important to show our work. Thanks to your guidance, DS is a safe haven where one can show images, receive feedback, critiques and encouragement, and share ideas, all this without the fear of being trashed. This could be done proactively, by having posts in which work in progress, “good enough to be shared with others”, is put up to specifically request feedback and critique. There is a lot of talent in your readership from which one could benefit.

    • Lad Sessions says:

      Jean-Claude, thank you for your thought-inducing comments. (BTW, the two photos you like are of an empty dumpster at the edge of the parking lot.) I confess I do enjoy seeing them again.

      I think your “circumstances” are different than mine; you are pursuing “photography as an art form.” Nothing wrong with that; on the contrary, I wish you well, I’m sure you make finer photos than I could manage, and I hope they satisfy you. But I was just putting forth the idea that there may be other ends to pursue in photography. Or perhaps this could be put: different people may be satisfied with different (kinds of) results.

      Lad

      • Jean-Claude Louis says:

        Lad, thank you for your thoughts.

        Far from me the idea of engaging into a meaningless debate about photography and art; that horse has been beaten to death. When I mentioned the “practice of photography as an art form”, it was specifically in the context of your post about satisficing, to oppose it to commercial photography practices, to which the concept of satisficing can apply (photographer-customer relation). I should have been more explicit about it.

        I believe that every photographer who creates images intended to be appreciated for their beauty and/or emotional power practices “photography as an art form”. As you rightfully mentioned, there are many different ways to engage in that practice (based on personality, objectives, access to time and resources, etc…), none being superior to the other. In the end, it’s only the image that matters. When I look at some of your photographs (the rusted metal, the chairs), the way they have been made is not so important; what counts is that they have triggered in me an aesthetic and emotional response. Sounds like art ?

        Thanks again for your post.
        Jean-Claude

        • Lad Sessions says:

          Jean-Claude,

          Thanks for the thoughtful response. I always learn from others’ comments. Mea culpa: I spent my working career teaching philosophy, baggage which I can’t shed. So I hope you will consider that background in the following thoughts.

          I guess I don’t think the “debate” about photography and art (separately as well as conjointly) is necessarily meaningless. I think it is worthwhile to inquire into the nature of each and both, though I admit much of what passes for “argument” today in popular venues is shouting and name-calling. But there is another, more serious kind of inquiry and argument. I don’t think such inquiry and argument is necessary in order to practice photography; indeed, it may be a hindrance, because it’s a distinct kind of activity, involving careful analysis and bold proposals open to critical review. Photography is about making images, philosophy is about sharpening concepts (cf. Kant on percepts v. concepts).

          That said, I take your distinction between photography pursued for commercial ends and photography for other ends, including self-satisfaction. I couldn’t agree more. My immediate reaction was based on a bias against high “art” as an obliviously self-centered enterprise with a distinct curatorial culture; I don’t aspire to join that enterprise–to the contrary.

          You are so right that “In the end, it’s only the image that matters”! I am so pleased that you have “an aesthetic and emotional response” to my photos (at least some of them! ;-)). I really don’t care whether or not you call it “art.”

          Cheers,

          Lad

          • Jean-Claude Louis says:

            Lad,

            I was going to be quiet on this thread and then you brought up Kant…I had to share a few more thoughts 🙂

            Several decades ago, I taught a cognitive neuroscience course about the brain areas associated with the perception of reward and pleasure; I included what was known at the time (actually not much) about the biological response to works of art/beauty. I introduced my students to the work of Kant on aesthetics. According to Kant , our feelings about beauty differ from our feelings about pleasure and moral goodness: we seek to possess objects for our pleasure, we seek to promote moral values, but we simply appreciate beauty without being driven to find use for it. (pardon me if I misrepresent, I’m no expert in that field).
            — Side note: Some of these writings may come across as somewhat dated today: for example, the current relationship between art and politics (in the sense of intrigues and maneuvering by people who are trying to gain control and power in a society) should make us rethink about Kant’s assertion that our response to art is always disinterested (and by the way, like you, I don’t want to have anything to do with what you refer to as the “high art” universe 🙂

