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D.I.Y.: R.I.P.

2002-04-17 15:53:12+00 by Dan Lyke 24 comments

Yesterday, /. linked to a Scientific American article on the death of D.I.Y. science. But it's not unique to science, on my Fresno visits I get exposed to Armenian food. Since I haven't found basterma (or pasterma, often with a trailing "t"), a spiced dried beef, locally, I've been looking at ways to make it. I've found two differing recipes for chaimen (one, two), the spice mix used to season it, both of which end up with off flavors. I've found several dead-trees references, but none as specific as those web pages. And as we've seen with the changes in The Joy of Cooking[Wiki], there's a whole lot of kitchen lore we've passed off to factories (although apparently first edition reprints are available!). Do it yourself everything seems to be tapering off.

[ related topics: Invention and Design Food ]

comments in ascending chronological order (reverse):

#Comment made: 2002-04-17 16:58:17+00 by: Diane Reese [edit history]

My resident 9th-grader and his friends still find everything they need for electronics and computer tinkering, often at Radio Shack but also at one of the Fry's (I forget which one, but it's the only one with good miscellaneous parts, from what I gather from their conversations). They're often found with resistors or other electronics parts in their pockets, and the power-tool envy amongst them is palpable.

I'm partial to the 1975 version (fifth revision) of Joy of Cooking, myself, and have bought used copies of the hardback edition on eBay for gift-giving. Nothing like a good all-purpose source of know-how in the basics of food preparation. (Some of the recipes I can do without...)

While there are still some things I'll "contract out", doing it ourselves still has much to recommend it.

#Comment made: 2002-04-18 00:56:16+00 by: meuon

I've been diabetic for a few years now, and have had to watch my diet carefully. The quality and content of foodstuffs has become important, and spices, herbs and preparation makes a big difference.

SYSCO and the other big restuarant supply houses are evil incarnate. I have found a couple small restuarants that cook like I aspire to, and I relish them. Grocery stores are important as well, but as I only get to cook for myself most of the time, I seldom buy much beyond the basics and succumb readily to easy to prepare potions.

The DIY attitude is missing from many things. I just replaced the blower motor in one of the HVAC systems at the Virtual Building. Besides getting blasted by Debbie, the guy at Grainger Supply was incredulous that I didn't do this for a living, and came there to buy a 7" NEMA Cage Mount 1075rpm 5" shaft 1.5hp 117v single phase motor. His attitude changed when he looked up our seldom used account and saw a very eclectic purchase history, but he still acted like he should only sell these to an 'HVAC Professional'.

But I am also guilty of this attitude as well. Although I swapped motors (6 to V8) in my Bronco, and have redone almost all of the mechanicals myself and just did a brake job (including cylinders), I take my 2002 F150 to the quicky-lube place and would take it to the dealer for most other things.

My metalwork is often crude, but effective, including the brackets I just made for a tower mount of a 21db DSSS antenna but I get lots of extra satisfaction in doing it myself.

Which brings us to the core: Our society no longer gets pride and satisfaction from DIY. In fact, when telling some people I DIY'd something you get the response: "What, can't you afford to replace/pay someone/buy ready made..?!?!" It's like you must be poor or crazy to do things yourself.

I've got to dump my camera, I'm proud of the crude, but very sturdy tube grill guard I just put on the redneckmobile Bronco. It's not like the aftermarket ones you buy and that was my main point, it's mine, I did it myself. What can you do other than watch TV and complain about your Latte?

My perl code may be crude, but it works and I do it mostly by myself although I step on the toes, knees and shoulders of others.

Tinker, explore the world around you, do not be ashamed to fail at first and do it better the second, third or thirtyninth time. Do it yourself and be proud of what you can do. Only accept criticism from others that also do things themselves and let the pre-packaged consumer units whither in their shiny, perfect containerized capsules of existance.

rant off.. meuon.

