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Thread: May/June View Camera

  1. #1
    Doug Dolde

    May/June View Camera

    After I dropped my View Camera subscription a while back I eventually renewed. There just isn't much out there and I sort of missed it.

    When I got the new issue today I realized again why I dropped it.

    1) An article about An-My Le with some really dreadful washed out images. Pretty boring.

    2) An article by Norm McGrath who, instead of stitching multiple shots together to form a larger image, has decided to cut up one image into 3, 4 or 5 segments. I don't get it.

    3) A Brief Destription of the Wet Plate Process. Really get out of the 19th century. Whothe hell cares about this stuff? OK maybe a couple people.

    4) The Skaneateles Experiment. An article intending to show that a Betterlight scan back is better than 4x5 film. Jesus who didn't know this already? Don't waste my time with this crap.

    4) Four Photographs by John Anderson. OK they aren't bad but if I want to see stunning images, I'll just browse for the high rated ones.

    5) Scanning Large Format Film. Didn't we just go over this? There is nothing new or revealing here. Anyway should have at least waited to report on the Epson 750. Boring and uninformative.

    Hey but they got the Table of Contents right this time. Oh wait no they didn't. McGraths work starts on p14 but it says p13.

    Am I the only one who sees it this way?

  2. #2

    Join Date
    Apr 2006

    May/June View Camera

    No Doug - I stopped subscribing for similar reasons. If you follow the editor's posts on this forum, you'll understand why the publication turns out the way it does - about the only consistency I see with View Camera magazine... Anyway, I'm sure Steve will put up a response here to defend another issue by criticizing you, the customer!

  3. #3

    Join Date
    Jun 2002

    May/June View Camera

    I like this forum better than anything in print. Why kill trees unless you are going to make something well crafted and artful?

  4. #4

    Join Date
    Oct 2004
    Hunterdon County, NJ

    May/June View Camera

    I am trying to remain objective about my criticism of the magazine. I e-mailed Steve after the last issue pointing out that I had noticed multiple errors in several stories (not enough proofreading, I guess). He e-mailed back asking for the list of errors. I didn't have time to do this - I was at work - so I just gave him two that I had remembered (I did not record all of them; the list would have been a long one). I did not hear from him again. I would have expected for that to have happened; some kind of notification that he was aware of it/that the errors were duly noted/a apology - something anyway.

    To top this off, I did not get the magazine last time and had to call. To the staff's credit, they mailed one out immediately. I still have not gotten the current issue yet; it was mailed a week ago Friday. I guess I will have to call again. I am just wondering what it will take for them to srnd my magazine in a timely manner... Tney were fast enough to take my money though.


  5. #5
    Michael E. Gordon
    Join Date
    Jan 2005
    Southern California

    May/June View Camera

    I'm not a VC subscriber and only seldom do I look at it, so I have nothingto offer regarding your criticisms.

    It may not always include LF work - and the portfolios may not always be to everybody's liking - but IMO the finest publication out there is LensWork (albeit pure b/w). LensWork quality is top notch, and I think I've only ever found one error. LW's quality of writing is always superb, and we non-engineer types don't have to wade through pages of uninspiring technical writing to find the good stuff.

    Why bother with the throwaway publications when for a few dollars more you can have bookshelf quality (print quality and content) to archive and look at again and again?

  6. #6
    Jack Flesher's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2005
    Los Altos, CA

    May/June View Camera

    Regretfully, I have to agree... I like most of the regular authors and intend no direct personal attack on any single individual, but...

    One, the Skaneatlels experiment: First off, the BL scanning back needs an IR filter and not a UV filter as was mentioned several times in the article. Next, the person opperating the BL's "ViewFinder" software clearly did not know how to set a proper white-balance -- and most likely did not know how to structure a proper capture curve.

    Two, the scanner (non) test: This was at best a review of some older scanners and offered nothing new of substance that I could discern -- unless I am somehow missing a critical page form the article.

    I would rather see fewer quality issues per year than any more like this one...

    Jack Flesher

  7. #7

    Join Date
    Dec 1997
    Baraboo, Wisconsin

    May/June View Camera

    I've been a subscriber to "View Camera" for about twelve years. Some issues I like a lot, some have only one or two things I like, others have nothing. That's the way it is with magazines, they can't please everyone all the time. I'm not a big fan of Mr. Simmons but you might stop and think how difficult it is to publish a magazine every month that's devoted to large format photography. How many new cameras, lenses, films, holders, dark cloths, etc. are introduced in the course of a year - one? None? Something like the Schneider L series of lenses comes along about once every ten years. When was the last new, important LF technique implemented - Scheimpflug around 1890 or maybe the Zone System around 1940? How many articles can be written about how to focus the view camera or how to use swings and tilts? Digital backs are new and might be interesting and exciting except that they go for $30,000 and up so how many subscribers really care?

    Most specialty magazines can probably count on three or four issues a year just being devoted to new products, new equipment, new locations, new fashions, new techniques, etc. (the current issue of "Shutterbug" for example is devoted entirely to new products introduced at the PMA trade show and at least half of every issue is devoted to new equipment reviews). For the most part that can't be done with a magazine devoted to LF photography, there seldom are any new products being introduced, every technique used by LF photographers has been around forever, and we think a brown vest with a lot of pockets is the height of fashion. So what's an editor to do except occasionally devote an issue to topics that aren't going to please a lot of people? To me that's the price you pay for getting the good stuff and there occasionally is some very good stuff in "View Camera," at least enough to make me renew my subscription every year.
    Brian Ellis
    Before you criticize someone, walk a mile in their shoes. That way when you do criticize them you'll be
    a mile away and you'll have their shoes.

