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.
I am working my way through Cal Newport’s Digital Minimalism. I picked it up again after I quit reading again a few weeks ago. But it is an important book for me to read. I want to finish it. I want to learn from Newport’s thoughts and experience. I want to spend less time on technology and more time doing things that nourish my soul.
The latter is something that has been in focus for a few weeks/months now. I took a sabbatical from Instagram several months ago, went back, caught myself doomscrolling, and deleted that IG app again. After my first IG sabbatical, I found and started reading Digital Minimalism and got to the point I was convinced that there are certain appetites I should not indulge1. I also deleted the Reuters new app from my iPhone, but left it on my iPad.
I check FB once or twice a day. I want to see if my kids posted anything, commented on one of my postings (I cross-post my weblog entries there), or if I received any DMs that need a response. Then I close the browser window.
This addiction is designed by the tech companies that produce the devices and the software that runs on them. IG, FB, X, and the others are all designed to provide that temptation to keep on scrolling. (Ooohhhhh… a sparkly!)
I now see that I will likely need to limit my YouTube access as well. I do not want to do away with YT; it is too valuable a resource to eliminate entirely. But I need to eliminate my use of it to occupy my mind with a nearly endless supply of fluff. It is not exactly doomscrolling, but it is close enough that I do not want to do it.
I usually check the Reuters news app on my iPad before I sleep. I spend a few minutes scanning the headlines and then reading a little if I want to know more. But I do not spend a lot of time on it.
I started noticing this addiction to our devices a couple-three years ago (maybe a bit more). Everywhere I went, I see people glued to the little glowing screen. They notice nothing of what is going on around them and see none of the beauty in the world. They are looking for that next dopamine hit, that “like” on a post or comment on a FB page.
When I visit my kids I see them doing the same thing. We sit in the living room, the three of us focused on the little glowing screen. I stopped much of that the last time I was there.
Instead, I got out my Kindle and worked on reading. I have a couple of books going on, usually. One will be a novel and the other something to learn from.
The Kindle has its own issues. There are too many books on my Kindle. I collect lots of samples of books I want (or think I want) to read. I usually push finished titles back to the cloud.
Yet, there are still too many books on my Kindle. I sometimes get stuck in a loop trying to decide what to read.
That is not a good thing.
I might need to go through my Kindle and delete the bulk of the content there. But that is another problem and another topic. At least I do not doomscroll through the Kindle. At least, I do not do that yet.
I made the capture Sunday afternoon at the restaurant in Bodine’s Casino. I went there after The Girl and I had a great hike out at Silver Saddle Ranch. I was hungry and could not decide whether I wanted a bar-burger or a Reuben sandwich.
The Reuben won the decision. Bodine’s has a decent sandwich. So we drove out there. I parked the rig in the sun and cracked the windows for The Girl. I went into the restaurant.
Yes, I had my iPhone with me. I did a quick check of email and then checked my open search lists on fleaBay. I then set my phone down on top of my hat. I decided not to use the phone as a distraction.
I noticed the people around me. There were several of us singletons there for a late lunch or early supper. I watched a couple in a window booth taking to each other. A woman across the aisle from me was working on her meal. Then I noticed the woman sitting alone in a window booth. She was fixated on her smartphone.
She made one of the captures I shot with the MPro app on my iPhone. The MPro app is a black and white camera application that only makes black and white images. It also produces high quality TIFF files as its output.
As I watched her, I thought about my own struggle with the digital black hole. I think I need to start carrying a small kit that has my Kindle, my journal (and a couple of pens), and a camera in it. The iPhone can serve as a decent camera, but I prefer a purpose-built tool for photography. But the iPhone will do in a pinch.
In the end, I believe that such a strong connection to a smartphone is not healthy. It takes us away from being present in the moment and in the place. It denies us the opportunity to appreciate the beauty of our surroundings and the breath of life.
I think there is nothing morally or ethically wrong with use of the devices. But I think they present a risk to intellectual and spiritual health. I have decided to be less connected to my device and spend that time on things that nourish my soul, such as reading, looking around when I am outdoors, interacting with The Girl, and my inner spiritual life.
The iPhone will be there. But it is the servant, not the master.
The week was busy with work and recovery from being in the field so long. Yes, I am still recovering from that. My other work is so far behind that I am only beginning to catch up. But I should be caught up in a couple more weeks.
The Girl and I were walking Thursday about noon. We had a little rain and that softened the sand burrs that plague her on the trails at Silver Saddle Ranch. So she is enjoying the walks more.
Her toe is healing, although she still messes with it too much. I might decide to call her Sera of the three toes when I am feeling a bit ornery. She does not care1. We are also taking a little longer path that adds a quarter mile to our walk. Both of us need the exercise.
I also like to cross the ditch at one of the irrigation structures and walk along the ditch to Mexican Dam. If I time it right, or the weather is less appealing, there is little traffic on the Mexican Ditch Trail and we can get more than three miles in. Plus I get to shoot the Dam.
It was a good hike and a good day. Life is good.