#Comment made: 2002-04-18 09:49:17+00 by: glaser76

Great rant! Although I'm not mechanically inclined, I'm all over DIY when it comes to coding and (especially) cooking. I probably shouldn't be surprised anymore when I wax enthusiastic about cooking to people and instead of getting them excited about it, they're usually skeptical, saying things like "How do you have time?" or "I just buy ready-mades at the store because I don't know how to cook." My Bible is "How To Cook Everything", which I imagine doesn't stack up to the best edition of "Joy of Cooking" but is great about showing how easy it is to cook and experiment with homemade food that's tastier (and more fun to make) than storebought dinners.

So ... do you think this anti-DIY shift is an American thing, or endemic to any technology-coddled society? I ask because I moved from the U.S. to the Netherlands last year and I try to use my perspective from here to see what trends are uniquely American. My gut says that Europeans aren't as lazy as Americans in this respect, although the grocery stores here are just as full of ready-made meals.

#Comment made: 2002-04-18 11:14:20+00 by: Pete

Specialization is the hallmark of civilization. They are absolutely inseparable. To depend on others is to be in a society. As for DIY, it only makes sense as a learning experience, so once you know how to do something like that, move on. Otherwise you are just irrationally wasting your time.

The classic example is: how much would it cost to get your lawn cut instead of doing it yourself? Let's say $20.

Now, would you cut your neighbor's lawn for $20? Didn't think so.

If the amount of money you save isn't enough to make it worth your time to do it for someone else, then rationally it isn't worth your time to do it for yourself.

#Comment made: 2002-04-18 12:22:43+00 by: Larry Burton

I don't believe DIY is dying in every aspect of our society, I think it is just moving into other areas than the old traditional ones. Look at all the home improvement megastores popping up everywhere, all the DIY cable channels and all the home improvement magazines and websites. Heck, even in cooking you've got the food channel as one of the toprated cable channels. Maybe a lot of that is just folks wanting to give gourmet cooking a try but never get around to it but I don't think that is it totally. Cooking is something that has got to be done several times a day by or for each of us. Most of the major food stores are geared to that market.

Now as far as electronics go, with everything going toward the entire device on a chip mentality, it kind of makes it difficult for a lot of hobbiest to get started the way they did twenty or thirty years ago, by cannabalizing old radios and tvs for project parts.

#Comment made: 2002-04-18 12:29:58+00 by: glaser76 [edit history]

Pete, I'm completely with you on your economic point, but:

The things I cook at home (once I've mastered the recipe) are better than the equivalent things I can buy in a grocery store. And if I had a lawn I'd get a touchy-feely sense of accomplishment from cutting and admiring my own lawn that I wouldn't get from cutting my neighbor's lawn.

Point being obviously that DIY is not necessarily the most economically rational use of your money and time, but the positive externality of a higher quality result, or the fun of doing it, or the pride of saying "I made that", makes it worth the trouble. I'm feeling bad about the (perceived) decline of DIY because it signals that people, myself included, easily forget how rewarding and not that difficult it is to make something yourself. I can see how I'm on the slippery slope to things-were-better-in-the-good-old-days-ism, but I have to wonder what people are doing nowadays with the extra time specialization affords them ...

#Comment made: 2002-04-18 15:34:30+00 by: Shawn [edit history]

You're all a bunch of posers. I cook without the aid of a book. That's real DIY ;-)

Seriously, though...

glaser; my time is spent mostly at work and trying to keep up with the various chores around the apartment. Katrina and I don't have kids and I continually wonder how those who do cope. I don't have the time to deal with all the things in my life, much less take care of somebody elses.

As for "higher quality result", I find that [typically] when I do things myself the result is [almost] never as good as if some "specialist" had done it. I love to cook but I hardly ever do. Partly because of time and partly because anything truly creative or interesting I try generally gets screwed up. (The sauce is boiling/burning right when I'm in the middle of rolling the chicken around the filling. The filling falls out. I forget to turn on the crock pot when I leave for work. Etc.)

