Recommended reading

28 comments on Recommended reading

💻 Artificial intelligence has made huge leaps forward lately. The best-known AI is probably ChatGPT, which I’ve seen do some astonishing things. Daniel Miessler makes a good case that ChatGPT and its brethren actually understand things. Read Yes, GPTs Actually Understand

Olympus OM-1, 50mm f/.8 F.Zuiko, Adox HR-50,
Adox HR-DEV 1:49, 2020

💻 Late last year my local newspaper emailed me asking me to donate to them so they could do more reporting. My mind was blown, as my newspaper is a for-profit company! But I should not have been surprised, because the paper is owned by Gannett. Sheila Kennedy looks at how Gannett has created local news deserts in every market it serves. Read The Bar is VERY Low

📷 I’ve been known to give permission for my photographs to be used by others, and sometimes I don’t ask anything in return. Kenneth Wajda argues that when I do that, I’m devaluing the work of pro photographers who make their living selling their photographs. Read You Don’t Deserve Credit! You Deserve Pay!

📷 Marc Beebe explains the basics of framing in photography. Read Take On Photos: Part 1, Framing

📷 In my film-developing adventures I’ve stuck with general-purpose developers. I have always figured that the Adox developers are all exotic and for special purposes. But Henri Toivonen disabuses me of that notion by reviewing Adox FX-39 II, a fine general-purpose developer. Read Adox FX-39 II review

📷 Shaun Nelson reviews the Nikon FA, probably the most advanced of Nikon’s non-pro bodies of the 1970s. (Check out my review of this camera here.) Read Nikon FA

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28 responses to “Recommended reading”

  1. Andy Umbo Avatar
    Andy Umbo

    Good catch on the Adox, worth my testing if I get going again!

    Gannett has ruined every paper it’s ever been associated with. They’ve been ruining the Indy Star longer than others, but by the time I got back to Milwaukee, they were ruining our paper as well. The term here is “ghost paper” i.e. little local news, mostly wire service pick-ups and garbage stories. Chances are, the Indy Star started ruining themselves before Gannett even took over, similar to the Milwaukee Journal/Sentinel: reducing the reporting staff, and eliminating police beat reporters, and city hall reporters. There hasn’t been a reporter stationed at city hall, or at the main police station, in over 20 years, and this is where all investigative reporting usually began; people dropping tips off about areas they think someone’s trying to get away with something. Gannetts policy is to drive people to the internet by crapping up the paper, but their portal is so bad, no one stays and reads. Lots more to talk about, but this story only begins to scratch the surface.

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      In every industry, there are companies who would be happy to hasten the industry’s decline and ride it to the end.

  2. brandib1977 Avatar

    Nice round-up today! The Chillicothe Gazette has been publishing since 1793 – before Ohio was a state. It used to be a great paper but it’s a shadow of its former self since Gannett acquired them many years ago. It’s shameful what they have done.

    About twenty years ago, I was a young reporter and editor working for Brown which has since been gobbled up a couple of times and is now owned by APG. I miss the days of Brown when I complained about their mishandling of the papers and staff. It all seems so innocent now. APG has gutted these small local papers leaving one reporter to cover several county markets. I feel bad for him.

    Today, there’s a lot of Facebook “reporting.” In fact, there’s a guy in this area that goes by The Scioto Post. He’s is a glorified ambulance chaser. I see lots of friends sharing his stuff but it’s poorly written, incomplete and occasionally strays into libel.

    Democracy depends on straight, factual and brave reporting. It’s no wonder our country is such a mess.

    Thanks for the great reads this week!

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      Who knew that Chillicothe existed before Ohio became a state? But yes, Gannett has destroyed local journalism nationwide.

      1. brandib1977 Avatar

        Yes! Long history here! Chillicothe was officially laid out by Nathaniel Massie in 1796 and became the capital of the Northwest Territory in 1800. It hosted the Ohio Constitutional Convention two years later and became Ohio’s first capital in 1803.

        Before that there was a large presence of Shawnee Indian who called their principal settlement Chalagatha. Before them, the Hopewell had a large presence.

