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Vivid Light Photography, digital and film photography online


It seems we've kicked over a couple of anthills the last two months - one concerning art & pornography, another being our views on digital photography in a past issue.

Fire when ready! Just remember to duck as someone may zing one back at 'ya.

Art vs. Pornography

To see what the fuss is about click here to read last month's feedback on this issue.

Tell Jill to get a grip. She's probably some kind of religious nut anyway. Since when are women's breasts so awful that we should be horrified to look at them?

Keep doing what you're doing. Having a little bit of a lot of different things makes it interesting for me. I started out shooting landscapes which is how I originally found you guys online. But your contests and all the different articles have challenged me to shoot different things.


PORN?? I'm constantly amazed at what people consider pornographic. I guess I shouldn't be since the Supreme Court couldn't define it either. To Jill--there are many examples of your definition of porn hanging in the Louvre, The British Museum, and in practically every other major museum in the world. God forbid you should ever go to one of them.

As far as what I think? Keep up the great e-zine--including the nudes. They're beautiful.

Ed Petzolt

Pornographic?????? Did she even LOOK at those images? The only thing I'll agree with her about is that you shouldn't be looking at those images at work. As a matter of fact you shouldn't be reading Vivid Light or any other magazine at work. As an Accounting Department Manager one of my biggest problems is people paying more attention to the Internet than to their work. But as for the pictures I see nothing wrong with them.

Thank you for the fine magazine, 
Carol Mathis

In your response to Jill last month part of your justification for the "fine art" photography was the history of portraying the human form. You even mentioned the "fig leaf campaign" of the Counter Reformation as a historical atrocity. Frankly when I look at the statue of David used to illustrate your point I see it not as a work of art but as an early form or pornography. The fact that man has created pornographic images throughout history doesn't make it right. 

Man has been committing murder since Cain and Able. That doesn't make murder right and it doesn't make murder art. Would this statue be any less artistic if David was wearing a toga? Frankly I think the church had the right idea when they chiseled off or covered the genitals of statues and paintings. I say that because it is how I feel and not because I'm Catholic or because the Church tells me how to feel. Frankly I think we're surrounded by far too many sexual images. Do we really need that much temptation?


It is truly sad that so many are so closed minded. I would bet that a copy of David on the bookshelf in many offices would elicit a tongue lashing from HR in most companies because someone, somewhere, might be offended. How did we ever get so PC?

Gary W.

God save us from the religious nuts.


Only an American would be so offended by the human body.


[Jim McGee responds] It's interesting that so many people assumed Jill's motivation was religious. I received two separate emails from her and neither one made any mention of religion.

Jean makes an interesting, if caustic point, in that opinions regarding what is "acceptable" vary greatly from country to country. In many places Grandma going to a clothing optional beach raises nary an eyebrow while in other parts of the world women routinely cover all but their eyes when out in public.

I just like to look at the girls.


At least he's honest…

Digital's Dirty Little Secret

Ref: Digital's Dirty Little Secret To add to your comments on a hard drive backup, I would recommend a computer with a minimum of 2 separate hard drives. One to boot your system and hold all of your programs and a second one to hold all of your image files. I also have several Iomega 120 Gig external hard drives which are used to automatically back up the image files hard drive and are rotated every 6 months.

Mike Dougherty

A comment on "Digital's Dirty Little Secret"

While I agree to some extent with the message this article is trying to convey I do disagree with many of the specifics. For instance, the author uses recovering 5 1/4" floppy's as a difficult or possibly impossible task. Do a quick search of Google for "Digital Media recovery 5 1/4" and you'll find 5 or 10 companies right away who will be only too happy to convert your media to the latest format. Or anything that's ever been digitally recorded to for that matter. It will cost but I've found in the past that it's not all that expensive and some of them are quite reliable.

Just a commentary on an enjoyable article and an excellent site.


[Jim McGee responds] Actually I made a similar point in the article. There are probably services out there that can read my old 10 inch floppies but I shudder to think of the cost. The imaginary photographer in the article finds himself in a future where he has numerous CDs that he can no longer read and the cost to recover the images is prohibitive. Hmm maybe I should recover those old 10 inch floppies. Maybe I wrote something really intelligent back then - nah, who am I kidding!