Sure, I could - as Dan mentions - keep doing these recipes until I've perfected them. But now we're back to the time issue. If I can't do it reasonably successfully the first time, it's just not worth my time to keep banging away at it. Eventually, I may achieve that sense of accomplishment when I get it right. But how many other things could I have accomplished in that time? The satisfaction-to-efficiency ratio is not anywhere near equal IMO.

All my DIY goes into coding as well - sometimes to my detriment. A couple years ago I had to face and deal with the fact that I have a bad habit of recreating the wheel - when a prospective supervisor (who didn't hire me to his team) pointed out that "professional" programmers who want to be successful don't waste their time doing things others have already done. But that's why I code - for the sense of accomplishment and creating something out of nothing (or bits-and-pieces). So this leaves me trying to strike an interesting (and often frustrating) balance in my professional life.

I also am not mechanically inclined, and this often leaves me feeling cut off and distanced from my peers. But I'm just not interested in such things and consider them a waste of my time when I would much rather be doing something else. Despite meuon's rant (which certainly was good ;-), the one and only time I've replaced the engine in a car I did so because I was poor and could afford neither the parts nor the labor (I bought a used engine from Japan). At the time, I got lots of advice and direction from my neighbors (who were tinkerers), but in the end I still had to take it to a shop because it wouldn't run.

So, in conclusion...

My experience with DIY (with the exception of coding) has been that satisfaction is minimal-to-non-existant and cost is high.

#Comment made: 2002-04-19 02:35:05+00 by: meuon

Pete, unfortunatly I have been labelled a 'technological monstrosity' (job review as a clinical engineer.. 1980 something), and have another knickname as 'Mikey Fix It' as well as some less glamorous ones. It's true, I am NOT good at everything. In fact, across the board I am fair to poor at most. But it's a very large board. My specialization would be generalization at everything. I can't understand how people go through life not knowing how things work, why they work and how to fix them or keep them working. I can detect and replace a bad mosfet on a power supply, do metal work (functional, not artistic), build engines, write code, build a network and give a backrub. It does not make sense only as a learning experience, it is survival skills and freedom. Yes, every two weeks I shell out $25 for a guy to weedeat around the building. I hate yardwork. But if needed, I have the tools and can do it. I could afford to have paid an HVAC guy to make us a priority and fix our AC, but I did it myself because it was faster and cheaper. I was also probably better at it than most HVAC guys. I want to balance the squirrelcage better than it is, he probably would not care, I'll probably take it out and straighten it out and balance it this weekend. I could care less how good the guy cuts my grass as long as I don't have to do it.

Why DIY? Food or other things? Think of it as empowerment, control, freedom and choice. Do you want to be dependant on others? Are you so specialized that there are only a few things you can contribute to society? What if society changes and those skills/services are no longer needed.

My worst case scenerio is me and my tools making things work for people. I'd be the Master (of Master Blaster fame) of BarterTown (Mad Max, Thunderdome). And if they needed a cook, I can cook (with or without a cookbook, good point).

For me, DIY is a major part of my 'self' and it's probably my main source of satisfaction in life and the cost.. well.. we are still in business because when you need to, DIY saves a LOT of money. I even designed and built the one of a kind windows in the Virtual Building, an R-6 value, fitted to curved top windows, unbreakable. And then trained a guy to build and install the rest. He thought I was nuts at first, he now makes side money doing it: http://www.highertech.net/virtualbuilding.html

#Comment made: 2002-04-19 03:30:32+00 by: meuon [edit history]

And a link to the DIY Redneckmobile Bronco:


Does that front end not say 'I have right of way'? Sharp eyes will notice the fenders have been trimmed for angle and clearance. Next, they'll get trimmed more as I add some 37" tires on 17" rims. Things you can't see include two electric fans right behind the grill, because when you flex the frame 4-wheeling you will eat a fan shroud. upgraded custom drivetrain, 1/4 cam, a high and dry electronic ignition system, 4 barrel carb with all angle floats and bent vent tubes (no flooding or spiiling gas at extreme angles) and a few more DIY goodies. All I can say is I am starting to remember why I used to put 4 point and 5 point racing harnesses in cars. It's not for crash protection. It's to keep you in your seat and in 'control' of the vehicle.

