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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 01-03-2014   #41
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So, where's that Leica M Phone?


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Old 01-03-2014   #42
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That's ashame, another missed opportunity to tell it like it really is instead of promoting hype. The guy could not figure what context to use so he goes through the motions of citing all this great gear and then dumping it in favor of an iPhone but makes it a read for the masses.....because anyone who has ever really used that gear knows what it is for, making photographs, not taking snapshots to get 3x prints of a birthday party at the drug store and mailing them out to auntie Flo. But I get it, he needs hits and likes so the flashy headline and provocative mutterings pull them in...

So we have another blogger who's whole existence depends on hyping up the internet & feeding people BS, what else is new? Thankfully, people I talk to in the real world just don't listen to all this hype and have a balanced life....

Speaking of which, an ever-so-gentle reminder, read the blip above my avatar....
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Old 01-03-2014   #43
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i hope cameras die soon. there haven't this many niche cameras since the mid-90s, and it's all thanks to cameraphones.

now, who wants a panoramic mirrorless camera?
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It's happening whether we like it or not
Old 01-03-2014   #44
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It's happening whether we like it or not

One aspect of all digital photography that is rarely discussed is how many of the photos will survive. Only a tiny number of people print their photos. Some do make photo books and some store them in various online services such as Smugmug and Flickr but how many images will survive into the next generation and beyond?

I see people in their 40s and younger shooting exclusively on iPhones and IPads at my grandson's basketball games. There is no doubt that this is altering the way images are taken and produced. However, I also see the odd soccer Mom with Canon D7s and a white lens recording soccer games.
But they are in a minority.

And then there are "selfies" and Instagram photos. It's certainly a topic for an academic study.

I do not think the New Yorker article is off the mark. Thanks for posting the link.
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Old 01-03-2014   #45
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Pretty harsh here on this guy and his article.

He's not just blindly shooting and sending. He's editing. It's obvious he has some sense of images. He's showing his images to his audience; I think that's better than some shooters who never display their images.

I think the article has an important proposition: After you have sufficient image quality, immediate editing and connectivity are important. Thom Hogan, amongst others, says the same thing.

This point has some resonance for me. And, I'm a grandfather; this point has a lot of resonance for the next generation.

(FWIW, I don't like the title "Goodbye Cameras")
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Old 01-03-2014   #46
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Apart from the aesthetic arguments he makes, which are questionable, he says that the Hasselblad 500 series has a cloth shutter. I'm surprised that this made it by the New Yorker's notorious fact checkers. Obviously, he confused it with the the Leica cloth shutter but has no clue about either.
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Old 01-03-2014   #47
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rolfe View Post
Apart from the aesthetic arguments he makes, which are questionable, he says that the Hasselblad 500 series has a cloth shutter. I'm surprised that this made it by the New Yorker's notorious fact checkers. Obviously, he confused it with the the Leica cloth shutter but has no clue about either.
I caught that too... but he did get the sound right. Perhaps he was referring to the film back shutters? Who knows???
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Old 01-03-2014   #48
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rolfe View Post
Apart from the aesthetic arguments he makes, which are questionable, he says that the Hasselblad 500 series has a cloth shutter. I'm surprised that this made it by the New Yorker's notorious fact checkers. Obviously, he confused it with the the Leica cloth shutter but has no clue about either.
Very good point. Not actually having used a Hasselblad I thought he might be referring to the two black curtains at the back of the mirror box, so gave him the benefit of the doubt, which I shouldn't have, because then he should have been describing the sweet snick-ker-plunk of the Hasselblsd firing.
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Old 01-03-2014   #49
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Very good point. Not actually having used a Hasselblad I thought he might be referring to the two black curtains at the back of the mirror box, so gave him the benefit of the doubt, which I shouldn't have, because then he should have been describing the sweet snick-ker-plunk of the Hasselblsd firing.
They aren't really curtains so much as metal plates that open, doorlike. So no benefit of the doubt is really warranted. He was clearly misremembering or had never really examined his camera that closely. There are other technical errors on which I shall not dwell.

