I split the discussion and did not show you gear in yesterday’s post. Waiting is good. Most gear I get is purchased after agonizing over the need and justifying the expense. Leica is Rolls Royce but I do not justify its expense. The “bang” for your $$$$ buck is too low in my opinion. The Canon G7X is my dive camera. It worked so well at the time and still would serve just fine. I am invested in its underwater housing and a strobe. The Sony RX100 VI is a compact camera with more than adequate telephoto reach. It is as good at getting a tele image as my Nikon 80-400mm zoom. Crazy! But to my eye, the image is adequate and way offsets carrying around a big heavy lens when traveling all day. The Canon EOS M6 II was my first mirrorless camera and made an instant leap to my carry-around camera. Covid canceled our trip to Scotland. And, a year later I got the Nikon Z5 full frame mirrorless camera. Full frame is the operative phrase, The camera is larger, therefore, heavier. If you don’t “get” (understand) it (heavy), the Z5 is not for you. Currently, the Z5 is my “go to” except where size matters and I wish to be unobtrusive. And. NO! Colleen will not be going anywhere for the “duration (of our forever marriage).” I am only allowed to have more cameras. … no more cats either. Tech? Gear? No, it’s the image!
So much gear… gearhead? So little time… need all that gear? Does/did it make you better? … do we need another spinning wheel? Sure! Aesthetic? Ah! Hedonistic! The antonym is eudaimonistic. And, we have never heard of that term. So…. go for it! Though, I tend toward introvert, I have never been accused of being a monk.
I need(ed) a kick in the pants. Boredom? Stagnation? Progression? Rut? I started taking flower pictures in earnest last summer. Sure, I have tons of flower pictures from the past. Yawn! But, last summer I started paying attention to the little details. I discovered I had been missing a lot. This spring I convinced myself to get a macro lens. I had a macro lens. It was an old clunky mechanical macro lens, now decades old. There were a myriad of reasons to justify the purchase of a new toy. I am acquisitive and have been all my life. Why not indulge? I did. I got a spiffy full frame mirrorless camera body to go with it. Don’t ask. Boys and toys. It has been a game changer. I am, for the moment, shooting exclusively, extensively, with the new camera and macro lens. Better images? Sure. You can also do the job with about any other equipment. But, like cars, some are better suited to the task. Ease of use and consistent results help. It is similar to the improvement of my dive photos after I started using a dedicated underwater housing and a flash strobe. Unless you are a gearhead, you will not likely understand. Maybe you will nod indulgently like Colleen. Part of what I love is that she (Colleen) understands too well my exuberant enthusiasm. Her spinning wheels are much larger (size) examples how much fun it is to have different tools for the same task. Why use different spinning wheels? Each (wheel) brings something different and, so, brings joy to the task at hand. I like different cameras (not too many) for what they can do to get the image I have visualized. I firmly believe that iPhone is not the best tool for most situations.
These are random observations today. 3% is the amount of lemon juice in this container of frozen treat. Two servings at 130 cal for a total of 290 cal in the container. Yeah, do the math. And, two plus two…. Oh, 3% juice? It’s sugar water! Lemons are not naturally sweet. It’s the flower of a dill plant. Who cares? And, look at that fat ass. Sorry, not PC. The pic is to illustrate two – count ‘em – phones. Matching cheeks? Ooops! Phones? Was the daughter embarrassed? This was a random capture. So, the image left me wondering too. Sometimes things just don’t make a whole lot of sense. Tillie? Eyes torqued and tongue out? I don’t know either.
The blue heron stood long enough for me to get shots. And, I could see him gather up to take flight. My timing was off by just a little. So, instead of a great shot, I got an ordinary slightly out of focus slightly blurred shot. Almost. Not bad though, I had asked the camera, lens, and shutter to do an impossible job from a long way off. We are having a discussion because I managed to get something. If it had been a great shot, I would not have to apologize for the miss. I’m mortal. And, this is not my day job.
