Rule 19: Delete

Hiding in Plain Sight

There’s nothing like space limitations to impose a little discipline. Your camera’s memory card, your computer’s hard drive, and even an external hard drive are each capable of storing quite a number of photos, but in each case, the amount of storage available to you is finite. What that means, of course, is that sooner or later, you’re going to reach the upper limits of your device’s capacity.

There’s an initial temptation to find workarounds. If your memory card only holds 275 photos in JPG Fine, for instance, you may be tempted to shoot in a high-compression/high-loss format for the sake of saving space. Yes, you might be able to fit 1,000 photos on the card by shooting in JPG Low, but try going back to edit, or God forbid crop, some of those images later; the quality suffers considerably. So you spring for a larger memory card or three… your shot discipline suffers a bit, plus you’ve lost a lot more images if a 16GB card fails than if a 4GB card fails. Backing up your images means going through a lot of DVD’s (if you’re using 4GB cards, each time you fill one, you’re also filling a DVD) or ending up with a choke of images on your computer’s hard drive that slows your system (and can vanish in the blink of an eye if something goes wrong with your system). Even a decent-sized external drive can fill up faster than you’d think.

There’s an easy solution to this. Stop saving so much. Be honest about your work, and develop some kind of workflow around sorting and storing your images. It helps your sanity, but also makes it a lot easier to manage the tremendous pile of photos you’re going to accumulate before you even realize how many you’ve got.

This can be done in a few stages. You can even start in the camera. If you’re photographing a subject that isn’t going to change too much or too quickly, check your images at regular intervals. The purpose of this is twofold. On one hand, if there’s something you’re doing wrong with your settings (you’ve set your exposure compensation without realizing it, you’re shooting at ISO 3200 on a sunny day), you’ve a much better chance of catching it. On the other, it’s a good chance to cull some of the shots that don’t work. While I’ll be the first to admit that viewing your photos on a 3″ LCD isn’t the same as viewing them on a 17″ monitor, think of it this way: if you can tell it doesn’t work by seeing something on that tiny screen, it probably isn’t going to work on a larger one, either.

Next, you can further winnow down your images before doing editing. Some programs, like Lightroom and even Google’s Picasa, offer a number of options for rating and tagging photos. Come up with a system that works for you (five stars for your best work, four for stuff that might need small tweaks, three for something that might work with serious intervention, and two for everything else, for instance) and stick to it. If it doesn’t fall into one of the first three categories, you could probably get rid of it; if you’re unsure, get another pair of eyes on your work, or set them aside to be viewed another time. Sometimes, taking some time away from something is a great chance to see it a bit more objectively when you come back to it again after a time.

Finally, back up your images. This is a best practice for two big reasons. First, storage systems fail. It doesn’t happen often, but it only takes once. Second, this can be another good time to further narrow your files. If you’re backing up on DVD’s, that might mean having 5GB of images when only 4GB will fit on the disc. See if you can cull a gigabyte’s worth before backing up.

It’s been said that the difference between an amateur and a professional is that a professional won’t let you see their mistakes. Our mistakes are numerous no matter what our level of experience is, but as long as you’re learning from those mistakes, there’s no need to hang onto them, and to keep reminding yourself of them. Unless you have a really compelling reason for hanging onto something, consider lightening your — and your computer’s — load.

The Habit of Seeing: Visual Meditation

Seeing, or Being Seen?

For the last few weeks, I’ve been talking about different ways of seeing. This week, I’d like to try something a little different, namely addressing seeing as a form of meditation. Put your camera down, and let’s just see for a bit, shall we?

Meditation comes in all shapes and sizes, including contemplative prayer, sitting meditation (zazen), walking meditation, and even various types of visual meditation, many of them using objects – mandalas, the Om symbol, or even a candle flame – as meditative aids. Let’s start with what meditation isn’t: the purpose isn’t to zone out, to empty your mind of every last thought, and accumulate wealth (Rhonda Byrne be damned*) or to somehow run and hide from the world. So if it’s not those things, what is it? Instead of zoning out, you are instead tuning in; instead of emptying your mind or field of vision, simply acknowledge what’s there; rather than focusing on accumulation (the “taking” of an image), focus on the subject itself first, without thought as to what you’ll take of or from it; and instead of turning your back on the world, engage it.

