In Focus, Bangkok Photography Blog July 3rd, 2010

Earning Your Composition, The Reality/Infraview, a Review

Thailand Hotel Guide
Granary Resort Chiang Mai
Le Fenix Sukhumvit By Accor
Park Plaza Sukhumvit Bangkok Hotel
Smart Suites The Boutique Hotel

I have some unfortunate news to report on this project and total 100% transparency is how I feel this should be handled. My planned beneficiaries of this project, innocent very much in need children at a certain orphanage, have fallen victim to their local manager who we have found cannot currently be trusted and I doubt this is likely to change. Decisions need to be made if we're going to carry this project forward and if so who the new beneficiaries will be. I do expect this project to generate significant revenue so I take it very seriously. As you read this I'll be back in the Mae Sot area investigating further. I'll keep you informed. For now I'll still collect images with the intention of making the best most meaningful mosaics possible and as always, I'm asking for and will greatly appreciate your help with the images.

We are still accepting (and pleading for) images of children from SEA. No matter how terrible you think they are, please send them in anyway. These images will be used to complete a set of 3 high quality mosaics which will be sold to benefit the Karen and Burmese Orphans living in the orphanages and refugee camps. The more images the better, I can use all you have. Please take the time to go through your images for anything you think might help. If you missed the "No Place to Call Home" special, you can click on the link and read more about this. Thank you! [email protected]


Quick Click Links

Feature Photograph Earning your Composition, The Reality IrFanView, a Review by Tom Tweedel Photography News of Interest

Readers Submissions Readers Questions A Snapshot of Bangkok Images Week in Review Infocus Blog, Fishing on ForumsT


Feature Photograph *menu

Fuji Finepix F100

This isn't a great picture at all.. some might even consider it a poor image. Fair enough. I chose to share a couple "feature" photographs today only to remind you what becomes possible with even a $125.00 point and shoot compact and how much fun it can be if you just charge up that battery and go for a walk with your camera.

This image was captured from nearly 400-500 meters distant from my balcony and as you can tell it's our local mosque which serenades us with fine music no less than five times per day! As you can see, even an ordinary inexpensive point and shoot camera is more than capable of capturing the fine detail of a distant scene if the settings are properly set (full automatic is how I use this genre of camera) and the camera properly braced. This image is significant because it represents possibilities anybody, with any level of camera, can capture.

Fuji Finepix F200EXR

Nope, we weren't photographing a cattle drive this week. Using an inexpensive pocket point and shoot I pulled it out during a meal at the Chok Chai Steak House to photograph what I thought were thoughtful and unique lamp shades. At the time I had no idea what I was going to use these for, or use the at all. I did remember a friend who's a master artist who makes such iron objects and figured perhaps I'd sent it to him for inspiration. I forgot all about it.. :)

The point I'm trying to make this week, is any camera will take the photograph you want. Don't let your lack of equipment hold back your creativity. It's not about being a professional or having professional gear. It's only about having the desire to have fun and be creative in the process. I'd be thrilled if next week or the week after I was flooded with such ordinary pictures sent in by readers having a great time. And I'd publish them all! God Bless Photography! (someone famous once said..)

Earning Your Composition, The Reality *menu

In last week’s piece" Building a Composition, Step by Step” we talked about seeing the composition you see in your mind’s eye and then using your technical skills with the camera to effect the capture. A few people told me that they often don’t have an hour to sit there hoping for one image, basically they want to arrive on scene, capture a masterpiece, and immediately move on to the next scene and do the same. I’m sorry, but it doesn’t work that way. Most decent to good compositions and beyond are the result of not only technical skills with the camera, seeing your vision in your mind’s eye, but also loads and loads of patience. You have to earn your composition.

I’ll be using images from almost a decade ago to illustrate my most challenging capture. The capture that took the most patience. Crater Lake Oregon. Crater Lake National Park is famous for its deep lake with an extremely blue color credited to both the depth of the lake and the species of algae that coats and lays beneath its surface. Crater Lake at 1949 feet is the deepest lake in the western hemisphere, and depending on how it’s measured the deepest in the world. Its roughly 5-6 miles across with an average depth in excess of 1150 feet and sits on top of a mountain peak at an elevation of 7000-8000 feet. During the winter months access to all but the lodge and a single viewing point is closed to vehicular traffic, making access to the other points only possible by snowmobile, snow shoeing, cross country skiing, or perhaps horseback. It’s rugged to say the least.

