On my way home from testimony in Sacramento, I stopped in Placerville for a walk around and an early lunch. Placerville is an old gold mining town with a rich history. I really enjoyed the few minutes I spent wandering the streets with my Fuji X100V.
I am reminded that Placerville is not far and The Girl and I could drive over for a day to spend walking around and enjoying the history of the place. I might add this to my list of things to do.
I wandered into a used bookstore. I was reminded of how much I enjoy used bookstores, particularly those that are shoehorned into a cubbyhole like this one is. I wandered through the stacks, not looking for anything in particular. But i was drawn to the orderly-disorderliness of the stacks and thought it might make an interesting black and white image.
So, I made several. I think the Fujifilm X100V is nearly the perfect camera for this sort of shooting. At least, I find that I like the workflow that comes with it.
Back to my rumination… There was a nostalgia and a bit of melancholy that crept into my emotions as I wandered through the little store. Wife and I loved to visit these places. She always came away with an armful of books that were on her list, or by favorite authors. We would pay for her new treasures and off we would go, usually with her nose stuck in one of them not long after we exited the door.
Those were good days and I miss them. In writing this, a bit of the sense of loss returns knowing that those days are now my history. That part of my life is closed and now I am in another part of my life.
This part is good, too. But it is also diminished a bit because Wife no longer shares it with me.
Still, I remain grateful — grateful for that shared life and grateful for the life I have. Many good things are in my life. Life is good.
It has been awhile since I just wrote something. OK, so here goes something…
A part of me would like to ditch WordPress and go back to Textpattern. I developed a weblog format that I really like with Textpattern and ran if for many years. That is, until my hosting service decided they no longer wanted to be a hosting service. I guess me having a grandfathered free account, probably along with many others, might have had something to do with that.
So, the original owner of the hosting service, and developer of Textpattern, stated he would take the servers and honor his obligation.
Well he did, to a point. I was hosted on a unit called Pendrell and it failed catastrophically. There was a lot of back and forth about getting data off the backups. But it never materialized.
I had a backup, but still lost about month’s worth of entries. There was a lot going on in my life in 2013 and my weblog was not the highest priority.
I found another hosting service and setup a WordPress content management system. I never did work out how to migrate my old Textpattern content to the new CMS. There is more than ten-years worth of writing in that archive. I still have the backups.
Now I wonder if it is possible, or even wise, either migrate back to Textpattern (which is now open source and richly maintained) or try to find some help migrating my old Textpatter content to WordPress.
WordPress is probably the most widely used CMS. As such, it is regularly subject to attack. I have had to clean up a couple of times after being hacked.
I think that Textpattern is less susceptible to attack simply because it is not so widely used. I might be wrong. But I really liked my design and it was easy to change colors and header image once or twice a year to spruce it up a little.
I have a lot of content here on my weblog. A lot of it does not see much attention because it is far in the past. I was thinking about this and decided to see if there is a WordPress plugin that will display entries that I wrote on the current date. There is — it is called On This Day by Room34.
It is now implemented on the sidebar of my homepage.
In reviewing my work (after adding the widget to the sidebar), I came across an entry Trolls of the Internet Species. I read it and it is still true today.
Why this rang my bell again, so to speak, is that I watched an interview with Dr. Jordan Petersen a couple of days ago. He was answering questions about psychopathy and mentioned in passing Internet trolls. I do not have a link to the interview (The Telegraph was the channel), but it is definitely worth tracking down and watching.
I like the widget. I still wonder what to do with all of my archived content.
I woke (much too) early this morning, thinking about a report. It is OK — I often wake early when working on something challenging and have ideas for how to progress. I think on them a bit, then do something to distract my mind, and then return to sleep.
My distraction was discovering a set of weekly emails from David duChemin, a Canadian photographer and teacher. I really admire him, not just for his body or work, but because he is a good teacher. In his videos, he comes across as that friendly, caring mentor that you want to spend a lot of time with.
The emails were a string of lessons called The Vision Collective that I subscribed to several years ago. I read the first one, Abstraction. The direction was to create a set of abstract photographs. The assignment lasts a week.
Well, I am to far into the week. But I decided that I would make a few abstract images on walkies today. I should do the same for the next several days. Who cares if I take ten days or two weeks to complete the assignment? I am long past due anyway.
