New Years Eve 2023

My campsite at Lake Texoma — The Johnson Creek Recreation Area that is operated by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. Shot with my iPhone 13 Pro Max.

Today we mark the end of another year. There will be celebrations tonight and probably fireworks. The Girl is not particularly bothered by the fireworks, which is a good thing. So I will not have to be worried about her. When they happen, we will just play around it and she will ignore them.

I am here in Ozark, Missouri with Older Son and DiL. It has been a good visit. He has a couple of days off and will work a short week so we will have a couple more days, and the weekend, to spend together. The weather is cold, but not hard winter (yet). We are able to get The Girl out for walkies and play.

Yesterday we took the cassette from the camper and dumped it. While at Camper World, I asked about a repair for the camper. This is a long story.

The short version is that just west from Albuquerque, NM I blew a trailer tire. It was sudden and unexpected. I had checked them the day before and they were fine. I did not notice anything that morning when I recovered the camper and did my walk-around. One Interstate 40 eastbound, a passing motorist honked just as I noticed the camper was listing to starboard. A glance into the starboard mirrors determined that I had a flat and I watched (as I pulled to the shoulder) the carcass shed from the rim.

This was my first catastrophic tire failure, ever. Fortunately, I brought both a floor jack and a bottle jack along. The floor jack is preferred because it is more stable. But it took a lot of effort to get everything to work.

And then there is the lug wrench. I bought one of those cheap Chinese #$*t cross spinners from Harbor Freight. The sockets are too thick to fit properly into the alloy wheels of the camper. It took a lot of work to get the lugs loose as they were very tight. The jack had to be reset several times and I had to use blocks to get the rim off the ground.

But I got it loose. I retrieved the spare and checked it (again). I had to use a shovel to dig so I could mount the spare. Then I struggled with the lug wrench (again) to get everything tightened up.

This required an hour to get done. I was spent when I finished. I checked the pressure in the tires and then drove to the next exit. I had also discovered that the carcass had ripped the quick disconnect for the exterior grill from the supply hose, so I had turned off the propane (which serves the refrigerator).

I made a few calls looking for a propane repair house. I found one in Albuquerque and headed that way. The tire remained to be dealt with. The clerk at the propane house could not (both physically and by order) get under the camper. So, once again I wriggled under the camper, loosened the hose from the copper supply line, and retrieved it for him.

He went searching for a blind cap while I had the workers refill the propane tank. It took four gallons of fuel. The clerk gave me a fitting that would permit me to turn the propane back on.

I think picked a repair shop from the map and made a phone call. Phil said he was going to run some errands and would come retrieve me.

I waited about 20 minutes and called again. Just as I got off the phone with his office, a big white pickup pulled in and I was greeted by Phil. He led me to their shop and we started looking at the damage.

The wheel tub was gone. One of my spare boots was gone. One of my house shoes was gone. All of the electrics in the starboard side cabinet (where the wheel well was located) were gone or wrapped around the axle behind the brake drum.

In other words, I was F*#$($D. I had no heater, no hot water, and the igniter for the range was out. But, the pump was working so I had water and the range and refrigerator were still working, even if I had to light the range with a match.

Phil and Larry worked very hard to clear the electrics (so I would be safe) and fabricated a temporary wheel tub to keep things dry inside.

That took the remainder of the day and into Thursday morning. I was delayed a day.

But Phil took good care of me. He got me back on the road and I had a workable, if crippled, house. I spent the night in a Hampton Inn and headed out late Thursday morning. We spent the night at the Amarillo, TX KOA (recommended) and proceeded on to Mead, OK on Saturday.

I was able to spend the holiday with Younger Son, DiL, and her family. It was a good visit and well worth the trip.

I spent a couple more days there, got some work done, and then headed for Ozark, MO on Thursday. The goodbyes were hard, as usual. But, God-willing, I will be back for another visit.I got away late, so it was just getting dark when I arrived. We unloaded the few things I needed to sustain us that night, and went inside.

So, here we are in Ozark, MO. I filed an insurance claim and hope that the insurance company will pay for part of the repairs. I was going to do it myself, but in looking at it decided that it might be better to have a technician make the repairs because it looks like diagnosing the electrics might be a challenge and I have plenty of paying work to do.

There is the backstory. The image I captured was of the camper at the JCRE campground. We are safe, warm, and loved here in Ozark, MO. We will celebrate the end of a year and the beginning of another with family.

Life is good. I am grateful.

