Film Rises Again

Perhaps the most puzzling trend I have seen in photography since I became immersed in it in 2014 is the rising popularity of film photography. The digital revolution essentially killed the still film photography industry in the 1980’s and 1990’s. Storefronts and labs closed, film production ceased, makers like Kodak essentially went out of business. But things have changed bigtime. There have always been the stalwarts that preferentially choose this medium. The puzzle is around young photographers or average non-photographer folk who now select this as their preferred way of presenting their creations. I have some thoughts on why this might be happening.

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Space – The Final Frontier

One of my goals as a retired senior citizen is to indulge all of the interests I’ve developed over the years, now that I have the time and frankly also the money to do so.

I’ve had a long standing love affair with all things in space and space-related. By that, I mean all things off our own planet. From the early days of the Gemini and Apollo programs in the US, I’ve been gripped by a fascination around what and who could be out there. And of course, Star Trek and its offshoots only served to romanticize the idea that strange, wonderful adventures and discoveries could lie beyond our atmosphere.

I had some good fortune when younger to connect with people that worked on these challenges, at least from the point of view of humans living in space. But I’ve come to realize that humans in space is more of a challenge than we know how to solve right now, and I will never live to see permanent residence of any human anywhere other than on the Earth. But there are other ways to explore beyond our tiny speck of a planet, and I have settled on astrophotography as that method for me.

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Human Interest

Happy New Year everyone! Hope you had a wonderful holiday season with family and friends. I thought I would start off the new year with something a bit different.

It’s been just over a year now since I began working part-time at my local camera store.  I sought out the job not to earn a living, but because 18 months of Covid had left me socially isolated and mentally desolated.  I needed human contact.

Over the course of this past year, I have been blessed with exactly that.  I have discovered the wonderous variety of stories each of us has to tell about our lives, experiences and interests.  I’ve also discovered that customer service isn’t about transactions – it’s about the relationships formed with the people we serve. 

To start off 2023, I wanted to tell you about some of those.

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Gifts for Me!

A little self-serving? Yes, it is. I admit it. But I’ve discovered that friends and family who aren’t into photography and videography often have little idea on what a hobbyist might like. So I thought I would throw out a few inexpensive but meaningful ideas for that last minute shopper with a photographer on their list.

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How Much Technology is Enough?

There were a couple of articles recently about the growing role of technology in cameras, specifically along the lines of how technology is making photography easy – too easy to be truly artistically challenging, it seems. I’ve written about something similar before, in terms of artificial intelligence and post-processing. This is a bit different. It’s about how much work your camera should do vs. what you should do as the photographer.

I’ll link to one of those articles below, in which the author opens up that argument and concludes the opposite – that technology in fact makes photography more challenging, focusing the artist’s attention on the things that are meaningful and not on the things that are mundane. I agree with that view, with some limitations.

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Rumors and Leaks – Do We Really Need Them?

Are you an “insider”? Do you sign up for newsletters and online posts that claim to provide you with the latest “scuttlebutt” on what’s happening in technology? Do you eagerly absorb each one, hungry for that smallest detail? Do you politely argue with the creators that what they say is not the full picture, or could not possibly be true, or makes no sense if it was true?

I’m discovering that some of the most successful online posts and videos are about, well really, nothing. They are someone’s opinion about what we might see next or how the market might drive those choices. Some have gained a reputation for “accuracy”, even if only half of the posted information does come to pass over time.

The bigger issue for me, though, is why we need such “services” at all. I’ll admit that I’ve watched, even subscribed, to some of these sites, but find it more and more annoying to watch each episode – I usually turn it off after a minute or two. Sometimes I skip posts all together. So why do we bother with them?

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Canon Third Party RF Lens Ban

Yes, I’m writing about this too. Everybody has. But my perspective is very different, so please keep reading.

I’m both baffled and annoyed at the indignant positions taken by many commentators, including folks like Tony Northrup, on the decision made by Canon to issue cease and desist orders to third party lens makers who are (were) producing RF mount lenses. Specifically, here’s the announcement (in case you really haven’t seen it):

Not his first offering on the subject, but in this one, Tony seems particularly hell-bent on trashing Canon for their decision. Although in fairness, he did choose to hide it embedded in a breaking news piece that focused more on Nikon (thank goodness).

The bottom line for Tony is that Canon is making a huge mistake by not allowing third party manufacturers to produce RF mount lenses, and further that Canon has chosen not to license its RF technology to those same parties, foregoing a HUGE revenue stream. SOOOOO many potential customers are saying that they will no longer consider purchasing Canon products because they need and expect access to less costly gear options to justify the huge up-front investment from them that Canon requires for access to its new line of cameras. And indeed, the commentary on most YouTube posts where the decision is trashed is exactly that.

Every once in a while though, there is a solitary voice commenting that the decision was indeed the right one. One of those voices is mine.

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DSLR vs. Mirrorless

Not sure why I haven’t written about this before. Maybe it was because the mirrorless market wasn’t yet mature or maybe it was because I wasn’t yet mature – at least in terms of my knowledge of the subject. Well, today is the day, and we’ll do a deep dive into one vs. the other.

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Camera IBIS and Lens OIS in Canon EOS R5 – How Good is It?

I’m afraid that this piece is going to be a little bit technical, so for those who aren’t inclined that way, but who own a Canon EOS R5 camera, let me just say that Canon has really brought it home here: a Canon EOS R5, equipped with a native Canon RF mount lens that includes lens-based image stabilization, can indeed get up to 8 stops of improved low light performance. That simply means that you can shoot images with shutter speeds up to 8 stops slower than you normally could and still get sharp, in-focus images in low light conditions. Up to 8 stops. Ok, that’s the non-techie part. And you already knew that anyway. Non-techies can leave now. But stay and continue reading. It seems that “up to” has proven very confusing. Read on to find out why.

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Putting Things in Context

One thing that has always surprised me about photography is the number of professionals who describe themselves as “self-taught”, never having taken a course or even read a book about photography.

I’ve seen naturally-talented photographers many times, who with some minimal help understanding buttons and dials on their cameras, can create amazing works of art, all in-camera. They develop formulas for success and are able to apply them without ever formally learning either the technology or the practice of photography.

I’ve seen others not so talented who failed repeatedly before figuring things out and then going on to have successful careers. They too eventually lock down their formulas for success through simple hard work.

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