I purposely selected a new lens, a Jupiter 3 50mm f/1.5 rangefinder lens (L39 or M39 mount) from Russia. It has a red Cyrillic P that is supposed to mean a superior coating. The lens is probably about my age, so I do not expect much from the coating. But it is an interesting lens. It looks like it has 10 or 12 aperture blades (lovely). It is pretty fast. It has a good reputation for background blur/bokeh. My instance is in reasonable mechanical and optical condition for its age.
I mounted the lens on my Sony A7Sii and The Girl and I took off down our cul-de-sac. It was late, because I was working, so I expected a little shorter walk than usual. But I also knew she could play in the grass to cool off.
I made a few images and purposefully put some of them out of focus. The lens can make some beautiful soap-bubble bokeh balls. I think these are fun.
We paused where a drainage ditch crosses the old Carson Flume for another set of images. There is some water in the ditch that is not too bad because recent runoff cleared out all the trash. She splashed around a bit while I shot some sunflowers.
We paused again at the Station 51 Park so she could chase ground squirrels and roll in the wet grass. Then we headed home for water and some lunch (for me).
Looking for objects that might make an interesting abstract is an good exercise. I like the one for today. I think tomorrow I will look for something that will work in black and white.
I was browsing my image archive this morning, cleaning up some culls and organizing the directories. I stumbled across this capture of Ki I made seven-years ago. She was on overwatch as I climbed up towards her and she looks so happy. We had so many good times together. She was a great dog, not perfect but neither am I.
I still miss her. We will see each other again and have a big-ol’ play along with all the others.
I am currently busier than a one-armed paper hanger with a backlog of work. I am not complaining; it is a blessing to have work and I am deeply grateful for God’s provision.
I am examining my use of the Internet. I bought my first smartphone, an original iPhone, not long after they were released. My intent was to combine two devices — an iPod and a mobile phone. I thought this might be a smart thing to do. Now, I am not so sure.
As time passed, developers realized they had a substantial handheld computer available. Then came social media1. And, as it is said, the game was on.
I have little use for Facebook. I might have been compulsive about it some years ago. But I am not. I will check sometimes twice a day, usually only once in the even as I settle down. I like to see posts from my friends and family (a limited number of said) and respond to comments on my posts. I do not post a lot. What I do post is links from this weblog and sometimes music from YouTube.
Instagram was wonderful when I first found it. There were lots of content creators, some of them wonderful photographers, and I both enjoyed seeing their art and I learned from it. Then Facebook bought it and the algorithms took over. Now it is a mess of stuff I do not necessarily want to see. But I find myself doomscrolling looking for the dopamine hit when I find something interesting or amusing.
A month or two ago I deleted the app from my iPhone. When I thought I was over my addiction I reinstalled the app. Meh… nope, I am not over my addiction. Worse, the algorithm seems to be biased towards the base and I have no interest in that.
Now, enter a book by Cal Newport, Digital Minimalism. I am not sure where the connection occurred, but I found myself with a sample on my Kindle and started reading it. I am the point where I am considering (for the second time) selling my iPhone and buying a Light Phone 2. I will have more to say about that later.
I am not interested in what the Facebook algorithms want me to see, mostly. I am not interested in spending more time than necessary with the Internet. It can be a useful tool, but it is more likely to be a tremendous time sink that provides little value for the time invested.
Reenter Cal Newport’s book. Once again, I deleted the IG app. I deleted the Reuters new app. I deleted several other apps from my iPhone. I no longer keep a browser tab open to my YT subscription feed. I plan to cull my YT subscription feed, when I go back to watching YT again. (However, I would note that I generally do not doomwatch YT videos. Plus, videos that are more than about 15 minutes in length do not get watched either.)
I did not delete my Vero app from my iPhone. I DO NOT doomscroll Vero. My Vero feed is exactly what I want it to be — those photographers that make images I want to see. It is not a problem and I check it only once or twice a day.
I expect to finish Digital Minimalism next week sometime. I began my digital detox this week. I plan to stick to it for a month. There might be other sites and apps that I delete, now that I deleted several that I used too much.
