#1255. Spring Clean and Photo Course. Plans for 2023.

By pascaljappy | News

Jan 01


A little magic goes a long way

It’s fair to say that 2022 wasn’t the easiest of years for a lot people. And it’s probably safe to venture that 2023 will continue along the same trends of growing inequality, uncertainty, and tension. The debilitating illness of greed, the tribal stupidity of frontiers and a cacophony of other forms of animalistic fear will probably flood our lives with nefarious consequences for the months to come.

I see this as an opportunity. An opportunity for stronger bonds between people of good will. There are many. Far more than we give credit for. And an opportunity to make art. In a world that gets more polarized year after year, art offers real solutions for non-partisan discussion.

In its own tiny corner of the online universe, DearSusan will continue to provide safe haven for anyone wishing to express their artistic drive in photography, anyone willing to teach or learn all things photography, anyone wanting to share a passion for location, situation, story, gear, technique or know how, or just happy to start or join a civil conversation. Let’s make some magic together.

Parting clouds

Every year, new ideas and plans emerge for DS, sometimes out of thin air and at the last minute, ahem. Some see some follow-through (such as taking up printing, albeit very late), some lead to failed experiments (Share your world, online galleries …) because I misjudged the enthusiasm for them (which is OK, that’s what experiments are for) and some just never leave the state of pipe dream.

This year, I hope to be more on point, ahem again.

So here are the plans for the blog, my personal photography and what I hope we can do together.

I want to ride my icicle

Blog clean-up

Try as I might to ignore the urge, this has become necessary because DS is using up 90% of its allowed resources with over 1250 posts, 20 000 high-resolution (by web standards) images, 10 000+ comments, 100 pages and more πŸ˜† Without the clean up, the hosting company will block DS and no access will be possible. The alternative would be a dedicated server costing hundreds of dollars more per month. The DS secret stash doesn’t extend that far πŸ˜‰

On this topic, I recently went to my Paypal account to discover a very generous number of donations that really do help keep the lights on πŸ™‚ I don’t say this enough but, even beyond the financial aspect, it is a tremendous mood lift to see people care enough to help πŸ™‚ It is much appreciated. To all supporters:


Team effort

The clean up should have few consequences for visitors (beyond the website not shutting down).

My hosting is used for 3 websites. My pro home, which I will be rethinking soon, and moving to another service. A side project that uses up some resources, which I will delete completely. And DS. Leaving DS as the only resident will help free up some much needed wiggle room.

Beyond this, I am making a list of the posts that have not been visited much in the past 3 months. Those will all be deleted, and the attached photographs also. By statistical law, no one should notice. And, with any luck, fewer pages might help the geniuses at Google understand that DS is a photography blog and index it better, even though every post isn’t a cheap listicle, every title isn’t stuffed full of stifling keyphrases, and I don’t engage in sleazy link building. One can dream 🤪

Shark attack

Photography course

I started my career in research and teaching. The knowledge-sharing yearning never left me. And while the blog allows me to describe a few experiments destined to convey some meaningful information, blog posts don’t allow for a structured approach to something more definitive and ambitious.

Add to this the fact that I find most online courses quite boring πŸ˜‰

So I’ll be offering my own version of what a course could look like. One that will help participants find and develop their voice. Not one that will teach the lastest hack but one that focuses on fundamentals. My thing is to create beautiful b&w travel memories from banal subjects found during walks. Your thing is probably different. Let’s find it and see how to take it to new levels.

Ice under the bridge

In the past, I have tried to provide this sort of experience in the form of a workshop called “layer cake”, for which the idea was to meet with a gallery owner, a prestigious curator and a pro from Magnum to help you understand your path, then shoot, then meet again for feedback.

As novel and interesting as the idea was to me, the financials, the logistics and – let’s be honest – the fear of facing judgment, meant that too few candidates raised their hands for this to break even, let alone make money.

I’m hoping to provide a similar logic in a more affordable and less scary format. All of the course will be free, because I’m not in it for the money, but feedback and coaching will be paid for, because people have to feed their kids πŸ˜‰ Let me know what you think!


Personal goals

Beyond getting the best possible course online, my main goals will be to continue printing (and to become more proficient at it) and to find gear for the next few years. Printing not just individual frames, but also thinking in terms of photobooks and projects. I have been able to try my son’s Epson A4 ecotank and results are good enough for test prints, even in B&W, so this is next on my purchase list. Another fun little project, courtesy of Matisseo (who print my travel albums) is their 1 pic 1 day offer. Essentially, I just paid 35 euros, will make a picture a day and will receive a 400 page recap book at the end of the year 2023. Brilliant! I strongly urge you to pursue a similar fun idea to develop visual awareness and a thirst for long term projects. Oh, and I hope to sell prints and ebooks.