        There’s rich history in this area, celebrated through the outdoor drama Tecumseh, the home of Ohio’s first Governor and some local museums. The downtown is experiencing an impressive revival and there’s a new boutique bed and breakfast in town. This town is just 30 minutes from me so I go often for shopping and entertainment. I believe you guys would enjoy a visit.

        Ahem…. I didn’t intend to write a book….

        1. Jim Grey Avatar

          I’ve been through Chillicothe before because we always used to take US 35 to WV to visit family in the Charleston area. My dad said that when he was a kid going back and forth, Chillcothe was where the family always stopped for a break before making the last leg of the trip.

          1. brandib1977 Avatar

            I can see why they would choose Chillicothe both for the geography and the amount of choice of places to take a rest over the years. It has always been the commercial center for the rural and smaller communities surrounding.

            He wouldn’t recognize the place today. It has grown so much just in my lifetime. Areas that were once gentle farm land are now paved over for car lots, Panera and Sam’s Club.

  3. Ted Marcus Avatar

    I absolutely agree with Kenneth Wajda. When you let organizations use your photos for free you’re not only devaluing the work of pro photographers, but you’re devaluing photography in general.

    That is an unfortunate trend that’s been going on for years. I’ve had my photography Web site for nearly 24 years. For a few years after I started it, sales of image files and prints provided a small second income, enough to encourage my efforts. That dried up years ago. Now the only e-mails from my site’s contact form that aren’t spam are requests for for my pictures. The requesters want them for free, of course, and sometimes even ask for a specific size, cropping, or resolution (i.e., they also want me to also do their prep work for free). Some of them generously offer to include a link to my Web site, but most don’t even mention credit. The requests usually are from charities, churches, and similar “non-profit” entities to use on a Web site or brochure promoting some activity. But sometimes the requests come from publicly-traded corporations.

    I always respond to those requests by telling them I don’t give away my work for free, and either quoting them a price or asking for more information so I can quote them a price. When the request is from a corporation, and I have time, I look up the company to find out their financials and CEO compensation. If I’ve done that, I include a statement like “if you have $X billion in annual revenue and you pay your CEO $X million, you can surely afford to pay photographers for their work.” Needless to say, I never receive a reply from anyone I respond to.

    1. Andy Umbo Avatar
      Andy Umbo

      It is now 2023, and people (many who should know better) have been asking for work for free since I had my freelance commercial photography studio in the mid -80’s, and probably before that. Good luck swimming upstream against this deluge! I left the business before digital, because no one valued photography as a profession, especially in the fly-over, and went into creative department management instead, and that was back in the late 80’s. As shortly as just a few years ago, I started hanging out at a coffee shop / craft beer place in my town, started by some young lads who were very accomplished wedding / event photographers, who weren’t able to make a living at it because people started advertising on Craigs List for people to photograph their weddings for free (we’re beautiful people, you can use us for your portfolio)!

      Bullocks to all that!

      I’m glad I lived long enough to see some of the younger people who expected me to give them free photography, end up failing, because people expected them to do free design work (Hey, it on a computer, it’s not like you’re spending any money!).

      My experience is that the more professional a market you live in, the less like this is to happen. Truly professional people would have the moral, ethical, and professional imperative to do things correctly, and make sure, everyone gets paid! They understand if they didn’t, it’ll only be a matter of time before they’re not getting paid either. I’m betting that if some unprofessionally educated doofus from a Fortune 500 company is doing this, it is probably NOT at the direction of his director or higher ups, and they if they knew, they might be mortified.

      I remember getting flown out to the west coast to shoot an assignment for a non-profit. I was amazed, because it my fly-over town, the non-profits (a very broad term) expected you would photograph for them for nothing (and use it for your portfolio). The art director of the west coast non-profit said: “…hey, we’re in the business of teaching people how to live productive lives and stand on their own two feet, you don’t get there screwing others out of their income…”.

    2. Jim Grey Avatar

      On the one hand, it’s my work, I can sell it or give it away as I please. On the other — if you want to use my work in some way directly related to you making money, I expect compensation.

  4. Rick Scheibner (@rickscheibner) Avatar

    I’m happy to give my photos away (and my services) as I see fit. Senior pics for a needy kid. Event photos for a non-profit I support. Situations like that. At the end of the day, though, I choose what I donate and what I get paid for. Even attorneys donate a percentage of their services every year, so it’s ok for photogs to do the same.

