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Cloudy day at marina
Near the Pelican Inn in Port Salerno, FL... Lots of photo ops here!

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Sales Tax
Now that the Supreme Court has ruled on Collecting of Sales Tax. Does this mean If I purchase a item from a state that has a lower rate than mine collects my state rate?
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Moon photos aren't my thing
Pictures of the moon never have done much for me but I saw this as I got out of my car one late night at What-a-burger and just had to reach in my van and grab my camera to give it a shot. Handheld 1/100 second, F3.5, with ISO 1600 using my Nikon D500 with my Nikon 70-200VR f2.8 lens.

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Another idea for family photography - through food
My wife and I are both enthusiastic amateur chefs, and, if I do say so, we produce some pretty tasty dishes that we've perfected over many years of tweaking. We often get requests from friends and family (especially the latter, as they eat it more frequently) for our recipes for Potato Leek Soup, Balsamic Potato Salad, my Secret Shepherd's Pie, Teriyaki Mushrooms, Grammy's Corn Chowdah, and other somewhat unusual dishes.

So we're beginning a photo project featuring recipes and process photos, which I hope to publish in PDF format as a family legacy that can be passed on from Grammy and Grampa as something that will live forever, or at least until our family line dies out (not for a number of generations - together we have five living children, a dozen grands, and quite a few that we've "virtually" adopted over our years together!). I don't know exactly how many family recipes we have in total, but I think it's enough to fill a good size book, judging from the ones we post on FacBook and the responses we get.

On The Book of Face, I've mostly shared just camera phone photos, rarely a well composed and shot DSLR or even Point and Shoot / Bridge Camera image. So we're beginning to go through our repertoire taking better quality photos to export into an album or online book. I'm posting this for two reasons:

1) I'll bet we're not the only ones whose families and friends would like something like this, and I wanted to share the idea.

2) I have rarely taken food photos in the past, and I'm sure there are many here who have some great ideas on methods, tips, and techniques for lighting, angles, "food styling" etc.

Welcoming any of the latter especially. I'm cooking something special tmorrow (we are primarily weekend cooks...) and I'd like to try to document the process and the results. Until they invent the "taste sample" software, I think some images will be the best way to do it.

Looking forward to hearing some ideas!

Andy "You've Been Chopped" H
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A favorite color for many folks.

A7R3, 70-300 G @ 300mm, Godox fill flash, heavily cropped.

Regardless of camera, I get a good deal of the reach form the camera's pixel count. Long lenses are heavy, unwieldly, and expensive. Not partial to any of that.

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How are market economics limiting our photographic choices?
So I recently made the mistake of somewhat derailing a thread on PP software by talking excessively about how corporate decisions are limiting our choices in PP software. I thought I'd repost some thoughts here, to get some ideas from people more current than I.

In all things photographic, and most things we buy on the market in general, there is a long term trend toward consolidation of makers and sellers as industries mature. This is due primarily to the increased capitalization required as technology and plant investment increases, exponentially in recent years. In the early days of the automobile there were literally hundreds of manufacturers, but the consolidation began early, and the rate of consolidation increased rapidly from 1929 to 1960. Even highly successful firms like Packard and Studebaker were eventually forced to merge - combining the Studey manufacturing capacity with Packard's extensive capital. Packard was at the forefront of technological development by the mid 50s, with innovations in air conditioning, suspension (torsion bars), and other areas. Yet the combined firm was not able to keep up with either plant or innovation, and failed within five years. A major maker like Ford could survive a disaster like the Edsel, but a single misstep (inevitable in an evolving industry) could doom an entire company. The aeronautical industry also provides numerous examples - Curtiss Aircraft being the leading one, going from number one to "out of the industry" in little more than a decade. It's like baseball teams - a big budget franchise can survive a terrible contract, but a smaller one will be doomed for several years.

