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Business / Philosophy of Photography Taking pics is one thing, but understanding why we take them, what they mean, what they are best used for, how they effect our reality -- all of these and more are important issues of the Philosophy of Photography. One of the best authors on the subject is Susan Sontag in her book "On Photography."

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Old 01-24-2017   #121
coelacanth
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Today I shoot more film than digital when I'm not diving (then I take my micro 4/3 rig). For film I just shoot b/w and develop at home. To me it comes down to having the option/ability to make darkroom prints when I get a photo I really like. If I had a way to make nice, high resolution transparencies that I can bring into darkroom, digital photography will have bigger place in my heart. I've been looking around, but haven't found a feasible solution just yet. I know what modern inkjet printers can do. I have R3000 and happily print my underwater photos and casual snaps with it. It's just that I like b/w wet prints as almost a different hobby/activity from shooting photos itself.

Maybe one day I can figure out a way to make good "digital negatives" on my own and shoot more digital.
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Old 01-24-2017   #122
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Maybe one day I can figure out a way to make good "digital negatives" on my own and shoot more digital.
There be dragons.
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Old 01-24-2017   #123
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I retire in five months. I won't be playing golf or wandering the park feeding the squirrels, but I may be making photographs and giving away black and white prints -- all with a quiet, empty mind, except for the nagging regret of selling the Leica...
Nice to see your post, and have fun in retirement. I am starting into my 3rd year, and it is tough "work" being retired, especially if one has a working partner.

I am still searching for a little part time work, I find structure the thing I miss the most. Deadlines are alarmingly useful in life.
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Old 01-24-2017   #124
David Hughes
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Nice to see your post, and have fun in retirement. I am starting into my 3rd year, and it is tough "work" being retired, especially if one has a working partner.

I am still searching for a little part time work, I find structure the thing I miss the most. Deadlines are alarmingly useful in life.
Yeah! And no one realises that, once you've retired, you don't get all the public holidays you had at work but I don't complain...

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Old 01-24-2017   #125
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Dear Bill,

This is not an argument against Porsche manual gearboxes; it is an argument against going to Chicago. Worse still, going to Chicago with the wrong car.

Cheers,

R.
Don`t take a car to Chicago. They are a revenue source for the city.

Even better, don`t go at all. Stay in the suburbs with me.
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Old 01-24-2017   #126
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Film v Digital a very deep vein at RFF.

It really is what ever makes you want to take a picture. You get better with practice. I don't care what we are taking about.

However, improvement even with practice is not a given. I watch people who ski all the time for 20 years and don't improve. Most of them, actually. You know what made the most difference? Explosion in ski options. They may still have their quirky styles but they can go places they never could before.

What a M9 offers over a M6 is practice. You can play around faster. Results are not identical. Film has a look, which you are not going to get. Workflow on the camera, M9 is simpler. Less camera to deal with. Because it had has the "A", and no winding.

Workflow post camera? Way more simple, way more control. But same thing, not the same look. Film is just a different medium. If it inspires you more, it doesn't matter why really, you should shoot film. I shoot old flawed lenses all the time. I'm just too ADD for film, but I admire those who love it....till they give me a hard time for my choice
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Old 06-14-2017   #127
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@Steve Williams - great that you've come to update this thread. May you have a happy and fulfilling retirement!

C100 + 5D Mark III + Canon lenses just makes a lot of sense. What will become of this gear after you retire?

Leica gear: the lure of the M is strong. Why not just get a nice Bessa body, or a beater M6 and a couple of secondhand Voigtlander lenses?

As for your original questions: 'empty mind' in photography for me is about being fully immersed in the shooting experience, seeing images and making them happen with very little verbal thought. It's a matter of looking at a scene and seeing the images that can be taken. This can happen with film or digital. Digital just makes it possible to get corrective feedback in the moment, especially if you're using the LCD or EVF.

In 2008. I was hammering it out with the Canon 30D, G10 and Sigma DP1. The Zeiss Ikon entered my life but the Leica M9 was just a twinkle in the eye of group of men in Solms. I stopped shooting film regularly by 2009.

Since then, I went full frame with the 5D Mark II and Leica M9, then back into smaller sensor cameras like the Ricoh GXR, Fuji X100, and now micro four thirds. I now understand how much of my photography is satisfied with smaller sensors, although the M9 and 5D II still make the occasional appearance. I'm shooting a bit more film these days, too, although I'd only shoot a roll in a year for the past few years. Funny how things can go in cycles and return to older ways.

Again, good luck with your retirement, and may your art be rich and fulfilling.
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Old 06-14-2017   #128
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I have shot couple of rolls with my Big Mini now and it has been very interesting. Normally I shoot aperture priority but as the Big Mini has no controls (really my options are flash or no flash), I have been mostly shooting snaps, focusing more on composition and leaving the rest to the photographic overlords in program mode heaven. Is this what is meant by an empty mind?

P.S. Its odd that I shoot like this ofc on my iPhone and have done so for years but don't think twice about it but with a "camera" it feels odd and different. Go figure!
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Old 01-30-2019   #129
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Two years have passed since I last posted a comment on this thread. And a year and a half since I retired from Penn State. The idea of the empty mind has floated to the surface more than once.

Mostly I've been exploring the breadth and depth of my laziness. My wife supported the exploration with the statement that I had worked professionally for 44 years. Longer if you include the car wash, gas station, ship welder and other odd jobs on top of that. No wonder I want to explore nothingness of activity.

But laziness has its limits. And it interferes with the empty mind as the guilt of things undone accumulates.

There has been good though. From the malaise emerged some clarity regarding photography. I've finally given myself permission, or acceptance, that it's ok to work with film rather than digital for most of my personal work. It's not about resistance to technology, change or the future. It's just the most comfortable, reliable and satisfying path.

