Friday, February 25, 2022

How many things?

Last night I watched a documentary on minimalism. The story goes that many people buy many things thinking that will make them happy. And all too often, it doesn't. Which explains why there are so many garages and basements and storage units full of stuff. (Don't get me started on the stuff itself, most of it being cheap shit you don't need made in China by near-slave labour.)

Which got me thinking about stuff. Cameras in particular, since the table with camera gear is in plain sight of the TV. So how many cameras are there?

Let's begin at the beginning, shall we? In high school, as far as I know there was only one camera in the house. The school had several cameras for the journalism class. There are very few photographs of me younger than grade 5, and not all that many afterward. Video cameras were rare. The first video footage of me was about 1997 during a work course. 

Then there were no cameras in my life till the early 80's when I bought an inexpensive point and shoot. Every mall had at least one place to buy such cameras and drop off film to be developed and create prints. Turnaround time could be between several hours and a week depending on how eager you were. We have a box full of them downstairs, and I'm thinking of digitizing them, or some of them.

 Then an inexpensive digital camera showed up for a vacation in Europe. Somewhere along the way computers and phones started having a camera in them. The mall camera stores started to disappear, along with Blockbuster and other video stores. There's still places to get film developed, but you have to look for them. 

So, cameras in this house now? Let me count, in no particular order.
Canon 6D mk 2, my primary digital camera, last used a few days ago.
Canon T6i, my backup digital for events, just in case, or a second night shoot direction, last used a few days ago.
Fujica GL690, a borrowed medium format film camera while my GW690 is off for CLA, last used yesterday.
Nikon FM2, a borrowed 35mm film camera, last used yesterday.
Nikon FE, a borrowed 35mm film camera, not yet used.
My iphone has 2 cameras, last used within a week although not for photographs.
Linda's phone has 2 cameras, never used as far as I know
My main iMac, last used a few weeks ago
Linda's iMac, last used last night.
The old iMac used for photo display, not used in years, though the iMac itself is.
The iPad has 2 cameras (I don't particularly need this, and it won't be replaced when it dies.) Cameras not used in years, unit is in daily use.
An obsolete iPhone with 2 cameras. (Does it count if the phone doesn't work any more?) Not used in years.
An obsolete digital camera in a drawer. It still works, but not used in years.
An obsolete film point and shoot. It probably still works, because what could break? Not used in years.
The backup camera in the car.

I don't know if the TV has a camera to pick up hand gestures to control it. I hope not, but at least we're always wearing pants while watching it.

That is 19 cameras! Holy doodle! Granted, 2 of them will be returned anon. Several are essentially non-functional. The car camera is purpose dedicated and couldn't be used to actually take a photo. In some cases the device itself is used though the camera function might not be.

I'm just assuming that aliens or some secret spy agency have not bugged the house, because that would be paranoid.

One of the questions to ask yourself is when you last used it? By that standard there are several cameras that could be disposed of. The related question is, when will it be next used? For some of them the answer is today, or within a few days. For others, and it should be obvious which they are, the answer is never.

The cameras are just an example. Clothes came up in the documentary. They mentioned there are now  essentially 52 seasons for clothing, as an impetus to make people buy more clothes. Same questions, when last worn, when will it be worn again? 

Making clothing has a huge environmental impact. It seems like there is more of it, but of much poorer quality. New jeans used to be nearly bulletproof and would last through several kids in a family growing out of them. I don't wear jeans anymore because they feel so cheap I'm afraid they'll fall apart while out in public. I've still got a bunch of clothing for working in an office, which I'm almost completely sure I'm never going to do again. 

But stuff is complicated. The documentary zipped past the de-stuff process. Most people hang onto stuff because they plan to use it again, or they might need it for the intended purpose or perhaps an unintended purpose, or there is an emotional attachment to it. Looking just to my left is a bunch of emotional attachment, in the form of race finisher medals. I suppose the only one I'm really attached to is Ironman Canada, but the others tell a story as well. But if I got hit by a bus and someone was cleaning up after me, they'd go in the rubbish bin. Probably most of the cameras would as well, though you could get actual money for the medium format camera, and the digital lenses hold their value quite well.

In many cases the choice is to keep the stuff, or throw it in the garbage. Yes, there are resell and donation options, but they're problematic. Often the sale price doesn't cover the fuss and bother of the sale. Some donation places are very strict about what they'll take. I've helped with the community cleanup a number of times now. Pre COVID it was amazing what people thought was suitable for a swap table. It's also amazing what people toss into the e-recycling cart and the garbage truck. Much of it is still functional, it's just not big enough, or new enough, or fashionable enough.

