Brief update

It’s minus forty here this morning. That’s the same in Celsius and Fahrenheit. Not weather conducive to anything. The only thing that runs is the furnace. In addition to the woodstove.

My wife may well be trapped in England due to increasing pandemic problems such as people getting sick and things being closed down. She didn’t manage to finish making arrangements for her poor sister for the same reasons.

One third of our kids have tested positive for the Omicron variant. Despite being fully vaccinated.

I am staying in, staying away from people, and trying to stay warm. Needless to say it is not good weather for photography. Not even inside.

Oh and the new fibre optic phone system has quit working. Just the phone, though. I don’t care, although it would be a problem if an emergency should arise.

One from the ‘archives’, then:

Icicle. (Nikon P610)

We interrupt our regular post to bring you the following snowstorm

So … “up to two inches” they said. Yeah? Tell it to the dog:

Difficult going.

No need to dream of a white Christmas; it’s guaranteed.

This vehicle has 9.5″ of ground clearance. Really.

Let’s have some colour!

Thus my day is planned for me: spend a couple of hours clearing a foot of snow from the driveway just in case I have to go somewhere this week. I’m not planning on going anywhere, but you never know what might happen.

Like a sudden snowstorm.

Not so good

I should already be somewhat recovered but … this operation did not go so well as the last one. There seem to be complications like continued bleeding, so … not sure what’s next. Certainly making a mess of all plans.

Obviously I’m not doing any photos. Not doing anything. Got some ‘leftovers’ though. Here’s one of them:

Paper wasp nest in lilac bush. Nikon P610.

An update kind of thing

Just about a week ago I hauled the last load of this Winter’s wood out of the forest. This was followed by hauling the four cats, two dogs, and one wife out the next day and a second trip that day to bring essentials out. The third trip was Wednesday to shut down all the cabin systems (it’s not simple, believe me) and bring out all that I couldn’t get the previous day. So four loads and each time the Nissan was stacked to the roof inside. I still missed things.

Last load of wood. (Sony a6000).

I needed another trip but it was not to be. Thursday was spent hanging around while the Telus technician installed our new fibre optic cable connections to the world. I have no use for the TV service, but it was included. Really there is nothing worth watching anymore, and the Turner Classic Movies channel that I might look at was extra money. It’s already too expensive. The Internet is 2X faster and barely noticeably so. At least I won’t have to clear snow off the satellite dish this Winter.

Pity the poor Xterra. (Sony a6000)

Friday was taken up with pre-op exam. Got the results back from that already, and they’re not so good. A few “red flags” on some items indicating problems with my kidneys (no kidding? Guess what the procedure is for). Also I have inexplicably lost a lot of weight. It is not good for a man who is 6′ tall to be 158 lbs. This needs watching. Probably just all that work but … I’m old so practically every symptom is “an alarm bell”.

At this point the insurance has expired on the Nissan and I don’t fancy renewing it for $1,000 just for one more cabin trip. Whatever happens, happens. The expenses have been getting out of control of late, nearly $150 a week for gasoline to cite one example, and we have some more unavoidable expenses coming up next month. Yes I know I just bought a camera. That isn’t even included in the financial haemorrhaging.

The trailer suffered badly too. (Sony a6000)

Saturday I spent getting things around the house here ready for snow, because snow is in the forecast for next weekend. It probably won’t happen, or at least not much, and definitely won’t stay; just a ‘trial run’. I still have much more to do before the 4th when they make it impossible for me to do much of anything for a couple of weeks. Be prepared and all that.

This upcoming week it’s building inspection, flu jabs, and a possible trip to the Big City up North to get meds and things. Weather is likely ‘dodgy’ as every forecast made for last week turned out wrong. Photography? I’d like to but … It will be a difficult thing to fit in even if possible.

Oh I ordered a lens adaptor for the Sony. The day it was supposed to be delivered the order was cancelled. No explanation. There’s a lot of ‘no explanation’ happening these days. I just hope my surgery isn’t cancelled like that.