All of this, and, without a macro lens… you work with what you brung. We were In Winterthur, the Dupont estate gardens. The plantings are timed to bloom all year long in waves of color throughout the seasons It was azalea time. Peonies were in bloom. Spectacular. The hard part is capturing the beauty. With all the possibility, it was not easy to get a quintessential image. One image? There were too many choices. Wide-angle, macro, telephoto, portrait – it was sensory overload. It is entirely possible to be overwhelmed by great images, one after another. Some days you feel fortunate just to be in the moment. … and to share it with the one you love.
Digital vs Photography
Digital is free. A memory card holds thousands of images. The cost per image is fractions of a penny. Film was costly. It cost money to buy film, develop negatives, and print a picture. You got 36 negatives per roll. If you were Ansel Adams you carried around a large view camera and a limited number of photographic plates. Each image was a process and they had better count because it was not like a machine gun; you could not just spray and shoot. I learned a while ago, that a motor drive will not get you the critical moment when you are shooting sports. There, actually, is skill involved. If you don’t appreciate this, then keep your finger on your iPhone shutter and blast away. A blind squirrel is said to get a nut sometimes. The majority of results do not respect the process and the images reflect the lack thereof in kind. Too complicated and don’t care, yes, in the universe of bad images, this is the majority. And, even I, admit to taking too many pictures these days. Press the shutter – I will edit or change things in Lightroom or Photoshop later. It is interesting to think upon the process. I am guilty. I fire away and defer the consequences to a later moment. Or, should I take a real picture? Less is more? Do you think about one good image? Or, is it, close your eyes, press the shutter and hope for the best? Black or white? I do a little of both. Experience, there is something to be said for having tools Ansel Adams never had. At the end of the day, did you have fun? For me, digital is my negative. I shot 26 images to meld into a single shot. Ansel would have worked his negative to get all the detail onto a single plate. Today, it’s called HDR. We are both working the problem with what we have in our tech arsenal.
Ho hum. Another flower picture? Yawn, boring. Till… I noticed the tiny details. Last summer I shot the flowers in my garden with a regular camera zoom lens. The details I captured were eye-opening. This year I updated my gear and got an (up-to-date) macro lens. I got the right tool for the job. I can appreciate the improvement in my images. I was used to a wide-angle view of the garden. Now, I see and capture tiny details. Learning a new trick has been fun and introduced interest once again. I am challenged to illustrate things we would not ordinarily notice in the common flowers in our garden.
As if you might care – macro photography has a very limited depth of field. This is good or bad. I have had to adjust. The critical focus makes it imperative to be certain of the point of interest. Lack of focus is unforgiving. Either you got the shot or not. Ok! Enough! You want to see? The African daisy is in focus at the back and not the front. It’s subtle but makes all the difference between “ok” and “wow!” If you didn’t notice or don’t care, good for you!
I’m a better photographer than Colleen. My skill has been honed to pay attention to detail. It’s knowledge, experience, and better equipment (cameras). Colleen can weave and spin. I am a mere amateur compared to her skill. Ask me to weave anything and I would be at a complete loss. She was looking for old family shots (another story). To protect the innocent, these are old shots of family pets. They are treasured memories to her. Period. Wistfully, I wish they were better and did the beloved pet more justice. By comparison, out of hand, I know the essentials and had the tool to get (better) portraits of our cats, by the hundreds, so far. Sorry, I am truly sorry, I was not there to preserve Colleen’s dear memories. My regret lacks the words to convey the feeling. Precious photos are not always good photos. They are the anchors that crystalize happy memories and the names of beloved pets now departed.