As for the ultimate DIY.. although I made the mounts and brackets from 3/8" aluminum plate, Nathan just had to do this himself:


This is Nate's first climb, and that's 150' up. He loved it. I doubt he'll do it again, but he might.

#Comment made: 2002-04-19 11:55:44+00 by: pharm

Hey Meuon, the index page you get to from the link above shows an aikido dojo in action, unless I'm mistaken. Am I?

#Comment made: 2002-04-19 15:14:55+00 by: Shawn

Do you want to be dependant on others?

Well, here's the thing: I don't really feel dependent on anybody. In fact, I have a bit too large an independent streak. I know I can do things myself, I just don't choose to - primarily because of time and because others can do them better and faster. I do know how things work. I just don't usually put that knowledge to hands-on practice.

Are you so specialized that there are only a few things you can contribute to society?

I'll admit that I sometimes worry about this on a purely professional level. But I don't do so because I think of myself as specialized. Rather, I see the job market as specialization-oriented. While I certainly could work on cars, nobody is likely to hire me without either some schooling and/or work (as in employment - in which case, we're no longer in the realm of DIY) experience on the subject.

#Comment made: 2002-04-19 15:51:42+00 by: Larry Burton

Pharm, yes those are pictures of an aikido dojo. There are also pictures there of the going away party for the dojo's instructor who is a very good friend of Meuon's, Dan's, Topspin's, Eric's and mine. He was moving back to Canada from Chattanooga for healthcare reasons. There is also a very unflattering picture of me in there.

Shawn, I wish I could save time by hiring stuff done but I usually spend so much time trying to arrange, schedule and meet the repairman that, unless it's something like roofing the house, I find it faster and more convenient to just do it myself. If it wasn't for the mess I'd go back to changing my own oil for the exact same reason.

#Comment made: 2002-04-19 16:01:52+00 by: topspin [edit history]

pharm: In lieu of meuon's answer, yes.... that's Chattanooga Aikikai. Our buddy, Barry, was sensei there until recently. The index also includes pics from one of Barry's going away parties at a local sushi place. I'm this guy in case you wondered. [And yes, Dan, that's my ex Melissa who was there with her new hubby. As you know, Chattanooga is a VERY small town.]

Weighing in on the DIY issue, there is the satisfaction issue of not only learning to do something, but also the satisfaction of getting exactly what you want. I can't fully agree or disagree with Pete's assertions, but I do think life is not an entirely practical adventure. I suspect meuon's time is FAR more valuable elsewhere than it was modifying his Bronco, thus his work was impractical, but I bet I know the sense of accomplishment he felt upon completing it to his satisfaction.

DIY dies because Pete is partially correct. It's not practical to do lots of things oneself UNLESS you want to get something which is exactly and fully your own. Most folks will settle for less than what they want in some things. Compromise IS the cornerstone of society and the good/bad reality is "least common denominator" products/services/people are the result of society.

#Comment made: 2002-04-19 16:25:53+00 by: Dan Lyke

So what's the impact of mass production going to be on innovation? In the past, many of the great leaps were functions of amateur experimenting. With schools concentrating on turning out workers for the mass-production system, and with experiments at the bleeding edge becoming more and more difficult for individuals to engage in, how are kids who didn't grow up on The Boy Mechanic going to know that they can construct, create and innovate?

#Comment made: 2002-04-19 16:43:38+00 by: Shawn

Larry; I guess it depends on how one lives. I don't have a roof to take care of, so I don't have things of that caliber that I need to worry about getting done. Perhaps my outlook will change a bit when I finally get a house. As for changing the oil; it would take me much longer to make a special trip to the store, figure out what filter I need, find/purchase some way to get the front of my car up off the ground, schedule the time to crawl under there, etc. than it is to just drive it into a Jiffy Lube (actually, I don't even know if those exist any more - but you know what I mean).

topspin; the key is to my satisfaction. It's probably an artifact of my perfectionist side, but (with a few exceptions) things I do myself are hardly ever done to my satisfaction when all is said and done.

