Fear and loathing and ignorance and assholes and…

Occasionally, I browse some of the internet photographic forums to maybe see what’s new, maybe pick up a tip, or an idea or two.

Naturally, when you mix humans posting anonymously, you’re going to get various conflicts like ‘my junk is better than your junk’….’I’m smarter than you’….’Oh yeah? post some pictures, and let’s see just how good your shit is, there slick!’

I can’t be bothered getting involved. Most of the time it involves people that really don’t know what they’re talking about, or people that think because they’ve got expensive gear, they’re somehow amazing photographers -even though they’ve only been taking pictures for 6 months.

Recently, the morons out there have something else to express their stupidity with: Covid-19. Every time there’s some unforseen natural disaster, pandemic, or anything big, and out of the usual event, these internet experts (and yeah, I’m looking at you America. You guys have the most money, ergo, the most to lose; and all that cabbage gives a lot of you more free time to waste spouting bullshit online than anyone else on the planet -mind you, Canada, The UK, and other ‘first world nations aren’t that far behind.) are happy to ratchet up the fear-mongering with their asinine predictions, and poorly sourced -or not at all sourced- statistics.

Chernobyl disaster? ‘I’m loading up my kids with iodine tablets to keep them safe. Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster? ‘Holy shit! We’re only 10,000Km from that clusterfuck! Load up the basement with bottled water, dry goods, ammo, and cheap whiskey, Myrtle. This could be IT!’

SARS, Y2K, 911…. How the fuck did we manage to dodge those shitstorms? ‘Uh… I’dunno… Commonsense? Keeping cool?

It wouldn’t be too bad if it was only a bunch of assholes spouting shit to other assholes, but this shit is slowly making it’s way into ‘mainstream’ news. ANNNDDD… there’s the subtle (or not-so subtle) xenophobia, or just out and out racism.

Back in ‘camera forum land,’ I’ve even seen incredibly stupid people ask if it was O.K. to order a camera that was made in China. 

Really? ‘Ol Min Li showed up to work, and even though visibly sick, no one said anything -and proceeded to sneeze all over your little camera to be. Then, it was quickly packaged, and sent out for shipping. After two weeks on a cargo ship, (where it was kept in a temperature controlled environment so as not to disturb the virus within) and a few more days passing through customs, and security, it got sent off to a warehouse, where it was processed, and over-nighted to you, Little Ralphy Waterhead. 

Boy weren’t you in for a fucking surprise!! Who knew that this little point and shoot that you ordered was actually going to be a real life Pandora’s Box? In the past, you’ve told everyone who would listen, that you’ve always patriotically bought American, but then, somehow, the Japanese became cool, and just this once, you couldn’t resist buying from China, because you figured you’d save a few more dollars still. (Realistically, you’d buy from Sudan, or North Korea, if the price was right.) 

Sorry Ralphy. Shouldn’t have clicked that ‘buy now’ button the other day.

Obviously, those last three paragraphs were just me creating a ridiculous scenario to make a point. Little Ralphy Waterhead didn’t order a camera. In fact, it’s going to take him a couple of years just to build up the courage to order anything from anywhere in Asia at all.

Don’t get your info from facebook, twitter, web M.D., instagram, or any of those other social, sharing sites. They’re ‘sharing’ bullshit.

Try these:

Center for Disease Control

World Health Organization






What’s so funny?

Smiles. We’ve all got ‘em. And just as importantly, we all use ‘em.

Happy, satisfied, impressed, thankful, vengeful, bullshitting, drunken… Smiling.

Plenty of us think that we’ve got to smile whenever a camera is pointed at us. That that’s the proper image to publicly project. Everything in our life is perfect, and we want you to know it.

BULLSHIT! Don’t lie to me! There’s something fucked up in your life (your bunion is killing you; you’re wearing two day old underpants; the latest Star Trek movie was shit; the person taking your picture is an asshole…..) and we both know it. 

But I suppose it’s not really your fault. You’ve been told ever since you were knee high to a grasshopper to ‘smile for the camera’ by your parents, or someone close to you. 

Guess what? They lied. Or, rather, they told you that you should lie when someone was about to take your picture.

Used to be that only East Europeans, bank managers, and communists posed for pictures with a dour, or expressionless appearance. They had to. It was serious business being an East European/commie. Under their regime, anything that could be misconstrued as levity might get you a free trip north for some personalized ‘political rehabilitation.’ And bank managers? That’s some serious shit as well. They had better not be fucking around with my money!

But maybe, just maybe, our culture of forced smiles is a remnant of our side of the Cold War. “Why aren’t you smiling?  Dontcha know how good you gottit? Whattareya, some kinda’ godless pinko commie?” Smile, or you’ll be black listed, ostracized, and persecuted.

Alright, yeah, I’ll admit it, sometimes we’re just in a good mood, so we smile. That’s a good thing. But smiling all the time, or smiling on demand? That’s just weird. Or insane.

Above self portrait of yours truly, ‘ol puttyface,’ not smiling for the camera, having just found out that Jason Van Der Beek wasn’t in the running for the Mirror Ball Trophy on season 28 of Dancing with the stars. (extra shadows, and deep side lighting to intensify the gloom)





Sooner than you think

When I was a kid, had I told someone that in the future, we’d all be carrying around a little rectangular thing that fit into our pants pocket; that enabled us to simultaneously talk to a friend in Cambodia, while taking pictures, and was also capable of storing our entire music collection; giving regular weather updates; choosing between watching pornographic videos on public transportation, or searching for the perfect Shakespearean allegory about your shit job so you could impress the other stiffs that you work with at you annual staff mixer, somebody would have slapped me in the back of the head for being a dreaming flake.

Hell, to us, Dick Tracy’s ‘two way wrist radio’ was still some kind of voodoo fuckery that existed only in the blurred, and murky future.

(Of course, I didn’t tell anyone that -I was too busy trying to figure out ways to get to Hollywood and somehow woo Farrah Fawcett-Major away from the Six Million Dollar Man, and trying to fill every blank space in my Esso sticker book of every (256 at the time) player in the NHL. Kinda’ goes without saying that I didn’t want the slap in the head, either.)

But here we are. 

One of the neat things you get to experience as you get older is the sweeping changes in technology. I’ve already mentioned the insane capabilities of the cell phone, (one of the few instances in life where we actually get to use the term ‘billions,’ other that talking about the earth’s population. There are over 4 billion transistors in the average modern phone) and since this blog is -loosely- based on photography, I’m mentioning the photographic capabilities of that little thing that we all carry around with us.

My current phone (Galaxy s10e) has a 12 megapixel sensor. That’s as many as my first really good DSLR. Of course, their jammed into a much smaller sensor size, so the quality isn’t going to be as good, but still…

The apertures we use when taking snapshots is also miniscule -typically f1.5-f1.8. But with smaller sensors, the apertures don’t have to be huge to give us lots of depth of field.

Computational photography more or less gives us the results we want. We’re not quite at the point where we have phones with artificial intelligence, that learn as you take pictures with them, but it’s coming. For now, my main photography camera still beats a cell phone cam hands down -well, for everything except speed of use, but that’s all going to change in the future. 

Probably not in my lifetime though, but who knows?

For now, I’m just going to remain reasonably content with what I have so that no one cuffs me in the back of the head, and more importantly, so I can enjoy taking most of my cool shit for granted, like everyone else seems to do.

The above shot, of a tube in the Lambeth North tube station in London, was taken with my phone cam, or mobile, as the Brits say. Not too shabby, at least as far as processing, and colour goes!

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