Why am I doing this? I have written here many times before, but I want to be more intentional about my use of the Internet. Music, photography, reading, and writing are far more satisfying than having Instagram pushing titties at me2. So, it will be an interesting experiment to see if I can reset myself and get to the point where I waste much less time on the Internet and spend more time with creative work that will be so much more satisfying.
1Or as I often call it, antisocial media. 2I did say that the IG algorithms seem to be biased towards the base.
This old cottonwood was my subject a few times over the last week or so. Some of those captures were published here or other places. I commented a couple of times on Facebook about this tree, and posted an image or two.
Yesterday (Friday) morning The Girl and I walked early because I had a bunch of meetings. We did pause here or there for an image or to sniff or to pee or to just be. When we passed through the ranch compound I noticed a brush pile near the old cottonwood. As we approached, I saw tractor tracks.
I knew what that meant.
Sure enough, when we got closer, I saw the brushpile was the remnants of the green part of the old cottonwood. I noticed it was turning yellow and that meant nearing its end. I suppose it was in the irrigation ditch (the Mexican ditch) and the rancher cleaned it up.
That is the nature of things. We get old. We get broken. We die. Then someone comes along and cleans us up and returns us to the earth from which we came.
This broken old cottonwood hung on while it could. But it had to go. It was going anyway.
I bought a Fujifilm X100S “point-and-shoot” camera a few years. There was a lot of buzz about the X100V (two generations later than mine) at the time, but I did not want to buy new technology if I was not going to use it. I needed some experience with this type of camera.
So I bought a camera a couple of generations older at a lower price. I wanted to get a sense of how it worked and whether it would make images that I like. In part, it had to fit my approach to photography.
I am not a professional photographer. I am a dedicated amateur and make captures that interest me in some way. The subject has to be visually appealing, either because of geometry, or contrast, or even the nature of the subject.
I shot the X100S for a while and then got distracted by other things. One of those was amateur radio. I jumped into that hobby with both feet and my wallet. Hah!
But then work picked up (a lot) and I do not have time to go out in the field and spend several hours setting up a station and playing radio. I need to keep after the project work to meet my deadlines. Now, I know this will not last forever and I will find myself in a period of lighter workload. But, in the meantime, I noted (and have written in this weblog) that I need things in my life that nourish my soul. And so I picked up my cameras again because I can carry a camera when I am out doing something else and spend a few minutes working a subject that I encounter.
So, reenter the Fuji X100S. It is a relatively1 simple camera in the classic rangefinder style. It is reminiscent of the Leica rangefinders that some of the best street photographers used way back before I was a kid. It has a fixed focal length lens that is equivalent to a 35mm focal length (in a full frame camera). The lens is good and fast (f/2). It is sharp enough wide open. The sensor is excellent, even given it is several generations old.
The X100S lacks a couple of things I would really like to have. One is the upgraded sensor. The second is WiFi so I can transfer images directly to my iPhone (for obvious reasons).
However, the X100V is impossible to find. As a result, used cameras sell for several hundred bucks over new price! That is just crazy.
I called the shop where I bought my Fuji X-T5 and asked my salesman about this. His response was “It’s a social media thing. But you don’t want one of those. It will feel plasticky compared to your X-T5.”
He did not know I have an X100S so I have a good idea what the feel is like. It is not at all plasticky. It is a different camera than the X-T5 with a different use case. That is a use case that works me when I do not want to carry a complete kit, but want something better than my iPhone2.
Well, they just lost me as a customer. I do not know why a salesman would say such a thing about a solid piece of equipment.
Fuji Rumors indicates that the announcement of the X100V successor is about a year out. It will probably be nearly two years before we see a new camera. So, I will watch and wait for an X100V to come available at a reasonable price. I decided that I want the upgrade.
Update: I put in a Gixen snipe on a X100V that I won. It has one small ding on the top cap. That does not matter to me; I do not need a perfect camera, particularly one that will be carried in the field. I had to pay more than list for it, but not a king’s ransom, as a friend put it. It is now in my inventory and I am learning to use it.
There will be more about the X100V later. It is quite an evolution from the X100S.