At this rate I figure it will be December before I can relax. If then: my wife has to go to England to see to her demented sister, and the UK is in a pretty terrible state all-around right now with shortages of everything except the disease. Okay maybe I can relax in January when she gets back. If she does. It’s a realistic fear for several reasons.

More photos to come as I have a few ‘stored up’ for whatever reason.

All clean now. (Sony a6000)

Briefly, then

The End

The last of my e-Bay purchases arrived. Disappointment abounds.

They were two lenses meant to augment my photographic arsenal. The one is an absolutely excellent Super Albinar 28mm Canon FD, which does not fit my Canon FD adapter (which does not have the infinity focusing lens in it, but that’s another issue). The lens is flawless, I just can’t use it. Like much of my equipment now, thanks to one thing or another. Anyway I won’t be ponying up any more money for a different adapter. Anyone want to buy a lens?

Make that two lenses, because the other was another 28-70mm Super Albinar in Pentax K mount. Almost Pentax K mount. I don’t know what’s wrong but it doesn’t exactly fit. Besides which it doesn’t exactly work: the zoom is stiff and limited and it won’t go down to macro mode. The diaphragm is sluggish too. I didn’t pay much and wasn’t expecting much, but it could have gone better.

Crop from full size image taken with the second Albinar lens. It shows promise, but …

A lot of things could have gone better lately, but they didn’t and aren’t going to. For example after e-Bay dropped me like a hot potato with no explanation or recourse I found a camera shop that said it was willing to buy used equipment. Fine, since mostly I want to sell off those things I either don’t or can no longer use. Give me an estimate on one item, I said: the very expensive Panasonic Lumix ZS60.

$40 they said.

Goodbye, I said.

I realise they have to make a profit, but that’s absurd. Looking at their used offerings I can see the problem: they’re asking more for a second-hand Canon T7 than I can buy a new one for.

So I don’t see me getting rid of superfluous equipment, which means I won’t be buying any more supplemental equipment – never mind the e-Bay disaster.

Oh and they love to rub salt in the wounds; they continue to send me e-mails about items I was watching and/or bidding on up until they sell. This allowed me to see that I could indeed have gotten another lens I wanted (from a seller I’ve done business with before but who has only e-Bay as an outlet) and a Pentax K200D which I don’t really need but would be a step up from the battered K100D I have. Also there is not much chance of getting a Nikon lens to try that adapter with. Nor could I splurge on a Sigma Foveon sensor camera, which I considered doing.

In other words all my photographic master plans are shot to hell.

Thanks, e-Bay. You suck like a Hoover. I hope you go bankrupt from paying taxes. Seriously. You should be sued, indicted, and left to rot. That terminal policy is the absolute worst (and illegal) crap I have ever seen on any website anywhere since the start of the World Wide Web.

But all is not that cheerful otherwise either. I have huge amounts of work to get done with a shrinking amount of time to do it in. Every little joy I’ve had in life has been removed, and I even have to drive two hours to get necessary medication because they don’t/won’t stock it in town and ordering it in costs even more than the drive.

Anybody want to buy some cameras or lenses? I’m not sure I’ll have a use for any of it now. My vision is permanently blurred, and my inspiration has evaporated. A (working) new piece of equipment might have lifted my spirits, but no. Not even that am I allowed.

Addendum: WordPress no longer functions on my secure browser either. They’ve changed something, and the only way I can get it to work at all is by using an unsecure browser. You know what I mean; the kind that wants you to give away all your info right down to your shoe size.

That can get stuffed too. No reason to take photos, and no reasonable way to share them. What is the point?

It’s been a bad week

Let’s cut to the chase, as the saying goes. The result of my latest eye exam amounted to “there’s nothing more we can do” and “watch out for it getting worse”. About what I expected, really.

Things did get worse, but they were different things. E-Bay canceled my account with no explanation given. A few minutes searching turned up the fact that this happens more often than it should, and that there is no recourse. Well fine. Another small pleasure taken from me without reason. I hope they understand that shutting down accounts of buyers and sellers is not a good business plan for a web site that relies on buyers and sellers. But I doubt they do. (It is especially frustrating as there were a couple of things I was trying to buy and I had finally managed to get one of my items listed for sale.) On the whole it’s about as bad as every other site on the Internet: causing grief for legitimate users while utterly failing to stop abusers. Even WordPress keeps tossing up “unsupported browser” messages.

