The Invisible Photo

 

@parisa_jfrn6854

For most of us, no one will ever see our photos.

This has likely always been the case for most photographers. Before, it was having rolls and rolls of undeveloped film no one would ever see. Things new home owners find stuffed in the attic of a fixer-upper. Dirty DVD’s and rolls of film and old lenses.

Softball

It’s sort or like that now, except now our photos are stuffed away on passcode protected computers which themselves will be discarded in 7 years. We may transfer photos between computers using an external drive, but I have a feeling future home owners will find our SSD drives in old Amazon boxes in a corner in the attic…

Even if you post photos online, the hardcore truth is: nobody really spends significant time looking at the average online portfolio they come across. Flickr could shut down tomorrow and all those photos will be scattered to the wind….

To be fair, photography itself is a young art genre. I mean, it can’t be that much older than spray paint graffiti art. Both were created within 150 years of one another I’m sure, as opposed to traditional painting, which was done in caves a million years ago. Affordable consumer cameras, much less digital ones, are a fairly recent phenomenon.

Still, it seems like most of what we do will never be seen by another human, or maybe your friends and family will see it, but most likely they don’t care. In many ways that’s ok…

Tumbling Cheerleader

Immortality through art. More data needed to process….

Exit.

The Slow Death of Instagram and Facebook….

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“IG just ain’t right no more…”

The hunger to be liked is perhaps the most addictive non-chemical phenomenon I’m aware of. Nearly every effort we partake in is in some manner to make someone start to or continue to like us. Who is that someone? For devout Christians or Muslims it’s God who must like us. (There is hell to pay if he doesn’t like us.) While dating, especially when we are young, it is imperative that our lovers…like us. At least it should be. At work we want our bosses or clients to like us. It certainly seems counterproductive when they don’t like us.

Is seeking to be liked wrong? Nah. It’s fine. Being liked is all about congruency. Fitting together with others is fundamental. I mean, truly fundamental. Atoms bond with nearby atoms and form molecules based on how easy it is for them to share resources. They “like” one another, so they bond.

So why am I shorting my stock in Facebook and Instagram? To put it simply, it’s because both platforms have rigged the system to control how many likes a user gets on a particular post. Initially, it was a combination of a meritocracy and a chronological reward system. Post timely, good content and get showered in likes and promotion for you self, your brand, etc…

Now Facebook and Instagram have put an invisible vending machine interface between you and those followers and their precious likes. This after years of letting people exchange likes for free, unfettered.

For me, my instagram posts generated twice and many likes when I had half as many followers…

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Now, after a very recent algorithm tweak (or I might be shadowbanned 🤔) my likes trickle in at a snails pace. Slower even. I have deleted and reinstalled the IG app a few times as I debate abandoning the platform altogether. As for Facebook I still use it but only for messenger and to scroll memes and news. My posts get substantially less likes than they used to on there of course….

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I have a serious glamour photography business developing here, and chasing IG likes seems like something I should let my gorgeous models worry about. Not me. Even they don’t get the engagement I think a typical flawless twenty something should get. I mean, a pretty gal has always been able to trade on her beauty as a commodity. If you try to force pretty girls to pay to execute that commodity trade, then they will eventually evaluate the commissions you charge (for advertising etc) and maybe go elsewhere. Instagram is losing its fundamentals. Facebook has good fundamentals but is starting to feel dated and repetitive. Perhaps some new way of exchanging real time data is around the corner. I say bring it on….

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WHAT IVE BEEN DOING ON SUNDAYS II

I haven’t been watching football on Sundays this year.

Why?

Who knows?

I have been shooting aspiring models and friends though.

 

The Weak End of Summer…

There were no 100 degree days this summer.

I’m not saying global warming is wrong, but back in the 90’s I recall consecutive summers in Baltimore and Georgia where the thermometer read 100 degrees or above.

The current/past summer was muggy yes. Hot? Not really to me.

I switched companies that I shoot sports for. (If you want to know to whom I switched check my Facebook page or something) Shooting sports is fun but the money is drying up pretty quickly. Fewer and fewer parents are willing to buy prints of their kid once he or she (the parent) leaves an event, and those photo tents you see at tournaments aren’t as lucrative as they once may have been. Couple that with newspapers and magazines dying slowly, and there really isn’t a major demand for sports photos. I see parents and high school students with semi-pro gear on the sidelines now all the time. They may not have the passion and skill to produce high level sports compositions, but that camera and lens they now hold represents the money they would have spent on professional photos perhaps…..

Sports are in full swing though. I’m booked to shoot every weekday afternoon (after my main job) up till probably the first week of November. I’m also shooting models now until kingdom come, and will probably miss many Sundays in front of the tube watching the Redzone channel because of it. Sundays are great to shoot models for that reason however. It’s a dead day in the city for foot traffic and that’s a perfect environment to shoot in….

MICROSTRUGGLER is nearly a year old. I mainly like to shoot women and that’s what this blog will be about moving forward: photos and women…..

Exit.

Model on Instagram is @myrlanis_

She only accepts followers who follow me first….

My IG is @rickyray73

Tee shirt available here.

FUJI X100F – 6 Month Review

Enter.

