This Picture Sucks


and so do yours

High-budget douchebaggery

In the past, I have written about the pitfalls of faking film frames. Now, you’d think that kind of stuff doesn’t happen in the high budget world of big-name productions. Of course, you’d be wrong. Mr. Hudson’s Supernova is a great example of bad ideas going wrong. They managed to keep the frame numbers flowing, but forgot that Kodak 400TX is a black and white stock.

I wrote this in 2009, might as well publish it.


Filed under: shit that grinds my gears

#20. Sob Stories

Photographers, when you comment on something you don’t like in one of the images, will often reply with, “yeah, I know but…”. From their mouths comes a tale of exactly why they didn’t do what they know they should have done. Be it not messing up the exposure, composing better, not missing the moment, getting a better expression, whatever. Additionally, many photographs come with stories attached, tales of how our intrepid shutterbug braved the snow, freezing temperatures and harsh topographical conditions to get their image. There is really only one honest reply to these explanations and tales:

I don’t care.

Truth be told, nobody really cares, even if we pretend we do. The reason is as simple as it is difficult for online photographers to grasp: The image is the only thing that matters.

Look, there are only two kinds of images we see: those that we like and those that we don’t like. Those that we like, we already like. We’re not going to like them more just because they have a story attached, just like I wouldn’t like my TV any more if I knew the guy who put it together only had one hand. Who cares, I’m already sold. And images we don’t like… well, we just don’t like them. The greatest story in the world isn’t going to change what’s on the print. It’ll be a great story with a shitty picture to go along with it.

That’s the thing, it’s really all about the image. This is photography, it’s not mixed media, it’s not an art installation with piss-stained rags lit by a laser shining through a pig’s head. It’s the image, the print, the jpg, the whatever. Build a museum around a shitty picture, and it’ll still suck.

So stop it. Stop trying to defend your work, telling sob stories of how the model wasn’t cool, how you couldn’t get the lights to fire, of how it was so cold outside and whaaaaaaaaaa. Stop showing subpar work and making excuses for it when someone calls you out on it. Be better than that, be a photographer whose work you’d actually like to look at. It’s a lot harder than it seems.

Filed under: thelist

Sorta back, but not really.

For some reason or another, I’ve started looking at the photography reddit. Let me say that those people make the RFF crowd look like a group of well adjusted photographers, who hold a healthy interest in their craft.

Filed under: shit that grinds my gears

The Pose – Dude Edition

I’ve written of the pose, now here it is as you hope to never see it again:

Filed under: shit that grinds my gears

Nikon D300s and D3000 Press Release Review

Today, or possibly yesterday as I don’t care enough to check, Nikon announced two cameras. Since reading a press release is all I actually need to do to write a review in 2009, here we go.

First we have the Nikon D3000, Nikon’s delayed response to the Canon 1000D. That adds another camera to the surprisingly lucrative aprox. $500 market. Honestly, I had a heavy lunch and am too lazy to study the specs, but it looks like every single cheap DSLR camera out on the market. Big LCD screen, long battery life, picture styles, small, etc. There really is only one selling point, and that it is it’s a Nikon and it’s gonna cost $500 retail. Oh, and the shutter is rated for 100k, and that’s pretty freaking sweet.

Says the battery is rated for 550 shots per charge, but that’s with a VR lens with the flash fired at full power every other shot. I could probably get 1000 shots out of it the way I shoot.

Then we have the Nikon D300s, which is a camera I remember telling people would probably not come out. This is an excellent reason why you shouldn’t read my reviews.

Now, the D300s is a lot cooler, giving you 7fps without one of those lame grips, better AF and HD video for $1500 (guessing). I wrote about HD video in DSLRs (have never used it, am a huge fan) in my 500D press review. It also has dual slots, which was previously the domain of pro cameras of lore. Looks like a solid upgrade, if this were a car we’d be calling this a facelift. Probably not a worthy upgrade if you have a D300, but if you’re looking for a crop Nikon, this is the one to get.

I would probably be all over this if I wanted a crop camera and had Nikon glass. I don’t, thank god.