Canon 1ds Mark II, 16-35mm F2.8L @F8 1/160th 16mm ISO 100

The road from where I lived in Medford to Crater Lake wasn’t a bad road, but depending on local storms you could spend the last 2-3 hours of the drive riding on hard packed or fresh snow and ice. Snow plows regularly clear the road and you can tell how many feet of snow you’ve had for the season by eyeing the side snow banks or taking a closer look at how much of the marker poles are still exposed above the top of the snow. I’d guess 15-25 feet towards the end of the winter is pretty average.

At the main viewpoint there is a lodge, restaurant, and parking area open most of the year unless there is an active storm in progress. Merely making it to this point can take from 4-10 hours from Medford depending on the weather of the moment. I’d made the drive during all times of the year and had many pictures from most of the popular viewpoints. One day l was passing time in the gift shop and looking at the many books published on Crater Lake, post cards, coffee cups, and all the different images.. and it felt like I had them all. I’d been to the popular shooting locations and made my captures and once at a certain level of skill they become very much the same. It came to me that one scene was missing. The wide view of Crater Lake, during the middle of winter, with the SUN shining on the lake. I realized I’d never seen this scene in my many trips. Asking the long term workers and residents I learned the sun does peek out from behind the constant cloud cover, but for only seconds at a time and only then a few times year. They told me the moments are fleeting at best and usually go unnoticed. Sounded like a challenge to me!

Canon 1ds Mark II, 70-200mm F2.8L IS @F4 1/1250th 200mm ISO 100

There’s much wildlife present if you know where to look, but these small black birds walking around in the worst part of winter are a bit surprising.

Canon 1ds Mark II, 16-35mm F2.8L @F8 1/30th 16mm ISO 100

The ride up there reveals some really beautiful scenics if you know where to stop and are willing to hike a bit. Notice the late afternoon sun shining directionally on the evergreens? In this scene I used a wide angle, laid down in the snow for the best perspective, and waited for the sun to pass over this small valley and light the trees. I estimate the light on the trees lasted less than 10 seconds.

Canon 1ds Mark II, 16-35mm F2.8L @F5.6 1/100th 29mm ISO 100

At the lower elevations of 5000-6000 feet you can snowshoe almost anywhere and the scenery is stunning. You’ll notice during the winter that daylight hours are very short in the northwest, usually less than 6-8 hours a day, and actual direct sunlight that strikes you directly only lasts for 30-40 minutes tops.. so photographic opportunities that strong lighting are relatively rare You need to keep track of when the sun will make an appearance, make it to your designated viewpoint prior to the light, and then setup and wait.. and hope the weather doesn’t block your few minutes of happy sunshine.. Be prepared for disappointment. You can spend years collecting certain scenes with real sunlight.

Canon 1ds Mark II, 16-35mm F2.8L @F11 1/200th 29mm ISO 100

Above is a constructed viewpoint. A corrugated metal tube that overhangs a cliff which overlooks the lake with a small foyer to put your gear and kick the snow off your boots. This looks sunny and warm but it’s way below zero and notice the clouds right off the cliff? Those clouds are covering the lake except for a very few fleeting moments each season.. totally unpredictable.

Over the course of 2-3 years I made over 20 trips up to this location and sat in this tube for hours on end, camera on the tripod, shutter release in my hand, waiting for the elusive break in the cloud cover and the sun to illuminate the lake revealing it’s unique deep blue color with surrounding peaks covered in snow. All but once the only thing turning blue were my fingers and toes and probably my nose.. Photography, like many other parts of life, is more about commitment, being willing to put yourself out there and do the work, ignore the discomfort, and hope.. hope that you’ll get that one image no one else has. The missing image from all the books and postcards in the gift shop.

