Drinking from the fire hose

I am wondering, given my advanced age (soon to be 73), if others face the same problems I do, or if it is age-related. I recently purchased a new camera, a Nikon D3500, a wonderful tool with features beyond the imagination, and even with that said to be an entry-level to intermediate camera.

We live in a time where there is a YouTube video for everything, including this camera, but I do not learn much by watching videos. Just as I cannot use Kindle to read, I must have the tactile sensation of paper before me, and time to digest. For that reason, I purchased a book, Nikon D3500 For Dummies, and have been reading it now for a couple of weeks. I am on page 84. I will skip parts of it, as I have no desire for my photos to be instantly sent to my phone. No need for its Bluetooth or WiFi. But I do want to slowly absorb the rest.

I took the above photo of a Northern Shoveler duck in flight. I realize it is not that good, but I’ve never before had a camera which took burst photos so that I could catch action in progress. It is blurry. What I would really like would be to have the duck in focus and everything else out of focus. The camera has that capability, but not the camera’s owner. Not yet, anyway.

I thought my best shot would be to use a photo program I have, Affinity, to fix up the photo, but I do not know how to use Affinity. So I thought I would watch a few videos. What I found was an amazing assortment, all having two things in common: One, they speak with a foreign accent, often Asian or British, and two, they are much faster with their mouses than I can follow. Below is no exception.

The accent, of course, usually results from people speaking more than one language, English a second. I cannot criticize that. But the movement of mouse clicks that I somehow am expected to write down in short order or memorize using stop action, is tedious, and for me not a learning experience. Once again, I need a book and lots of time, which I will do I suppose. The video above is done to place the Affinity label on a brick structure, and the guy knows his stuff. If I were to attempt to repeat what he does there, even after watching the video, I would not know where to begin.

Is it just me? I think it might be. I cannot learn from videos. If I have to go back to a particular video, I won’t remember where I found it, and if I am looking for a particular part of a video, forget it, or I should say, I forgot it. I need a book.

I am slowly learning the D3500 camera, and retention is good as the book, D3500 For Dummies, is very well written by a gal, Julie Adair King, who knows her stuff and can explain it all in non-technical language. We are going on two trips to Europe this year, one next month to France and Geneva, Switzerland, and later to the Pyrenees. I look forward to giving the camera  a workout, and better yet, on return, working with the photos to improve their quality using Affinity.

This photo was taken last year at Brooks Falls in Alaska. I tried, using my eight-year old Nikon CoolPix, to catch a salmon in mid-air, but the half-second delay made it impossible. If the camera had a burst (continuous shots) feature, I never discovered it. Finally, a man took this photo with an iPhone 13, and then air-dropped it to everyone on the platform who had an iPhone.

This is one of the reasons why I wanted a camera upgrade, and why I now feel I am swimming in deep water. Photography is now so sophisticated that even an “entry-level” camera like the D3500 is massively more advanced than my old CoolPix. And, Affinity Photo, said to be an every man’s Photoshop, is amazingly sophisticated.

I guess I am a 73-year-old plodder. I wonder if there was a time when I instantly grasped new technology, as our grandson does.

12 thoughts on “Drinking from the fire hose

  1. When my mother died 10+ years ago, I inherited some dollars and on my list of splurge items was an old-fashioned bicycle (but updated, with shifting gears), ting-a-ling bell and all and a DSLR Nikon. Previous to that I was still occasionally using my brother’s old Bell and Howell 35mm SLR. I haven’t read how to use the DSLR, just started clicking away. It came with all those fancy settings and I just guessed. When our son was in college, he ran track and cross country and I was able to use the “sport” mode to get the click click click fast paced photos. I don’t recall them being blurry, but I was pretty close to the action so they turned out okay. However, this camera comes with other lenses which I have NOT mastered, so who’s to say if another lens was on what my result would have been. I learn best by watching in person and doing, so I suppose I would need a real person showing me techniques. Kudos to you Mark, for digging in!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Foreward: Mark — I’m trying for a reply with less ‘attitude’… lemme know how I did at the end. Thanks, WS.


