Back in the groove today. I photographed at my favorite law firm. The "Covid Security" was amazing. My first commercial, location project in a month.

Clients can remove their masks once all the lighting tests are done and we're ready to make photographs. 

Cabin fever is weird. I find myself sitting in front of the computer looking for cool stuff to buy. More or less momentary relief via Shopping Therapy. Yesterday I hit on the idea that I'd be happier with one Leica SL2 than one each of a Panasonic S1 and an S1H. I e-mailed the buyer at my favorite camera store and he shot over a trade-in value for the pair, against a shiny, new Leica SL2. 

That engendered the usual bout of hesitation and indecision. On the one hand the Leica seems pretty darn cool. On the other hand it seems to do just exactly what my Panasonic S1R already does, and does really well. And the S1R has already been paid for and well tested. The concept behind this proposed transaction was deeply flawed. I'd be using the same lenses on the new camera so not much would change vis-a-vis image quality. I'd just have....a shiny, new Leica. 

I decided to ponder it further. Maybe I'd head over to the candy store camera store after a quick job I agreed to do for my favorite law firm today. They got in touch a week or so ago and needed to do a new group shot for the top banner of their website. They also had a new partner that needed a headshot and some environmental portraits. 

We discussed the elephant in the room; the covid virus. In all there would be six people in the group shot. And then the one person who needed his individual portrait made. They each have large offices on a floor 20+ stories up. They have the whole floor in their building. Each attorney has a huge office and their conference room is large and airy. So far so good. Several of the attorneys are near my age and are clearly worried about the pandemic and their own mortality. Several have already been through both rounds of vaccine doses.

They agreed that everyone would be masked on my arrival and, since I'd photographed there before many times, they would just leave me to my own devices in the conference room setting up lighting for the group shot. I wore two masks today. The one closest to my face was a KN-95 which fit good and tight. The second mask was a black, multi-layered cloth one. I kept a spray bottle of Trader Joe's excellent hand sanitizer in my back pocket.

The first part of the whole gauntlet was getting into the building. Few people were working in the building and my arrival was scheduled for 11 a.m. There weren't many cars in the parking garage and the elevators to the underground walkway between the garage and the building proper were completely empty. I had to call security to actually have them electronically unlock the subterranean access door to the building. Then I had to go to the security desk, have my temperature taken (for the third time today), sign in, and wait for the freight elevator. I rode up the 25 floors alone. Well, I did have my faithful cart with me. I got off the freight elevator and switched to the law firm's private elevator for the trip up the next three stories. 

When I got off the elevator everyone was sequestered in their offices with their doors shut. I let one of the partners know I was there and then headed into the conference room to construct my lighting set up. Two electronic flashes into matching softboxes set over to one side of the room in order to keep reflections out of the large windows. 

I brought along one primary camera and two lenses. The "A" camera was the Lumix S1H and for the group shot I used the very exceptional, Lumix S-Pro 24-70mm f2.8 zoom. The S1H was one of the cameras I'd considered trading in. I thought it would be a good reminder of whether or not I really liked this camera or if I would feel no remorse trading out. I also brought along the Sigma 85mm f1.4 (new version) for the portrait work. (Yes. I brought a back-up/emergency camera. It was the Sigma fp...).

We got through the group portraits in about five minutes and I exiled everyone from the conference room so I could re-set the lighting for a single, formal portrait in solitude and calm. When I was ready I rounded up the new lawyer and made some shots with the lighting set up in the conference room and then we roamed around the public spaces to get some "B" roll photography that their web designer will use on that attorney's page. As soon as I finished everyone apparently left the office to head back home. They really only came by to have photos taken. 

I said "goodbye" to the last remaining attorney; he was waiting for a package to be delivered, and began my lonely journey through a near empty office building back to the glitzy and glamorous Subaru Forester and packed the stuff in. I took a moment to spritz my hands with good smelling sanitizer then removed the top mask, re-spritzed and then removed the bottom mask. I was back home in minutes. There really are very few people working in downtown so the dreaded traffic is, strangely, not too dreadful. 