Canon 1ds Mark II, 16-35mm F2.8L @F8 1/800th 24mm ISO 100

During the course of waiting for your desired scene, other scenes might present themselves. It’s important to not stay so focused on what you think you want.. that you allow real gems to pass by unnoticed. The above scene is such a scene, simple, elegance in nature.

Canon 1ds Mark II, 16-35mm F2.8L @F8 1/400th 16mm ISO 100

Virtually 100% of the time this is as much of the lake as you’ll be able to get a glimpse of. This small break in the clouds lasted less than 4-5 seconds and wasn’t large enough to reveal the prize. How hard are you willing to work for your composition? How much patience do you have? Will your camera be set to the right exposure should the lake reveal itself? It better be, you won’t have time to check your histogram and make adjustments.

Ask yourself, did Ansel Adams show commitment and patience during his years in the Yosemite wilderness living in campsites supplied by mule trains? Did he show commitment by learning his environment over a period of years, memorizing weather patterns during all times of the year, when the trees would turn, when certain animals would migrate through certain areas? He spend most of a lifetime in pursuit of photographing Yosemite, Yellowstone, Glacier Park, and developing new techniques and systems to better photograph these areas. For him to sit for an entire week for a single shot was nothing.. as common to him as a simple meal is to us. He understood that to make the photographs he dreamed about, the images in his mind’s eye, he understood it would take great commitment.

Canon 1ds Mark II, 16-35mm F2.8L @F11 1/160th 16mm ISO 100

I remember the day well, 8000 feet, way below zero, and I’d been sitting in the tube for hours and moving anything brought on streaks of pain. My camera was on the tripod, bottom half had insulation duct taped around the battery area, cable release in my hand, and every few minutes I’d press the button halfway to hear the reassuring autofocus confirmation beep letting me know the battery was still good and the lens was clear.

I could sense or feel it before it happened, slight shifts in the light, changes in the patterns of shadows, a rogue breeze passed through the trees. And in an instant, remember at that elevation the clouds are often moving in excess of 100 miles per hour, in an instant the lights came on as the sun peeked through a cloud over my right shoulder, the clouds cleared over the lake, and I was privileged to view this most beautiful scene. In my surprise I accidently pressed the shutter release or I probably would have been so caught up in admiring nature.. that I’d have missed it all together. My camera on continuous drive, 3.5fps, managed 5 images before the lack was once again hidden by the clouds.

You’ll have to forgive me that when people say they don’t have an hour to dedicate to a potential capture, or they’re uncomfortable, or they’d rather be anywhere else.. you’ll have to forgive me for thinking they still need to learn one of the most important skills of photography. Patience. And that compositions are earned. Rarely are they luck. Of course we're talking about landscapes and not photojournalism or event photography where you must make important decisions in the blink of an eye..

As you’re reading this I’ll be putting in 10-12 hours driving time making my way to the Burma border, perhaps a dedicated fellow photographer will join me, perhaps not.. but I’ll be trying to earn my next worthy composition.

IrFanView, a Review *menu

Tom Tweedel is a good friend with significant experience in China and has self-published several interesting volumes of his travels in China complete with many great images and informative narrative. Last year he visited Thailand for the first time and I had a great time showing him around the area. Somehow he found time to put together a like 340 page book of his travels around Thailand and you can get your copy here! I've got a copy of this book and I can tell you it's well worth it, especially for first time travelers or if you haven't seen more of Thailand than downtown Bangkok.

When Tom agreed to become part of our small select product review team I was both excited and grateful. I hope you enjoy this and future reviews by Tom. For those whose plans include extended travel in Thailand and China I’d recommend contacting Tom and inquiring into obtaining copies of his books. Tom Tweedel is an Austin, TX based photographer and can be reached at: [email protected]

IrFanView is a picture viewing program with limited editing features. It has been around quite a long time, is very stable and attractively priced (its free). Irfan’s main advantage is that it is fast and light. It’s easy to use for viewing, cropping, rotating and other basic operations.

Installation

You can get Irfanview from a number of download sites including

http://www.irfanview.com

It’s a small download, only 1.33 MB, it could fit on an old floppy disk.

