Yearly Archives: 2012

Minnesota wins the lottery

Or maybe, the anti-lottery, because they’ll be handing out lottery-winning class stacks of money to Ryan Suter and Zach Parise.

I like this deal for Minnesota, for the players, and for the NHL, for a lot of reasons (and I dislike it for a few, too. nothing’s perfect).

What I really like about this deal: they guys didn’t go to (a) the team willing to give them the most money and (b) the team where they thought winning the Cup would be easiest. They went to a team that’s struggled to make the playoffs. While it’s easy to say “I didn’t do it for the money” when the choice is really which pile of money to choose, I’m happy to see these players went to a place where they are interested in building a winner.

I also really like this deal because it’s another case of top NHL talent coming to the Western conference. This, of course, annoys the hockey media in places like New York and toronto that seem to believe that all of the good players by definition should be in those cities, and the rest of the league ought to realize they only exist for light dates. This is especially true whenever these media types have to leave the eastern time zone or when games start at times that interrupt their beauty naps. Anything that honks off the parts of the media that think that the league should go back to small, NYR-Toronto-centered universe, well, I love it.

And I like this deal because it’s really, really honked off some of the fans in entitled places like Detroit and Philly (and yes, rangers and leafs fans, you, too), where there’s a belief that of course every free agent worth having is going to play for their team, because, well, that’s how it should be.

Signings like this are good for parity, and parity is good for the league, unless you believe the league starts at MSG and ends (or should) in Detroit. It’s good to see the league increasingly becoming a continent-wide league and not east-coast centric with outposts. Add in the Jagr signing in Dallas, and those east coast pundits are going to have to actually figure out what channel on their TV these other teams are broadcast on, and maybe stay up late to watch some of the hockey out here on the other coast. Oh, no, just joking. We know they won’t. they’ll just keep watching Rangers/Devils and whining about how the best players are hidden from the real fans out in the wilderness.

This isn’t a good signing for the Sharks and other western teams, because the west gets harder and more competitive. It’s good for western conference fans, because more of the elite/name players are ending up in the West where we’ll see them visit our home arenas more often than every other year. And I’m thrilled to see the Wild step up to become a serious contender, given how seriously they love their hockey there. That’s good for hockey, too.

What don’t I like about the deals? The length and size of the deals. they’re legal under the CBA, but these ten year and longer deals are bad for the game and manipulate the salary cap in ways that are bad for teams in the long run. Eventually, these kind of “sub prime mortgage” deals come home to roost, and then them team ends up struggling to compete until they dig their way out from under them. Part of the math behind these deals tend to assume the cap will always rise, which implies revenues will continue to rise. We felt that way about housing prices here in the States, remember? And when that came crashing down… well, among other things, the problem in Phoenix happened.

So my hope for the next CBA is this: cap length of contract. Five years, max. And limit the NUMBER of max-year contracts per team. I think teams need the ability to lock up their franchise players and compensate them fairly for being franchise players, but it’s bad business to commit too much to too many players over too long a term. So here’s my suggestion: two active contracts per team at five years, three more at four years. That will kill these ten and twelve year deals that spreads the cap hit out — and it doesn’t preclude a team from simply signing up a player to another five year deal in the year their existing deal is going to expire, if they really feel they’re going to be franchise-quality for ten years.

The problem is that these deals are paying players now with cap space that won’t come due for five or six years. I don’t blame teams for doing this — it’s legal. I don’t blame players for taking the money; I know I sure would. But is that really healthy for the league in the long run?

No. So I hope the league will find a way in the new CBA to remove this temptation and put contracts back in a “pay you for what you’re worth now” mode. this is a “hack” of the CBA that needs to be cleaned up.

update: Elliotte Friedman (one of the hockey writers I have great respect for) takes the idea of capping contract length and explains why it’s a lousy idea. He suggests limiting signing bonuses to a percentage of the salary in the year the signing bonus is issued. It’s an interesting concept, and the issues he brings up that could come along with a length cap are real and need to be considered. What the league needs to get away from is that the extended contract effectively gives teams a chance to “borrow” from future salary caps to pay players now, and that kind of credit card mentality eventually blows up in your face. Something needs to be done to keep spending in line with the cap on a year to year basis, and limit team’s abilities (not completely, but mostly) to suck up future cap into the present.

