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<title>In Praise of Shadows (archive) — David Larlet</title>
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<article>
<header>
<h1>In Praise of Shadows</h1>
</header>
<nav>
<p class="center">
<a href="/david/" title="Aller à l’accueil"><svg class="icon icon-home">
<use xlink:href="/static/david/icons2/symbol-defs-2021-12.svg#icon-home"></use>
</svg> Accueil</a> •
<a href="https://www.robinrendle.com/essays/in-praise-of-shadows/" title="Lien vers le contenu original">Source originale</a>
</p>
</nav>
<hr>
<div class="frame">
<img src="https://d33wubrfki0l68.cloudfront.net/afe71d2ccea8e34512760f811118a8969e106b44/2f072/images/essays/shadows/0-final.webp" alt="" />
<div class="frame-text center">
<p>Scroll or swipe to begin</p>
</div>
</div>

<div class="frame frame-title">
<img src="https://d33wubrfki0l68.cloudfront.net/95e41f1abab024e56ac2dde869c468e2f14a9363/df366/images/essays/shadows/1.webp" alt="" />
<div class="frame-text">
<h1>In Praise of Shadows</h1>
<div class="meta">Robin Rendle / July 2022</div>
</div>
</div>

<div class="frame">
<img src="https://d33wubrfki0l68.cloudfront.net/25ce68bf725baf3680d9468afaae5d28d1c85def/04381/images/essays/shadows/2.webp" alt="" />
<div class="frame-text">
<p>I want a photograph to be a quiet thing, like a soft and desaturated shhhhh.</p>
</div>
</div>

<div class="frame">
<img src="https://d33wubrfki0l68.cloudfront.net/eed32d609402e1d2cf7369bc7a976cd6e2c69692/86f13/images/essays/shadows/3.webp" alt="" />
<div class="frame-text">
<p>But my pictures are always far too loud and way too bright. No matter what camera I try, no matter what settings or filters I use, all of my photographs are lit up like a Christmas tree in July.</p>
</div>
</div>

<div class="frame">
<img src="https://d33wubrfki0l68.cloudfront.net/28b0e3dde96ca7a9ff7cfb25edc10de949fb7ecb/e562b/images/essays/shadows/4.webp" alt="" />
<div class="frame-text">
<p>Ugh.</p>
</div>
</div>

<div class="frame">
<img src="https://d33wubrfki0l68.cloudfront.net/dfb28d39fc6e195226206e5cdcc00fab50cd07b5/23ed8/images/essays/shadows/5.webp" alt="" />
<div class="frame-text">
<p>Instead, I want something else.</p>
</div>
</div>

<div class="frame">
<img src="https://d33wubrfki0l68.cloudfront.net/d3cd3d90db04909e3f2685fc0989b1330c1a5484/a7c77/images/essays/shadows/6.webp" alt="" />
<div class="frame-text">
<p>I want photographs that have been truly and thoroughly dunked in shadow. But not just any ol’ shadow!</p>
</div>
</div>

<div class="frame">
<img src="https://d33wubrfki0l68.cloudfront.net/5eb46c0ef287314d4948158ded3493d67279d9b7/61b28/images/essays/shadows/7.webp" alt="" />
<div class="frame-text">
<p>I want photographs that look like a deep and murky pond. I demand desaturation! Vignettes! Filmy darkness that covers light like a veil!</p>
</div>
</div>

<div class="frame">
<img src="https://d33wubrfki0l68.cloudfront.net/d9d95603cdb836b608acf2f5df9285bf3f5f8ec0/0563c/images/essays/shadows/8.webp" alt="" />
<div class="frame-text">
<p>And so for years I’ve struggled taking murky-pond-pictures like the ones I admire.</p>
</div>
</div>

<div class="frame">
<img src="https://d33wubrfki0l68.cloudfront.net/3c0f7ee06d957848971fc1f11a81f4346e2dc1a8/17818/images/essays/shadows/9.webp" alt="" />
<div class="frame-text">
<p>That is, until I picked up the FujiFilm X100V.</p>
</div>
</div>

<div class="frame">
<img src="https://d33wubrfki0l68.cloudfront.net/6d6c06c903b88e7199a514fe9ca07e8cbc7e63c4/677c1/images/essays/shadows/10.webp" alt="" />
<div class="frame-text">
<p>But before we get into that, let’s take a step back.</p>
</div>
</div>

<div class="frame">
<img src="https://d33wubrfki0l68.cloudfront.net/9f7bd2749e85b38c5f3678fd58b4989f29e530f2/d4012/images/essays/shadows/11.webp" alt="" />
<div class="frame-text">
<p>How would you describe the perfect camera? What do all cameras secretly hope to be?</p>
</div>
</div>

<div class="frame">
<img src="https://d33wubrfki0l68.cloudfront.net/bfd0b8cd21a656d232c81c603266d447a9c0086f/cbfaa/images/essays/shadows/12.webp" alt="" />
<div class="frame-text">
<p>Okay, first off: they should be compact...</p>
</div>
</div>

<div class="frame">
<img src="https://d33wubrfki0l68.cloudfront.net/f37eb0657b35cb20b06cbb19e7c44cd5041b171e/b19f3/images/essays/shadows/13.webp" alt="" />
<div class="frame-text">
<p>&hellip;lightweight&hellip;</p>
</div>
</div>

<div class="frame">
<img src="https://d33wubrfki0l68.cloudfront.net/39b8caa0ec11f020feb650e0463d25480473be2c/46a46/images/essays/shadows/14.webp" alt="" />
<div class="frame-text">
<p>&hellip;and rugged as hell.</p>
</div>
</div>

<div class="frame">
<img src="https://d33wubrfki0l68.cloudfront.net/dc19f3661886511bdcbb60d3855fa8b295fe6536/6736d/images/essays/shadows/15.webp" alt="" />
<div class="frame-text">
<p>Cameras should be indestructible! They’re not for sitting on shelves, looking cool, and gathering dust. Cameras are for throwing into backpacks and then hiking up mountains.</p>
</div>
</div>

<div class="frame">
<img src="https://d33wubrfki0l68.cloudfront.net/11ef6ddb57f82d58303fa92365851412c2d72a38/58f17/images/essays/shadows/16.webp" alt="" />
<div class="frame-text">
<p>Next: a camera should always be ready at a moment’s notice. Tiny adjustments, viewing images, taking pictures, editing on the go, everything; lightning-fast. Faster-than-fast.</p>
</div>
</div>

<div class="frame">
<img src="https://d33wubrfki0l68.cloudfront.net/07b4d3151b190ce4d8bb9a347cdbce4832b1fef9/d0ef4/images/essays/shadows/17.webp" alt="" />
<div class="frame-text">
<p>Finally, the complexity of a camera should be hidden away. No one should be overwhelmed with dials, buttons, and settings. But each time we pick up a camera we should learn something new.</p>
</div>
</div>

<div class="frame">
<img src="https://d33wubrfki0l68.cloudfront.net/eb8870b81723cb78e9d9f1a500fae5fe7ce82a7d/57b32/images/essays/shadows/18.webp" alt="" />
<div class="frame-text">
<p>(The difficulty of a camera should scale with us.)</p>
</div>
</div>

<div class="frame">
<img src="https://d33wubrfki0l68.cloudfront.net/85042d421c2b4c90a3345695ff96b938dfe70297/c400b/images/essays/shadows/19.webp" alt="" />
<div class="frame-text">
<p>This is what the X100V is: it’s the camera that every camera hopes to be, The Chosen One who was foretold in the Great Kodak Prophecy.</p>
</div>
</div>

<div class="frame">
<img src="https://d33wubrfki0l68.cloudfront.net/c96fc8d45b3922d5cd284527d232d19c6a50ee2d/a50b6/images/essays/shadows/20.webp" alt="" />
<div class="frame-text">
<p>The build of it! The heft and potential in your hands! The way it’s always cold to the touch!</p>
</div>
</div>

<div class="frame">
<img src="https://d33wubrfki0l68.cloudfront.net/72451ca4d01677d401293f04f74fb36c7b22d4b9/ed265/images/essays/shadows/21.webp" alt="" />
<div class="frame-text">
<p>And yet it never feels too precious or fragile to take off the shelf: the X100V was custom built for hauling up mountains.</p>
</div>
</div>

<div class="frame">
<img src="https://d33wubrfki0l68.cloudfront.net/64a108e4917ed3d19cac550cafbe9137d008772a/86d91/images/essays/shadows/22.webp" alt="" />
<div class="frame-text">
<p>Then, of course, there’s the photographs.</p>
</div>
</div>

<div class="frame">
<img src="https://d33wubrfki0l68.cloudfront.net/3d63253a37187a21671a9d00d048e98b90b92855/a1995/images/essays/shadows/23.webp" alt="" />
<div class="frame-text">
<p>Each picture has the FujiFilm look that’s hard to describe but even an amatuer like me can notice the gorgeous filmy sheen.</p>
</div>
</div>

<div class="frame">
<img src="https://d33wubrfki0l68.cloudfront.net/c61a20d63af22e0798bf8dae284ae611a728e0ef/54230/images/essays/shadows/24.webp" alt="" />
<div class="frame-text">
<p>It’s also lightning-in-a-bottle-fast. You never have to wait for a menu to load or for a glitch to work itself out because the camera is always go go go.</p>
</div>
</div>

<div class="frame">
<img src="https://d33wubrfki0l68.cloudfront.net/fc0b230fd77f788db27bef411ec91fed61472000/f58c8/images/essays/shadows/25.webp" alt="" />
<div class="frame-text">
<p>But, most important of all: <strong>the shadows</strong>. This thing captures shadows like it’s Bane, born in shadow, master of shadows.</p>
</div>
</div>

<div class="frame">
<img src="https://d33wubrfki0l68.cloudfront.net/d8b050258a50a59091b8ed7b684b2042caec76aa/408d1/images/essays/shadows/26.webp" alt="" />
<div class="frame-text">
<p>What was a batch of random sticks and leaves just a moment ago—click!—is now a complex web of marvelous shadows.</p>
</div>
</div>

<div class="frame">
<img src="https://d33wubrfki0l68.cloudfront.net/6c5344b0837cadb7bd0d2baba9e36539bd14bd54/53e4d/images/essays/shadows/27.webp" alt="" />
<div class="frame-text">
<p>The filmy gloss through the window, the light along the fence, the patchwork shapes warped across fabric.</p>
</div>
</div>

<div class="frame">
<img src="https://d33wubrfki0l68.cloudfront.net/7005cf174d4a16920424f4a2aa3183dda96ef009/5e1b5/images/essays/shadows/28.webp" alt="" />
<div class="frame-text">
<p>Look at everything I missed! Look at the shadows!</p>
</div>
</div>

