Dick’s Rant

Well here we are, supposedly twenty years later, and some of our photographic space odysseys have become distinctively odd. None more so than the ones we start on when we open the menu for our new camera and see what the factory designers have prepared for us. In 1968 when we went to the cinema to see Kubrick's 2001: A Space Odyssey we were shooting analog cameras and processing the results in chemicals. We were just about to be amazed at the success of computers in getting people on the Moon and were ready to accept the fact that one of them could turn rogue and start thinking for itself. Now when we open the camera or the phone we are all too ready to let these devices do just that - and to accept what they think as our opinion too...

This is a question I was asked at a hobby club when I was seen using an older camera. It was doing the job brilliantly, but when the questioner learned that the design is some 9 years old all credibility seemed to vanish. He'd bought a new camera last year, and while he had not learned how to operate it yet, he felt that surely it must be better. When I told him I had bought mine as new, old stock when a replacement was being sold he called me a madman. I was so pleased...

You may recall the movie or the song, but remember that every studio needs stands. Camera Stands, light stands, hot dog stands. ( well photography makes you hungry. ) General Custer used to make stands, but his last one was somewhat of a failure. I went looking in the Stirling Street shop for economical stands for the new video venture. Not for me - I have 6 or 8 Manfrotto light stands of various types and they have never failed me. I have a Gitzo tripod that is the same - and a home made studio stand that hasn't fallen over yet. I'm okay - it's my dancer model who needs to build up a dance studio set at her own home. And not at high prices. Could we do it? a. A tripod is needed. I don't care what the adverts show you about putting a mobile phone on a light stand - if you have to support it on the ground and it has to be at least up to navel height, you need a proper tripod.   The INCA tripod I discovered...

The term " Nifty Fifty " was coined a few years ago to make what was the standard focal length for the 35mm camera seem new and exciting for the DSLRs of the time. That's what advertising writers do - they attach adjectives to things and adverbs to actions and hope that you are interested enough to buy the gear. In the case of selling 50mm lenses they were trying to get another lens into the gadget bag to supplement the ubiquitous zoom lenses of the time. Whether these were kit inclusions or outside purchases, the price and design factors at the time meant that most zooms had moderately small maximum apertures and many had variable ones as well. The one-camera amateur might not ever really need more than the kit zoom but the lens makers needed more than one-lens sales. The choice of the 50mm length was a fine recollection of the film era - from the Leica Elmar onwards this focal length was considered the standard view of the world for the format and a great deal of effort was...

Note I didn't say " photogenic " avocados. The average Hass avocado is anything but beautiful. The tree is nice to look at, if a trifle straggly sometimes, but the fruit looks like a dark green version of Konrad Adenauer. But the end result of a good producing avocado is wonderful on toast. And if you have enjoyed the fruit you may be tempted to grow the seed into a new tree. Here is where it starts to intersect with the photo world; the advice you get about growing the blessed thing from different people. Camps of zealots contend over the best way of germinating the things and the best soils, fertilisers, watering regimes, etc. You could be forgiven for thinking it was a camera club meeting when someone asks about the best camera to buy...

I need help here - I need to talk to someone who breaks their camera on a regular basis. Not that I want to do the same thing - indeed I do all in my power to prevent damage to what is a delicate instrument. But I need to find someone who adopts a more adventurous attitude. Because I want to find out whether the half-case for a camera is a good thing. I may also need to talk to someone who travels extensively or who moves in more elegant circles than I. There may be clues to the half-case there. At present I'm stumped. And I'm in the fortunate corcumstance of being a half-case owner. I didn't get a no-name off FleaBay or out of the secondhand market, either. My half-case for the Fujifilm X-T2 came from Camera Electronic. I was fortunate in that there was a case available new long after the X-T2 was superseded  - it had hung round on the bargain shelves. A bit of money came my way and I bought it. Now I have to figure out...

And suppose it was the only photograph I had - of you or anyone else. The first photographs were such marvels that they set the civilised world - France, Germany, the United States - ablaze with wonder and interest. Even in backwater Britain, in the wilds of London, people clamoured to take pictures, to have their portrait taken, to possess images. And for some of them there could only be one image - the cost of the thing was far too dear to have more. The might have a daguerreotype in a union case or an albumin print in a paper slip - or just a tintype button. The face in it might be bleached out, or dim, or reversed. It might be blurred and it would almost certainly be serious, if not sombre. And it was very important to the person in it and the people who knew them. It was proof they existed for some period of time. The saddest portraits were those of people who had ceased to exist - young or old. Funereal and post mortem images being much...