Noise. Noise. Noise. Noise. Noise.  Buzz. Buzz. Buzz. Buzz. Buzz. Blog. Blog. Blog. Blog. Blog. Update. Update. Update. Update. Update. Comment. Comment. Comment. Comment. Comment. Twitter. Twitter. Twitter. Twitter. Twitter. Facebook. Facebook. Facebook. Facebook. Facebook. Flickr. Flickr. Flickr. Flickr. Flickr. Blah. Blah. Blah. Blah. Blah. Noise.  Noise.  Noise. Noise. Noise. Noise. Noise. Noise. Noise. Noise. Noise. Buzz. Buzz. Buzz. Buzz. Buzz. Blog. Blog. Blog. Blog. Blog. Update. Update. Update. Update. Update. Comment. Comment. Comment. Comment. Comment. Twitter. Twitter. Twitter. Twitter. Twitter. Facebook. Facebook. Facebook. Facebook. Facebook. Flickr. Flickr. Flickr. Flickr. Flickr. Blah. Blah. Blah. Blah. Blah. Noise. Noise. Noise. Noise. Noise.

If you clicked through expecting tips on how to remove digital noise while preserving details in your photographs, you are in the wrong place.  (Did you really think I’d use that uninspired a title?)  I will say this much: if you are struggling to clean up your images, I’ve heard good things about the Dfine plug-in.  If you are shooting high ISO, especially on a cropped sensor camera, you’ll probably benefit from an add-on filter to cut the noise.  The standard PS noise reduction filter leaves a lot to be desired….

And… I’ve managed to prove my own point before I even started making it.  Jeez.  You’ll understand in a minute.  Let’s start over, shall we?

Hi.  As many of you know by now, I’m trying to grow as a photographer, build my skills, establish an artistic presence, and maybe even lay the foundation for a dream of mine.  (Eventually, I’ll share more about that last part, but for now let me debunk the obvious theory:  the dream is not to “go pro,” though that might be nice, too.)  In service of these goals, I shoot often, look for (and create) opportunities to interact with other photographers, keep a running list of techniques I want to develop and images I’d like to create, etc.   And of course, I use the internet for EVERYTHING.  The web serves as classroom, gallery, tradeshow, library, and therapy group.  There’s a hell of a lot going on here.  And a lot of people milling about, talking loudly and strutting their stuff.

After spending a few hours on the internet, mostly in photography-related zones, I’ve started to get what I used to call the “IKEA-headache.”  I should explain:

IKEA is kind of awesome.  Especially for furnishing your first real place on a budget.  But whenever I spend a few hours there, wandering through 20 living rooms, sitting on 100 couches and chairs, and filling my basket with impossibly cheap kitchen utensils, I develop a POUNDING headache.  The kind of cranial pain that a even a 99 cent plate of Swedish pancakes with lingonberry jam will not cure.  Too many things to see, sample, and consider.  Too many aisles to navigate.  Too many overheard bits of advice about decorating and kitchen design.  Too many couples debating Ektorp vs. Hagalund?

Have I lost you yet?  Do you have the headache, too?

Too much of a good thing is generally not a good thing.  (A certain member of the withinaclick crew will demand that I note the exception for chocolate caramels.  Obviously.)  But has it really gotten to the point where there is too much photography in my life?

NO!!! Don’t be ridiculous.

The problem is that there’s too much digital noise in my very real life.  And I don’t think they make a plug-in for that.  It’s not photography that’s causing the problem, it’s what’s cropped up around it.  Alongside the core industry of equipment manufacturers, software developers, and other service providers, there’s a teeming non-industry of climbers and promoters.  Of dubious gurus, self-proclaimed authorities, and zealots of all stripes. There is no shortage of people who will tell you how they’re doing it right.  (Of course, not everyone is a charlatan. There are quite a few genuine authorities out there.)

With photography, it is easy to get in on the ground floor — scrape together a few hundred bucks for a DSLR kit and some memory and you’ve got a ticket.  (By the way, I’m not criticizing.  That’s how I wound up here.)   But folks quickly tire of the general admission and want more exclusive access.  So they start telling people how it’s done: they blog, and publish articles, offer lessons.  (Again, to criticize would be the height of hypocrisy.  Pot to kettle: “You are black.”)  Most see it as a way to try to make a buck — so they promote themselves relentlessly.  And if you want credibility, you are expected to do the same.  Noise. Buzz. Blog. Comment. Update. Twitter. Facebook. Flickr. Noise.

It’s a double edged sword.  I get that.  Ours is a visual medium — and if you can’t drum up viewers, what’s the point?  But it all feels hopelessly hollow. And in my travels across the world-wide-web, I come across a lot of crap.  I’m talking about some really bad, trite, pandering advice. The kind of garbage that encourages mediocrity and consumerism.  Articles like “ten photos you must shoot in every maternity session” and… and… and.. oh, I don’t even want to waste energy recalling another example.   This stuff gets a lot of play — tons of people link to it, and I click.  More wasted time and constricted blood vessels.  I was so disheartened by the whole scene that I considered not writing a piece today.  I mean, am I any different?  Do I offer something more valuable?  If I answer yes, does anyone but me agree?  But then two things changed my mind:

1) I clicked on this link; and
2) I re-read Doug’s statement about the importance of intentions.

“One Hundred Metres of Existence” reminded me that, amid all the crap out there, there’s some pretty awesome stuff.  So, I’ve got keep digging through.  I just need to develop a better noise filter.  And, as far as my membership in this mob is concerned… Well, my collaborators and I are trying to create a space that’s a little more enriching than most.  Frankly, we’re careful not to talk out of our asses.   We’re more concerned with content than comments. We’re looking for real dialogue and interaction.  We’re not trying to sell you anything.   And we honestly believe that you all have as much, if not more, to offer than we do.

In the next few weeks, I’m going to streamline everything.  I’m going do some spring cleaning in my bookmarks and my RSS feeds.  I’m hoping that you’ll all continue to participate here and invite like-minded folks looking for meaningful conversation about photography to join the conversation.

Maybe, together, we can demonstrate that not all enthusiasts are under-cutting the art. 
Maybe we can be each other’s noise reduction filters…