Christmas humour 2015: Photographers’ beliefs

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In the tradition of previous years…today’s post takes a break from any serious sort of photography. Merry Christmas, all!

Using last year’s camera will always make worse images

Tripods should be as light as possible til you actually have to use them, then they should be as heavy as possible

Buying a window seat will always result in heavy cloud cover, nothing to shoot, and some sort of GI upset requiring frequent toilet visits

The day you decide not to follow up a job/quote/invoice is the day it will probably have gone through

The faster/larger the lens, the more likely you are to use it at small apertures

Always carry ‘it’ just in case – the day you don’t have it is when you’ll need it

A bag too big is better than one too small – see above – until it can’t fit into the overhead bin

Buy the more expensive one because the cheaper one always costs money in the end

Never have no assistants and run the risk of being labelled amateur

The more famous you get, the less work you actually have to do

There is no such thing as ‘your lucky SD card’ – but there are unlucky ones that go missing, get corrupted, fall between the lift doors…

They’ll probably fix it in the next firmware

The more spares you buy, the less likely you are to lose something

You can never have too many memory cards. Even if it’s more than free hard drive space.

Self employed people can’t take holidays just in case your big break comes while you’re on the beach

It’s easy to curate unless they’re images of YOUR kid in which case, the moment is never going to happen again!

If anything ever goes wrong, pull the battery.

Left left right right up down up down enter menu will always bring up a secret menu that may be debugging, the coders’ easter egg, or a way to unlock uncompressed raw. It may also do absolutely nothing.

You might get a great video sequence, but the still is always still better

You’ll never accept an adult photography job just in case it spoils your illusions about that industry forever

It must be possible for somebody to get wealthy in photography. And there’s no reason it couldn’t be me. Right?

What if I don’t buy it now and the price goes up or the waiting list is a mile long? There is only one real option here…

If you place three pre-orders out of being antsy, you’ll land up with three times more camera than you need

If you are waiting for something to happen to get a shot, you must be hyper vigilant at all times until you can no longer stand it or have your concentration broken for you: because the minute you turn away, decide to take a pee, sneeze, or pack up for the day…what you’ve been waiting for will happen.

There are only two work modes for the working pro: drought or drinking from a firehose. Work life balance is a myth (much like consulting, really)

Everybody thinks everybody is billing more than everybody else really is


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  1. Steve Zhuang says:

    Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!From your blog, learn a lot !

  2. Have a Merry Christmas, and a Happy New Year 2016, Ming.

    Greetings from where this picture was taken!

  3. Brett Patching says:

    Merry Christmas Ming, and all the best to you and your family for a great 2016.
    Cheers, Brett

  4. Merry Christmas Ming! Best Wishes to you and yours. Thanks for all you do. – Eric

  5. Jorge Balarin says:

    This one is completely true: “It’s easy to curate unless they’re images of YOUR kid in which case, the moment is never going to happen again!”. Merry christmas and happy new year Ming !

  6. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year… You are the man Ming

  7. Len Harrison says:

    Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to you and your Family.
    Cheers Len

  8. So True :)! Marry Christmas!

  9. Too many good ones to choose. 🙂

    Can I add a crude one similar to “The more famous you get, the less work you actually have to do”..
    “Higher a monkey climbs, more exposes the bottom” 😀

    Merry Christmas. I hope Santa got you something special.

  10. There are more buttons, dials, knobs, and switches than any human could ever activate at the same time on a camera, yet if you can manage to do activate all of them at once, your camera may go through a perfect refresh that clears all errors … or shuts it down permanently. 😉

    • And it usually happens when you do the final yard fumble whilst trying to get that once in a lifetime shot…only to find that your camera is now shooting JPEG Small Basic at f22. 😛

      • This *did* happen to my friend who was shooting along with me in Death Valley with his 5D III. After the full days shooting when we were back to the campground he discovered small JPEG (no raw). I was more disappointed than him since I was in his frames too. Do you know how difficult to get your own pictures taken by a good photographer!! 😦

        • Very, very difficult. I want to blame that on the reason there are few images of me, but the real reason is that I just don’t make a good subject.

          Some cameras are more prone to accidental resets than others…and some just can’t be set to anything other than RAW or RAW+ (my CFV-50C, for instance).

          • I agree that it is rare but I left some details… Here how it happened. There is a lesson to be learnt….The reason it happened with my friend because he had set raw to one card and small JPEG to the second card (he learnt not to do so after this incident). The raw card got full and he apparently ignored the warning. My beef is that why camera will not give a stronger warning instead of message being lost in cluttered info.