<div class="frame">
<img src="https://d33wubrfki0l68.cloudfront.net/8ea9d8725c87d9aef4ec74da50e0a6229c9386e5/c013b/images/essays/shadows/29.webp" alt="" />
<div class="frame-text">
<p>To put it simply: this camera is in constant shhhh mode.</p>
<p>And through this constant shhhh-ing, it encourages you to perk up and look closely.</p>
</div>
</div>

<div class="frame">
<img src="https://d33wubrfki0l68.cloudfront.net/babea80da880218f03354feac1e0d3a4234cfd6d/6be41/images/essays/shadows/30.webp" alt="" />
<div class="frame-text">
<p>Yet despite the X100V being the best murky-pond-picture-taker of them all, this camera constantly shows me the limits of my skill.</p>
</div>
</div>

<div class="frame">
<img src="https://d33wubrfki0l68.cloudfront.net/8a11e672dbec430da548b4f713a842de22971d2e/11921/images/essays/shadows/31.webp" alt="" />
<div class="frame-text">
<p>For example: I have no eye for a good crop or a good subject and sweet heavens I have no idea where to put my feet. </p>
</div>
</div>

<div class="frame">
<img src="https://d33wubrfki0l68.cloudfront.net/bb741dd3142b33ba271917042bba568be52b5f90/8fb4a/images/essays/shadows/32.webp" alt="" />
<div class="frame-text">
<p>But each day my eyes adjust. Slowly, gradually, ever-so-incrementally, I’ve become alert to the shapes and colors and shadows nearby.</p>
</div>
</div>

<div class="frame">
<img src="https://d33wubrfki0l68.cloudfront.net/49b1ebba1c6a3e98663473a9abea3d36fb4f598d/ad95c/images/essays/shadows/33.webp" alt="" />
<div class="frame-text">
<p>On my morning walks I see how shadows climb up fences and gates or lazily stretch up along the sides of buildings&hellip;</p>
</div>
</div>

<div class="frame">
<img src="https://d33wubrfki0l68.cloudfront.net/264da8adf96d453043be6bca3029c20d78c4f754/952aa/images/essays/shadows/34.webp" alt="" />
<div class="frame-text">
<p>&hellip;and I’m more sensitive to hints of color now; oranges pushed up close to bright greens, the color wheel made visible.</p>
</div>
</div>

<div class="frame">
<img src="https://d33wubrfki0l68.cloudfront.net/6bab37e5e1158462597666b9d53d76f3de3320bb/37341/images/essays/shadows/35.webp" alt="" />
<div class="frame-text">
<p>Then there’s the dark and solemn realms of foliage, trees, and hedges, each with their own private network of shadows.</p>
</div>
</div>

<div class="frame">
<img src="https://d33wubrfki0l68.cloudfront.net/ddfbdc2db14af8129c119f85cb8c673a4a829db9/f33dc/images/essays/shadows/36.webp" alt="" />
<div class="frame-text">
<p>Lately I’ve noticed the shadows found in unusual places, too.</p>
<p>(Like those inbetween the bones of prehistoric whales.)</p>
</div>
</div>

<div class="frame">
<img src="https://d33wubrfki0l68.cloudfront.net/6df4ff9dba3ede356e806698f7953ba5e5bbfd43/5974b/images/essays/shadows/37.webp" alt="" />
<div class="frame-text">
<p>Once the X100V shows you these things, it’s hard to ignore them. Nothing is just a tiny detail anymore.</p>
<p>Everything is important.</p>
</div>
</div>

<div class="frame">
<img src="https://d33wubrfki0l68.cloudfront.net/1b0e77542d01793b5b55f771f7f0ce058e2603f7/a8f94/images/essays/shadows/38.webp" alt="" />
<div class="frame-text">
<p>Which reminds me&hellip;</p>
</div>
</div>

<div class="frame">
<img src="https://d33wubrfki0l68.cloudfront.net/24b17f34c99c812cf4e189d0aca71b3a56c42939/4c768/images/essays/shadows/39.webp" alt="" />
<div class="frame-text">
<p>&hellip;many years ago I read an essay by Jun'ichirō Tanizaki called <strong>In Praise of Shadows</strong>.</p>
</div>
</div>

<div class="frame">
<img src="https://d33wubrfki0l68.cloudfront.net/e09808fc7d973d94560af7c9fc5a3226aa9e7d84/137bf/images/essays/shadows/40.webp" alt="" />
<div class="frame-text">
<p>Written in 1933, Tanizaki is obsessed with shadows; he argues that gold can only be seen clearly in a poorly lit room, and that food always tastes better in a candle-lit restaurant.</p>
</div>
</div>

<div class="frame">
<img src="https://d33wubrfki0l68.cloudfront.net/d39027a1de71f74ea4939801ee94541d92495255/e7061/images/essays/shadows/41.webp" alt="" />
<div class="frame-text">
<p>Perhaps the best part of Tanizaki’s essay is when he argues against bright, overhead lighting and how it’s a curse upon humanity:</p>
</div>
</div>

<div class="frame">
<img src="https://d33wubrfki0l68.cloudfront.net/e05a3eedfafb42e74cab18dfa2aed45e548da22b/9c197/images/essays/shadows/42.webp" alt="" />
<div class="frame-text">
<blockquote>
<p>&hellip;the beauty of a Japanese room depends on a variation of shadows, heavy shadows against light shadows—it has nothing else.</p>
</blockquote>
</div>
</div>

<div class="frame">
<img src="https://d33wubrfki0l68.cloudfront.net/d2d355aee1819a2b090ed5d72f38fe030018b28f/38ecb/images/essays/shadows/43.webp" alt="" />
<div class="frame-text">
<blockquote>
<p>Westerners are amazed at the simplicity of Japanese rooms, perceiving in them no more than ashen walls bereft of ornament [...] but it betrays a failure to comprehend the mystery of shadows.</p>
</blockquote>
</div>
</div>

<div class="frame">
<img src="https://d33wubrfki0l68.cloudfront.net/86a459721e5dd2bf93c82d747d20659681b35892/befda/images/essays/shadows/44.webp" alt="" />
<div class="frame-text">
<p>Does this essay satisfy my inner weeb? Absolutely. Have I watched every episode of Naruto? Of course. But when I first read Tanizaki’s little rant about shadows, something about the world clicked for me, something that I hadn’t put into words before.</p>
</div>
</div>

<div class="frame">
<img src="https://d33wubrfki0l68.cloudfront.net/2fe6d772388f2ad200a5eee96657eb8233937fc7/55f71/images/essays/shadows/45.webp" alt="" />
<div class="frame-text">
<p>I noticed that shadows are unwelcome everywhere; they’re carelessly washed away, the ambience lost in all that fluorescent light.</p>
</div>
</div>

<div class="frame">
<img src="https://d33wubrfki0l68.cloudfront.net/85e2eb9f269df1ab4037a92c24992eb0b5e70fff/bd79c/images/essays/shadows/46.webp" alt="" />
<div class="frame-text">
<p>Here’s Tanizaki again:</p>
</div>
</div>

<div class="frame">
<img src="https://d33wubrfki0l68.cloudfront.net/1688a0ad269a3c2a6b50022edc7d7b402410cd0e/44e40/images/essays/shadows/47.webp" alt="" />
<div class="frame-text">
<blockquote>
<p>So benumbed are we nowadays by electric lights that we have become utterly insensitive to the evils of excessive illumination.</p>
</blockquote>
</div>
</div>

<div class="frame">
<img src="https://d33wubrfki0l68.cloudfront.net/bcfb110de5fe4dbcb98e95f1bf764f5796e8fd6f/5551b/images/essays/shadows/48.webp" alt="" />
<div class="frame-text">
<p>Now I’m not trying to make Tanizaki into some kind of heroic Shadow King, and we all need lights just to survive, but that bit about “excessive illumination” certainly applies to photography.</p>
</div>
</div>

<div class="frame">
<img src="https://d33wubrfki0l68.cloudfront.net/fe6acb497eb37993a259ca7d25062805e953ee37/67755/images/essays/shadows/49.webp" alt="" />
<div class="frame-text">
<p>We throw photos into Instagram or some other app and then turn the brightness and saturation up to eleven. Yet thanks to this excessive illumination: no shadows, no mysteries.</p>
</div>
</div>

<div class="frame">
<img src="https://d33wubrfki0l68.cloudfront.net/78e1227ddc5a7b02ed4c1c8ed1b54fb8cf0c7ef8/30b05/images/essays/shadows/50.webp" alt="" />
<div class="frame-text">
<p>Perhaps this is why I’m annoyed by the little cameras on our phones. It feels like they’ve restricted my vision to what only the apps can see: bright, bright, bright!</p>
</div>
</div>

<div class="frame">
<img src="https://d33wubrfki0l68.cloudfront.net/04424bc8f01b52cca59c7d1b154921bbb2497145/292f8/images/essays/shadows/51.webp" alt="" />
<div class="frame-text">
<p>Hardware-wise, the cameras on our phones are spectacular though, and so we really don’t need to spend a bunch of money on a fancy camera. </p>
</div>
</div>

<div class="frame">
<img src="https://d33wubrfki0l68.cloudfront.net/6cbd3c9f4325e02f85a70d8e3dda0fa7c59144fc/fe810/images/essays/shadows/52.webp" alt="" />
<div class="frame-text">
<p>However, what I’m getting with the X100V is not more camera but less phone. I desperately need fewer distractions because I want to take a picture without thinking about how many likes I’ll get once I upload it. </p>
</div>
</div>

<div class="frame">
<img src="https://d33wubrfki0l68.cloudfront.net/37d82c3848c5ebc3d338afcfd73f518066b46caf/b0ded/images/essays/shadows/53.webp" alt="" />
<div class="frame-text">
<p>Separating the act of taking a picture from the process of publishing it makes all of this fun again because when photography and publishing are too close together (like on my phone) I’m paying attention to all the wrong incentives.</p>
</div>
</div>

<div class="frame">
<img src="https://d33wubrfki0l68.cloudfront.net/e7ba59b3b24ece0ce863e4192760c3e2a8a978eb/f1019/images/essays/shadows/54.webp" alt="" />
<div class="frame-text">
<p>In fact, the difficulty of publishing photos from the X100V is a feature and not a bug. The lack of social networktivity encourages me to take pictures I otherwise wouldn’t with all that peer pressure of likes and retweets, etc.</p>
</div>
</div>

<div class="frame">
<img src="https://d33wubrfki0l68.cloudfront.net/b3951d010aead85f45e1ee25ea81cb04d5b174da/7e4dd/images/essays/shadows/55.webp" alt="" />
<div class="frame-text">
<p>That’s important because the more time spent thinking about the likes or retweets of a photograph is less time spent praising the lights, colors, and shadows.</p>
</div>
</div>