The object here isn’t to visualize something; we’re not trying to conjure something, or to plaster over what’s already there. Rather, be present to what’s already there. Acknowledge it as it is – its color, shape, and form, its light and its surroundings, and anything else that the scene presents to you (including non-visual cues like sound and scent) – without judgment. Don’t worry about whether it’s beautiful or ugly. Just let it be as it is. Acknowledge that is-ness, along with any thoughts or feelings that come up as you’re seeing it. Most of all, slow the hell down.

When you manage to do this (and if I’m going to be honest here, I don’t do it as often as I’d like or even as often as I try to), something interesting starts to happen: first, you start to see things simply as they are, camera or no camera. Second, you can begin to let go of expectations of your subject and decide whether or not to make a photo based on what’s there versus some nebulous potential of what you might make of it later on.

Integrating a meditative component into your photography doesn’t have to involve anything fancy, complicated, or difficult. Nor, for that matter, does it have to be a spiritual or religious practice (though it certainly can be if you want it to).

As with much else I’ve written in this space, the purpose of this little exercise is twofold. Part of it, of course, is for your benefit. But, if I’m being honest, I also write these things as reminders to myself from time to time. It’s a lot easier to approach photography like a kid in a candy store – wanting to take one of everything – than it is to approach it like a seven-course meal at a good restaurant,** taking the time to savor and enjoy the moment and resulting photos, taking a bit of time between to “digest” and process what you’re seeing.

So tell me, what have you done to change your approach to seeing?

*Of course, I mean that in the nicest way possible.

**I mean the speed with which you approach it, not so much the heartburn afterward.

Rule 18: Set Your Alarm


I tend to be a bit of a night owl. Staying up “past my bedtime” would likely mean being up ’til about 1:00 in the morning versus hitting the hay around midnight. Of course, one of the side effects of being nocturnal by nature is that rolling out of bed in the morning can be, ahem… a bit of a challenge.

Maybe you’ve had the same issue, or maybe you’re an early riser during the week for work and like to sleep in on weekends (no shame in that, either). Try to break the habit, if not constantly then at least often enough to give yourself more photo opportunities. There are a few reasons to do this.

One, of course, is sunrises. When the clocks are turned back a couple of weeks from now, you’ll have a brief window when the sun will be coming up slightly later than before, but as the days grow shorter, you won’t have that luxury for long. Granted, unless sunsets are your stock in trade, you may not be doing this sort of thing constantly, but it’s nice to have the option every now and again.

Besides sunrises, there’s another reason to be up early: the “golden hours.” Some of your best lighting — lovely, rich sidelighting that you won’t find when your subject’s being washed out by the midday sun — comes in the hours around sunrise and sunset. Sunsets are easy enough to catch (we’re already up and at ’em by then, after all), but if you’re missing out on the dawn hours, you’ve cut your chances of taking advantage of that type of lighting in half. This is, of course, compounded when you stop to conisder that a subject that isn’t lit quite right at dusk might be perfectly lit at dawn.

Of course, if you don’t have to be at work the next morning, you also don’t have to limit yourself to setting the clock for six A.M., either. Try about four hours earlier. Photographing that late (or early, depending on how you look at it) also has quite a bit going for it. If you’re in a city or town setting, it can be fun wandering the deserted streets with your camera, as long as the area’s sufficiently safe to do so. In addition, light pollution is generally a bit lower in the evening, so it can be easier if you’re trying for photos of the night sky.

If you’re not a morning person, or a very-late-in-the-evening person, it’s not as though you need to make a drastic change to your habits. Stick to what works for you and your body. But every so often, try to change things a bit. Doing something as simple as setting your alarm earlier and getting out with your camera can be a small, if temporary, change that has a significant impact on how you photograph the rest of the time. Not only is it a great education in using available light, it might also present you with shots you might not otherwise have gotten.

Getting the Most out of Photo Equipment Reviews


I’m a researcher. Not by trade, mind you, just out of habit. If there’s something I like, I learn more. If there’s something about which I’m curious, I find out what I can about it. And if I’m going to spend my hard-earned money on it, you can bet your hard-earned money that I’m going to do my homework first. This is vital with camera gear for a number of reasons, and I’d like to give you a few pointers out of getting the most out of your research so you can get more out of your money while you’re at it.

