7.08.2019

Mechanicals. Found abandoned behind a building that used to house a printing shop.



I was out strolling with a camera on the 4th of July when I noticed some older machinery behind a building that used to house a print shop, on the west side of downtown . I stepped into the old parking lot and looked around. There were a number of ancient mechanical devices that did things like fold printed paper to make brochures. Another machine was used, I think, for staple stitching brochures and booklets. Some were just like a vague puzzle with no starter clues. Perhaps an old school printing craftsman would have known exactly what each was for, even though they were beyond salvage. 

The parts were mostly monochrome and dirty so I thought they'd render better in black and white. The Fuji camera I was using has a black and white profile called, Acros, and it tends to add sharpness and grain to make photos more like what we used to get from the wet darkroom. The profile also gets me closer to the way I like the tones to appear in black and white photos. 

I spent a few minutes fiddling around with my photos and then moved on. It made me a little sad because I remember ink-on-paper printing very fondly. We used to do a lot of it when I worked in the advertising industry. I remember many a middle of the night press check. The smell of solvents, the viewing booths with their color corrected lighting, and even the little, folding printer's loupes that we used to check registration of the plates. That, and the endless clacking, and soft roar of the four and five color presses. To see parts of the old way cast aside after decades of daily use seemed like a repudiation of all the art and craft of a certain age. All the angst and loss captured by a digital camera, of a subject that was so relentlessly analog.




Side tracked. But still interested.


Do you ever get side-tracked from your primary interests? Man, I do. And I have one of those bulldog personalities that won't let me unclench my tight bite on whatever I have in front of me until it's done, complete, finished and wrapped up. There's very little ability to multi-task over here at the VSL studio. I don't do stop and start well. I am compartmentalize-challenged. 

What am I talking about now?

I should be hunkered down in the studio office trying to get the marketing done that I'll need to succeed financially in the 3rd and 4th quarters. A mix of post cards, e-mails, some Linked In posts and a splattering of Instagram posts. It's a good time to do this stuff because we're officially in the doldrums of Summer when clients run and hide from the heat and nothing much gets done, but I have two things (at least) that are pulling my attention away from doing the work. The first is a re-start of what was, at one time, a never-ending construction project at the multimillion dollar house next door. I've gotten used to the daytime hammering; even the jack-hammering, but what I can't get used to is the contractors mindlessly parking their trucks across both of our driveways --- it's almost like they can't understand that two separate houses could have two separate driveways and that parking across the one that isn't your client's is stupid, and wrong. 

If we were in the perfect world of my imagination my neighbors (who I do like) would be at home instead of out of town for two months. If they were home I'd just stroll next door and ask them to have a word directly with their various contractors and instruct them NOT to park in front of my driveway. Then my neighbor and I would crack a bottle of fine Champagne open and we'd take turns making inane conversation like, "Wow! How about that last game of the World Cup???" But in the real world the neighbors are gone off to somewhere cool and restful and I can't even locate the foreman for the ever expanding project next door. 

So, in those quiet moments during which the offending trucks have been relocated (by me) and the blank stares of the workers have turned back to other tasks, I'll start working on my own stuff until I get a phone call, e-mail or letter asking for clarification of something about my father's estate. Can I send a death certificate? Can I send letters testamentary? Can I fill out this form? Do I know my great grandmother's social security number? Usually I try to return calls quickly only to find that I'm ushered into the original caller's voicemail which then begins the routine so prevalent at big firms; the call back and message left five minutes before closing. I've have been trying to connect with one person who called to "assist" me on this "estate project" about ten times. She's never there. But she does seem to hit the office once or twice a day, usually during lunch or some other inconvenient time, to leave a voice mail in which she consistently tries for an interjection of humor with the hoary and withered, "We seem to be playing phone tag!!! Ha. Ha.

I have a f@cking cure for phone tag. It's called setting up a time certain in which to make and receive the phone call. As in, "Hi Mr. Tuck, I'm sorry I wasn't able to reach you. I'll try again at 10 am tomorrow. If that's a good time can you just send me an e-mail to confirm? If not, can you suggest an alternate time?" But, of course, I don't have a clue as to the nature of her call or what I can offer but it's coming from one of my dad's investment companies so I feel duty bound to find some sort of closure. 

Ah, the mail just came. I picked it up out of our mail box after tracking down another slack-jawed, barbarian worker who once again positioned his oil leaking Chevy pick up truck right in front of my driveway. I was heading out for coffee.... So, now there are letters from three banks, an insurance company, and the Texas Retirement System, and all three of them would love to have... something. Something I'll need to find, research, prepare and send. It just never seems to stop.

And all I really would like to do is take some photographs. You know, use the cameras a bit. Maybe finish an assignment without some unwelcome interruption. 

I'll even blame my recent gear purchases on a repressed desire to actually use photographic devices. Maybe my internal logic is that by buying yet another camera or lens I'll show the universe my intention to make photographs and the universe will move mountains to assist me. In reality, the new toys mostly sit in their boxes or on my desk....taunting me and making my lack of clear direction and unencumbered enthusiasm painfully; excruciatingly obvious. 

