Who am I kidding?

I was in such a happy mood; I had new toys to play with. I was (and am) anticipating buying more toys to play with. All of them photographic in nature. The resurgence of photography in my life has been the best tonic yet. But is it a cure-all or a placebo?

What I was looking forward to was getting out to the cabin and spending lots of time walking around in the woods seeing what there is to photograph this year. Quite often it changes from year to year, for reasons unknown. Oh there are always trees and deer, but the bird population has its fluctuations which make for some interesting surprises.

Well I did some errands Friday and that turned out with the usual severe exhaustion for a short amount of effort. Having to rest and catch your breath between stores is silly considering how close together the stores are. In the afternoon came a thunderstorm which knocked out the power, and again 15 minutes of connecting up the generator was marathon effort for me. My wife noticed I wasn’t so much breathing as coughing steadily and trying to suck air in between the hacks.

Yeah, so I’m going to go out walking through acres of forest, up and down miles of old logging trails am I? Somehow dropping dead in the middle of nowhere doesn’t hold much appeal. Okay, maybe I could jump on the ATV and ride up to the dead ends of some of those trails and then walk around in a controlled area. That might work. But will it by the time I get to be able to do it, though?

So here I am poised to spend some serious money on new equipment to, let’s face it, play with and wondering if I’ll really get the chance to. I don’t expect much along the lines of answers from my next doctor visit because there never are any. This is in fact the major problem! How do you plan for a future when you haven’t a clue what it will be or even if it will be? Am I going to spend up to $1,000 on stuff that will just sit because after I get it I’ll only be able to walk once around the house? Or may be in a wheelchair? Or may be just a lump on the couch? It wouldn’t make sense to.

I am currently studying the Zen aspect of it all, and it’s not simple. The conflicts between “might as well spend the money ’cause you’re going to die anyway and five minutes fun is more than none” and “it’s foolish to spend the money that might be needed for something else more practical” as well as the ‘blind alley of fools’ situation (this takes too long to explain; perhaps I should write a piece entirely on my use of Zen) leaves no clear path to take.

So I will await the doctor visit. I will hold off on orders. I will twiddle my thumbs.

Next week it’s supposed to be warm and sunny. I may not be able to do work per se, but I might just go out to the cabin with the old camera and the new filters I’ve just got and walk carefully in a small area and see what there is to photograph. My work ethic will demand more, of course. I suppose I could sort through the loose lumber scraps the contractor left and maybe build the new propane tank stand and … You see the problem. Giving myself permission to be ‘wasteful’ of time and energy and money (it costs a fair bit just to get there with our gas prices). Waiting for the stars to align, so to speak, so that the way is clear. Weighing the pros and cons of so many aspects. Knowing that if I had more of any of the resources (time, energy, money – all are at a premium right now) it would be easier to make the right choice. Or at least not as painful to tolerate the mistake.

Photographic Philtres

This started when I dug out my ol’ Pentax Spotmatic 1000 with its many accessories. Included in that bag were a few filters:

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Just for a lark I tried the Nikon P610 looking through the orange filter to see how it would do. I rather liked the results so … I spent some money on a new filter set from Neewer, which quickly arrived:

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Unfortunately the adapter hasn’t, so unless I want to continue hand-holding the filters in front of the lens I’ll have to wait before giving them a good tryout. I already have some shots in mind.

Now we’re going to take a little trip down memory lane. In this age photographers who use filters at all are most familiar with the screw mounts made specifically to fit the lens. The filters I just bought are 58mm, and the adapter is to put them on the Nikon’s 52mm “pseudo” threads. No idea how well that will work; I may end up hand-holding after all.

Or you might be familiar with the Cokin system, which uses a lens adapter to hold standardized larger filters: Cokin System. I regret having to toss a Cokin set from the Great Disaster of ’18 owing to it having been completely destroyed by water. Even worse it wasn’t the lone victim of the infiltration.

Moving on, there used to be another “universal” type of filter system, courtesy of Eastman Kodak. They made filters in sizes known as “Series”, notably Series 6 (or VI) was the most common size. In theory at least there were Series 1 (smallest) through 8 (largest) at least, but I only ever saw 5, 6, and 7. These would fit most cameras by means of an adapter.

The adapters came in two types: screw-on, with the now-familiar threads specific to the lens, and slip-on, which features a ring with slits which allowed a friction fit to the lens barrel. The adapter had a ‘chamber’ on the front where the thread-less, round filters were secured by a retaining ring. More advanced adapters might allow multiple rings & filters, but it could get a bit clunky after two, especially with a slip-on unit (sometimes it would slip off).

Kodak had a unique method of labeling the filters too. Not “yellow” and “orange” but a seemingly random combination of numbers and letters like “K2” (yellow) or “G” (deep yellow-orange). This was based the Wratten System, from the work of Frederick Wratten in the early 20th century. The actual Wratten numbers would have been “8” and “15” respectively.

