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August 2022

This newsletter is a collection of things I have found in the last month that I enjoyed, found interesting, or simply wanted to share.

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Over the Line!

‘You can’t be the player’s friend’: inside the secret world of tennis umpires

Using a network of six or more high-speed video cameras positioned around the court, the system generates an image of the ball’s path and the spot where it lands. To keep matches fast-flowing, human line judges usually continue to call when a ball is out. However, up to three times per set (plus one more if it goes to a tie-break), players can request a review if they don’t agree with the human call. In 2020, more tournaments began using Hawk-Eye Live, a newer version of the technology that makes automated line calls in real time. Not only does it remove the need for players to make a challenge, it has removed the need for line judges altogether. With Hawk-Eye Live, the only official on court is the chair umpire. However, the technology is expensive, and at present it is only used at the top-tier events, and only on hard courts.

Where does this leave the umpire? Earlier this year, in one of his scathing post-match appraisals of Bernardes in Miami, Kyrgios expressed a view that is gaining ground: “By the way, it’s all electronically done now. So you’re actually doing nothing apart from calling the score, which any tennis fan could do. Sit in the chair and just say ‘15-love’, ‘Game Kyrgios’, ‘Game Sinner’. That’s all he has to do.”

But that, it turns out, isn’t quite right.

One Winner

The Secret Art of the Family Photo

Let’s say a family of four is going on a weeklong vacation to Hawaii. One of the adults is taking a good-quality dedicated camera, and everyone else will be snapping away with their smartphones. How many pictures should the family aim to end up with?

Consider the possibility that a reasonable number is eight. Why so few? Because life is full, and pictures accrue. The events of life come tumbling along, and the photos pile up, like the days and the hours do. The more family pictures you amass over time without editing or “organizing” them—without keywording, without making the hard decisions about which are the best and most essential—the more chaotic, dispiriting, disorganized, unlabelled, unsearchable, and jumbled the great mass will be, and the less well any given one of them will function for its purpose. Surfeit adds up to failure; selectivity leads to success.

This isn’t to say that you should take only a few pictures. On the contrary, an open secret of photography is that good photographers shoot more and show less. You might have to take five hundred pictures in Hawaii to get eight truly good ones—and, even then, getting those eight good ones won’t be easy. You can’t just shoot indiscriminately—pursuing the strategy photographers call “spray and pray”—and get what you want. You’ll have to be purposeful as you collect the raw material for your later edit. This requires being alert to opportunities and sensitive to what family members will really want to remember. You also have to be perceptive about what makes your experience distinctive. Mindless snapping of “the sights” isn’t going to hack it. Dozens of images of marine life beneath a glass-bottomed boat won’t make up for missing the zip line that was the highlight of your ten-year-old’s trip.

The same principle applies when you’re not on vacation. It’s tempting to take—and keep—many photos of birthday parties, picnics, athletic competitions, and so on. But numerous events can be commemorated with a single picture. It just has to be a good one, and to tell enough of the story.

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Thanks for reading. Have a great month,

Clay

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