I Just Got BANNED From APUG/ Phototrio!

So, Apparently I’ve been banned at Phototrio – on my second post in 10 years – because I posted a link to one of my articles that they consider “spam.” Here’s the definition of SPAM: “Unsolicited email, often of a commercial nature, sent indiscriminately to multiple mailing lists, individuals, or newsgroups; junk e-mail.”

I recently posted a rather lengthy, tongue-in-cheek “Tutorial” about working with film on Leicaphilia. You’ve probably read it. I sort of liked it, thought people might find it marginally humorous, and figured the poor souls who slog through interminable internecene wars about the benefits/drawbacks of diffusion enlargers and negative density range on APUG (now rechristened Phototrio to finally acknowledge digital processes too) might need a little levity, so I started a new Post in the Darkroom section of Phototrio to share it. Hey, that’s what photo-forums are for, right? Sharing ideas and inspirations. Maybe having a laugh at ourselves and our paltry disagreements.

Here’s the link:


Now, it’s interesting to note that the article doesn’t solicit anything, makes no claims for my blog, doesn’t try to sell anything, doesn’t in any way lead to any sort of monetization of my blog…because there is nothing to monetize. No ads run on it, no revenue brought in via any backdoor. (Well, not totally true: you do have the option of “Buying Me A Coffee” for 5 bucks, out of gratitude for 9 years and over 500 posts, all free to you; hell, some fine guy in Egypt just bought me 20 cups of coffee).

Leicaphilia is just a low-tech, semi-clueless blog discussing film and digital photography. It has a dedicated readership with a shared aversion to photo-influencer bullshit, but not much else. I’m not particularly smart or accomplished or have anything meaningful to say that hasn’t been said a million times before. I just like to discuss photography. This particular link wasn’t sent to anyone else i.e. I wasn’t trying to get it published everywhere. Just Phototrio. In doing so, I wasn’t trying to sell Phototrio readers Leicaphilia logoed calf-skinned bags, personally signed tomes of my best-selling Harnessing the Light™, $3000 weekend photo seminars in Newark, or drive them to any other site that’s going to give me a cut of the action. I wasn’t attempting to “improve my site metrics” for some nefarious reason; frankly, I don’t give a shit about my metrics. I’m not even sure what a metric is. I just wanted to talk film photography with other like-minded people.

Shame on me. What I find interesting is that third parties have linked articles from Leicaphilia to Phototrio without any problem. I post something – Result: banned. Hell, I can’t even look at the site anymore, for fear I suppose that I’ll engage in some sorts of subversive activities in retaliation, not that it’s any problem for me as I’ve probably been on the forum twice in ten years. But I just find the whole thing damningly typical of internet photo forums and the petty tyrants (See Rangefinder Forum “Mentors” for further edification) who propose to run these things with no sense of a larger perspective or any common sense.

No problem, sean@phototrio.com. You need not worry about my subversive presence befouling your site. You can now go back to what you do best: argue bitterly and endlessly about the benefits of developer dilution, agitation and temp specifically for hydroquinone based silver developers, maximum pH levels of developers before they become fatigued (7 for those wondering), inherent spectral sensitivity of silver bromide restrainers and their role in slowing rates of development, the minimum number of atoms of silver required to be formed during exposure for a silver halide grain to be developable (four), and my personal favorite, the Gurney-Mott Hypothesis for latent image formation. This is serious shit. No levity allowed! I understand now.

Is my ban permanent?


I’m also banned from Rangefinder Forum, and have been for years. That I wear as a badge of great pride. It all started with a small kerfuffle I engaged in with the then forum doyen, the insufferable (late) Roger Hicks, who knew everything and refused to allow that anyone else might have something to say that needn’t be thoroughly vetted by him prior to being accepted onto the forum as a valid, alternative viewpoint. Apparently, Roger’s claim to fame was that he had written for Shutterbug for some years, although I didn’t know that at the time. Obviously, he was a knowlegable man with much to offer the photographic community, although his abrasive and heavy-handed personality made him difficult to appreciate.

It was fun to debate Roger. He couldn’t help himself. He made it so easy ruffle him. Just marginally question his competence or the extent of his knowledge, or, worse yet, contradict him, and you would send him into paroxysms of rage wallpapered over by ostentatious language meant to virtue-signal his superiority. Underneath lay a vast reservoir of barely suppressed self-loathing that periodically made him announce his final, irrevocable departure from the site…only to appear again in a few months after the forum peons sufficiently genuflected and asked for his forgiveness. At one point, I was seriously thinking of writing up a sociological case study on his and the forum’s dysfunctional relationship.

For some reason he loathed me and would chase me around whenever I posted, contradicting my smallest details. I enjoyed the whole thing tremendously and took great joy in winding him up. Unfortunately, one of the “Mentors” emailed me to tell me they “were watching me” and my privilege as a member would be revoked unless I played nicer with Mr. Hicks. At that point, I responded somewhat indelicately and was quickly booted from the site. It was then that I started Leicaphilia.

The irony is that folks who knew Mr. Hicks personally invariably said he was a kind generous man. I have no doubt that this was the case. It just goes to show how the impersonal interactions afforded by internet forums can warp otherwise civil discussion between decent people. I have no doubt Mr. Hicks was a decent person. He was also an arrogant bully to people who didn’t deserve it.