Developer Complaints — some perspective

Let me put a little perspective into the discussions about what developers want out of their platform. Much of this is aimed at Apple, because IOS is the dominant revenue platform, but it’s true of all platforms to some degree or another; each has its strengths and weaknesses and possibilities… 

Ex-Apple Employee Reveals The Biggest Complaints Developers Have About Working With Apple – Business Insider:

If you want to know how iOS developers really feel about working with Apple, just ask Mike Lee. Lee has had plenty of interactions with developers

[….]

Apple has not done enough to crack down on knock-off apps.

This one keeps coming up. I talked about this a few months ago the last time it came up. The bottom line is that at best, this is difficult to do. In practice, if Apple DID become more active about this, it’d simply open itself up to a different set of complaints, and some nasty legal liabilities. It’s a no-win situation for Apple. And back when I was working with webOS developers, some of the apps they bitched about not deserving to be in the catalog also were some of the better sellers among the general public. quality and crap are in the eye of the beholder.

A big complaint that developers have is they are cut off from their customers,” Lee said. “If I have a customer who is unhappy with my app for any reason, the customer should be able to write me telling me they have a problem.

Guilty as charged. Which ties into another version of this being discussed (again) right now, that developers should have some way to respond to reviews. And get reviews removed removed from the app catalog. 

But think about it from the customer point of view — they have a say here, too. Many don’t want to be contacted. They especially don’t want to be marketed to. 

The core problem here is twofold: customers who write critical reviews, and customers who try to use the review feedback as a support channel. 

the first problem? Frankly, customers have a right to their opinion, even if that opinion is stupid or wrong. Developers don’t have to like it (and don’t. trust me), but just because a developer doesn’t like it doesn’t mean it should be removed. That’s why my review policies were built around whether or not a review was appropriate, not whether it was positive or negative. Frankly, some developers I worked with wanted any review that wasn’t a glowing 5 star removed. Part of my job was to protect the integrity of the reviews seen on the phone from developers who wanted it managed purely as a marketing vehicle for them. 

What SHOULD matter in terms of discoverability and ranking is the consensus opinion, and a catalog should know how to figure that out and promote it. the webOS catalog frankly sucked at that. Apple’s is better. Amazon’s got a good handle on this, and I don’t know why any site building a catalog doesn’t just start with what they do as a baseline requirement. 

The whole “customer using reviews as a support channel” is a different beast. The webOS catalog was terrible at helping a customer figure out how to get support, so they took the easy way out, and stuffed it all into reviews. The answer isn’t to let developers reply to reviews. I also don’t think the answer is handing customer data over to developers — you open up a situation where developers start pressuring or badgering users over negative reviews, and frankly, I don’t want to be in the middle of those arguments trying to mediate (have you folks seen how toxic things can get over on eBay where negative feedback or the threat of it turns into outright extortion at times, and is horribly painful in general?)

What the catalogs need to do, IMHO, is twofold. First, I think the catalog needs to help educate users how to get support and make it easy for them to find the support channel. Many end users will do what’s easy and convenient, not what’s appropriate, and if posting a review is easy and finding a “get help” channel isn’t, they’ll simply dump things into the review. So thought on the user interface and documentation needs to go into how to route things into the right place. 

I also tried — and failed — to create a way for developers to add a note to their catalog entry, something kind of like what Apple does with the per-release release notes on updates. Not give them the ability to respond to reviews, but to create a paragraph or two they can use for warnings or explanations or documenting their support channel, or whatever they felt made sense. Give them a way to communicate back to users on their way to the review area, but not get into direct replies on a review by review basis. 