<div class="frame">
<img src="https://d33wubrfki0l68.cloudfront.net/681dd95870801068cd8976b8ee5dc5a383037642/7bf1b/images/essays/shadows/56.webp" alt="" />
<div class="frame-text">
<p>So there’s the excessive illumination of our phones—think tacky filters, bad lenses for low light and what not—but there’s also a kind of <strong>network excess</strong> with a phone, because the device is connected to every other sentient being in the universe.</p>
</div>
</div>

<div class="frame">
<img src="https://d33wubrfki0l68.cloudfront.net/6d34275e75c9865901a95b68bc56e99db636cdcc/fc786/images/essays/shadows/57.webp" alt="" />
<div class="frame-text">
<p>The X100V puts a healthy distance between me and all that. And I’m saying this despite being a web designer, where I once believed that more internet was always a good thing.</p>
</div>
</div>

<div class="frame">
<img src="https://d33wubrfki0l68.cloudfront.net/ea7c7ccedaba2450685bcad123595433f2ad7251/5a5bc/images/essays/shadows/58.webp" alt="" />
<div class="frame-text">
<p>So: screw the likes, the audience, and the art. I want pictures just for me.</p>
<p>(Pictures with deep, beautiful shadows, etc. etc.)</p>
</div>
</div>

<div class="frame">
<img src="https://d33wubrfki0l68.cloudfront.net/dc25a52a7563ad84020052619f81d0aad49f0add/2e39f/images/essays/shadows/59.webp" alt="" />
<div class="frame-text">
<p>Because although this little machine hasn’t shown me how to take a good photograph&hellip;</p>
</div>
</div>

<div class="frame">
<img src="https://d33wubrfki0l68.cloudfront.net/10d609c74e783db4e02351e899d48c58d9a397cd/4b5b4/images/essays/shadows/60.webp" alt="" />
<div class="frame-text">
<p>(Yet.)</p>
</div>
</div>

<div class="frame">
<img src="https://d33wubrfki0l68.cloudfront.net/6fdac30f6543285f43456f6aae2ff610d9baf45e/8a96a/images/essays/shadows/61.webp" alt="" />
<div class="frame-text">
<p>&hellip;the X100V has shown me something else: why we should stand still, catch our breath, and take a photograph in the first place.</p>
</div>
</div>

<div class="frame">
<img src="https://d33wubrfki0l68.cloudfront.net/4a7bd2303f5e104291ea65dadc5f2ebdac105153/e9844/images/essays/shadows/62.webp" alt="" />
<div class="frame-text">
<p>However, most important of all, the X100V has revealed this complex and strange world of shadows that we live in.</p>
</div>
</div>

<div class="frame">
<img src="https://d33wubrfki0l68.cloudfront.net/475d21d79e4a6663ad6c3c15203a4a2eafaedc78/fdd9b/images/essays/shadows/63.webp" alt="" />
<div class="frame-text">
<p>And that, for me, is enough.</p>
</div>
</div>

<div class="frame">
<img src="https://d33wubrfki0l68.cloudfront.net/99c859f57fe3bf8dc1a6a4c2fa6709234c943f4e/be3ea/images/essays/shadows/64.webp" alt="" />
</div>

<div class="frame">
<img src="https://d33wubrfki0l68.cloudfront.net/a626f9cdf0376d8aa44530e277ee8dd2d33697ac/b7314/images/essays/shadows/65.webp" alt="" />
</div>

<div class="frame">
<img src="https://d33wubrfki0l68.cloudfront.net/b8902a50cc3fdde52a9e34cf1a621b43a021c269/05009/images/essays/shadows/66.webp" alt="" />
</div>

<div class="frame">
<img src="https://d33wubrfki0l68.cloudfront.net/31e23e92788eaf10a55fd0c22e278c7712a90915/34baf/images/essays/shadows/67.webp" alt="" />
<div class="frame-text">
<p>Sign up to my newsletter because blah blah you get it.

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<div class="frame-text">
<p><a href="https://hex.xyz/HEX_Franklin/">Hex Franklin</a> is the typeface for this lil website and it was designed by Nick Sherman. There’s this great feature where no matter what weight you use, the letters are <strong>always the same width</strong>. Neat, huh?</p>
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<img src="https://d33wubrfki0l68.cloudfront.net/38a651ede04ee1bde2a4097b64d91ae78f898750/4c920/images/essays/shadows/69.webp" alt="" />
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<p>Now go away.</p>
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</article>


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cache/2023/055ec9ce09151d35309f39b824189c61/index.md View File

@@ -0,0 +1,507 @@
title: In Praise of Shadows
url: https://www.robinrendle.com/essays/in-praise-of-shadows/
hash_url: 055ec9ce09151d35309f39b824189c61

<div class="frame">
<img src="https://d33wubrfki0l68.cloudfront.net/afe71d2ccea8e34512760f811118a8969e106b44/2f072/images/essays/shadows/0-final.webp" alt="" />
<div class="frame-text center">
<p>Scroll or swipe to begin</p>
</div>
</div>

<div class="frame frame-title">
<img src="https://d33wubrfki0l68.cloudfront.net/95e41f1abab024e56ac2dde869c468e2f14a9363/df366/images/essays/shadows/1.webp" alt="" />
<div class="frame-text">
<h1>In Praise of Shadows</h1>
<div class="meta">Robin Rendle / July 2022</div>
</div>
</div>

<div class="frame">
<img src="https://d33wubrfki0l68.cloudfront.net/25ce68bf725baf3680d9468afaae5d28d1c85def/04381/images/essays/shadows/2.webp" alt="" />
<div class="frame-text">
<p>I want a photograph to be a quiet thing, like a soft and desaturated shhhhh.</p>
</div>
</div>

<div class="frame">
<img src="https://d33wubrfki0l68.cloudfront.net/eed32d609402e1d2cf7369bc7a976cd6e2c69692/86f13/images/essays/shadows/3.webp" alt="" />
<div class="frame-text">
<p>But my pictures are always far too loud and way too bright. No matter what camera I try, no matter what settings or filters I use, all of my photographs are lit up like a Christmas tree in July.</p>
</div>
</div>

<div class="frame">
<img src="https://d33wubrfki0l68.cloudfront.net/28b0e3dde96ca7a9ff7cfb25edc10de949fb7ecb/e562b/images/essays/shadows/4.webp" alt="" />
<div class="frame-text">
<p>Ugh.</p>
</div>
</div>

<div class="frame">
<img src="https://d33wubrfki0l68.cloudfront.net/dfb28d39fc6e195226206e5cdcc00fab50cd07b5/23ed8/images/essays/shadows/5.webp" alt="" />
<div class="frame-text">
<p>Instead, I want something else.</p>
</div>
</div>

<div class="frame">
<img src="https://d33wubrfki0l68.cloudfront.net/d3cd3d90db04909e3f2685fc0989b1330c1a5484/a7c77/images/essays/shadows/6.webp" alt="" />
<div class="frame-text">
<p>I want photographs that have been truly and thoroughly dunked in shadow. But not just any ol’ shadow!</p>
</div>
</div>

<div class="frame">
<img src="https://d33wubrfki0l68.cloudfront.net/5eb46c0ef287314d4948158ded3493d67279d9b7/61b28/images/essays/shadows/7.webp" alt="" />
<div class="frame-text">
<p>I want photographs that look like a deep and murky pond. I demand desaturation! Vignettes! Filmy darkness that covers light like a veil!</p>
</div>
</div>

<div class="frame">
<img src="https://d33wubrfki0l68.cloudfront.net/d9d95603cdb836b608acf2f5df9285bf3f5f8ec0/0563c/images/essays/shadows/8.webp" alt="" />
<div class="frame-text">
<p>And so for years I’ve struggled taking murky-pond-pictures like the ones I admire.</p>
</div>
</div>

<div class="frame">
<img src="https://d33wubrfki0l68.cloudfront.net/3c0f7ee06d957848971fc1f11a81f4346e2dc1a8/17818/images/essays/shadows/9.webp" alt="" />
<div class="frame-text">
<p>That is, until I picked up the FujiFilm X100V.</p>
</div>
</div>

<div class="frame">
<img src="https://d33wubrfki0l68.cloudfront.net/6d6c06c903b88e7199a514fe9ca07e8cbc7e63c4/677c1/images/essays/shadows/10.webp" alt="" />
<div class="frame-text">
<p>But before we get into that, let’s take a step back.</p>
</div>
</div>

<div class="frame">
<img src="https://d33wubrfki0l68.cloudfront.net/9f7bd2749e85b38c5f3678fd58b4989f29e530f2/d4012/images/essays/shadows/11.webp" alt="" />
<div class="frame-text">
<p>How would you describe the perfect camera? What do all cameras secretly hope to be?</p>
</div>
</div>

<div class="frame">
<img src="https://d33wubrfki0l68.cloudfront.net/bfd0b8cd21a656d232c81c603266d447a9c0086f/cbfaa/images/essays/shadows/12.webp" alt="" />
<div class="frame-text">
<p>Okay, first off: they should be compact...</p>
</div>
</div>

<div class="frame">
<img src="https://d33wubrfki0l68.cloudfront.net/f37eb0657b35cb20b06cbb19e7c44cd5041b171e/b19f3/images/essays/shadows/13.webp" alt="" />
<div class="frame-text">
<p>&hellip;lightweight&hellip;</p>
</div>
</div>

<div class="frame">
<img src="https://d33wubrfki0l68.cloudfront.net/39b8caa0ec11f020feb650e0463d25480473be2c/46a46/images/essays/shadows/14.webp" alt="" />
<div class="frame-text">
<p>&hellip;and rugged as hell.</p>
</div>
</div>

<div class="frame">
<img src="https://d33wubrfki0l68.cloudfront.net/dc19f3661886511bdcbb60d3855fa8b295fe6536/6736d/images/essays/shadows/15.webp" alt="" />
<div class="frame-text">
<p>Cameras should be indestructible! They’re not for sitting on shelves, looking cool, and gathering dust. Cameras are for throwing into backpacks and then hiking up mountains.</p>
</div>
</div>

<div class="frame">
<img src="https://d33wubrfki0l68.cloudfront.net/11ef6ddb57f82d58303fa92365851412c2d72a38/58f17/images/essays/shadows/16.webp" alt="" />
<div class="frame-text">
<p>Next: a camera should always be ready at a moment’s notice. Tiny adjustments, viewing images, taking pictures, editing on the go, everything; lightning-fast. Faster-than-fast.</p>
</div>
</div>

<div class="frame">
<img src="https://d33wubrfki0l68.cloudfront.net/07b4d3151b190ce4d8bb9a347cdbce4832b1fef9/d0ef4/images/essays/shadows/17.webp" alt="" />
<div class="frame-text">
<p>Finally, the complexity of a camera should be hidden away. No one should be overwhelmed with dials, buttons, and settings. But each time we pick up a camera we should learn something new.</p>
</div>
</div>