Gearwise, my Hassy X1D is not proving to be the unburstable steed I originally anticipated. The shutter button is quite tired and frequently refuses to acknowledge even strong pressing, bugs are almost constant, and a trouble-free boot is as rare as political decency. If it can be fixed, then great. To my eye, it still offers the best image quality I’ve personally witnessed from any digital camera, at any price and any resolution, by a large margin. Ergonomics, design, build, haptics, all bring a smile to my face over and over again. I would love to keep it forever. If that’s not possible then …

… well, I honestly have no idea, and my elucubrations have taken me to cine cameras (my fave option, but too impractical for my use case), smartphones (meh), film cameras (particularly now that Pentax are planning new ones) and the obvious X2D. I hope 2023 brings me more clarity on this topic, and will work systematically towards that goal.


Have your say

Saving the most important thing for last: what would you like to see on DS in 2023?

Have your say! More gear? More travel? More interviews? More challenges? More how-to? More book reviews? More talks about Masters of the Craft? More something else? Longer posts? Shorter posts? Image review posts? Videos? A forum? Something else? Let me know, and if there’s general interest, I’ll try to make it happen.

Until then, let me wish you again a VERY HAPPY NEW YEAR !!


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  • Steve Mallett says:

    Pascal, A Happy New Year to you and your family. A DS post is a good way to start New Year’s day; as you say amongst folk of good will. Of all the stuff that arrives in my inbox DS posts are almost unique in that I always read them in full and usually more than once. In the lead up to Christmas I unsubscribed from, or cancelled subscriptions to, anything that didn’t actively contribute to my quality of life. Also dozens more books are in boxes and awaiting delivery to charity shops as part of a general de-cluttering process. At some stage the garage/workshop will need a serious talking to about releasing all that stuff that “might come in useful”.

    Photography too needs careful examination. Yesterday I picked up my Oly OM-1 for the first time since acquiring the Leica M10 in the summer. I needed a long lens for pics of my daughter and grandson as they went for a morning swim in the sea. Frankly barking! It took me more than a moment or two to re-familiarise myself with the OM-1. It’s a wonderfully clever camera that I have no chance of ever mastering; there’s too much to remember. So anything that you can offer that will help me “hone my thing” and hence my gear will be very welcome!

    All the best for 2023.


    • pascaljappy says:

      Thanks a lot, Steve. Your kind words are certainly appreciated encouragement.

      Your question on the Oly sure throw a spanner in my 2-second plan πŸ˜‰ Which is a good thing, this early on. I have no idea how this camera works. But maybe I can find resources and point you to the right direction instead. Worth thinking about.

      Is this a good place to start? https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bB8qb8C-4n0

      All the best to you and your family also πŸ™‚

      • Pascal Ravach says:

        DPR had extensive tests (like here: https://www.dpreview.com/videos/9664618307/dpreview-tv-om-system-om-1-final-review); for M43, the OM-1 has the best image; I will probably buy it… for my “long lens” (75F1.8, superb); having the Sony A7R2 and my iPhone 12 Pro Max, I ended up using my old E-M1 just for that lens… telephoto will always be weak on phones because of the limited space, and a challenge on FF because of the weight and size… an OM-1 plus a 75F1.8 is still discrete and very satisfying; but outside of this specific use, you will find the image quality such a step backward from your Hassy that I doubt you would like it…
        I still believe the best use of the Oly is specific, like birds photography…

  • jack trytten says:

    I’ll be interested om your course if it’s offered online. As I live in Chicago, traveling to the Euro zone can cost quite a few of them.

    • pascaljappy says:

      Thanks Jack. The course will indeed be online. I’ll be publishing articles on specific topics quite regularly, and will assemble the most important parts into a consistent whole in a more permanent structure than blog posts. The content will also be free for all. I’m working on finding people, including myself, to give feedback and guidance on submitted photographs. That will be paid for, as it takes a lot of time. Stay tuned πŸ™‚ And Happy New Year !

  • Pascal Ravach says:

    Happy New Year, Pascal πŸ™‚
    Superb images, as often; if someone deserves a title like “Hassy ambassador”, it should be you… too bad the ocean of noise is there…

    I understand the need to curate the site; now, I receive sometimes requests; just last week, a taxi driver bringing us to Doi Inthanon here in Thailand asked if he could use my page about the Silver Temple at night, he wants to show it to his customers to push them to visit it! Never imagined such a use πŸ™‚ I have no idea if it would be easy or daunting, but maybe we could grab the source code so we could keep the pages? I took pdf snapshots, but it’s not optimal.