Dan; I'm with you. I think this is a serious problem. Schools should be teaching people how to learn (and possibly some useful day-to-day skills - I had no idea how to pump gas the first time I had to fill my [first] car), not cramming memorization down their throats.

#Comment made: 2002-04-19 21:58:08+00 by: meuon

"Schools should be teaching people how to learn...not cramming memorization down their throats." - Amen Brother Amen!

#Comment made: 2002-04-20 00:42:13+00 by: Larry Burton [edit history]

Topspin, tell me why we were putting R-136A into your car's A/C system rather than visiting a garage? Was it your desire for perfection, the satisfaction of doing it on your own or to save money? Oh, and how did that finally turn out?

Shawn, I could save at least ten minutes, usually more considering the wait on the people in front of me, on each oil change by doing it myself but then I've got to find some way to dispose of the old oil and the constant risk of a spill in my garage floor. When I did change my own oil I kept a case of oil in the garage and a couple of spare oil filters out there. I still keep the case of oil out there. It would take me about 15 minutes to change the oil but I might have two or three changes of oil out there waiting to be taken to be recycled. I realign my brakes myself because I'm usually stuck in a waiting room for the same amount of time it would take me to do the job myself and I save about $60 doing it with the disposables suitable for the trash bin.

Interior painting is something that I hate to do but I do it myself because I hate the hassle of getting a painter to my house for the estimate and getting the painter back out to do the job so I do it myself. Even though I don't like doing the job I'm just as competent at doing the work as most of the painters that I've used in the past and I can get the job done faster than going through all the steps of hiring it done.

Most electrical repairs are so simple that it takes less time to do the repair than calling the electrician. Carpentry work is something that is very relaxing to me so unless it is something that requires a lot of special equipment I take care of those jobs myself and don't have to worry about whether or not the carpenter will show back up to finish the job.

The one DIY job I did here recently that I should have hired done was the installation of a new gas water heater. Electric water heaters are a piece of cake but the new gas heater didn't quite match back up to all the fittings. I had a gas line and a vent line to reroute along with the water lines that I didn't have with electric water heaters. I should have called a professional.

My gardening is done purely for the joy of the gardening. I don't do much of that. What vegtables I've ever raised usually cost me more than going out and buying them from the produce section. I don't have a green thumb.

Anyway, that's my DIY story. I usually do it because of the hassle of finding someone else to pay to do it is more of a hassle than doing it myself. I guess that's why I've found good mechanics and built relationships with them over the years. What wrenching I don't do on my cars I want someone to take care of immediately. That and the fact that those spark plugs on the back side of a transverse mounted six cylinder are a bitch to get to. ;-)

#Comment made: 2002-04-20 02:41:08+00 by: topspin [edit history]

It's R-134A (you weren't testing me, were you?) and it was cool in today's near 90. Thanks for your help, Larry. My desire was to have SOME interaction with the workings of my Blazer, to save a bit of garage time, and to save a bit of money. Getting a gauge and getting it filled "just right" did feel satisfying, but the paperclip trick you showed me was a priceless learning experience.

Originally, this DIY thread made me recall a '97 chia answer to me from Dan which I archived because it periodically has aided me in viewing myself and my relationship to chia/computers/people. Given Dan's entry about Flutterby as a community and other threads here concerning "exclusive" communities and whatnot, I think it might seed some discussion here.

BTW Dan, if you are bothered by this dredging of an old post (and I doubt you are) I'd remind you of Dylan's words .... "do Not create anything. it will be misinterpreted. it will not change. it will follow you the rest of your life."

