Thursday, December 31, 2015

End of the year

It’s traditional to do a post about the best things you shot or did at the end of the year. I’m not doing that. I think the best things I shot this year are being saved for a reveal at the end of a project in the new year. You’ll see them soon enough.

Some people do resolutions, but I’ve never been one for those either.

But here are the directions I’ll be going in 2016:

I’ll be rebuilding my 4×5 camera. I need to replace the ground glass and mounts, and decide if I want to retain the focal plane shutter. I need to remove the rangefinder as well. Then I need a proper tripod to use with it. Once those are done, I’ll be on the road with it more.

My Canon 7 will be over my shoulder more in the coming year, and I’ll be further back in to the mountains to find places to use it.

shoot-490I purchased a Contax body for the first time, and it’s going out with my M42 lenses on it. There will be more wide angle shots from high places as a result. I’ll be investing in some Zeiss glass, and want to use it to finish a portrait project.

I’d like to shoot more portraits in the coming year. I find them difficult, so that is why I want to do them.

This coming year, like all of them, has promise. I can’t wait to see what it brings.

Happy Hogmanay, sassenachs! Lang may yer lum reek!

End of the year

Saturday, December 26, 2015

Word bashing

I’ve never identified myself as a writer. When I was in J school, I was systemically disabused of all pretense of art when writing. The purpose of writing was just bashing noun and verb together to cover the five Ws and move on. Deadlines didn’t allow for more, and writing with any semblance of art drove editors in to apoplexy. Head down, crank it out, move on.

It was always vaguely unsatisfying. There was never enough time to ever get anything right, or inject any humanity.

But then, I wasn’t writing. I was bashing words together.

I’ve been undoing that learned behavior, slowly but surely. I don’t know if I’ll ever be able to write artfully. But I want to quit bashing words together.

shoot-489I’ve been giving myself permission to write more than 300 words about any given thing. I’m moving above writing for the sixth grade reader. I’m trying new things, and seeing how it goes. And I think I’m getting there.

So this coming year, I’m committed to cranking out at least eighty thousand words on one story, telling it as well as I can, and finishing it. That’s an intimidating number of words. So I’m just thinking of it as 500 words I can squeeze in to a lunch break while I scarf a sandwich every day during the work week. Those will add up over time, and I still get weekends to go shoot and walkabout.

That’s the plan, anyway. Bash enough words together that maybe I can move beyond it. Tell something worth reading, interesting enough to everyone involved to give it life. It’ll need to be interesting to keep me bashing it together, as well.

When it’s done, then what? I’ll have to try it again, of course. You don’t get good at anything just doing it once. What will I do with it when I’m done? I’ll worry about that when I get there.

If I can stop word bashing and get closer to actually writing, I’ll be happy with that.

Word bashing

Friday, December 25, 2015

Christmas comes this time each year

Happiest of Holidays to you all.

shoot-487May your Christmas be as good as mine. Tools to fulfill your dreams are the best gift of all. Not an ends to themselves, but a means. A doorway to future happiness and unending joy, making your life better than it was and pointing the way to how good it will be.

I’m already looking forward to what I can create in the new year, and having good tools is part of the joy of doing it.

Happy Christmas!

Christmas comes this time each year

Saturday, December 19, 2015

Simple pleasure

There is a simple pleasure in just walking around with a camera. No real goal or destination, just an amble with a roll of film loaded and a good set of hiking boots on.

shoot-483You don’t need to take much on one of these hikes. A bit of something to eat, because I don’t seem to be able to go for a walk of any real distance without wanting to snack on something. Although, bonus points to you if you can end the walking route with a spot that serves good eats. Pizza and beer are always good eats.