It is interesting how your viewpoint changes in an instant. For a year I have been happy with my images. Then I switched cameras. Suddenly, pictures taken a couple months ago look so different in Lightroom. Focus, composition, lighting – everything looks different – worse. I am better. Or, not. I learn primarily by yesterday’s mistakes. I admit to many. And, I am committed to improving my images going forward. Mainly, I just stopped paying attention. Without a viewfinder, I let the camera take the picture. I left a lot to automation and AI. It did not work so well – in my opinion. One simple thought. Selfies; no one is around, take off your silly mask. It is instantly a better picture. Duh! Anyway, I got a wake-up call while editing nearly 1000 images taken back in March compared to my current work using a viewfinder again. The point: using the LCD, I got lazy and stopped paying attention to critical focus and composition. As a result many of my pictures were poorly exposed and unfocused. Composition had gone to hell. 1000 images and most of them were not worthy. I had pressed the shutter and hoped for the best. I have regained my senses. I am better now. I will improve. Sometimes, less is more.
This would be my second time. We tried it in Scotland. And, now we found a Tea Room closer to home. It was shut during the Covid crisis. Now that we are vaccinated, the shop has opened and accepted reservations. The hat is de rigueur. Afterward we wandered through the local antique store trying on more stylish chapeaus for the next occasion when we take high tea once more. Pennies on the table? Shiny. They keep away flies. Uh, ok. It worked. We did not see a fly all day.
With eight cats you have a lot of photo ops. No, it is not the same as herding cats. You do have to hunt them down to shoot a picture. It’s not so hard. They tend to lounge about close to where I am working. Good! I got seven very quickly. And then, Feather? Missing. She was hiding. Cats do not come when you call or ask. I did a merry search high and low. Nope. She finally sauntered to the landing overlooking the house and waited for me to notice her. What? You, lookin’ for me? It was a lot easier when I only had to track down six cats. Fierce? No, they yawn a lot.
Not my best effort – yet. There are two hummingbirds. The black head is a mature ruby throated hummingbird. You can see the ruby when it stretches its neck. The other bird with the tan neck is a juvenile. How do I know? Colleen looked it up. Ha! The hummingbird feeder has paid dividends within days after I hung it. I hope to get more shots and with more detail. No complaints. So far so good. Thank you, Jess!
What catches my eye? Something I have not seen. There’s plenty. … I have not seen. Key: Bees? They look like bees – humping. Bumble bee – flying into the foxglove. All the way in! Orange flower – it’s in my garden. The label (wazzit it called?) is long gone. Willow – yawning in the reflection. Hey! It was all in the same day. Lucky? Not really. I just have a camera at hand all the time. Some days you make your own luck.
I read that you should enter photo contests. There’s a long explanation/argument that it will improve your technique. Ok. I have not entered any contests. I read. And I experiment. For me it is mileage. The pleasure is mine. I am not constrained. I am free to shoot as I please. Good? Bad? The other good is about whether your work measures up. Does it matter? Yes, if you are entering contests. Win or lose means good or bad? If you lose, you did not measure up? Ha ha. Drive yourself crazy. For me it’s still mileage. I’m not winning awards but the quality keeps me happy. I do better than snapshots and less than fine art. And there is no one to tell me what art looks like. I’m / we’re having fun. Eh? (One more parenthetical thought: When I learned to ski, the instructor spent the entire lesson “hitting” on the girls. No more lessons. Mileage. I just skied and got better and better. I never won a race. But, then, that was never the point, was it?)
Too numerous to count. I have just planted for the season. It’s not all done; more to come. Meanwhile, there are photo ops too numerous to mention everywhere I look. It is like diving in Jeddah. You cruise up one side of the garden and back. The subjects are plentiful. One flower can be photographed in different light with or without rain. The variations keep it interesting. There is always a different angle or different perspective. Detail, you see something new each time you look. It remains interesting. Mother Nature sure can produce variety.
What’s yours? The limit of enlarging an image is multi-factorial. The quality of the source image counts. This is dependent upon camera, lens, and focus. There’s more but it would be boring to get too much more technical. Meanwhile, the red wing blackbird in flight was fortuitous. I could have done better. But the moment came and went. I did not have the right equipment. But you can see the color of the bird in flight. To me, it looks orange in my picture. But in other views, we saw the characteristic red color. At the end of the day, the image ain’t perfect. But otherwise, we’d have nothing to talk about. I got the dang bird in flight!