    In a nutshell, I believe what you are describing is one of the ways in which people are being turned into robots — yes robots — one memory card at a time. I’ll address the robot/transhuman aspect of photography and media in the second part of my reply, but first, some background.

    I graduated with an AA (after four years of instruction) from Ventura Community College. I studied under several of the Brooks Institute graduates before Brooks sold out. As my interest in photography grew, I also learned the Zone System (Ansel Adams) of printing under a Master Printer. Contrary to what some people believe, there is still an active market for film, particularly black and white film, and the ‘wet’ process of developing and printing using silver-based photovoltaic emulsions. (My study of photovoltaics community college focused not just on the creative aspects but also chemists — and various light sensitive particles suspended in combinations of acids, water and other chemicals fascinated me that combined with heavy cannabis use lent itself to understanding geoengineering and questioning intentional weather modification in the early 2000’s,as many of the patents used to manipulate the weather originated from 19th century inventions through photography, but that is an aside). My printing teacher in particular told me one time that “Expert Status is counted in notches on the board. Every five years you get one notch and after you get five notches, you can call yourself an expert.” I only have four notches so I am not an expert, but bare with me, I’ve thought a lot about this.

    Digital photography appeared when I was studying wet photography (or what I like to call ‘organic photography’ for the fruit and nut crowd), it was an incredibly disruptive technology. I tried it. I never put down film, but for awhile I definitely shot more digital (first6.3 MP Canon Rebel DigiEOS platform — still have it) and instead appreciated the superior cost savings. Even when film was still relatively cheap, it cost per image in the digital sphere was pennies compared to film.

    Soon, however, I started to see in my photographic circles how the abundance of image capturing capabilities made photographers (some) start shooting excessively, even bragging about how many shots they captured as if the number of shots equaled skill and ability. I couldn’t disagree more as I watched peoples actual creativity using the camera as a tool start to diminish as the tech became more and more codependent. I was 18-21 during this time period (2001-2004) so I had grown comfortable behind PC’s. But when PC’s and software became interwoven with learning how to use a camera to capture (or craft) an image — creativity died to a certain degree.

    To put this in a certain relative perspective for POM readers getting bored with diatribe, — the Apollo Age had Stanley Kubric and his ilk. The Artemis Age has Alex Singer and his ilk. Imagine how much less work it is to use computers to craft narrative. The experts are still creative geniuses and the public still believes what they see, but now the public has become sort of co-creators, as their own content feeds the confirmation bias. The things an average digital camera can do today are unparaled with what it could do just twenty years ago.


    Perhaps I am still convoluting what I am trying to say… one can still be extremely creative if they put the work in (as you described your struggles above) and it is possible to learn new technology in order to accomplish your goal. But in the process of adapting this new technology, we gave up something else, we gave up part of our humanity, moving us towards transhumanism. As a classically trained photographer, I was tought not to take pictures, but to make images. What is the actual goal of making the image? Thus, the tools we have do not define the ability to convey the message. But, with better tools, we can also convey

    Every digital image is just that — a digital image. The digital image only exists inside of the computer world. Even if you print the image onto a piece of paper, (which can bring a different representation of the digital image) the print is only as good as the material is was printed on.

    Every negative and positive I have is tangible. It can be destroyed. But it has to be done in a physical way. (We actually collected a few other peoples old slides and negatives as well, some neat stuff from the 1950’s and 60’s that is becoming harder and harder to find, old world stuff,)

    Now, as you posited, the iPhone is a peculiar thing. Its image capture abilities are rapidly increasing. The filters and layers that the software uses to capture the 3D reality are eclipsing any capability of phycial film. The camera in a sense can think. It can share with everyone else in real time through air droping.

    The digital image then is a sort of thought form that encapsulates one of our memories — and those memories are now wholly interwoven into the digital world, increasingly in a cloud based (still a physical server in someone else’s backyard). There is then, nothing more ‘real’ about these digital memories than there is anything real about our good friend WikiPedia — aka the Digital Newspeak Library. Our perception of the truth of our digital memories and the digital memories is bound to this time of increased symbiosis of human and machine. The digital image bank is there, for everyone to access as the global conscious is being built.

