I think I’ve hit a series of particularly difficult personal hurdles. I’m a say-yes-to-everything person. The problem is that I tend to say yes because I’m hopeful that I can learn something new, stretch myself and work on a project that sounds cool. I’m helping!
For unknown/first-time projects, I’m terrible at estimating time. I’m pretty good once I know the parameters, but the first time on a project can be brutal. I’ve got several firsts up in the air.
I’ve got several in the air, only one that I’ve shared: Swim Herschel Swim reunion show in less than two weeks. The logistics have been pretty good, but as people start arriving, I have a feeling that we’ll spend a lot of time in rehearsal and I won’t be up for air. Since this is the first time we’re doing this, with people flying in, arranging rehearsal space, making sure everybody has an amp, a microphone and knows the songs isn’t that bad, but the unknown part of this endeavor is hanging over me just a tad.
So I share this peaceful image of a badly lit bunch of trees. Peaceful.
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Daily affirmation: Lift and then put down one foot. And then one more. It’s Monday. Let’s stop there.
Not So Quaking Aspen
I had a great weekend. It’s Thursday already, I know. Seeing my long-time childhood friends was fantastic. You might remember them from such expoits as 2005 Road Trip, (2, 3, 4), 2006 Insane Hike (with erroneous title) (photos), Bonnaroo 2007, etc.
We’ve been unable to do big trips the past few years so seeing JB/Thomas Haden Church and McQueen together was stellar. We’ve decided that we need to restart the yearly get togethers in a neutral location; a true vacation/escape. Last year, McQueen and I went back to Knoxville and hung out for a few days, but this year, Haden Church stayed for five nights. I got him for three. Great to shoot the shit and talk about the recent past and the future. This time together with my boys was some of the best times I’ve had with them. I’ll share more from the weekend in another post, but I wanted to share this photo as it was taken on the first hike I’ve been on since the gall bladder removal. I did pretty well, given the high temperature and the late start. I estimate we hiked an unfamiliar trail at least 4-6 miles round trip.
I wish I’d taken more shots of us as a trio, but I did get all of us to sit still for a shot at a boarded up store that was a block away from my childhood home. I need to get permission before sharing that one.
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Daily affirmation: Let go. Of the past, of the pain and of the crazy-making what-ifs.
Storms Will Come
It’s always amazing to watch an image I had written off come to life with a little bit of coaxing. The source image was low contrast, washed out and uninspiring. A few tweaks later and boom.
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Daily affirmation: Laugh hard with longtime friends.
10 Seconds Over the Great Salt Lake
Took this a couple of weeks ago. I knew that the night I got out to shoot would not be as good as the previous night, but I wanted to play anyway. I spent a couple of hours trying different settings and exposure times and figured I’d chalk the night up to learning and I’d toss the images. Turns out I have a few that I like and I wasn’t able to know that for sure until I got in front of my computer and started looking at them full size.
Blue hour is straight up keeping it real.
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Daily affirmation: Don’t assume.
Forgot to post this one from awhile back. This past spring, I would see these later blooming trees that when it rained, had almost black trunks and limbs high contrasted against the vibrant color from the blooms.
I shot a whole bunch of these trees whenever I could, but this one was the only one where I came remotely close to capturing the beauty and contrast. The wind was blowing hard enough to make the capture difficult. I cranked the aperture to 2.8, the widest on the lens, and still only got 1/400 of second shutter speed. The lens was all the way to 200mm. I wanted to get those tiny leaves in focus and bokeh the rest. You can see the wind moving the tree in the left vertical branch and the larger yellow-orange leaf on the left just under the midline.
I don’t know why I haven’t shared this one earlier, but there you go.
Daily affirmation: Execute on your vision. Failure is fine. Just execute.
This is a grill from a vintage tractor taken last weekend in rural Utah during a break in the storms. I didn’t know at the time, but Farmall is still a brand offered for sale. The Farmall brand has interesting brand evolution story as well (Wikipedia).
I think this is likely a late-1940s or early-1950s era model H (Google image search results). I love the badge and I love the grill design. Such beauty for a work vehicle that is meant to be in the dirt all day long.
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Daily affirmation: It’s summer, not a bummer.
Surreal Clouds Over Wyoming
Daily affirmation: Stop beating yourself up.