That word, fashion. It drives a lot of buying decisions. I take pride in being unfashionable. 

I think the minimalism guys went overboard. There is a continuum from not having enough stuff to do the things you want to do, to having so much stuff you're drowning in it. Hoarding is a real thing, and can be a real problem. Most of us are somewhere in between those extremes. Finding the right place for you and your family is sometimes a bit of a struggle. I'm thinking that if you can't get your car in the garage because of stuff, you've got too much. Under most circumstances, if you need a storage unit you've probably got too much stuff. 

How many cameras will we end up with? Probably the 2 digitals, though if someone wanted the T6 and associated lenses as a starter camera, I could give them a great deal. The medium format, just because. The other cameras are in devices, like the phone and computers. 

Where are you on the stuff continuum?

For all the talk about cameras, there are no photographs. I could include photos of some of our stuff, but that would just horrify all involved.

Of the Day



Fish Creek bridge one, looking upstream. As I look at it now, those rocks don't look quite the right colour.

Wednesday, February 23, 2022

WTF cold, again

Another bout of cold. It was -32 C when I shambled into the pre-dawn light for a short drive to feed a horde of cats. I'm cat-sitting for some friends currently in Maui. Boy, did they ever pick the right time to take a vacation, even if there are some COVID travel related hiccoughs. It's supposed to warm up a bit today, and more tomorrow, and Friday might actually be civilized enough to go outside voluntarily.

As a side note, I had never really realized what a dainty eater Celina is. These three cats make the most disgusting noises as they gobble it down. I've heard quieter pigs at the trough.

I'm not sure why it's been a week since I last blogged. I seem to be really busy just lately, and the days zoom by.

The film experiment has been moved to my other blog here. I'll post a quick update after hitting the publish button.

I think I'm really retired now. First thing this morning I had a previous employer contact me and ask if I wanted a short contract doing Maximo stuff. When my stint with them ended on cordial terms, there was some discussion of followup work, but for whatever reason that never happened. That's common in the contracting world. It's sometimes a giant game of chicken and egg, trying to get the project and budget approved, and trying to line up the people you need, which drives the budget and specific project planning, depending on the skills of the people you do get. To get the people you have to agree on a price, and usually the people you want are already working, but might be persuaded to leave, or you can tweak the project timing around their contract end date. Sometimes you can't get the project unless you get specific people. And around and around it goes. Some days it's amazing anything gets done. I've often thought that in the oil and gas world someone with lots of stroke and budgetary authority finds a project manager and tells them to get a project done in a hurry and here's lots of money but try not to spend it all.

There was a time when I would have snapped up this offer in a New York second. I've had times when I was looking for work and was willing to be extremely flexible about the whole thing. My theory is that employers know when you're desperate and need a job. They can smell it. Often it's the kiss of job offer death, or they'll low ball you just because they can. 

But then after leaving Penn West (now called something else that doesn't come immediately to mind) I wasn't fussed about looking for work. Several people had talked to me about projects, and I was interested because of the people involved. However I did not go looking for work. It found me. Those 2 projects came to fruition. A contact from one of them hunted me down while on vacation in New Zealand to bring me on board for one of their projects. Now they've reached out to me again. 

It's flattering, and I admit I almost said yes out of habit. In the contracting world one usually says yes, unless there's a compelling reason to say no. Already working is the usual reason, and being retired is getting more common. Most contractors have a little list of people and organizations they they would really really prefer not to work with again. But the thing is you never know when the next project might come along. For most contractors it's better to be working than not working. It's nice to be getting paid near the top of your scale, but better to be working at the lower end, than not working at the top end.

So anyway, if I'd taken it, I'd have had to change my plans about shutting down the company, which is in progress. It would have changed a bunch of financial planning stuff, and my finance people would have rolled their eyes at me. That last one was a year at my top rate, so it was worth it. A friend of mine had this to say "When you have a great ski run near the end of the day, you stop and savour it, rather than taking one more when you're tired and more likely to injure yourself." 

As a blog note. Right now I have one blog notification mailing list, and I send it out when either blog gets updated. But if you'd like to be notified only about this personal blog because you don't care about the film experience, let me know and I'll tweak the blog mailing list. I want to keep my readers happy!