The first step needs to start with you, before you even start doing your research. Namely, you need to figure out not only what you need, but also what you need it for. Having a ton of information’s not going to get you very far if it’s the wrong information, or all the right information on precisely the wrong piece of equipment. To simplify this a little, let’s assume you’re in the market for a new lens. The first issue is whether you own a lens of that type (let’s say it’s a long telephoto) currently. If so, you need to ask yourself why you need the new one, and be honest. In what ways would it represent a step up from what you’ve got? Reliability? Performance (i.e. more reach than what you currently own)? Or is it just the allure of owning the newest whatzit on the market? If not, what limitations are you noticing on your photography because of what you own now? Are those limitations the result of the gear, or is there something that you could/should be doing differently with the existing equipment that you’re not doing now? And so on… The point is, be clear not only on what you’re buying, but why you’re buying it. Sometimes this results in talking yourself out of a new piece of equipment for one or more reasons, but just as often it means knowing what to look out for while you’re doing your research.

Let’s say, then, that you’ve decided what you need and why you need it. You’re in the market for a long telephoto because the 18-55 that came with your camera has been fine within its limits, but it doesn’t reach quite far enough. After careful consideration, you start researching your options. One of the best ways to do this is not by visiting a single site, but several of them. Below, I’ve listed a few types of sites (with examples), and the reason why you need to visit at least one of each over the course of your research.

Start with the manufacturer’s website. The manufacturer isn’t going to give you an unbiased review of the piece (it’s the job of the Marketing folks to try to sell you more crap whether you need it or not, after all), but at the very least, you’ll find out your options (some of which you may not otherwise have considered, or even been aware of) and the specs for each. This can save you the trouble of having to redo the other steps that follow because you forgot, or missed, a viable option.

Next thing you’ll want to do is check up on one of the more established photography magazines or websites. Popular Photography,, the BJP (British Journal of Photography) and others of their ilk generally get their hands on the equipment first, and will usually subject it to rigorous testing.* These tests are based less on informal/anecdotal evidence than on standardized tests that will look for things like distortion, chromatic aberrations, and precise measurement of things like autofocus times. You can skip straight to the conclusion of the review, where the reviewer will usually lay out the pros and cons of a particular piece in short form, or go through the entire thing for a detailed explanation. Take notes. There’s a quiz later (I’m kidding. Probably.)

Having done that, I’d now suggest going where the consumers are, on sites like Amazon, B&H, and Adorama. Pay attention to what you find. If an issue is only mentioned once or twice in 100 reviews, you can probably chalk it up to sample variation. If, on the other hand, 48 of those same 100 say that a lens vignettes at its wide end, or has consistent color fringing, that’s something to pay attention to, because it’s much more likely to be something baked into that lens’s DNA. Also take into consideration the reviewer’s skill/experience level. Sometimes a less-experienced photographer may praise a piece of equipment because they don’t know what flaws to look for, or may give it a poor review because they don’t have the experience to put it to better use; a more experienced photographer is going to have a somewhat more discerning eye, and is also generally going to be able to use a piece as intended.

Another great resource is Flickr, since you can sort photos by camera body and lens used. Test charts have their uses, but there’s nothing like being able to see real-world results taken with the body/lens combination you’re researching. These aren’t reviews in the traditional sense, but they’re very useful information, and the discussion that takes place on some of the forums can be a lot more useful than the number of stars something’s gotten.

Perhaps most importantly, once you’ve done your research and your mind’s just about made up, get to a camera shop. Test the stuff. Take plenty of shots so you can get a feel for the piece before you buy.** I know I sound like a broken record when it comes to indie camera shops, but you’ve got someone right there who can answer your questions, you can try the gear before buying it, and if you come across a lousy sample or two, you can try others ’til you come across one that fits your needs, rather than mailing stuff back and forth to your online retailer of choice.

To sum things up: I don’t think there’s a single information source out there that’s a magic bullet. There’s no way you can safely visit just one site or store and then just decide you’re done. Your best bet is to check out multiple sources, aggregate your results, and follow what your sources, your gut, and your experience tell you.

