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.

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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…

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Immortality through art. More data needed to process….

Exit.

Dating Profile…

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I have never looked better.

 

I have never felt better physically, besides maybe when I was in boot camp in Great Lakes, Illinois or training at the RTC in San Diego, California…

 

I have never been more at peace. It’s a hard-fought, uneasy peace at times, but it is peace nonetheless.

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I’ve never been more single though. I’m single as shit. It’s crazy really…

 

My retreat from the grips of “all-social-media-all-the-time” has been documented, (and needed) but I have also retreated from dating sites. They suck these days, dating sites…

 

Dating sites worked well maybe 10 years ago for guys like me perhaps, but not now. They don’t work as well today for me because my expectations have changed a bit. Also, I see the same people on all the sites I have tried in the area. Just recycled profile pictures all over the place.

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I suppose I have resigned myself to the reality of living and dying alone. This arrangement isn’t all bad at the moment, but it could suck pretty badly if I reach old age and still haven’t found a nice pretty lady.

 

Pretty is a thing too for me. I’m dead ass sick of being rejected by mediocre looking women. If she isn’t truly exceptional looking then I’ll take my chances elsewhere. She also needs to be fit. I spend hours in the gym each week. She at least needs to be in shape.

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The older I get though, the more I realize that the entire “mating and dating” phase of my life isn’t exactly in its beginning stages. I’m far closer to the end of the era where my reproductive drive dictates the majority of my decisions. Nowadays, I just want to plan and make art when I’m not working. I don’t want any stress related to pleasing another fussy human. I don’t want to be responsible for the emotional well being of another adult. Not yet. Soon maybe…

 

Beyond Social Media: The Old Ways…

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Like any good Samurai, I long to do things the old way…

 

Do I like microwaves? Nah. I heat my food up in the oven. TV dinners too.

 

Do I like TV? Of course I like TV. Um….at least I used to. I guess TV has lost its appeal to me as the centerpiece of human entertainment…

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What has replaced TV?

Facebook.

Instagram.

Snapchat.

YouTube (which I like)

Netflix.

Every video game ever made in last 17 years…

…the distracting temptation of each mindless app on your phone.

 

At some point you look at all these cable stations and social media platforms and you feel as though you are spending your waking hours in a place that isn’t real.

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I mean, lets say you are at work, (which is most likely a real place) but when you get bored or frustrated or happy or whatever at work you go to this virtual place on your phone to share random thoughts or to gain some sort of misplaced perspective by driving yourself to irrational jealousy as you follow other peoples lives…

 

I don’t want to be too harsh here. Even a Samurai must adapt to change. When the Shogun dies we become Ronin. When the Katana is outlawed we buy guns. When guns are outlawed we buy wine.

 

Still… I think back to my youth, when we had 3 TV’s (which each had 5 available channels to watch) and a chorded phone and a radio. Nowadays I have all that in my iPhone. All of it. I long for the days when the world was smaller and I couldn’t interact with so many people virtually.

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For instance, I have several Facebook “friends” in Indonesia. I will never see them in person within this lifetime most likely, and even if they really aren’t so special that I’d go to the other side of the planet to holla at them, part of me wishes I could see them. Why? Because I see them on my phone and maybe we traded some adult photos back when Facebook was newer and people did that shit. That makes me want to see them. That makes me subconsciously compare American woman I meet to these world-apart Indonesian gals. Life was a lot simpler when Indonesian girls were a “theory” or a curiosity and nothing more. In short: the internet has made the world smaller but it has also made me feel smaller too, while making my expectation of the world bigger.

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I deleted my Instagram account today. Why? First because I was shadowbanned and secondly because it was useless to me. I have never made a single meaningful contact through IG. R X R Photo has never booked a photoshoot or made a dime from it. I have felt bad when a photo didn’t get as many “likes” as I felt it deserved though…

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Will I delete Facebook next? That’s possible, but I’ll give that another year or two. I have a feeling I’ll just end up using Facebook messenger only…which I really don’t understand how it’s superior to regular old texting, but whatever. I would like to be like the old photographers who booked clients through word of mouth and their own websites and not through becoming a bitch for social media. I’m starting to hate what I see everyday. Nothing is separate any longer. There are no sub-genres. Every little interest you may have on social media moves along the rivers and dumps into the big social media oceans of presidential politics, social causes, and blindly fighting with strangers. It sucks. I suppose this social media thing as isn’t social anymore…

 

Exit.