    My biggest fear is that we have now become so benign to the power of our ability to effortlessly create digital images and videos, we do almost without thinking anything of it. And all of it, all of our digital history is at risk of being wiped out, eliminated, destroyed as we have been peppered with predictive programing and we know of several previous resets in history, or even the possibility of a Carrington type event or other disruption to internet or technology coming soon.

    The work of Edward Curtis comes to mind, who was famous for his 19th century photographs of the American Indian. The images of those people is largely how we understand and remember their culture. At least before they were destroyed the first world peoples of north american had perfected the art of storytelling as a way of recording history.

    What then will they say of us 100 or 150 years from now, after the Great Reset? What then will we do when we can only remember our memories and we cannot see how we built our own destruction?

    Now that the digital reservation system has almost put us all in our place, there is only one thing left to do my friends — let us gather around the fire with something warm to drink and practice telling our stories.


  3. Mark, You are not alone in technophobia. I am a month from 90 and the techie stuff if getting out of hand. That hasn’t stopped me from writing, however, and you might find my “Letter to a Generation” of interest. I will not use up valuable space here by emailing it. I would like you to read it if you find time. It can be found online at http://www.bigeye.org/letter.htm .. Alwasy enjoy your stuff. Stewart

    Liked by 1 person

  4. In a nutshell, my photo hobby journey – in the 2000s I was into analog 35mm SLRs, already cheap at the time. The “standard” lens was the 50mm. It’s quite the natural viewing angle. I collected many lenses, but found zoom makes photos appear unnatural, and the lenses have to be carried, changed. In the late 2000s, affordable digital cameras overtook analog cameras, the resolution of 35mm was just not good anymore, the lab work declined. There is one camera resembling an old analog 50mm SLR camera. No (!) zoom. The Sigma DP2 Merrill. If the motive does not fit, I use my feet, or tilt the camera, so it fits. Like the camera work in the Nash Bridges crime series.
    This week I took some pictures of seagulls in flight, using this old cam. Shoot me a mail, I’ll send some back. On the phones – the secret of the stunning pictures of those is the HDR function. Software adjusts brightness for each portion of the picture separately. A dumb camera will show dark foreground, or burn out the sky white. It is possible to doctor photos, but I never dived into it. Except one task – cut pictures. An anecdote from my school time, art lesson – we were drawing some pictures. The teacher lost it, the last minute of the hour, he gave us scissors, and instructed us to cut away what is not essential, no matter how much, he’d not care how big the picture is. Greatest lesson ever.


    1. We had friends in our former home town, both avid bird watchers. He used a Nikon CoolPix, and she had a camera with an amazing long lens, maybe two feet long. She never carried a tripod. Their home was decorated from room to room with bird pictures, which they sent out to have some process that looks like caramelizing or marbleizing. My suspicion was that most of the photos were his with his CoolPix. He would crawl on his belly and wait for just the right shot. I suspect she thought her two-foot lens would bring the shot to her without work.

      There was a wildlife photographer, the name will come to me, who worked in Yellowstone. First name Bob. It will come to me. He took amazing photos, and when asked how, said “F16 and be there.” He would camp out in winter just to get a shot. I think photography is more about Bob [Landis] camping in winter than the camera.


  5. I hike a bit and I always carry a camera. Since I am out in the wilderness, I frequently see things most do not – I mean with my eyes. In 2001 or so, I reviewed the digital camera offerings and purchased a Sony Mavica – here’s how they describe it: 3.3-megapixel resolution, a 3x Carl Zeiss Vario-Sonnar zoom lens and extensive manual focus and exposure controls for easy use. What that doesn’t say is that the unit had a CD burner within – no IC memory storage – and HEAVY. I loved it… an intuitive menu driven interface and the ease of use was beyond my expectation. You hear a lot still about MEGAPIXELS of course, Wifey’s camera mentioned above has 18 if I remember correctly. Trying to use that modern digital compared to my dinosaur Mavica is like Night and Day. When I did try to use hers, I flipped everything to AUTO – and it worked out okay. There were 15 Million or so settings – and I just wanted a few good static shots.

