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My dA profile will be 'retired' at the end of November (tomorrow).

Today is the last chance to buy prints through dA.

Due to the daft and slightly counter-intuitive way that dA deals with deleted profiles, I will be individually deleting all my deviations. If I don't, although they will evaporate from my gallery, they will stay in other user collections and favourites. As collections and favourites are a part of the reason for leaving, I'm stuck with the laborious chore individual deletion.

That process of removal will begin at midnight tomorrow night UK time.
I would prefer to be able to say that leaving dA is a hard decision. In fact it is an easy one.

I'm closing my dA account because..

1. I have no control over the context in which my images are displayed in collections and favourites.

2. dA is progressively becoming a place that is best known for the puerile scribblings of teenagers, artless exhibitionistic photographs of human genitalia, and copyright infringement.

In short, dA has stopped being relevant to my work as a photographer, and it has too many negative connotations to use as a portfolio site.

If you want to buy a print, then you have up until the end of the month. I will close my account on the last day of November.
When I first joined dA, my deviations attracted almost as many comments as favs. As time has gone on, the habit of leaving comments has dropped off considerably. These days I'm lucky to see one comment for twenty favs.


If you do like a picture enough to add it to your favourites, please also leave a comment so I know what you liked about it.

The problem with favs and collections...

Journal Entry: Mon Mar 19, 2012, 1:44 AM

Many of my images include an element of nudity. Fortunately dA has a very liberal policy on nudity and sexually themed deviations. The problem arises when one of my artistic and carefully crafted images appears embedded in (for instance) a collection of crude self-shot close-ups of genitalia. Currently that collection and my image within it would be visible to all. I would like to have an element of control over my work being included in a collection I would rather not be associated with.
I feel so strongly about this issue that, if not resolved, I will have take the only course of action open to me, and remove all my pictures from deviantART.

Here is my suggestion for a way to solve of this problem.

Can we please have a check box on submitting each deviation that, when checked makes the thumbnail visible to anyone when viewed on the artist's own gallery, but in another deviant's favourites or collection, only to the owner of the collection (and the owner of the devaition) can see it?

This 'private thumbnail' function would be to allow artists to control (allow / deny) the appearance of their work in other deviants 'collections' without interfering with the ability of collectors to collect, as the 'private' thumbnail of the fav WOULD be visible in the collection to the deviant who collected it, just not to anyone else. Of course, if the 'private' box is left clear, current normal dA functionality still applies.

For clarity, here is a table of who sees what.

'Public' Thumbnail in a collection.
Visible to - Owner of the collection + Owner of the deviation + Everyone else

'Private' Thumbnail in a collection
Visible to - Owner of the collection + Owner of the deviation

('Collection' in the context above refers to a collection not created by the original owner of the deviation)

What the 'private thumb' feature would do is allow collectors to collect and view their collection in it's entirety, but other deviants would not see the thumbnail of any deviations that  have been marked as 'private' by the artist, just a place-holder icon.

An extension of this idea would be to allow your 'Friends' to publicly collect your 'private' deviations, as they are trusted not to put them alongside images you would not want to be associated with.

In that case the visibility matrix would look like this;

'Public' Thumbnail
Visible to - All deviants

'Private' Thumbnail in a gallery or collection of the owning artist, or in a collection created by a 'Friend' of the owning deviant
Visible to - All deviants

'Private' Thumbnail in a collection or a favourites list of a deviant who is not a 'Friend' of the owner.
Visible to - Only the creator of the collection and the owner of the deviation.

I know I'm not the only person to want such a simple element of control.

Notes to aspiring photographers 4

Journal Entry: Sun Mar 4, 2012, 8:37 AM

Capturing subjects in motion.

Ten random tips for getting better results with 'action' photography.

1. If your subject is moving and your intention is that the subject is sharp in your picture, putting the camera on a tripod is a bad idea.