            Recent studies in cognitive science show that the biological response to beauty in art is experienced through the same fundamental brain circuitry that processes pleasure and reward, providing perhaps a substratum for Kant’s idea of a “sensus communis”, i.e. a higher brain organization that is common across individuals and cultures and that is stimulated by the exposure to works of art deemed to be beautiful.
            New findings advance the idea that our response to art originates from an irrepressible urge to recreate in our brains the creative process – technical, cognitive and emotional – through which the artist produced the work. It is proposed that art is an inherently pleasurable and instructive attempt by the artists and the beholder to communicate and share with each other the creative process, leading to the recognition that we have seen into another person’s mind. These creative urges could explain why essentially every group of human beings, in every age and every place throughout the world, has created images, despite the fact that art is not a physical necessity for survival.

            That might be one of the reasons why we all take pleasure in making images, looking at them and sharing them.That’s definitely what drives me: an urge to activate my pleasure circuitry ;))

            I realize that these ramblings are off topic and I apologize for it.
            I would like to thank you again for the opportunity to share our views. It would, actually, be nice to have such conversations face-to-face, maybe after a day spent harvesting new photographs…

            All the best,
            Jean-Claude

            • Lad Sessions says:

              Jea-Claude, Thank you for your lovely comments (I couldn’t help myself here )! I’m currently without a keyboard and will respond more adequately in a week or so. Lad

            • Lad Sessions says:

              Jean-Claude,

              Thanks so much for the illuminating comments; it’s always nice to hear/read scientific thinking about topics philosophers have previously speculated about. I wouldn’t worry about being “off topic,” since everything is related somehow to everything. Kant’s ideas about “disinterested interest” in beautiful things are very fruitful, I think. The pleasure such interest produces isn’t because of the utility of the object or its moral value, and it may be similar to the pleasure a creator experiences. But it is worth pursuing for its own sake and not for the sake of anything else.

              I too would welcome a chance to meet and talk.

              Cheers,

              Lad

            • jean pierre (pete) guaron says:

              Fascinating comment! It’s like being psycho-analysed by remote! Someone I have never met, face to face, exploring my mind and explaining how it functions!

              Does it make a difference to Kant’s views, if there is a emotional response to art? Not simply an intellectual response to it?

              Did Kant ever experience the extraordinary feeling one can get, while creating an art form, as the creative juices flow, and something inside you starts to well up – from your feet, right through your body – seizing, and taking possession of, both your heart and your mind – as you continue with your creation? Capturing you – leaving you rooted to the spot, until you are finished and the work of art stands before you, and – finally – you can break off and do something useful. Like going to the toilet, perhaps – or having something to eat or drink.

              For some people, I think, art only speaks to the mind.

              For others, I think, there’s a deeper connect, and art speaks to the soul. Physically, mentally (still), and spiritually. Taking possession and taking control. I know it does, in my case – it’s happened countless times, throughout my life, with all sorts of different things. With music – with art in all its forms – with photography – and with what I see or hear, sense or feel, in the world around me.

              Even when I can’t “capture an image” or record it in some other way.

              And left me with a strong – visible, even – physical response. As well as a profound spiritual response. And an intense and enduring mental response.

              Maybe that makes Kant correct? Because the physical response doesn’t last, like the mental response has? And I’ve no means of gauging how well the spiritual response has lasted – some of it has changed how and who I am, but there’s no way of measuring such change.

              • Lad Sessions says:

                Pete,

                It’s a joy “talking” with you (and I think actual talking would be much better!). I will respond on two levels:

                First, Kant. As I understand it, Kant’s ultimate aim is to reconcile two realms, the realm of nature (causal determinism) and the realm of morality (freedom, autonomy). He tries to do this in the Critique of Judgement in at least two ways: (1) There is natural teleology (ends and purposes in nature), which implies it is rational to believe in a summum bonum (highest good). (2) There is aesthetic feeling, which is cognitive as well as emotional (beauty). The sense of beauty is a disinterested interest, a feeling that is at once rational and emotional, both subjective and objective. (1) and (2) are supposed to dovetail, so that our sense of beauty is a guide to the highest good. Don’t know whether all the links are solid, but I think the drive towards coherence of our deepest senses (of the true, the good, and the beautiful) is admirable.