I don’t carry a lot of gear on a walk about. Simplicity is liberating. Just one camera, just one lens, just a couple of rolls of film. That’s all. Simple pleasures become less so when you clutter them up with too much crap and too many gizmos. Which is why I like to walkabout with cameras like my Petri 2.8. Fixed lens, simple construction, even the shutter speeds are limited. Complexity is not what you want when in pursuits of simple pleasures.

shoot-484I won’t even take a pack most of the time. If I’m out in the back country I’ll need to hike a bit more gear, obviously. But for most of these I’ll just be happy in being away and among the trees for a while, so I tend to stay a little closer to home. Tramp along with no expectation of what sort of pictures I’ll be taking. Well, I’ll expect those trees to be in it, but that’s just me. I’ve always preferred the company of trees to people and that’s just getting stronger as I age. But beyond that, I’ll just go see what I can see, and whatever appeals to me is what I’ll take home.

Of course, if you have good company on one of these walks, that’s even better. Someone who can come up with a good subject and talk about it. Someone who can equally be happy in silence while you listen to a stream traverse rocks.

The best part of these simple walks is they are a sum of individual simple things. Each one of the things a joy in and of themselves, combined in a wonderful simple creation.

Simple pleasure

Saturday, December 12, 2015


This time of year, I definitely do not take the outside for granted. I am always very appreciative of the time I do have outside.

Take right now for instance. At the beginning of the week, I thought it would be a good day for a bicycle ride. Instead, I’m dealing with a rather hard-core chest cold and it is snowing pretty hard. So I’m indoors, for the second day. Not my usual thing.

shoot-480Even during the work day, I manage to get outside and wander around. Most of the time it’s pleasant. Sometimes less so. But it needs to be done for my sanity. Weekends, this is even more so the case. Today, the weather and the germs have won. But it’s still a valuable experience. It will make me more appreciative when I do get back out.

My world shrinks a little in the winter. It always has. Treeline expeditions up in the mountains stop. Long rides grind to a halt. More local hikes and bikes happen. There’s not as much light for shooting while on these adventures, so there are fewer new photos as well. But when all of those variables come together, and I’m out trooping around or pedaling, and the shots come out great afterwords, all is right in the world. I sit back after developing the film and eyeballing the negatives with a deep sense of peace, very appreciative of the day.

shoot-482It’s easy to take days like that for granted during the summer. They’re lined up one after another for months. The only thing that breaks them up is the occasional storm and having to go to work. Which is why I tend to cherish them more during the winter. In a way, the economists were right. Scarcity does increase the value.

Today, snow and hacking my lungs up have sidelined me. But I’ll be better in a few days, and I’ll be heading out for another beautiful day to be appreciative of.


Saturday, December 5, 2015

Staying on center

It’s been a hard few weeks in the world. A pretty heavy bombardment of bad things happening. Stress levels are pretty high, to boot. I’ve been touchy, off center, and hard to deal with as a result. That’s not helping anything.

Sometimes you just need to do something that makes you feel better to take you back to centered. The only time I’ve felt even slightly on center this past week, I wandered out of the office and away to take pictures.

shoot-477It wasn’t very far, just a few blocks of walking. It didn’t take long, I managed to do it on my lunch hour after I ate, but it helped. I need to walk and shoot to stay centered. Sometimes I seem to forget this fact, and life is less pleasurable as a result. So last week, I wandered the streets and took pictures of places I live near and work near and felt better. Head cleared, I could find center again, and go back to being the sort of person you want to be around.

shoot-478I think there’s a lesson in here. I think it could be time to spend a little more time out of the office when I can shoot. It’s hard during winter, when the sun is down before I get out of the office and not up for long before I go in. Soon enough, it won’t be up before I go and long down when I leave. Those months, it’s hard to be productive. But I will try. I think it’s time to pull off some of those banked vacation days from the shelf and put them to good use.

Unused, they’re not doing me any good. Used to keep centered, they make me a better, happier, more tolerable person, and that doesn’t help just me, but everyone around me as well.

So I think I’ll be spending more time out taking pictures, cold be damned. If things are going to keep going like they are, I’ll need to be centered more than I need to be warm.

Staying on center