Because it's so cold, here's some more frosty window photos.






Of the Day


From the south side of Fish Creek park, looking north. 

Thursday, February 17, 2022

Fujica GW690, film experiment continues

Today was the day! I've enjoyed shooting 35mm film enough that I've been thinking about what camera to get for my own. Sean had lent me a Nikon FM2 and an FE. It's been fun, but I'm acutely aware that they are not my cameras, and they don't feel really at home in my hands. 

Then he and I were on a road trip last week (photos here and here) and dropped into The Film Experience Camera Store in Longview. The Fujica GW690 camera caught my eye, and I could hear it calling me. I did some research on it and started to like it. Today I went there again. I was initially thinking about another sunrise trip but it was overcast so I went back to bed. As a side note, they have a ton of film cameras. Right now there's a beautiful 4x5 view camera, I think it's a Wista, but that's way too much camera for me. Anyone looking for a Mamiya 7ii?

As soon as I picked up the GW690 I knew I was going to buy it. The camera feels great in my hands. It's not some tiny little thing I can't get a grip on; it's actually a handful. Someone with small hands might not feel comfortable. It feels even better than the Canon, although I can't let it hang from hooked fingers into the grip. It's used, of course, and it shows some wear. That's fine. Cameras are meant to be used to produce images, not sit on a shelf gathering dust.

For all that it's mostly metal construction it isn't that heavy. I've got one lens that weighs more than it does. This is a fully mechanical camera, no batteries required. It's a fixed 90mm lens that would be considered on the wide side of normal. Perfect for landscapes, cityscapes, and portraits in a setting. In the camera world it's called the Texas Leica because it's similar to the famous Leica rangefinder cameras, just a lot bigger, and a lot Lot LOT less expensive. It shoots a negative that is 6x9 cm (duh!) on 120 film. Just for comparison, 35mm film is actually 2.4 x 3.5 cm. 

I had a great chat with Dave about various related topics. He shot the interchangeable lens version of this for some time and gave me some pointers. I picked up some Portra 160 film, and some accessories to DSLR scan the negatives. I can't wait to load it up and take it on a shoot! 

Here's what it looks like beside a Canon 6D Mk ii with a 100mm lens. 

Of the Day



You might think that because I showed off the new film camera above, that I'd include images shot with it. Not so fast. Stay tuned for those. This is some graffiti in Inglewood.

Wednesday, February 16, 2022

Lappiness happiness

It was sort of a spring-like day early Febrary for a walk along the Bow in Fish Creek. This time I wore the traction aids and had a great walk between Bankside and Mallard Point. However there wasn't much that caught my eye. 



3. I was impressed with the beavers. There's several places they've demonstrated their tree-felling abilities. Probably much to the despair of the people trying to manage the river valley ecosystem.



6. The infamous albino cobra chicken was giving me major stink eye.


Of the Day

And a serendipity from the bird sanctuary.



Celina and Linda, and where I got the blog title from. Celina has been very demanding about lap time lately. In our house the person with a cat in their lap gets asking privileges. They can ask the other human to put on tea or get a drink. All to keep the cat (formerly the cats) happy. Which is why we've never had more than two cats, one for each lap. We miss Curtis, he was such a good lap cat. Yes, we've been thinking about getting another one, but we remember the struggle with Amelia and Bernard. That wasn't good, not even slightly. 

I struggled with the composition here, both digitally and on film. At first I really liked the chunk of driftwood and it's reflections, but the more I looked at it the less I liked it. The reflections of the trees are nice, and I was working on framing it with the ugly bridge. You can't tell, but for this I'm up against a fence wishing I could get down the river itself. In the end it is what it is.

Monday, February 14, 2022

After the pumpjack

As promised, the rest of the photos from our ramble last week. If you missed the referenced pumpjack, look here

Before we got to the dead end road, we found these abandoned silos. 



4. While working on the composition for the silos I'd been keeping an eye on the sky.

5. A nice mountain view.

6. A panorama of that view. The original is 20777 x 6051 px, or about 6 x a little over 1.5 feet in exquisite detail.

7. Near the end of the dead end road we found this nice bridge in wonderful light.



By now we had explored the roads we had set out to explore, and the thought of second breakfast was beginning to come to mind. The place to go was obvious, The Chuckwagon in Turner Valley. It's been years since I've been there, and it was even better than I remembered. 

