9.05.2016

My boss gave me the day off for Labor Day so I've just been hanging around playing with a cheapie battery grip on the A7ii.


What the heck was I thinking this morning? We swimmers had the special treat of getting a scheduled master's workout on Labor Day. Gold Medal Olympic butterflies, Tommy Hannan,  showed up to coach us and the lanes were packed with enthusiastic swimmers. For some reason that I have no recollection of really buying into the swimmers in my lane, all younger than me by at least a decade, decided that I needed to lead the I.M. sets. For some insane reason, surely having to do with excess ego and minimal common sense, I decided to got for it and lead this train of swimmers through that part of the set. The I.M.s seemed to go on forever. (For the non-swimmers out in VSL land the I.M. means "individual medley" and consists of equally dividing the distance required by all four of the competitive strokes. For example; if we were doing sets of 200's we'd do two lengths of butterfly, two lengths of backstroke, two of breast stroke and two of freestyle). We pounded through three or four rotations of I.M. sets, followed it up with some four 125 yard repeats, followed by six 100 yard repeats, followed by ten 50 yard repeats (sprinting each of the 50's all out). I successfully kept the younger, stronger piranhas I swim with at bay for the mixed stroke salad but by the time I got home at 10:15 this morning I was shot. I ate like a pig and settled in on the couch for a little nap. Four or five thousand yards of fast, hard swimming sucks the calories right out of a person. I've been grazing since I got up from that nap.....

But that rarely stops me from grabbing a camera in my free time and heading out for a walk. My camera of choice for casual walks these days? It would have to be the Sony A7ii, but with a twist.
Last time I took the A7ii out I didn't take a spare battery and only made cursory check of the battery already in the camera. The gauge told me 65% remaining and I presumed that would work for my short jaunt. But then I got side-tracked. I found more stuff that needed exploring. I found new people to talk to and by the time I was heading home, in the final stretch of my walk, I saw a great image, pulled the camera to my face and had the battery crap out entirely. This made me less than happy. 

My fault, of course, for not practicing safe battery protocols. Four hours of
hanging out and shooting sporadically with the camera on most of the time really demands an extra battery. I've used these cameras enough to know that by now. And it's not that we're lacking for batteries; I think we've got 12 or 15 of the NPW-50's lurking around the studio... I just got lazy. The camera gods attacked me for the effrontery of hubris.

A few evenings later I was ordering stuff from my Amazon Prime account to send to Ben up at school. Dumb stuff that you don't want to ship yourself if you can get shipping for free. Things like: his favorite pens, a new razor, notebooks, blankets, and, of course, more insulated hiking boots...
While I am usually strict with myself when it comes to the lure of shopping online (that's a joke. pure and simple: a joke --- I'm a horrible impulse shopper. A shopper of opportunity. Have cash flow? Will shop for gear!). 

I started thinking about how small my A7 cameras are and how much I'd like to have a little more pinky space when I'm manhandling the camera bodies. That reminded me of the battery imbroglio and the next thing I know I'm on the product page for the Sony battery grip. The price nearly knocked me off my chair. I looked around for a generic. After all, I had no pressing, commercial need for the grip it was just.....a nice thought. Oh hell, it was purely an impulse purchase. Anyway, I found a company that sells generic grips for the Sony ii series cameras for about $75 and I bought one. The delightful thing about Amazon is that if one orders a battery grip and it turns out to be trash it's so easy to return it for a refund. 

This grip is branded as a "Vello" grip and it came in an unassuming little box with a nice, printed manual. There is a tray that can hold one or two batteries and there is a portion of the grip that fits into the camera's battery compartment so you end up with both batteries in the grip and nothing but connections in the camera's battery space. I held my breath and turned on the camera. I have used the grip for five or six days now and it's working well for my use. 

I have not tested the duplicated function buttons or the duplicated dial on the grip. I am using it strictly as I intended; as a fancy and convenient battery holder. Judged by its performance in that narrow application it's functioning flawlessly. Should I ever get around to using any of the other functions I'll report my satisfaction or dissatisfaction with dispatch. 

I was so satisfied with my budget priced grip purchase that I shot its portrait (see below). The image was shot with one of my other favorite cameras, the RX10ii. It's a great studio camera for so many reasons...


The rest of this blog is basically a default to captions. I'm too exhausted from my aquatic theatrics to click the keys too much....

Have you ever leaned over your kitchen sink and been transfixed by the objects laying around on the bottom? I have these big, white pasta bowls that I sometimes use for eating cereal and when I looked down I just loved the way everything defied chaos and arranged themselves. Since my camera was on the dining room table I grabbed it and went ahead and snapped a few shots. Shooting any object against stainless steel makes me feel both modern and German...

Of course, after shooting a few frames of the stuff in the sink my brain started playing association games and eventually the train of thought pulled into this station: "These are my dishes, the dishwasher is empty, Belinda will imply, suggest, telepathically shame, intimate, insinuate and signal that a "good" and "fair" spouse should always take the final step of actually placing the rinsed dishes (cups, spoons, etc.) into the dishwasher rather than leaving them for someone else to clean up. Having supplied my own coercion I complied and actually cleaned up after myself. As proof I proffer an image off the sink with the dishes removed. Again, love the scratchy but strong stainless steel of the sink. And the way it throws around shadows and highlights in such a contained space. 

