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Vivid Light Photography, digital and film photography online
Musings and Random Thoughts
by Jim McGee

I'll keep it short this month - just a few thoughts by way of introduction to this month's issue.

Back on Track 
We're back on track from a calendar standpoint. With ad revenues down for the whole industry this year we've had to cut back on plans to add staff as the year progressed. Trying to do too much with too few meant that each month the magazine was getting released later and later. So instead of releasing the August issue on the 16th or 17th of the month we bumped it back a week to become the September issue. That additional week allowed the staff to catch up and it also gives us the luxury of an additional week before the October issue, which will be out the first week of October.

We're using that additional week to automate some processes, things that have been planned but that there was no time to implement. This will allow us to ensure that readers get their Vivid Light fix on time each month.

Some Good from Something Terrible 
For those of us who live in the Northeast the events of September 11th hit very close indeed. If we didn't know someone who was killed in New York, Washington, or Pennsylvania we knew someone who did or we knew someone who'd been in the area and escaped - sometimes narrowly.

In the aftermath of those events we've seen the country pull together and we've seen a reemergence of American pride. Although there are fewer than at their peak last October I can't remember a time other than on Fourth of July weekend when so many flags were on display. And they're on display every day.

Over the last two centuries numerous countries have underestimated the resolve of America. All have done so at their peril and many have suffered greatly as a result. Don't expect that resolve to falter until the job is done and terrorism is suppressed. This has been a reminder to us all that the world is indeed a dangerous place and that we need to be on guard.

It's the Economy Stupid - and it's Finally Getting Better 
We've all suffered economically over the last year. The good news is that it appears that things are finally trending upward again. Hey anything that improves my film budget is good news!

It's a Great Time to Travel! 
Another piece of good news for photographers are the low airfares, hotel rates, car rentals, and all of the other travel promotions this year that continue to be offered. It's foolish not to take advantage of these offers, some of which make once in a lifetime trips infinitely affordable. Safety should be the least of your concerns. There's still a better chance that you'll be hit by a meteor in the airport parking lot than of an attack on your flight. I for one will take those odds any day.

So open to the travel section of your newspaper, call a travel agent or head to a travel Web site. Just don't wait. Take advantage of the fares and take a romantic walk along a Paris street, go hiking in Yellowstone, or mountain climbing in Patagonia.

There are Amazing things Happening in Photography 
In the next 12 months expect to see new films with even finer grains. Not just 100 speed films but expect some real breakthroughs in high-speed films. Provia 400f, while amazing, is just the beginning of what we can expect.

In digital photography memory cards will get smaller, their capacities will get bigger, and we'll see 12 megapixel digital SLRs this year. We'll also find out if the new digital technology from Foveon is really a breakthrough or whether it's just another example of digital snake oil.

Film scanners will improve and their prices will drop. Our computers will get faster and our ink jet printers will continue to improve and amaze us. We'll begin to see over the next 12 months more color matched monitors and printers. They will eliminate the biggest problem for the home and casual user which is getting what comes out of the printer to look like what they see on the screen.

Pop-ups are Bad 
The geniuses at the Interactive Advertising Bureau (formerly the Internet Advertising Bureau) have come to the conclusion that people don't like pop-up ads. Oh Lord such a shocking revelation! Next thing you know they'll be telling us that people don't like paying taxes!

Why should you care? Well it's been almost a year since we banished pop-ups from our magazine. Readers loved it but it caused a tremendous amount of friction with DoubleClick, our ad agency. DoubleClick is the same ad agency that has a huge voice in the IAB. You probably don't know it but the IAB are the folks who are setting the standards for the type of ads you see all over the Web.

This month they released a study that listed under "reasons why people don't read online magazines" that 47% have signed off because of pop-up ads. Since these guys are the same ones who pushed the pop-up concept they can take credit for half the online audience signing off. Thanks guys.

Galen Rowell Killed in Plane Crash 
This month threats from terrorists are getting all the attention. But there are many things that can happen unexpectedly. 

As many of you already know on Sunday morning, August 11th Galen Rowell, his wife Barbara and two others were killed when a chartered twin engine plane crashed on approach to Bishop Airport in California killing all aboard. 

The news came as a shock to all in the photographic community whether they knew Galen personally or only through his work. Click here for the full story.

The Glass is Half Full 
There will always be tragedies and we'll never know when tragedy will strike. We can dwell on those tragedies and choose to live in fear or we can use the time we have to live life to it's fullest. To me that means you work hard, you play hard, you eat, drink, and be merry, and to me it also means you go out and see the world, you hike out among the trees and revel in capturing the moment with your camera. I for one intend to shrug off all the bad thoughts swirling around this month and do everything I can to enjoy the ride.

I'll be easy to find in the crowd. Not because of my family resemblance to bigfoot but because I'll be the guy with the camera and the big grin.

I hope I'll see you out there, 
Jim McGee


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