Filed under: reviews

Creative Commons and the Case of the Hotel Pool Sperm

In the past, I’ve written on how fucked up Creative Commons licenses are for photographers. Thanks to my eFriends and the internets, I just found a great example of what I was talking about. posted a story about some polish teenager claiming she got preggers in a hotel swimming pool and her mom buying that load of bullshit and suing the hotel. Right next to the article there’s a picture of a girl in a swimming pool, that must be the chick from the story, right?

The girl in the picture isn’t Magdalena Kwiatkowska, it’s a self-portrait by flickr user santiana, who forever gets to have her image linked to terms like “teen pregnant from sperm in hotel swimming pool”. did nothing wrong, santiana used a CC license, as god intended.

Filed under: shit that grinds my gears

Clouds, the low-hanging fruit

The three most photogenic subjects to photograph in the world are babies, flowers and clouds. Of there three, babies require special access – someone has to let your virgin ass photograph their kid. Flowers require you to pay, or at least wait for spring or summer here in the part of the northern hemisphere where you aren’t allowed to either honor kill your sister or sleep with her. Now clouds, they’re free, they’re year round, just point your camera at the sky and fire away.

Ah yes, but what can you do if you have a flat sky, where nothing’s going on? You use photoshop, baby. Shot with a budget-busting $100, 4 year old digital point and shoot, look at what you can get with two moves of a slider in potatoshop:

Bam! From boring to dramatic kitsch in a couple seconds!

Filed under: tutorials


There are a lot of shitty sites about photography on the internet, I’ve highlighted a couple of them, but there are a couple of really decent ones. Luminous Landscape is one of them, and it’s pretty much the only place on the internet where you can talk about digital MF with people who’ve done more than read a PhaseOne press release.

I don’t like John Paul Caponigro. His dad, Paul Caponigro, is an incredible artist, easily one of the strongest expressive landscape shooters ever. John Paul is a photoshop jockey who could, on a good day, clean his father’s darkroom. All that said, he managed to write a pretty decent piece on composition for LL.

Composition is a goddamn trap for beginning photographers. People look at their shots and – doesn’t matter if they know what the hell they’re talking about – say stuff like, “oh yeah, I like the composition in this one.” Uh, yeah. Anyway, composition is simply order. It’s the act of ordering the objects and tones of a scene. That’s all there is to it.
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Filed under: aint hatin'

#19. Open Source

Spring is in the air and, as such, the idea of sitting at a computer for days on end seems about as much fun as getting hit by a car. It’s hard to be angry when the sun is shining and the breeze is blowing, so the blog has fallen into disrepair. Can’t promise it’ll be better before summer’s over.

Supposedly, 2009 is the year of the Lulnix desktop (like each of the 15 years before it) but like a hot 35 year old virgin, we all know it’s bullshit. Let’s face it, when your market penetration falls below a typical statistical margin of error, it’s hard to get developers excited by your system. That’s why the answer to most open source photography questions is: Get a Mac.
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Filed under: thelist

#18. Weekly photo assignments

Back when I started shooting digital, I thought photo assignments were awesome. The concept is kind of exciting, isn’t it? You get a topic to shoot, usually just a word, maybe two. Just like a real grown-up photographer! Then at the end of the week, your peers vote on the best pic and people go, “everybody turned in amazing work!” or some other crap nobody really believes.

The fail is two-fold with this one. First of all, there’s pretty much only one kind of photographer who works this way: the stock photographer. If you want make a career of taking boring pictures with no budgets of TFP models, then this is perfect for you. It is a great way to figure out how to illustrate simple concepts, like “failure” and “despair”, in a banal and obvious manner.

It keeps getting better, since your weekly contest jury is made up of people who thought that this shit was a good idea in the first place. You know that’s who I want rating my work, the dude I’ve been voting down for 3 weeks because he keeps posting color-toned flower macros.

Instead of shooting a weekly assignment, consider shooting one that last a month, three months, a year. Consider getting more than one shot out of it. Consider making it a coherent series of images, like one you’d see in a book, a magazine, possibly on the walls of a gallery. Or just spend another week trying to illustrate “boredom”.

Filed under: thelist