My own opinion on the article is more or less as jsrockit's. "The" is simply the wrong article to use for "camera" in any discussion relating to the future. In addition this sentence:

"Once you start thinking of a photograph in those holistic terms, the data quality of stand-alone cameras, no matter how vast their bounty of pixels, seems strangely impoverished. They no longer capture the whole picture."

encapsulates a flawed idea. The data in a still image has always been "impoverished" -- it is a still image. There is a lot in the experience that is never captured -- what happened in the instant before and after, smells, sounds, the touch of the sun or breeze on skin, all that is behind or to the side or above or below the photographer &c. And at times some of these have changed -- motion picture cameras came in to being, cameras with wider -- even near spherical -- fields of view, 3D cameras.

But the still image -- standing on its own -- has survived and nothing said in that article gives me any reason to believe that it won't survive. An abstracted tiny slice of the data perceptible to the photographer and presented on its own -- a tiny slice shaped by the choices made by the photographer -- turns out to have power and that power has persisted and preserved the still photograph despite every innovation that has increased the kinds of data presentable. And (given that any improvement in sensor technology that will affect the iphone will also affect still cameras) it's hard to see a future in which it will be "nearly impossible to justify taking a dedicated camera on trips like the Kumano Kodo pilgrimage" for me or a great many others.
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Old 01-03-2014   #50
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Quote:
Originally Posted by easyrider View Post
One aspect of all digital photography that is rarely discussed is how many of the photos will survive. Only a tiny number of people print their photos. Some do make photo books and some store them in various online services such as Smugmug and Flickr but how many images will survive into the next generation and beyond?

I see people in their 40s and younger shooting exclusively on iPhones and IPads at my grandson's basketball games. There is no doubt that this is altering the way images are taken and produced. However, I also see the odd soccer Mom with Canon D7s and a white lens recording soccer games.
But they are in a minority.

And then there are "selfies" and Instagram photos. It's certainly a topic for an academic study.

I do not think the New Yorker article is off the mark. Thanks for posting the link.


I suspect that many people who have an affinity for the film era over estimate the value of negatives and prints as an archival medium. While film may be a good and stable means of storing images for professionals that assumes they have proper systems of archiving, cataloging and storing. Most amateurs do not.

Speaking both for myself and for others who I know who have extensive film experience amateurs it was not unusual for scores or even hundreds of images to be shot but only very few ever made it to being printed and conserved. I for one had large plastic storage tubs literally full of negatives and prints that were thrown in the dustbin simply for want of storage space. A tiny tiny percent of these made it into albums to be (perhaps) passed onto later generations. And even here the more likely outlook upon my demise is that they will also end up in the bin.

And that takes no account of the scores of half used films left in cameras and never processed because of the cost of doing so and the passage of time.

Surely there is more chance that images on networked drives will be stored in some way for future generations than was the case with most people's physical film negatives and prints - both of which also deteriorate through poor storage, quite apart from losses due to shortage of storage and lack of interest.