1I often call her Sera Sue because I like the alliteration and rhythm.
I am working on the hydrology for one of my projects. The weather is cooler and more windy, so I do not want to get out as early.
Once I made some progress on project work and the markets, The Girl and I headed out to walk Silver Saddle Ranch. The weather today was cooler than yesterday, but also less rainy. Still, I could see rain to the north in Washoe Valley and behind Mt. Scott. A curl of rain clouds pulled south to the east of Mt. Scott, but did not seem threatening.
The Girl continues to worsen the condition of her toe with the missing nail. If I am distracted for just a moment, I will catch her licking. So, she slept in the cone-of-shame last night, wore it all morning, walked without it (but limping), and is now wearing the cone. She will get to sleep in it again tonight, although I might remove it when we sit on the sofa to relax and snuggle.
I carried the Fuji X100V with me again today. Last night I read a bit on Ritchie Roesch’s website, Fuji X Weekly about those film simulations he recommends. He has a list of seven because most of the recent Fujifilm cameras have seven custom slots. I am already using several of his recommendations, but I have some empty slots to fill and will add his recommendations. Then I will use them.
Today I used Reggie’s Portra 400 simulation, which is intended to produce results similar to the Kodak Portra 400 film stock. One of the things Reggie did was to set Auto White Balance instead of using the Daylight balance of the regular Portra simulation. This adds a little to the flexibility of the simulation. There are other details as well, but I consider them relatively minor.
I came home with a couple of decent images. That is, images that I like. I make images for me — that is, I am the only one who needs to like them. If others like them, that is good. I appreciate the acknowledgement.
Alex (The Photographic Eye) recently did a video on the subtle impact of social media on the photographs we produce. This resonated because I left Instagram a couple of months ago (again) because I was tired of doomscrolling through things I did not want to see to find those that I do. On my IG account, I sometimes posted photographs I knew would gather more “likes” partly as an experiment. It is a nice dopamine hit to see that my work is appreciated.
What Alex made me think about is the who and why of my photography. It is good for me to do something creative and that is why I do it. The photographs are for me, because there was something about the subject that attracted my eye (and my mind).
So, what I share here and also on FB are images that somehow spoke to me and caused me to pause, find a composition, and make the capture (usually several). I do not always like the end result, but I usually learn something in the process.
OK, so I do indulge a little and share a lot of Doggo images. Those are for fun (and I do love the subject) and for my dog-loving friends.
So, I like this capture of Mt. Scott and the weather over Carson City. The fall colors are mostly gone, with just a few hangers-on. We’ll soon start to see snow and some gray days and certainly cooler temperatures. But I still love the high desert and I am good so long as the sun is shining.
It has been a minute or two. After six weeks in the field overseeing a construction project, I am no longer leaving the house at 0-dark-early and returning at 1700h. That was a string of long days and a lot of physical activity.
I am recovering and resting. The last couple of days were spent catching up with things left undone. I still have a lot to do. There is also a slug of analytical work to get done and that will take a few weeks.
It is good, though. The work is good. Then I might catch a break before the next batch of projects start up. Or it might be that work slows for awhile as the consulting business has an ebb and flow.
Anyway, The Girl and I are enjoying the cooler weather. With the cool weather the risk of snakes is much reduced. Soon they will all be in their winter dens and will be of no concern until the weather warms in the spring.
I am carrying a camera again. I have a few images that need review and processing. I have a couple of new lenses to try. I want to get out and do some radio as well.
I have been very busy the last week and the upcoming weeks will be no different, I expect. But, today, The Girl and I got out to walk one of my favorite trails near Spooner Summit along US50.
Soon the snow will come and walking there will be more difficult. I might buy a pair of snowshoes and learn to do that. The Girl might have to have snowshoes for doggos, too.
But this morning, the trail was lovely and the couple who got there before me were far enough ahead that it was as if I was along (with The Girl, of course) on the trail.
I carried the Fujifilm X-E4 with the Fujinon 35mm f/1.4 mounted today. That is a marvelous lens that is fast, plenty sharp, and renders out of focus areas nicely. In fact, I think I see a hint of bokeh balls in some of the images.
I often set the lens for f/8 and just run it. However, for some images I will open up the aperture to reduce the depth of field and isolate the subject a bit. But not for this image.
I really like textures. The granite of the Sierra Nevada provides plenty of subject matter. The iage is straight out of camera. #SOOC
The walk was good. I came away with a frame the pleases me. The Girl is tired (so a happy dog).
The Girl and I always enjoy our walks. But when the fall comes, the weather cools and our walks get even better. She does not burn out as quickly and loves all the fall scents.
I love the way the light changes as the sun falls in the sky. The quality of the light is less harsh, even during the midday hours. As the leaves change, the light is filtered not by the green of summer foliage, but by the warmer colors of the change. The yellows and reds warm up the light and the change excites my eyes. I almost always carry a camera, but I am really motivated in the fall.