I have been systematically removing all my Facebook posts, because it is a failure of a website too. If you can’t use the site, why have an account? PayPal will be going under the axe as well, since I only ever used it for e-Bay and now PP has added an “inactive account fee” (as of November 20).

At this point I have no pleasures in my life, only work and the pain that goes with it. It’s wood harvesting time, you see. Yeah, I know.

So today’s pictures are … failures. Some images to give you a taste of what normally comes out of the cameras these days. Can’t have people thinking I’m still turning out good shots all the time, because I’m not.

This is what I see: everything blurred at any distance all the time.

Barely spotted song sparrow in the bush – and it’s out of focus.

How I get tricked: camera said “in focus”. Except that was the little pine tree which I could not even see as I tried to fix on the broken poplar behind it.

There are spots. I could not see them looking through the camera; they only show up on the computer. They had to be on the lens as they don’t appear after cleaning it. Besides the Nikon shouldn’t get spots on its sensor.

See the duck? No? It’s in there, flying away because it can react faster than me & my camera.

This is an eagle. You’ll have to take my word for it because once again …

That’s the way it’s going now: mostly failures because I can’t see what I’m doing. About the only time I can get a good shot now is in bright daylight, and then it has to be a large, stationary object. At that I may need several frames to get one decent.

Needless to say I am not happy. I can’t even continue my revised Master Plan to make my photography a bit easier for me. Thanks, e-Bay you load of incompetent bastards.

There’s no joy left.

Loose ends

Time to bring you up to date on what’s been going on around here.

First of all, the picture I forgot to include in the blog about the Olympus E-410:

640×480 crop of full image.

This shows that the camera used with a good lens doesn’t have problems. You see grain, not blur. That means the Olympus lenses are where the shortcomings are with that system. Goes with this pic, btw:

Lorne’s boat using the 50mm Takumar on the E-410. It’s fine.

Second, we had a visitor on Thursday:

Mr. Otis Bear

He spent most of the day crashing around in the foliage by the creek, just beside the cabin. He was stripping off berries to eat and driving the dogs crazy. I believe it’s one of the cubs that were coming ’round here with their mama this Spring. Seems to have gone now.

Third item is that the smoke has rolled in again as of Friday. Along with a high of 97F. Fires are still bad and people are being warned to stay away from certain areas, not just the evac alert/order zones. Honestly anyone vacationing in BC right now must be certifiably insane.

Beautiful view, wasn’t it?

Fortunately I was able to do some photo work before it got like this. Can’t even breath out there now. It’s looking a bit “life crisis” for me in fact. Bad enough I have to re-arrange my camera arsenal without having to re-arrange my entire way of living.

So I forgot about ‘back button’ focusing of the Pentax, and can’t tell if something is sharp or not anyway. This is a ‘salvaged shot’.

I’m actually working on a new “Master Plan” to go with my failed eyesight. The best camera I’ve got for working with my vision right now is the Canon PowerShot G11, which not only has a purely optical finder and limited zoom range (so basically anything I can see I can shoot), but also the nice colour tones of a CCD sensor. Beyond that … well I’ll explain the equipment shift at a later date. It’s still in flux anyway.

Butterfly, taken with the Canon T100.

More to come …

Re-learning curve: Canon T100

Four weeks since having my retina welded. If there’s any further improvement it will be minor and slow, so I’ve got to work with how I see things now.

Last week, before the smoke filled the valley here and I started choking on every breath, I got a chance to try using the Canon T100 APS-C DSLR. This included some experiments with the manual Pentax Super Takumar lenses, not a one of which produced an acceptable picture. Curiously my ability to judge exposure has been affected, in that bright scenes seem darker and dark scenes seem brighter than either actually is. O-kay, going to need a light meter to do that now I guess. I mean I was off a good 2 stops on every shot regardless of lighting. That’s really bad for me. I can’t have an instant “do over” because I can’t see the camera’s LCD well either.