I like this little camera. Model Ana Rivera ain’t bad either.

So it has been 6 months since the Fuji X100F debuted and I of course purchased the first one sold in my city of Baltimore. In fact, I have yet to see another X100F in Baltimore, but I digress. Since I bought the camera I’ve shot ~5000 photos and spent untold lunch breaks going through the menus. I’ve shot sports sidelines, pretty models, and I’ve shot and killed streets. I’ve hooked up an external flash, more on that later, and have fallen in love with using the LCD only to shoot.

WHAT I LOVE

I started out with this camera thinking I could shoot jpegs using those cute film simulation modes. I really tried to make it work too. My favorite one is ACROS (followed by Classic Chrome). I used ACROS a lot. I knew though, that sometimes I needed to record a scene in color so I quickly started shooting RAW + Jpegs to my card, which slows my Lightroom flow down, but it was manageable. Then, at some point, I downloaded the fuji film simulation plugins from some damn place on the internet and installed it in Lightroom. That way I could change a Fuji (only Fuji) RAW file to the Classic Chrome look if I wanted, or whatever. After a while I figured there really is no fucking difference between the in-camera jpeg film simulations and the Lightroom plugin camera conversions, AND I noticed that Fuji RAW files have a shit ton of dynamic range. I shoot all RAW now. Fuck it. Those in-camera film simulation modes are too cute for me…

I never understood or cared about having a leaf shutter until I started shooting sidelines at sporting events. I normally shoot 1/1000 F5.6 and auto ISO range 200-800 during the day for streets. When I’m shooting events I turn on the built-in fill flash just for shits and giggles. This is when I discovered that I could overpower the sun and create these hauntingly half dark images. I continued this trend later shooting models using an external flash….

The image quality beats the unholy fuck out of my Canon 5d Mark III, even when the DSLR is coupled with the world class 70-200 2.8 IS II lens. This little Fuji point-and-shoot compact beats it handily as far as micro contrast and sharpness is concerned. RAW to RAW the Fuji wins handily when it comes to dynamic range for both shadow pulling AND highlight recovery. Colors are more of a taste thing, but I find Fuji colors to be more accurate than Canon, even though Canon’s colors are warm and lovely.

The face detection works reasonably well, and it will even detect a models eye (left or right depending on your chosen setting) when it feels like it.

 

This is most likely the finest street photography camera ever made.

Models and subjects smile at this camera, as opposed to my big ass Canon which makes folks get all serious or run away.

THINGS I HATE

The afl/ael button is useless and positioned horribly. I have reassigned it to change my focus type.

The control ring concept is so horrid that I try my best to never touch the lens unless I’m changing apertures.

What the fuck is up with Fuji and off camera flash? Nothing works right. I can get my Canon (actually a Pixel Mago) flash to fire in manual using a chord that I have to jiggle and pray to get it to work. When it works the results are good though. I’m getting the X-T2 and some lenses soon as well as this new Godox flash trigger and flash unit that’s supposed to work with Fuji TTL and HSS and do it all wireless. We shall see…

I hate the view mode button. God forbid you ever hit that bitch by accident and spend an hour thinking your camera is malfunctioning. Perhaps I’m just an idiot but still….

FINAL THOUGHTS

This camera is a nice intro into the Fuji universe and also has a leaf shutter. That’s the deal. The jpegs are good but overrated. The RAW files are superb. It’s compact yet made of steel. It’s sharp as fuck. It’s silent. The autofocus is good in single shot mode. If you’re a street photographer this camera is superior to almost any camera you can buy besides a manual focus Leica and maybe my beloved Leica Q. None of those cameras have a fill flash though. This one does….

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Tee shirt available at: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B073X8L6WS

Model: Ana Rivera @myrlanis_ on Instagram.

10 Things I love About the Fuji X100F

Here is a list of 10 random things I like  ❤️ love about my Fujifilm X100F…

🔘 The X100F autofocus is accurate and fast. I was worried it might be a bit sluggish when compared to the Panasonic/Leica Q. No worry needed though. It’s zippy fast!

🔘 The X100F is quite useful to me for sideline shots when I shoot sports. So useful in fact that I prefer using it over having a standard two DSLR setup.  No need for a 35mm lens on my 5D mark III when my X100F has a great 35mm equivalent lens and a filler flash to boot!

🔘 I love having analog style dials for my ISO, exposure compensation, aperture, and shutter speed. It beats having to dig through menus in my humble opinion.

🔘 The 35mm 2.0 lens itself is pretty sharp to my eyes, even wide open. RAW files are particularly awesome.

🔘 The ACROS film simulation mode (jpeg only) is maybe the best thing about the camera to me. You can shoot almost anything in ACROS and it looks surreal and historic.

ACROS….

🔘 The flash is useful in a pinch. I use it a lot for sideline shots as I mentioned earlier.

🔘 I almost exclusively use the EVF. It’s so good that my original reason for buying this camera, it having an optional OVF, is a non-issue.

🔘 The camera fits in my pocket and is extremely portable. It’s also so light that I can scarcely feel it dangling around my neckbone.

