Off-Topic Interlude: Porsches In My Way


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[TOP's APES (all-purpose editorial slave), i.e. moi, is notorious for wandering off topic and writing about whatever random topic strikes his fancy. So, amidst all the vintage photo posts, I thought I'd insert one to stand for all the many off-topic posts I've indulged in over the years. This is from 2010, and documents one of my brushes with automotive greatness—when I chanced into the opportunity of driving a few laps on an autocross course with the Head Instructor of the Porsche Driving School. I didn't brag as much as I should have in this post—actually my lap

2010 Porsche Boxster

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Ten Iconic Photographs: No. 1


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[Note: Writer and editor Mike J. is doing well, making a slow recovery from a cornea transplant. For your amusement and edification in the meantime, brief discussions of ten remarkable photographs, counting down from number 10.]

The Hubble Ultra Deep Field Photograph

"This picture is the reason the Hubble Space Telescope was built. It has been compared in significance to the Dead Sea Scrolls and the discovery of the structure of DNA. It is the deepest and farthest back in time that humans have ever been able to see, almost back to the beginning of time.

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Ten Iconic Photographs: No. 2


This post is by Michael Johnston from The Online Photographer


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[Note: Writer and editor Mike J. is doing well, making a slow recovery from a cornea transplant. For your amusement and edification in the meantime, brief discussions of ten remarkable photographs, counting down from number 10.]

W. Eugene Smith, Tomoko Uemura in her Bath, Minamata, 1972

The Concerned Photographer

If Dorothea Lange's "Migrant Mother" is photography's madonna, then the last of the many great photographs of Gene Smith, Tomoko Uemura in her Bath, is our medium's pietà.

That's a properly exalted way of looking at these pictures, but it's a little too pat, too, because

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Ten Iconic Photographs: No. 3


This post is by Michael Johnston from The Online Photographer


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[Note: Writer and editor Mike J. is doing well, making a slow recovery from a cornea transplant. For your amusement and edification in the meantime, brief discussions of ten remarkable photographs, counting down from number 10.]

Gardner lincoln

Alexander Gardner, Abraham Lincoln, Nov. 8, 1863
(gravure reproduction)

The Portrait

Given the thousands upon thousands of superb portraits that exist—and the hundreds or thousands that are arguably no worse than this one—it may seem "U.S.A.-centric" of me to choose Alexander Gardner's portrait of Abraham Lincoln to stand for all portraits. Yet there are good reasons

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Ten Iconic Photographs: No. 4


This post is by Michael Johnston from The Online Photographer


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[Note: Writer and editor Mike J. is doing well, making a slow recovery from a cornea transplant. For your amusement and edification in the meantime, brief discussions of ten remarkable photographs, counting down from number 10.]

Robert Capa, Loyalist Militiaman at the Moment of
Death, Cerro Muriano, September 5, 1936

Access

One of the fundamental problems of photography not necessarily encountered by any other type of artist is the problem of access: to photograph something, you ordinarily have to be in proximity to it, or in a position to see it, or at least at

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Bored Out of My Gourd (Mike Update)


This post is by Michael Johnston from The Online Photographer


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Nothing much to report. My recovery is going well enough as far as I can tell, and I'm comfortable. Yesterday marked one full week to go till my next checkup. I'm already seeing interesting things out of my repaired eye, such as greatly improved color transmission and gorgeous large-structure contrast. Resolution is not yet adequate, but then I'm wearing a protective cover over the surface of the eyeball like a contact lens. My nine daily eyedrops include a beta-blocker, a quinolone antibiotic, and an anti-inflammatory synthetic corticosteriod. I haven't missed a one.

But I can't…do…anything. if you're ever

Fingers crossed

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Ten Iconic Photographs: No. 5


This post is by Michael Johnston from The Online Photographer


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[Note: Writer and editor Mike J. is doing well, making a slow recovery from a cornea transplant. For your amusement and edification in the meantime, brief discussions of ten remarkable photographs, counting down from number 10.]

