Dear friends, a thought on my mind: how to reduce friction, both in our lives and in our photography.
This is the tricky thing about friction; some friction is good, some friction is bad. For example, if there was no friction, how could you ejaculate?
Also, fire is created via friction. No friction, no fire.
When it comes to movies and films, or stories, there needs to be some sort of central friction or else the story is not interesting.
When is friction bad?
There are other forms of friction which are bad, the friction which prevents us from doing what we desire to do. For example, we want to get fit, but there is too much friction to prevent us from getting started. Or, we want to do more photography, but there is some sort of blockage we have which prevents us.
I know personally speaking, much of the challenges that I personally faced has to do with challenges when it comes to photography. That the biggest issue that I had in my personal photography is the friction of just always having my camera with me, and making photos.
What is the big problems here?
First, a technological one. Typically speaking, the bigger, heavier, more bulky and frictionful a thing is, the less likely we are to do it.
For example, in the realm of photography; what is the worst thing you do for your photography? Use a DSLR or any big camera. Why? The desired outcome is to shoot more photos, but the ethos of using a DSLR or any other “professional“ camera is this:
But what if I see something really really good, and I shoot it with a subpar camera?
Therefore, the impetus to use more professional grade cameras is more of a FOMO thing (fear of missing out), than a positive and active one.
Digital is great
This is where Ricoh GR 3, and Ricoh GR 3X is our personal savior. Here technology is so great; finally in the year 2022, digital photography is in fact great. Greater than DSLR’s in the past, and now even greater than film cameras. I have lived through an interesting time; back in the day, even the ability to shoot ISO 1600 on a full frame Canon 5D was amazing. I think when I started photography, when I was around 18 years old, the technology actually did matter a lot. Digital cameras back then were actually quite poor; now, for the most part, all digital cameras are great.
No more Leica
I still have my film Leica MP camera at home, mostly for sentimental reasons. However, moving forward, I find no more interest in Leica cameras; the big upside back in the day of using a Leica M digital rangefinder was that for the size, it was awesome. Now, Ricoh is the new Leica — The Ricoh is 100 times smaller, more compact, and actually fits in your front pocket. The design is better; and the images look phenomenal. I actually think that the Ricoh GR 3X is sharper than any photo I’ve seen on any Leica digital camera; any Leica M digital camera with a Summicron, Summilux, or APO lens, or any Leica Q series camera, which I still consider a LUMIX camera.
Isn’t this great? A digital camera that you could buy, lens included, for only $999, which is 100 times superior to a camera that cost you at least $15,000, lens included?
RAW is the enemy
Another thing that I have personally discovered; raw is the enemy to creativity and photographic productivity. Why? The big issue of raw is that it adds too much creative friction to our photography and life. I know personally speaking, more megapixels, more problems. This is my mind on raw;
Oh man, if I shoot a lot of photos of this thing, it is going to be such a pain in the ass having to import all these photos, wait for Lightroom to render them, post process them, export them, back them up, etc.
JPEG is far superior. Why? Consider; all of these camera companies spend millions of dollars on research and development on their cameras, and the JPEG‘s they produce are optimized for the camera. This means, most likely, the black-and-white and color rendition you’ll get from your photos in JPEG in-camera is probably superior to the photos you could get from post processing your own RAW photos.
Why the preference for RAW?
Being knee-deep in the photo industry, this is what I have discovered; the reason why there is such a bias for raw is mostly an industrial one; back in the day, in the early days of digital photography, RAW was indeed the superior option, because back then, digital could not render beautiful images. Now it can. However, the old-school photographers who started with raw have stuck with it, instead of embracing new technology in an intelligent way.
Also, there are lots of people out there who sell their own patented RAW presets, and teach their post processing techniques. This is a lucrative one. Also, consider how Adobe wants to continue getting more photographers hooked on Lightroom, in order to “edit” their photos better. currently, Adobe Lightroom is the only really good software to process raw photos, and therefore, Adobe will soft promote shooting raw, in order for photographers to think that they need their software and services.
RAW is an elitism thing
Also, an elitism thing. A lot of photographers desire to feel superior, with a knowledge that they themselves are superior and technological wisdom, because they know how to shoot raw, and the advantages of shooting raw. However, the real practitioners shoot and prefer JPEG. Apparently even nowadays, Steve McCurry only shoots with a Nikon DSLR digital camera, in P program mode, in JPEG.
Even the most intelligent wedding and commercial photographer would shoot JPEG to expedite their workflow, and getting their photos to their clients as fast as humanly possible. I remember being shocked how when I was an undergraduate student at UCLA, one of my old coworkers, Gavin Holt, who was a very successful wedding photographer in Los Angeles, taught me how he only shot JPEG, and would use in-camera white balance for his flash photography, in order to save time. A lot of less experienced photographers think to themselves: I’ll just shoot in raw, and fix the photos later. But the huge downside of this is that it slows down your workflow.
Extra small JPEG
Make your photos as simple as possible, but not simpler. (Occam’s razor for photography)
What is the smallest minimum viable size for photos? I think about 2000 pixels wide. Beyond this, you don’t really need any additional megapixels, resolution or size. Even if you need to blow up a photo super super big, there are lots of advanced up resolution image algorithm softwares which allow this.