On to automatic lenses, exposure, and focus! I paid for those functions so I’m going to use them. In theory this eliminates many issues and leaves me dealing only with composition matters. In theory.

Sky before the smoke moved in. A ‘general’ picture that came out fine.

Then we started getting some weird clouds. Picture is still okay, though.

“Silver and Gold”. The smoke begins to affect the light.

“Bugsy sent me!” Experiment with close-up focus (mud wasps).

How to drive the autofocus nuts. It had a helluva time latching on to that web! The difference here was sufficient that even I could see if it had worked before pressing the shutter.

Artistic image achieved.

The issues with this camera are that its EF-S lenses are not the sharpest (and I need all the sharpness I can get now) and the ‘focal points’ are little black dots in the viewfinder; my eyes now have their own little black dots and I kept getting confused about which dot was which for trying to fix focus. In short the extra effort I need to go to now in order to get an acceptable image has slowed down my photography, whether I want to take my time or not. This is a problem for any rapid ‘grab shots’ of wildlife, for example. The lowered resolution of my vision makes spotting birds in trees extremely difficult, and even affects my ability to recognize a potential scene. ‘Obvious objects’ are much easier to pick out. They just aren’t always the thing I want to photograph.

I have my Olympus E-410 here as well. I’ve yet to buy the longest lens for it (70-300mm zoom) because they are always 3X as much as I paid for the camera and the two shorter zooms. However if the smoke would like to go away I can evaluate that for use with “my new eyesight”. The Pentax K100D Super should get a check too, although that camera had issues even without vision problems factored in. It is because of the changes and the fact I have four different DSLRs with five (or six if you count the classic glass) different lens systems that I’m rethinking how I do photography.

The two bright spots are the Canon G11 and Fuji F80, which are just point-and-shoot basically and not a concern. Likewise the Nikon is hanging in there, but its failings of focus and exposure are now exacerbated by my own. Thinning the herd to where I have fewer cameras which I can more easily use and that produce results I want is what I’m contemplating now.

Re-learning curve: Nikon P610

Almost three weeks since getting my eye ‘welded’. Improvement seems to have stopped. At this point I’m not expecting any more.

Which brings us to the process of re-learning how to do photography when you have one not-so-good eye and one even worse eye. Especially since the latter used to be the good one. Also cameras tend to be designed for “right eye-ers” and that’s the one off the list now.

So with my usual analytical engineering ways I’ve broken the process down into three parts: imagining the image (or “finding something to take a picture of”), clicking the camera (or “actually getting something recorded”), and processing the pic (or “creating the final product”). Each of these has proven to be challenging, to say the least.

Imagining the image:

Big, big problems. Not only do I no longer see clearly but I can’t seem to pick out a scene within what I’m looking at. Before I could see multiple potential images in any given view, and now I have difficulty determining what I’m looking at. This is not some insignificant occurrence, but rather a thing that makes me question if the blood vessels in the eye weren’t the only ones that broke. There is a decided disconnection between what the eye presents and what the brain understands.

For the most part I have worked around this by ignoring the potential scenes of texture and detail, instead concentrating on the more basic form or object view. Not being able to pick objects out of a scene is still a concern, but if they are large enough in context of the view I can usually do it.

Clicking the camera:

I have my two ‘best’ cameras with me; the Nikon P610 and the Canon T100. The Nikon has its problems with focus, zoom, and exposure. Indeed a piece of it fell off the other day but I was able to find it (purely by chance) and glue it back on. It’s old and failing like me, but the lens is incredible and the camera is flexible. On the whole it’s working, even though the EVF in combination with my eye makes using the LCD for framing more attractive (albeit cumbersome). The Canon … not so much so. Not as flexible as-is, changing lenses is a pain and my experiments with the manual Pentax lenses (a favourite way of using this camera) were a disaster due to the changes in my eyesight. This camera relies more on the photographer, and the photographer is now sub-par. I have not had many good results.