                Second, me: I think Kant is more focused on the appreciation of beauty, in nature as well as in art, than on its intentional creation in art. But I have no problem in making the connection: while there are surely differences in creation and appreciation, the experiences are connected, and not just through their object. The joy of creating beauty is surely like the joy of appreciating beauty. And in both, the dualism of mental/physical fades, or is transcended. If we are fully engaged in the beauty, we overcome so many dichotomies, and our tattered lives are repaired. Art does speak to the soul, where “soul” points to something deeper and more fundamental than “mind” or “body.” Perhaps this is what religion and spirituality is pointing towards?

  • jean pierre (pete) guaron says:

    Thank you, for this post, Lad. It’s a pretty fair description of what I think of my own photography, so It’s very comforting to read that someone else has a similar view.

    A couple of things occurred to me, as I read through your comments.

    First – I would like to congratulate you on NOT having “opinions” – but instead, simply “sharing your point of view”. To pinch a few words from Gilbert & Sullivan, I regard opinions “with a disgust that amounts to absolute detestation!” Opinions simply fuel argument and dissonance. Whereas viewpoints provide a basis for discussion, for interchange of ideas, for self development, and for mutual development. Good heavens – viewpoints even lead to “agreements to disagree”! Imagine “opinions” doing anything of the kind! (They won’t, of course – they never do.)

    Secondly – you went with the Sony RX 100 I chose a Canon Powershot – similar in some respects (eg the 1″ sensor), not so pocketable, and if you bother to download it, it comes with an almost indecipherable and incomprehensible manual, so I’ve mostly used it while I’ve been rambling, shooting on AUTO. It’s fine – does a great job. Of course you can’t make A1 or A2 size enlargements, but I never go bigger than A3 anyway. It’s not my only camera, but its my “go everywhere” one.

    As long as our images remain in cyber space and they are only viewed on monitors, laptops, cellphones or tablets, there’s no real point in getting all worked up about sensor size. Much more sensible to go in some other direction, when we are trying to concentrate on taking “better photographs”.

    Coming into digi sideways, after half a century in analogue, one of the thing I have found hardest to understand is whyso many photographers are so obsessive over “gar”, rather than over taking photos nd creating images with their cameras. Rightly or wrongly, I get the impression that the pro’s ar perfectly happy with sensors that have around 20 to 24 MP, while amateurs chase after 50 or 100. That doesn’t even make sense!

    What you are bringing to the table with your pictures is proof-positive that images aren’t created by “gear” – they are created by “creative juices”. A “reality check” for people who suffer from GAS!

    • Lad Sessions says:

      Jean-Pierre,

      Thank you so much for this response. I hope you won’t mind if I continue the conversation.

      1. I don’t think opinions deserve that much opprobrium. They can indeed “fuel argument and dissonance”. But they needn’t. I think it is possible for people with differing opinions to disagree and still be friends (at least I think they are still my friends!). Much depends on the tone of voice, the way they are expressed (as dogmatic truth or as tentative views, etc.), as well as one’s willingness to revise or discard upon refutation by evidence. On the other hand, viewpoints can be held dogmatically as well as tentatively, and they can be imperialistic or tolerant.

      2. I confess to using P or AUTO most of the time (Ken Rockwell once quipped that “P” stands for “Professional” ;-)) on this camera. The important thing is getting RAW files, which can be tweaked afterwards.

      3. Yes, I agree that for me 20-25 MP is sufficient. I really don’t want the larger files to store somewhere!

      Again, many thanks. Lad

      • jean pierre (pete) guaron says:

        1. Perhaps it’s simply a difference in the way we each express it.

        “Opinions” always seemed to be hurled at their victims, as immutable truths – often, back by inane references to the Bible (which might be helpful sometimes – but only if both parties belonged to the same sect).

        Here, “viewpoints” are the ones that aren’t dogmatic. But instead, put forward to help discussion move forward.

        So I don’t sense any differences between the two of us – except in the terminology we use to describe it.

        2. I use whatever I feel like, whenever I feel like. The defining difference between an amateur and a professional is that there’s nobody to tell me what to do!