I will give you an example. In 1986 and again in 1987 I was fortunate enough to travel around the Pacific on a square rigged sailing ship. I have long since lost my negatives and print photos of that voyage (courtesy of house moves, divorces and the like) but I was lucky enough that some years ago I was able to upload them to a web site dedicated to this particular ship. If I want to look at my much younger (and slimmer) self I only have to turn to Mr Google. Of course one day that too may pass, as all things do, but at least its lasted much longer than it otherwise would have.
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Old 01-03-2014   #51
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It is not that he is sending his images rather is do I want to see them. Go to facebook and see all the images that look the same. The composition is the same with different faces. Read the images: Here I am look at me and my friends; we are having a wonderful time. These are childish images of "Look at me." Let us elevate the conversation/image. If you are standing on the surface of the Moon does it matter if the image is taken with a Hasselblad or an Iphone? But, when the image is four drunken friends at a bar or a beautiful sunset does the view want to be disturbed looking at an email at 11:30PM to see what a drunken acquaintance is doing? Or, look at this 'monument' that I am standing next to (which is out of focus and you can view with a much better photograph available on the internet). Essentially, this is no different than what people did (I will not use the word photograph.) in the 1950's & 60's with the Kodak Instamatics, which were no more than tiresome out of focus photographs of their vacations. Using a real camera, film or digital, requires some knowledge of the instrument and the technology. What he is proposing is that knowledge is no longer necessary. The technology is smarter than the owner, press a button and send. The next time that your receive one of these unwanted images reply asking what was the fstop & shutter speed of the camera when the image was taken.
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Old 01-03-2014   #52
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Quote:
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The same once has been said about the difference between using a Leica and using a real camera (i.e. large format). Every purpose has some break-even point between convenience and perfection...
Some people care only about technology and convenience. That's their business, I guess.

I have no interest in posting images on FaceTube and Twatter. I want actual prints that I can hold in my hands, put in an album as well as enlarge, frame and hang on my walls. I want negatives and chromes that will survive for decades in their archival storage pages and archival boxes, not electrons floating around on a hard drive that is destined to ultimately fail.

I am finding that people love prints these days - they are almost an oddity because most photographers never make prints. They only post their work online or show their images via some other electronic venue.

This brings to mind a quote from Zack Arias' recent book, Photography Q&A:
Quote:
Any image can look good on a computer screen. But when you print it, the truth comes out.
Tony hit the nail on the head in post #2:
Quote:
I'm afraid that these "words of wisdom" from this youthful geographical name-dropper won't change my enjoyment of both film and digital photography. And we don't all view our images "on tiny screens" either. Some of us take the business of photography a little further than that. TW
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Old 01-03-2014   #53
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Since he mentioned only viewing images on networked sites on a small screen, did not mention prints, and immediacy is important to him, his view is reasonable. There are others though who prefer a traditional approach - prints, quality over quantity, and immediate availablilty is not necessary.

Of course, the next progression might be something like blinking your eyes with Google glasses to transmit what you are looking at - why bother with the effort of actually having to touch something on a smartphone camera to take the picture? And that will be considered great progress as well.

More toys, use 'em if you like 'em.
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Old 01-03-2014   #54
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Richard G View Post
Very good point. Not actually having used a Hasselblad I thought he might be referring to the two black curtains at the back of the mirror box, so gave him the benefit of the doubt, which I shouldn't have, because then he should have been describing the sweet snick-ker-plunk of the Hasselblsd firing.
I'm not really sure how you could shoot with a 500 series Hasselblad for any length of time and not know that the shutter is in the lens.

That leads me to believe that most of this piece is just stream of thought bull****.
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Old 01-03-2014   #55
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There are many posts here that have accurately described the viewpoint espoused by the New Yorker blogger. As do others who have posted, I also believe that his article overgeneralizes what photography is and overemphazes the need for immediate transmission to the web from the capture device..

Those active here are interested in photography itself as a pursuit. We are more interested in advanced gear and in making more ambitious photographs (as well as the pet shots, grandma shots, etc. that we all shoot too, all of which are fine). I suspect that the subject matter of many of our photographs ranges beyond documenting travel, family and life events and that we try to express broader concepts, points of view and aesthetics. Many of us still enjoy working with silver halide and even older processes. Some of us display our work primarily online, and some also still print to display our work. As long as there are enough of us to create sufficient demand for the products of camera manufacturers (and film producers), we will have advanced technology to produce superb quality photographs.