Going to the photographic industry, I look back at my beginner years, when there were a couple dozen choices, ranging from high end makers like Alpa and Rectaflex to entry level dynamos like Miranda, Petri, Mamiya Sekor, etc. We're down to five now, depending on where you set your standard for "serious" cameras - Nikon, Canon, Sony, Fuji, and Pentax come to mind. Minolta, one of the makers who provided mid to high range equipment, is totally gone. From dozens of non OEM lens makers, we seem to be down to two - Sigma and Tokina. Virtually any hardware item you can think of now has a fraction of the suppliers it used to, an inevitable result of the higher and higher capital investments needed to develop and manufacture the latest high tech gear. Depending on what reports you choose to believe, some of the big five may be in jeopardy, at least insofar as producing serious cameras is concerned. This represents a fraction of the business for most of these industrial giants - Nikon is into serious optical goods, Canon's reprographics business may be bigger than their photographic one, and Sony is into, well, everything. Will we soon be in a position where they make economic decisions that determine our choices for us? Is the DSLR, at least at amateur pricing, doomed in favor of mirrorless? Will the entry level "serious" amateur gear become a thing of the past completely (doomed by the development and ubiquity of camera phones)?

When it comes to software, there is a different kind of threat - as consolidation is just beginning. At work, I've been forced to go to the ubiquitous Microsoft Office - even though products like Word Perfect and Lotus 123 were arguably superior, even in their dying days. Harvard Project Manager was a robust program that disappeared quickly after Microsoft decided to enter the field with MSPM. Corel, Adobe, Intuit, and a few other well capitalized firms dominate broad market sectors, and that's just in consumer/business products. I can only imagine what has happened in operating systems and other tech sectors that are far over my head. I've gone to an Office subscription myself, as well as Lightroom / Photoshop subscription. As I've said elsewhere, I'm pretty happy with the updates and pricing - there are reasons that corporations have moved in this direction - and some of them have real consumer benefits. With subscriptions we get regular, minor improvements and upgrades - we no longer have to wait for the next big thing and can predict our expenses with some accuracy.

At work (a small nonprofit, which operates much like any small business) we've been forced toward the new subscription model, not only on Office and QuickBooks, but on a variety of boutique software programs, including our lending software, AutoCAD, and rental property management software, and my favorite boutique product "Housing Developer Pro" developed and sold by a tiny and highly talented group in Pennsylvania. In rental management, our older system, which originally cost less than a grand for a permanent license is no longer produced and the producer out of business. I can either buy a system with a five figure initial cost AND an annual user fee per seat - mandatory - or wait until the old package no longer runs on our latest hardware. The older versions of many products are just no longer supported, and if we want to keep using these products we have to switch products or switch models. There will soon be no middle options.

This is because the predictable revenue stream has become the desired outcome for American business - the American capitalist model, not a Soviet era state where the "Software Industry Consortium" can dictate how a corporation spends its profits for the greatest benefit. If they want profits from LightRoom to subsidize Illustrator, or their takeover of some new market, that's the business of management and stockholders, not buyers of the product. If they raise the prices too high, a new competitor will arise, and we'll be free to purchase it. But as entry barrier costs rise, it becomes less and less likely. I think that the inevitable result of this will be a choice between a variety of megacorporate subscription products or independent freeware / shareware versions with features that are less and less competitive with the titans of industry or geared toward very specialist uses. I can imagine a world of photo software where there is no lingua franca, and you need to use more than one product individually on your images to get what you want.

The inherent nature of capitalism dictates that consolidation happens as industries mature - infrastructure gets more and more expensive at each stage of expansion and adoption, and requires capital investments at logarithmic levels of increase. New tech attracts startups and entrepreneurs, but as the product stabilizes, the number of makers always shrinks, sometimes to the point of near monopoly. If you want an unregulated or lightly regulated capitalist economy, that's just how it's going to turn out. Consumer behavior can make some difference in corporate behavior of course, but it can't and won't change those long term trends. So like it or not, subscription service is eventually (in my opinion) going to make the software license as much an artifact as the television antenna or twisted pair landline.

I may very well be wrong, of course, but these economic trends aren't new, and they seem to be accelerating.

What do you think? Am I being overly pessimistic here? Or will we really be down to a "Big Two" or "Big Three" in gear suppliers and a choice between the handful of dominant software suppliers offering subscription only software and a handful of less capable indies offering "use it forever" licensing?

I don't know, but I'd like to hear from those whose knowledge of the sofware and photographic gear industries is superior to mine. I'm just an advanced (I hope!) amateur in photography, but I'm seeing these limited choices in my business life more and more frequently.

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There's Always One At Every Party
Party Animal

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Secret Garden
I recently finished building this little garden and thought it looked like a photo in a light rain.

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What? Can't You See I Was Napping?
and quit pointing that thing at me.

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Taken in Veracruz Mexico, Nanciyaga Ecological Reserve

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