        To be a little less flip about it. S, when I need to control for motion. A, when I need to control DoF. ISO, when image quality – ie, sharpness, clarity, noise, etc. – is paramount.

        Which actually gives an extraordinary amount of latitude with these modern digital cameras. So I can relax and enjoy the shooting experience.

        And since I don’t believe I’ve ever wanted to produce a print larger than A3, my current range of cameras – FF, HF and 1″ on the Canon – can all be used for practically anything. Having said that, I do prefer the D500 for pets & wildlife, and the D850 for stationary subjects. And as I said, the Canon’s main function is to give me insurance against missing a shot, because I wasn’t carting a bagful of gear with me.

        3. Heaps of doyens of the photography profession have been telling amateurs that for years. I wouldn’t dare argue with it. I do however find myself gobsmacked by the quality of the images that my D850 can produce.

        4. Overnight, I’ve had a thought. Actually it’s two thoughts – but they are related.

        The major one is quite simple. A while back I took the decision to re-requip. Because I had FF lenses, I chose to ignore the Z7. Because my gear is mostly either Nikon made or Nikon compatible, I chose to ignore all the other brands – God help me if they stop running at a profit and decide to make something like garden hoses instead!

        I’ve now been using it all for quite long enough to assess it & say that I am perfectly happy with it. And then comes the crunch. I must familiarise myself with this gear PROPERLY. I have all the manuals – but they only take you part of the way. So I’ve sent off for books (plural) for my two main cameras – the Nikons. WOW – the manuals are around 300 pages – the books come in at nearly 700 – and the pages are twice the size! (The second book for each camera is a pocket job – something to slip into the camera bag, so it’s always available in the field, when the others are safe at home).

        So here’s my “thought”. How can anyone seriously consider yielding to GAS and buying each “new model” as the camera manufacturers release it, when there’s such an enormous learning curve to get through with each and every one of them, before anyone can use any of them properly? I don’t expect an answer – I’m simply saying that, for me at least, the notion is utterly impractical to the point of being quite ridiculous to even contemplate going down that path.

        And a subsidiary thought – which came to me today, also, as I was tidying up after adding two minor things to the cupboard full I already had. How can we possibly keep track of all the gear we have, if we keep endlessly buying more of it? Keep track of it in the physical sense, I mean. Like suddenly finding the filter spanner I thought I had but couldn’t find, 6 months ago – and taking over an hour to find the original viewfinder eyepiece for the D850, having tired of trying to use a lens to magnify the view.

        Call me a stick in the mud. I’m happy to stay put, stuck in the mud. It’s easier! And, I suspect, more productive.

        • Lad Sessions says:

          Pete, All good. More in a week when I have a keyboard. Lad

        • Lad Sessions says:

          Pete,

          It’s not much of a comment to say “I agree with everything,” but it’s true.

          1. Yes, I don’t want to get hung up on terminology. I do think we’re in agreement.

          2. I actually do the same. S for capturing fast-moving things, A for depth of field, sometimes M for tricky situations. But P for just knocking around.

          3. Yes, I confess a deep longing for a FF camera (something like the Sony A7III), but our finances in retirement make this a long-term wish. I would like the better resolution, detail and low-light capability.

          4. AMEN! I’m still learning some tricks of my palm-sized RX100. Maybe that should be a New Year’s Resolution for all camera users: learn something new (maybe lots of things new) about the camera(s) you have.

          Cheers from a fellow mudder,

          Lad

          • jean pierre (pete) guaron says:

            In our retirement, Lad, I think we’re both likely to find it far cheaper to improve our photography by learning how to make better use of our existing gear better.

            I’m with countless others on this topic – “new” gear doesn’t cure any problems that exist in the photography we create with our existing gear.

            Instead, it costs a lot of money, and places us at the start of a whole new learning curve. And if we do that, too frequently, perhaps we will NEVER truly catch up!

            IMHO it’s better to be 100% with a 90% machine, than 50% with a 95% machine. Do the maths! 🙂 And while we are chasing butterflies, buying “better” gear, the reality is that most modern cameras are close to “perfect” on a technical basis, so getting “closer” to perfect is starting to become rather mythological. In many areas, the differences are inconsequential, already.