The installation is fairly smooth, doesn’t require any supporting files or reboots. The one thing to watch out for is they might try and install a toolbar or other adware related stuff (which is how they monetize the program). It’s optional so as long as you don’t just NEXT through everything you can skip it.

The other thing to pay attention to is it asks you which type of files you want to associate with IrfanView. I usually just accept the default JPGs, TIFF’s and the like. This will mean that when you double click on a file it will open it up with IrFanView vs. what it used to use.

Use

If you have associated your JPG’s with IrFanView you can just double click on an image and IrFanView will launch very quickly (less than a half a second on a mid grade laptop). This gives you quick and easy access to view your images. Once its up and running it has a minimal interface.

Most of the program is about viewing your image. If you look up top to the menu bar the business end is pretty clear.

For Viewing you have the arrow keys and counter. This tells you how many pictures are in the current directory and you can click to move through them quickly (or you can use the arrow keys on your keyboard).

If you wish to zoom in on an image there is the magnifying glass buttons on the toolbar or you can use the +/- keys. You can also go to View>Display Options where you can choose the view the image at 100% or Fit to desktop. Hitting the letter “F” also toggles between these options.

File Processing

IrFanView has limited file processing capabilities. Most are found under the Image Menu

Options include Rotating, Resizing, dropping the color bit depth, converting to grayscale, Auto adjust colors, Sharpen, Redeye Reduction and others. The tools themselves are functional and quick, though they are basic versions of these functions that you might find in OEM software. They are not optimized in quality or interface as modern commercial offerings but they get the job done.

The resize menu (which I use frequently) has an interesting interface with a number of presents. There is an option for performance vs. quality which is kind of an artifact of an earlier era of computing. Any modern computer can do the highest quality resize instantly.

Advanced Features

In addition to the basics IrfanView has some advanced batch processing features and other options one would not expect on a small piece of freeware.

The batch rename/conversion is one example that some might find useful (File>Batch Conversion/Rename).

Most of the other advance features can be explored through the Options>Properties/Settings screen. Some of them might be considered past their prime as they relate to manual configuration more modern software does automatically. But for you old school guys out there who like it just a certain way.

Plug it In

IrFanViews utility continues to expand with time with the add on of various plug in modules. One useful plug in is lossless rotation. Allows you to rotate your saved JPG without having to “resave” and loose quality to the photocopy effect. With plugins it also becomes a halfway decent media player allowing access to sound and video, though I suspect the modern evolution of codec’s have eclipsed much of its video capability (haven’t tried). It also allows for direct scanning of images from a compatible flatbed scanner.

Why use IrfanView?

The main reason I use IrfanView is because its fast and light. Its an old style program where I can simply click on the icon of a supported file have it come up instantly. I don’t have to wait for anything to load, previews to be built, point it at a different directory every time I want to use the software and so on. I also keep a copy on my memory stick so I have it around if I find myself showing files on someone else’s computer I don’t have to suffer through whatever default viewer Windows has them set up for (some of them are painfully slow and annoying). I quickly install it on their box and then I have a program that I can zip through a folder of pictures as fast as I can hit the keys.

I also find IrFanView nice if I just need to do a quick crop or resize of an existing image. Bring it up, do what I need and move on.

Its not a serious photo processing program and I would attempt to use it as such. Its not color managed and has a UI and feature set from the 1990’s. But it’s hard to beat the price (free), size and overhead. So it continues to putter along and I would recommend it to anyone who needs a casual photo viewer and isn’t intimidated by the menu items.


Photography News of Interest *menu

$722,000 USD’s for a 1938 photograph “Clearing Winter Storm” by Ansel Adams at a recent Sotheby’s auction was the highlight of the auction, but more than 1000 other photographs and Polaroid’s brought in more than 12.4 million. Quite the auction!

Imagine being arrested for photographing police inside your own home! It’s happening as laws meant for entirely different purposes are being abused by police in certain states. As Carmin would say “You Will Respect My Authoritah!” Read about this nonsense here..

Its nice to know local printers color manage too. Read about how the guys over at Blue Pano are doing color.

