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THE SUNDAY MORNING PHOTOGRAPHER


A weekly column by Mike Johnston



July 6, 2003



Headlines from 2011

My take on what the news might look eight years from now...happy Fourth of July weekend to all you Americans!

  • British Duchess J. K. Rowling has released Harry Potter and the Divorce from Hell, the eleventh book in her ever more popular series. In the book, a sullen and demoralized Harry Potter, fighting a paunch and the disillusions of middle age, must battle to the death with arch-villain “The X,” whom he cannot see or speak to except through the medium of the sinister and phantasmagoric “lawyers.” The book, which is more than 1,700 pages long and expected to sell more than 80 million copies (some to children as young as 4), has prompted renewed pleas for mercy from the Governors of both Oregon and Washington State, whose forests continued to be decimated by the Potter series’ voracious requirements for paper.

  • Canon, Inc., as part of its Master Plan for World Dominion, has revealed that is uses an innovative “Startup Zapper” program in which image-related software startup companies are located, identified, purchased and subsumed into Canon’s product base without requiring actual attention from live Canon employees. Having bought Olympus in 2004, Nikon in 2007, and Kodak in 2008, Canon Inc.’s only true impediments to total domination of world imaging technologies remains Sony Corp. and a few nut cases who use view cameras.

  • Sony, however, is still reeling from the conspicuous failure of its “Composition Nagger” feature, an A.I. chip which allowed cameras to critique digital photos before they were taken. Though unpopular with consumers due to its unremittingly sarcastic tone, Sony dallied in removing the chip through the entire crucial 2010 Christmas Season (Aug.-Dec.), unsure whether consumers objected more to the chip’s often insulting, condescending remarks, or to the shrill, grating vocal tone necessitated by the teeny little speakers in the cameras.

  • Elephants, Orangutangs, Great White Sharks, and Robins are all extinct. In polls, 73% of Americans report they don’t care. The most common comment made to pollsters was, “What’s a ‘Robin’?”

  • After years of trying, Canon has finally built an SLR too big and heavy to be lifted. The 61-lb. Canon EOS BS-D is mounted on an extensible hydraulic arm attached to a self-balancing wheelset based on the Segway. The Segway, intended to “revolutionize human transportation,” has sold 11,856 units worldwide over the past decade, and Segway company managers had been lobbying for several years for Canon to go ahead with its proposed technology application. The Segway wheelset can even balance the EOS BS-D with the 34-lb. EF 40-500mm f/3.8 zoom mounted! At the product introduction ceremony, one early purchaser of the $16,500 rig said glowingly, “No one will ever mistake me for a girly-man again,” to the beaming smiles and nods of Canon managers. For its part, Segway executives suggested that it may no longer need 350-lb. Richard Simmons as its spokesperson.

  • McDonald’s Corp., recently awarded the contract for the Houston Public School District, now owns, operates, and manages more than 50% of the nation’s elementary and junior high schools. Bright red plastic signs outside the schools read, “More than 100 million students served.”

  • The recently unveiled digital camera sensor standard of 57 megapixels has received mixed reviews from digital initiates. On one online forum, dpreview.com, forumers were overheard making comments such as, “I really, really, REALLY need 60MP,” “I’m disgusted that we can only get 4,231 images on a MinisculeMicroMedia card using the new 57MP standard chips, instead of the 5,983 I’m used to,” and “I’m very disappointed, and I’m going to hold off buying anything until something better comes out — or until I drop down dead.”

  • President Howard Dean vowed to continue pursuing the missing terrorists, but Richard Perl, Donald Rumsfeld et al. are still at large, being hidden by members of anti-Government militias in remote regions of the mountain states. The cabal took flight following the shocking 2009 discovery that “George W. Bush” was a humanoid robot loosely modeled on a combination of George H. W. Bush and former Indiana Senator Dan Quayle. President Dean denied again that “tunnel busting” nukes would be used in Colorado, although some of his advisors (probably foreseeing reduced competition for Vermont ski resorts) clearly relish the idea.

  • Canon’s Kodak Division, Rochester, New York, has said in a statement that it was disappointed to learn that it actually has 131 customers for its Tri-X film, not 177 as previously supposed, after it was revealed that photo-book publishing magnate Mike Johnston had been ordering the film under 46 different names. Reached for comment, Johnston just went on, and on, and on....

  • Work on the Iraq–Texas oil pipeline continues, despite setbacks.

  • 36% of digital camera purchasers cannot figure out how to actually use their cameras, down from 43% three years ago, according to the Photo Marketing Association. (PMA was recently purchased by Canon, Inc.)

  • Entertainer “J-Lo” (Jennifer Lopez) was married in April for the seventh time, to musician-comedian Jack Black, in a ceremony that didn’t have to be all that private seeing as how not too many people were interested. J-Lo insists she can’t wait to divorce Black, because she’s “going for Liz’s record.”

  • Leica, working at what it calls “the limits of the technically feasible,” has announced that it could be offering auto-focusing cameras as early as 2015. On the internet, members of the LUG (Leica User Group), who for some reason all wear scarves, hail the move as “incredibly timely,” “Pure Leica,” and “an improvement on perfection.”

  • eBay fees have reached 53% of purchase prices, now that the U.S. Post Office, FedEx Corp., and UPS have granted it an automatic percentage of members’ shipping fees. In desperation, some used-equipment sellers and buyers have begun to use local camera stores as de facto clearinghouses; the stores have set aside innovative areas of counter space known as “Used” sections. Although focus groups prove that the concept is easy for consumers to grasp, one potential pitfall of the stratagem is that few people go into camera stores.

  • Although only the seventh largest hobby in America (surpassed by “church gambling,” but fortunately still way ahead of “training attack dogs to maul the neighbors’ children”), photography is still the best one.


Some things never change.


— Mike Johnston


Don’t forget you can still order your copy of The Empirical Photographer at www.37thframe.com.







Mike Johnston writes and publishes an old-fashioned, entertaining quarterly ink-on-paper newsletter called The 37th Frame ( www.37thframe.com). He has a B.F.A. in Photography from the Corcoran College of Art and Design in Washington, D.C., where he was a student of the late Steve Szabo and of Joe Cameron.

He was East Coast Editor of Camera & Darkroom magazine from 1988 to 1994 and Editor-in-Chief of PHOTO Techniques magazine from 1994-2000, where his editorial column "The 37th Frame" was a popular feature and where he presented, among other things, a set of three articles on "bokeh" by John Kennerdell, Oren Grad, and Harold Merklinger that were subsequently widely discussed among photographers.

His critical and technical writings have appeared in various publications and newsletters such as The Washington Review and D-Max. A number of his articles written under the pseudonym "L. T. Gray" (el Tigre) appeared in the English magazine Darkroom User.





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