Ansel Adams, Tenaya Lake

The Land

When I was young and new to photography, I worshipped Ansel Adams and revered his work. Now that I'm older and jaded, I seldom return to it for pleasure. Thus, Adams has taught me one of the most important lessons to learn about art: tastes change.

Art is volatile. Its meaning changes with context,

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Ten Iconic Photographs: No. 6


This post is by Michael Johnston from The Online Photographer


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[Note: Writer and editor Mike J. is doing well, making a slow recovery from a cornea transplant. For your amusement and edification in the meantime, brief discussions of ten remarkable photographs, counting down from number 10.]

Art Kane, Harlem 1958

Significance

This, for you, might be a stand-in, because I can't guess what might have similar significance for you. It depends what you care about and what has resonance for you. Jazz does it for me. Your mileage may vary, as the saying goes.

And on the surface, this doesn't seem like such a remarkable photograph:

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Ten Iconic Photographs: No. 7


This post is by Michael Johnston from The Online Photographer


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[Note: Writer and editor Mike J. is doing well, making a slow recovery from a cornea transplant. For your amusement and edification in the meantime, brief discussions of ten remarkable photographs, counting down from number 10.]

Stuart Franklin, © Magnum Photos

Witness

Fortunately, it is not very natural for one human being to kill another. Normal people don't like it. Some normal people who become killers do so for greed or self-interest or simply for status, but organized sprees of killing are usually led or instigated by a few sociopaths and sadists, who also statistically do

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Ten Iconic Photographs: No. 8


This post is by Michael Johnston from The Online Photographer


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Diane Arbus, Identical Twins, Roselle, NJ, 1967

Self and Other

This might seem an esoteric selection for a top ten list, but one of the many interesting things about it is that it's not: Diane Arbus has always been popular. Her magazine work, done for money, did well; her Aperture monograph is among a tiny, select handful of "evergreen" photo books that just keep on selling, year after year; seven million people saw the posthumous traveling retrospective of her work; and though she might seem the last person who could ever make money doing high-society portraits for pay, she did.

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Ten Iconic Photographs: No. 9


This post is by Michael Johnston from The Online Photographer


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[Note: Writer and editor Mike J. is doing well, making a slow recovery from a cornea transplant. For your amusement and edification in the meantime, a rerun of ten popular posts from the early 2000s—brief discussions of ten great photographs, counting down from number 10.]

Andy Warhol [from Gene Korman], Marilyn, 1967

The Image of Woman

This is not, properly speaking, "just" a photograph. It only started out as one.

When Eugene Kornman, a.k.a. Gene Korman, took his photograph of Marilyn Monroe in 1953 as a publicity still for the film Niagara (left),

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Ten Iconic Photographs: No. 10


This post is by Michael Johnston from The Online Photographer


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[Note: Writer and editor Mike J. is doing well, making a slow recovery from a cornea transplant. For your amusement and edification in the meantime, today we inaugurate a rerun of ten popular posts from the early 2000s—brief discussions of ten great photographs, counting down from number 10. Posted at 7 ET every morning. Enjoy!]

Edward Weston, Pepper No. 30

The Equivalent

The idea was Alfred Stieglitz’s. Although Steiglitz suffered from logorrhea—compulsive soliloquizing, in his case—he gave the concept he derived from Symbolist art an elegant, simple name: an equivalent. In 1922, he claimed that his

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Bon Mots: Why We Forget the Books We Read


This post is by Michael Johnston from The Online Photographer


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"Jared Horvath, a research fellow at the University of Melbourne, says that the way people now consume information and entertainment has changed what type of memory we value—and it's not the kind that helps you hold onto the plot of a movie you saw six months ago.

"In the Internet age, recall memory—the ability to spontaneously call information up in your mind—has become less necessary. It’s still good for bar trivia, or remembering your to-do list, but largely, Horvath says, what’s called recognition memory is more important. 'So long as you know where that information is at and how to

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How to Read a Photographic Book


This post is by Michael Johnston from The Online Photographer


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[Note: Mike J. recently had his eye operated on and is recuperating. Big rule during recovery: no screens, no reading, lie flat and stare at the ceiling. He got an Echo and is listening to Audible books! Meanwhile, for your amusement and reflection, a few blasts from the past. One will be published every day while Mike's away.]