2. There are only two ways to capture a moving target; panning/following the subject, and maximising shutter speed. (Using flash is essentially the same as raising the shutter speed.)

3. If you use flash to arrest movement, make sure that the contribution from the flash is significantly greater than ambient light, and don't try to use shutter speed AND flash at the same time or you'll run into synchronisation problems.

4. Blurry can be beautiful, so don't delete 'failures' in camera. They may be buried treasure when you see them full size.

5. When you are panning to freeze a subject, make sure you 'follow through' like a golf stroke, and make sure your stance is comfortable.

6. Panning/tracking at low shutter speeds will give you pictures that have a greater sense of movement, but don't be dismayed if you only end up with a small percentage of usable images. Even professionals don't have a 100% hit rate.

7. Remember that studio strobes can have quite long 'on time' compared with on-camera flash, so you can't always count on them to give you a crisp result with a fast moving subject unless you back them off a bit to maybe as little as 25% of maximum.

8. In addition to (7), studio strobes also recycle more quickly and overheat less often when running at lower power. If you have a model jumping around in a floaty dress you may need to take a LOT of pictures to be sure of a winner.

9. At sports events, always get a few shots at a reasonably fast shutter speed 'in the bank' before you start getting creative with 1/60 and below. You don't want to risk going away completely empty-handed.

10. Shooting movement means that you will almost certainly be shooting either full manual exposure or shutter priority auto.

Finally... A bonus tip:  Sports photographers use monopods because 'pro' 500 and 600mm lenses are big and heavy. If you can comfortably hand-hold your lens, then do it. You will have more freedom of movement and will be able to pan/follow much better. Putting a monopod on something like a 200mm f/4 is worse than pointless for sports photography. All it does is restrict movement and get in the way. I hand-hold my 500mm quite often for difficult shots, but it is too heavy to hold for long periods.

Night at Le Mans 2011 by DaveAyerstDavies

Audi R18  at Le Mans 2011 by DaveAyerstDavies Le Mans Start by DaveAyerstDavies

Macabre Mud by DaveAyerstDavies :thumb123758002:

Notes to aspiring photographers 3

Journal Entry: Tue Feb 7, 2012, 8:30 AM
Ten tips for better composition (not in any particular order of importance).

1. Avoid 'centre fixation', in other words, don't always put the subject (or the area of interest) plumb in the centre of the picture. Familiarise yourself with 'the rule of thirds'.

2. Keep your horizons horizontal. Many beginners (and even some more experienced photographers) seem to have a permanent slight tilt in almost every shot.

3. Don't always shoot from a standing position, and keep in mind that very small changes in camera position can make a big difference to a composition.

4. Turn the camera 90 degrees and shoot one or two 'portrait' frames, even when it is not strictly a 'portrait' shot, and vice versa.

5. Take as much care with the edges of the frame as you do with placing the subject, and always include a little more in the picture than you need to allow for a small crop-down or adjustment of aspect ratio.

6. Don't always try to maximise depth of field and sharpness. Putting a background out of focus or motion-blurred can draw the eye to the subject, even if the subject is small in the frame.

7. Keep it clean and simple. Avoid crowding your image with distracting or irrelevant objects. This is particularly important for stock images.

8. Keep in mind these two questions before you shoot: What does this picture say? What is this a picture of?  Seems obvious but it is well worth remembering. If you are finding difficulty in coming up with a name for an image, it is probably because you don't have an answer to one or both of those questions.

9. Balance your composition, and remember that moving subjects need 'empty' space ahead of them.

10. You have to know the rules of composition before you can break them effectively.

Notes to aspiring photographers 2

Journal Entry: Tue Jan 17, 2012, 10:07 AM
After such a positive response to my 'tips' in December, here are a few more words to the wise

Dave's top 10 tips for January 2012

1. Some lens hoods can be 'reversed' for storage, but never have them that way when the lens on the camera. Unless of course you are deliberately shooting for low contrast and flare. Don't forget that a properly designed hood will not vignette your image and is valuable in enhancing contrast even when you are not in full sun. A correctly fitted hood also performs a useful function in protecting the front element of the lens.