    With that camera, I did just as WS mentioned above: I blasted hundreds of images at a setting. However, I don’t think I printed a single one. Even though digital, the old Mavica had a latency issue that Mark has mentioned – that CD burner was SLOW (rapid fire was preposterous), and the images (at the necessary maximum resolution) were limited to about 100 per disc. Those two factors made me contemplate the image that I was about to (attempt to) capture. I have printed dozens, and I think that some are really good (B & W). My buddies have my images mounted in their homes – all from that old Mavica at just 3.3mp. Back to WS again… in the attempt to capture the entire scene, I wrote a detailed photo-journal (of one hard backpacking trip) and it does complete the picture… for posterity. PRINTING that book cost about $70 from Shutterfly (where they make their money), which kills the cost-saving of NOT-film of course. Various paper printing is acceptable – but not for the ones I wanted for my own walls. Just 3mp and my printed 2’x3’ images look great; I do not know enough detail about the newest high-tech units, but I did NOT need 20+ megapixels of today’s units – and Wifey’s big zoom was never touched after a brief test.

    I carry a Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra – the camera component is supposedly excellent. I have NEVER felt comfortable NOT pointing it with a single eye – like days of old. I use it for day-to-day crap (like my upside-down aloof cat). I carry it in a protective frame, but the lenses are always dusty and oily no matter how well I wipe it down. Wifey and I will be heading to a circuit of covered bridges in Indiana soon, and we will be bringing along her modern Nikon and my relatively modern phone-camera… I am tempted to carry along the old Mavica since weight is not an issue. She will be attempting some wildlife shots (birds) and I will likely stick with my B & W stills. We shall see which is easier, which images are most representative (maybe worth printing) and which, with captions added, might make a decent trip report.

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  6. “Photography is not about going to new places, but rather, seeing with new eyes” ~Richard Avedon

    My professor and mentor said that to make (not take) a great image the photo should have one or more of The BIG MAC ingredients. The Big MAC was his recipe for good photos and the secret sauce was M = Mystery, A = Ambiguity, C = Contradiction.

    Technical capabilities aside, if the photo did not have one or more of those elements, it was typically a bad photo, not suitable for submission and critique. He also hated the word ‘cute’. If you used the word ‘cute’ to described a photo he’d dismiss you from class until you could use better vocabulary.

    Here is a book I made in February that is available to view and read for free on Shutterfly for those that might be interested. It is about Dogs, death, and dying.


    Liked by 1 person

    1. Just fantastic.

      Unfortunately, for me, I just buried my big fat 15yo furry [feline] friend on Friday and your images reminded me of him once again. I am told that I will meet him in the great beyond… I surely hope so.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I watched a video on cats (not a “cat video”) on Netflix a couple of days ago. I had much to learn about them. They were treated with respect and given props for being affectionate towards people and other cats, even dogs too. Some are very smart.

        Miles Mathis is a cat lover, and always has them around, never spayed, always looking sleek and well-fed, but not obese. He says that a feral or wild cat never makes any sound, but that cats who are house pets meow. He thinks this is their way of attempting to imitate human speech.


  7. Since the comments have slowed down a little, I’ll indulge in an off topic health question – what does anyone recommend for pain relief?

    I bought some ibuprofen but then got put off by the label – I know I’ve read criticism of polysorbate-80, and just not sure about a lot of the rest of it.

    (I think my issue might be something to do with the piriformis muscle pressing the sciatic nerve, from my reading, but not positive. Anyway, it’s been mostly tolerable for weeks, except certain days I wake up and any little wrong movement sets it off much worse.)


    1. If you can, try resting in a position where it doesn’t hurt. In my experience, sunbathing helps as vit D is produced in large amounts which somehow alleviates pain. Hot baths can help as well. At least that’s my experience from battling with occasional but severe pain in my lower back. I try to avoid ingesting any chemicals, but if you’re going mad from pain, just take one or two without thinking too much about it. In the end, that’s what painkillers are for. Beware of the opioids though and do not consume even a single pill, ever.


      1. Thanks MiniMe. That is about where I’ve arrived at.. less purist about the ibuprofen. Looking over various positions designed to stretch or relax for sciatic issues. And I do try to get sun and even do “grounding” (bare feet on ground) when the weather is nice.


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