As part of my have-a-camera-at-all-times/stop-and-shoot-cool-stuff approach to photography, I pulled over to shoot these clouds on the drive north a couple of weekends ago. I wasn’t sure I captured the crazy range of sky and clouds until I pulled this into Lightroom. While I grouse to myself about megapixels and sensor dust, seeing this image blown up onscreen silenced those grumbles for a bit. Despite it’s ability to capture a great image, I think it’s time to upgrade the 5D.
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As part of my internal professional monologue, I’m looking hard at camera options and they are all very expensive and while I think it’s worth it for me to update the 5D (Canon’s 5D Mark III is looking sweet, but so is Nikon’s D800…), I’ve resisted. The jump from the 5D to the 5D Mark II was a no-brainer for my business; the increased image size, stunning HD video and larger rear LCD meant time savings and money savings over time. This is how my thinking has changed over the years. What I would have discounted as an expensive luxury item ten years ago is now up for consideration as a tool for revenue generation. It seems simple and a no-brainer for anybody in business. But I was raised by parents who were born in and survived the Great Depression. Their relationship to money and things was very different than mine. I remember buying a cheap stereo receiver for my room as a freshman in high school. I worked for my mom and had saved some money. I got a deal on a Radio Shack floor model and spent the next four years building my personal stereo, one component at a time. By senior year, I had a decent stereo, the turntable being the weakest link. My father would remark with each addition, “Your mother and I didn’t have a stereo until I was out of college and working for a couple of years.”
Globalization and cheap electronics notwithstanding, those words have stayed with me. The difference now is that every major purchase gets filtered through the revenue generation spreadsheet. Can this help or hurt revenue generation? Is it worth the cost? Sometimes objects have hidden savings or hidden benefits. For example, I’m always amazed at how people skimp on office chairs. If you work in front of a computer, why wouldn’t you invest in a decent chair? Sure $1,000 US is insane to consider for a home office chair. Until you think about how many hours you spend in it and any health costs for sitting in a chair that doesn’t give good support or encourage good posture. In 1995, I bought a Herman Miller Equa task chair with casters for $400. There were rumblings inside my head and from co-workers about how crazy I was to spend that kind of money on a chair. However, that chair was in use in my home office until 2007. My mom uses that chair now. The fabric has held up and it’s still in fantastic working order, 17 years later. That said, I don’t think it’s necessary to spend $3,000 dollars when a third of that will fund a fantastic chair that will get used for years. But the $200 chair at a big box store? Crap. Not worth the box it came in.
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The above image was taken on a six year old Canon 5D. It’s not a bad camera at all. The sensor needs to be cleaned, but it still takes great images. I think it’s quickly becoming apparent that if I want to take my photography further, I’ll need to upgrade to a better camera. Not so much for the image capture but for the output in prints and the potential for the commercial use of the images. I suppose one could make the argument that by publishing images here, they are helping to generate income. And that’s true. But the work to get the images to the next level is being limited by the camera. I can’t believe I’m saying this, but I’ve outgrown the 5D. The images I capture on the Mark II give more creative freedom and have a better dynamic range. They are stronger images. Yes, I can manipulate the 5D images, but the Mark II images require less work to finish editing and processing. And that’s the other factor: time. If I value my time, I have to attach a monetary figure to how that time is spent on tasks that a better piece of gear would eliminate. This kind of consideration is something that is a relatively new aspect in purchase decisions. And by new I’d say within the last 6 years.
The Mormon pioneer DIY ethic was deeply engrained in me. It took weeks of internal justification before I realized that hiring somebody to mow the lawn made my life less stressed, my post-mow allergies less annoying and the yard looked miles better. I didn’t know until 2008 why morning the lawn without a respirator made me feel crappy; I’m literally allergic to grass. I figure it took a couple of hours to mow, edge and clean up. Another couple of hours to shower and sit or lie down because my allergies were so bad. Four hours of my time. A crew can blaze through a lawn in a quarter of the time it would take me and cost a lot less. The cost benefit analysis: pay somebody. But my parent’s rigid adherence to doing it for yourself was still banging around inside. Once I fired up a spreadsheet, it made no sense to continue the weekly mow myself.
How this applies to a new camera? If I can’t make money with an expensive camera, I can’t justify the purchase. Maybe I need to re-think my print pricing.