I just read your article "Digital's Dirty Little Secret?", and found it interesting that you think Data CD's are going to become obsolete in the near future. It's true in the past that new technology has made many ways of storing data obsolete, however the computer world is changing and people are not buying new computers every 18 months anymore. My computer has a floppy drive, a CD-RW and a DVD+(-)RW and the funny thing is it's already four years old. CD's have been around since the 80's and it will be some time now until DVD's replace them as the most popular storage medium. Just look at the state of DVD audio, do people even know about it? The floppy drive still hasn't been removed from the computer world and the only competition is the USB Key for quick storage of information. People don't need the next best Disc, DVD-R's can hold up to 4.35 Gigabytes and if you can convert that to number of pictures or files it's a large number. DVD's and CD's can be read easily and cost efficiently with only one drive. [additional text was cut off by the form's text limit]

Greg Keller

[Jim McGee responds] You raise a good point. The cycle has gone from 18 months to 3 to 4 years (depending on whose numbers you believe). People are keeping their computers longer these days. And that does tend to increase the shelf life of storage standards. But when the changes come, they have a tendency to come quickly. When I originally wrote that article back in April of 2003 I thought RW DVD would emerge to replace CD. But it appears that USB drives may end up replacing both the floppy and CD. They're small, relatively cheap (compared to buying a CD or DVD burner, infinitely reusable, portable and easy to use. They require no special software and you can essentially treat them like a big floppy. If the optical disk format ens up as only being used for delivering software, it is likely the DVD format will win out. It's cheaper to package a single DVD with a software release than several CDs. Also as high speed connections become more prevalent more and more software companies are encouraging buyers to buy on the Web and download their software. How soon will CDs fall out of favor? I think it will be within the next few years.

I don't fully understand the huge orchestrated push towards digital photography. Most of the supposed benefits of digital photography are really the benefits of digital image processing - which is necessary for most digital photos because of the inherent poor quality of digital capture, and of self processed images. These same benefits apply to the conventional darkroom, provided the photographer does his own work. Many darkroom techniques such as Cibachrome (Ilfochrome) printing using contrast and dodge/burn masks are surprisingly easy and can give superb results - beyond what an all digital image is capable of at this time. No mention is made of this fact. All I'm reading is a comparison of a chain store machine print from a 35mm negative against a digital image that the photographer has spent hours digitally manipulating to remove grain (noise), sharpen it, improve saturation, etc. And it's not even mentioned that the relatively poor quality chain store machine print is probably done digitally too!

Louis Freeman

[Jim McGee responds] I don't think there's an "orchestrated push towards digital photography" as much as there is a tendency for photographers and writers to be captivated by the latest technology. It's true that many of the benefits of digital photography come from the ease of manipulating images. But I would disagree that it is easy to set up a color dark room at home. It is far easier for most people to sit down at the computer for a few hours than to go into the dark room for a few hours. Most people have found a bit of desk space for a computer in their home. It's a lot tougher to find room for a darkroom. It's also easier to experiment with digital. You have an undo button in your image editor. That encourages you to be bold and try new things. If you don't like the result just delete it. Not wanting to throw away prints in the darkroom may make you hesitate to try something new.

When we talk about the quality of prints we're not talking about a comparison to machine prints from the local drug store. My benchmark is to compare the prints to what I would get from a good camera shop or pro lab. Today's inkjets can produce stunning results - if you're willing to invest in a good printer and the right papers. After having been at the mercy of "who's working in the lab today?" for many years, and in some cases having prints redone four and five times before they were up to my standards, I love the idea that I can control my images from the press of the shutter right up until they're ready to go into the frame. This level of control is available whether you're using film or a digital camera, the best of which do now rival film in terms of quality.

I followed the link in your article to another article titled Digital's Dirty Little Secret. I guess you guys think film is here to stay and that digital is a passing fad. Criticizing digital and scaring people won't make it go away. If you haven't noticed film is dead and ignoring digital isn't going to make it go away.


[Jim McGee responds] Umm, maybe you didn't notice but five of six feature articles last month were about digital photography or reviews of digital cameras and my column was titled Digital Photography Grows Up. So I don't think it's accurate to say we're ignoring digital. But with so many photographers now using digital cameras or scanning their film we should be willing to talk about digital's pitfalls as well as it's advantages. 