What I also tried to convince people we needed (and honestly, I was about as successful as an Erdu speaker at a Cherokee bar-mitzvah) was that the whole review area needed to be a social system, where reviews got reviewed and users effectivess was ranked and their impact on the community depended to a good degree on how their peers ranked their contributions. As a first approximation, send Amazon and Stack Exchange off for a long weekend, and you start to see what I’d like to see in these systems. I also tried to convince people that the support channels should be THROUGH the app catalog, making that connection as easy as possible for the end user. That would allow us (as owners of the catalog itself) to manage the conversation between developer and end user without disclosing contact info to the developer explicitly, but by doing so, give the end user the option of sending that info over or using our brokered conversation system — and if we did that, the user would have a “do not let that person contact me again” button in case of problems with the developer. Creating this kind of intermediary communication setup would solve a good chunk of the issues around support problems that end up in the review area. Not all; some users are just plain old stupid or mean. But in aggregate/consensus, those users get filtered out. 

And if somebody doesn’t like my app, I should be able to give them their money back.”

Really, REALLY bad idea. Really. Trust me. you want to open the system up for abuse, start allowing refunds into the system.

The most common complaint I’ve heard is that there’s no pro-level support for developers inside Apple,” Lee said. “There’s nobody you can call to answer your questions or help you when you’re stuck in App Review or some such.” However, Lee says Apple does have a Partnership Management program, which is intended to provide this kind of service. The problem, he said, is that this program is a “pure meritocracy.” He added, “You don’t call them, they call you.” Nobody really understands how the app approval and rejection process works.

How much do you want to pay for it? that kind of support is expensive. That said, Apple does a poor job of that, and this was one of the things we targeted with webOS as a way to differentiate ourselves to developers. And our webOS developers appreciated the ease of access and hands-on we tried to give them. It helped draw developers onto the platform we wouldn’t have gotten otherwise, and it made a difference.

It’s also one that would be a real bear to scale. But as a platform attempting to boot itself, it was a competitive advantage to “not be Apple” here. Google does this a lot better right now, and is one of the ways I think Google can pull developers away from IOS over time, or make itself more viable for developers where the revenue trails what Apple brings. 

I could go into a long rant about how Apple is messing this up, but maybe some other time. The TL;DR version is this: you create goodwill during good times by being good to your partners, and then when you hit the rough spots, the partners will be more willing to help you through them. You instead take those good times and act like the 800 pound gorilla and boss everyone around, when you hit that rough spot, everyone stands back and applauds. And IOS developers, by and large, are looking for excuses to applaud. Apple will some day regret treating their developers the way they do, but by the time this comes home to roost, it’ll be way too late to fix the problem. 

Apple’s entire app process is just too opaque.

Yup. It’s one way alternative platforms can compete against Apple for developers: openness and transparency. Changing Apple to be more open and transparent towards its developers isn’t an easy thing, but if I were involved in WWDR, I’d certainly be arguing that it was necessary to figure it out. But traditionally, this hasn’t been part of Apple’s core values, which drove down direction from Steve Jobs. It may be under Tim Cook this will change over time (I hope so), but right now, it’s right up there with “apple going social” in terms of likelihood of happening. 

(hat tip: brent)

Experiments with flowers….

I hesitate to call these macro shots, they’re more pure experiments. I have oriental lilies out in the front yard that I love (which is why they’re there), and for some reason, I always plan on shooting them and never do. So yesterday I grabbed the camera and went out and played a bit. These are all natural light, hand held, using my T3i and the 24-105/f4. For some, I added a 12mm extension tube. 

I think they’re nice, and it’s always worth trying things, but they aren’t going to make you throw out your macro gear any time soon, but I kinda liked them. 

 

120623 151700 chuq Experiments with flowers….

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120623 150944 chuq 2 Experiments with flowers….

This is a bit of lavender that’s also in the front yard, which actually came out better than I thought it would. 

