7.05.2020

Reading in the quiet of late afternoon. A book about art makes for a nice break.

This is one of my favorite corners in the house in which to read. And to look at books of art.
And it's nice when you can combine both reading and art in one serving.
I've been domestically busy today. I've oiled tables, cleaned bathrooms, written letters and trimmed bushes. At some point in the day it's good to just sit quietly and relax.
And few things are as relaxing as a good book.

There is a Spanish or Mexican custom called, Marienda. It's a snack or small meal that fits in between lunch and supper. In Belinda's family it's a long standing custom on Sunday afternoons to have something sweet with a cup of coffee. It's a ritual I love to embrace. Today I had another slice of 
apple pie. I can't remember ever having had a better apple pie than the one that sits, half eaten, in my refrigerator. Any excuse to have another slice.  And, you've seen the coffee cup before. It's my favorite because it's big so you can put in more coffee, and it's bright red so it's harder to lose. 

Today's book is called, "Matisse, Picasso, MirĂ³ As I Knew Them"

By Rosamond Bernier. 

Ms. Bernier knew all three of the artists. In the case of Matisse she became a good friend and a decades long student of his work. The book is written in a literary style that's more formal than I would have expected,  given its publication date of 1991. But once you immerse your self into Ms. Bernier's cadence the stories come into focus quite nicely. 

One of the pleasures of this book is that it's very well printed, and illustrated with an abundance of lovely color plates. The plates are referenced in the text and add so much to the experience of armchair learning and savoring.

Today I was working through Matisse and, if there's time tomorrow afternoon I'll give 
the chapters on Picasso a whirl. 

I had a great time taking my mother and father to the Picasso Museum in Paris in 1994. Years later my father would still smile when he thought about the bicycle with the bull's horns...
Everyone should take their parents someplace special while they have time and health.
It's nice way to create memories that live on after they are gone...
Who ever thought we'd bond over art?

So, this corner of the living room is rarely used by anyone but me. It feels like it's distant from the rest of the house and the high ceilings and ample light make it seem like a reading room in a nice library.
Sometimes, after reading for an hour or two, I just close the book and look at the windows that line the opposite side of the room and watch the wind wend its way through the line of trees.
The leaves jittering and the branches waving gently. 

The corner is getting regular use by me during our isolation from the outer world. 
My guilty book pleasure from last week was still hanging around on the ottoman in front of my chair. It's one of the many Avedon books that came out in the first part of this century. 
This one is, "Avedon Fashion: 1944-2000" and it's really interesting. I love the forwards and commentary in Avedon books almost as much as I enjoy the photographs. Everyone who writes a piece for an Avedon book sounds so smart, so cool, and so tied into the chic-ness of the moment.

I keep a small tripod hidden behind the couch on the presumption that you'll never know when you'll need a bit of extra support. When I saw all the diagonals and the contrast of the light, and the reflection from the floor, I had to make a photograph. Not my usual style but then these are not usual times...

Oh yes. I also did laundry. This pile is bedsheets. The photography of the sheets is in service to my procrastination. I figure I can't be blamed for unfolded sheets if I'm busy making some sort of profound art documentation of them. We'll see how long that argument will work ...

Yes, I oiled all the butcher block tables in the house as well as the cedar pillar that holds up the entry hallway. It's a satisfying job because the aging and weathered wood becomes vibrant and more saturated. It's almost as if I PhotoShopped the table back to its former glory.

We have a lot of art history books, books about graphic design, and books about and by photographers. There is something calming and inspiring about visiting each of the genres and I always come away with a different gift of discovery than I think I will when I sit down and open each book. 

What Avedon tells me is to focus on the work.

What Matisse tells me is to take care of both the business and the sensual sides of life.

What Winograd tells me is to get the fucking horizon straight....

The next book on the stack is another plunge into what is quickly becoming a distant past. 

It's a book called, "A Propos de Paris"

It's a book of photographs by Henri-Cartier Bresson. It's for when you get exhausted at the thought of  looking through "The Decisive Moment" one more time.

Tomorrow we've got portraits to do. Good to get all the cleaning and set up done ahead of time...

Have a great week!


I keep reading about the Leica Q2 and whenever I read/watch something great about it I take my Sigma fp out for a jaunt.

just a GX8. Not under discussion here. 

I don't know how the Leica QP didn't make it on to my radar until after it was discontinued but I've just become aware of its existence and now it's mostly gone. Much to my chagrin...

I came across a nicely filmed Youtube review of the Leica QP by a fellow named Evan Ranft. Here's the link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zESfiXqUJZE  He did a good job elucidating his attraction to the camera and seasoned his review with the reality that he uses it in conjunction with other cameras, not as his "only" camera. 