BTW, film isn't dead yet. Digital has made great strides in the last year but I would guess there are still more people shooting film than digital.

Traveling with Digital 

I think it's great that Gary includes a link to the TSA Web site. Maybe the TSA inspectors should go there and read what the rules are supposed to be. I fly on average three to four times per month (always with my cameras) and it seems like I **NEVER** get the same treatment twice.

Hey maybe that's our secret weapon against terrorism - incompetence. If we never do the same thing twice the terrorists can never figure out what the rules are to subvert them. The only thing more aggravating then the bureaucrats is the airlines themselves.

Frustrated Flyer

I enjoyed Gary Stanley's article on traveling with digital. There is one point that I would like to make regarding the new TSA regulations. The airlines may have the final say! Be sure to check to see if they are allowing the third (photo) bag. Many aren't. The problem appears to be in the interpretation of the regulations. Some airports claim that the airlines have the final authority, others that the TSA does. CHECK EARLY and CHECK OFTEN.

Don Bartram

I really enjoyed Gary's article on traveling with digital cameras. Then I clicked on the link for the TSA regulations. What a joke! In one paragraph they tell you you're allowed and extra bag. In the next paragraph they tell you the airlines may choose to ignore the regulations! Do these guys have any control over what's going on out there?

Instead of updating their Web site they out to be updating their inspectors. While some are competent and polite some are barely smarter than a chimp. The woman I had to deal with last week got a job with the TSA after failing as a village idiot.


Here is the TSA website that talks about the additional photographic bag that can be taken aboard without having to count it as a personal item or a carry-on.

PLEASE NOTE TSA'S DISCLAIMER: Air carriers may or may not allow the additional carry-on item on their aircraft. Please check with your air carrier prior to arriving at the airport.

Cem Goral

Unfortunately the rules still seem very open to interpretation. I thought things would have come to some sort of "standard procedure" by now, but the rules are still variable from airport to airport and in some cases day to day within the same airport.

Re: your article on advice for traveling with gear and film through airports...

In September I went on a short trip to Washington DC. On the return leg, I requested a hand inspection of my film (about a dozen rolls of 35mm, and 2 boxes of 4x5). The 35mm had been removed from the boxes and put in clear canisters. The TSA inspector began opening and inspecting each of the canisters, taking his time in doing so. I looked away for about 10 seconds to see what restaurants were in the area, and when I looked back he had unboxed the 4x5 film.

Since then, I travel with signs for each box of 4x5. These read: "This box contains exposed, unprocessed sheet film. The box cannot be x-rayed or opened without destroying the work. You are free to use an explosion trace sniffer. If you have any questions, consult a professional photographer for more information." I attach these signs to each box with two rubber bands.

David Gardner 
Ford Design Institute 

Sigma & Foveon

"Sigma SD10 - Is 3.4 Megapixels Really 10 Megapixels? " a good read, It cleared up some questions about the sigma digital chip and image resolution I have had trouble getting answers from several good camera shops.

David Rogers

Regarding article "Sigma SD10 - Is 3.4 Megapixels Really 10 Megapixels? "

I just wonder whether the Foveon's marketing-speak isn't by any chance self-contradictory... and the thought was not mentioned in the article...

The drawings describing difference between mosaic sensors and Foveon's "layered" sensors are quite convincing but (!) - they do not take into account the fact that light rays that hit the sensor are parallel to it only in the middle of the frame... or am I making some mistake here?

I mean - when you use traditional (mosaic) sensor, it should not matter much whether the rays that hit the sensor are parallel or not - the output pixels are always composed of four (RGBG) sub-pixels and all the pixels are on the same plane... - Additionally - maybe by using some smart algorithm you can eliminate color artifacts by somehow comparing adjacent pixels... and if the mosaic stays the same throughout the whole sensor (I assume that), then it should be fairly easy to get rid of artifacts...

But if you have three layers of sensor - red, green and blue - and the pixels are composed vertically (as shown on the graph), then the angle between the ray of light and the sensor seems crucial (unfortunately, i don't know how thick the sensor's photoelements are compared to their size (width/height) if they were cubic, the ray hitting at 45 degrees would influence three different pixels)...