The author may once have fallen into the group of those interested in photography itself, but he no longer does. Although there are serious hobbyist and maybe professional photographers doing excellent work with cell phones, there are many more using them for photography who have no particular interest in photography as an activity, but who want to record their travels, social gatherings, life events, etc. We used to call the latter group snapshooters. Mostly, they used Kodak Brownies, Instamatics, film disk cameras, and later digital point and shoots because these devices served their photographic needs at a reasonable price point. It stands to reason that this group would now turn to cell phones, which almost everyone carries and which have increasingly good quality and the ability to share photos immediately.

The author of the New Yorker piece seems to believe that all photography is confined to the shapshooting world. Probably the vast majority of photographs are made in this mode; however, folks like us also are still around. That seems to have escaped the author. Nothing wrong with his view of things, but it is just incomplete.

Also, I'd be astonished if the camera companies don't include better connectivity in all camera models, whcih eliminates what the author apparently perceives as a fatal technical flaw. Not all of us feel the urgency of sharing our work so quickly; however, I suspect that we will soon have the ability. In fact connectivity already exists at least in rudimentary form in many mirroless system cameras today.
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Old 01-03-2014   #56
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Pretty harsh here on this guy and his article.

He's not just blindly shooting and sending. He's editing. It's obvious he has some sense of images.
I'm doubtful, I was so puzzled by the first image I missed the second. Both images would be binned if I took them, for easily understood reasons I think. He's simply lowered his standards, and wants to say something else is at work, as someone above pointed out.
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Old 01-03-2014   #57
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That article doesn't warrant the attention it's getting here IMO ... it's just some airhead's opinion and means very little.
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Old 01-03-2014   #58
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the writer is probably just as much of a camera geek as most of us. he just has a taller soapbox.

what he's really saying is "camera companies, please let me upload photos directly to the internet. i will pay for a monthly data plan. pretty please with sugar on top?"
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Old 01-03-2014   #59
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Thoughts like those of the writer, and thoughts like ours here, have been expressed constantly for the last 175 years, ever since that painter saw Daguerre traipsing across the landscape scooping up all the scenery 'in an instant'. Nothing new here. And we painters, photographers, and (whatever you call someone making an image with a phone) are, in the end, left with the same thought: its about the art of seeing. All the rest is just mechanics. :-)
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Whipping a Dead Horse
Old 01-03-2014   #60
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Whipping a Dead Horse

You know, the truth is that the damage the cell phone has wreaked on the camera industry is already largely done. Everyone is just writing about the horse that has already left the barn. Just look at the sales figure, it really doesn't take a genius to see that cell phone cameras are causing problems.

But things are changing so quickly in our world that the next big thing is just now arriving and will probably begin wreaking havoc with handheld cell phones in just a couple years. For all we know in two years we will all be wearing the Apple 7G on our wrists, kind of like Dick Tracy although a heck of a lot more stylish than what he packed around.

Figure it out. Digital cameras were becoming the in thing just after Y2K. As for cell phones, I was using a cell phone to take pictures that were good enough for auditing 4 years ago. Who knows what is coming next, predicting the future is notoriously difficult. But all this cell phone malarkey is just whipping a dead horse. The damage has already been done.
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Old 01-03-2014   #61
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Holes in the pictures....

Holes are not an improvement, or progress, holes in the pictures are devolution.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FvtMycyezYI
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Old 01-03-2014   #62
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a silly article.
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Old 01-04-2014   #63
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I wish I had written that article, because had I done so, I would have written it with a view to scaring you all into 'off loading' all your gear and thus flooding the market and then I would buy the lot and flog it back to you at a gooood price
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Old 01-04-2014   #64
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... (whatever you call someone making an image with a phone) ...
"Phonies"?
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Old 01-04-2014   #65
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That article doesn't warrant the attention it's getting here IMO ... it's just some airhead's opinion and means very little.

