This Picture Sucks


and so do yours

#14. Fake polaroids and film borders

Marco Polo would be lost looking for something that screams wannabe more than using a $2000 computer and $500 piece of software to try and emulate the look of a $15 camera and a $1 piece of film. It makes you wonder where evolution stopped and the internet kicked in, I’m gonna say it was around where someone set up a mySpace page for their WoW guild.

I’m going to ignore the obvious failure that often surround film borders: faking roll film on a number of pics without changing the frame number, color pics on b&w stock, inverted slide film, etc. There’s a lot of it pitfalls, but like VD, they can be avoided if you think for a moment.

Just look at this black and white Fujifilm Velvia shot I found. Goddamn amazing:

It’s also a self portrait for a 365 project. Fail triptych.

What’s harder to fake is the fact that the images coming out of your cheap-ass DSLR or P&S are nothing like the images that come out of a medium/large format or polaroid cam. Did you know that most polaroid cams have, at most, two apertures? And that the image size is as big as the end print. Those cams just cannot pull off that “sharp from 20 inches to infinity” look your cell phone gives you. Large format images just flat out look different. Ask yourself, are you really doing your photography to impress people that are impressed by cheap gimmicks?

Yeah, you probably are.


Filed under: thelist

#13. Universal zooms

I don’t hate zooms, I know there’s a lot of people that do, but seriously dudes, get out of the house. Zooms are fine for lots of types of photography. I don’t actually do any of them, but I know they have their uses, especially to people making a living doing photography. Cause then you have to get the shot, that’s what your client is paying you for. They want to see their kid shoot a soccer goal, they want to see their favorite car coming around the corner, they want you to document something.

Thing is, you’re not a pro, yet you’re the owner of a universal zoom. The only reason you have for using a zoom is that you’re a lazy ass. Yes, that magic lens of yours that goes from 18mm to 200mm, delivering mediocrity at all focal lengths and fucking up your learning experience as you go along.

You say: “It allows me to avoid changing lenses.” I say: “You’re retarded.” See, using a normal prime lens will also allow you to avoid changing lenses. It’ll also be faster, cheaper and give you better image quality. What’s more, it will help you stop sucking faster. What happens when you use a single focal length is you start to see what your camera is going to see at that FL before you even lift it to your eye. You start composing images without your camera, like goddamn magic. It’s a skill dudes over on FM can’t buy, so it’s rarely talked about, but it’s so worth it.

Other than laziness, the only reason to own a zoom like that is for the dick-extension effect. That only works until another dad shows up at the soccer field with a 1D cam and a white L lens and makes everybody else look like porn star rejects.

Filed under: thelist

Don’t fret

Dudes, don’t fret, I will be back as soon as I sober up after the weekend.

Filed under: whorin'

#12. The tilt-shift effect

If there’s one trite, cliched effect that was 2008’s version of Elvis painted on velvet, it was faux-tilt photography. Often called tilt-shift, because people tend to have no idea what the fuck they’re talking about – ain’t no shift in any of these pics, the faux-tilt effect involves photoshopping an image to make it look like the plane of focus was tilted. Now, usually grown up photographers will tilt a the plane of focus to increase apparent DoF, that is, to make more things in focus.

The flavor of the month club did it the other way, creating an illusion of shallow DOF. When you apply that to a picture of a landscape or urban scene, it looks a bit like a model. Now, the first time I saw this on some Japanese photographer’s website, I thought: hey, that’s kinda cool. Dude took a tilt-shift lens, tilted it and did a whole series. Like Nonce said, it was dope at the time.

Not much time passed before kool and the flickr explore gang realized that, hey, “I can rip off this effect in photoshop too!” Suddenly everybody was doing it, which is another way of saying it was a fucking train wreck. Fake tilt-shift is hilariously easy to spot, since it actually requires more work than hitting a button in an action. It requires you to think in 3D, to consider where a plane of focus would intersect, how would this element be rendered at this distance from that plane, etc.

Something this dude would do well to figure out, ya know?

Here’s a pre-weekend pro-tip: stop doing gimmick photo editing to save your boring pics and just go take some new ones. I know it’s hard, you have to get off your ass, you actually have to concentrate and you take a lot of shitty pictures before getting something decent. Honestly though, it’s worth it, and it’s a lot better than staying home with photoshop and waiting for the King to die on the shitter again.

Filed under: thelist

#11. Save your overexposed/underexposed/completely messed up shot

There’s a shitload of things you can do technically wrong while taking a picture. The smaller your camera, the fewer of them there are. It takes something like 18 steps to use a view camera to take a picture, it takes two to do it with a digital P&S – compose and shoot. And yet, all of us manage to fuck all of them up at least once, and at least one of them a lot of the time.

A lot of bytes on the tubes are relegated to discussing how to fix your pics. Push or pull exposure in RAW, saturate, crop, sharpen to fix missed focus, desaturate, etc. Now look, I’m not some kind of Get It Right In Camera nazi, especially knowing what I know about processing RAW files, but I am going to share a technique to proven to make you a better photographer:

Stop polishing turds.

Delete that shit and go take a better picture. Yeah, you have a bit of latitude, but that’s just it – a bit. Stop wasting time pushing an all black image into some retard’s idea of 1980s pop art. Your kid did something cute? They’re gonna do it again. Your cat is going to play with a dustball again. Especially since that when you’re starting out, you’re going to improve dramatically. Whatever you’re shooting right now is stuff you’re going to be embarrassed by a year from now.

Stuff like this isn’t the answer, you’re just embarrassing yourselves.


I don’t support anybody with this website, it’s just for the hell of it. I have a real job so I don’t need to beg for donations and referral click-throughs.