1Simple is a relative term, particularly as applied the the X100 cameras. They can be set to be a point-and-shoot camera by turning all the dials to A and then, well, pointing and shooting. The cameras automation is quite capable. A more knowledgeable photographer will operate the camera by choosing which parts to automate and which to control. That is definitely not simple.
2I know that iPhone 13 Pro Max has a sophisticated camera. And it does very well for the appropriate use case. But its control over depth of field is limited. And it does not handle like a real camera. I still use it, but there are times I want a real camera.
On walkies this morning, I pulled myself out of my head many times. There is so much work at the moment that I keep being drawn back in to thinking instead of being. One of the reasons I love walking The Girl and carrying a camera is that both help me get out of my head and into my space.
The Girl does so because she requires attention to keep her from being so distracted she gets into trouble or roams too far out. I do not mind her hunt for critters in the sagelands… provided I keep sight of her and she does not get involved with Jacob-no-shoulders.
The camera helps me by directing my attention to things that might make an interesting photograph. This requires a different kind of attention that The Girl. It is also something that nourishes my soul. Actually, so does minding The Girl, but in different ways.
The work here is to stay out of my head. I have a tendency, some might say a proclivity, to overthink problems I am working on. It is particularly true when I have multiple projects active and there are problems that need solutions.
But, I do not want to spend all of my energy working. There are other things in life that are important too and The Girl is up near the top of that list.
This morning, in particular, I had a great struggle pushing the engineering problems out of my head and bringing my attention to my surroundings while out on our walk. Although I got out late (for this time of year) and the sun was quite warm, it was still a beautiful morning to walk and The Girl is so entertaining to watch.
The result was a partial success. I found myself lost in thought several times (too many) and consciously brought my attention back to the here and now1. It was difficult and each time I noticed I was looking at my feet (or the trail directly in front of my feet) and was oblivious to my surroundings I had to look up, shake my head (to clear the cobwebs), and pay attention.
We paused at the ranch compound and I noticed the ranch hands are moving alfalfa bales from the field to the hay bin. So we stepped into the yard, which made The Girl quite happy for new hunting grounds, and I paused at the haystack. There I found some possibles that I liked and made a few captures.
In the end, I chose this one. The image was made with the Fuji X100S at f/4. I did a little more post-processing on this one in Iridient Developer, converting it to black and white and making a small adjustment to the contrast.
Over the last eight years, there is not telling how many times I walked past this sign for the Nevada Department of Transportation. I know Ki and I walked past it many times on our daily sojourns. Now Sera and I are walking past it as I give her foot a rest from the rough sand and sharp brush of the sagelands.
A couple of weeks ago I started carrying a camera (other than my iPhone) on a daily basis. This was written about before. So long as the carrying of said camera nourishes me, I will continue to do it.
I am sure that not every outing will be fruitful. My Instagram feed is full of these images from daily outings. Much of it is not very good work, but it represents a substantial body of work. There are years’ worth of images on my IG feed. It is a pity that FB ruined IG so.
I started posting on VERO again a few days ago. VERO is much like IG was before FB bought it. Then (and there) I followed a double-handful of other photographers and creative types. Every morning there was some joy at seeing what other interesting people were creating.
Now I find it a doomscroll — looking for the dopamine hit from finding something interesting or amusing or odd. I do not really want to leave IG, because there are people there I follow that are doing interesting things. But the signal-to-noise ratio is poor and I am wasting part of my day every day looking at things I do not really care to see in order to find the very few I want to see.
I do not know if it is possible to offload my images in a stream. If I could, I would be very tempted to reclaim my work from IG and close my account.
But, I ruminate. Today’s image is a reflection on the many times my companions and I walked past the NDOT entry sign. The lot is nearly empty on weekends, when the workers are off doing their own thing. It gives Sera and I a chance to take in the space and for me to be aware of anything interesting to capture with my camera.
This morning’s walk was a good walk, if a little late and a little warm. The Girl enjoyed the hunt for ground squirrels and the wet grass. I enjoyed the chance to ruminate on all those times Ki and I walked a good part of this route.
Tomorrow we head out to Summit Lake, Nevada for field work. I will be in the field most of the week collected topographic data (surveying). There will be some different things to photograph and I will have Internet service in the evenings at the research station. I hope to post a few images while out there.