So - if the sensor's "subpixels" are sufficiently thick and there is no fancy algorithm employed to take into account the thickness of the "subpixel", then it would just be plain wrong to advertise such layered sensor technology as superior to mosaic sensors...

Maybe this is the reason for the artifacts that you noticed?

Best regards, 

[Jim McGee responds] I don't know for sure but I would guess that the difference in depth between RGB layers would be so small that it wouldn't matter unless you are quite far from the centerline of the lens. The Foveon chip is not all that wide, it's smaller than a 35mm frame. In cameras that use a full frame image sensor light artifacts do become an issue with lenses where the rear element extends into the camera body, thereby increasing the angle at which light strikes the edge of the frame. Canon deals with this by placing a grid of micro lenses in front of the sensor to change the angle of the incoming light striking the sensor. This was never an issue with film as film is less sensitive to the angle at which light strikes it than silicon. For more on this see What's the Big Deal About a Full-Size Chip? 

Now About Your, Um, Sense of Humor

"Any other techno-speak you want to add around that fact is best applied with a shovel and hip-waders." LOL!!!!

I love you guys!!!!

It's great that SOMEONE is finally telling the truth about this stuff.

Please don't change, 

"The images speak for themselves. Everything else is just flapping your gums."

I just wish there was more writing like yours in photography magazines. Too much of it is the "everything is wonderful" kind. Never loose your quick wit and sarcasm.


Umm, darn I had a quick comeback right on the tip of my tongue…

Kind Words

G'day Jim, The on-line photo mag is a great concept, well done!

The import costs for printed media from the US makes US. magazines a luxury item here in Australia, so your on-line gem is great therapy for me.

Tim Elliott.

On Lennie's trip to Bosque Del Apache: Live in Phoenix and have never heard of the place. Will definitely check it out soon.

Jim King

I love your article on Vermont! I think I met you once at the camera club in Hanover NH - but that was a while ago. I lived and photographed in Vt for 20 years, and now I live in Denver. I understand your sentiment and the technical issues regarding the growth of the beloved state, but is much better than much of the rest of the country...I never really understood that until I came to the West. We surely have incredible, long, uninterrupted landscapes here; but it is often a great deal of work to get past the wires or the cars, or the oodles of people. Sitting in Arches National Park waiting for the sun to be in perfect place can instantly be ruined by numerous tourists! Sure, VT has that also, but the quiet moments in VT are much more accessible than even the great West!! Not to mention 'jet streams' which have to cause problems never faced in VT.

Savor what you have my friend! The grass is not always greener!

Don't ever give up on that incredible place  : )

Nice site, I'll be back. "Challenges of the Vermont Landscape" was well written, 
Richie Bittner

Deb Cuming

This is a fantastic site for people breaking into digital from being an advanced 35mm user! Keep it up and I will keep on reading all I can!


The good things about your site is that i always waited to see the next edition. The bad things is that I wait too long before the next edition available. The worse thing is that when the new edition come out, I only need half an hour to one hour before I 'eat-up' all the articles and wait again until the next edition come out.

I guess it is the time to include user forum to make your magazine more alive, so all of us can come back and always have something new to read from the forum. I think.

Bambang Indrayoto

The good news is that we hope to have that forum up and running in the very near future.

Vivid Light is so outstanding I sent along some money to help support your outstanding work.

One question, at least for me the "Font size" is so small I have difficulty reading all the good stuff. There must be someway to take care of this or I just don't know how?

I wish Vivid Light continued success, 
David Hurst, 

David, thanks for the kind words (and the subscription cash was nice too). We use the default HTML font setting for the text in the magazine. The good news is it's easy to change the font size in your browser. 

In Internet Explorer click on the VIEW menu and choose TEXT SIZE. Then choose the size that looks best on you monitor.

What an awesome digital magazine and right at my fingertips- I can't believe my good fortune to stumble upon this site. I just received a Canon 300D for Xmas and was looking for pointers, etc. and happened upon your link. I have had an Olympus 2100 for about 2yrs. and prior to that it was all 35mm film cameras. This is the first site/magazine I have found that suits my required info and is written in user friendly lingo. Thanks and keep up the good work- I'll definitely be coming here often!


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