I noticed a while ago that Tillie has jet black whiskers. Why not? She’s a black cat. But, the light reflects from the whiskers and they appear white most times. I have dutifully tried to capture a picture showing the black whisker. It appears I may have been successful. For comparison, Willow is pure white with white whiskers. Do you care? The challenge was to take a photo true to life of those black whiskers. Convinced? I may yet get a better shot. It’s a work in progress.
Depending on how the light reflects, it could be black or light. It is black. The trick is in capturing the image.
I wuz robbed
I hate mowing the lawn. And, I especially hate mowing around trees. We had an electric mower with a long extension cord that I have cut (the cord) with the blade on many an occasion (and repaired). Colleen had that pitiful look women/wives get in the big box store – we bought a battery operated mower. Darn!! I was waiting for her to screech and complain as the cord twisted around the trees. Nope! She got out of it with a bit of crafty maneuvering. I’m a big softie. Yeah, no one dresses up to do yard work. I can only toss in a couple flowers to note that the garden is looking good.
I have cameras. They are smaller than spinning wheels. And, they (cameras) are smaller than looms and great wheels. This does not mean that I don’t have a lot (of cameras). It just means they are more discrete. I have a series (of cameras) that I rotate in use. Each has its own characteristics, and therefore, its use in certain situations. It would be boring to wax poetic over each (camera’s) special or general use. Suffice to say that Colleen’s picture illustrates one “signature” spinning wheel, one loom, and two great wheels, all of which take up (all) the available space in our (her) living room. Three cameras take up a portion of one table that does not have fiber upon it. Which is to say, that the missing camera (I took this photo with it) is my new spiffy Nikon Z5. Yes, one must always keep up with tech. It is the replacement to my trusty Nikon D610, that I purchased when Colleen and I first met. I will not be replacing Colleen anytime soon. I say this upon pain of death. Ha ha. (KIDDING!).
This new camera does take great shots. I’ve been waiting to get the red wing blackbird with its red chevron – only to find, it is orange – and shot with my Sony RX100 VI. The swallow? A crow decimated their nest last spring. I hope they have returned to nest once more. Mix and match, each instrument for its purpose. When you you need a hammer, a screw driver might do if nothing else is at hand. Macro? The right lens is definitely a plus – helpful! But you can do it with or without. I love to learn new tricks. A new camera? A new lens? Is it an excuse? Or, is it inspiration to explore new possibilities? Whatever! I rotate and I use whatever is at hand that will achieve what I imagine. Sometimes it works. Do we need all those spinning wheels? Ha ha. I would not presume to answer that question. But I do know, it’s a whole lot of fun to have the tools you need at hand. … now to talk Colleen into needing a Tesla.
Be careful what you ask for…
“When you’re suddenly told that you have a condition that is considered terminal,” she said on the podcast the Human Guinea Pig Project in 2019, “the one thing you desperately need is psychological support, and it’s not there.”
Glioblastoma is a particularly aggressive type of brain tumor that seems to defy treatment. It is what killed President Biden’s son Beau in 2015 and Senator John McCain in 2017.
“Median survival, the point by which half of those with glioblastoma have died, is usually put at 14 months,” Ms. Morris wrote in the essay. “Only one in 20 people survive five years.” 2016 – 2021, Jessica did better than the median. What’s brutally unusual is knowing the date with death averages 14 months. Knowing is a blessing and a curse.
Cause Celebre? The NYT article hit right where I live. There’s history here:
I started neurosurgery in the 70’s. The big discovery was RT – radiation therapy – worked. It worked so well that the clinical trials ended early because it made such a dramatic difference. The median survival was 12 months with RT. Chemo added a couple months. Let’s see. I’m retired. Nearly 50 years later the numbers are about the same. We didn’t get far? We didn’t try hard? We ignored the disease?