2. Shoot slightly 'looser' than your intended composition. It will give you more crop-down options.

3. The best Photoshop processing is as little Photoshop as possible, unless photo-manipulating for its own sake.

4. Don't be frightened of using high ASA/ISO ratings in low light. A noisy/grainy image is better than no image at all.

5. When shooting digital or slides, if in doubt, shoot a quarter stop under. Remember, once you blow out your highlights there is no getting them back.

6. Use on-camera daytime fill flash sparingly, or better still, not at all. Shoot back-lit or open shade, it looks more natural.

7. The fish-eye lens is a bit of a one trick pony. Rent one if you need one, and  buy yourself a super fast 50mm prime instead. You'll get tons more use out of it.

8. When shooting digital, don't get into the habit of stopping to review every single frame, it breaks the rhythm when shooting in the studio, it can cause you to miss a better shot if you are shooting an event, and in some circumstances it can even be hazardous to your safety.

9. If you are shooting sports, don't go mad with motor-drive on film or continuous shooting on digital. In the first it will waste money and in the second it will cost you the time taken reviewing and managing all those unnecessary extra images. Pick your shot carefully and snipe it at the exact moment, rather than holding the button down and hoping for the best. You can almost guarantee that the perfect moment will be lost between frames.

10. It pays dividends to learn the principles of optics. Get to know the simple mathematics behind those strangely random-looking aperture stop numbers.

Public collections of 'Favourites' on dA

Journal Entry: Fri Dec 9, 2011, 4:39 AM
It seems odd to me that we get the choice to accept or decline the inclusion of a deviation in a Group gallery, and yet any deviant can add one of our pictures to their own public 'Favourites' gallery/collection without consent from the artist.

There is all human life here on dA and the inclusiveness of the community is a strength, but as in real life, there are places I'd rather not go, and people I'd rather not interact with. There are also pictures that I would prefer not to see, be associated with, or have my work sitting alongside. With dA Favourites I have no control over what is displayed or where. I am very pleased to have people like my pictures enough to 'favourite' them, but I think that the images in those collections should be private to that deviant unless the artist gives permission. At the very least we should be given the chance to have a check-box on submitting a deviation to the effect that the deviation's inclusion in a Favourites collection is kept private unless permission is granted. If it can be done for Groups it can be done for users too.

Notes to aspiring photographers 1

Journal Entry: Fri Dec 2, 2011, 2:50 PM
Dave's top 10 tips

1. Never expect to make a fortune as a photographer. Some do but most don't.

2. Never compromise on equipment. You will ultimately regret penny pinching.

3. The place for lens caps is in your camera bag. Never on the lens when the lens is on the camera.

4. Clean your lenses sparingly and gently. Cleaning marks contribute more to softness than a few minor specks of dust.

5. Tripods are almost always pointless when shooting a moving subject.

6. Write yourself a short check-list of settings to run through on each camera body.  Apply it every time you start a shoot.

7. Watch your backgrounds. Taking a step or two to one side is better than cloning-out the unsightly portaloo afterwards.

8. Engage your brain before releasing the shutter. Seems obvious but worth remembering.

9. Always set your camera to highest resolution raw images, you never know when you might strike gold.

10. Being in the right place at the right time is 10% luck and 90% experience and planning.

#Groupnames.. a word of advice.

Journal Entry: Fri Sep 16, 2011, 1:32 PM
If you have a group and you would like me to agree to have one of my pictures included or to join your group, then the likelihood of obtaining consent is reduced considerably if the name of your group is offensive, puerile, overtly sexual or all of the above.

The sort of thing I'm talking about would be;

#Pussy-Lovers (not the feline sort)
...and so on.

You get the general idea?


Journal Entry: Sun Jul 31, 2011, 4:18 AM
Forgive my cynicism, and yes I am auditioning as a 'grumpy old man'.