*I say “usually” because I’ve seen occasions when they assigned a review to someone who had an obvious bias toward one brand over another, or not enough experience with something to be able to really provide useful information about it.

**I recently wandered into a camera shop to buy a strap, and was looking at a third party wide-angle lens. The person who tried to sell it to me assured me that it had “practically no distortion.” I asked if he minded me taking some shots to try it out. He didn’t. I tried a couple of shots of the shelves, and something looked a bit “off.” So, just for the hell of it, I aimed for the drop ceiling in the store and fired off a few shots at varying focal lengths. Without blowing them up, I saw some pretty serious barrel distortion. Needless to say, I didn’t buy the lens, and will avoid that salesman the next time I go to that shop.

Review: Unforgettable: Images That Have Changed Our Lives, by Peter Davenport

Unforgettable: Images That Have Changed Our Lives, by Peter Davenport

What makes an iconic image? What makes a painting, photo, sculpture, drawing or even logo indelible in our minds? What, in short, makes it unforgettable?

In Unforgettable: Images That Have Changed Our Lives, Peter Davenport argues that the best images are those that transcend their context — time, place, and sometimes even their original meaning — to take on a meaning that’s both broader and deeper. These are images that need only to be named, and their power is such that we recall them instantly. Not in an abstract sense, mind you. Very specific images.

After a very brief introduction, Davenport spends the next 240-odd pages proving his point in a striking and, I’d even argue, polarizing fashion. Roughly half of the people who see this book, or to whom you show it will be convinced that it’s genius, and the other half, give or take a few, will be convinced that it’s utter crap. Here’s why: Each of the aforementioned 240-ish pages is nothing more than a blank page adorned with a caption, a credit, and the year in which the photo, art object, or logo first appeared. That’s it. That’s all she (or he, in this case) wrote.

And therein, I think, is what makes this work. Just to give you an example, on facing pages, we find Grim Natwick’s Betty Boop squaring off with Grant Wood’s American Gothic. Other bits and pieces of visual history, from the book’s earliest image John T. Daniels’ 1903 photo of the Wright Brothers’ first takeoff) to its latest (the Towers of Light that commemorate the World Trade Center) and all points in between (the Hindenburg explosion, the Swastika, the Golden Arches) are left to unspool in chronological order, sometimes resulting in interesting juxtapositions.

Which brings me to the only gripe I have with this book, and it’s a minor one, at that. I understand the logic behind sequencing the book chronologically, but I think it’d be interesting to see the book done in the form of a card deck or even on the walls of a museum. For one thing, it leads to more opportunities for interesting juxtapositions. For another, while I’d argue that each of these images has a certain power in its own right (hence their longevity), I’d also argue that certain images are more powerful than others (with the relative “stickiness” of the image depending to some degree on the viewer’s own preferences, knowledge, and experience). 

At some point — and this is why I think there’s more to this book than meets the eye, if you’ll forgive the pun — the juxtapositions leave the page. Most of us, if not all of us, have seen the photo of Lyndon Johnson being sworn in on Air Force One in the wake of John F. Kennedy’s assassination, for instance. But when all you’ve got is a blank page with a caption, leaving your imagination to literally fill in the blanks, something curious starts to happen. The images start to superimpose themselves, one over another (in Johnson’s case, it was hard for me to shake the image of the self-immolation of the Buddhist monk Quang Duc, “depicted” only a couple of pages earlier).

Sometimes, then, this results in the images communicating with one another in ways far more effective than if the editor had simply printed them side-by-side. Whether Davenport intended it or not, by leaving the pages blank, he made the images less a literal fact and made them something both more free and more resonant. All of which is a long way of saying that for all the things this is — a trip down memory lane, a test of visual and cultural literacy, a testimony to the power of the image — what it’s not is as glib or as slight as it might at first come off.

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Here’s Your Permission Slip.

Knock, knock...

Hopefully neither of you will mind if I do a little thinking aloud in this post. I realized something today: I’ve read an awful lot of books on photography in the few years. Some covered technique, some had a more philosophical bent, and still others were just collections of great photos from the last 150 years, give or take a couple of decades. We’re talking thousands of pages, thousands more photos, and countless pieces of advice (some of it explicitly contradictory).