Thom over at www.byThom.com is well known by Nikon users and a real authority on all things Nikon. He recently wrote a short article about autofocusing I think would benefit a keen user of any DSLR system and you might be interested in reading about it here.

Readers Submissions *menu

Hi Steve,

basically, I just wanted to say "hello" and congratulate you to your new web page!

And, while I'm at it, I included some pictures, too. Last weekend, my wife and I made a motorcycle trip to southern Bavaria, and of the 80 or so pictures I took during those three days, I consider 14 quite decent. It's been raining heavily all day today, so I have time for this…

Entry to the port of Lindau. Note that this picture is not filtered or processed; the colors are original and demonstrate well why this time of the day is called "heure bleue"…

This little guy sits in a public garden in the city of Kaufbeuren. Against my habit, this one is heavily post-processed since I couldn't separate him from the background with my compact — still the Lumix LX2, by the way. I desaturated and brightened the background; looks much better than the original without, in my opinion, screaming "I'm gimped" too loudly…

The Wieskirche, designated UNESCO world heritage.

A slightly different view, emphasizing a bit its name: "Wiese", in German, meaning "meadow". And showing my wife photographing the photographer…

Inside Wieskirche. This picture is significant (to use your words…) because it's the first hand-held HDR I've ever done. Composed in GIMP from two pictures; as you can see, a third, even darker one would have been useful.

They flood the world with their cameras, but prefer more ancient technology themselves: Japanese tourists.


Bavarian folk musician taking a break with a glass of Bavarian beer.

Picture 313: I was a bit hesitating to include this one. I like it because of its dominant white-and-blue, the Bavarian state colors. Even the binder is blue… But something is missing; I don't consider this one very strong.

Preparing for…


… a show of folk dancing. I like this one very much. It would be even better if you could see a little bit more of the girl on the left side in the foreground, but this was all I could do with the 28mm-equivalent lens of my Lumix. And, of course, there was neither time nor space to step back a little.

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Recently, you published a review on FastPictureViewer. I am in fact using this program. I've been using Irfanview for as long as I can think for viewing and simple processing of pictures, but when I color-managed my environment a year ago I had to look for something else because Irfanview did not support color management. This is how I came across FastPictureViewer. I like it a lot, because it really is what it promises to be — fast. However, there seems to be a problem in the JPEG decoder: Very dark backgrounds become color-blotched. It's the only program were I observe this — in Irfanview, GIMP, Noiseware, RAWTherapee etc. my pictures look as the are supposed to — so it really seems to be a problem with the viewer, not the photos.

By now, Irfanview also supports color management, but it becomes extremely slow — loading and displaying a 7MB JPEG file can take 1 or 2 seconds on my laptop — so I usually use it without. The enclosed picture were resized, re-labelled and copyrighted with Irfanview batch processing.

———————–

Earlier, we discussed that it would be useful to format the backup device with the same file system as the main drive. With the change to Daylight Saving Time two months ago I can now confirm that this really avoids the problem of a new full backup. One of the rare cases where reality matches the theory…

———————–

As I've indicated earlier in this mail, I still don't have a "big" digital camera. My traditionally favorite system, Pentax, has lost much of my interest after their drastic lens price increases last year. Olympus' FT will probably not be continued, so there'll probably never be a successor of the E620 with SD card slot, better high ISO performance, a bigger viewfinder (and, ideally, a connector to Olympus' electronic viewfinder), and a high-res display. mFT is getting closer but still has neither the camera nor the lenses I'd want. Samsung's long-awaited NX10 has been disappointing for me — no stabilizer (for me, much more important than, say, autofocus), mediocre image quality and a lens line-up and roadmap that doesn't have a single lens that I'd consider interesting.

Ah… There's Sony's NEX system. That one could be interesting (but I've said this several times during the last couple of years). In fact, the NEX5 is the first digital camera ever that makes me want to own it emotionally. Finally, not just another analog camera with a sensor instead of the film… Of course, it is not what I want, so I'll have to wait. But if the upcoming NEX7 really has a built-in stabilizer and a viewfinder at least as good as that of Panasonic's G1/G2/GH1, and if Sony manages to improve the apparently very poor performance of their lenses, and if they decide to bring the Zeiss 3.5-4.5/16-80 for the NEX system… Oh well, I realize that once again these are a lot of "if"s…

I hope that you'll recover soon from your "photo block"!