I cooked a pesto pasta with little, fresh, cherry tomatoes last night. I cooked them on the range we bought this year to replace the one that came (ancient and well used) with our house nearly two decades before. I can't tell you how much I love the new range. Almost as much as a Zeiss lens. And it's far more practical. We actually use it every day. I like the center griddle. I'll put anything on the griddle, just to see what happens... Go stove!!!

While I am throwing open my personal life I thought I'd include a photograph of my chair at the dining room table. As the character, Sheldon Cooper, would say on the hit TV show, The Big Bang Theory, "That's where I sit." Belinda bought unfinished chairs nearly 25 years ago, stained them, finished them and painted the little minarets. 25 years is a long time to have chairs but they all have worn well and still look brand new. I like my spot because I can see out the double French doors into the garden on one side, look into the kitchen straight ahead, or look toward the front door if I turn my head slightly to the right. When we dine Studio Dog's typical spot is laying across the toes of my shoes...

Since Ben left just two days ago I've been wandering into his bathroom and bedroom to make little vignette images of how everything looks, just at this moment. They are small photographs but they have meaning for me. I am sure that at some point his mother will change the window covers and the shower curtain on the left and everything will seem different to me. The room will have lost the visual residue that it has possessed for so many years. 

This is my favorite chair in which to read. It gets wonderful light through thin white curtains that cover two more double French doors. This room is at the back of the house and is nearly always a very quiet refuge for me and the dog. She helps me decide which book to read next. She does not like Caesar Millan's books. She finds him bossy. She and I are working on a small book called, "Good Dogs always get Good Treats." We have not yet settled on the right publisher. 

This is a silly photograph which I like for several reasons. First, I like the light and the way it falls across the frame. I love the twill pants that I got from Costco. They are so comfortable and practical that I went back to the store after wearing them for the first few days and bought four more identical pairs. I do not regret this impulse as I will always have a clean pair of pant of known value to rely upon. The pockets are big enough to carry extra Sony batteries. The belt is made by my client, Klikbelt. This gray one and my black one are the only belts I've worn since I got mine. I can also use them as straps for big cases or to anchor a nightstand to a cinder block in a gusty setting....

We have shelves and shelves of books in every corner of the house, The really cool photo books are in the living room for those times that I am both feeling pretentious and need inspiration. I sit with a glass of fine wine (the pretension part) and look at work that is arguable better than any photographic work I may accomplish. I'm not sure that's so inspirational but it at least shows me, time and time again, that there is real, hardcore value to the craft of photography. I see something new in each book I pull of the shelf even though I have looked through each of them at least one hundred times. 

Ben didn't want us to toss his old mattress and get him a new one. We bought a new one anyway but compromised and didn't change it out for the old one until he was safely back at school. When we took off the covers and mattress pad we noticed that the old one had its own topography with deep valleys and little ridges. It undulated like a wash board. I can't imagine how he developed such an affection for such a sorry piece of bedding. I can only hope we get rid of it before someone sees it and calls Child Protective Services. Although it is a bit late to toss the boy into a foster home...

This is the window of the restaurant that used to be Garrido's. Then it was Prelog's. Now it stands empty. I imagine the patio will be dog friendly for quite a while. There is no gate and no one to keep the canines at bay. 





Here is my first test shot in black and white using the very, very flexible picture profile settings in the Sony cameras. I had ragged on Sony only a few days early not realizing that the picture profiles could give me the kind of flexibility and resources that would make Fuji advocates break down and cry in abject jealousy. Much more about this as I test. But if you are curious go back and look at the blog from a few days ago about Sony and black and white. A reader named Rollin Banderol sent a link in to the comments. It is to a site where there is a complete description about how to use one of the profiles in the picture profiles to give you at least as much control over the rendering of black and white Jpegs (and maybe RAWs) as you would with Lightroom or Photoshop. My eyes popped open as I read and I am now obsessed. A new break through. Another post facto justification for my Sony acquisitions. Go read the article. And check back to see the results of my experiments. 

Well, enough chit chat. I'm heading to the house to eat more food and to watch, "No Country for Old Men." on Netflix. I sure hope it's not about commercial photography!

6 comments:

Ash said...

Hi Kirk,
That that does look like a nice range. What brand is it?

Mike Rosiak said...

I love checking out the titles on other people's bookshelves.

Gato said...

Good read. Really nice photos. I was thinking of "No Country for Old Men" earlier today, thinking I'd like to watch it again. Hope you enjoyed it.

Patrick Dodds said...

What a nice, if slightly elegiac feeling, post.

EdPledger said...

You might enjoy Tommy Lee Jones' movie The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada.

Anthony Bridges said...

Over the Labor Day holiday I rented the Sigma DP2 Quattro. The fine detail with that Fovean sensor and super crisp Sigma lens is just insane. The battery life isn't. A 1 1/2 hour walk in downtown Dallas and the fully charged battery was exhausted. From reviews I figured this would happen and wasn't dismayed. Fewer photos is sometimes better (for me).