 

The Follower…

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I have never been comfortable with the concept of being a follower.

This attitude and subsequent behavior pattern for me dates back to my days as a toddler, according to my mother. I’ve always been a bit of a rebel she says, or more precisely, a little badass free agent.

Not to say I haven’t followed behind friends and done dumb shit. Of course I have. Those experiences just made me more adamant about not being a follower.

So along comes Twitter and then Instagram and these apps ask me to follow people and try to attract followers by any means…. and ya boy Ric Ray is immediately offended. Followers huh?

I mean, Tom of Myspace didn’t ask me to follow him. Tom wanted to be my friend. I sort of liked that about Tom. Even Facebook went the “friend” route and did so more intimately by limiting the number of friends I could have to 5 thousand. As far as reductionism is concerned Facebook is an outlier. IG and Twitter put no limits on the number of followers you can amass. Myspace had no limit to the number of friends you could add.

IG doesn’t limit you. Nope. Your pathetic, uninteresting, pedestrian life limits you. Ive never had more than a few hundred followers on any platform….

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I’m too humble to think myself so fabulous that I’d have actual followers. To be fair though, I know “follower” in the social media sense means that this or that person is following my feed, not the creepy “Jim Jones in Guyana with a few cups of cyanide and a cult” type of followers…..but it still seems contrived and unseemly. Of course someone like Taylor Swift has millions of true followers and deservedly so. She’s a megastar. Perhaps a person who amasses say… 25 thousand followers on Twitter can have a slice of that megastar feeling. Maybe for a price…

You of course can buy followers. You can also “follow for follow” with people and then get sneaky and unfollow them so you can have that golden ratio of 1000 to 1 followers.

Like when you look at some pop star’s follow/follower count and she has 1.2 million followers but only follows 1200 people….Nice.

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I just don’t like the concept of following anyone. No one is worth following to me really. I don’t care what my favorite rapper is doing this evening or when my favorite pornstars’ next live cam show is happening. Who gives a fuck?

The reasons I’m done with IG and Twitter sort of mirror my hesitancy to buy into bitcoin at the current time… Allow me to explain….

Bitcoin was good to get into early. You could mine bitcoin without using a completely prohibitive amount of power (electricity) to do so. Nowadays mining bitcoin can only be undertaken by people (or sovereign nations) with a lot of money and resources already at their disposal, like North Korea for instance. Otherwise your ROI will be negative in all but the most ideal circumstances. Similarly Twitter was hot to get into early when people were following like crazy, but a few million spam bots and Nigerian email scams later and people are a bit more conservative with their follows, UNLESS you are a person with a lot of fame, money, and resources…..

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I hate following people and honestly I don’t like being followed. Facebook even tries the follower thing but it’s not well defined and it comes off as sketchy. They can keep it. They all can just keep it…..

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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Exit.

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….

Exit. Please like and subscribe.

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

Model: Ana Rivera @myrlanis_ on Instagram.

The 2017 Summer Has Been Boring AF

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This summer, for some reason that goes beyond me being an old shut-in, has been boring.

I’ve ridden my motorcycle as much as makes sense given the Seattle-like climate that seems to hang over the mid-Atlantic region each summer. Still, there is no place to ride. Nothing is happening. I can’t ride to go shopping. I need a trunk for that. Shopping isn’t really fun unless you’re rich or maniacal anyhow….

I have an advertising shoot with a young Puerto-Rican model for my line of T-Shirts coming up next weekend. I’ll keep you posted on that. Still, even though I love taking photos, it’s work. It’s not guilty, ignorant fun. I want THAT. The ignorant shit.

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I’m getting old. My romantic engine is showing it’s age and struggles to get started most days. My sufferance of fools and friends is at an all time low. Despite this, my overall temperament feels jovial. I’m not brooding.

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I need activities. I’ve taken some pretty neat photos this summer. A handful of winners maybe, but thats all that can be expected. My X100F remains a solid choice of mine. It’s the greatest street photography camera of all time perhaps.

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As I’m trying to transition into being a full-time photographer and do it MY WAY, I find myself treading water most months financially. A monetary breakthrough would be nice. With my checkered past, age, and tendency to be self reliant we shall see….

Exit.