🔘 The Fuji X100F is 100% silent when the shutter volume is turned off. Dead ass quiet.

🔘 Lastly the little focus knob is swell. It works about as good as the ones on the pro DSLR’s I’ve had the fortune of using.

Thinking of purchasing this camera? Don’t do it! Lol. I want to keep all this bananas awesomeness for myself.

Please support me by buying my classic street-fiction novel available here.

Exit.

The Mirrorless Pro 

With the recent announcement of the Sony A9 mirrorless camera I’ve been wondering when I’ll make the big switch and go all mirrorless. Up until now, going all mirrorless has not been a serious option for me because Sony and Fuji and other serious mirrorless makers don’t make professional level bodies and lenses for sports. 

Sure, a good, well prepared shooter can probably use a pair of Sony a7rII’s to shoot a wedding or a concert, and there is a nice selection of glass available in the wide angle to medium telephoto ranges for that stuff. There is no, say, 400mm 2.8 offered by Sony or Fuji however. Canon and Nikon have several versions of lenses in this focal length going back decades. That’s always been the main point of contention for me changing my sports kit over to mirrorless. There is no fast and long telephoto glass to be had. 

There’s also battery life, which is still far better in a DSLR. I’m talking 3 times as good battery life on average between a pro level DSLR and an alleged pro level mirrorless like the A9 and the Fuji XT-2. Another main thing though, is AF speed and accuracy. This is where mirrorless has been making dramatic strides. It seems that the A9 has AF speed on par with the pro level Canon and Nikon DSLR’s, though this remains to be seen….

A Sony pro body is bound to crush Nikon and Canon is the area of low light and dynamic range, partly because Sony makes the lion share of Nikon sensors these days and holds back the really aggressive tech for their own bodies, and Canon has never seemed to be too concerned with dynamic range, although they have decent noise levels at high ISO’s on some bodies. Sony also has apparently eliminated the “blackout” that happens when continuous shooting with a typical mirrorless body. Also the A9 apparently shoots a disgusting 20fps RAW. It can do this in 100% silent mode. That’s insane!

Will I trade in my Canon sports gear and go full on mirrorless? That remains to be seen. I want to for some reason. It’s not that I hate my Canon gear, or GAS, but more that I feel I’m stapled to outdated tech. Fastened to it. Maybe when Fuji makes a full frame sports camera or fuck it, I may go with a Sony even though I hate them. Some long prime fast glass for these mirrorless jobs wouldn’t hurt either… 

Exit. 

ARE YOU A GOOD PHOTOGRAPHER? (WHY IT DOES NOT MATTER)

As I have said before, talent is no longer a requirement for success in almost any venture, and it applies especially to photography, music and the arts.

Cutting straight to the heart of the matter, I offer a quote from a famous luminary:

“The vulgar crowd always is taken by appearances, and the world consists chiefly of the vulgar.” ~ Niccilo Machiavelli

To put it in laymens terms: “It is far better to spend all of your energy making folks BELIEVE you are good than it is prudent to spend time trying to actually become good”

This is a sinister yet clearly though out realization once it is deeply embraced, though the implications are not as straightforward as they may seem…

It is not wise to forego all of your practice with studio photography, for instance, including buying equipment that will help you achieve the look you desire. It is better to not believe that becoming some “master of light” will make your career any more substantial than a person who spends far more time video blogging and gaining followers on Twitter than he or she does shooting practice photos. Actually, the shameless self promoter will probably be able to charge more per gig than the hermit-like light master, simply because clients are more impressed with fame than they are impressed skill, all else being equal. In fact, many clients resent the term “skill”….

Skill (and people who profess being skillful) can come off as being elitist or as saying:

This shit is too deep for your simple ass mind to understand

That can be very counterproductive, as one might imagine, and part of what makes some photographers famous and others obscure is simplicity and accessibility. The genius of pop culture success lies in ones ability to do fairly complex things with such magical simplicity that it draws in the uninitiated, as opposed to alienating them.
Rap music especially has suffered from this. Many old school (90’s era) rap aficionados abhor modern rap as being unskillful bullshit. These old school rap fans prefer the wittier and more poetic (debatably) rap of old. They feel like cultivating ones lyrical skill is better than hiring ghost writers and becoming internet famous. This is untrue. Balance is the key in everything, and when the goal is selling to the public the balance should shift healthily towards marketing. What good is it if you are a rap God if you, after a year, only have 7 subscribers on your YouTube channel while the mumbling rapper you hate has 700k subscribers and is averaging 7 new subscribers per hour….

Skill comes naturally with repetition in most things (besides perhaps a golf swing, where repeating poor mechanics can damage your game beyond repair). If you shoot enough photos and look at enough good photos taken by others you will achieve any level of skill you desire. Mix in a bit of innate talent and you could become a legend. Be less concerned with getting better at using your flash and buying a bunch of crap you don’t need, and more concerned with sharing your photos with other humans and letting folks know what you do, as well as being interested in what they are doing. When you think about it, it’s so easy to sit in our studios drinking wine with contempt in our hearts and no business rolling in. It is much harder to get out of our studios, put down the wine bottles and pick up our lives before our lives go the way of the 90’s lyrical Emcee….

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