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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

Feb 9, 2018

It's two kisses and no hugs for us today, but that's just the way the cookie deconstructs — Latin-style.

Partially Clarifying

What we learn today, though, is all about lenses, except not everything but lots but not all and then some more but we leave out a bunch. I'm pretty sure that no matter what it is about lenses you're keen to learn, I've probably left that bit out. Sorry.


You're looking at the business end of a Zeiss Ikon Contessa folding 35mm film camera, circa 1955, which sports one fine lens, a Zeiss Tessar — four elements in three groups, never "faster" than f/2.8 but pretty dang sharp. You've seen parts of this lens — the shutter and the aperture — in some previous episodes.

Here's a link to the Wikipedia article about the history of lens design, for those of you intrepid souls interested in the minutiae:

Slightly Supportive

A tripod has, by definition, three legs. What if you turn those legs into arms? What then? Is it still a tripod? Shouldn't it be a, well, what is the combining form for arm? No, wait, pod means foot. Three arms but use the word meaning hands — tricheiro. Ugh. How about three arms? Tribrach? I'm just going to declare that the Magnus TB-200 MaxiGrip tripod has good arms. Not really strong arms, but it works just fine for holding a camera at its head and holding onto whatever you hold it to with its legarms.

Barely ten inches long, the TB-200 (in this case a TB-200BK 'cuz it's black) doesn't raise a camera high, but you can hook it up as high as you want, even inverted on a pipe or clamping to a post. It doesn't carry a lot of weight, but it doesn't weigh a lot to begin with, so toss it in your purse on man-purse and you'll have a useful third hand. Arm! Foot! Ugh!

TB-200 quick-connect

TB-200 on table

TB-200 on post

TB-200 hanging

The Magnus TB-200BK connects to your camera with its own quick-connect plate and receiver in its ball head, see top photo. Below that you see a Sony a6300 poised on the tripod with its legs flexed to lower the camera's position. And below that, two examples of how the flexible legs/arms allow some flexible placement of a camera.

Learn more about the TB-200, in its three colors, plus the other products from Magnus at You can purchase this and their other products at B&H Photo Video.

The First Rule of Rule Club

Peter Ensenberger continues his so-far uninterrupted run of helping us be better composers of photos. This time he lays down the law in the form of rules, which should never, ever, ka-jever, be violated. Well, at least, learn them well and we'll get to violating them in the next episode. Listen to the show for the lowdown, but the rules we cover are (spoiler alert) the Rule of Thirds, the Horizon Rule, the Rule of Space, and the Rule of Odds.

Ensenberger RoT

Even in a scene that might, at first blush, seem not to allow the application of the Rule of Thirds, we can see how the elements in the composition do, indeed, comport per the grid prescribed by the rule. Photo by Peter Ensenberger.


The Rule of Horizons dictates the horizon be put across a Rule of Thirds line. Done!


The lovely Sabine in front of whom, compositionally, there is room for the direction she is facing (though not where she's looking, which is at me). Thus, I adhered to the Rule of Space consciously, sure, but not explicitly. Meaning, I left the space on purpose but not by thinking (in robotic voice) "must adhere to rule of space. beep. boop."

S Ave 45 E

Does this meet the requirement for Rule of Odds by having three palm trees? How about a big tree, a small tree, and three palm trees (the trio of palms acting as a single "thing")? Big tree, house, little tree, then three palm trees? Plenty to argue about, I suppose, but also you'll see how the horizon is along the lower Rule of Thirds horizontal line, so both Rule of Thirds and Horizon Rule, check and check. Rule of Space? It's probably accounted for in one way or another, too. I'm a genius!

These rules, and all the rest we're covering about composition, can be found in Peter's book, Focus on Composing Photos, by Focal Press. Look for it at your local bookseller or on Amazon, and it's available through Barnes & Noble.

The Rules of Rules

T.S. Eliot kicks off the quotapalooza this time, with "It's not wise to violate rules until you know how to observe them." I also quote Hans Hofmann regarding what he considers fundamental laws, and Gordon Glegg, who considers rules as a gift to inspiration. Listen in and enjoy some real insight into rules.

TS Eliot

T.S. Eliot, 1934. Photo by Lady Ottoline Morrell.

The Practice of Rules

Not much to add to the photo tips in this episode, as they encourage you to practice the rules as laid out by Peter so you'll come to not think so much about them, but use them as second nature. You can use the photos from above as guidance, but no fair taking a photo of those photos on your computer screen and calling it practice — go find your own world to rule!

The End of The Innocence

That's it for Episode 20, folks. Thanks for reading and looking and listening. With so much input and output about rules, I think we can rule out ignorance as you go forth and seek your own path. If you'd like to scribble some words of wisdom or thanks or irony, or a recipe, please do so — the comments box awaits!