<div class="frame">
<img src="https://d33wubrfki0l68.cloudfront.net/eb8870b81723cb78e9d9f1a500fae5fe7ce82a7d/57b32/images/essays/shadows/18.webp" alt="" />
<div class="frame-text">
<p>(The difficulty of a camera should scale with us.)</p>
</div>
</div>

<div class="frame">
<img src="https://d33wubrfki0l68.cloudfront.net/85042d421c2b4c90a3345695ff96b938dfe70297/c400b/images/essays/shadows/19.webp" alt="" />
<div class="frame-text">
<p>This is what the X100V is: it’s the camera that every camera hopes to be, The Chosen One who was foretold in the Great Kodak Prophecy.</p>
</div>
</div>

<div class="frame">
<img src="https://d33wubrfki0l68.cloudfront.net/c96fc8d45b3922d5cd284527d232d19c6a50ee2d/a50b6/images/essays/shadows/20.webp" alt="" />
<div class="frame-text">
<p>The build of it! The heft and potential in your hands! The way it’s always cold to the touch!</p>
</div>
</div>

<div class="frame">
<img src="https://d33wubrfki0l68.cloudfront.net/72451ca4d01677d401293f04f74fb36c7b22d4b9/ed265/images/essays/shadows/21.webp" alt="" />
<div class="frame-text">
<p>And yet it never feels too precious or fragile to take off the shelf: the X100V was custom built for hauling up mountains.</p>
</div>
</div>

<div class="frame">
<img src="https://d33wubrfki0l68.cloudfront.net/64a108e4917ed3d19cac550cafbe9137d008772a/86d91/images/essays/shadows/22.webp" alt="" />
<div class="frame-text">
<p>Then, of course, there’s the photographs.</p>
</div>
</div>

<div class="frame">
<img src="https://d33wubrfki0l68.cloudfront.net/3d63253a37187a21671a9d00d048e98b90b92855/a1995/images/essays/shadows/23.webp" alt="" />
<div class="frame-text">
<p>Each picture has the FujiFilm look that’s hard to describe but even an amatuer like me can notice the gorgeous filmy sheen.</p>
</div>
</div>

<div class="frame">
<img src="https://d33wubrfki0l68.cloudfront.net/c61a20d63af22e0798bf8dae284ae611a728e0ef/54230/images/essays/shadows/24.webp" alt="" />
<div class="frame-text">
<p>It’s also lightning-in-a-bottle-fast. You never have to wait for a menu to load or for a glitch to work itself out because the camera is always go go go.</p>
</div>
</div>

<div class="frame">
<img src="https://d33wubrfki0l68.cloudfront.net/fc0b230fd77f788db27bef411ec91fed61472000/f58c8/images/essays/shadows/25.webp" alt="" />
<div class="frame-text">
<p>But, most important of all: <strong>the shadows</strong>. This thing captures shadows like it’s Bane, born in shadow, master of shadows.</p>
</div>
</div>

<div class="frame">
<img src="https://d33wubrfki0l68.cloudfront.net/d8b050258a50a59091b8ed7b684b2042caec76aa/408d1/images/essays/shadows/26.webp" alt="" />
<div class="frame-text">
<p>What was a batch of random sticks and leaves just a moment ago—click!—is now a complex web of marvelous shadows.</p>
</div>
</div>

<div class="frame">
<img src="https://d33wubrfki0l68.cloudfront.net/6c5344b0837cadb7bd0d2baba9e36539bd14bd54/53e4d/images/essays/shadows/27.webp" alt="" />
<div class="frame-text">
<p>The filmy gloss through the window, the light along the fence, the patchwork shapes warped across fabric.</p>
</div>
</div>

<div class="frame">
<img src="https://d33wubrfki0l68.cloudfront.net/7005cf174d4a16920424f4a2aa3183dda96ef009/5e1b5/images/essays/shadows/28.webp" alt="" />
<div class="frame-text">
<p>Look at everything I missed! Look at the shadows!</p>
</div>
</div>

<div class="frame">
<img src="https://d33wubrfki0l68.cloudfront.net/8ea9d8725c87d9aef4ec74da50e0a6229c9386e5/c013b/images/essays/shadows/29.webp" alt="" />
<div class="frame-text">
<p>To put it simply: this camera is in constant shhhh mode.</p>
<p>And through this constant shhhh-ing, it encourages you to perk up and look closely.</p>
</div>
</div>

<div class="frame">
<img src="https://d33wubrfki0l68.cloudfront.net/babea80da880218f03354feac1e0d3a4234cfd6d/6be41/images/essays/shadows/30.webp" alt="" />
<div class="frame-text">
<p>Yet despite the X100V being the best murky-pond-picture-taker of them all, this camera constantly shows me the limits of my skill.</p>
</div>
</div>

<div class="frame">
<img src="https://d33wubrfki0l68.cloudfront.net/8a11e672dbec430da548b4f713a842de22971d2e/11921/images/essays/shadows/31.webp" alt="" />
<div class="frame-text">
<p>For example: I have no eye for a good crop or a good subject and sweet heavens I have no idea where to put my feet. </p>
</div>
</div>

<div class="frame">
<img src="https://d33wubrfki0l68.cloudfront.net/bb741dd3142b33ba271917042bba568be52b5f90/8fb4a/images/essays/shadows/32.webp" alt="" />
<div class="frame-text">
<p>But each day my eyes adjust. Slowly, gradually, ever-so-incrementally, I’ve become alert to the shapes and colors and shadows nearby.</p>
</div>
</div>

<div class="frame">
<img src="https://d33wubrfki0l68.cloudfront.net/49b1ebba1c6a3e98663473a9abea3d36fb4f598d/ad95c/images/essays/shadows/33.webp" alt="" />
<div class="frame-text">
<p>On my morning walks I see how shadows climb up fences and gates or lazily stretch up along the sides of buildings&hellip;</p>
</div>
</div>

<div class="frame">
<img src="https://d33wubrfki0l68.cloudfront.net/264da8adf96d453043be6bca3029c20d78c4f754/952aa/images/essays/shadows/34.webp" alt="" />
<div class="frame-text">
<p>&hellip;and I’m more sensitive to hints of color now; oranges pushed up close to bright greens, the color wheel made visible.</p>
</div>
</div>


<div class="frame">
<img src="https://d33wubrfki0l68.cloudfront.net/6bab37e5e1158462597666b9d53d76f3de3320bb/37341/images/essays/shadows/35.webp" alt="" />
<div class="frame-text">
<p>Then there’s the dark and solemn realms of foliage, trees, and hedges, each with their own private network of shadows.</p>
</div>
</div>

<div class="frame">
<img src="https://d33wubrfki0l68.cloudfront.net/ddfbdc2db14af8129c119f85cb8c673a4a829db9/f33dc/images/essays/shadows/36.webp" alt="" />
<div class="frame-text">
<p>Lately I’ve noticed the shadows found in unusual places, too.</p>
<p>(Like those inbetween the bones of prehistoric whales.)</p>
</div>
</div>

<div class="frame">
<img src="https://d33wubrfki0l68.cloudfront.net/6df4ff9dba3ede356e806698f7953ba5e5bbfd43/5974b/images/essays/shadows/37.webp" alt="" />
<div class="frame-text">
<p>Once the X100V shows you these things, it’s hard to ignore them. Nothing is just a tiny detail anymore.</p>
<p>Everything is important.</p>
</div>
</div>

<div class="frame">
<img src="https://d33wubrfki0l68.cloudfront.net/1b0e77542d01793b5b55f771f7f0ce058e2603f7/a8f94/images/essays/shadows/38.webp" alt="" />
<div class="frame-text">
<p>Which reminds me&hellip;</p>
</div>
</div>

<div class="frame">
<img src="https://d33wubrfki0l68.cloudfront.net/24b17f34c99c812cf4e189d0aca71b3a56c42939/4c768/images/essays/shadows/39.webp" alt="" />
<div class="frame-text">
<p>&hellip;many years ago I read an essay by Jun'ichirō Tanizaki called <strong>In Praise of Shadows</strong>.</p>
</div>
</div>

<div class="frame">
<img src="https://d33wubrfki0l68.cloudfront.net/e09808fc7d973d94560af7c9fc5a3226aa9e7d84/137bf/images/essays/shadows/40.webp" alt="" />
<div class="frame-text">
<p>Written in 1933, Tanizaki is obsessed with shadows; he argues that gold can only be seen clearly in a poorly lit room, and that food always tastes better in a candle-lit restaurant.</p>
</div>
</div>

<div class="frame">
<img src="https://d33wubrfki0l68.cloudfront.net/d39027a1de71f74ea4939801ee94541d92495255/e7061/images/essays/shadows/41.webp" alt="" />
<div class="frame-text">
<p>Perhaps the best part of Tanizaki’s essay is when he argues against bright, overhead lighting and how it’s a curse upon humanity:</p>
</div>
</div>

<div class="frame">
<img src="https://d33wubrfki0l68.cloudfront.net/e05a3eedfafb42e74cab18dfa2aed45e548da22b/9c197/images/essays/shadows/42.webp" alt="" />
<div class="frame-text">
<blockquote>
<p>&hellip;the beauty of a Japanese room depends on a variation of shadows, heavy shadows against light shadows—it has nothing else.</p>
</blockquote>
</div>
</div>

<div class="frame">
<img src="https://d33wubrfki0l68.cloudfront.net/d2d355aee1819a2b090ed5d72f38fe030018b28f/38ecb/images/essays/shadows/43.webp" alt="" />
<div class="frame-text">
<blockquote>
<p>Westerners are amazed at the simplicity of Japanese rooms, perceiving in them no more than ashen walls bereft of ornament [...] but it betrays a failure to comprehend the mystery of shadows.</p>
</blockquote>
</div>
</div>

<div class="frame">
<img src="https://d33wubrfki0l68.cloudfront.net/86a459721e5dd2bf93c82d747d20659681b35892/befda/images/essays/shadows/44.webp" alt="" />
<div class="frame-text">
<p>Does this essay satisfy my inner weeb? Absolutely. Have I watched every episode of Naruto? Of course. But when I first read Tanizaki’s little rant about shadows, something about the world clicked for me, something that I hadn’t put into words before.</p>
</div>
</div>

<div class="frame">
<img src="https://d33wubrfki0l68.cloudfront.net/2fe6d772388f2ad200a5eee96657eb8233937fc7/55f71/images/essays/shadows/45.webp" alt="" />
<div class="frame-text">
<p>I noticed that shadows are unwelcome everywhere; they’re carelessly washed away, the ambience lost in all that fluorescent light.</p>
</div>
</div>