Processing the pic:

Disaster. Of the three aspects this has proven the worst. Bringing what I think is a good picture up on the ‘big screen’ has resulted in a lot of disappointment and instant discarding of images. Looking at pictures on the cameras has never been good for me, and is now nearly impossible. The first thing that usually occurs is noticeable problems with framing, focus, and exposure. My left eye doesn’t see the view right, I can not tell at all if it’s in focus (and even look at the wrong place for the focus dot on the Canon), and for someone who could guess manual exposure accurately … Okay 80% of the images just aren’t worth trying to work with. That’s way down from 80% of them being perfectly acceptable.

Then there’s making actual changes. I can usually get the framing & composition corrected on the computer’s 15″ screen, but I’d now like a higher resolution laptop and possibly 17″. Exposure fixing has been a challenge because I’m really unsure of how it looks after I’ve changed it. Thus I have tried to limit things to the 10% contrast increase I know the Nikon requires and little else. Focus? I’ll try the “unsharp mask” off and on and see if it’s noticeable, and that’s about it. In other words processing is even more minimal than usual.

Now here are the best results with the Nikon P610 so far. I honestly don’t know if they are really any good and would appreciate input from people with working eyesight.

Day-Z. Most heavily exposure-processed of the images in order to get the contrast way up to achieve the desired effect. I hope.

Dark water, dark sky. Most dramatic and the effect is not due to processing.

Clear cut. Yes I turned this into B&W/sepia-ish on purpose to enhance the melancholy atmosphere.

Beach butterfly. Most straightforward image.

Paint it black. Distant spotter chopper in our smoke-filled skies. There was no colour.

Cat’s eye. Got to love the quality of that Nikon lens!

The wildfires continue to make everything extra difficult around here, from lighting to just breathing. Waiting it out and practicing with the cameras while I do. I thought about buying some more equipment but there’s really only two items I want and they’re both habitually over-priced. Besides, if I can even use what I’ve got more isn’t going to magically make things better.

I wait for the doctor to say the eye is as healed as it will get and I can go back to doing things, and wait for the fires to go out so I can go back to doing things, the things that need doing pile up. The ugly truth is I need to change my entire lifestyle, but I see no way of making that happen either.

Strange vision

The gray is the sky, the gray is the land, the gray is the water.

My world right now: hazy, out-of-focus, and on fire.

Two weeks after the procedure. Progress seems to have halted. Much like the progress on fire-fighting in the province. 300+ fires burning, half out of control, emergency accommodations full up, roads closed, supplies cut off, and a Premier who doesn’t think there’s any reason to declare a state of emergency. After all it’s not affecting him, and the people who are suffering don’t support him anyway. Gee, I wonder why. Maybe because none of the recommendations from the last wildfire disaster year have been implemented? That could be it.

This is my world. According to the camera (P610) it was in focus. Obviously not. But this is what everything looks like to me.

Eyesight: blurred but better.

Nothing is in focus with either eye at any distance, and both are blurred. Think in photography terms; the focal point is one thing, the sharpness another. For those who think focus is over-rated I say repent your sins before it’s too late. Soft focus and blurred images are horrible, especially when there’s no other choice. I’m told my eyes not only don’t see the same, they don’t look the same; there’s noticeable difference in the colouration. Will it clear up? Only time, and a lot of it, will tell.

Large objects I can make out. I didn’t notice the cloud when I took this, though. (G11)

Photography: exercising futility.

I’ve made some attempts. Trying to get used to using the left eye, just in case. How bad is it? Less than half the shots are even viable as pictures, and of the good ones perhaps 25% are acceptable. It’s hard to say because I can’t even evaluate them on the big screen myself. Hey, maybe I can just get out the lousy Lumix and shoot blurred messes badly composed and incorrectly exposed. It would be easy. Judging by some of the “pro” photos I’ve seen in the past I might even win a prize. But it would be embarrassing and debasing of the principals of photography, as well as betraying to all those who put so much effort to bring the form to the quality it is capable of.

This could probably be good, with the moss and trees and light. I can’t see well enough to make a good initial shot, never mind process it.

What is next?

Hunker down to wait out the fires, and hope we don’t die. Or go blind. Or suddenly need some other emergency procedure.