I love creative photography, and I am pleased that the era of affordable digital cameras has made the process of creating pictures easier and more accessible, but in the same way as owning a pencil doesn't make you an artist, owning a camera doesn't make you a photographer.

Is it possible to reclaim the word 'photographer'?  Maybe a new term should created to describe photographers who honed their skills on silver halide and gelatin. I'm talking about those of us who know that those strange f/ numbers that appear in the viewfinder are powers of the square root of two (and why), the photographers who didn't have to be weaned-off using the 'A' or 'P' settings because those aids just didn't exist at that time. Have you at some point in your life carried an EV table in your pocket? Are you familiar with reciprocity failure? For you, do the letters HD mean 'Hurter–Driffield', and PC 'perspective control'?  If so, you probably learned your craft with film.

The ability to look at any given scene and guess the exposure correctly to within a third of a stop, is partly talent but mostly experience. It is the photographic equivalent of perfect pitch. having said that, even if you do have the talent, you'll never get to exploit it unless you give it some exercise.

I'm criticized by young photographers for stifling creativity and the breaking of boundaries, but my point is that in order to break the rules effectively, you first have to learn to keep them.  The digital SLR is a perfect teaching aid for students if used properly, because you get to see your mistakes immediately on the back of the camera. The problem is that if you constantly rely on the automatic 'aids', you'll never acquire a feel for exposure values, and the complex trade-offs between shutter speed, aperture, ISO rating and focal length.  It is always a harder adjustment for someone who learned from scratch with an automatic car to make the transition to one with manual transmission, than learning a manual box from scratch. This is because letting the machine take decisions for you, not only leaves you unprepared to make those choices for yourself, it also leads you into bad habits that you have to un-learn. The same applies to automatic aids on a camera. Let the camera decide, and you'll get the picture that the camera wants, not necessarily what you intended. To get what you want, be in control, avoid frustration, and be able to extract the most from your equipment, you'll need to be able to drive it yourself and use that 'manual transmission'. That is not to say that there are never reasons to use automation, but it should be used as a tool, not a crutch.

'When I use a word,' Humpty Dumpty said...

Journal Entry: Wed Jul 13, 2011, 1:19 AM
I read this blog recently… and responded with the following comment.

"What is art" has become an unanswerable question, but what is being asked here is more to do with the validity of 'found objects' as art. Prior to the 20th century, art was not hard to define. Any 2 or 3 dimensional representation of a figure or a scene was art. The verb 'art' linguistically means "skill as a result of learning or practice", and 'art' as a noun means objects constructed by an artist. It could be argued that a wall of gum is a found object that an artist has deemed it to be art, it is therefore art because he/she says that it is. If you accept conceptual art as a valid artistic medium, then literally anything can be art if an artist presents it as art. Is that a good thing? That is not for me to say. Does it dilute the word 'art'? I think it does.

Over the last 100 years the term 'art' has been broadened so much as to make it practically meaningless. Words are our means of communication. If a word becomes so vague and subject to individual redefinition, it ends up becoming entirely pointless.

Finally, to answer the question "is a wall of gum art?", I would say that a photograph of a wall of gum is art, or a painting of a wall of gum, or even a recreation of a wall of gum. What (to my mind at least) is not art is the wall itself. In as much as a painting or photograph of sunflowers in a field is art, but the actual sunflowers themselves are not.

I often read the words 'anything can be art' here on dA. The more I see it, the more convinced I become that a word that means just 'anything' or "any meaning  you choose to give it" is essentially meaningless. Defining the meaningless is an oxymoron.

'When I use a word,' Humpty Dumpty said, in rather a scornful tone, 'it means just what I choose it to mean — neither more nor less.'

(Alice Through the Looking Glass - by Lewis Carroll)

Le Mans 2011

Journal Entry: Mon Jul 4, 2011, 9:32 AM
Now I have a few pictures loaded on dA of the 2011 Le Mans 24 hours, I thought it was time for a Le Mans themed journal entry.