We took a scenic route home via roads west of 22, but nothing scenic enough in that light to stop and take photos. All we found were more things that the mapping app thought were roads, but were driveways. All in all, and wonderful outing!

Of the Day



Film. From the Bow river wander just west of downtown. 

Friday, February 11, 2022

For those that don't know pumpjacks

My Alberta readers have all probably seen a pumpjack. They know they don't look quite like this in real life.

Then again, the camera looked at it for 20 seconds. Normally in real life the counter weight wheel goes around and around, and the head goes up and down, each slow stroke bringing oil to the surface. Used to be it was rare to see one not moving. Now it's somewhat of a surprise to see one in operation. The brutal price of oil over the last several years has forced operators to shut in many wells. When one well costs more to pump a barrel than the price you get, it's no big deal. It probably costs more to identify that well and go through the process to shut it in, than to take the loss. But when it's many wells, and every dollar counts, it's easy to shut them in. Some will never be restarted.

Sean and I were in the mood to go for a drive ramble, looking for a good sunrise spot. As a bonus, we found a pump jack there, and a great view of the mountains, plus great light! What more could you ask for?

A couple sunrise shots. The first is so-so, facing south. The second is better, facing east.

One of the goals of sunrise photographers is to get nice pink light on the mountains. Almost. So close. Missed it by THAT much. I was busy trying another long exposure shot of the pumpjack when the mountains were lit up nicely, and it was gone by the time the long exposure ended.

Shortly after this the nice sunrise light was over. We carried on with the other plan for the drive; to explore the roads south of the Sheep River. (More photos coming, stay tuned.) Things are not as they sometimes appear. The map apps tell lies. It showed us the road dead-ended when it didn't. Things that appear as roads are sometimes driveways, which might or might not have gates. They might be oilfield service roads or logging roads. It's generally a bad idea to drive off the provincial roads unless you're sure of your welcome. It's no surprise to find property owners who take their privacy seriously.

Along with it's many other delusions, the Alberta government is under the impression that COVID is over. They've repealed the Restrictions Exemptions Program essentially without any warning. This was where people were sometimes required to show proof of vaccination or a medical exemption. Getting it, and showing it was a complete nothing burger. Masking requirements for kids are gone on Monday, and the masking requirement for everybody will be lifted March 1.

Oh sure, they say, it's dependent on hospitalizations coming down. Which they haven't. They haven't released any of the data that they say supports their decision. It's all politically driven by Kenney trying to save his job. Even the people that have been pushing us to open our facility are taken aback by the speed of the restrictions being lifted. This has happened before. "Best summer ever!"

A joke for you. When is the dance with the 800 pound gorilla over? When it decides it's over. I'm looking for an update to Wednesday's COVID hospitalization numbers, but don't see it. The current numbers are 1600, plus or minus a little, with no sign of consistent decline. Any decline in the numbers is mostly made up of the people who have died. 

I don't think COVID is done with us, and will not be surprised in a week or so if the hospitalization numbers are on their way up again. In one sense I love to see Kenney eating crow because there's nobody it looks better on. But. Holy doodle but. There's already too many people in the hospital with COVID, and far too many people have died from it. I don't want to see any more. Everybody in the medical system, every doctor, nurse, technician, cleaning staff, everybody, needs a long vacation. 

Over the past couple months swimming I've got to know who the regulars are. There's a smile and nod, or a wave, maybe even a bit of a chat between sets if the timing is right. Most of us know what speed we swim at and we seed ourselves accordingly. One new guy that could barely swim was thrashing along in the fast lane when I showed up. He said good morning, and asked if I could keep up with the other guy swimming in that lane. He had the sense to find another lane when I told him I'd be passing him every fourth lap or so.

There were several new faces there today, and I'm a bit uneasy about it. I'm guessing these are people who have not been coming because they couldn't show proof of vaccination. I'm going to be keeping my distance from them. Assuming the mask requirement goes away, I'll probably not wear a mask between the front door and the pool deck, but when I'm grocery shopping I'll probably still wear one. 

Of the Day
After taking the photo I wandered around this trying to figure it out. I think it's the remains of a sculpture of some kind.



During our drive we happened to go through Longview. I'd known there was a shop that specialized in film supplies. It's closed for the season, but the owner saw us getting out of the truck to read the sign. He poked his head out the door to say hello, and then let us in. We browsed. I didn't buy anything, but there was a bigger selection of film camera gear than I thought. There was a baby Graflex, and I admit to being tempted. Lots more research needed.