True, but the article is a wonderful springboard for us to launch our own opinons, counterpoints, jokes, quips, on whatever angle of it that we choose . . . and that right there makes it a good read


"Phonies" ? . . . I love it !!!
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Old 01-04-2014   #66
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The article is the functional equivalent of saying the novel is dead because we can now send email.
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Old 01-04-2014   #67
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The article is the functional equivalent of saying the novel is dead because we can now send email.
Not killed the novel, but email has all but killed the postal service. Nooks, iPads, etc., are killing the printed book.
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Old 01-04-2014   #68
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Sontag didn't know anything (I mean anything) about photography so quoting her at the end is kind of funny.
Are you kidding? (honest question)

Sontag may have ignored how to hold a camera (I don't know, it doesn't matter), but she analyzed the meanings of photography and the photographic act in a very sensible way.
She understood Photography better than most photographers (or picture makers) do.
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Old 01-04-2014   #69
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While it was nice to see my housemate's Instagram photo last week of a double rainbow over Macchu Pichu, I likely won't be using my cameraphone much on my vacation next week. I won't even be using a digital - the M4 and Rolleiflex are too enjoyable to pass up for me, especially on vacation. To each his own, I suppose...
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Old 01-05-2014   #70
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Are you kidding? (honest question)

Sontag may have ignored how to hold a camera (I don't know, it doesn't matter), but she analyzed the meanings of photography and the photographic act in a very sensible way.
She understood Photography better than most photographers (or picture makers).
No, I'm not kidding, what she did was use photography as a hook to construct a fantasy world to house her polemical wailings. You may agree with those, but they have nothing to do with photography. Really!
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Old 01-05-2014   #71
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No, I'm not kidding, what she did was use photography as a hook to construct a fantasy world to house her polemical wailings. You may agree with those, but they have nothing to do with photography. Really!
Interesting, thank you.
What reading would you recommend as a refutation of Sontag's "wailings" ?
(besides her own "Regarding the pain...")
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Old 01-05-2014   #72
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Nice try. I'm not talking about her wailings, I'm talking about whether they have anything to do with photography. This'll do.

"The Straw Man fallacy is committed when a person simply ignores a person's actual position and substitutes a distorted, exaggerated or misrepresented version of that position."

http://www.nizkor.org/features/fallacies/straw-man.html
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Old 01-05-2014   #73
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So, back to the beginning then.
Sontag knew nothing about Photography, ok. You say so not because you disagree with her opinions but because... she didn't practice it...?
Who knows about Photography? Someone like Ansel Adams or more like Vilém Flusser?
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Old 01-05-2014   #74
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I say so because what she says about it conflicts with my experience. I know about photography. Back to the beginning, which was this.

"what she did was use photography as a hook to construct a fantasy world to house her polemical wailings"

Do you deny it?
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Old 01-05-2014   #75
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I say so because what she says about it conflicts with my experience. I know about photography. Back to the beginning, which was this.

"what she did was use photography as a hook to construct a fantasy world to house her polemical wailings"

Do you deny it?
I'm not in position to deny the least particle of your knowledge.
Thank you for your time.
Have a good year.
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Old 01-06-2014   #76
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Let's face it : today, who needs the New Yorker any more ? I mean with Facebook, and all the blogs, newspapers are really obsolete... Or are they ?
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Old 01-10-2014   #77
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The purpose of most "image captures" is to Prove I Was There. A Kodak Brownie, 110 Instamatic, or Smartphone works nicely. You can quickly find 1950s Kodachrome "selfies" or vacation pics in front of the Eiffel Tower, that look the same as cellphone shots this week. That's what his article is about, how he decided he didn't want to be a photographer, but wants to "prove" where he is and what he's doing.

On social media, I find it very boring to know what my friends are eating for dinner, or that they're munching on Doritos. Every shot of my poor nieces (both in their 20s) are IDENTICAL - hand on hip, faked red-eye and muted colors via Instagram. The only thing that changes is the CAPTION - "Having Lobster at Roberts!" "At the beach in Cancun!" "having drinks at XYZ club!" etc. Proving - they were there. It's not Photography.

Image Capture = Proving I was there
Photography = Invoking an emotion from the subject
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