These are from 2011

These images from Le Mans 24 hours, prior to 2011

Questioning motivation...

Journal Entry: Fri May 27, 2011, 5:50 AM
I would not dare to suggest that I understand models motivations completely, but I've been a photographer long enough that I think that I understand to a large extent what models gain from their work and why they enjoy doing it. The question in my head is to do with the motivation of photographers.

When I first started photography as a child, it was the magic of capturing an image that I found fascinating. The excitement of seeing an image slowly emerge from a blank sheet of paper in a developing bath has never left me.  I wanted to be a conventional artist but my hands never seemed to be able to adequately record the picture that was in my mind or record the scene in front of me with brush or pencil. When the camera became my paintbrush, I had success and pride in my work. I take pictures because I love to capture and record images and make pleasing, stimulating and thought provoking images.

Many (possibly most) of my own images on dA include some degree of nudity. What is my motivation for shooting nudes? It is always hard to examine one's own psyche objectively, so I looked at other work on dA similar to mine, and tried to work out why I liked and disliked specific images. It is impossible to generalise, but I tended to dislike images that were technically bad (unless they had another redeeming quality), images that were too derivative or on themes or compositions that have been overused, and finally those images whose intention is exclusively to excite a sexual response, with no thought put into light, form or composition. With regard to the 'sexual response' intention, I'm not talking about degrees of nudity, in fact it is non-nude and semi-nude images that are most numerous in this category.

An image of a person makes a statement beyond the visual content. That statement could be as simple as "l'm sad" or "I'm happy". In what I would call 'neutral nudes' the subject is generally not looking directly at the lens and consequently not interacting with the viewer. The location is most often not in the studio and is under natural light. The statement is thus more subtle and hard to put into words.

:thumb49740889: :thumb49214225: :thumb53567951:

For images where the model/subject is interacting with the lens (and thus the viewer) the expression and emotion of the picture are usually clearer than the 'neutral nude'.

:thumb172138563: :thumb49827361: :thumb49583456:

Then there are the pictures where the nude is a 'decoration' of a larger theme.

:thumb55332511: :thumb53151353: :thumb59771946:

It is almost impossible to create an image that involves nudity without at least some viewers seeing it as sexual. On the other hand, when the image has a deliberately erotic edge to it, the boundary is blurred between what is celebrating sexuality (erotica) and what is exploiting it (pornography). I try always to stay on the erotica side of the tightrope.

:thumb50406121: :thumb53824798: :thumb50021570:

Thank you for your many comments on my work

Journal Entry: Wed Mar 30, 2011, 1:01 PM
It is heart-warming to read all the many enthusiastic and valuable comments made on my work here on dA. I really do appreciate them. Thankfully the thoughtful and eloquent comments far outweigh the ones that look like this.

NIce work. Here is mine... LINK.

Most of them don't even bother to favourite the deviation they just spammed. By all means add a relevant link to your comments, but please don't use my dA gallery as a vehicle for your own self-promotion.

Done to death?

Journal Entry: Sun Mar 20, 2011, 3:17 AM
How soon does a good idea turn into a cliché?

Shadow stripes from Venetian blinds or window frame (or Gobo giving that effect).

Mature Content

Miremer 1 by DaveAyerstDavies

Models with trailing cloths (usually on beaches)


Monochrome with red picked-out in underwear or shoes.


Clothed models in dry baths


Models in fields of yellow rape flowers


Low-key edge-lit nude torsos


Recently I ignored my own rule and stepped outside the circle of intelligent, thoughtful and erudite friends here on dA. I was so outraged at a glib and thoughtless comment that I entered into an exchange of messages that I probably should have left alone. I suppose that the community of dA reflects the community of the 'real world' and with that the ugly reality of most human life.