In some cases, I knew quite well what I was looking for, especially when someone had some technical knowledge to impart that’d help me nail some setting or compositional technique or other. Sometimes, with the more philosophical stuff, it helped to read someone whose ideas and philosophical approach to the craft were close to my own; it’s nice to have your thinking validated to some degree I suppose, and/or to find out you’re not (that) crazy. And the collections of photos were great for inspiration and visual literacy… 

Every once in a while, though, I found and still find that I come away from all that stuff — the thinking, the knowledge, the input, even the inspiration — feeling like I’m missing something. I finally figured out that all of this amounts to nothing more than asking permission. Not to pick up a camera (once the bug bit, it was already too late for that) or to get the pictures themselves, but to just let go. It’s taken (or taking) me a while to realize that sometimes what we need isn’t more knowledge, more technique, more inspiration, or more stuff. Sometimes it’s more about letting go of all that, and not worrying so damned much whether you’ve got enough of it. Face it: you do not know enough. You will not know enough, ever, since the more you know, the more you start to get the broad outlines of how little you know and how much you have yet to learn. And that ignorance (I use the word literally, not pejoratively) is enough to intimidate the hell out of you if you care about something enough to have learned about it in the first place. You start to realize that if you’re waiting for enough knowledge, or the right knowledge, you are and will remain paralyzed.

At some point, then, you just have to say, “enough,” and mean it. Know that you have enough, even when it doesn’t feel like nearly enough, and even when you’re told it’s not enough. Improvise, learning as you go, allowing and even welcoming the mistakes. That kind of faith feels rash and counterintuitive, but having faith that what you’ve got is sufficient to get you started can mean the difference between taking those faltering first steps and remaining perfectly, frustratingly still. Maybe we need to set our knowledge aside in order to move past our ignorance?

If you were anything like me in elementary school, you probably came thisclose to missing out on some cool stuff ’cause you were probably a bit late with a permission slip or three. When it comes to your craft, whether it’s photography or something else altogether, stop waiting for permission. Don’t wait for someone else to tell you it’s okay, or that now you’re ready. Indulge, experiment, screw up/succeed beyond your wildest dreams. You don’t need permission, not mine or anyone else’s. And if you’re still waiting for it after reading all this, what you need is not permission, but a swift kick in the ass. You want permission? It’s already yours for the taking… the only catch is, you have to give it to yourself.

The Habit of Seeing: Inside the Frame

Figure 1

So after last week, you’re paying much closer attention to what’s outside the viewfinder and outside the frame, right? All well and good, but since we’re dealing with photography here, at some point you’re going to have to, or want to, raise the finder to your eye and actually make a photo. You didn’t think all this seeing business was done just ‘cause you’d figured out what you wanted to photograph, didja?

Okay, so you’re looking through your viewfinder, and there’s your subject, large as life. You’d think you’d be all set at this point. Not quite yet. The same “rules” apply once you’re looking through the finder that applied before you decided on your subject; you still have to apply the same critical process to what’s going on in your finder that you did to what was going on in the larger world outside it.

Figure 2

Consider Figure 1. When I took this shot, I was paying closer attention to the performance artist, capturing her movements and facial expression. It wasn’t ‘til after the shot was made that I took notice of the rest of what was in the frame. Luckily, the apparatus on which she was performing – picture a carbon fiber monopod-cum-stilts thingy, which had her, and the other two women performing with her, tracing long, graceful arcs through the air – was going to bring her back to the area in another swing or two, so I changed my perspective a little, recomposed my shot, waited for it… and ended up with what you see in Figure 2.

There are other things to look for, some of which can be codified into rules (like the Rule of Thirds and the Golden Mean, both of which we’ll stop to consider another time) and others of which have more to do with simple esthetics and personal taste. Sometimes, as with the acrobats shown in the first shots, there’s no getting around the visual distractions, like power lines, traffic lights, and buildings. Among the considerations here weren’t just the crowds, but also the fact that a sizeable area around the performers was cordoned off, for both their and the audience’s safety, so certain shots and angles were off limits. Other circumstances (like shooting on a boat or in a moving car) present similar challenges, since moving in one direction or another can mean the difference between being safe or not.