            Worst yet, after the card full warning, he thought that the raw are written to the second card. He (and me too, since I had canon as las camera) tried to find out from image into whether raw is being stored and just could not find out. I don’t have 5D therefore I can’t recheck but at that moment I (we) could not find out what (JPEG or raw or both) are being stored.

            It was an user error but the camera didn’t make it easy for us. 😦

            • That still seems rather idiotic design on the part of Canon. If anything, it should default to RAW if in doubt…you can get the other sizes out, but not the other way around. Why so many ‘pro’ DSLRs default to JPEG is beyond me.

              • Anyways, it is Christmas (past actually) and I hope we learn that no camera is perfect and not knowing how your camera/lens behaves in advance is not an excuse. Some cameras (old manual control) make it easier and some (modern digital with infinite control) make it difficult. In fact I do not see how can you provide flexibility with the same time keep it idiot proof.

                Here is for laughs… “You can’t make anything idiot proof because idiots are so ingenious.” 🙂
                BTW, no disrespect to others. I had my own moments of being idiot but I have better sense not to share. 🙂

                Happy New Year in advance and all the well wishes to you.

  11. Michiel953 says:

    Merry Christmas to you and yours Ming! I’m a lawyer, so I know the true worth of (abiding) laws… 😉

  12. Merry Christmas Ming, to you and your beloved ones!

  13. Kristian Wannebo says:

    I just feel like rephrasing a couple of your notes :

    If you carry only the few lenses you think you want,
    the one you want always turns out to be missing.
    And if you carry more, the motif is gone once you found and mounted the “right” lens.
    And if you go with the all-round zoom, then it turns out you want extra short DOF!

    Ergo: All camera bags are the wrong size…


    Merry Christmas Ming!
    And a Happy New Year!
    And Photo-Year!

  14. Merry Christmas, Ming. Thank you for your wonderful blog and for the holiday humor.

  15. Patric Gordon says:

    Happy Holidays and a great New Year to you and your family!

  16. Which do we like better:

    “I’m so unhappy, my mug is already half empty!
    “I’m so happy, my glass is still half filled”!

    (Forgive me, the proverb might be different in real-life idiomatic English).

    My wishes to Ming and to all of you are, that you always build up on a “still-half-filled” potential, and that you are going to live through a happy, healthy and prosperous New Year 2016.


    • Werner, I’ve not come across this as an English proverb, but it is an idiom. If one sees the glass half full, then one may be said to be an optimist and likewise, if one sees it half empty one is a pessimist. Generally used in times of adversity, when the glass half full person will think positively and believe a way out will be found.

      • Unless you’re an engineer, as has been pointed out, in which case you’ll see the glass as inefficiently designed.

        • I’m afraid you’ve got me here, Mike. What has the efficiency of a glass receptacle got to do with whether it is seen as half full or half empty? In any case, I’ve always understood that this is a psychological argument, not an engineering one. Or have I missed something?

          • Pessimism = empty. Optimism = full. Assuming your objective is of course to keep the glass full and not drain it…

          • Kristian Wannebo says:

            The optimist believes that we live in the best of worlds,
            the pessimist fears that he is right.

            Is the glass our world? Then it _is_ an engineering problem, but rather for our politicians and diplomats…

            • Christian, yesterday I started out with a full glass, or two, and now I don’t know what world I’m in as it is empty! :D)

            • Oops, Kristian, sorry, but I did say I don’t know what world I’m in. :D)

              • Kristian Wannebo says:

                I don’t think *anyone* really knows…
                no matter whether there was water or something stronger in yesterday’s glass. 🙂

                The San people say: There is a dream dreaming us..

                • So true. Our perception of reality varies depending on the perceived, which leads one to question the whole meaning of reality in the first place. Perhaps the matrix was closer to the truth than we know…

                  • Kristian Wannebo says:

                    Using the same scientific methods as physicists agreeing on e.g. Newtonian physics or Quantum mechanics,
                    we can all agree that we perceive the same “real” world around us.
                    ( A toddler crawling around is really beginning a scientific exploration of his world.)
                    But we can’t (of course) logically disprove Solipsism, The Matrix or other variants…
                    Which gives some kinds of philosophers a *large* playground!

                    Personally I prefer mythology and poetry…

                  • Kristian Wannebo says:

                    Ming, I had to remember a book title, “The Heart of the Hunter”, before trying a better answer.