            It’s now technically possible to make a pixel-free camera sensor. One that captures EVERY photon, making “pixels” completely irrelevant. But the costs involved in producing it commercially are so great that none of us will ever live long enough to see it in an affordable camera. So if pixels are the problem, go medium format.

            Personally, I am happy with what I’ve got – and I’m staying there.

            • Lad Sessions says:

              Pete,

              Again, amen! I do think getting completely familiar with one’s present gear (I haven’t mastered the complete Sony menu, e.g.) should be Job 1, instead of lusting after new gear.

              Still, my gear is a couple stops at least from current standards, as well as behind in many other areas (AF is not a prime concern because of the kind of photos I take). I have two 1” sensor Sonys, an RX100 and an RX10, both eminently portable. My issue really is financing something new, as we are retired in a retirement community that is costly. Consequently, while I may daydream occasionally, it’s not a constant preoccupation or serious GAS.

              Please tell me more about “a pixel-free camera sensor.” This is news to me.

              Cheers,

              Lad

      • Alan says:

        Lad, you’re a fellow traveller!
        P is good but, on my Lumix, the dumb programming defaults to f2@2000 or some such so I spend too much time fixing it every time. So I’ve gone to A and leave it at something reasonable for the circumstance.
        Yes, too, on the big benefits smaller files for storing and moving and backing up. 20mb seems sufficient for my purposes.
        And agreed on Pete’s take on viewpoints. We all have them and there’s no need for others to agree but it is nice if they at least politely listen. I learn, you learn, we learn. And, like undestinations, unviewpoints keep things fresh.
        Agreed also on Pete’s other point that digital and RAW provide an enormous benefit of fixing exposures etc. later at your leisure. An ‘overexposed’ RAW file is infinitely more saveable than an overexposed Kodachrome. Much more time to focus on looking about, framing, focussing, and pressing the button when you should.

        • jean pierre (pete) guaron says:

          “an enormous benefit of fixing exposures etc. later”

          Certainly true to suggest that’s harder with Kodachrome. Of course it’s always better to “get it right” in the first place. Digi colours that were over-exposed are “salvageable”, but the colours suffer (eg, particularly in the skies). The meter system in these digi cams doesn’t strike me as being as good as a decent hand held meter. Not to worry – take a bracket shot – I still have over 400,000 shutter clicks left on my cams, so why worry about wasting a few, to bag a good one? That’s certainly not a thought I would ever have had with film – but I keep seeing comments from pro’s, saying they do it too! ANd even recommend that the rest of us do it.

        • Lad Sessions says:

          Thank you Alan (sorry I didn’t reply sooner, but didn’t have a keyboard out in the Arizona desert)! I especially like the notion of an “unviewpoint”. The key point, I think, is to hold one’s views, whatever they may be, non-imperialistically, not seeking to browbeat others into accepting or adopting them (as if one were so insecure in believing something all on one’s own without the agreement of others). This goes hand-in-hand with undogmatism, unintolerance and other unwords.

          Cheers,

          Lad

  • Pascal Ravach says:

    Ah, Lad….
    i am sure it won’t surprise you if I say there is such a « brotherhood » in our images 🙂
    I could have used so many of them for the wabi-sabi post…
    As for « good enough », I always tried to keep the beauty of what I see intact But also the spontaneity of my feelings at the moment; so not a « diminutive » thing at all in my mind, rather a subtle and fragile balance… I feel you have it, perfectly!
    First time I wish so much I could « walk around » with another photog, à la Pascal J, let all the « little things » soak in, and look at them with a good coffee or beer or glass of wine 😀
    Splendid

    • Lad Sessions says:

      Pascal,

      Thank you for the warm and inviting words! I sense a kindred spirit. Photography for me is seeking and seeing and trying to reflect the beauty that surrounds us, and I can’t imagine a better way to do it than your “walk around” any corner of the universe–followed, of course by libations and sharing.

      Lad

  • Don Sessions says:

    An interesting discussion to say the least, but I just enjoy the pictures (photos), have for years, A little bias as Lad is my brother.

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