<div class="frame">
<img src="https://d33wubrfki0l68.cloudfront.net/85e2eb9f269df1ab4037a92c24992eb0b5e70fff/bd79c/images/essays/shadows/46.webp" alt="" />
<div class="frame-text">
<p>Here’s Tanizaki again:</p>
</div>
</div>

<div class="frame">
<img src="https://d33wubrfki0l68.cloudfront.net/1688a0ad269a3c2a6b50022edc7d7b402410cd0e/44e40/images/essays/shadows/47.webp" alt="" />
<div class="frame-text">
<blockquote>
<p>So benumbed are we nowadays by electric lights that we have become utterly insensitive to the evils of excessive illumination.</p>
</blockquote>
</div>
</div>

<div class="frame">
<img src="https://d33wubrfki0l68.cloudfront.net/bcfb110de5fe4dbcb98e95f1bf764f5796e8fd6f/5551b/images/essays/shadows/48.webp" alt="" />
<div class="frame-text">
<p>Now I’m not trying to make Tanizaki into some kind of heroic Shadow King, and we all need lights just to survive, but that bit about “excessive illumination” certainly applies to photography.</p>
</div>
</div>

<div class="frame">
<img src="https://d33wubrfki0l68.cloudfront.net/fe6acb497eb37993a259ca7d25062805e953ee37/67755/images/essays/shadows/49.webp" alt="" />
<div class="frame-text">
<p>We throw photos into Instagram or some other app and then turn the brightness and saturation up to eleven. Yet thanks to this excessive illumination: no shadows, no mysteries.</p>
</div>
</div>

<div class="frame">
<img src="https://d33wubrfki0l68.cloudfront.net/78e1227ddc5a7b02ed4c1c8ed1b54fb8cf0c7ef8/30b05/images/essays/shadows/50.webp" alt="" />
<div class="frame-text">
<p>Perhaps this is why I’m annoyed by the little cameras on our phones. It feels like they’ve restricted my vision to what only the apps can see: bright, bright, bright!</p>
</div>
</div>

<div class="frame">
<img src="https://d33wubrfki0l68.cloudfront.net/04424bc8f01b52cca59c7d1b154921bbb2497145/292f8/images/essays/shadows/51.webp" alt="" />
<div class="frame-text">
<p>Hardware-wise, the cameras on our phones are spectacular though, and so we really don’t need to spend a bunch of money on a fancy camera. </p>
</div>
</div>

<div class="frame">
<img src="https://d33wubrfki0l68.cloudfront.net/6cbd3c9f4325e02f85a70d8e3dda0fa7c59144fc/fe810/images/essays/shadows/52.webp" alt="" />
<div class="frame-text">
<p>However, what I’m getting with the X100V is not more camera but less phone. I desperately need fewer distractions because I want to take a picture without thinking about how many likes I’ll get once I upload it. </p>
</div>
</div>

<div class="frame">
<img src="https://d33wubrfki0l68.cloudfront.net/37d82c3848c5ebc3d338afcfd73f518066b46caf/b0ded/images/essays/shadows/53.webp" alt="" />
<div class="frame-text">
<p>Separating the act of taking a picture from the process of publishing it makes all of this fun again because when photography and publishing are too close together (like on my phone) I’m paying attention to all the wrong incentives.</p>
</div>
</div>

<div class="frame">
<img src="https://d33wubrfki0l68.cloudfront.net/e7ba59b3b24ece0ce863e4192760c3e2a8a978eb/f1019/images/essays/shadows/54.webp" alt="" />
<div class="frame-text">
<p>In fact, the difficulty of publishing photos from the X100V is a feature and not a bug. The lack of social networktivity encourages me to take pictures I otherwise wouldn’t with all that peer pressure of likes and retweets, etc.</p>
</div>
</div>

<div class="frame">
<img src="https://d33wubrfki0l68.cloudfront.net/b3951d010aead85f45e1ee25ea81cb04d5b174da/7e4dd/images/essays/shadows/55.webp" alt="" />
<div class="frame-text">
<p>That’s important because the more time spent thinking about the likes or retweets of a photograph is less time spent praising the lights, colors, and shadows.</p>
</div>
</div>

<div class="frame">
<img src="https://d33wubrfki0l68.cloudfront.net/681dd95870801068cd8976b8ee5dc5a383037642/7bf1b/images/essays/shadows/56.webp" alt="" />
<div class="frame-text">
<p>So there’s the excessive illumination of our phones—think tacky filters, bad lenses for low light and what not—but there’s also a kind of <strong>network excess</strong> with a phone, because the device is connected to every other sentient being in the universe.</p>
</div>
</div>

<div class="frame">
<img src="https://d33wubrfki0l68.cloudfront.net/6d34275e75c9865901a95b68bc56e99db636cdcc/fc786/images/essays/shadows/57.webp" alt="" />
<div class="frame-text">
<p>The X100V puts a healthy distance between me and all that. And I’m saying this despite being a web designer, where I once believed that more internet was always a good thing.</p>
</div>
</div>

<div class="frame">
<img src="https://d33wubrfki0l68.cloudfront.net/ea7c7ccedaba2450685bcad123595433f2ad7251/5a5bc/images/essays/shadows/58.webp" alt="" />
<div class="frame-text">
<p>So: screw the likes, the audience, and the art. I want pictures just for me.</p>
<p>(Pictures with deep, beautiful shadows, etc. etc.)</p>
</div>
</div>

<div class="frame">
<img src="https://d33wubrfki0l68.cloudfront.net/dc25a52a7563ad84020052619f81d0aad49f0add/2e39f/images/essays/shadows/59.webp" alt="" />
<div class="frame-text">
<p>Because although this little machine hasn’t shown me how to take a good photograph&hellip;</p>
</div>
</div>

<div class="frame">
<img src="https://d33wubrfki0l68.cloudfront.net/10d609c74e783db4e02351e899d48c58d9a397cd/4b5b4/images/essays/shadows/60.webp" alt="" />
<div class="frame-text">
<p>(Yet.)</p>
</div>
</div>

<div class="frame">
<img src="https://d33wubrfki0l68.cloudfront.net/6fdac30f6543285f43456f6aae2ff610d9baf45e/8a96a/images/essays/shadows/61.webp" alt="" />
<div class="frame-text">
<p>&hellip;the X100V has shown me something else: why we should stand still, catch our breath, and take a photograph in the first place.</p>
</div>
</div>

<div class="frame">
<img src="https://d33wubrfki0l68.cloudfront.net/4a7bd2303f5e104291ea65dadc5f2ebdac105153/e9844/images/essays/shadows/62.webp" alt="" />
<div class="frame-text">
<p>However, most important of all, the X100V has revealed this complex and strange world of shadows that we live in.</p>
</div>
</div>

<div class="frame">
<img src="https://d33wubrfki0l68.cloudfront.net/475d21d79e4a6663ad6c3c15203a4a2eafaedc78/fdd9b/images/essays/shadows/63.webp" alt="" />
<div class="frame-text">
<p>And that, for me, is enough.</p>
</div>
</div>

<div class="frame">
<img src="https://d33wubrfki0l68.cloudfront.net/99c859f57fe3bf8dc1a6a4c2fa6709234c943f4e/be3ea/images/essays/shadows/64.webp" alt="" />
</div>

<div class="frame">
<img src="https://d33wubrfki0l68.cloudfront.net/a626f9cdf0376d8aa44530e277ee8dd2d33697ac/b7314/images/essays/shadows/65.webp" alt="" />
</div>

<div class="frame">
<img src="https://d33wubrfki0l68.cloudfront.net/b8902a50cc3fdde52a9e34cf1a621b43a021c269/05009/images/essays/shadows/66.webp" alt="" />
</div>