Figure 3

When that’s the case, you can either look for a different angle, or even for a different subject. Bear in mind that while those background elements can be maddening sometimes – nobody wants a telephone pole sticking out of their head, no matter how good you’ve made the rest of them look – they can also be useful, if used right. You can give a sense of context, or even add touches to your photo that can be a bit disorienting (and therefore compelling in their own right).

Developing a habit of seeing as a part of cultivating your vision means broadening your vision. As we saw last week, we can’t afford to neglect what’s going on outside the frame or the finder; similarly, we can’t ignore what’s going on inside the frame when the decisive moment comes… otherwise, we’re left with a decisively bad photo.

Rule 17: Shoot Where You Are

Missing Pieces (San Juan, Puerto Rico)

I have to admit, I experience travel envy. It’s the season for street fairs, which invariably means photographers showcasing their work.* Some shoot scenes with which I’m already well-acquainted (in and around Manhattan, for instance, or various locales on the Jersey shore), but some also have gorgeous shots made in Italy, Spain, and elsewhere, and that’s where the envy sets in.

Gimme a ticket to Barcelona, or Buenos Aires… hell, even Boston, I think to myself, and then I snap back to reality. In photography, as with so much else, you’re always where you’re supposed to be, even if you’re not always immediately sure why that is. And that’s part of the problem, in a way; it all starts with the why. Figure out your why, and the other questions start to fall into place (what goes in the viewfinder? How do I frame it?), but without it, your why might as well be, “Why take this photo?”

I understand the restlessness, believe me. I photograph quite a bit on foot (and there are reasons for this, which I’ll take up later), but when you’re photographing within walking distance – whether it’s a walk from your home or from your car – the grass is always greener, the scenery or the people that much more interesting, somewhere just out of reach. Cut that out, because if you keep doing that, you’re not going to be present in the moment, or present to your surroundings. Your eye’s in the viewfinder, but your mind… well, it’s wandered off somewhere else, and at some point, your photos are going to reflect that. Being an absent-minded photographer can be bad enough (I speak from experience), but taking absent-minded photos isn’t helping you either.

This, for me, is the bottom line: the things that make a good photo are completely independent of geography. The fundamentals of exposure, lighting, composition and the like all apply whether you’re in Peoria or Paris. Yes, if you plunk a good photographer down in Salvador during Carnival, s/he’s going to get some breathtaking shots. But that same photographer could also, in all likelihood, walk out their front or back door and capture something that you’d want to frame and put on your wall. If, on the other hand, you take a bad or mediocre photographer, it doesn’t matter whether you give them a round-trip ticket to Venice or Venice Beach, they’re just going to come back with dull photos of exotic locations.

Try making the most of where you are. It can be challenging (or even trying, depending on how often you see the same stuff day in and day out), but that challenge can also be a part of what aids the growth of your craft. Besides, it doesn’t have to be exactly the same spot every time; if you can learn to appreciate, and find the photos in, your everyday surroundings, it becomes much easier when you’re in a fresh environment to find something that’s unique, or a unique way to approach the same stuff that we’ve all seen.

*It also invariably means at least one tent with some Peruvian guy playing Abba songs on a Pan flute, band accompaniment optional.

Photo News Roundup, 10/15/11

El Morro, Viejo San Juan

Still feeling the pinch from the devastating earthquake and power plant meltdowns in Japan, Nikon and Sony now have further issues to deal with. The massive rainfall in Thailand — which has plagued the country since July and killed at least 250 people thus far — has now caused catastrophic flooding to an industrial complex that houses manufacturing for those companies and a multitude of others. (Adorama)

The UK treating its photographers like terrorists is nothing new, but this one’s a new high in low: a man was questioned by police for taking photos in a Glasgow shopping mall. The apparent “security risk”? He was taking snaps of his own four-year-old daughter. (BBC)

CanonRumors reports major announcements coming on October 18, with events scheduled in the Netherlands and Singapore. Their sources indicate an amalgamation of the 1D and 1Ds lines, resulting in an 18mp, 12fps full-frame camera.

