moscone, three weeks ago

Sophie got an appointment three weeks ago, to get her shot, so we went into the city and did the thing. Quick, efficient, nice. I was pretty much done with work for the day, so went with her to see what the city was like. I’ve worked in and around this area for years at a time, so it was interesting to see it so empty on a Friday afternoon. Not that it was a ghost town, but it was maybe 20% of what I would see there any time between 2013 and 2020 on any given day.

The area around the entrances and exits was a little busier, but nothing compared to the middle of Salesforce or Oracle or one of those events. Just a constant trickle of people coming into the huge building, and another trickle of them leaving. Some SF parking authority people directing traffic, and volunteers outside, directing people. It was really cool how normal and functional it all seemed. Is this something we can expect from government services? shit that just works?

I have to agree with some of the people I’ve seen with takes on twitter, that once people have a sample of free healthcare they’re going to want it all the time. It makes so much sense from so many angles, not least of which is the human angle: more, better care for people that need it the most.

The last post, I forgot to explain: I’d been posting pictures from last fall, but then I imported a bunch more recent things, and ended up working them up instead of continuing. This blog has been fully nonlinear for a while though, and I didn’t think it merited more than a passing remark, and then I forgot to even put that in the text. So here it is.

Tomorrow, I go to get my second shot. I’m pretty happy to be getting it, both because I’m tired of being reasonable and because it provides more coverage for people that can’t get it. Tired of being reasonable like: Sacramento is halfway to a lot of fun things in the Sierras, and since I have to go there anyway to get stabbed, I might as well go on to the mountains, catch the sunset, hang out, and then drive home later at night. But. The reasonable thing is, of course, to come directly home. But.

I think what’s going to happen is I’ll get my shot, come home, maybe go to the fabric store, and save the day trip to the sierras until I’m fully covered in two weeks. a little more planning will net me a lot more trip, anyway. Speaking of net, it’s time I went to sleep. Enjoy the rest of the pix.

Posted on 2021-04-07 08:24:15Z GMT

betraying a recency bias

Last weekend, some friends and I went out to the state park by Mt Diablo (pretty sure it contains the mountain), had a nice picnic, and caught up for the first time in a while. I was playing around with the new lens a bit here; shooting at f/2 I think, because this was before the ND filter came in the mail.

Things about this lens: despite quite a bit of tinkering, the focus may still be off. Focusing a f/0.95 lens wide open is no joke; I think it’s a task best left for through-the-lens viewing. The focus ring turns quite a lot, giving very fine control, but working very close in, like the photo of the dog (Finley, a Good Boy), it’s possible to be off enough that focus is missed entirely. You can try bracketing, but it’s a real crapshoot with this lens. The backlash in the helical is more than the margin of error.

Also, on my sample at least, the color is very strange. A bit flat, which is some of what I’m seeing (and I’ll get to that flatness in a moment), but also with a strong green cast that I don’t understand. The microcontrast is poor, and the sort of global contrast is also poor. It’s a spherical lens when I’ve gotten quite used to molded aspherics in everything. Of course stopped to f/4, it’s fine, because everything looks fine at f/4.

All that said, I think it does have its place in the arsenal. Low light, high contrast situations, like shooting at night in a club, or on the street at night; it does flare badly if it’s exposed to the sun, and the built-in hood is so bad I acutaly cut it off my lens, but/and that can be good sometimes. Using this lens is an aesthetic choice you have to apply judiciously.

I did figure out with this lens that I should have an ND filter for my regular 50, so I can use it wide open in daylight too. I’ve been carrying it around like that for a week now, and it’s been really interesting. I always like shooting wide open, or at least I thing the pictures that come out of it are more interesting. It makes me pick what’s going to be sharp, what the focus of the picture should be. Again, probably an aesthetic choice, use at your own discretion.

