My Photography – Part Three

Images

I was thinking about how to categorize the types of pictures I take, and realized that although some fall under distinct headings others cross the lines a bit. No matter; it gives me an opportunity for segue from one to another.

The majority of pictures I take to this day remain “grab shots”. They are not art, nor intended to be anything other that a quick “look at what I saw today” pic to share with my friends. Since most of my friends’ shared interests are old cars, there tends to be a lot of pictures of old cars. Some rusty and derelict, others roadworthy and running. Typically something like this:

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This was taken with my “goes with me” camera, the Kodak V1003. But sometimes when I’m out and about I find something a little more extraordinary and under circumstances that allow a bit more artistic effort, like this 1930s Chevy taken with the Kodak P850:

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The resolution on this is 2592 x 1944 (in the original) which makes it a little dicey for an enlarged print. Besides, my wife would not appreciate seeing this on the wall anywhere.

The second most prolific category of my pictures would probably be best described as “documentation”. I tend to document things I do like building buildings or harvesting firewood. Again these are not the most artistic of shots and are not meant to be. They perhaps could be, if I put more effort into it. So far I haven’t. An example here taken with the V1003:

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Sometimes what I document is one of my other hobbies, which usually amounts to “look at what I found” but also can yield results like this:

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(I modified a ‘dollar store’ toy car and photographed it on blue metallic paper reflecting the sky. A bit surreal, is it not?)

Where are we at? Category number three I think. That would be wildlife. Sometimes domestic, because we have two dogs and three cats and they do strange things. More often it’s real wildlife because we live out in the middle of nowhere and bears, deer, moose, et cetera wander through whenever they feel like it. This gives me more of a chance to produce some truly artistic images:

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Wait, that’s my cat Hannibal. He’s not wild. Let’s try again!

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Yes, eagles stop by too. Both taken with the Nikon P610; you can see why I like its long zoom capacity. I think this is one of my all-time best photos.

Another great one is this scenery shot, taken quite some time ago with the Kodak DX3900:

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I regret that this sunset exists only in a low-resolution mode as the sky has never looked like that since, although there have been many beautiful sunsets on the lake.

Another low-res shot that I may one day redo with the P610, providing the building is still standing, is this one: the Church of Nowhere;

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The final category (yes, I’ve lost count) would be “abstract”. Sometimes I do real-world abstracts like this (P610 shot):

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And sometimes I go full-blown crazy like this one I call “Hunter S. Thompson”:

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Pretty far from a “grab shot”, as it entailed painting some small wooden cubes, placement of metallic paper, and some post-processing with a default distortion filter. I like doing really crazy things like this but I guess a lot of people don’t like looking at them. I would do more if I could, regardless of whether or not anyone wants me to.

When it comes to post-processing, I usually don’t. I know some photographers who use it extensively and to good results; it’s just not my style for the most part. If I do anything outside the camera it’s a little framing crop or some contrast tweaking to get results that look like what I remember seeing when I took the shot. Every once in a while I let loose, as in a certain ongoing series of pictures that go together as part of a story. Here’s one example on the extreme side from that series:

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Somewhat garish I’d say, and I’m the one who did it. A more effective ‘processed shot’ would be this one of ravens, which involved cropping to eliminate background clutter and enhance composition, and tonal change to give it the right ‘feel’:

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Well this entry has gone on for quite some length and probably should have had a warning about that at the top but … It is only a glimpse into what I have done. I hope to do more in the future, if circumstances allow. Not for any reason beyond my own amusement, you understand. And perhaps to compensate myself for the thousands of images lost in the Great Disaster of ’18. It was sad and surprising to see how many pictures had vanished. Not all masterpieces by far, but in some cases experimental and in all cases historically important to me. My future is certainly now shorter than my past, but it’s the only time frame any of us have to live in.

 

Automatic versus Manual

Flipping through various blogs my eye was caught by one touting the virtues of manual transmissions in vehicles. I didn’t read it all the way through because the first few lines were enough to tell me it was an opinion piece, not an evaluation. But herewith my own opinion, based on the fact I’m a very clever person. Or I’m magical. Whichever. We won’t mention the engineering stuff, okay?

First of all it is true that a manual has advantages over automatic. No matter how you slice it, standards are lighter weight and more efficient. They simply have fewer parts, and therefor greater potential for giving more miles per gallon (never mind the metric measurement system for fuel consumption; it’s awkward and clumsy and shouldn’t be used).

Notice the keyword here is potential, because realization of that potential depends on the driver’s ability to properly use the stick. Sure, everyone who can operate one without jerky starts and smoking disks and grinding gears thinks they know how. But merely being able to shift without damaging anything is not the same as knowing how to drive a manual transmission. Now it’s anecdote time (for demonstration purposes only).

I know a person who has a four cylinder, standard shift vehicle. They complain frequently about how poor the fuel economy is, and it numbers terms it doesn’t even come close to my six cylinder automatic vehicle (both are 4×4, by the way). How could this be? Well I had the opportunity to ride with this person and found out. They do not know how to drive a manual transmission. Really don’t. No clue as to when to pick up or drop a gear. Whereas there is no immediate danger of damage, in the long term that poor little runabout is going to be run into the ground prematurely because of the misuse.

Now automatic also have certain other advantages over standard, and in some odd applications you may not think of. It’s not just a matter of compensating for a lack of driving skill. For one thing the torque converter gives a distinct advantage over a clutch in getting going on grades or when pulling a load. Yes, automatic is better in most small to standard truck applications – if it’s actually being used as a truck. Toting a trailer? Auto is your best friend. You can ease things back and forth much more subtly when you don’t have to slip a clutch to do it, and that is an action which is hard on clutches. The torque multiplication of the converter can also be a bonus in towing situations. The major downside is the manufacturer not installing a heavy enough transmission to take the duty. Most auto overdrive units in trucks, no matter who made it, end up junked out all too quickly because they’re meant for light use – as in a passenger car or unladen truck. Even then they are prone to premature failure. Too often the cheapskates don’t even bother to put a fluid cooler on the rig, but they’ll still claim it can pull 5,000 lbs. Sure it can. On a flat level surface during a mild Spring day.

So you see both types of transmissions have their advantages, and faults. Much of it depends on who is doing the driving and what driving they are doing. But even the best operator can’t make up for tightwad manufacturers scrimping on design. Before you buy any vehicle research the used market for whatever type you’re looking at, and see how many references there are to major problems of the same type indicating an inherent design failure. In other words if you keep see “rebuilt engine/transmission/whatever” coming up over and over for the same model (especially newer years and lower mileage) it’s probably one to stay away from.

Oh and don’t blame me for any of them. I haven’t done that stuff since the 1970s.