I fell into a habit many years ago that I think has served me especially well. Like the importance of a print-viewing area where you can comfortably display workprints to look at in a leisurely fashion, it's one

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Past Blasts: Leicabashing


This post is by Michael Johnston from The Online Photographer


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[Note: The Online Photographer's M.C., majordomo, and Chief Bottlewasher, Mike J., just had his eye operated on and is recuperating. Big rule during recovery: no screens, no reading, lie flat and stare at the ceiling. He got an Echo and is listening to Audible books! Meanwhile, for your amusement and reflection, a few blasts from the past. One will be published every day while Mike's away.]

I don't like bashing. Meaning, reflexive, unreflective comments against groups of people—whether it's people who dress a certain way, women, people with non-majority sexual preferences, racial or

Leicaadimage

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Bon Mots: Geoffrey Batchen


This post is by Michael Johnston from The Online Photographer


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[Note: The Online Photographer's M.C., majordomo, and Chief Bottlewasher, Mike J., just had his eye operated on and is recuperating. Big rule during recovery: no screens, no reading, lie flat and stare at the ceiling. He got an Echo and is listening to Audible books! Meanwhile, for your amusement and edification, a few bon mots from other writers and photographers. One will be published every day while Mike’s away.]

DaguerreDaguerre

"…When Daguerre published his subscription broadsheet in late 1838, he described his own process as 'the spontaneous reproduction of the images of

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Past Blasts: The Legendary 1839 Susse Frères


This post is by Michael Johnston from The Online Photographer


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[Note: The Online Photographer's M.C., majordomo, and Chief Bottlewasher, Mike J., just had his eye operated on and is recuperating. Big rule during recovery: no screens, no reading, lie flat and stare at the ceiling. He got an Echo and is listening to Audible books! Meanwhile, for your amusement and reflection, a few blasts from the past. One will be published every day while Mike's away.]

[Originally posted May 2, 2007:] On Saturday, May 26th, the Vienna auction house WestLicht will auction what will very likely become the world's most valuable

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(Live Update)


This post is by Michael Johnston from The Online Photographer


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Dateline, Monday: I've learned today that my recovery is going to take somewhat longer than I had hoped. To string a few extra days from the material I have ready, one post per day will appear for the next few days. After that I will do something. I am not allowed to write, read, watch video, or look at images and whatever else on the computer or other kinds of screens—which is inconvenient as I have belatedly realized that pretty much all I ever do in my entire life is…write, read, watch video, or look at images and

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Bon Mots: The Reset Button


This post is by Michael Johnston from The Online Photographer


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[Note: The Online Photographer's M.C., majordomo, and Chief Bottlewasher, Mike J., just had his eye operated on and is recuperating. Big rule during recovery: no screens, no reading, lie flat and stare at the ceiling. He got an Echo and is listening to Audible books! Meanwhile, for your amusement and edification, a few bon mots from other writers and photographers. One will be published every day while Mike’s away.]

"In Japan, one’s lifetime is measured in 60-year cycles. When you reach the age of 60, you celebrate birth once more, returning to the

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Past Blasts: ‘The Differences Between Premium Lenses Are Subtle’


This post is by Michael Johnston from The Online Photographer


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[Note: The Online Photographer's M.C., majordomo, and Chief Bottlewasher, Mike J., just had his eye operated on and is recuperating. Big rule during recovery: no screens, no reading, lie flat and stare at the ceiling. He got an Echo and is listening to Audible books! Meanwhile, for your amusement and reflection, a few blasts from the past. One will be published every day while Mike's away.]

Marketing lenses is a little like marketing beer. Image—pun not intended—is everything.

Independent research shows that most beer drinkers buy the brands they do because of what

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