I'm actually thinking of going out to buy my own tow truck tomorrow. I'll be hooking up horrifying pick up trucks of the workers (parking illegally) at projects all over my neighborhood and I'll tow them to downtown parking garages where the prices to free one's vehicle are a hundred bucks a day, and let everyone else sort it all out. But I really won't because I can't see how that will help me at with all the paperwork requests.

I've included two photographs from Iceland to remind myself that cool weather will come again someday. That I do get to do fun stuff, usually. That I can afford to take the time off to get stuff done. The only thing I am not sure of is whether the constant remodeling, tearing down and rebuilding, etc. in our neighborhood will ever abate. When pesky homebuyers buy million dollar houses with the intention of demolishing them in order to build much bigger and more expensive homes one wonders whether it's a never ending cycle which will eventually morph into new buyers buying the two to four million dollar houses only to tear those down and start again on even bigger and pricier ones. Maybe it's time to move.....

Sorry, no time for photographic writing today. Too busy being inconvenienced. 


Proof that at some point in the past I actually had time to photograph.

A couple of days with the X-Pro2 have helped me sort out a new working methodology. And use up some shoe leather....


After a bit of trial and error, and the purchase of two competing lines of lenses, I've come up with what is for me a nice, small kit to take when I go out for walks in our lovely urban spaces. It consists of an X-Pro2 body (see the welcome grip attachment in the photo above...)  along with a 23mm f2.0 and the 50mm f2.0. I also bring along two of the NP-126S batteries; just in case. The small bag (it's really very small) is big enough to hold two of the f2.0 WR lenses along with a wallet and, if wanted, a phone. The camera doesn't go in the bag. It would take up too much space. It goes mostly over my left shoulder on a traditional strap but sometimes I wear it, bouncing up and down, on my chest like a 1970's tourist, and that's okay too. 

I guess you could consider this my "day time" rig; the lenses are the f2.0 variety instead of their faster, f1.4/f1.2 counterparts. I'm pretty sure that if I were doing mostly interior photographs (at the museums, in coffee shops, in hotels) that I'd switch out the lens selection and go with the 23 f1.4 and the 56 f1.2 APD. But in broad daylight the max aperture differences are inconsequential as I seem to be settling in on f4.0 and f5.6 as my preferred settings. 

I also keep my car keys in the little bag and, as you can see in the above photo, I keep the batteries in a separate plastic bag to prevent an unfortunate marriage of the battery terminals with the metal keys. 

I've made a few mistakes in shooting the Fuji X-Pro2's but nothing so embarrassing that I'm hanging my head and leaving the field of play. The X-Pro2 just requires a "newbie" like me to pay a bit more attention to the process and the difference in controls; especially when using the optical finder. I tend to get into using EVFs so much I just assume automatically (and incorrectly) that the camera will "see" what I see through the OVF and that's a bad presumption. I'm working on it....
This gentleman was working on a music video with his friend. The camera is a Sony A7xxx. He asked me if I could play a small part in their video and so I acted the part of a photographer taking images on Congress Ave. His actor rode up on a scooter and showed me an I.D. card and asked if I had seen the person in the card. I said "yes" and point off down the street. I'm proud to say we got the shot in just two takes. 

This is the actor I worked with for my short cameo.
It looks like they were having a lot of fun and had their 
camera work well figured out.

The traditional group shot upon completion. 
23mm (I'm still learning with this one).


This store always has the best signage...

One step up from a food trailer? Weird business model in my mind. Cook burgers and fries. 
Delivery them to customers who sit in the sweltering heat under a little tent. 
Want some sweat with your burger? Maybe it all makes more sense in the winter...

This is a new addition to the ever increasing inventory of downtown hotels.
It's called "The Fairmont" and it was the site of the WP Engine Summit Conference 
that I was photographing just two weeks ago.

Big flag on a Rainey St. bar.




Love a good ad. 


So, I discovered Bangers during the WP Engine Summit and I made it the 
"turnaround" destination for my long walk yesterday. I broke with long 
tradition and stopped in for one of their lower alcohol IPAs. 
Very refreshing and a bit of chancy hydration for the long walk back to the car....

I was walking by our new (giganctic, grandiose, over the top) public library when I realized 
that I'd swum hard, walked far and hadn't had lunch yet. It was already 3 pm when 
I ventured into the library's very nice cafĂ© and ordered their version of 
heuvos rancheros. The beans were spicy and delicious. The bacon downright sybaritic. 
Washed down with a blueberry Italian soda.




Nicely manageable walking kit. I'll re-use this packing concept.

Quick Swim news. Our regular pool is closed today so I'm heading over to the spring fed pool known as "Deep Eddy." It's 33 and a third yards long and the water temperature is about 10 degrees (F) cooler than our regular pool. I just want to get a mile or two in before I start my day in earnest.