<div class="frame">
<img src="https://d33wubrfki0l68.cloudfront.net/31e23e92788eaf10a55fd0c22e278c7712a90915/34baf/images/essays/shadows/67.webp" alt="" />
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<p><a href="https://hex.xyz/HEX_Franklin/">Hex Franklin</a> is the typeface for this lil website and it was designed by Nick Sherman. There’s this great feature where no matter what weight you use, the letters are <strong>always the same width</strong>. Neat, huh?</p>
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<div class="frame">
<img src="https://d33wubrfki0l68.cloudfront.net/38a651ede04ee1bde2a4097b64d91ae78f898750/4c920/images/essays/shadows/69.webp" alt="" />
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<h1>Time to Write? Go Outside</h1>
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<p class="story-body-text" itemprop="articleBody">Fall promises crisp days with ample sunlight, a lifting of the humidity and ideal temperatures for being outdoors. This also means my writing will be getting better. </p>
<p class="story-body-text" itemprop="articleBody">Nothing coaxes jumbled thoughts into coherent sentences like sitting under a shade tree on a pleasant day. With a slight breeze blowing, birds chirping melodies, wee bugs scurrying around me and a fully charged laptop
or yellow legal pad at hand, I know I’ll produce my best work. </p>
<p class="story-body-text" itemprop="articleBody">I stumbled upon my ideal writing conditions quite by accident. When a particularly troublesome set of captions for a National Geographic story I was working on was causing me conniptions — that yellow-bordered
magazine takes those captions pretty seriously — I charged out of the house and down to the Potomac River, with notes, photograph photocopies and pen in hand. I planted myself at a picnic table, stared at
the water and let my brain go all mushy. I relaxed my eyes, focusing on nothing. </p>
<p class="story-body-text" itemprop="articleBody">Writing became easier. Words that were locked in the brain vault appeared. I saw the bigger picture, the story waiting to be told. <span id="more-149015"></span></p>
<p class="story-body-text" itemprop="articleBody">Turns out, there are perfectly good reasons why writing outdoors works for me, and most likely every other writer on the planet. </p>
<p class="story-body-text" itemprop="articleBody">Back in the 1970s, two pioneering environmental psychologists, Rachel and Stephen Kaplan, began investigating nature’s healing effect on the mind. Decades later, their studies concluded that connections with
nature could help us shirk mental fatigue, restore drifting attention and sharpen thinking. Even in an urban environment, a little green stimulates our senses, they report. </p>
<p class="story-body-text" itemprop="articleBody">Nature immersion also helps us feel alive. Another series of studies published in the Journal of Environmental Psychology in 2010 concluded that being in nature made people feel energetic and less lethargic, all essential
ingredients for writing stories that exude telling details and narrative tension. After all, you just can’t tell a good story when half asleep.</p>
<p class="story-body-text" itemprop="articleBody">Nor can you do so when surrounded by the beeps and dings and hums of any number of devices. The author and journalist Richard Louv has thought a lot about technological distractions. Mr. Louv has long studied and proclaimed
the benefits that humans can reap from being in nature. His wildly popular “Last Child in the Woods: Saving Our Children From Nature-Deficit Disorder” includes evidence that exposure to nature is essential
not just to children’s mental and physical health, but to everyone’s. Adults are just as susceptible to a “Vitamin N” deficiency he explains in his more recent “The Nature Principle:
Reconnecting with Life in a Virtual Age.” I asked him about my writing-outside theory.</p>
<p class="story-body-text" itemprop="articleBody">“It’s likely you find it easier to write outside not only because of nature’s direct impact, but because of the absence of so many distractions, most of them technological.” says Mr. Louv,
who also finds his writing better when he does it by a lake or in the woods. “The info-blitzkrieg has spawned a new field called ‘interruption science’ and a newly minted condition: continuous
partial attention.” Constant electronic intrusions, he says, leave anyone trying to work frustrated, stressed and certainly less creative. </p>
<p class="story-body-text" itemprop="articleBody">Amen. And though this seems like an obvious conclusion, how often are we writers victims of indoor inertia? Why do we try to write while held hostage by cookie-cutter offices, zapped by overhead fluorescence and pinged
by electronic apps of varying degrees of annoyance? This, truly, is writing with only a partial mind, because our mind lies in too many different realms.</p>
<p class="story-body-text" itemprop="articleBody">I’m guilty. After the kids are at school, I often don’t move from my laptop spot at the old pine dining table, tapping away. With breakfast dishes and homework Xeroxes still cluttering the space, the various
electronics peeping alerts, I’m often “working” for a solid half hour before I realize I’m not focused — not really. </p>
<p class="story-body-text" itemprop="articleBody">“Trouble is,” says Mr. Louv, “it’s getting harder to find places beyond electrotrusion” (using an apt term he just coined).</p>
<p class="story-body-text" itemprop="articleBody">I know one answer. I found that my dream office is in the middle of a savanna, a place far from any WiFi or even an electrical outlet. While bumping along a dirt road in southern Kenya, where I was doing research for
my recent book “Safari,” I madly scribbled thoughts and impressions on a sturdy notebook I could hold in one hand. Writing while jostling and swatting tse-tse flies doesn’t seem ideal for recording
quotes from guides and notes on cheetahs, but, really, it was. My attention drifted over the blowing grasses, the seemingly endless undulating landscape, and homed in on the story in front of me. Some of the very
messy phrases that were difficult to physically write down, but otherwise easy to conjure, survived several self-critical revisions, my editor’s hand and copy editing. Bad handwriting can always be transcribed;
jumbled thoughts are a devil to untwist.</p>
<p class="story-body-text" itemprop="articleBody">“Most people think of the mind as being located in the head,” writes Diane Ackerman in “A Natural History of the Senses,” “but the latest findings in physiology suggest that <em>the mind</em> doesn’t really dwell in the brain but travels the whole body on caravans of hormone and enzyme, busily making sense of the compound wonders we catalogue as touch, taste, smell, hearing, vision.” There
was no substitute for being immersed in nature — in my case, in the home turf of elephants, lions and crocodiles — and hearing, smelling, feeling and sometimes tasting what was in their environment.
</p>
<p class="story-body-text" itemprop="articleBody">I’m writing a book on oceans now. The research process, performed indoors amid humming gadgets — and sandwiched between other priorities — is difficult. But soon, I’ll head outdoors, look
at life in the sea and plant myself in front of the water to do the writing. </p>
<p class="story-body-text" itemprop="articleBody">I know I can’t always go to the ocean or to an African savanna to write. In fact, those kinds of opportunities are few and far between. But I can take the lessons I learned there with me, and every day, remind
myself to take five small steps away from that old pine table to the back patio. It’s a tiny space, but one enveloped by branches from neighboring trees and surrounded by an overzealous wisteria vine. The
words come then, not perfectly the first time of course, but in time they do feel safe marching forward. </p>
<hr>

<p class="story-body-text" itemprop="articleBody"><em>Carol Kaufmann, a writer and editor, is the author of “Safari: A Photicular Book,” a collaboration with the inventor Dan Kainen. She is currently working on a book on oceans.</em></p>
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title: Time to Write? Go Outside
url: https://archive.nytimes.com/opinionator.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/09/16/time-to-write-go-outside/
hash_url: 300b9aa899d44f7606a8448991e2acfd

<p class="story-body-text" itemprop="articleBody">Fall promises crisp days with ample sunlight, a lifting of the humidity and ideal temperatures for being outdoors. This also means my writing will be getting better. </p>
<p class="story-body-text" itemprop="articleBody">Nothing coaxes jumbled thoughts into coherent sentences like sitting under a shade tree on a pleasant day. With a slight breeze blowing, birds chirping melodies, wee bugs scurrying around me and a fully charged laptop
or yellow legal pad at hand, I know I’ll produce my best work. </p>
<p class="story-body-text" itemprop="articleBody">I stumbled upon my ideal writing conditions quite by accident. When a particularly troublesome set of captions for a National Geographic story I was working on was causing me conniptions — that yellow-bordered
magazine takes those captions pretty seriously — I charged out of the house and down to the Potomac River, with notes, photograph photocopies and pen in hand. I planted myself at a picnic table, stared at
the water and let my brain go all mushy. I relaxed my eyes, focusing on nothing. </p>
<p class="story-body-text" itemprop="articleBody">Writing became easier. Words that were locked in the brain vault appeared. I saw the bigger picture, the story waiting to be told. <span id="more-149015"></span></p>
<p class="story-body-text" itemprop="articleBody">Turns out, there are perfectly good reasons why writing outdoors works for me, and most likely every other writer on the planet. </p>
<p class="story-body-text" itemprop="articleBody">Back in the 1970s, two pioneering environmental psychologists, Rachel and Stephen Kaplan, began investigating nature’s healing effect on the mind. Decades later, their studies concluded that connections with
nature could help us shirk mental fatigue, restore drifting attention and sharpen thinking. Even in an urban environment, a little green stimulates our senses, they report. </p>
<p class="story-body-text" itemprop="articleBody">Nature immersion also helps us feel alive. Another series of studies published in the Journal of Environmental Psychology in 2010 concluded that being in nature made people feel energetic and less lethargic, all essential
ingredients for writing stories that exude telling details and narrative tension. After all, you just can’t tell a good story when half asleep.</p>
<p class="story-body-text" itemprop="articleBody">Nor can you do so when surrounded by the beeps and dings and hums of any number of devices. The author and journalist Richard Louv has thought a lot about technological distractions. Mr. Louv has long studied and proclaimed
the benefits that humans can reap from being in nature. His wildly popular “Last Child in the Woods: Saving Our Children From Nature-Deficit Disorder” includes evidence that exposure to nature is essential
not just to children’s mental and physical health, but to everyone’s. Adults are just as susceptible to a “Vitamin N” deficiency he explains in his more recent “The Nature Principle:
Reconnecting with Life in a Virtual Age.” I asked him about my writing-outside theory.</p>
<p class="story-body-text" itemprop="articleBody">“It’s likely you find it easier to write outside not only because of nature’s direct impact, but because of the absence of so many distractions, most of them technological.” says Mr. Louv,
who also finds his writing better when he does it by a lake or in the woods. “The info-blitzkrieg has spawned a new field called ‘interruption science’ and a newly minted condition: continuous
partial attention.” Constant electronic intrusions, he says, leave anyone trying to work frustrated, stressed and certainly less creative. </p>
<p class="story-body-text" itemprop="articleBody">Amen. And though this seems like an obvious conclusion, how often are we writers victims of indoor inertia? Why do we try to write while held hostage by cookie-cutter offices, zapped by overhead fluorescence and pinged
by electronic apps of varying degrees of annoyance? This, truly, is writing with only a partial mind, because our mind lies in too many different realms.</p>
<p class="story-body-text" itemprop="articleBody">I’m guilty. After the kids are at school, I often don’t move from my laptop spot at the old pine dining table, tapping away. With breakfast dishes and homework Xeroxes still cluttering the space, the various
electronics peeping alerts, I’m often “working” for a solid half hour before I realize I’m not focused — not really. </p>
<p class="story-body-text" itemprop="articleBody">“Trouble is,” says Mr. Louv, “it’s getting harder to find places beyond electrotrusion” (using an apt term he just coined).</p>
<p class="story-body-text" itemprop="articleBody">I know one answer. I found that my dream office is in the middle of a savanna, a place far from any WiFi or even an electrical outlet. While bumping along a dirt road in southern Kenya, where I was doing research for
my recent book “Safari,” I madly scribbled thoughts and impressions on a sturdy notebook I could hold in one hand. Writing while jostling and swatting tse-tse flies doesn’t seem ideal for recording
quotes from guides and notes on cheetahs, but, really, it was. My attention drifted over the blowing grasses, the seemingly endless undulating landscape, and homed in on the story in front of me. Some of the very
messy phrases that were difficult to physically write down, but otherwise easy to conjure, survived several self-critical revisions, my editor’s hand and copy editing. Bad handwriting can always be transcribed;
jumbled thoughts are a devil to untwist.</p>
<p class="story-body-text" itemprop="articleBody">“Most people think of the mind as being located in the head,” writes Diane Ackerman in “A Natural History of the Senses,” “but the latest findings in physiology suggest that <em>the mind</em> doesn’t really dwell in the brain but travels the whole body on caravans of hormone and enzyme, busily making sense of the compound wonders we catalogue as touch, taste, smell, hearing, vision.” There
was no substitute for being immersed in nature — in my case, in the home turf of elephants, lions and crocodiles — and hearing, smelling, feeling and sometimes tasting what was in their environment.
</p>
<p class="story-body-text" itemprop="articleBody">I’m writing a book on oceans now. The research process, performed indoors amid humming gadgets — and sandwiched between other priorities — is difficult. But soon, I’ll head outdoors, look
at life in the sea and plant myself in front of the water to do the writing. </p>
<p class="story-body-text" itemprop="articleBody">I know I can’t always go to the ocean or to an African savanna to write. In fact, those kinds of opportunities are few and far between. But I can take the lessons I learned there with me, and every day, remind
myself to take five small steps away from that old pine table to the back patio. It’s a tiny space, but one enveloped by branches from neighboring trees and surrounded by an overzealous wisteria vine. The
words come then, not perfectly the first time of course, but in time they do feel safe marching forward. </p>
<hr>

<p class="story-body-text" itemprop="articleBody"><em>Carol Kaufmann, a writer and editor, is the author of “Safari: A Photicular Book,” a collaboration with the inventor Dan Kainen. She is currently working on a book on oceans.</em></p>

