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Welcome! I don't know about you guys, but I plan on having a good time. It's a lot of work putting together each episode, but photography has been in my life — work and play — since I was a strapping sapling simpleton. And that's saying something (especially if you try to say it through thrice).

Connect or comment, please. Each episode will have a conversation, and I'll be glad to strike one up with you, too!

- Mark

Oct 17, 2017

Welcome to episode i after v (except after c?), the only podcast that contains the concept of thirds and the number 360 unrelatedly; we learn about something, I instruct you in pushing that something even further, and then Ansel Adams steps in to spoil the party by declaring that the something, actually no somethings, exist; And tutus. Does it getter better than this? Well, it gets clearer, anyway… read on!

Tar & Licorice

The idea of the Rule of Thirds is to improve the composition of a photograph by not putting the subject, or the most important part of the subject, smack dab in the middle of the frame. That arrangement is our natural inclination, when we're inclined to just snap a pic — and sometimes a bull's eye is a good thing. But sometimes we need to smack that bull in nose so his eye scoots just a bit out of the center.

This following example has both the tar and the licorice (if you listen to the podcast, this will all make sense!), plus is an example of the technique. The more interesting part of the composition, the knot of baling twine, is at (nearly) the intersection of two lines. I chose an upper intersection so the trailing cords continued through the frame. The vertical pipe runs along a vertical tar stripe while the horizontal pipe runs, admittedly, above the licorice stripe, but this fact shows how this, or any rule, is really only an idea to be employed when it makes sense, and not slavishly at that.

Corral ToT

The helicopter is at an intersection and I left room, visually, for it to keep flying into the frame. (That's another "rule" I might explore in the future.) The horizon runs along the entire upper line, which is helpful in giving the composition a weightier base — all that foreground, which is also more interesting than the featureless sky.


And speaking of horizons, I've put this next one across the lower licorice line, while the crest of the mountains reaches nearly up to the upper one. If I'd run the horizon across the center of the frame, we'd see more foreground which, in this instance, is full of detail but not really full of interest. The sky, though mostly blank, majestically vaults o'er the scene, calling forth the gods of the American West to shine their collective blessings on…well…anyway, I liked seeing more sky. (This image is a very tiny rendition of the actual multi-frame panorama — at full size it's over 200 inches wide, detailed enough that you can count the yucca plants along the ridgeline!)


There you have it, the rule of tar and licorice — explained and illustrated. And I'm serious, you'll get much more out of this topic by listening. It's the first segment in the show.

An Ansel of Prevention

One of the giants of 20th Century American photography was Ansel Adams, an iconoclast, at times irascible, and not only a great photographer and teacher, but also an ardent defender of the landscapes of America.

Ansel Adams

I'm not sure which parts of him show up in his quotes that I share, cranky or caring, but that's not important. What is, is knowing that he was not only a defender of landscapes, but also of good photography. I begin the segment about him with this quote: "There are no rules for good photographs; there are only good photographers."

Take that, stupid old rule of thirds!

What's With The Tutu?

The highly successful commercial photographer Bob Carey is also a successful art photographer, the former probably because of the latter, plus a solid work ethic and constant drive to do better for his art and his clients.

Did you know he's in New Jersey now, but was born in Phoenix? I didn't know that. How about his history of making fireplace screens for serious money or breaking his arm or almost breaking a camera? Bet you didn't know about those things. Listen to our conversation, though, an you'll learn all about Bob — son of good parents, pursuer of his dreams, fighter and philanthropist.

Bob Carey

And you'll learn about the tutu. In the simplest sense it is what you think it is, but in the end you'll learn how it transformed, first, him and now how it's helping transform the lives of thousands.

You can see his commercial work at and, if you want to jump ahead to learning about the tutu, do that at

Also, Bob mentioned his show that's up in the Fiat Lux Gallery in Scottsdale, Arizona. It runs only until November 9, 2017, but during or after the show it is sure to be a place of photographic interest. Their web site is

Lastly, there is a video he spoke of, called Transform by Zack Arias. You can view that on YouTube by clicking here — TRANSFORM

TRANSFORM screen shot

(Pssst. Adams Isn't Looking)

Something I realized at the end of the podcast was the Rule of Thirds is really a Tool of Thirds. An approach to composition that, when the subject and lighting and your mood call for it, you pull that tool out of your bag and use it. It's not a fix-all; it's just a thing that sometimes has a place.

My job, then, was to suggest we stretch that place and have you pack the corner of your composition with subject, outside that tar/licorice intersection. Here are some examples. You can be the judge of their artistic merit, but it is art, so you should try it yourself and see if you can make it work.




It's tough to put that subject so deep into the corner, but you've got to admit it makes a statement.


A Small Stable of Stabilities

In episode five I reviewed a camera app for iPhones wherein the app has a special low-light feature available for a small outlay of coinage. (How small? At today's rate, just a bit over 1/2000 of a Bitcoin, so you may need to buy a pack of gum with that one so you can get some change.) That feature requires the camera be very steady during the exposure so, whether you're wanting to perch your phone on a table or a tripod, you want something stable and adaptable.

So in episode six (that's this one) I reviewed such a device. It's called the Sidekick 360 Plus, from MeFOTO. I found it to be a very nice piece of work and it comes in a surprising range of colors.

It's sturdy, made of good materials, works intuitively, and has a surprising number of features for such a simple product. I never worried about it holding my phone, in or out of its case, so it also holds its place in my bag o' gear.

Sidekick profile

A sylph-like profile that says "hello, handsome" but also, "I will bite you firmly!" Kind of a mixed message, I guess, but it works for me.

Sidekick monopod

Above, you see the base of the Sidekick 360 Plus attached to the mounting plate of a monopod using the 3/8-16 threaded hole. The other holes are threaded to 1/4-20. Below, my phone mounted vertically in the Sidekick, on the monopod and, below that, a twist of the jaws and the phone is in landscape orientation.

Sidekick phone vert

Sidekick phone horiz

Lastly, below, I mention in my review the feature of the Sidekick to clamp into tripod heads that accept a standard-dimensioned plate developed by the company Arca-Swiss. Here is my Arca-Swiss "cube" head doing its clamping thing. Easy shmeasy.

Sidekick in Arca-Swiss

These photos show off its good looks, my voice shows off its build and features, and the results are shown in episode five. Learn more about the Sidekick 360 Plus, made for plus-sized phones of any brand, and its brother Sidekick 360 (identical except for smaller jaws) at MeFOTO.

Had Enough?

Thanks for reading! I trust you're learning and hope you're having at least as much fun as I am. If you haven't yet subscribed to the podcast, there's a link up above or you can click here. And here on the web site or in iTunes, I would greatly appreciate your comments and questions.

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