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Archive for September, 2014

The Strength of a Good Vocabulary

Tuesday, September 30th, 2014

I’m caught out a lot in my misuse or lack of knowledge of the English language. I have a strong vocabulary, my resume is that of a highly educated middle aged man and I’ve been a reader for most of my adult life; but vocabulary and language aren’t as black and white as knowing or not knowing a series of words. Language encompasses more than a vocabulary stapled to the framework of good grammar.

Consider for a moment what we would consider to be our vocabulary. That portion of the language we’re able to use in some legitimate context. The words we know.

Within that vocabulary are words we know how to spell and use in context. If, at any point, someone were to challenge us on a given word there would be an instant response. We know this subset of our vocabulary and can prove that knowledge.

Also within our vocabulary are the words that exist in a grey area. They’re words we think we know. We use these words every other day. But when we’re challenged to precisely explain definitions the knowledge escapes us. We reach for dictionaries to explain the meaning. We can’t put the definition into other words, although we understand the context of everyday usage.

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The Value of Cliche Photographs

Friday, September 26th, 2014

This morning my housework podcast diet consisted of episode 649 of Chris Marquardt’s Tips from the Top Floor. He discussed cliche photographs and why we should make them.

Chris pointed out that, rather than being inherently bad, shooting cliche photography takes us along an incremental learning path to produce better photography in the future. These cliche photographs are learning experiences, whether they happen to be HDR (High Dynamic Range), rice noodle waterfalls or zoom focusing on exposure. Those tired old cliche photographs usually develop skills in the professional’s arsenal that lead to creative potential into the future.

I’m also inclined to think a part of the problem is that everyone is expecting everyone else to be a clone. Such people come screaming from the shadows to point out we didn’t obey the Rule of Thirds, or our photograph lacked sharpness. To this detractor the way forward is to shoot non-cliche photographs… like everybody else.

For the most part I’d agree with Chris – make pictures; a lot of pictures. That is being a photographer.

I’d start asking what defines a cliche photograph in the first place? Why is it bad? What are cliche’s strengths and weaknesses in the context of the work? Because if we never make a picture for fear of criticism, then so many pictures will never be made to push us forward in the work. Eggleston is at war with the obvious, for fuck sake. That man embraces the banal, the mundane, the ordinary. Eggleston never conformed. He just made his pictures.

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Convict Labour is not an Economic Solution

Monday, September 22nd, 2014

A recent push by cash strapped Tasmanian councils and farmers to be able to use convict labour is in our newspapers. In the spin it sounds fine. Yes, give the poor sods a go at doing an honest day’s work. But as an ex-convict from the Tasmanian prison system I’ll explain why it’s a bad idea.

My first objection goes to the motivation of cashed strapped councils and farmers. I gather we’re not talking about crossing the prisoners’ palms with silver for a hard day’s work? No. Dare somebody suggest a criminal be paid for the privilege to perform economic activity. We’re talking about, at best, the prison contracting out minimum security labour for income to the State Government coffers. At worst, an indentured servant base to work for free (or almost free) without workers rights or status. Slave labour.

That’s a big term: Slave Labour. It’s powerful. Think about that for a minute. A prisoner can choose not to do this work, but will sit and rot in maximum security as a direct result if that work is declined. Prison systems are geared towards prisoners moving from maximum through to minimum security ratings. And prisoners have no choice in reality. They have to aspire to this work if it’s available. Free work. For councils and farmers. Noting also that farms are private companies and farmers are managers, CEOs and Directors.

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About the Author

Steven Clark Steven Clark - the stand up guy on this site

My name is Steven Clark (aka nortypig) and I live in Southern Tasmania. I have an MBA (Specialisation) and a Bachelor of Computing from the University of Tasmania. I'm a photographer making pictures with film. A web developer for money. A business consultant for fun. A journalist on paper. Dreams of owning the World. Idea champion. Paradox. Life partner to Megan.

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