I do give him credit for starting me on my blog. I simply decided that if I wanted to say what I wanted to say I’d have to cut out the middleman and do it myself. And so Leicaphilia was born. How it grew and got the readership it did, I’m not quite sure, but I’m glad it did. I’ve enjoyed it immensely, being able to articulate my thoughts and ideas about photography without first having them vetted by the sean@phototrio.com or Roger Hicks or any other self-appointed gatekeeper. Unlike the days Roger Hicks made his name via print media and the limited opportunities it provided for most people, the internet allows anyone with an interesting take and a desire to get it out to the world without the constraints of self-appointed experts and say their peace.

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9 thoughts on “I Just Got BANNED From APUG/ Phototrio!

  1. Stephen Jenner

    “Is my ban permanent?”

    I would hope so Tim, it seems that it is just trying to sell expensive crap to fools fine fellows with more money than sense, like golfers. Old Winston used a good phrase for golf…

    “A good walk, ruined”.

    Such people need protecting from themselves.

    Despite the fact that I have only just got up, I nearly fell asleep trying to find something interesting to read that wasn’t trying to flog me something very expensive. For instance that “Veblen good” known and sold to me… the Leica Q2.

    Whilst reading various bits and bobs late last night and earlier (4am) this morning, I was reminded of the contribution made to lens technology by the Cooke company. I s’pose that because they concentrate on glass and no longer make cameras, their contribution is sometimes forgotten, but much of the best (photographically and cinematically speaking) glass is still made in Leicestershire by this company.

    “The Cooke Look”.

  2. Dogman

    Oh wow! You scoundrel! Despoiling the sacred sites for the True Believers.

    Forums are kinda crazy these days. I’m on a Fuji forum and it’s mostly about the newest gizmos and software updates–sometimes a good picture or two. On a Nikon forum I visit it’s almost all Norsemen doing nature–but sometimes a good picture or two. And good old RFF is so broken from its updated software I can’t even get in most of the time and when I do the server crashes. RFF has more good pictures than anyone else but you can’t see ’em if you can’t get on the site. I was last on Photrio when it was called APUG where we all got together and declared digital photography the work of the Anti-Christ and sure to fail. It’s the nature of the internet these days.

    Quoting Leonard Cohen: “Everybody knows the war is over. Everybody knows the good guys lost.”

  3. Dan Newell

    Q.- Do you think people today take themselves too seriously?

    Fran Lebowitz- I do. I think that people take themselves pretty seriously, especially people who really are not deserving of seriousness. It’s self-aggrandizing to consider yourself to be the moral light for all mankind. It’s become very complicated for people to discern right and wrong when it’s so simple. The most common thing yelled by children to other children when I was a child was, “That’s not fair.” It’s really apparent. Now it seems a very complicated thing. People who complicate simple things have a very bad agenda, in my opinion.

  4. Hank

    No wonder. Film photography (well, talking about film photography anyway) is sacred at Photrio. It is SERIOUS BUSINESS. How dare you attempt to have a little fun with it.

  5. Lee Rust

    Most sites these days are extremely paranoid about spam and phishing. Compared to the typically short blurbs, questions and snappy repartee on Photrio, the banning of your piece was most likely a simple exercise of caution. You have no recent posting history and suddenly you show up out of the blue with a long and detailed technical missive, dripping with irony and full of illustrations that would take too much time for a busy site administrator to fully evaluate.

    Why not get back to Sean and try to work things out? A posting on Photrio would definitely bring your excellent tutorial to a wider audience. Think of all the nasty comments you would get!

  6. Nick

    I find these forums going down the drain. These are only means to give exposure to self-proclaimed experts. Look at the overall tone of the threads, it is pretty pathetic and IMO, works to the detriment of the cause they are supposed to defend. Individuals who had things to say about philosophy and poetry of photography left long ago, leaving influencers and insecure guys to run the show. No wonder why newcomers to photography are looking elsewhere for more welcoming and friendly places…

    Years after years, I spend less and less time on these forums which bring very little to the community and I, by far, prefer blogs like this one which speak to the reader’s brain more than to the wallet.

  7. Rob Campbell

    Well, I didn’t get banned from The Online Photographer, but a spate of suffering very-edited replies to various things there, finally about Ctein and doing or not doing one’s own printing, led me to decide that it was pointless having an opinion if it was only going to be edited away, emasculated. So I no longer visit. Nobody will give a damn, myself included. It’s in the nature of such places, especially when they depend on financial returns from readership purchases etc. Who welcomes waves in such situations?

    1. Leicaphila Post author

      But you’d think that some discussion – you, know, differing viewpoints that drive rational inquiry forward – would be a good thing. It seems that that should be the nature of these sites. They should want the valuable in put of people like Rob Campbell who has spent his whole life practicing in a field they claim to be discussing, or me, who just has an articuable opinion that isn’t bat-shit crazy on its face. Bu they don’t, and they are left with dessicated technical discussions conducted by the herd. I mean, who the fuck is Sean at Phototrio. I’d love to know his backstory. Some 40 something “consultant” who bought a canon with kit lens and took up photography in 2003 as a way to blow off steam between consulting gigs that feed the family? This guy has nothing to say to me. I’d venture I have a lot to teach him and his ilk…if only they’d be so kind as to take their fingers out of their ears and listen to their betters for a few minutes. In any event, fuck Sean at Phottrio.

      At least people like Roger Hicks over at RFF were up for the debate, and for that I admired him. He may have thrown his weight around with his presumed authority, but he was willing to hear you out, even if to contradict and belittle everything you said. But at least there was a discussion. I miss Roger in some weird way.

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