                    Laurens van der Post tells that he had many encounters with the San people since his early years.
                    He organized an expedition into the Kalahari and wrote about it in “The Lost World of the Kalahari”.
                    The Bushmen, as they were called then, and he came close enough for them to tell him many of their stories out of their mythology and about their beliefs.

                    He wrote them down in “The Heart of the Hunter”.

                    Those stories weave an intricate weave about all the animals and the first men showing many different aspects of the first principles of living in this strange world full of wonders – and of perceiving it. And everywhere “the glass” is full, from the beginning(s) of life to the very end.

                    It is a mythology *very* different from those I (living in the “western world”) have heard of.

          • Michiel953 says:

            The engineer’s point of view would be that the glass is inefficiently designed because its capacity is not fully used (at, I might add, one quite random and fleeting point in time). It could be 50% smaller, but than it wouldn’t be half full. It would be full, and you would not be supposed to drain it. A sorry, but efficient, state of affairs.

            • Hi, Michiel. Seasons Greeting to you, your family, and the twins.

              Hmm. I’m not convinced. The mere statement that the glass IS half full/empty, one must assume that this is irrefutable. Because, if it isn’t, then the statement is not factually correct. The statement, or concept, stands, irrespective of the size or shape of the glass; there must be a state when it will be half full/empty. As a statement, it isn’t actually necessary to prove it. I believe this is where engineering concepts come up against the state of simply “being”. An engineer wishing to prove if a particular glass is actually half full will need to establish two things: what is its exact capacity and to what point it needs to be filled to hold half of this. Perhaps Plato and his “Theory of Forms” may have had something to say. :D)

              • Kristian Wannebo says:

                Michiel953 and TerryB (and others..)

                Just let me add some more confusion…
                But we really need a linguist here!

                A glass (in the sense of a drinking vessel) can’t always be full, or?
                (Except in the discretely sealed practical joke version, of course.)
                So that glass engineered always to be full, is that really a glass?

                But a glass engineered to be either full or empty would, I am convinced, still be a glass. Right?
                (They are used at certain celebrations.)

                There is, as always, a catch: The target for that glass might have brought a candel holder or similar to set it in – and e.g. rest it half full – (compensating for the missing foot).
                A second catch is, that in a few seconds it would be full again – but it wouldn’t be emptied as fast as intended.

                So with a target with such foresight that glass would be full almost continuously untill the party breaks.
                ( The target *might* (half) empty the glass, but only occasionally – or he wouldn’t have brought the candle holder in the first place.)
                And it would be a glass, disproving (almost) my previous statement.


            • Not being supposed to drain it would depend on the intended purpose (curation, again!) – the most efficient glass may well just be a tube 😛

    • Thanks Werner – there’s one more solution. Change to a smaller glass 😛

  17. I have one more for the list : “That full frame camera which is the size of a credit card, shoots 51200 ISO clean at 17fps with full tracking and continuous AF, shoots 10K video and can focus on a black cat running through a coal mine…will be out next year. And will only cost a few thousand dollars!”

    Hope your 2016 goes well personally and professionally!

  18. Ming, may I wish you and your family a very Merry Christmas and a safe and prosperous New Year. And thanks for all your posts, I never tire of reading them.

  19. Harry DeYong says:

    Great as usual Ming. Another thing I’ve noticed is that looking back, I don’t ever remember dropping a crummy old camera I didn’t like anyway. Ohhh noooo.
    Merry Christmas to all.

  20. Alex Carnes says:

    Merry Christmas, professor Thein! 🙂 Actually, I’m quite into last year’s cameras at the moment… 😉

  21. I know this place. My home town. 🙂 Let’s go for Punsch.

  22. Great business idea with the travel tripod! Practical implementation also solves the need to pee while on watch.

    Have a great Christmas and hopefully some rest too! Regardless of how many statements in your list are true, there are not many clients that would call on a Christmas day.

    • 😉

      I don’t think Malaysia is really on holiday though. One half are on annual leave, the other half are trying to figure out how to get as much money out of them during this period as possible – it’s one of the busiest times of the year for retail, apparently. I’m using the slightly quieter period to do some internal curation and updating of portfolios…

  23. Merry Christmas Ming! Never enough disk drives, flash cards, or fine art printing paper! 🙂

  24. Bravo! Too true! Merry Christmas Ming!

  25. Amusing and light. But so true at the same time. Just the good read on Xmas day. Merry Christmas Ming.

  26. Merry Christmas! Ming’s Laws are great.

  27. Merry Christmas Ming. Glad we agree on the tripod. More of this would be fun. Peace

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