    1. Andy Umbo Avatar
      Andy Umbo

      If you’re the RS that makes their primary income working for a school system as a counselor in Oregon, and not as a professional photographer, It might behoove you reevaluate your opinion on this against those who really make ALL their income trying to sell photography…the market has changed so much, that as Ted Marcus relates above, it’s a nightmare where for profit companies start to believe they can get and use content, to make a profit for themselves, without paying for it. All professional photographers may have valued non-profits they support with goods and services, but that’s not what we’re talking about here; we’re talking about the 85% of the e-mail inquiries and phone calls we get, expecting us to work for nothing!

      1. Rick Scheibner (@rickscheibner) Avatar

        That’d be me, and thanks for the clarification. Just to further explain, I live in a very rural area where there are zero full time pro photogs who make all (or a significant portion) of their income from photography. I’m pretty selective about my clients (mostly due to time restraints) and I happily refer to those photographers whose work I consider of significant quality.

        More to your point, I do have some acquaintances online and throughout the state who do full time professional photography who regularly rail against the situation you described above. Larger corporations know that they can get away with obtaining those goods and services for low or no cost. I think this is why so many of seasoned pros have resorted to running workshops and creating tutorials to supplement their photography income.

    2. Jim Grey Avatar

      It’s your work, you can sell it or give it away as you please. But it’s useful to be aware of the position that pro photographers have to take on this issue.

      1. Rick Scheibner (@rickscheibner) Avatar

        It is and I am. Thanks for your thoughts, Jim.

        1. Andy Umbo Avatar
          Andy Umbo

          I guess the point I’m trying to make here (altho the horse has already left the barn), is supporting yourself in your industry, so that you can give away work in my industry, really needs to be thought through a little better. I went to a tech/trade school for pre-engineering before college, and learned a lot of trade disciplines. I love a good plumbing or electrical project, but wouldn’t think about doing it for free for someone who could certainly pay someone to do it. Why do the commercial arts always have a sub group of people willing to give away services while supporting themselves doing something else. Maybe there are few pro photo services in your area because no one can make a living at it after years of trying? I’ve watched a metro area of way over a million people, in a thirty year cycle, go from multiple ad agencies and a fair amount of commercial photographers and artists, go to practically none, because people are willing to give it away, or for work for near nothing; and people that hire those service, and who should be working with people who have actually hung a shingle out, are willing to spend time trolling around for work and accepting “good enough”. Forty years ago, I remember old timers saying: “If you’re not serious to actually be in that business and hand out a shingle, your not serious for me to hire you.”

  5. Cynthia Avatar

    That article about ChatGPT is a hell of a case of seeing what you want to see in the results. (Something humans are particularly prone to.)

    If that guy wanted to prove that ChatGPT understood what Luke and Leia are and their relationship, he could have, for example, followed up with “why is their love forbidden?”

    Claiming that that poem references Star Wars and forbidden love between siblings, without any proof that there was reasoning behind it, is ridiculous.

    1. Jim Grey Avatar


      1. Cynthia Avatar

        Here’s a counterpoint (and I think you’ll also enjoy the rest of the post):

        1. Jim Grey Avatar

          I don’t actually have a dog in this hunt – I’m in wait-and-see mode. But I won’t be surprised if these GPTs get far, far better with time.

  6. seatacphoto1951 Avatar

    I am going to change the Type K focusing screen that comes with the camera. I have lots of trouble focusing correctly with it. I think Type B will be better for the work I do.

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      On your Nikon FA? You can change the screens on those?

        1. Jim Grey Avatar

          “TIL” as the kids say!

  7. cliff baldwin Avatar

    Gannet ruined my local paper, The Daily Oklahoman. Subscription cost kept rising; quality dropping, size kept shrinking, reagitating national content (which was awful). I’m a proponent of getting local news in physical format, love the tactile feel of reading the paper with morning coffee, but couldn’t stomach this any further. It was a sad day when I cancelled.

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      It’s what Gannett does. :-(

  8. kennethwajda Avatar

    Thanks for including my post, Jim! I look forward to your recommended reading every week!

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      You’re most welcome!

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