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And this is blossom, one of the neighborhood ferals, who’s been hanging out in the yard with her kittens. She supervised, as long as I didn’t get too close. These are her final kittens; if you look at her ear, it’s been cropped, indicating she’s been through the trap/neuter/release cycle since she gave birth. 

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In search of…. Sunbeams.

120620 094650 chuq In search of…. Sunbeams.

I hear the best way to drive traffic to your blog is with cat pictures. So, we have a cat picture. 

It is amusing to watch Manon wander the house during the day, because she has every location of every sunbeam memorized, and follows them through the house until afternoon, when the last one fades for the day. I didn’t realize cats were solar powered….

 

iTunes and Podcasts

Apple’s Podcasting Stroke of Genius | Cult of Mac:

The rumor and/or speculation is that Apple will spin podcasts out into a separate app (but keep it in the desktop version of iTunes). This prediction is supported both by funny business in the app, and also inside information from unnamed sources “close to the company.”

The prediction that Podcasts will get their own app sounds reasonable. But the interesting part is: Why?

Why would Apple put music, movies and TV shows all together in one app, but create an entirely separate app for podcasts? Sounds dumb, right?

Actually, if Apple is doing what I think they’re doing, it’s a stroke of genius.

This single change could align Apple’s organization of services on iOS with multiple strategic objectives at once. Here’s what I think Apple intends to accomplish.

Make ‘iPodcasts’ a Brand

Interesting idea, but I think it’s wrong. My guess is the reason for this is a lot simpler.

Back in the day, I had a conversation with one of the people who put podcasts in the iTunes store. At the time, nobody had a clue whether podcasts would be huge or not; it definitely wasn’t about driving revenue — but they knew they could help drive awareness of podcasts this way, and if podcasts did turn into something big, they didn’t want to risk having iTunes aced out of the discussion. 

I think it’s fair to say podcasts have become a moderate success but not a world changer, and that iTunes helped drive their acceptance some, but I wouldn’t give it primary credit. I also think this whole space is still growing into maturity — if you look at what 5×5 and Geek and Sundry and what Adam Savage and the folks on Tested are starting to do, there’s a lot of innovation happening, in part driven by improved inexpensive video tools and in part by the growth of broadband making video more practical. So maybe podcasting has made it to teenaged status; it’s definitely still growing up.

But to be honest, I’d be stunned if Apple chose now to try to brand or trademark this stuff, or try to make this a big deal or a serious promotion. If there was interest in doing that, it would have happened long ago.

I think the real answer is a lot simpler than that: it’s iCloud.

We are continuing to see tighter integration of iCloud and IOS and MacOS. Starting with iTunes Match, Apple began a migration where your content lives there instead of on your hard drive, and I see that continuing and expanding to all kinds of consumable media. 

I think Apple’s ultimate goal is simple: if it lives in iTunes, it lives on iCloud. 

Is Apple going to offer that status to podcasts? My bet is no. And since they won’t, podcasts are exiting iTunes for their own app. That app will store and sync settings to iCloud, but not the actual podcast content. 

Some content — your music, your videos, your eBooks — is going to be hosted by Apple using iCloud, and that content will be managed by iTunes (or whatever replaces it in its next generation). 

Other content — podcasts, for instance — is going to be hosted by others, and apple will reference and coordinate access, but not actually manage its storage directly. As long as podcasts aren’t a licensed content the way music and videos are, I expect podcasts to be treated like this. 

And since Apple doesn’t license the podcasts for redistribution (and I see no reason why they might consider doing that), they won’t host it on iCloud. And if it’s not in iCloud, it won’t be in iTunes.

And that’s why I think you’ll see a Podcast app in IOS 6. It’s a way to make this transition without abandoning podcasts, and also without kicking the existing podcast app developers in the knee too hard. 