Daily Image: 29 December 2023 — Posing Sera

I asked for a pose and I got one. Shot with the Fuji X100V using fill flash at f/8 using Reggie’s Portra 400 film recipe.

Here I am in Ozark, Missouri (near Springfield) to spend a little time with Older Son and DiL. The trip from Durant, OK here yesterday was not bad, despite getting a late start. I did run in to some rain along the way, but not heavy rain. The alternate route I chose was a little slower than the fast route. It was a delay of less than a half hour.

I pulled in just after dark. The sun was still reddening the western sky.

What I did notice was that Google Maps insisted on offering me the “faster way” — the way that involved using toll roads. Furthermore, if I did not notice the offer, it would accept it for me.

This default mode of choosing the faster route for me pissed me off. In addition, I am having difficulty adjusting the Google Maps volume on my iPhone. Methinks that Apple does not want me using Google Maps.

In general, the entire Google Maps thing really pissed me off. I do not need nor want my technology making decisions for me. It should be helping me find my way when I choose a path I want to take. Adjusting the announcement volume should be trivial, even if on foreign hardware.

Now I need a cup of coffee. At least I have a nice capture of Sera to look at.

Boxing Day 2023

My youngest sister was born on Boxing Day, the day after Christmas. Today would be her birthday, but she is long gone. She was a talented artist with the afflictions that often come from that kind of mind.

I miss you, sis. Happy Birthday!

Daily Image: 13 December 2023 — The Fox Brewpub

I stopped for food on my way home Monday. Captured with iPhone 13 Pro Max using the standard camera app and no post processing.

The Fox Brewpub has become a favorite restaurant here in Carson City. It is local and the food is better than decent. I have not tried everything on the menu (yet), but have already found a few favorites.

Remainders: 09 December 2023

Smurfette, skating across my SuperNote A5x, shot with the Fujifilm X-T5 and Fujinon 60mm f/2.4 macro lens at f/5.6, SOOC.
  • I am working with a trial version of DxO Photolab 7. It integrates with the NIK tools, which are somewhat legendary in their utility for post processing images.
  • I was pointed to Negative Lab Pro as a tool for post processing color negatives. Some of the digitizing setups I looked at are crazy!
  • Melissa O’Shaunessy is a New York street photographer. This interview with her is interesting enough to post.
  • Maybe someday I will have a view camera.
  • With the new MacBook Pro, I keep having to reset the column width and window width of the Finder. This provides direction on how to make it sticky.
  • It is true that I have a bit of lust for a Bronica S2A medium format (6×6) camera. This review is not helping my jonesing for the system. Although the Hasselblad 500C (and 500C/M) are also suitable objects of lust, the price of a kit is pretty high.
  • This YT video is probably the best introduction to the Hasselblad system that I have seen.
  • Here is another lovely review of the Hasselblad 500 cameras.

All in all, it was a good week. I worked some, I played some, The Girl and I spent a lot of time together, indoors and outdoors. I talked to my family as well. Life is good.

Daily Image: 09 December 2023 — Smurfette

Smurette shot with the Fujifilm X-T5 and the Fujinon 60mm f/2.4 macro at f/2.8 using the Tri-X film simulation with red filtration.

Over the last few weeks I have been watching quite a few videos on YouTube about photographers and photography. A favorite channel is The Photographic Eye run by Alex Kilbee. His videos are all about learning photography and are top shelf.

In a recent video, Alex teaches against the notion that a photographer has to go somewhere, and particularly go somewhere exotic to find photographic material. He then talks about training the photographer’s eye, which is something that resonates with me.

Long, long ago, Wife and I were looking over some photographs that I made. She remarked to me “You see the world differently.” I admit that I was a little flattered at first. But, on further reflection, there was some truth in what she said.

I have referred to the book before, but Robert Foothorap’s book, 35mm Photography, was a favorite book — is a favorite book. It was written in a light, approachable tone and had plenty of his photographs. It is now old and out of print (sadly), but I consider it part of my education as a photographer. The other part being a more experienced amateur photographer who taught me a lot about the technical aspects of shooting and film. But, I digress.

Foothorap and my mentor taught me to look at things. After I bought my Argus-Cosina 35mm SLR, I carried it along quite a lot with a roll of Plus-X or Tri-X loaded. Although I did not always make the shot, I brought the camera to my eye many times to frame and focus the shot. That taught me to see what the camera saw, a bit of three-dimensional space smashed onto a two-dimensional surface (the film).

I learned that I could do the same without the camera… I was training my eyes to see like a photographer. And that brings the story around to what Wife said — I learned to look at the world a little differently.