The Leica QP is pretty much a version of the Leica Q which was an immediate ancestor of the current Q2. It's a body that's designed and built to look and feel like an M series rangefinder camera but it's not a rangefinder; it's a contrast detect AF camera with a full frame (35mm) sensor and a permanently attached 28mm f1.7 Leica lens. The regular Q was nice and all but the QP is stealthier and does away with the red dot (Leica branding) on the front of the camera and makes up for it with  a nicely engraved logo treatment on the top plate which is far less showy. The camera is also differentiated from the conventional Q cameras because it's finished with a highly durable, matte-like paint finish that has a high resistance to scratching, brassing etc. 

The 28mm Summilux lens is purported to be worth the price of the camera. I'm sure it's a great performer and it has a few other tricks up its sleeve. There's a macro switch and their is also a manual/autofocus clutch like you'll find on the S-Pro lenses from Panasonic and the Pro lenses from Olympus. The value is in the rendering of the lens and the sensor but the sizzle is the stealthy and low profile body. 

The reason I would want one would be for the look of the product and the quality of the files. But there's one horrible flaw to this camera that keeps me from searching for a pristine, used one. It's a fatal flaw in my estimation but... not everyone will share that viewpoint. 

So, what's the dead fly in the punchbowl? It's the focal length of the permanently attached optic. It's a 28mm. That's just too wide to make this camera an all terrain street camera for me. I wish it had a 35mm equivalent; or, even better a 40 or 50mm lens. Then it would be absolutely perfect. 

I sure wish Leica would make a camera like this in two versions. One with a 28mm on the front and one with a 50mm on the front. You could buy one of each, take a deep and satisfied sigh, and then be happy and content with your small and effective two camera system. Heck, if I never go back to working for clients that duo is exactly what I'd buy and use for my perpetual and indulgent personal work. But sadly, everyone seems transfixed with the "idea" of wide angles. 

You know my take on lenses wider than 35mm: They are for people who just can't make up their minds about what they might want to see in the frame. 

A true Leicaphile's response would be that I should just buy a Q2 with its 47.5 megapixel sensor and use it in various (available) crop modes to get the 35mm and 50mm. Even at the 50mm crop the higher res sensor delivers a 20+ megapixel file. But I'm stubborn and I'd rather have full resolution of a less densely populated sensor at the long end, not the short end. I know it's largely theoretical but that's how my brain works. 

When I watch the video I noticed that Evan uses the camera nearly always at arm's length and by viewing on the back screen into of using the (very, very good) EVF. When I remember that I have an "aha!" moment and I grab my newly customized Sigma fp with a 40mm Sigma lens and head out the door to practice my own style of "dirty baby diaper" hold and realize I already have a small and perfectly made camera for Q style shooting and it's arguably as good or better at making photographs. 

I'll tell you how I modified the camera, with the help of a VSL platinum reader, in the next post.

Day notes: It's been a busy day here. I chose to sign up for the 9 a.m. Sunday swim practice so I slept in till 8. I had a piece of that scrumptious, Whole Foods apple pie and a cup of coffee for breakfast and left the house in great spirits. 

The workout wasn't crowded and coach, Dale, was on the deck. He wrote a workout with a long warm-up and then introduced us to a nice "ladder" set. We went up and down a ladder of distances with a 50 meter kick between each distance. It went something like this: kick a 50, swim a 100, kick a 50, swim a 150, kick a 50, swim a 200, kick a 50, swim a 250, kick a 50, swim a 500, kick a 50, swim a 250, kick a 50, swim a 200 and so on. A nice way to lard a bunch of different distances into the meat of a work out.

We were diligent and had time at the end so we did a set of never ending 75 yard swims until we ran out the clock.

After a long and leisurely breakfast back home I started on my pre-shoot chores. I have two different physicians coming over at different times tomorrow for portraits. They are the safe kind. They are radiologist who are working remotely. We'll still follow all the safety rules...

But I've cleaned and mopped the bathroom, scrubbed the sink and toilet and outfitted the area with hand sanitizer, paper towels and extra surgical masks. I was feeling energetic so I also oiled the big, butcher block dining room table and the big butcher block prep table in the kitchen. I cleaned the Saharan Dust off all the air conditioner heat syncs and re-insulated the A/C piping in the house. After I finish this post I'm heading out to trim back some sage bushes and one annoying Japanese maple branch so my guests can find their way to the studio door. 

Then I'll reset the lights to the style we've been doing for the client over the past three or four years. Heady stuff, right? Beats sitting in front of the computer and searching to see if Leica has come out with a "P" version of the Q2... 

Better put that Sigma fp around my neck and carry it around as a reminder that I've already got this part of the gear party covered. Can't wait till it's safe to go everywhere to photograph. Happy enough now but really looking forward to 2021. All new, all the time.