Yesterday morning did not disappoint me. As we walked one of our favorite trails along the Carson River, the late-morning sunlight filtered through the gorgeous yellows of the changing cottonwoods. I was happy that I carried the Fuji X-H1 with the Fuji 18-135mm lens with me. That camera is a game-changer for me. The lens is one that has been in my kit from early in my Fuji experience. It is one of the better walk-around lenses that I have used. It certainly did not disappoint me Sunday morning. I came home with at least a handful of keepers.
I think this one is one of them. It reminds me that the time moves on, the seasons change — those outdoors as well as those inside us. The last few weeks challenged me. A project I am working on is a significant technical challenge. The struggle is reverse engineering a hydrologic system to determine how what happened came to be. The time pressure to get through the analysis is a secondary challenge and can add significantly to the pressure.
But, I think I have the system mostly figured out. A change in the schedule is taking some of the pressure off. I was blessed this weekend to have a few hours to just breathe. That breath was a most welcome relief and a reminder that the seasons change. Projects come and go, like the seasons. But there is more to life than just the work and the time outdoors this weekend was another reminder of that. I am blessed to live where I do and I am thankful.
Early this year, while Older Son was visiting and helping me around the house, we took The Girl out for a long walk along the Carson River. We staged from Riverview Park, which is at the end of Fifth Street on the east side of Carson City. The weather was a beautiful winter day. There was plenty of water in the river, although nowhere near flood stage. That meant all the wetlands were, well, wet. The wetland wildlife were out and active on that beautiful winter day.
We came across this beautiful Great Egret, (Ardea alba) working the ponds in one of the wetland areas. I had only my Olympus OM-D M10 and a Wollensak cine lens with me. The lens was long enough, but I couldn’t get the capture I wanted. I was left with, well, only feathers.
The Girl waited patiently while Older Son and I made our captures. When she detected that we were done, she started toward the water, accelerating as she got closer. The egret watched her from his watery perch. (I knew she wouldn’t get into the water.) When she got close to the water’s edge, she bounced and uttered a single “Woof!” The Egret calmly flew off a few yards, settled back down, ruffled his feathers, and continued fishing.
Since that time The Girl and I have seen this bird, or another like it, several times on the river, fishing. If I’m in a blind, then the bird goes on without noticing me. They have very sharp eyes, however, and will spot me (or The Girl).
A couple of weeks ago I had the Fuji X-H1 and the Fuji 100-400mm super telephoto zoom with me. The Egret was perched on Mexican Dam. The Great Blue Heron flew away as I approached the dam. The Egret watched me for a bit, permitted me to make a few captures, and then flew a few yards away to a sandbar. There it continued watching me. I made a few more captures but didn’t really like any of them.
I like birds quite a lot. They fascinate me. I like being along the river, too. The new equipment provides me some capability I did not have. It has opened some of the world for me to capture, like this Egret and the Heron.
Over the last couple of years, I have watched these beautiful Northern Harriers work the sageland and wetland areas of Riverview Park in Carson City. It took me a couple of attempts to identify the raptor, but I finally got a view of the bird’s head and with the aid of the Merlin application from the Cornell School of Ornithology I made the identification.
They are now easy for me to identify — that big white patch on the rump is one giveaway. The second is their mode of hunting is to soar about ten feet over the surface listening for mice.
With the acquisition of the red-badge Fujifilm 100-400mm super zoom lens, I now have the capability to capture an image of these birds. They generally do not allow me to get too close, although they will sometimes glide just overhead, teasing me.
On this particular morning, I saw the harrier glide over the field. I made a couple of attempts to capture an image but was not satisfied with my attempts.
However, the bird soon began a climb, having caught a thermal. I watch it rise up and up until it was a couple hundred feet overhead. It soared in large circles, overwatching its hunting grounds.
I stood there a few minutes, knowing that the bird was not hunting but simply flying.
Many of the animals encountered during my life have shown an intelligence that is impressive. They do not simply eat, sleep, and procreate. They interact socially among their species and sometimes others. They play. They do things that please them. Otherwise, why would they waste the energy to move from place to place?
The best teacher of all is The Girl. She showed me there is intelligence without language. She often talks to me, speaking volumes without making a sound. I get it.
As I stood there on the trail, watching the harrier soaring far above me, I got it. This was not about a hunt, or about turf protection; the soaring was simply for the joy of it.
The Girl and I spend many hours walking along the Carson River on the Silver Saddle Ranch. One morning we met Jarrod (I hope I got his name right) working on the trail. He was clearing the weeds that are no longer kept down by ranch traffic. He had paused for a few minutes to clear the radiator of his rig from the accumulation of dust resulting from the brush hog mounted on the front of the vehicle.
I learned that Carson City received proprietorship of the ranch from BLM some time ago. It should remain as open space in perpetuity. Carson City spends part of its resources maintaining these areas and I really appreciate it. As I said, The Girl and I spend a lot of our time out along the river and it is one of our favorite places.
I appreciate public servants like Jarrod, who take both their work and their relationship with the public seriously. He was willing to spend a few minutes talking about the work and the place. It was a good visit and I am thankful that he agreed to pose for an informal portrait next to his rig.