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<h1>#132: The contagious visual blandness of Netflix</h1>
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<p><span>Last week I saw </span><em>M3GAN</em><span>, the new horror-comedy starring Allison Williams and a robot-doll in a blond wig. I liked it enough. The doll character is genuinely well-done—a seemingly hard-to-nail mix of creepy and campy—but I walked out of the theater with a vaguely empty feeling. I couldn’t quite place it until I started talking with my friends about where the movie was set, and I realized I had no idea. One answer is somewhere in Silicon Valley, given its bald critique of big tech. It didn’t actually feel like Silicon Valley, though. It didn’t feel like anywhere at all. (Update: I’ve been informed it’s set in Seattle, although it didn’t feel like there either.) Every backdrop was generic and crisp: the scrubbed tech-compound where Gemma (Allison Williams) works; the bland, Wayfair-decorated house she lives in; the clean, non-specific streets she drives on. I thought little of this while watching. The movie looked expensive and professional, or at least had the hallmarks of those things: glossy, filtered, smooth. Only after it ended did it occur to me that it seemed, like so many other contemporary movies and shows, to exist in a phony parallel universe we’ve come to accept as relevant to our own.</span></p>
<div class="captioned-image-container"><figure><a class="image-link is-viewable-img image2" target="_blank" href="https://substackcdn.com/image/fetch/f_auto,q_auto:good,fl_progressive:steep/https%3A%2F%2Fsubstack-post-media.s3.amazonaws.com%2Fpublic%2Fimages%2Fe810b86c-3e7d-4300-af8b-2b1023f12cbf_1600x1327.png" rel></a><figcaption class="image-caption"><span>Single workaholic Gemma’s house (top) and the “toy testing room” at her office (bottom) (</span><a href="https://www.imdb.com/title/tt8760708/mediaindex?ref_=tt_mv_close" rel>via IMDB</a><span>)</span></figcaption></figure></div>
<p><span>To be clear, this isn’t about whether the movie was “realistic.” Movies with absurd, surreal, or fantastical plots can still communicate something honest and true. It’s actually, specifically, about how movies these days </span><em>look. </em><span>That is, more flat, more fake, over-saturated, or else over-filtered, like an Instagram photo in 2012, but rendered in commercial-like high-def.</span><em> </em><span>This applies to prestige television, too. There are more green screens and sound stages, more CGI, more fixing-it-in-post. As these production tools have gotten slicker and cheaper and thus more widely abused, it’s not that everything looks obviously shitty or too good to feel true, it’s actually that most things look mid in the exact same way. The ubiquity of the look is making it harder to spot, and the overall result is weightless and uncanny. An endless stream of glossy vehicles that are easy to watch and easier to forget. I call it the “Netflix shine,” inspired by one of the worst offenders, although some reading on the topic revealed others call it (more boringly) the “Netflix look.”</span></p>
<p><span>In a 2022 </span><em>Vice</em><span> piece called </span><a href="https://www.vice.com/en/article/ake3j5/why-does-everything-on-netflix-look-like-that" rel>“Why Does Everything on Netflix Look Like That,”</a><span> writer Gita Jackson describes the Netflix look as unusually bright and colorful, or too dark, the characters lit inexplicably by neon lights, everything shot at a medium close-up. She discovered this aesthetic monotony is in part due to the fact that Netflix requires the same “technical specifications from all its productions.” This is of course an economic choice: more consistency = less risk. They’ve also structured their budgets to favor pre-production costs like securing top talent. So despite the fact that their budgets are high, they’re spending it all on what is essentially marketing, pulling resources away from things like design and location. This style-over-substance approach is felt in most things Netflix makes, and it’s being replicated across the industry. (For more proof of concept, Rachel Syme’s </span><a href="https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2023/01/16/how-much-more-netflix-can-the-world-absorb-bela-bajaria" rel>recent </a><em><a href="https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2023/01/16/how-much-more-netflix-can-the-world-absorb-bela-bajaria" rel>New Yorker</a></em><a href="https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2023/01/16/how-much-more-netflix-can-the-world-absorb-bela-bajaria" rel> profile</a><span> of Netflix Global Head of Television Bela Bajaria is perfectly tuned and genuinely chilling. I’m still thinking about her “Art is Truth” blazer and lack of jet lag despite constant world travel. She’s a walking metaphor.)</span></p>
<p><span>I’m not a film buff, so I write this from a layman’s perspective. But every time I watch something made before 2000, it looks so beautiful to me—not otherworldly or majestic, but beautiful in the way the world around me is beautiful. And I don’t think I’m just being nostalgic. Consider these two popular rom-com movies stills: The first from </span><em>When Harry Met Sally</em><span>, shot on film in 1989, the second from </span><em>Moonshot</em><span>, shot digitally in 2022.</span></p>
<div class="captioned-image-container"><figure><a class="image-link is-viewable-img image2" target="_blank" href="https://substackcdn.com/image/fetch/f_auto,q_auto:good,fl_progressive:steep/https%3A%2F%2Fsubstack-post-media.s3.amazonaws.com%2Fpublic%2Fimages%2F5acef64c-cf1e-42fb-9413-044786b6b2d7_992x558.jpeg" rel></a><figcaption class="image-caption"><em>When Harry Met Sally </em><span>(1989)</span></figcaption></figure></div>
<p><span>The latter is more polished and “perfect,” but to what effect? It looks </span><em>strange</em><span>, surreal, both dim and bright at the same time. Everything is inexplicably blue or yellow, and glows like it’s been FaceTuned. Meg Ryan and Billy Crystal, meanwhile, are sitting in a downtown New York deli that actually exists. The image is a little grainy, the lighting falling somewhere in the normal daytime range, and they look like regular human beings. The table’s lopsided, the kitchen’s bent out of shape—the charm is earned. Today the restaurant might be built on a sound stage, or shot in front of a green screen, the appearance of daylight added in post-production. They could make it look convincing and moody, but it would lack character. It would feel somehow outside the world we inhabit every day, because it would be.</span></p>
<p><span>At the risk of using an anonymous Redditor as an expert, lol, I found a comment under a thread called </span><a href="https://www.reddit.com/r/movies/comments/ytlu96/why_do_movies_looks_so_weird_now/" rel>“Why do movies look so weird now?”</a><span> that captures a lot of these same complaints: </span></p>
<blockquote><p>“Everyone is lit perfectly and filmed digitally on raw and tweaked to perfection. It makes everything have a fake feeling to it. Commercials use the same cameras and color correction so everything looks the same. Every shot looks like it could be used in a stock photo and it looks completely soulless. No film grain, no shadows on faces, and no wide shots. I have a theory that going from tungsten to LED lighting added to this as well. Tungsten allows for more accurate color in camera but LEDs are cheaper, cooler, and more convenient. So the solution is to film on a nice digital camera and fix the color in post. However, this makes for less creativity on set and less use of shadows. Green screens make it worse as they also require flatter lighting to work. Marvel films are very obviously mostly made in post and they all look very flat and not real. Even shitty low-budget 90's comedies look better and I think this can be attributed to the lighting.”</p></blockquote>
<p>Another user mentioned that shooting on film required a level of forethought, planning, and patience that digital simply doesn’t. Similar to the predicament brought on by smartphone cameras and our now-endless photo rolls, the result is more, sure, and at higher fidelity, but not necessarily better. A photo today has never been worth less. I’ve long believed that constraints can improve creative work. But today’s shrinking production budgets, paired with the limitlessness of computer technology, aren’t inspiring scrappiness. They’re inspiring laziness. It’s too easy to fix things in post. Why wait around all day for the light to be just right when you can make it look half as good in Final Cut Pro for half the price? There’s an expansive possibility to digitization that defies the logic of constraint.</p>
<p>That the film and TV industry is obsessed with making as much money as possible isn’t a surprise. But as with any cost-cutting strategy, the approach is necessarily an expression of priorities. What’s worth the trouble? What isn’t? Looking at what studios are and aren’t willing to spend on today paints a pretty unflattering (if predictable) picture of modern values. And what’s interesting is how recognizable those values are across other pillars of culture. To name a few: the idea that imperfection is inhibitive to beauty; an over-emphasis on growth, speed, ease, and innovation; a cynical over-reliance on marketing; a lack of interest in locality and place; the funneling of resources to the top; the focus on content over form, entertainment over art. I could be talking about anything here—the beauty and cosmetics industry, tech, corporate America, manufacturing, social media, politics, labor disputes.</p>
<p><span>I’m not saying the proliferation of shitty-looking shows and movies will bring about our cultural downfall, only that they express, in a satisfyingly literal way, a specific wrong-think that’s pervading our off-screen lives, too. Most usefully, their hollowness offers, by way of counter-example, a key to what does feel meaningful: texture, substance, imperfection, slowing down, taking the scenic route, natural light, places you can touch, making more considered creative choices, making </span><em>less</em><span>. There’s a certain momentum to the mid right now, but there are other ways forward, if we’re willing to indulge them.</span></p>
<p><span>My favorite thing I read last week was </span><a href="https://www.garbageday.email/p/the-scooby-doo-psyop" rel>“The ‘Scooby Doo’ Psyop,”</a><span> by Ryan Broderick for his newsletter Garbage Day about the specific badness of Mindy Kaling’s new show (and an introduction to the phrase “sacrificial trash”). Friday’s </span><a href="https://haleynahman.substack.com/p/15-things-i-consumed-this-week-2f3" rel>15 Things</a><span> also included my latest investment purchase, my favorite new iPhone feature, my “eh” review of a buzzy new book, and more. The </span><a href="https://haleynahman.substack.com/p/15-things-i-consumed-this-week-2f3/comments" rel>rec of the week</a><span> was, selfishly, “veggie sides that travel well,” lol, because I needed ideas for a dinner party on Friday. And you delivered!</span></p>
<p>Tuesday’s podcast will be a pop culture roundup with Avi and my siblings Andy and Kelly (finally got them back on the pod!). We’ll be discussing M3GAN, nepo babies, Jen Shah, and that Madonna video, among other things…</p>
<p><span>Hope you have a nice Sunday!</span><br><span>Haley</span></p>
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<p>The definition of scholarly content has expanded to include the data and source code that contribute to a publication. While major archiving efforts to preserve conventional scholarly content, typically in PDFs (e.g., LOCKSS, CLOCKSS, Portico), are underway, no analogous effort has yet emerged to preserve the data and code referenced in those PDFs, particularly the scholarly code hosted online on Git Hosting Platforms (GHPs). Similarly, the Software Heritage Foundation is working to archive public source code, but there is value in archiving the issue threads, pull requests, and wikis that provide important context to the code while maintaining their original URLs. In current implementations, source code and its ephemera are not preserved, which presents a problem for scholarly projects where reproducibility matters. To understand and quantify the scope of this issue, we analyzed the use of GHP URIs in the arXiv and PMC corpora from January 2007 to December 2021. In total, there were 253,590 URIs to GitHub, SourceForge, Bitbucket, and GitLab repositories across the 2.66 million publications in the corpora. We found that GitHub, GitLab, SourceForge, and Bitbucket were collectively linked to 160 times in 2007 and 76,746 times in 2021. In 2021, one out of five publications in the arXiv corpus included a URI to GitHub. The complexity of GHPs like GitHub is not amenable to conventional Web archiving techniques. Therefore, the growing use of GHPs in scholarly publications points to an urgent and growing need for dedicated efforts to archive their holdings in order to preserve research code and its scholarly ephemera. </p>
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title: The Rise of GitHub in Scholarly Publications
url: https://arxiv.org/abs/2208.04895
hash_url: 57fcca8aa6194cb2840d1dea002cb59b

