Category Archives: Photography

Good news in a Bad-news Week


The barrage of bad news just kept coming last week. The war between Israel and Hamas – if it can be called a war when one side is almost in total control, maybe a Hamas prison riot would be better description – war in Ukraine, Ebola in Nigeria. And ISIS, the worst Islamic scourge the earth has ever seen, if the newspapers are to be believed, is taking over the middle-east at a surreal rate. The week ended with the police, in St Louis, killing an unarmed black boy.

By comparison, the good news is pretty weak sauce, still, it is good news and even better because it was a surprise. My trusty Canon 5D broke while we were in Oregon. The little flippy mirror – that makes it a single-lens-reflex, SLR – came off of the mirror frame, leaving the camera without a way to focus or take a light meter reading. In my imagination, this is a $400.00, or so, problem and I began to think it was time to replace it. I went down to my local camera store, Keeble and Shuchat, which is one of the best camera stores on the West Coast to test drive a new 5D. While fondling the new camera, I told them what happen to my old one. The salesman said, Oh, they will fix that for free.

I’m not sure that I really believed that, even when I brought the camera into the K&S Service Department. However, I now have it back with a new mirror, cleaned and serviced, at no charge. I wonder how long the mirror warrenty would last. Forever I guess, I got the Camera in 2005 and nines years later – alot of them in the desert – they are still fixing it for free.It makes me think of how poorly General Motors has handled their ignition switch problems. And, in my opinion has continued to handle the problems, and how bad it looked when it came out that GM did a cost analysis and decided that it would be cheaper to ride out a couple of lawsuits rather than fix millions of cars. Now they still have to recall all those cars and they have the lawsuits.


Complainin’ AND braggin’


My camera – the very same camera that I have been so nice to and raised from a pup -tried to commit hari kari yesterday. The – formerly – trusty camera is a Canon 5D is SLR which means that it has a little mirror inside that directs the image from the lens up to the viewfinder, when I take a picture, that little mirror flips up out of the way so that the image travels directly from the lens to the sensor. The mirror weighs, probably, less than a 1/10th of an ounce and is a beautiful piece of engineering, or was until it fell off the flipper. Now I don’t have a viewfinder. Or a lightmeter, because the lightmeter is somehow dependent on the mirror.

When I was in Basic Training at Fort Ord, a typical retort to a complaint like They made us run all the way to the rifle range, was Are you braggin’ or complainin’? Of course it was a little of both and – of course – that is what I am doing about my broken mirror. Not having a viewfinder or a lightmeter is a huge pain in the ass, but there are work-arounds. Sort of.

I first started using a camera before they had built in lightmeters so, to look official, we would carry a separate lightmeter (usually tethered to us by a cord hanging around our necks). Using the lightmeter was cumbersome and we would take a meter reading for the scene, put the setting in the camera, and then shoot the whole series at the same setting. An even easier way was to use the Sunny Sixteen Rule. The Sunny Sixteen Rule was to set the lens aperture at f16 and the shutter speed to match the film speed on a typical Sunny day. It actually works pretty good as the pic below shows.

IMG_2380 Fortunately, the LCD monitor on the back of the camera still works and the 5D has all sorts of additional exposure feedback, so I can point the camera in the approximate direction, take a picture, and then adjust which is what I did in the shot at the top and the shot of the dinosaurs below.


So far, so good. Of course the only other choice that I have is to start screaming at the camera, but I am afraid that, if I start screaming, I might throw the stupid %&$#@ across the room and then I would be even more frustrated.

Reception at Sweetie’s

Sweetie's Opening 2-1354

We do not see things as they are. We see them as we are. – Talmud

Thanks to Laura Atkins for making this happen; it wouldn’t have happened without her persistence. When she first started suggested showing a couple of pictures, I went through a process very similar to what I used to experience when shooting film. Then, I would take a picture, be thrilled when I got the slides back and saw that there was actually an image on the film, then go through each image and be disappointed. The pictures seemed so mundane. Then I went through them again and start to like individual photographs.

With digital, I get four times more pictures – they are free – and I know if they came out about 14 milliseconds after I take each one and look at the megadata on back of the camera. At first, they seem dull, washed out, and boring. When I go back, I start to fall for individual photographs. They become friends. But, when Laura started pushing me to have a little show, the friends began to feel mundane again. Why would anybody want to look at them, What do I have to offer that is different or new?  How presumptuous to think I do.

But, at this point, I didn’t have much choice, I had already committed. I printed a couple and fell in love all over again. I remember reading about Vincent van Gogh when I was a kid, and how he painted over paintings that didn’t sell because he was so poor. It seemed so sad until I started to do the same thing. I had a bunch of flowers that I had framed but never sold, so I yanked the backs off and replaced them with three Street Art shots.

Street Art-

I also ordered five, new, smallish, square frames and made prints for them. The frames arrived as promised but not the mats. As I was semi-melting down, Michele went down to university Art and got some standard 11×14 frames. I went back – in triage mode – and picked four new pictures which I ended up liking even more than the first, four, square pictures.

Building reflections-1840

Building reflections-9854

My plan was to have two different sets of pictures – Street Art and Building Reflections – and an exception for each set (sort of the yang dot in the middle of the yin field). I had two copies of an aerial shot of a Chinese city in the middle of a Karst formation. But, when I pulled it off the wall, it just seemed muddy and I wondered why I could ever have liked it enough to have two framed pictures around the house. But it was late, so I went with it.

China-3When Laura and I got all the pictures hung and I stepped back and looked at them, dressed to go out, I was very happy. Most of these pictures I had only seen on my computer screen and they look very different framed and hanging on a wall. Even better when it is somebody else’s wall.