Not as much fun to speculate on, but I think it’s a lot more likely, given how Apple thinks about these things…

 

A bit more on Aperture vs Lightroom

Incentives – Lightroom Solutions – John Beardsworth:

It might make sense if Aperture caused photographers to move to Mac or to buy more / new Apple kit, but that’s not really happening. Apple will ship lots of the new high res “retina” display laptops to photographers regardless of whether they use Aperture or Lightroom, and Aperture’s immediate support for those screens isn’t going to provide an advantage for very long (Adobe will soon support them too). Yesterday’s “big” news of Aperture having a “Unified Library” with iPhoto can equally be spun as Apple “merging” the two products and making Aperture merely a priced version of iPhoto. Of course, it won’t stop people reading the tea leaves from job ads and inferring Apple is still interested in the game, but just why would you invest, for example, in as-good-as-Lightroom lens correction when the only likely ROI might come through a few Aperture sales? You’ve got to ask where lies the financial incentive? But more importantly though – if Apple do simply tread water, where then is the incentive for Adobe to keep driving Lightroom forward?

Apple’s strategy is clearly to aim at the consumer and into the prosumer parts of a market. If you look at how their video products have transitioned, I think that’s clear. The way Final Cut Pro has evolved seems like a good model for looking at what Apple will do with Aperture, and if you are an advanced amateur or moderate pro, that’s probably not bad, but if you’re a “push it hard and demand more” type, you’re going to be unhappy.

In video, you have iMovie, and when you grow out of it, you have Final Cut Pro X. In Photos, you have iPhoto, and when you grow out of it, you have Aperture. For most folks, it’ll be fine. If you’re expecting it to process images as well as Lightroom 4, or push the state of the art on image processing, well, probably not. Apple will happily take the fat part of the market and leave pushing the bleeding edge technologies to others.

I do agree that the unified library for iPhoto and Aperture indicates Aperture is moving in the consumer direction, not the pro direction.

As to the job tea leaves, bring a salt lick. one or two grains won’t do it. Apple has a history of building product-oriented job listings not for the actual job, but to identify candidates with specific skills. So if they are looking for mobile aperture, I wouldn’t be surprised at all if it had nothing to do with Aperture, but since Aperture and iPhoto are merging into a common technology base (or so it seems) and mobile is a big emphasis anyway, and iCloud needs to grow to support all of that in many ways (especially mobile; where’s Apple’s ‘instagram’ for iCloud?) I expect we’re splitting hairs, because by the time this all hits the public view, it’ll all have merged together even more.

Andbeyond that, any job being advertised now is unlikely to creat anything seen in public for 18 months. Or longer. That’s far enough out for me to not worry about it, and let it come over the horizon before thinking too hard about it.

Wilson trades for Stuart’s rights: not surprising but kind of odd

KuklasKorner : Petshark: Talking Stick : Wilson trades for Stuart’s rights: not surprising but kind of odd:

News that Doug Wilson had traded a conditional 7th round pick and talking rights with Andrew Murray for talking rights with Brad Stuart was met with general approval by Sharks tweeters. To me it seemed odd. When I say “odd” I don’t mean wrong or crazy, just less straightforward than it appears to be.

Brad Stuart will be a free agent on July 1, unless he signs a contract with the Sharks before that.  If, as was strongly rumored, Stuart had expressed a specific desire to come back to San Jose, why did Wilson have to trade anything at all to talk to him before July 1?  Why did he have to officially talk to him before then?  Because the market would swallow Stuart up with grand offers? 

This is a good deal for both sides. The Sharks get a couple of weeks to work out a deal with Stuart without time pressures. Stuart gets a chance to figure out if that deal can be made, since he clearly wants to avoid free agency if he can.

The Sharks give up Andrew Murray, an older July-1 free agent depth player that the organization wasn’t going to re-sign anyway, and if they sign Stuart, a 2014 7th round draft pick. That’s a minimal expense for a chance to take this deal off of July 1 and get it squared away ahead of time.

Think about this from the organizational standpoint, and it’ll be obvious why they did it. As of midnight July 1, the Sharks are going to have a number of players they’re contacting, and each of those players will have a number of teams contacting them. It gets really insane really quickly — not difficult to see them trying to coordinate talks with six agent/player combos all at once, and deals with some of those players contingent on what’s going on with other deals (or non-deals) with other players. 

