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Vivian Maier

Published February 25th, 2012

I've just finished the new book, "Vivian Maier Street Photographer". Highly recommended for those who love photography.

What a wonderfully talented photographer Vivian was! She's also, as many know, somewhat of an enigma, having made over 100,000 photographs over 5 decades in her spare time, while working as a nanny, without anyone knowing about it! Thanks to a sharp-eyed dealer, her negatives were spotted in an auctioned storage locker and discovered in 2007.

The images act like a time machine, bringing one back to the streets of NYC, Chicago, and elsewhere (even Churchill, Manitoba!) in the 1950s and onward. She had a real skill with her craft, creating richly detailed and beautifully toned black and white images with her Rolleiflex.

Her photographs show she was far from shy when out doing photography, even though she was, reportedly, reclusive socially, with no family or known friends. She really captures powerful human emotions, and powerful images consistently, and every aspi ...

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Cleaning House - Who Are You Shooting For?

Published December 30th, 2011

Well, I had a notion, at year's end, to delete all of my photos that had a rating below a certain number, say less than 30. The problem was, I really liked some of the photos that were poorly rated here. There is even one photo, of the NYC Public Library Lion, "Patience", that I really like a lot, but was never rated at all. So, although I did delete a few, I kept a few low-raters as well.

What this exercise brought to mind was that since joining this site, I've been trying to shoot, more and more, images that I think and hope will get a high rating, not images for my own satisfaction and expression. I wonder how many are falling into this same trap - or is it a trap? Perhaps trying to create images that you think will gain a high ranking here will help to improve your photography. On the other hand, it may also be a betrayal of your own style, vision, and creativity.

I've even studied the editor's choice - and Popular - images, in order to learn what subject matter, lighting, com ...

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No more "Great photo!"

Published November 5th, 2011

I comment on quite a few photos every week, the ones that stop me and compel me to look at them for a while, and invoke a feeling of some kind in me.

Up until now, I've been saying things like "Great photo!", "Awesome image!", "Great street shot!", etc. Now, I've decided to no longer make short comments like that. If a photo is worth being commented on, I'm going to explain why I like it, not just that I like it. That will be more beneficial to the photographer, and to myself, since by explaining what I like about the image, I too will learn and become a better photographer. Otherwise, it's a waste of time.

Problem is, there are so many good images on this site, I'll barely ever scratch the surface!

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Your best photos are taken alone.

Published October 19th, 2011

I love the company of other people, even when out photographing, but it has occurred to me recently that my best photos - at least the ones I like best - are the ones I make when I'm out shooting alone.

It just makes sense, when you're alone, you are able to marshall and focus your own thoughts, without interruption or worry about another's concerns. There's nothing more distracting than worrying you are keeping someone waiting while you get that shot! You are deeper within yourself when alone, and I think your photographic vision becomes more acute without the thought of others.

So, ultimately, it seems to me that being serious about expressing yourself through photography is a lonely calling.

How many of you have found the same thing with your photography?

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Off to Boston

Published October 11th, 2011

Well, I'm off tomorrow for five days of street shooting in Boston, hoping to concentrate in and around the Harvard area, north of the Charles River.

I've decided on minimal kit: an X100, a D7000+Nikkor 50mm f/1.4 prime and a Nikkor 10.5mm f/2.8 fisheye prime, all in a Think Tank Retrospective 5. I'll also have a Joby gorrillapod and, of course, my iPhone camera. I thought of taking my Sigma 17-50mm f/2.8 but I really like the discipline the primes impose and the shallow depth of field of the f/1.4. I'll probably venture out with just the X100 at times.

Here's hoping I get some memorable shots! Cheers.

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Commenting on Images

Published September 25th, 2011

Each day, I review the first 100 or so "fresh pages". I vote on the images that catch my eye, and often comment on them. I only vote "like", never "dislike". If I dislike an image, I simply won't vote either way.

Sometimes, when I look at an image, I'll notice something that doesn't quite work, for me, but I am reluctant to criticize in a comment. I worry the photographer may take offence. Now, however, I'm thinking that I should make constructive criticisms, since it could help the photographer, and I myself appreciate constructive comments.

I'm just wondering, do most people make constructive criticisms when commenting? Come to think of it, I haven't seen a lot.

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Two months with the X100

Published September 5th, 2011

Well, not a review, but for those interested, a few of my thoughts on this camera, after using it quite a bit for two months now.

I should mention that during the last two months, I've used the optical viewfinder exclusively, except for macro shots, which I really haven't done many of.

I was very excited waiting for this camera, and knew more about it before I actually had it than any other camera I've ever owned.

In short, although I'm positive about it overall, I do have some mixed feelings, so, to be concise, I'll list what I think are some of the good and the bad (these aren't anywhere near complete lists).


- image quality is fantastic, up to and including ISO 1600, ISO 3200 is also very good with some noise reduction in lightroom - in this area it rivals my higher resolution D7000 (I only shoot with it in RAW).

- ergonomics, and the feel of the camera when shooting, are great. Unfortunately, I lost a soft-release button I had put on it, as they are very prone to looseni ...

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What I look for in images.

Published September 1st, 2011

I try to review fresh posts to this site several times a week. Looking at the excellent work here, I gain more insight into what makes a compelling image, which in turn helps in improving my own work.

Obviously, the images that are most successful are those with unique subjects, subjects portrayed in a unique way, and, above all, images with interesting lighting. In fact, it seems to me that lighting is probably the most important quality in deciding if an image is successful or not, regardless of the subject matter.

According to my own preferences, I will "like" images that: have strong graphical components, evoke a feeling or emotion - I especially like moody, lonely or haunting landscapes in B&W - have good composition and show creativity, "thinking outside the box" or uniqueness.

I'd be interested in hearing what others look for when they review images.

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