Best wishes,

Tom

Tom –

Great pictures! I’m sure the readers will enjoy them!

To respond to some of your comments:

  • FastPictureViewer: Tom Tweedel wrote a review http://www.bangkokimages.com/Articles/Software/tabid/62/entryid/81/Default.aspx of this product a few months back and the response was very positive. It is fast as you say, takes advantage of every big of hardware including faster video cards, and it is color managed. The newest version I believe takes care of the jpeg blotching you noticed. If not, check your video card settings in the preferences.. sometimes depending on the video card, its driver, etc. this can result in a blotchy look.
  • Funny you should mention Infanview. I’ve never used it myself by Tom Tweedel wrote a positive review on it for this weeks column!
  • It’s good that the formatting is working out for you. So far I haven’t experienced your problem but I am keeping an eye out for it.
  • Sony NEX system. By now you know I had one of the first 100 distributed in the Kingdom and I’ve been using it a few weeks. I’ll be coming out with a review shortly but for now I can tell you the standard 14-55mm lens is at least the equal of most mid-range zooms for DSLRs. Only the top F2.8 lenses will outperform it. In other words, it’s very good. I hope to have my hands on the 16mm soon. The articulated 930,000 pixel LCD is growing on me. It’s excellent for candid captures and even holds up well in bright sunlight. I too hope Sony releases a EVF viewfinder attachment in the near future, but the more I use their excellent LCD the less important to me it becomes.
  • I’m almost over my “Photo-Block.. ” Soon…

Thanks for the pictures and your thoughts, as always it’s interesting corresponding with you.

Steve

I suspect the readers submissions will be a highly anticipated section of this column and I encourage anyone with photographs and travel accounts they'd like to share to please send them to me at: [email protected]

Readers Questions *menu

BkkSteve –

I have a new wide-gamut monitor NEC monitor and am using a Xrite 1id2 colorimeter and the included Imatch software. I’m getting color casts and everything seems inconsistent at best. Do I need new software, a new colorimeter, or did I choose an inferior monitor?

Regards, Seta

Seta –

Quite the coincidence. I too have a new wide-gamut NEC monitor (actually two of them) and I’m using the Xrite 1id2 colorimeter. I hope to bring the readers a useful review of these great new monitors soon.

To start, the NEC wide-gamut monitors, for instance the LCD2690uxi2, had internal LUT’s (look up tables) which can only be controlled via the DDC channel which runs through your DVI cable to the monitor, as far as I know DDC information is not passed via HDMI, Displayport, or the various adapters. While you can still use your 8 bit video card LUT’s if you really want, this monitor is best (by far) used with its 12 bit internal LUT’s. With the NEC’s the internal LUT’s can only be controlled via NEC’s Spectraview II color profiling software. With an absolute certainty, you should be using the SVII software.

That leaves your xrite 1id2 colorimeter puck. The NEC manuals list this puck as “compatible” and in fact when used with SVII it profiles my two monitors very nicely. No issues at all. However, further research reveals the Xrite 1id2 pucks were not designed for wide-gamut monitors. To compensate for this NEC included special profiles in their SVII software to allow 1id2 pucks to work within their tolerances for color accuracy and I can tell you from personal experience the color match is very good.

Another however.. the same research reveals Xrite makes NEC’s puck which includes built in color matrixes making their pucks 100% compatible with NEC wide gamut displays without the need for the special profile built into the SVII software.

I can anticipate your next question: Is there any advantage to using NEC’s wide gamut puck made my Xrite over Xrite’s own 1id2 puck when using SVII software, since SVII has built in correction profiles for the 1id2 puck? Good question. My first inclination is no.. no ‘practical’ advantage. But.. I recently ordered a NEC wide-gamut puck (colorimeter) and should receive it soon. I plan on doing side by side testing to determine if my first inclination is correct or not. I suspect there will be no practical difference inside a closed loop system, in other words a system where you process and print your own prints. But there might be a small degree of better accuracy when profiling to a profile such as CYMK to be used outside your closed system. The degree would have to be very small otherwise NEC would not approve the 1id2 colorimeter for use.

