Saturday Evening Post #98: Back to the Future

“The sanest man Sets up no deed, Lays down no law, 
Takes everything that happens as it comes, 
As something to animate, not to appropriate, 
To earn, not to own, 
To accept naturally without self-importance:
If you never assume importance You never lose it..”
Lao Tzu

One of the blog posts I regularly follow has been that of Ming Thein (MT)
Over the years his insight into the creative photo process and his attention to detail in technique has always offered new ideas and directions. His clear and reasoned explanations of the elements of a photograph, form, shape, tone, texture, point of view and the like, has always been interesting, and I have to say that not always did I agree, but that is part of the fun of looking at someone’s work.
But MT has called his blog time over.

In the same week, Kirk Tuck over at Visual Science Lab is also calling an end to his current blog as he is off to pursue some video options.

“I see myself writing less and less about new photography gear and new picture making practices. ..  I’m not anxious to watch my writing devolve into some personal pathos about lost life opportunities, bad decision making, therapy or diets. Or “how we did things in the golden age of photography.”
I have recently (finally) come to grips with the whole concept that, in what’s left of the commercial imaging world, you can do quite well with a smart phone and a suite of programs to enhance your smartphone photos, with less hassle and less time spent than “doing them the right way.”

Sad to see them both go, but fully understand their individual reasons.

Truth be told, as the weeks of lockdown have deteriorated into months, that I find it much  more difficult to warp out words that are relevant and encouraging. There are only so many stories from my own ‘golden age of photography’, only so much pathos that I’d be inclined to share online.

Saw an ad on the tv the other night (Yes, you read that right. Me, watching tv), from Apple. The tag line was, Taken[and Edited] on an iPhone, lots of flashy coloured splashes, and some clever image size, and perspective things to ponder over, and it just confirmed to me that the future of photography is going to do what it has always done.  Change, evolve and find new markets, new vision and new visual experiences.

In another life I once made a presentation at a major photographic convention, just at the turn of digital, and indicated as photographers we have always been “on the cutting edge” of technology.
In the beginning we used to shoot only glass plates, then flexible film.
We began with Monochrome Images, who would have thought of colour.
Rangefinder cameras gave way to Single Lens Reflex.
Bulky studio lights gave way to sparkling electronic flash
Formal indoor portraits became rich environmental, tomorrow pictures (as Don Nibbelink coined).
Digital began for us as scanning from negatives and transparencies. Now we think in terms of 61Megapixel sensors and look beyond that.
Not unsurprisingly at the time, a lot of what I said was dismissed as ‘activist nonsense’ by the organisers.

And as my Tai Chi Master would say,  “If an art is simply a repetition, then it will fade and die.  For the Art  to live on and grow it must find opportunity to express the old in new ways”.

Me, I’m looking forward to our times in the field. To look for and work with the birds again.  To hopefully bring back some new fresh stories of our amazing natural world.

Been delving through the archives of late.  Not much else to do really, amazing to find moments or opportunities with birds that I had overlooked.

White-winged Choughs are a favourite bird. I am happy to spend hours in their company. Many will tell they  find them difficult to photograph. To the contrary, I’ve sat on logs in the forest and have them hunt over the log, around my feet and sit on the log and preen.  Talking all the time.
Choughness is a compelling life.

This one was only a few seconds before the ‘guard’ in the tree. The communal life means they share various activities among the flock. It had been relieved of its sentry duty and wafted down to enjoy a rummage among the leaf-litter.

Looking forward to the ‘Roadmap Ahead’ tomorrow, or as Sean McCaullif said, “With all this social-distancing, what is the point of being a Hermit!”


7 thoughts on “Saturday Evening Post #98: Back to the Future

  1. Technology changes, life changes. We can adapt and move forward or stagnate and get left behind. Yes, I use state of the art digital audio technology, that is what (most of) the market wants, and hey, I have bills to pay! But, and I won’t write the thesis here, the end result from digital audio is more of a compromise than I really like. Analogue rules! And yes, I have been known to take a photo with my phone camera, and with my daughter’s latest whizz bang, three lens phone camera, but I am never happy with the result. Guess I have to keep trying, meantime I will stick to DSLR and occasionally SLR.
    It will be interesting to hear what the ‘roadmap’ looks like tomorrow, I can’t see any field trips for a while longer though. Just glad I have the Tawnies as a diversion

    Liked by 1 person

    1. G’day David, yes, I don’t think photography is the only discipline or workplace that has lived on the bleeding edge. I think one of the most adaptive has been the Printing industry. Over a weekend the change from darkrooms to digital took place.

      The ‘roadmap’ now seems to me to be, a road to nowhere.
      An old retired dude is not of much interest, but quite a number of small business, single operators that I’ve been speaking with locally, (Such as yourself) must be sitting wringing their hands with heads held low in depair tonight.
      To be blunt, I’m glad I’m no longer relying on photography to but the bread and butter on the table, and to keep the wolf from the door.
      Seems it will be a hard road back not matter what clever ‘options’ are declared.



      1. It’s tough, David. We had started planning into next year for a lot of the corporate work, the cancellations that came in the morning after the SOE power was extended just about finished me. We knew that today would be pretty much how it has been revealed and so businesses that were in a world of trouble are now in a world of pain. The coroner work will keep me going and hopefully the TV work will keep my staff going until better times come.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. A beautiful shot of the Chough in flight. Something I have yet to achieve, among many others! I like your Lao Tzu quote too.

    I’m a great believer in trying to live in the moment, rather than always yearning for something that will happen next week or next year. And that has helped me to get through these tough times pretty philosophically. Of course it’s much easier for me than for the many who fear they will never have a job again, lose their home, their possessions, or whatever. On the other hand, we fortunate retirees are much more likely to lose our lives to this virus, so it probably all balances out in the end.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hello Eleanor, thanks for adding to the dicussion. I guess its a matter of approaching it philosophically.
      I enjoy Tai Chi not just becase its a sort of exercise program. but also because it has its own inbuilt spiritual component,(especially for those who really get into it), but it also has a ‘slow down’ component that I think is going to help me see the out the long journey on the road to nowhere.
      As Ashley Brillant once said, “It may well be that I’m going so slowly, because I might be going in the wrong direction” 🙂


      Liked by 1 person

  3. Well spoken David. It is amazing what our youngsters can do on their phones today with a minimum of skill and effort, as phones become fancy cameras. But be encouraged, your photo skills far outweigh the modern phone, and is evident every week in your beautiful captures. My wife and I both admire your work, as it not only captures the bird but the intricate detail of the birds features and expression which only a true professional can achieve. It would be sad to see the experience of years lost to the future. I have found it difficult enough being forced into retirement because a corporation placed their ambitious money making frugalness above the need to train staff and pass on valuable experience which is not taught in books. Keeping you in both in our prayers and thoughts during this very trying period.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Ashley, your comments and kind thoughts are appreciated.
      I personally relate to your retired without notice, eg redundant. I found out via an international phone conference about 1:00am in the morning. 😦
      What was really lost to the coroporation was many many years of skills, and experience and understanding of the products that was never carried on to the remaining staff, nor was it even sort out. Easy to predict what happened next.
      Went the way of wooden wagon wheels.

      Our challenge now, on the road to nowhere is how to get through until at least the end of October. Most of the changes in the ‘roadmap’ are unrelated to our particular situation. Movement beyond 5km is still enforced. Sadly.

      Just have to evaluate each day as it comes by I think.

      Hope all is well, and you get a chance to continue to make great photos.


      Liked by 1 person

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