The change started with a Zone VI view camera and a wandering documentation of where I live and the things that occupy the landscape. The darkroom was functional and comfortable as I worked at processing and printing 4x5 TXP.

After some months the desire to shoot 35mm film surfaced. My regrets at surrendering my Leica M6 and lenses to others needled me. The only bright spot was that Sally Mann bought my 90mm Summicron lens. She was interested in the fog and fungus in the lens.

Sticker shock, and not yet fully convinced my desire to work with 35mm film would last, I could not bring myself to buy another M6 and lenses. Instead I purchased a Nikon F3 HP and a 50mm and 35mm lens. While it's not a Leica, it has been comfortable to use. My fingers still have a lingering fragrance of fixer from printing last night -- the same full frame images in the middle of 11x14 fiber paper.

I'm planning to revive my 3 Prints Project -- expose a roll or two of film every week and make three prints. Here's a link to the 3 Prints Project Index. It has some of what I was doing.

Despite the collapsing temperatures at the moment due to the polar vortex, I'm in a good place photographically. My mind continues to empty as I focus on what's important to me now...
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Old 01-30-2019   #130
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Thanks Steve for updating this thread! I never had one but I read many times the F3HP is an excellent camera . And you know it is not the camera, is the photographer :-) and for sure with your commitment too shoot develop print on a regular basis you ll make a good work with the Nikon!
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Old 01-30-2019   #131
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Thanks Steve for updating this thread! I never had one but I read many times the F3HP is an excellent camera . And you know it is not the camera, is the photographer :-) and for sure with your commitment too shoot develop print on a regular basis you ll make a good work with the Nikon!
robert
Going through boxes of silver prints made from 1990 until 2010 convinced me that I was doing far better and more consistent work than when I looked at my digital prints from 2010 until recently. For whatever reason, the sort of personal work I was embracing just works better for me with the film process.

Don't get me wrong, it's not about which is better, it's just about what works. I would never want to shoot film for my scooter blog. And while shooting for Penn State, I would never want to go back to film. Digital was so much easier and reliable.

Different tools for different needs.
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Old 01-30-2019   #132
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I think, in the nicest possible way, you should ignore your friend. Doing something purely for enjoyment is enough. In fact, it's the height of good sense. It's the best use of your time..
Personally my photographic process involves film processing and analog printing. Neither of those have anything to do with my photographic vision.
Digital photography doesn't feed those needs for me. In a musical analogy, it would be like telling a fine acoustic guitarist, that he should do electronic music....
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Old 01-30-2019   #133
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Originally Posted by Steve Williams View Post
Two years have passed since I last posted a comment on this thread. And a year and a half since I retired from Penn State. The idea of the empty mind has floated to the surface more than once.

Mostly I've been exploring the breadth and depth of my laziness. My wife supported the exploration with the statement that I had worked professionally for 44 years. Longer if you include the car wash, gas station, ship welder and other odd jobs on top of that. No wonder I want to explore nothingness of activity.

But laziness has its limits. And it interferes with the empty mind as the guilt of things undone accumulates.

There has been good though. From the malaise emerged some clarity regarding photography. I've finally given myself permission, or acceptance, that it's ok to work with film rather than digital for most of my personal work. It's not about resistance to technology, change or the future. It's just the most comfortable, reliable and satisfying path.

The change started with a Zone VI view camera and a wandering documentation of where I live and the things that occupy the landscape. The darkroom was functional and comfortable as I worked at processing and printing 4x5 TXP.

After some months the desire to shoot 35mm film surfaced. My regrets at surrendering my Leica M6 and lenses to others needled me. The only bright spot was that Sally Mann bought my 90mm Summicron lens. She was interested in the fog and fungus in the lens.

Sticker shock, and not yet fully convinced my desire to work with 35mm film would last, I could not bring myself to buy another M6 and lenses. Instead I purchased a Nikon F3 HP and a 50mm and 35mm lens. While it's not a Leica, it has been comfortable to use. My fingers still have a lingering fragrance of fixer from printing last night -- the same full frame images in the middle of 11x14 fiber paper.

I'm planning to revive my 3 Prints Project -- expose a roll or two of film every week and make three prints. Here's a link to the 3 Prints Project Index. It has some of what I was doing.

Despite the collapsing temperatures at the moment due to the polar vortex, I'm in a good place photographically. My mind continues to empty as I focus on what's important to me now...
Have a look at Daniel Klein's In Search of Epicurus. It is about growing old and what to take from it. He returns to Greece. He admires the old men there who can enjoy doing nothing, drinking free coffees and looking out to sea.
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Old 01-30-2019   #134
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However, improvement even with practice is not a given. I watch people who ski all the time for 20 years and don't improve. Most of them, actually. You know what made the most difference? Explosion in ski options. They may still have their quirky styles but they can go places they never could before.
I have even seen people get worse with practice. An older volunteer plays the guitar in the corridors of the local hospital. He might once have had lessons, but he seems self-taught to a great degree. When I first noticed him I listened for a bit and he made a nice sound (the guitar always makes a nice sound.) He played familiar pieces by Albeniz and Tarrega and Lauro. After several months I found my patience for listening to him even for a half a minute had diminished, and it seemed that I only ever heard him struggling with a difficult passage.

I think he is practising his mistakes. By putting himself out there and having to fudge a solution in public he is actually getting worse. If he stopped coming for a while, slowed down and did some actual proper private practice he could fix those difficult passages and start to improve again. But I don't have the heart to tell him, neither the courage nor the cruelty.

I think this happens in photography. My first major improvement in decades, ten years ago, came with quite an impetus from the very expensive roll of Velvia I had just bought: a dollar per slide. That slowed me down.
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