So.. for sure buy the SVII software, no question about that. Or hold off a few weeks and lets see how my new NEC puck compares to our 1id2 pucks.

Steve

Please submit your questions to [email protected] All questions will be answered and most will show up in the weekly column.

A Snapshot of Bangkok Images Week in Review *menu

This week we’ll be heading up to Mae Sot and the Burma border. We haven’t been there in 6 months and we’re looking forward to some changes and to meet with friends in the area.

We continue to test a bunch of new gear including NEC wide gamut image monitors, a new colorimeter, a Color Checker Passport, Android smart phone, Sony NEX-5 camera, and more. Software too! Adobe CS5, Topaz, PTIgui, and the new Office Professional 2010. We have a lot of work ahead of us.

Reader gallery of the week is by Poompui. Nice gallery! Post your gallery to share and we'll link it here for all to enjoy!

I didn't have Dana's latest by the time I posted this weekly so I couldn't post a direct link, but Dana is nothing if not reliable so I'm sureif you look here you'll see his newest Thailand Photo Story at the top of the list!

Infocus Blog, Fishing on Forums *menu

Forums are very useful tools and you can learn a lot. However, you can negate their usefulness with a strong headed approach. I’m going to list a few rules I try to follow on forums which helps make them more useful to me:

  • I don’t look to confirm what I want to hear. I only look to gather more information which helps me be more knowledgeable on the subject I’m interested in. If it turns out my premise was wrong then the forums just became very useful. If I’m only listening to confirm what I want to hear, or what I’ve previously convinced myself is fact, then I’m wasting everyone’s time including my own.
  • It always pays to lurk for a while, time permitting. Lurking allows you to learn the different personalities on each forum, their sense of humor (often unique..:), and how much they really know. This allows me to assign a value to their responses.
  • Ask specific questions. Your life story on the forum is only interesting to yourself, and 99.9% of the run-up to your current problems is of no interest to anyone either. Ask the specific question you want to know, or answer the specific question being asked. This way someone might make it through your entire post and even take it seriously.
  • Keep it civil. No one likes a smartass no matter how tempting it might be to play one.
  • Don’t think you’re unique. Use the search engines. Someone probably already asked that exact same question before and you won’t even need to wait for an answer because the question has already been answered 93 times..
  • Keep your signature small or don’t use one at all. The forum software will let everyone know who you are. You might really like your dog, but that 800 pixel wide image of Old Yeller on every single post you make.. well.. it makes us cry.
  • There will always be spammers. The best thing to do is ignore them. ANY response only encourages.
  • One thread per question please. That’s all it takes. Asking the same question in several different topics in 10 different ways isn’t going to help you get a more accurate or prompt answer. If anything it will label you as a bit full of yourself and no one will bother to respond.
  • If someone takes the time to respond to you.. please remember you asked for the help. You don’t have to agree with it, you don’t have to abide by it, you don’t even have to think it’s polite.. but remember you asked for it. Take any answer you deem “not very useful” as spam and ignore it.. or simply respond with a “thank you.” Attacking someone who tried to help you because they didn’t sugar coat their answer and top it with rainbow sprinkles isn’t nice.. and it’s the best way to have no one respond to your future posts.
  • Above all, remember that not everyone’s first language is the language used in the forum, nor did they come from your neighborhood. “Unique” humor and phrases ‘might’ not be received the way you expect. When you communicate with someone on-line they don’t see any of your verbal cues, facial expressions, hand signals, or the twinkle in your eye. They only see your words and they might think they’re the words of a very strange or evil person if you don’t keep the language simple and generic.

Do you have your own forum rules you’d like to add? Send them in and I’ll add them to we’ll let the list grow. This particular list is the product of productively channeling my frustrations in a certain forum with a certain lady who kept starting thread after thread every time she didn’t get the preconceived answer she was looking for. And then when a few started to gently joke with her a bit about her multitude of threads.. she reported them for harassment. I’m guessing no one will respond to her future posts.

Until next time..