#Comment made: 2002-04-20 10:44:31+00 by: meuon

A classic 'Dan Post' and I think every bit of it holds true today. Larry brings up another reason to DIY, and we have had lots of problems with 'professional' people finishing up a job, or for that matter even showing up to do something at all. My Dad has been wanting to get a dropped ceiling installed in his basement for 6 months. It's a small job, and quotes have been in the 300-500 range for labour, plus materials. The materials are on-site already. We have been unable to get someone to actually show up and do it. Whats next? DIY. I'll rent a laser level (I know how to do it with a water tube as well...) and we'll install the dropped ceiling. It'll take a few more struts, and probably an extra tile or two but we'll get it done.

Unfortunately, the only motivation for most 'professionals' is money. Dan and many others I know tend to be craftsmen, ie: interested in the craft as well as possibly making a living with it.

#Comment made: 2002-04-21 18:35:35+00 by: Shawn

Dan and many others I know tend to be craftsmen, ie: interested in the craft as well as possibly making a living with it.

And that's a good point. So where does that leave us artistic types? I consider myself to have some small amount of DIY, but not nearly in the field that most here are talking about (Larry mentions "most" elecrical repairs being simple, but that kinda depends on electrical knowledge/experience - something I don't have). Strange as it may sound, I consider the programming I do to be an artistic endevour. I create something out of nothing - with my wits and a language or three. This is what drives me to code, and drives most of my other pursuits and interests.

To use another example; I love to take photographs. I think I'm fairly good at it, and my wife thinks I should persue it as at least a serious hobby, if not something more. But whenever I find myself among other photographers, I become a virtual wallflower. For I know little-to-nothing of lighting, f-stops and other photographic technicalities. I can look at an object or a scene and determine what angles and conditions are likely to produce a better picture (to my mind), but the moment I start thinking about the technical aspects of the shot the magic fades. The passion in the activity (and its result) is gone - replaced by the cold, logical, boring reasoning of rules. It is no longer exciting - it is work.

Likewise, I like to write. I don't do it often, but when I give it my full attention I'm not bad. Yet I no absolutely nothing of the rules of grammer or prose. As meuon observes, good writing just is. [For me] a sentence either flows or it doesn't. If it doesn't, I arrange it so that it does. Ditto for paragraphs - which are simply an appropriately organized eddy of sentences.

So... is the artistic mind fully compatible with DIY (as it is being described here)? And is there perhaps a recent shift of focus from "craft" to "art" in our culture? I'm not suggesting any such truth - simply thinking out loud. Nor am I of the opinion that we somehow have more artists today - just that perhaps society these days sees art as more important than craft.

Such a shift would seem - to me - to parallel the [apparent] business/job shift in recent years; whereby it seems that everyone wants to create their own company, rather than work for somebody else. While it's really a separate thread, I think a conversation with my father and grandfather two years back illustrates this: Frustrated at the fact that I didn't seem to be putting much effort into obtaining my own home/house, my grandfather commented that he couldn't understand why I didn't want to persue "the American Dream". To which I replied, "What? Owning your own house is not The American Dream. Owning your own business is." Before that time, I'd never heard that the American Dream was to own your own home. Among my peers, it seemed that owning one's own business was the most important goal to accomplish.

#Comment made: 2002-04-21 21:09:48+00 by: Dan Lyke

Dang, Topspin, I've got a bunch of old drives that I'd been keeping in the hopes that someday I'd have time to see if they still spin up and I could copy some data off; I was just going to throw them out, but now it seems important that I go back and salvage some of my old notes culled from chia, and before that talk362.