Not all the filters were just colours for enhancing contrast on B&W film, either. My Dad shot experimental film for Kodak in the 1950s and acquired an odd assortment of colour-correcting filters assigned to the job: “shoot this at ASA 50 using the 80A filter” they’d say. So he had the standard daylight/tungsten colour temperature compensating filters and a few oddballs probably not used outside the company.

We wouldn’t think of using the colour filters on colour film then. Well, in fact we did think of it and generally thought it would be a bad idea. Okay, we may have tried it occasionally. It tended to prove we were right: it was a bad idea. Remember there’s no sensor behind the lens connected to a processor that’s compensating to get the white balance correct. It just made things a coloured mess.

I would be remiss if I didn’t mention that these filters came with another unpleasant surprise called the “filter factor”. In short, they reduced the amount of light reaching the film and thus exposure had to be increased to compensate for the reduction. There were charts with the filters that told you what the factor was and how much to open up the aperture (or decrease shutter or derate film speed) to get a negative of proper density. It didn’t always work (due to reflectivity differences), but in the days before through-the-lens metering it was all you could do.

Yes photography used to be part science, part art, part magic, and part alchemy. I suppose it still is, although the proportions have changed and the parts that are whichever part may now be different parts, at least in part.

I’m still looking forward to trying out these many coloured circles of glass, both in colour and in B&W. It will be interesting to see how the camera handles the change and what the end effect will be.

And while we’re talking experimentation, I’ve also found there is an adapter to put my old Pentax M42 lenses on certain modern DSLRs, most notably (or most successfully, according to reports) Canon EOS types. This nags at me to buy one, but I’m not sure how much use it would actually get so would it be worth the money? I also note the Canon ‘standard’ lens takes 58mm filters – like the ones I just bought. Perhaps Zen is at work here. We shall see.

What happened to Tuesday

My goodness but Robby Burns was right.

Today I was going to the cabin to do more work. Had the rig all loaded too. Put the computer and camera in this morning, grabbed the snacks, and off I went. Stopping first at the transfer station to unload the garbage, where my ever-undependable grasp allowed the first can to go right over the edge and into the bin. Oh well. I had in fact just bought two new ones as these were pretty beat, but I had intended to take them to the cabin for use there. Sometimes you just go with the Zen, alright?

Off I went down the wretched road, and noticed it was sprinkling a bit. The further I went, the more dense the sprinklers. By about 6 kms it was wipers on intermittent and better have the lights glowing. This was not boding well.

Now, on top of all this I’m dealing with a pain that feels a lot like a broken rib on the left side. It has become rather intense and hard to ignore when moving or trying to use the arm. The fact is loading and unloading those garbage cans was quite a feat, even though they were only half full.

Do I continue? It’s raining now, and probably will be out at the cabin. I’d have to go in and out and do things in cool, damp, muddy conditions. With copious amounts of chest pain. Apply the Rule of Zen: turn around at 8 kms and go back before wasting a lot of gasoline for nothing.

Home again. What now? Well there’s this pain in the chest … Unhook trailer, drive in to town, and see how busy the ER is today.

Getting the X-rays was an adventure in pain. Having discussions with the nurse practitioner and duty doctor about the history of this condition, without going overly into detail, was interesting. Being told the bone doesn’t appear broken anywhere was somewhat disappointing. It sure feels broken. Broken is something I can relate to.

So just what is the problem?

Well you know all that coughing? The fits that I thought might have caused the break? The ones that keep trying to choke me to death? The ones caused by spasms in the intercostal muscles due to … well no one has definitively said yet. So this doctor thinks the pain is due to some really bad spasming or possibly damage to one right about there and I need to see someone about what the hell is causing it because eight years is really too long to be messing about with this.

I’m inclined to agree, but no further along than before.

Anyway Tuesday is shot to hell and the future doesn’t look bright.

I’d add a photo here for fun, but the six I took this past weekend are all no good.

Camexploring

I had this notion that it might be fun to get a new camera and shoot with it just to see what the results would be. I can blame the many photo blogs on WordPress I’ve been reading for giving me this notion, as many of them explore different equipment both old and new. For this I am actually grateful, as the real-life experiences of others are worth more than the paid-by-ad reviews available elsewhere.

To that end I went searching through various outlets available to me to see what cameras might catch my interest. There were no particular selection criteria; there just had to be something that sparked interest. I found a few, mostly based on silly things like colour rather than technical specifications. By far the most interesting from specs was the Nikon 1, but its price was daunting at every used offer being over $600. Far too much money for what would be a ‘toy’. I haven’t won the lottery yet!