The definition of scholarly content has expanded to include the data and source code that contribute to a publication. While major archiving efforts to preserve conventional scholarly content, typically in PDFs (e.g., LOCKSS, CLOCKSS, Portico), are underway, no analogous effort has yet emerged to preserve the data and code referenced in those PDFs, particularly the scholarly code hosted online on Git Hosting Platforms (GHPs). Similarly, the Software Heritage Foundation is working to archive public source code, but there is value in archiving the issue threads, pull requests, and wikis that provide important context to the code while maintaining their original URLs. In current implementations, source code and its ephemera are not preserved, which presents a problem for scholarly projects where reproducibility matters. To understand and quantify the scope of this issue, we analyzed the use of GHP URIs in the arXiv and PMC corpora from January 2007 to December 2021. In total, there were 253,590 URIs to GitHub, SourceForge, Bitbucket, and GitLab repositories across the 2.66 million publications in the corpora. We found that GitHub, GitLab, SourceForge, and Bitbucket were collectively linked to 160 times in 2007 and 76,746 times in 2021. In 2021, one out of five publications in the arXiv corpus included a URI to GitHub. The complexity of GHPs like GitHub is not amenable to conventional Web archiving techniques. Therefore, the growing use of GHPs in scholarly publications points to an urgent and growing need for dedicated efforts to archive their holdings in order to preserve research code and its scholarly ephemera.

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<p class="lead">I have recently been made aware that the frequency of new content published on my site has gone down quite a bit.</p>
<p>Ok fine, I <a href="https://front-end.social/@matuzo/109768438608948867">trash-talked Manuel’s website</a> on Mastodon and he correctly pointed out that while I wrote an impressive two (2) blogposts last year, he wrote around 90 (while also doing talks, audits, raising an infant daughter and probably training for a marathon or some shit like that, I mean let’s face it the guy is annoyingly productive).</p>
<p>I know I was slacking off a bit and those numbers speak for themselves. While I generally want to write, ideas rarely make it all the way to a published post.</p>
<p>Like many others, <em>“write more”</em> is high up on my imaginary list of life improvements and although I don’t usually do new year’s resolutions, now feels like a good time to re-evaluate what’s stopping me there.</p>
<p>I came up with seven reasons that I use to justify why I’m not writing. In a confusing twist of perspective, I’m also going to try and talk myself out of them by explaining to you, dear Reader, why they are bullshit.</p>
<p class="u-align-center" aria-hidden="true">···</p>
<h2 id="h-i-don%E2%80%99t-have-time"><a class="heading-anchor" href="#h-i-don%E2%80%99t-have-time" aria-hidden="true">#</a> I don’t have time</h2>
<p>This is the big one, right? We all have other things to do, and writing takes time. In my case, I’ve been really swamped with client projects and other work last year.</p>
<p>I think if you actually want to write though, it’s more a lack of routine than a lack of time itself. People who consistently produce content have learned to make a habit out of it. I read <a href="https://jamesclear.com/atomic-habits">“Atomic Habits”</a> by James Clear a couple of months ago and its message kinda stuck with me. It’s about conditioning yourself to do certain things more often by building a routine.</p>
<p>Take 15 minutes every day before you check your email and <a href="https://www.sarasoueidan.com/desk/just-write/">just write</a>. Or do it on your commute to work if possible! The trick is to use amounts of time that are so small you can’t possibly <strong>not</strong> fit them in your schedule. It may not be enough for a fully-fledged article, but enough to build a habit.</p>
<p>It’s also worth noting that your writing doesn’t always have to be well-crafted longform blogposts. It can just be a few paragraphs about your thoughts, linking out to other stuff. <a href="https://chriscoyier.net/">Chris</a> does a great job at this, and others have recently adopted <a href="https://nerdy.dev/">even shorter</a> <a href="https://jhey.dev/">formats</a>, mimicking social media posts in length.</p>
<h2 id="h-i-don%E2%80%99t-have-anything-interesting-to-say"><a class="heading-anchor" href="#h-i-don%E2%80%99t-have-anything-interesting-to-say" aria-hidden="true">#</a> I don’t have anything interesting to say</h2>
<p>The classic impostor syndrome comes out here. I don’t know anything special, so why bother?</p>
<p>The truth is that <em>everyone</em> has something interesting to say because everyone faces different challenges. You don’t have to go viral and make buzzword-riddled thinkpieces about the current hot topic - There’s enough sites who already do that, and <a href="https://maggieappleton.com/ai-dark-forest">AI will soon produce a shitton more of it</a>.</p>
<p>A better plan is to write about what you know and experience in your day-to-day life instead. Authentic posts are always helpful, and you will solidify your own knowledge in the process too.</p>
<p>Here are a few common writing prompts and examples for blogposts I love to read:</p>
<h2 id="h-i-gotta-fix-%5Bx%5D-on-my-site-first"><a class="heading-anchor" href="#h-i-gotta-fix-%5Bx%5D-on-my-site-first" aria-hidden="true">#</a> I gotta fix [X] on my site first</h2>
<p>This one is especially popular among developers. “How can I possibly write anything before the typography is perfect? How can I ever publish anything when comments are not implemented yet?” We love to tinker with our websites and that’s cool, but at some point it gets in the way of actually <em>using</em> your blog and creating content.</p>
<p>Despite what we tell ourselves, it really doesn’t matter too much how a blog looks or what features it has. People come for the content, and as long as they can read it, they’re happy. Throw in an RSS feed so everyone can use their own reader and you’re golden. It pains me to say it but <a href="https://front-end.social/@matuzo/109768438608948867">Manuel is absolutely correct</a> here.</p>
<p>And if he can be “redesigning in the open” for three years while churning out massive amounts of CSS knowledge, your site will be fine too. 😉</p>
<h2 id="h-others-have-already-written-about-this"><a class="heading-anchor" href="#h-others-have-already-written-about-this" aria-hidden="true">#</a> Others have already written about this</h2>
<p>Sometimes I’ve got a great idea for a post, but an initial Google search reveals that someone else already beat me to it. The novelty has worn off and that other post is way better than what I could have come up with anyway, I tell myself.</p>
<p>That’s not a real reason of course, nobody has a monopoly on a subject. Others may have already covered the topic - but not in your voice, not from your perspective. You could write a post about the exact same thing and still provide valuable information the other author has missed. Or you could approach the subject from a different angle, for a different skill-level or for a different audience.</p>
<p>Another way is to read the material that is already available and take notes about all the questions you still have afterwards. Try to actually do the thing (write the code, use the app, whatever) and see what other information would have been helpful for you to have. Write that!</p>
<h2 id="h-the-moment-for-this-has-passed"><a class="heading-anchor" href="#h-the-moment-for-this-has-passed" aria-hidden="true">#</a> The moment for this has passed</h2>
<p>There are writing ideas that are inspired by some event or conversation. Maybe something big happened on the web or I’ve had a particularly interesting discussion on social media. So I sketch out a quick outline for a post and stick it in my <code>drafts</code> folder, thinking I’ll get back to it later.</p>
<p>Three weeks pass and that lonely draft sits around gathering dust, and by the time I remember it, the moment has passed. The conversation has moved on, and so the post is abandoned and eventually deleted.</p>
<p>The internet moves pretty fast and there’s always a “hot topic of the day”, but that doesn’t mean that nobody is interested in anything else. A beautiful thing about blogs is that they’re asynchronous. You can just write things and put them out there, and even if they don’t hit a nerve immediately, people can discover them in their own time.</p>
<p>Older posts can also get re-discovered years later and get a second wind, not to mention that people constantly search for specific things - and your post might be just what they’re looking for then! Some of my old posts about <a href="/blog/webring-kit/">webrings</a> and the IndieWeb have recently found readers again since Twitter has started going down the drain. You never know!</p>
<h2 id="h-i-can%E2%80%99t-get-it-to-sound-right"><a class="heading-anchor" href="#h-i-can%E2%80%99t-get-it-to-sound-right" aria-hidden="true">#</a> I can’t get it to sound right</h2>
<p>Most of the (tech) blogs I read are in English, even though its authors are from all over the world. For a non-native english speaker like myself, it can sometimes be daunting to write in a foreign language. This is a barrier when it comes to producing “polished” text - there’s extra brain cycles involved in getting your ideas to “sound” right.</p>
<p>This is probably not a big deal though. People don’t expect to read world-class literature when they come to check out a blogpost about “Lobster Mode”. As long as you can get your point across, it’s fine if you don’t use fancy words. It can also be an advantage: for an international audience, simple English might even be easier to understand.</p>
<p>That being said, this is a usecase where AI might actually be helpful! While <abbr title="Large Language Models">LLMs</abbr> like GPT-3 and co are <a href="https://themarkup.org/hello-world/2023/01/28/decoding-the-hype-about-ai">useless at creating actual content</a> or original thoughts, they’re great at making sentences sound nice. Tools like <a href="https://www.jasper.ai/">Jasper</a> can rewrite your copy and improve the tone without changing the contained information. Sort of like <a href="https://prettier.io/">prettier</a> but for English prose.</p>
<h2 id="h-nobody%E2%80%99s-going-to-read-it-anyway"><a class="heading-anchor" href="#h-nobody%E2%80%99s-going-to-read-it-anyway" aria-hidden="true">#</a> Nobody’s going to read it anyway</h2>
<p>Let’s be honest: nobody likes to shout into the void. Everyone wants their content to be seen, and social validation is the sweet sweet dopamine reward we all crave.</p>
<p>There’s nothing wrong with sharing your work on social media or popular orange link aggregators either, but sometimes there just won’t be much of a reaction after you publish. That can feel frustrating - but ultimately I think obesessing over vanity metrics is not worth it anyway. Just because something doesn’t make the frontpage of Reddit does not mean it’s not valuable.</p>
<p>Don’t underestimate how many people actively read personal blogs though! The web dev community is especially fond of RSS, and with the Fediverse gaining more and more popularity, original content on your own domain has a much better reach now than before.</p>
<p class="u-align-center" aria-hidden="true">···</p>
<p>Right, I realize it’s a bit weird to write a post about how I don’t write posts. But I hope to push back on this in 2023 and find more time for writing. I also suspect that other people have similar reasons and maybe talking about them helps a bit.</p>
<p>In any case, that’s one more post in the bank!</p>
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