Given that my feeling was that Dean Lombardi in LA was likely to be one of those July 1 bidders, and playing for the Kings isn’t quite as convenient to the family as playing for the Sharks, but it’s still pretty darn convenient (especially if the team gives him permission to visit family on off days and miss some of those practices), a team like the Kings or the Ducks could potentially force the Sharks to pay more for Stuart, or steal him away completely. 

So for minimal cost, Wilson brings Stuart in, gets him signed, or knows he can’t get the deal done, and on July 1, he’s reduced the number of players he’s chasing and simplified the strategy for the team so he can focus on other key needs. In return, Stuart gets what he wants — a return to San Jose — probably at some discount to what he’d get if he offered himself to all bidders, but he can settle in and not worry that something else might pop up and make a return to San Jose impossible. And since he wants to come back to San Jose, he loses nothing by doing this because he’s under no pressure to sign a deal he wouldn’t be willing to sign on July 1. Since he has the option to just go to July 1 and see what happens, Even if the deal doesn’t get made, it’ll set a floor value for him to use July 1, and that’ll help his agent if they need to find another team to work with. 

This deal is not a “hockey deal”, in that it’s not really about trading for talent. it’s about shifting time and risk around they make July 1 a less crazy day for the team management, which means they can (hopefully) focus more on solving other needs that day as well. 

So this deal works in small ways for everybody. We shouldn’t over think it, since it’s really the Sharks trading some mostly-disposable assets to make their life easier on July 1. It just happens Brad Stuart is at the center of that, but this deal isn’t about Brad, it’s about dealing with the business of July 1. 

Why him? Why not me? Are you even in the game?

Street Photography :: Photography Is An Enigma 

Zack Arias brought it up –

Someone recently said of me on a forum something that went along the lines of…

“I don’t know how he (speaking of me) has so many followers. His photography isn’t all that special. There are so many other photographers doing real work out there yet this guy (again, speaking of me) has everyone thinking he’s great.”

That’s not a direct quote but it’s close. To whomever you are… There’s a lot of truth in your sentiment. I agree with you. It’s what continues to push me deeper into photography.

Back around 2006, I decided I wanted to be a professional photographer and set off to become one. I knew (at least I knew this much!) that the first thing I had to be was a good photographer. In the years since, there were two or three times when I thought “I’m there”, times when I now look back with some embarrassment at my naiveté about my own capabilities.

Along the way, “going pro” stopped being a priority. Life is like that some days. There’s an entire month of essays in trying to explain this.

This is a long-way-around explanation to the guy questioning why Arias has a lot of followers, and the other guy doesn’t. One of the things I learned along the way is simple, but I think it’s profound: being a good photographer won’t make you a success, and won’t get you lots of followers. There are millions of really damn good photographers out there looking for jobs and sales and followers. 

Being a good photographer just gets you in the game. If you don’t have that, nothing else matters. That’s the starting point, not the finish line.

The reason Zack has me as a follower and you don’t is simple: Zack talks to me. He opens up a vein and pours it out all over his blog. At some point, I realized if I read one more piece on the rule of thirds or how to use a Grad ND filter that I’d puke. I don’t need to be told how — I’m beyond that. I know how.

I’m not looking for the geeky bits. I got those down. I’m trying to find my voice, sharpen my vision. I can press the shutter, but I’m still learning how to see. And so a year or so ago, the photographers I followed changed radically from photographers that were telling me how to do things to photographers that sat down and talked about what it was like being a photographer. There are very few photographers out there willing to open that vein and be real in public.

Chances are, dude, you’re showing me some really great photos on your blog — that look a lot like the photos on a thousand other blogs. And writing blog articles that are really similar to blog articles found on a hundred other blogs (like my blog; I’ll happily damn myself to my own words here, but at least I’m aware of it).