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While we’re on Nikon, I note they’ve introduced a new W150 version of their waterproof W100 camera. I was sort of hoping this would mean the W100 would now be heavily discounted to clear obsolete stock, but it hasn’t happened yet. I could do with a camera resistant to water, shock, and cold. Especially cold. So I’m keeping an eye on that.

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RANT TIME: I missed a great shot of a mama moose and her calf last week because the damn P610 would not start up in time! One thing about film I really miss is its “instant on” capability! You can even pre-set focus to be in approximately the right range for anticipated grab shots, with an aperture to handle a reasonable depth of field. Bugger this waiting for all the motors to wind up and out stuff!

Back to the toy hunt. Since I was looking for a camera that would be a toy, why not a toy camera? There are lots, most of which reveal themselves to be utter crap meant to bankrupt parents while frustrating children. But there is this hideous apparition:

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Roughly the digital equivalent of the ‘venerable’ Diana F 120 roll film camera, reviewing the specs on this gaudy pink horror reveals it could be some fun. Or at least a laugh. The only part I don’t understand is why it’s priced a good $300 more than it’s worth. Is everyone rich but me? Or are they just stupid about money?

While we’re on the subject, back in the olden days of film photography there was terrible snobbery about brands and styles. Some of us wondered how certain others ever managed to take a picture with their noses so high in the air. If you didn’t have a black finish Leica or Nikon F2 you couldn’t take a good picture. Oh how we laughed while shooting with out Pentax Spotmatic 1000s and their Takumar lenses which had every bit as good resolution. Shutter speed, aperture, film, etc – all the same as more expensive cameras. The difference came down to lens quality, and who was using it. We particularly laughed when these people spent extra on “professional black finish” not realizing it cost the manufacturer less than satin chrome. Oh well, such idiots persist today I’m sure.

And since I’ve brought up stupid pricing, how about this for stupid:

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I had one of these in the 616 format. Probably paid $1 for it, maybe $2. Even today they are plentiful and really only useful as decoration. Certainly worth no more than $5 or $10 if it’s really nice. But … $269? Is drug abuse that prevalent? If there were any truth to that estimation of value my former collection would be worth about $80,000.

In the end I have decided on nothing, other than waiting to see if the W100 goes on sale. Besides that, I can always play with my Kodak V1003 or the P850 or set some limits on them or even the Nikon P610.

However a bit of serendipity has turned up: my Magellan dash cam has failed. I think it didn’t like all the bumps of the roads I travel on (seriously it kept giving me locked frames of ‘the moment of impact’ because logging roads are notoriously rough). I took it out and played with it in the house and got it to record some manually. Now, way back when dinosaurs roamed the Earth and I was a young man I would have thought nothing of disassembling this or a cheap digital camera (except neither existed back then) and repurposing same in a different package of some sort. My eyesight and motor skills are no longer up to such extreme measures, but I think I may just take some hand-held video with the dash cam and see what results it may yield as single frames. This would put me in the digital equivalent of the ‘burn film’ school of photography, but at least it’s something to do that does not require significant effort or cash outlay.

Until then it’s a day to relax.

 

Zen and the Art of the Future

I’ve been ‘X’-ing out numerous suggested posts on WordPress for several days now, and leaving up the few I think might be worth a read. I even get around to reading some of them. Curiously, aside from the “can’t be deleted ’cause they paid us” dross the posts I’ve been leaving up all seem to be about photography.

Hmm. Let’s think about that.

Well my first thought is that I might write a bit about the plethora of cameras I’ve had, because I mention this in a comment on one of the posts I found particularly engaging. Might even put up a photo of some of the few cameras I managed to retain after the Great Disaster of ’18 (just don’t ask).

I thought about it some more.

Okay, maybe I’ll even do a post about my photographic philosophy and what sort of direction I give photographers. Well who the hell am I to say? Oh, just an old man who came from a family of photographers and who’s shot an incredibly large number of images over many years. Not much commercial success, perhaps, but … well things and other things, okay? And I know a few younger photographers whom I’ve given a bit of direction to without being domineering and critical (I hope). I’m no one special in the photography department, but I have my ideas and opinions.

A little more thinking goes on.

I’d have to pony up a few shots of mine I think are good just to see if anyone agrees. That could be a post or two or three more. (Oddly, massive quantities of my old work mysteriously have disappeared. Something else discovered in the Great Disaster of ’18.)

Slowly the mind turns things over and looks at them from other angles.

You know, I’ve got this problem with my health which is putting quite a crimp in my usual superman lifestyle of late. It’s like I need a whole change of plan or something.

Well maybe, just maybe the Zen is pointing the fickle finger of fate at fotography again. Er, photography. I wouldn’t object to spending more time back at it as opposed to hard manual labour, but such a change depends on many factors which have yet to resolve themselves.

We’ll have to see where this goes from here. I can at least do the posts mentioned above.