Jimmy’s Camera

Jimmy's Camera

I recently read a weblog post (on 500px) about contemplative photography. Much of my photography would be classified as contemplative photography simply because my eyes are drawn to certain types of subjects.

While sharing a late afternoon with a friend (and the Girl, of course), he went into the coffee haus for a few minutes for drink refills. He left his camera on the table. The Konica Hexanon 35-70/3.5 that was mounted on my Sony NEX-5N has a “macro” setting. (N.B. it seems every lens has a “macro setting” anymore, whether they are truly macro lenses or not.) I slipped the lens into what I would call close-focusing model and framed the shot.

If what I read in Kimberly’s weblog entry applies, I would call what I do contemplative photography. I allowed my eyes to wander about the scene until something caught my attention. The camera, such a big part of my life, was the catcher. So, I made the image.

Later, thinking on what transpired, I realized that the camera and Jimmy’s friendship, have become a central feature of my life. In my old weblog (which I hope to archive here on this host eventually) I wrote about meeting Jimmy when I responded to a Craigslist listing about vintage lenses. I had just bought my Sony NEX-5N and had learned about the adapters that would permit mounting manual focus lenses on a digital camera. This was something new to me and something I found interesting for multiple reasons.

I emailed and we struck up a conversation that grew into a deep friendship. Wife was in the middle of her treatment and I needed an outlet. My Girl, my camera, and my friendship with Jimmy became that outlet.

Now I test lenses for Jimmy and buy a few interesting things from him. It’s part of his business to buy and sell vintage glass. I’m totally OK with that and have no problem doing business with a friend. I love to play with lenses and my NEX and I learn something nearly every time I try something different. I learn something nearly every time Jimmy and I meet for coffee. Plus I find going to Reno a couple of times a month is good for me. I am enjoying the river area of town and all the different folks I see there.

Pierced OneThat gives me opportunity to practice street photography. I love to watch people (Wife’s favorite pass time was people-watching), only I prefer to watch them with a camera. The informal portrait is one of my favorite shots. I especially love to catch people when they reveal something of themselves in an expression, or a pose, or an elocution when they are talking about something. These things fascinate me about our non-verbal communication and the images, when I do it right, say something.

Two-years ago I thought I was done with photography. I had a Canon PowerShot G11 that I used to capture snapshots. I was not using my Nikon D100 and all that expensive glass. It was just too much to carry around without purpose. So, I sold it all and tried to make do with the G11. Even with some auxiliary glass of good quality, I just couldn’t get the image quality I like.

I started using my iPhone more and more. The image quality from my iPhone, while not quite as good as the G11, was good enough and I always have my iPhone with me. I was about done with cameras.

On a lark and having seen the Sony display at the local Best Buy, I decided to try one more time. I bought a Sony NEX-5N with the kit zoom and added the 55-210/(slow) telephoto zoom. As I learned more about the Sony mirrorless design, I realized that I had had a serendipity. The combination of APS-C sensor size and focus-peaking came together for me and I got the IQ I wanted, especially when I returned to my love of prime lenses.

The zooms are just alright. They aren’t anything special, but they work reasonably well in good light. Where this camera shines is with the better primes (I only have a couple of the good primes) and vintage glass. The IQ of the sensor is very good at ISO 800 and quite usable at 1600. I’ll have a lot more to write about this, but that’s another story.

My family, my work and the social support there, my dog, my friend Jimmy, photography, and music were orchestrated by God to see me through the dark times of 2012 and 2013. I can see some of that now, in hindsight. I could not see it then.

The real story here is all about Jimmy’s Camera. I believe this is one of God’s small acts where a gentle nudge (a serendipity) put me in a place to revisit one of the things I love to do — photography. It was that “chance” encounter on Craigslist that led me to a revisitation of something I thought was lost and a good friend at a time when I needed both.