A reader sent me the following suggestion:
You may wish to consider including (as a regular feature) within some of your more technically related posts (i.e.- Nov. 24th: “Sony a7II, a7RII high-ISO spatial filtering”) an included short paragraph – at the bottom of the more technically related posts (and maybe titled something like: “Practical Implications for the Technically Challenged”) a paragraph in which you draw a short conclusion in relation to the real world aesthetic implications of the technical points being made within the post, itself, so that people like myself (who are often bewildered by some of the more esoteric graphs and technical jargon) might more easily understand the overall import and implications of the post as it relates to their own practical, day-to-day, photography.
Here’s an example of the kind of thing I’m getting at:
In your Nov. 19 post: “Sony a7II Uncompressed Read Noise and EDR” you do indeed end with the following:
The bottom line? Uncompressed raw doesn’t materially affect read noise or dynamic range on the a7II.
What I’m suggesting is that you consider including an additional statement that might address (in strictly layman’s terms) how that “bottom line” might (as a practical matter) ultimately affect the overall quality of the pictures being made with that specific concern in mind. Anyway, perhaps I’m dancing on the head of a pin, here, but it seems to me that for those of us who are not as technically savvy, it might add a more (admittedly simplistic, though perhaps more usable and practical) real world understanding of the conclusions you are drawing. Anyway… something to consider…
I am torn. Where I can summarize without fear of oversimplifying, I try to do so. Unfortunately, that means that many times I can’t write a nontechnical summary. I’m not saying it’s impossible, it’s just beyond me. One of the things that’s most difficult to do for me — and, I’ve noticed, for others — is to provide clear explanations of technical matters with no math and no jargon. Add an additional requirement to make the summary pithy, and you’ve raised the bar another big, fat notch.
If I were to start adding the summaries suggested by the reader on a routine basis, I’d have to leave out exceptions that I considered relatively infrequent or unimportant. I know that some of you would catch that and call me on it. We’d have to have some standard of criticism for the simplifications that was different — and more merciful — than that for the rest of my technical posts.
Another thing to consider is that I post work as I do it, and sometimes how I think my results bear on real-world photography change during a series of posts. I’d have to go back and revise simplifications in the light of new findings, or maybe remove them and reference later posts.
In any event, I am open to this idea, but would like t know what you all think before I start experimenting with it.
> The bottom line? Uncompressed raw doesn’t materially affect read noise or dynamic range on the a7II.
not sure if the person needs to be encouraged not to spend his/her own time reading about noise of various types and DR… at some point you draw the line.
Chris Livsey says
As a hospital pharmacist advising on varying drug therapies, or none even, this is a daily challenge. How to distill many years of trials and metadata with sometimes, actually usually, ambiguous results and always side effect profiles into a short non technical summary to give the patient sufficient information to make an informed decision. The patient varies, as in your reader profiles, what level is non technical individually varies, a lot.
You tend to pitch at the informed reader with an original paper approach where, as you say, later work may change the conclusion or indeed the data. My opinion, leave the summary alone. Let the informed reader continue to draw their own conclusions but by all means assist the less informed reader to appreciate where the work has lead and what conclusions they may draw with perhaps more emphasis on where in practice the work may have impact, always with the caveat, “this is not yet fully understood” a phrase I am often want to utter, sometimes to total disbelief.
Lynn Allan says
Perhaps it would be appropriate for some of your blog articles to have an introductory:
“What question(s) are you trying to answer?”
and conclude with:
“Here are my conclusions to the question(s).”
Mea culpa … I regularly am baffled by your articles, but acknowledge I don’t have the prerequisites to comprehend.
I think it’s better for a confused reader to get more specific clarification in the comments section, rather than a pre-emptive broad brushstroke that might leave some with misconceptions and which might have interpretation errors.
Then again I’m able to easily understand everything you write, so I have less than no need for a summary (it would just get in the way).
tex andrews says
Well, this is indeed a tough one, for you particularly. I rahter think you are up to it, because you seem to be well able to move between the “two worlds” of the sciences and the humanities.
For inspiration I’ll leave you with this: I once heard an interview with the late, great Stephen Jay Gould. He said that, unlike the vast majority of his colleagues, he felt that writing for the “lay reader” was his most important duty, and that to be a public intellectual was a high calling.
Christer Almqvist says
I am grateful to the original commentator as I now know that I am not the only person struggling to distill what conclusions are relevant to me. Life was so easy when we shot Tri-X or TechPan with Summicrons mounted on our Leicas. OK, you needed three different developers, but yet, life was simple then.
BTW, to keep life simple, I only read three blogs; this one,
Herb Cunningham says
The summary idea is ok, but then we would not learn anything.
Stretching the old brain cells is always a good idea.
Huntington Witherill says
The testing Jim is providing surely contains valuable information and insights for any serious photographer. But, I might also suggest that some of the information may not be completely understandable, to all. It’s been my observation that those who are less technically oriented might well experience additional benefit from – and also be better able to relate to – the more technical articles, with the inclusion of a short statement (or better yet, simply the author’s brief opinion at the end of such articles) suggesting the practical (real world) implications, benefits and/or relative importance in terms of potential day-to-day photographic situations.
While a number of the articles involving the ongoing testing of read noise, DR, High ISO Spatial Filtering, etc. are, for the most part, personally understandable, applicable (and of course, highly appreciated!) I must admit that some of the articles do indeed go right over my head. And, I would have to suspect that such might be the case for others, as well.
howard cubell says
I heartily endorse the comments of Huntington Witherill. Long before your most recent post about the possibility of a simple explanation of the real world implications of your findings from the testing that you carry out, I though about sending you just such a recommendation. You actually did that, for example, on the analysis of how high shutter speeds interact with EFCS on the Sony A7RII. In many other cases, I read the write up about the test results and have no idea what it means to me in practical terms.
So glad you are feeling better and on the road to a full recovery. We have never met in person, but I totally enjoy your posts here and at DPR and want to thank you.
Tony A. says
When you’re ready – and only then – an abstract may serve many purposes.
Sean E says
I think a lot of people would appreciate your thoughts on the data that you post- while I think I generally have a good understanding of the data you share here, I’m also interested in what significance you ascribe to it, because I have a great deal of respect for your critical faculty as well as your process.
Part of good writing is assessing your audience, and on that note I think that you shouldn’t sweat the translation part of giving your thoughts too much. In the spectrum of popular writing on photography, you exist well out on the technical end, and your audience is already self-selected for a high level of technical literacy. If you were to just tell us, in broad strokes, what you think the significance of a piece of data is, maybe any notable deviations from what you expected, and what, if any, the practical upshot may be, I think most people would be more than satisfied.