There’s only one Zack. And Zack doesn’t just point at a Grad ND and tell me how it makes water flows, he talks about what it’s like being Zack, in all its glory and successes and failures and insecurities and flaws. 

And not only is that a major reassurance, to have someone like him express these worries and let me know that I AM NOT THE ONLY PERSON IN THE WORLD that goes through these recurring crises-in-faith, but as he does so, he teaches me about the attitudes and mindset needed to become someone like Zack, someone who’s successful at what he does — sometimes despite himself. 

Just like me, and what I hope to be some day.

that’s why I follow Zack, and owe him many beers if I ever meet him (and David duChemin, and Kirk Tuck, and Chase Jarvis). Because he’s real. Because he’s not afraid to be real. Because after a while, it’s not about how to take photos, it’s about how to be a photographer. and that’s not something you do with screenshots of lightroom or pushing a shutter. It’s something you do by talking about being you — and I know that’s a seriously scary, risking thing to do, because it opens you up to criticism you can’t easily shrug off, because it’s about what you are, not about what you do. 

And I expect the reason Zack has many of his followers is because they’re like me and listen to Zack for similar reasons. At some point, it’s not about the camera, or the workflow, or the process. It’s the voice, it’s the vision, it’s about being a photographer. And that’s what Zack talks about. And that’s why I’m listening and learning. 

Are you this person? I honestly want to encourage you to stop talking about being a photographer for a little while, pick up your damn camera, and go be a photographer for awhile. Find a personal project to work on. Find an organization you can donate your time to and don’t just shoot their fund raising galla. Don’t wimp out and shoot portraits of the executive committee. Do something unique. Do something difficult. Do something really different then what you’ve done before. Prove not only to this industry that you still have your chops but prove it to yourself.

Early this year I made a strategic decision to do things other than shoot — it’s June, and I’ve only picked up the camera and gone shooting nine times so far this year. I knew the start of this year was going to be rough for free time, and I had all this infrastructure stuff that was an albatross around my neck; it mattered to me. Maybe it shouldn’t have, but it did. So I put the camera down and when I had time, went geeking instead of shooting. 

Still, the additions to my collection for the first six months of this year are about 80% of the number of images I added in the same periods in 2011 and 2010 — I’ve shot a lot less, but accomplished a lot more in those shoots. And I’m coming out the back side of this infrastructure work, meaning soon I’ll be able to do more camera and less code.

And the yards will be weeded, and a lot of house projects will be done, and I won’t have to feel guilty about grabbing camera instead of rake; not being a full time photographer makes all of this even more challenging, in that it sometimes has to squeeze in around work and life and family and weeds and all of that.

If there’s a criticism I can make at full-time photographers who push the rest of us forward in our craft, it’s this: I think if you live full-time with a camera it can be hard to understand how tough it can be for those trying to do this while fitting it in around the edges of their lives. It’s tough enough doing this stuff on a daily basis when it’s your profession. now, suck out another 50 hours a week for the non-camera profession and try it. So some of the advice goes sideways and i think it can be damaging to photographers who try to follow it despite it being unrealistic in their situation. It took me a good while to back off and realize that a lot of my frustration was because I was trying to squeeze blood out of a turnip and that I had to make it work in the context of my life and my available time. Once I did that, things got a lot less stressful for me.

A final reason I put down the camera: A year or so ago, I sat myself down to have a long talk with myself. I asked myself the question all photographers shudder at: “how do your pictures differ from those snapshots everyone is taking with their point and shoots?” 

I couldn’t answer it. And answering that question is the core of finding that voice, that vision. Wtihout it, I’m just taking holiday snaps. And that isn’t what I wanted my imagery to be. so while I was struggling to find an answer to that question, I went off and worked on other stuff instead. 

and I must say, fighting out what seems like a simple question was a real bastard, because I had to go down to the core of my motivations and drive, and I didn’t like some of the things I found down there in the sub-basement. 

And now I’m back. And maybe I have the answer. Only time will tell…. and it was worth it.

(I think).