Although I have had long periods when I was not actively making photographs, I retained that way of looking at the world around me. I remember any number of times looking at something and thinking, “That’s interesting. It might make a good photograph.” This year I started carrying a camera again, quote often. The Fujifilm X100V is an easy carry and makes good images.

But, that was a story-in-a-story… The outer story is about Kilbee’s admonition to look around and see what there is around you, there are many photographs to make if you take the time and energy to see. (And I paraphrase that, but he said as much.)

And so, I noticed Smurfette skating across the top of my multi-port hub. The Fujifilm X-T5 was handy and so was the Fujinon 60mm f/2.4 macro lens. I had a film simulation set and did not bother to change it. I rested my elbows on my desk and made the capture.

Alex Kilbee made a good suggestion. He also suggested an exercise to make 36 images of a subject. In the old days, that would be a 36-exposure roll of 35mm film. It is now just 36 actuations of the shutter of my digital camera. (No, I am not going to shoot film for this exercise.) This sounds like a good exercise to do a few times every week. It will have the side benefit of getting me out of my head and away from my work for an hour.

Thanks Alex and thanks Smurfette! Life is good.

Daily Image: 07 December 2023 — Clouds over Mt. Scott

It was sure windy the afternoon I shot this. Weather was rolling over to Carson Range and put clouds over Mt. Scott. Shot with the Fujifilm X-E2 and Fujinon 28mm f/2.8 at f/8 and post processed in DxO Photolab 7 and NIK Silver Efex Pro.

After a long meeting and a little decompression (and some lunch), I got The Girl out for walkies at Silver Saddle Ranch. It is good we left when we did, because about halfway into our walk, I noticed clouds showing over Prison Hill. Further north, I could tell it was raining in Washoe Valley. The wind was up, gusting hard from the south/southwest.

The incoming weather added some impetus to making progress. I snagged three captures and then the battery in the Fujifilm X-E2 died. I should have known to bring a backup battery. Nonetheless, it felt like rain was coming and so we moved right along.

Even so, The Girl and I played a little. She picked up a huge stick that made me laugh out loud. It was just like all those memes in which a dog picks up a six-foot long stick.

At least she did not run into anything.

And, sure enough, it started raining when we were about five minutes out from the rig. It was good to get in and be dry.

In the end, it was a good outing. I came home with a keeper. We had fun. We got exercise. Life is good.

Daily Image: 06 December 2023 — Old Gate at Silver Saddle Ranch

Gate in the ranch compound, Silver Saddle Ranch. Shot with the Fuji X-E2 and the Fujinon 27mm f/2.8 at f/4. Post processed in DxO Photolab 7 and NIK Silver Efex 6.

I was not really in the mood to do much when we left the house yesterday afternoon. I left the Pentax 645NII kit, the Fujifilm kits, and the pack at home. I was hungry, so we drove by Arby’s for a sandwich (shared). Then we headed for Silver Saddle Ranch to get in a walk.

It was a beautiful fall day in Carson City. The sun was shining with maybe a little high clouds. It was strong enough to make mid-40ºF feel nice with a light cover. There was not a lot of traffic at the gate at 1330h. All of this raised my spirits, especially getting out of the house with The Girl.

What I did bring (besides The Girl), was the little Fujifilm X-E2 with the 27mm f/2.8 pancake lens mounted. This is the smallest digital camera I own1. I have it on a wrist strap, so I can let it dangle when I am busy with The Girl or want both hands free.

I made a few captures as we walked along. I made sure she checked in with me frequently. There were only a couple other walkers that I saw and none crossed paths with us. That made for a really nice walk.

The Girl got frisky a couple of times along the way and we paused to play. Those interactions always raise my spirits, and the did this day.

I grew more cautious as we approached the segment of the trail that has more traffic, but we saw no one. We paused at the ranch compound to look for possible photographs. I noticed this old gate and the light was just about right to bring out the texture in the wood. There was a power pole peeking out above the cross bar, but a judicious adjustment to my point of view hid it from the frame.

I made the capture. I am glad I decided to carry the camera along.

We ended the hike with some more play. She brought a stick and we wrestled over it for a few minutes as we walked.

The drive home was uneventful. The Girl crashed on her bed under my work table. It was a good day. Life is good!

1Well, that is not *exactly* true — I have a Panasonic ZS-40. I used it as a field camera for the Wilson Creek project. Its EVF and image quality make it such that I do not want to use it. Neither a very good. For a slightly larger package, I have better options that are much more enjoyable (and easy) to use.