  8. #8

    May/June View Camera

    I just received my issue but haven't opened it yet.

    I too do not plan to renew my subscription for many of the reasons stated. I'm not sure when it runs out, but this may be my last issue. There was a thread on this very topic the past couple of months. Every time a new issue comes out, someone complains
    about the photos, the bad proofreading and the general unreadability of the magazine. Then the "yeah, but it's the only LF magazine out there"
    crowd comes out and makes excuses for it.

    The Steve chimes in with how he's too busy to actually care about his subscribers, who after all, don't pay as much as the advertisers, so why should he worry about what they have to say anyway.

    I think it's time we stop giving Steve the benefit of the doubt. He's proven month after month that he's either unwilling or unable (or worse, both) to produce a readable magazine. He's also proven that he does not care about the people who pay to read his magazine. He claims to have made an effort to fix the problems that have been pointed out to him in the past, but I fail to see any evidence of that. Month after month, we hear the same complaints about the magazine.

    We should stop subscribing and stop reading View Camera. Then maybe he'll get the message. Then maybe he'll actually implement some of the changes he's been promising.

    Don't get me wrong. VC used to be a great magazine. It had (and to my knowledge still does) has the large format market all to itself. It has the potential to be a great magazine. But Steve & Co. needs to seriously consider some major changes. They should listen to all the complaints here and take them to heart. I realize it's impossible to produce a perfect, error-free magazine. Typos will creep in no matter how many times you proofread a page. But we keep seeing the same mistakes over and over, month after month. It's time to get serious. And I would be seriously concerned if someone's main complaint about my photography magazine was that the photos looked like crap.

    So, Steve, if you want people to continue reading your magazine and not bail out in droves, give some serious thought to tightening up your production techniques. Pay a little more attention to what your subscribers are complaining about. Make a good-faith effort to change things, rather than thumb your nose at your readers by either ignoring them, calling them idiots on this forum and continuing to produce a substandard magazine that costs a good bit of change.

    And before anyone chimes in with, why don't you just shut up because you have no idea what it takes to produce a magazine, well, you're wrong. I've been a journalist for more than 20 years and currently work as an editor for company that produces four magazines, four newsletters and web sites. So unlike many people on this and other forums, I actually do know what I'm talking about.

  9. #9

    Join Date
    Dec 2004
    Los Angeles, California, USA

    May/June View Camera

    If you don't like the articles, write one yourself. Then you can do all the proper proof reading, and make that "perfect" piece.

    As an author and editor for a science journal, I have yet to write the perfect article, and the vast majority of science papers have some error/typo/inaccuracy in it. That's life! Lighten up folks. Yes, we strive for a perfectly written pieces (normative approach, if you want to get philosophical), but more often than not we do not reach that lofty goal.

    And if you wonder whether I've written a ms for VC, yes I did, currently in editorial review may eventually end up on the VC website (response to Kerry Thalmann's canned photodatabases, arguing for making a custom database).

    back to describing new species ...
    Daniel Geiger
    geiger at vetigastropoda dot com

  10. #10
    tim atherton's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 1998

    May/June View Camera

    "I'm not a big fan of Mr. Simmons but you might stop and think how difficult it is to publish a magazine every month that's devoted to large format photography. How many new cameras, lenses, films, holders, dark cloths, etc. are introduced in the course of a year - one? None? ... etc"

    well, for one, it's only once every other month. But that aside a few times in rsponse to such threads as this, Steve has asked on here for suggestions of what sort of article/topics/photographers to cover. There have been dozens and dozens of good suggestions - yet only a handful of them have ever shown up as articles.

    Yes, maybe there's not much new under the sun regarding LF technique in general. And yes, there much by way of new lenses. (though judging by certain topics that recur on here there is probably a few new takes on those that could be well written about)

    BUT - there is tons of interesting, challenging, intriguing, exciting LF photography being done that we never ever see in View Camera - just the same of lame old stuff - McGrath's recycled client shots, another boring and badly reproduced set of panoramic shots, some more generic B&W photos of (take your pick) ancient scottish monoliths/irish hills and coastlines/canyons/anasazi ruins (Kirk's aside) etc etc.

    Maybe I missed it - has there been an article on Soth? His work and/or equipment and technique? Basilico - ditto? Geoffrey James - ditto? Sugimoto? Szarkowski's recent book and exhibition? Burtynski? (I vaguely recall something?). That's just one strand - but there are plenty, plenty more.

    Or when was the last time they looked back at Evans or Atget? Again - just two more examples - there's nearly always more to be said and perhaps readers who don't know as much about the tradition as they could.

    Hell - even do something on Anne Geddes!

    The Typos, mistakes and poor reproduction are annoying enough, but apart from some very rare exceptions, it's stale

    (note: all typos are my own work...)
    You'd be amazed how small the demand is for pictures of trees... - Fred Astaire to Audrey Hepburn blog

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