    As for the evolution of DS, looking forward to it! As I often said, DS is much more than about photography, it’s about a nice community πŸ™‚

  • Kristian Wannebo says:

    Happy New Year, Pascal!

    Re. space…
    Isn’t there somewhere a program that can scan posts and automatically halve linear resolution of all photos?
    Perhaps even in all posts older than a given date in one go?
    Might do for posts older than one year, and a double run for posts older than, say, 3 years.
    Or don’t the photos take up the greater part of the space?

    But of course your idea to delete elder unvisited material is right.

    Best wishes to a good success with shrinking DS space!
    – – –

    Hasselblad should be ashamed of making so low quality nowadays! (Or might it be the Chinese influence?)

    In their film days the 500C series was a lot sturdier. The Swedish nature photographer Svante Lundgren (1913-1988) had an accident with his…
    He had rigged it on a heavy tripod with a tele lens and a trip thread across a bear path and left. The next day he found a fallen tripod and the tele lens was only about half its length after hitting a stump of a tree … the thread wasn’t thin enough.
    Way out in the wilderness he had to try something. With a sturdy bit of wood he started hammering on an edge on the lens till it finally had its proper length again – and it turned out to work as before!

    Now, you’d better not try anything similar on this modern Hassy…
    ( And I expect returning to film with an old Hassy would in the end be more expensive…)
    – – –

    Re. Ecotank.
    I suppose you’ll try three shades of grey plus black in it sooner or later?

    Looking forward to DS’ development…
    And that little magic on the first photo is great magic!


    • pascaljappy says:

      Hi Christian,

      Thank you, and Happy New Year to you too, and to your family πŸ™‚

      I have tried an automated plugin for the website, but it failed time after time. DS is just too big for most plugins. I’ll have to find another way, but it can be done progressively.

      Hasselblad is aware of my issues and, so far, has been cooperative. We’ll see where this leads us, but the team has always been great. It’s indeed a shame that electronic gear isn’t as robust as in the film era. The idea of film is very tempting to me, but there are no labs anywhere near me (3 hours drive) so that would be both very expensive and impractical.

      I’m still looking into the ecotank. The Canon version seems slower but better at photography. Ideally, I would love to use piezography inks, but there doesn’t seem to be a kit compatible with those printers. If you know of a “three shades of grey plus black” kit, I’m all ears πŸ˜‰

      All the best!

      • Kristian Wannebo says:

        In one of your posts on b/w printing or in the comments to it Eboni b/w ink sets where mentioned. I think as sets of 6 and perhaps also 4.

        Also, I just googled and found this:

        It claims to be a b/w ripper & printer driver also for using grey inks in an Epson inkjet.

        ( But from the requirements page I gather it’s only printers with at least 6 inks?)

        “The printers supported are all Epson inkjet printers and inksets are both standard manufacturer inksets and custom dedicated B&W inksets.”
        ( … just buy a good black ink and start diluting … I guess… – tools for profiling seem to be included.)

        The sub-page
        lists several articles on b/w printing that might be of interest?
        – – –

        Also check the forum

        I’ve found several posts there on mixing greys to the same density as the original C/M/Y inks in 4 (and 6) ink printers and using the original driver.
        ( You’d just need 4 suitable bottles for the original Ecotank inks…)

        Good luck experimenting!
        – – –

        ( On this forum “Ink stained Fingers” has done a lot of experiments with different inks and posted results.
        Also on fading. E.g. he found the Epsom Ecotank (dye) inks to fade almost as slow as the best Epson dye inks.)

  • Kristian Wannebo says:

    sums up what I remembered of reading about fading of Ecotank inks.

    However, “Ink stained Fingers” in other posts mentions other Ecotank inks with rather worse performance.

  • Kristian Wannebo says:

    P.S. (again)
    The ET-8550 uses β€œ114” inks – according to Ink stained Fingers comparable to β€œ106” inks, see the link in my previous P.S.

  • Kristian Wannebo says:

    Pascal, in case the ET-8550 interests you, this post might also:

  • henry β€” helmut063 on instagram says:

    I sold my x1d and x1dii and bought an x2d from hassy. i can’t imagine a better non-sports camera in every respect. just waiting for face-recognition and a few other perks. hand held portraits with razor sharp eyeballs. landscapes, abstractions with glorious natural β€” yes, that word works β€” colors. you too will be a very happy boy.

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