blows against the empire music the value of X

links for 2007-03-24

blows against the empire the value of X

every hair on the bearskin rug

rambling post on the virtual world’s appeal over the physical, for some. This passage — RTWT for context — brought Brave New World to mind. Add in Xeni Jardin’s regular updates on teledildonics and we’re all going to be in little boxes pushing levers like monkeys or rats, but with more direct results than a couple of M&Ms can provide.

Partners are so 20th century:

I wonder what will happen when true virtual sex becomes available. Imagine a world where people can slap on some VR goggles and slip into a suit that simulates on one’s body everything experienced digitally. If watching/controlling some character alone is this popular, adding yourself into the mix with actual physical stimulation should become the most popular hobby on the planet, no?

blows against the empire


Took today off from any small screen activities, until now: I’m watching/listening to a sick child, so I have broken my self-imposed embargo. I have been working late nights on a yearbook for school (who decided elementary school kids need a yearbook?). 52 pages, plus cover, all color, tons of pictures, put together with a staff of not enough: call it 4. A bit weary of screen-based interactions . . .

A couple of links/excerpts below the fold, stuff I found in my catch-up reading.

Got a video camera for Father’s Day (two days early, but only so I would have it in hand to videotape the Nine-Year Old’s little league baseball championship game: they won, 4-0, good performances by all, including the aforementioned’s two scoreless innings in his final start). Pretty fun. I’ll be editing a small movie to give to the coaches, if I can get it done in time for the post-season dinner.
Three more days of school, then the inmates are released. If prior summers are any indication, mine’ll be ready to got back in a month. I think I would prefer to see school run year-round with longer breaks — a month at a time: take May, August and December off.

blows against the empire

the death of film, the rebirth of photography

Danger: long, rambling, exploratory post ahead.

Getting back to being a filmwasterâ„¢ I am spending more time in camera stores — not mall stores but dealers in paper, film, and more exotic cameras. I keep running into people, employees and customers alike, trying to make sense of how quickly digital photography has taken hold.

The present
The general consumer market became the early adopters, the opposite of what usually happens, since the equipment didn’t meet the requirements of professionals. The early digital cameras were new-fangled Instamatics with the added ability to share images and re-use them online. But those images were not good enough for professionals — wedding shooters, journalists — as they lacked the depth and detail of film. Also, the cameras were too limiting: no interchangeable lenses, limited exposure controls, all made for an unsatisfactory product.

The past
Ten years ago saw the introduction of .3 megapixel cameras for $500. Today, the same dollars will buy 6 megapixels. In the same timeframe, more or less, Kodak’s APS format film, the latest greatest option, was introduced and killed. The trend is always toward simple, easy to use cameras and film: 35mm was tricky for some people, after all. How much easier does it get when you have no film at all?

Everyone has a shoebox or two filled with pictures from vacations, birthday parties, graduations, probably no better or worse organized than the files on disk we are moving toward. Are these digital files as permanent as we think? Are they even as permanent as the old paper images?

Photography, for the home consumer, has been of two kinds: the kind where you took your own pictures and where you paid someone else with fancy equipment and perhaps a studio to take pictures. The quality of the “take it yourself” images has improved (though I’m not sure a good digital image can top a good Kodachrome transparency) and at the same time become more portable in the digital age. Sharing images is easier, more immediate, and that’s what many people want.

The other kind of photography, documentary or commemorative, however you define what happens at weddings and parties, has lost its perceived value. Everyone has a brother-in-law with a new digital camera who can take nice pictures, and it’s not always clear why someone would hire a professional to capture a moment or event. In many cases, the brother-in-law is not as good as hoped but the moment is gone. Lighting, timing, the experience of setting up shots — as all weddings have a few standard shots — and the associated peace of mind, are what a professional brings to the event.

The old joke about the plumber billing a customer $150 for hitting a pipe with a hammer to clear a drain comes to mind. When the customer complained about the bill and the value of paying for a single hammer blow, the plumber itemized the bill as follows:

  • $25 for hitting the drain pipe
  • $125 for knowing where and how hard

Photographers used to make some of their money on the presentation of their work — prints and albums — where now a bride will simply request a CD with the images to reproduce. Used to be, photographers would never part with the negatives, both as a business decision and as a defense of copyright. I am surprised that photographers agree to that. I was told a story this week about a guy who used to charge $4,000 to shoot a wedding, prints and album included: now he charges $2,000, hands over the CD, and calls it even. I’m surprised anyone goes along with that. I need to review the whole “work-for-hire” vs copyright thing. Back in the 20th century, no one would sell negatives unless the price covered all potential earnings from an image.

The future
But some film formats endure. Consider that 120 film has been around since 1901 and 35mm since the 1920s, and the large format sheet films are still around. What I am seeing is a move away from film for two segments of the photo marketplace — the amateur and the professional — while the smaller niche, artists for lack of a better descriptor, are still/increasingly interested in film for its more malleable qualities, its flexibility, its tangibility.

Physical photography (or analog photography, as I heard someone call it this week, not without a chuckle) has the potential to get back to its roots as fine art, and away from being a commodity. I am finding it a lot more enjoyable and satisfying to think through what I want to capture and how best to do it. I walk away from some subjects, where with a digital camera I might go ahead and shoot. I am still likely to throw out the image when I get home: with film I have a better understanding of what the film can handle and can judge whether or not to gamble a frame.

Case in point: I am going on a school field trip tomorrow and I plan to bring at least two, perhaps three cameras — a digital (Nikon 5400), my Foldex pinhole camera, and possibly the Holga, though I haven’t yet seen what it does and would like to see how badly it leaks before I run anymore film through it. If my Polaroid pinhole or the 6×12 I keep procrastinating over where ready, they would also be considered.

I know that for some things, digital is best, since I need to share those pictures as documentary images. But pinhole or Holga will be more useful for other things, where I want more of an impression than a realistic document. I actually think pinhole images, with their inherent softness and infinite depth are more realistic since they allow the viewer to take in the whole scene, all of which is in focus, and let their eye pick out what they value, rather than what the photographer chose.

Now playing: Feelin’ by Charlie Pickett and the Eggs from the album “Uncollected Singles”