Posted on 2021-04-05 08:02:16Z GMT

settled in colorado / new lens

Still photos from last fall. We arrived in Colorado, where my mother in law lives, and stayed there for the night; an added benefit of going there is we were able to pod up with her and Sophie got to spend some time with her mom. The next day, we moved into the empty house we were watching, and met the dog and cat we were taking care of. The house was nice; spacious, big yard, nice kitchen. There was an amount of smoke, but the park right next to the house was usually tolerable, and really quite nice in terms of a big open space to have easy access to.

I got a new lens this week, the Mitakon 50mm f/0.95. It’s a superspeed lens that has a very large aperture, allowing a lot of light in. I think it’s probably on the level of the first 1.0 noctilux in terms of bokeh and sharpness (having shot not at all with the leica lens, and not much with this one yet). It took me several hours over the last few days to get the lens calibrated; there’s an adjustment for the rangefinder coupling that’s done with shims, and there’s also a somewhat fiddly adjustment to get it to go to infinity; after a lot of messing around, it’s finally dialed in. I might do a video about the adjustment, as much to record it for myself as for, like, the rest of the world. I’m definitely going to do some more thorough review of the lens, because it’s new and shiny and I’ll definitely have opinions after a month with it.

this week has been long and tiring. I need a three day weekend. But no. The work will continue until morale improves.

I don’t know what was said in the moment before this photo was taken, but it’s priceless.

Posted on 2021-03-26 08:28:02Z GMT

over the sierras, past the great basin, into more smoke

So, mid September, the opportunity fell in our laps to get out of the Bay for a bit, just when it was looking like the smoke was going to hang around for another month at least. Looking back, we were absurdly cautious. We drove, so no airports; food from drive throughs wherever possible, so no sharing air; we were house and dog sitting for some friends who were taking a rafting trip down the colorado for a month, so we had a place all to ourselves. I talked about the trip a bit before but these are all new photos at least on the blog.

Even with all that, the trip out was something else. I don’t know what your memories of last fall were, but mine will be of the whole western united states on fire. Not a few brush fires here and there; columns of smoke that could be seen hundreds of miles away. Pyrocumulus clouds bursting with drama. Air filters inside, and KN95 masks to walk the dog. Real end times feelings.

The route we took was out I-80, through Salt Lake. Because of the time of day we always leave, we always get to the Bonneville salt flats at night, and don’t get to see much of them. This trip, on the way back, we timed it so we got there at midday. It was early November, but there will be salt flat pictures up here eventually. I just have to go and find them.

There are 10 more pictures but I don’t think I have any more words tonight. Enjoy.

Posted on 2021-03-23 06:56:56Z GMT

Tahoe, last september

Last fall, in the middle of the smoky season, (which was simultaneously 6 months and three lifetimes ago), we had a long weekend around my birthday and took a road trip to Tahoe. This wasn’t a normal road trip with, like, roadside stops for ice cream and the worlds largest ball of string; this was strictly drive to an AirBnB with a key code and stay there; we made a grocery run once there, and sat on a rather nice deck for most of the trip. There was also some smoke there, which wasn’t great, but at least there was different things, thinly visible behind everything.

I am woefully behind on posting, I guess? The timeliness of the posts is totally in my own head, though, and not a product of an actual need to get the photos out. No reason to rush, or to need to be timely. It’s my web site, and I’ll do what I want.

A job listing popped up recently, for a staff photographer at the Chronicle. It’d be a dream job for me, but of course, it’s the sort of thing you’re supposed to work up to, after time at a smaller daily, or working as a stringer. I’ve done none of that, having refused to take a really shitty work for hire contract almost 15 years ago, and failed subsequently to find steady photo work after the 2008 financial crisis, I landed on a backup plan to the backup plan, which turned out to be pretty OK money wise but not super fulfilling otherwise. Hence the blog, the side projects, everything. I might apply, even though my qualifications are thin; it’d be good for me.

Probably nothing will happen, and I’ll end up doing something completely unexpected in 6 months. We’ll see. At least the top post on here isn’t a pepper grinder any more.

Posted on 2021-03-22 01:15:55Z GMT