If you haven’t helped yet, don’t. Go out and get loaded instead.

Thanks for reading!

Filed under: thelist

Gimmick tutorial: Silhouettes

Thanks to the magic that is the internet, I read Thomas Hawk’s tweet about silhouettes, which lead me to this article about photographing silhouettes. Now, I’m thinking, what kind of mouthbreather do you have to be to need that kind of tutorial. Eight steps to take a picture without a lit foreground? How about one step: take a picture of something that’s backlit while exposing for the background. I just saved you dudes a good 5 minutes reading that article.

Now you have a gimmick you can use instead of actually being creative and taking a good picture!

Filed under: tutorials

Canon Rebel T1i/500D Press Release Review

Since reviewing press releases is like half of what passes for online photography journalism right now, I might as well get in on it, ya hurd?

It’s as inevitable as the tide, every time Nikon or Canon release a new camera, the trans-intertube butthurt extravaganza commences. All over blogs and forums, self-styled expert photographers dismiss the new features and functions of cameras they’re going to buy anyway. Mad that, once again, none of the 4 or 5 bodies made by either company fits their exact shooting style. “Why isn’t this dedicated studio camera made from a diamond-titanium alloy!?”, they ask before making a joke about how their wife won’t let them buy it anyway. Ha-ha, you’re so funny!

In a big ol’ fuck you to PMA, Canon released the Rebel T1i/500D a couple weeks later, and what can I say – it’s a Rebel, what the hell were you expecting? The days of revolution are over, it’s all evolution now in pseudo-35mm land. It looks like one of the previous Rebels, I think. I’m not really sure what they look like. No second dial, you set all the options on that big LCD on the back, nothing new here.

What’s new is the HD video. It’s a shame dudes crippled it the way they did, with that 20fps 1080P mode. On the other hand, if your main camera costs $600, do you really need 1080P? What you have here is a $600 (that’s how much the XSi is right now) HD movie camera. How fucking awesome is that? You get a sensor the size of a movie frame, changeable lenses and high quality 3200 ISO for $600! Goddddamn.

It has all the limitations of using a film camera: short max clip run time, it requires external audio so you’ll have to have a dude clapping to mark it, it requires a tripod, etc. You actually have to shoot video like it’s on purpose. You can’t videocam it, shoot a 3 hour take and cut it down to 15 minutes, you actually have to plan ahead. As someone who watches that stuff later, that’s not a bad thing.

My prediction on who’s going to buy this: anybody who was going to buy a Rebel anyway and film students.

And possibly Ken Rockwell.

Filed under: reviews

#10. Selective color

If there’s a way to keep the 80s alive, selective color would be it. The granddaddy of cheap effects you saw on posters as a kid, it involves keeping one element in color while the rest of the pic goes monochrome. Combining the aesthetics of a rotting corpse with the subtlety of a 2×4 across the face, it’s something to avoid like the plague. If I ever start thinking “this seems like a good effect”, I’m going into to get checked for a brain tumor or possibly pine for a bullet to ease the pain.

With the advent of cheap digital photo editing, selective color is like herpes. It rarely flares up, but it never really goes away.

Photography has these things called composition and focus. They’re really awesome as far as directing the viewers eyes to what the photographer wants them to see, subtle and able to add additional depth to the image at the same time. All these things that selective color are not.

Filed under: thelist

#9. Get in closer

Robert Capa is often quoted as saying, “If your photographs aren’t good enough, you’re not close enough.” Which, like a lot of quotes, is misunderstood. Just look at Capa’s photographs and tell me how many of them are super closeups. Yeah, that many. As much as I like a nice close-up portrait now and again, as a general rule, it’s something to avoid because extreme close-ups tell us NOTHING.

Look at it this way, when you frame a pic like this, what does it tell you about the subject:

It’s a dude with a slightly emo haircut. Anything else? What’s the connection, why is he important, what’s going on? Is he a musician from Norway or a cab driver in South Africa? There’s nothing there, you just move on. A face might tell a story, but you can usually fit it on the back of a matchbook. Or this pic:

It’s a pretty nice image that doesn’t tell us anything. Sure, you can look in the comments on that bad boy, the photographer wrote up two paragraphs explaining the pic. That’s like a voice over in a movie. Dudes, get it right the first time, out of the gate.

Take a step back, show us some surroundings, show us some context – not just a face. Tell us a story, engage us, we’re not looking at your pics for our health.

And, dude, if you’re using macro tubes to be able to focus, you are waaaaay too close. Nobody needs to see those pores.

Filed under: thelist

#8. Fisheye lenses

If there’s one way to make sure every single picture you take look exactly the same, it’s to shoot them with a fisheye. Nothing says: “I haven’t had this camera for a long time” like a gallery full of fisheye shots. The ultra wide angle, the distortion, it’s all so creative. And by creative, I mean extremely mundane.

Think back, once again, to your favorite photographs throughout history. Look at how many of them were shot with fisheyes. None? Surprise, surprise. Let’s look at a fisheye image:

Fisheye, HDR and a goddamn border – it’s like scoring a hat trick at the game of ugly.

It’s no surprise there are so many fisheye HDRs out there, they’re both methods that try to mimic creativity. Shit’s worse than a toupee, you ain’t foolin’ nobody.

Here’s my advice: if you want to shoot with a fisheye, get yourself a Zenitar 16mm f/2.8. They cost a whopping $100 or so, depending on how well the dollar is doing, and come with mounts for any camera system worth a damn. Stick it on a cheap-ass film body or a full frame DSLR, if your dick swings that low, and shoot 3 or 4 rolls. Like that one time in high school when you wondered what’d it be like to make out with a dude, you should just do it and get it out of your system.

Filed under: thelist