Author: Uncle Dick

The question. If you are known to be connected with the photo trade - seller or shooter - or with the art or science or hobby or culture of it - someone will bail you up at a barbecue and ask you. You can grasp your chest and sink senseless to the ground but they'll still pester you as the ambos stretcher you away. " Is the Flapoflex better than the Digiclunk? Which lens should I get? How much discount do I get? Hello? Hello? Are you conscious?  Hello? " Save yourself the theatre and the St. John's fee. Have an answer ready instead. The short one will be to name the camera that you own. Just a word will be all that is needed to send your questioner off to someone else armed with this - they'll ask the same question again and get a different answer. Then off to a third one...

Yes, but in a crude form. The users of hairy and burnt sticks to make marks on dried wood pulp or rough cloth can certainly make interesting images. Many of the results are very colourful and decorative. The results can be large or small at will, and the makers seem to have avoided the horrors of colour management and resizing as they work. I'm not sure how much oil paints cost, but they cannot be more than inkjet cartridges...

Old advertising principle: you don't show a product you can't sell. Getting the crowd het up is the basis of a lot of advertising. Loosening wallets is a complex activity - there is an entire industry trying to analyse how to do it - but it's no good getting them ready to spend if there is nothing to spend on. When they are finally ready for the snake oil, have the bottles handy. This is a problem with some of the semi-advertising I do in this column. I see an item in CE, feature it a week later, and then find that it has sold out in the interim - leaving any readers who have gone into the shop on my say-so rather put out. I apologise for this, though I'm not sure why. Likewise, I have been dying to tell people to buy some things , but until the shop stocks them, I need to keep mum. At least the featured product today was there when I photographed it, and is a darned good idea. Similar products like it from other makers are also darned...

Aside from the fact that it is 15% over-saturated, 30% too dark, and has noise everywhere. The sun is in the wrong position and the flare from the lens is excruciating. There is no fibonacci curve or golden mean or rule of thirds anywhere in the frame and I suspect that even that is skewed - all the internal angles are greater than 90º. The paper is matte and the ink is gloss and several of the head jets are filled with dried insects. But it's perfect. Why? because it is a photo of something that is dearly cherished by someone else and you have presented them with an enlarged copy of it. The recipient of the gift sees through the thumb prints and coffee rings to the heart of the image, loves what you show - and takes no notice of how you show it. Contrast this idea with the famous set of platinum art prints made by Irving Penn in the 1950s of discarded cigarette butts picked up from New York gutters. Exquisite workmanship, fine art printing, careful technical brilliance....

Say what? Oh, no, we're not going to roast that old chestnut again. Climb the barricades, wave the HCB banner, and throw Leica rangefinders at the police. Would throwing Argus C-3's be more appropriate? They've got sharper corners. The age old debate about artificial versus natural light probably started when the first photographer put his cigar out in a pot of magnesium powder. It would have continued unabated through the tungsten and fluorescent tube era on to flashes - trays, sheets, bulbs, tubes etc. Purity, authenticity, sanctity, and artistry would have been invoked by one side to deny the chance for others to see in the dark and equally so by those who wanted to illuminate the world. In the last decade the fight has been taken out of the ring by the development of powerful amplifying circuits and noise-rinsers that let the nominative sensitivity of a sensor rise to fantastic heights. Starting with the Nikon D3 and continuing with their products - and those of other major makers  - the ability to photograph in places too dim to see in has become...

Sorry about the tortured English of the title - late night and too much coffee. What I really meant to say is " Here is a tracking gimbal mount for a very large telephoto lens that is not made with the Wimberley uni-pivot design. It's from the old masters of aluminium - Manfrotto. The design is double-pivot over a central training point with friction locks for the horizontal axis. It has a very simple but very sturdy construction - there has been no over-styling with it. The lower section of the support bracket has also been clad in a neoprene or rubber material - i suspect this is to assist photographers in cold weather conditions to avoid freezing to the metal. The mount is the standard large Manfrotto 577 sliding mount adapter that will couple to very large cameras and lenses. There is no more to this than what you see, but what it is is imminently usable and durable. I do note one bit of swank; they've included a plate that attributes the design to Graziano Ferrari. He turns out to be a...

Most of us have gotten used to using cameras that are pretty well automatic - even the Leica M users with their manual focus drop into the automatic slot as soon as they press the shutter release - the camera has measured the light to a precise degree and will do all the mathematics and electronic wizardry from that point on. Unless we are using the M1 to M4 cameras and then we have more tasks - and the users of the O-produkt are right back in the era of the starter handle and the mechanical brake. And loving it. Still, we need to learn how to use a Clutch...