Sony’s A65 and A77 get firmware updates (thus far only rolled out in Asia) as do Panasonic’s G3 and GF3. (

EOSHD editorializes on the passing of film for filming, which would seem premature ’til you consider that Kodak is slowly circling the drain, and Canon is setting up a Professional Support Center in Hollywood ahead of their much-hyped November 3 announcement. Also, Panasonic’s GH2 is getting support for the 176 mbit AVCHD codec, which previously had been relegated to high-end (read: really expensive) video cameras.

LeicaRumors has news of the just-opened “You Are Here” street photography exhibit in LA, and also says that Leica will be releasing a firmware update that remedies the memory card issue that’s plagued the M9.

Speaking of Leica, MirrorlessRumors raises an interesting point: if Kodak goes under, Leica needs to find someone else to fabricate their sensors (the M9 uses a Kodak sensor).

A new game called “Warco” (that’s short for War Correspondent) puts a whole new spin on “first person shooter,” as the person playing the game does so from the POV of a videographer. (Nathaniel Chadwick)

Nikon has two more-or-less concurrent press events coming up, one in Morocco from October 24-26, and the other in Australia from October 23-26. The D800 is expected to be announced at some point during that time, but no word yet on whether the replacement for the just-discontinued SB-900 speedlight will also be replaced at that point. In unrelated news, Nikon is justifying its price increases on the grounds that it will cut unauthorized dealers out of the picture (nope, didn’t make sense to me, either). (NikonRumors)

Sigma releases a limited-edition SD-1 camera that’s encased in some rare hardwood or other; it reminds me of how everything made by Radio Shack ’til about 2004 had that simulated wood grain finish… Amazon shows the Fuji X-10 with a November 7 street date. Pentax, on the other hand, rather sheepishly admits that they won’t be releasing anything else this year, and that any indications to the contrary were typographical errors. (PhotoRumors)

Users of the Sony A65 and A77 may have noticed some AF issues if they’re using Sigma lenses. Sigma’s apparently noticed as well, and to their credit, they’ve moved quickly to address the issue (Leica, take note);  they’re offering to retrofit users’ lenses, free of charge, to work with the newer cameras, and will rectify the problem going forward. (Sony Alpha Rumors)

A Photo A Day…


…keeps the boredom away, if nothing else. There are dozens of photo-a-day sites out there, good for everything from a shot of inspiration, to a case of goosebumps. Looking at others’ best work and happy accidents can be just the thing sometimes to break us out of our own creative doldrums, or remind us of what’s possible with camera in hand. The sites below, with commentary, are a handful of my favorites (no piano-playing cats, promise).

In no particular order:

Slate/Magnum Today’s Pictures: Magnum, the legendary photo agency founded by Capa, Cartier-Bresson, Seymour, et al. and Slate, the somewhat less legendary online magazine owned by the Washington Post Company, team up daily to publish thematic photo essays assembled from the vast Magnum archives. The essays are a mixed bag, sometimes tied to current events, others to history, and some (like yesterday’s photo essay for World Sight Day) focused elsewhere.

 Earthshots is essentially a perpetual photo contest. Participants from various points on the map send in their photos, with one per day chosen as the winner and featured on the site. There’s no fee to enter, the conditions aren’t onerous like they are with many other photo contests, and whether or not you choose to enter, each day’s winning entry is generally of very high quality.

A Photo A Day is exactly what it says, and consists largely of documentary photography. The site navigation is frustrating (half the links don’t go where they should, when they go anywhere at all), but the photography is worth the occasional broken link and blind alley.

A Photo A Day From Planet Earth, like Earthshots, attracts photographers from all over the globe, though in this case it’s not billed as a contest. The photos on display are as eclectic as the photographers who took them, with landscapes cheek by jowl with portraits rubbing shoulders with architectural photography and cityscapes.

Astronomy Picture of the Day is a daily bit of photography from NASA that’s quite literally out of this world.

PhotoColumn is a great resource… it proves that photojournalism is far from a dead art form (even if the pay isn’t quite what it used to be), gathering photo columns from several local papers. It is “…dedicated to the advancement of story telling, one picture at a time.” is a lively community of photographers of varying skill levels, and their site has a random image selector that trawls its database of members’ photos. It’s an easy way to kill an hour if you’re not careful.

Finally, CityDailyPhoto is a compendium of photo-a-day sites and blogs from around the globe. You can use the site to find your city of choice, or just vicariously travel the world through someone else’s eyes.