Why is it that the stupid and ignorant are often the most opinionated?
After finding the 'wallpaper' category recently, and posting a journal entry on the subject, I have also stumbled on another area of dA that is rife with questionable behaviour that undermines the excellent work done by many deviants in the 'photomanip' category.

Under the category /digitalart/photomanip/ there is a lot of good work. Having said that, there is also a lot of this...

1. Rip an image from a website.
2. Spend less than a minute putting it through a simple Photoshop filter.
3. Upload it to dA and label it as 'found image' or 'publicity shot'
4. Bask in the admiration of your watchers.
5. Repeat from step 1 a few hundred times.

So is it worth reporting ALL of them for copyright infringement? If so; I need to identify, contact and inform each of the hundreds of individual copyright holders and show provenance on the original images. With so many dodgy images, where do you start?
I'm not sure if I'm the only one who does this. When I get nice comments or someone 'favourites' lots of my images in one day, I have the inclination to go and look who was so complimentary, or who likes my pictures enough to fav' so many at once.

I was doing so recently and stumbled upon a deviant with a gallery that at first glance looked interesting, but not in a good way. From the variation in style and quality it was clear that the origin of the images was not just one body of work. Each figure was cropped and possibly cut out of its original background and placed in either plain white or black, with the same small website logo overlaid in the corner. No credit was given to model nor to the original photographer, and the pictures were being sold as prints.

On further investigation I discovered that this deviant was not unique. There is a backwater of dA, namely /customization/wallpaper/people/females where the normal respect for copyright and etiquette of giving credit to the originals of derivative works seems to be suspended.

Or is it just me?
From a historical perspective the word 'art' describes the skill or facility to construct or arrange a two dimensional or three dimensional man-made representation of a physical object or scene. The 20th century interpretation is a bit more exclusive, and therein lies the problem.

To my mind, the regular outbreaks of 'this is not art' threads on dA (and elsewhere) are not only pointless in themselves, but miss the defining issue. There are things I want to see and things I don't. One could argue that to say 'this is not art' about any individual work is as pejorative as it is disingenuous, but I think that is going too far. We do tend to hide behind 'this is not art' when what we really mean is something more like 'I don't like it', 'I think it is worthless' or 'I find it offensive'.

For me at least, images interest me when they evoke thought and or emotion. Sometimes my reaction is 'eurgh' but I suppose that is as valid as any other. The worst I can say about an image is that that it is boring, forgettable and derivative. That brings me to the cohort of dA members who engage in images that merely say "look at me, I have genitals". Chiming-in with the comment 'art?' on such pictures is pointless on pretty much every level. A better approach might be to ignore the subject matter completely and reserve comments to a critique of the technical quality and the composition of the picture. The fact is that there ARE some very GOOD close-up images of human reproductive equipment, but they are hidden at the bottom of a very large pile of 'here is my cock/pussy'.

Some say that for nudity to be 'art' it must be asexual, and that the expression 'erotic art' is an oxymoron. For mainstream galleries and art schools that is perhaps less true now than it was 50 years ago, but the divide still exists. The reason is that in modern western society, for most people, almost all experiences of representations of the naked or semi-naked body in print or on-line are in a sexual context, so nudity is most often judged to be erotic/pornographic whatever the intent of the artist.

'Porn' is another emotionally loaded word used to describe images. What is 'pornography' and how do I tell if something is porn or erotica? The answer is simple. There is no significant difference in the work itself. To find a difference we need to look into the reasons for it's creation. Erotica celebrates sexuality and pornography exploits it. There is nothing inherently wrong with either pornography or erotic art, but I know what I would prefer to look at.

Let's not get into arguments about what is (or is not) art or porn, when what we are really talking about is personal preferences and what constitutes our ideas of good taste. Yes, we should have standards and limits on dA and yes we should challenge them now and again. All human life is represented here on dA, the good the bad and the ugly. We should be pleased that we are so inclusive a community. The answer is simple, just don't go to the smutty end of the dA city if you don't like it.