Shawn, I've recently become very conscious that the portion of programming I enjoy as art is becoming obsolete as the craft progresses. The world doesn't need quite as many assembly language graphics coders in this age of monstrously accelerated hardware as it once did. One of the reasons that craft interests me is that I see knowledge of the craft as a way to distinguish my art. Yes, some of my best images recently have come from a 2 megapixel point-n-shoot, and have little to do with the fact that I've painstakingly mapped the response curves for Velvia and Astia with a densitometer, but I'm sitting underneath a print made by a guy who laments not having $50k to spend on a custom ground enlarger lens, an image that would still be reasonably compelling shot on 35mm, but stops people who walk into my living room in their tracks because Christopher Burkett manages to blend the artistic eye and a level of craft in printing in a way that I doubt will ever be recreated. Especially with the advent of digital printing.

Contradicting my belief in my ability to keep up with the craft, I think that what will happen as we shift from craft to art is that base level craft ability will be further devalued, much as typesetters, who used to be as much designer as many designers, have become devalued with the rise of the Macintosh, and then the web. Or as with photography where beginners compare camera bodies, good photographers talk about lenses and film, and experts compare tripods, the artists who understand what tools really help them in creating the images will always have a leg up over those who engage in mental masturbation over toys which only save a portion of the labor.

Part of my leaving Pixar was that I saw in my career path being a technical director, and that I believe that TDs will be the typesetters of the next decade. Those with the art will have the craft automated for them; and of the craft folks, only those who can further the cause of the automation will continue to be useful.

Damn, I'm contradicting myself back and forth here. I guess that's why it's still a matter of debate. I see myself as a craft person, and I'm having trouble figuring out what the next craft of value will be, and wondering if I can make the shift to someone who understands the art better, but I'm doing that by learning more about the crafts. Contradictions galore.

#Comment made: 2002-04-22 01:55:55+00 by: meuon [edit history]

Shawn, I know a lady, that with little technical knowledge, a mediocre 35mm camera and a great eye, takes photo's that win photo contest awards as well as sell (when she wants to). She's proof that people with Talent are special. I am fortunate to have one of her prints. Don't let the technical mavens make you shy away, one great shot, because you were there, saw it, and got it, can make them all wish they were you. My favorite from Saturday may be lacking many things, but I like it. The rest are just nice snapshots.

The hard part, and you pegged it, is it becomes Work. Craft and Art should not become 'Work'. if they become 'Work', it's just another friggin mundane job and that sucks. Dan's faced that deamon several times, and we all succumb to it on occaision to make a living. It's why I play with guns, bicycles, photography.. and why you should play with what interests you.

#Comment made: 2002-04-22 15:47:47+00 by: Shawn

Dan; don't get me wrong. All my shots - when I'm going out to make art - are done with a manual 35mm (all right, so the lense has an 'auto' setting). And if I had access to a darkroom, I'd certainly be doing my own printing (b/w anyway).

I'm actually thinking about taking a basic photography course from The Mountaineers. If they offer it again, that is - I missed the dates for this go-around. Hopefully, that will get me at least some basic knowledge and get me out there more often, actually taking pictures.

And thanks for the words of support, meuon :-)

#Comment made: 2002-04-22 19:08:37+00 by: Dan Lyke

sunlight through trees Shawn, I think my message changed in the middle of that rant. The knowledge of Velvia's response curves isn't nearly as important as the incidental information I gleaned on the way there. But I could have picked up that knowledge plenty of other ways, without learning the craft. The image to the right drops jaws at 8x10, but was taken with a camera that fits in my shirt pocket, the only thing I might have done is used the "depress button partway" thing to meter on a different part of the scene than the usual center weight.

Of course that's a previous generation digital camera, with modern negative film (or a smarter digital camera) even that isn't necessary.

Knowing the craft helps, incidental knowledge picked up while investigating the craft is really good, and there's art that's spectacular because of the execution of the craft, but technology often makes the actual knowledge of the craft obsolete. Just as any keyboard jockey with PhotoShop[Wiki] and a LightJet[Wiki] can now avail themselves of technologically assisted craft which rivals Christopher Burkett's most proprietary printing techniques, but will be hard pressed to match the experience gleaned while learning those techniques.

In other words, there will be no disrespect from me if you're using a disposable Polaroid sticker camera if I can be wowed by your images.