There are always exceptions: Susan D survived more than 10 years after my initial treatment of her. I would shake my head in wonder each time she waltzed into my office past the secretaries and Ginny, my nurse, to plop down behind my desk and greet me, “How’s it going doc?” One day at the beach she reclaimed her wig (that resembled a “drowned rat”) from group of startled kids, when the wig washed from her head in a wave. Susan had the wherewithal to laugh at herself and make us laugh.
14 months? It is the median – the peak of the Bell curve. There are those who survive longer and those who succumb in less than a year.
Add Senator Ted Kennedy to the list. At the time of his diagnosis he convened a group of prominent neurosurgeons from around the US. One confided he did not want the honor of Kennedy’s surgery because his death soon after would be a negative impact on his reputation. We expected to hear, and, Ted got, the very best in neurosurgical state of the art treatment. Ted lasted about 18 months. He lived to make a speech at the DNC. Ted was not all there when he made that speech.
We have computer guided neurosurgery that will remove all visible tumor seen on the scan. The problem is that tumor cells lurk in the borders, too small to see or resect. The tumor genome is multi-ploidy. Therein lies our failure. We cannot simply resect brain without consequences.
There’s much promising research. We will cure this disease. We just haven’t made much progress in about 50 year. And, we have – made progress. Sorry, chemo, RT, and surgery, that’s it? Immunotherpy, gene therapy… all promising. Hope?!
Support? Yes, we do. I did. I prepared the family in advance. For the patient, hope. Always provide hope. This brain cancer takes away your ability to realize or care that you are dying. So, comfort is the word. As the patient, you will slowly lose track and be unaware you are dying. Your family will know. It will be particularly hard to watch mom become not mom. Therein lies the truth in telling the facts and letting family adjust to the inevitable. It is profoundly sad to lose a loved one no matter the circumstances. Support? Yes, I provided a lot.
There is not a single patient death that you ever shrug off. Knowing is a burden. Every single patient I ever lost was a defeat. Like a relief pitcher in baseball – full count, two outs in the 9th with the bases loaded – you don’t dwell on the home run you pitched last night. Compassion is something every physician must master. If your patient does not have hope, you need to rethink your approach. There is no compassion in telling your patient they are doomed outright. In this case, hope is lying. We (neurosurgeons) all know this.
The choices are not cookie cutter. Against the backdrop of the facts, Jessica sought hope. I never lied. If you ask, I’ll tell you. But… always, hope. Circular thinkng, but, if you ask for the truth….
Rick Reeves made spinning wheels. Ok, I bet that means something. It don’t mean a thing – hmmm, a song – to me, inasmuch as, what’s in a name? If you are a serious spinner the name is like a Leica camera. Drool, dream, pine, whisper, are all supporting descriptive adjectives. The internet had exactly one for sale the day I searched. It was in Texas, the wheel. After communicating with the owner, we agreed to try to ship the wheel intact. I commend UPS. The surcharge for shipping was near 30%. But the wheel arrived intact. There was a lot of packing. A lot!! Motion? The wheel and the bobbin are spinning in the pics. It’s subtle. Subtlety is the best way to appreciate a handcrafted signature wheel. I will further admit, I got a wheelbarrow for my birthday. A fair trade, I think. Not! Look closely. This a weaver’s home. Notice: two great wheels, a loom, a yarn winder, it’s all in the background. This is an idyllic setup for a spinner/weaver. No complaints. This is “home.”
What can I say? New toys open up possibilities. This post was composed about one- and one-half months ago. I suppose the technical aspects are likely boring. I’m just tickled. I have just made things so much easier for myself. And, it is the start of summer flowering. There will be many returns on my investment.
For the longest time I resisted getting a real macro camera lens. These are the first sample images from a spiffy macro lens I acquired toward the end of April. The camera has a very shallow depth of field. Focus on the subject is critical. The right tool for the right job – I had resisted for so long. A few brief moments later, I am convinced. The last time I was enlightened like this, was, when I upgraded my diving equipment. It’s still too early. But, I suspect my images will change for the better. No longer am I tied to the concept: when you don’t have a hammer, a screw driver will do. It’s nice to eat with a knife and fork.