How will shooting extra small JPEG benefit you? One: you will shoot more, and think less. Also, in order to make a good photo, while you are clicking the shutter, you explore composition, and understand the scene better. This means:
You discover the ideal photo as you’re shooting it.
Anything that allows you to shoot more, and think less is good. Also, the upside of using autofocus, and P program mode.
Some lifestyle things
- Coffee grinder: yeah yeah yeah we know all the virtues of using a manual grinder, and all this hipster nonsense. I say, better to be the brutal industrialist and prefer that which is more brutal, let us say using an automated mechanical machine grinder for coffee.
- Having some routine is good: A life which is 100% automated is not a life worth living. However, having to wake up without any routine is bad. I say, having some routine is good. For example, waking up, taking a cold shower, and making lots of espresso‘s until you feel fully caffeinated. Also, just wearing the same outfit every single day. All black everything. Black merino wool shirt (Outlier.nyc), black shorts.
My current photo workflow
I am always seeking forever better, in terms of a more optimal photography workflow. This is what I have thus far:
- RICOH GR IIIX, extra small JPEG, high contrast black and white.
- Import photos via USB-C SD card reader into my iPad Pro (USB-C port).
- Use Apple photos to favorite my photos, then upload my favorite photos to my WordPress media library for my blog.
Just blog it.
One of the greatest things I think about blogging is that when in doubt, just blog it. Sometimes you have files, images, and stuff you’re not quite sure what to do. Just post it to your blog.
The easiest way to get started is just make an account from wordpress.com. And you could blog directly from your iPhone, or android phone.
The better option is making your own website blog via bluehost.com, and installing WordPress.org
I think a lot of people are naïvely anti-Google. I love Google. Especially the ability to login to services, or sign into new services, or register with new websites or services or apps just using my Google account.
For example arsbeta.com — my friend Kevin programmed it and built it, that to sign up for it, all you needed was a Google account. Why? No no no, not to “steal“ your information; rather, the Google cloud engine it is built with plays well. Building the website, and service platform with Google cloud backend, the system to allow photo uploads, and storage of comments and reviews of photos and critiques, using a Google database.
Make it easier for your end user
If anything, I think more developers just use Google to build things. For example, even though Gmail is not perfect, it’s still seems like the best email service for companies to use. Also, Google docs is 1 trillion times better than Microsoft Word. Also, Google sheets are great; 1 billion times better than Microsoft excel. Google slides is also great. Google calendar is also great.
Why the Apple App Store is so successful
This is the funny irony; a lot of app developers complain how Apple takes too much commissions. However, if Apple did not exist, there would be no app ecosystem to build on in the first place.
For example, my huge gratitude to PayPal. Ever since I started teaching workshops, in around 2010, I use the PayPal buy it now platform to process payments. I have zero problem with the 2.9% commission fee that PayPal charges; if it wasn’t for PayPal, I wouldn’t even be able to make online and Internet payments in the first place.
Another thought: if you’re stuck in the suburbs, or in an environment which makes you car dependent, have the car which allows you maximum freedom.
For example, as much as I love Elon Musk and Tesla, and the ethos of electric cars, if you desire maximal personal freedom, an electric car isn’t the way. Better to have a plug-in hybrid vehicle instead. Like the Lexus NX plugin hybrid, which gives you the best of both worlds: the convenience of gas, and the privilege of being able to use those electric car only charging parking spots.
For example, the last few weeks Cindy and I were housesitting for a friend in a house that did not have an electric charging port. In having to drive back home, it was so so so so so so so so much more convenient be able to just drive to the local gas station, and fill up on gas and drive back home, instead of the stress of having to find an electric supercharger close by, having to wait, before driving home.
Even having to wait 15 minutes is too long, especially when you got a kid. Filling up your tank might only take a minute.
If you really want to workout with zero friction, just buy a heavy kettlebell. Either 70 pounds, or 105 pounds. That there is zero friction; no need to go to a gym. You could literally just walk up to your kettle bell, swing it a few times, and get on with your day. The whole process will take you less than 30 seconds.
Even currently on my personal wishlist is a 200 pound kettlebell. If I just owned two of them (400 pounds in total), I would probably be set for a very long time.
Probably the biggest game changer I’ve discovered is just writing things by using my voice. There is far less friction to voice dictate something, than to write it out. I love using my iPad Pro, walking around, and standing upright in my front lawn or driveway, looking into the distance and being able to voice dictate my thoughts. This whole thing was voice dictated. I just use the built-in Apple voice dictation ability, on the bottom of the keyboard, which is phenomenal.
If anything, more writers who have writers block should just voice dictate stuff. The reason why a lot of people don’t use voice dictation I think it’s because people just don’t know it exists, and they don’t know how accurate it is. It works phenomenally great on iPhone and iPad!
What is the end?
Ultimately, the purpose isn’t to reduce friction for the sake of reducing friction. The ultimate goal is to reduce friction when it is undesirable, and to increase friction when it is desirable.
Seek the good friction
What is good friction? Travel and adventure. Why? This type of friction brings out your inner hero.
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One thought is to seek to live the maximally great life, and the least lame life. what is lame? Owning a car. Owning a home. What is great? Deadlifting over 500 pounds and squatting over 400 pounds, and benching over 315 pounds. This is my new modus operandi:
Will it help me deadlift or squat more, or not?
If not, ignore.
If this sparked any interesting ideas within you, feel free to forward to a friend!