When I edited through files in Lightroom I was chastened by just how good the files are coming out of the S1H. And by extension the rest of the S1 series cameras. 

By the time I'd scrolled through the individual portraits taken with the Sigma Art 85mm I was metaphorically kicking myself for ever even considering such a foolish camera trade deal. I chalked it up to boredom and mental lethargy and wrote a note for the bottom of my computer which reads: "Stop Buying Toys." And a second note that reads: "Don't Buy Stuff, Do Stuff." 

That's the first job I've done for anyone since the last video I shot over at Zach Theatre on December 6, 2020. I'm glad to see I have not forgotten (yet) how all this fancy gear works. 

The S1H is a remarkably good camera. I'll keep it. Now that I have my note on the computer I feel like both the camera and I are on safer ground. Learning lessons over and over again is so much fun (sarcasm strongly implied). 



crsantin said...

So to some extent, I live vicariously through you here as you swap cameras and systems almost as fast as I cycle through my laundry. It's enjoyable for me because it's your money and not mine. I get it...I think. Serious question here though Kirk: what are you looking for? The perfect camera? New inspiration? Keep things fresh? The challenge of learning a new system? Worried about being left behind by the march of technology? I'm not criticizing at all, just curious. I haven't purchased a new camera in about two years. A new camera won't make my photos better and what I currently have is sufficient for now. I need to improve my skills, not my equipment. I do get a kick out of your spending habits and I'm thankful I don't share them lol.

Kirk Tuck, Photographer/Writer said...

Good question! I'll ponder this and try to write down what I divine. I guess, for now, I'll say part of it is the misguided belief that there are perfect cameras out there; if you can just find them. But it probably goes much deeper than that.

Maybe I'll ask the psychiatrist I swim with at the pool tomorrow. But he might just try to give me Prozac. You never know.

But seriously, I'll think about it and write something soon. Much appreciated.

Gordon R. Brown said...

Your two notes on the bottom of your computer need to be taped on every photographer's computer.

Jon Maxim said...

Agreed with Gordon Brown. I think I'll make a dozen copies of your two notes, gold plate them and stick them up on my computer, the equipment cupboard, my shaving mirror... everywhere!

Robert Roaldi said...

Just to address the "what do you want" question from left field. Maybe cameras are too good now, too easy to get a good photo. Maybe you need to struggle more. Life is sometimes more fun going uphill. Maybe buy/use something that's a pain to get good shots with for your personal work. Try loading film into that Rollei 35s on a cold day outside without gloves on. :)

Anonymous said...

You have a typo. Traffic is not do dreadful. Feel free to delete comment.

David said...

I am guilty of buying during the outbreak and always wanting an other camera.
Currently been fixated on either a used S1R or a Z7.
But I got rid of my 13x19 printer as I wasn't printing and the heads were clogged. I would have needed to spend at least $200 on new heads. So printing is out. Now print services are dropping out or off.
So what are we left with, digital photo frames. Most aren't even 1920x1080. You have to build your own if you want a 16x9 4K screen. So whats the point of 40+ megapixels? Seems to me now anything over 8 megapixels is overkill. As people and us just view on the web, you can cover the for the future of 8k displays with 40+ megapixels. But since 4k not everywhere and only 16x9, not in 4x3 or 3x2 format, than its easy to see why phone cameras are most popular and camera companies are also dieing out.

Gato said...

I posted "Don't buy stuff. Do stuff." on my computer last night. I keep a small stack of index cards with bits of advice to myself and sort of rotate them over time.

I should amend it to "Do interesting stuff." I have plenty of people wanting photos, but too many of them wanting "same old stuff" with not enough things that offer room to grow. Or it seems that way.

I'm almost completely retired from professional photography, so like you I have the luxury of taking time off the last couple of months to think things over. I still don't know where I'm going, but I have booked a couple of things for early February and have some ideas to try. We'll see how it goes.

Unknown said...

"Don't buy stuff do stuff" Oh so true. I try and as I'v gotten older it is easier to follow through.
I found this article and explains much: https://www.irishtimes.com/life-and-style/don-t-buy-stuff-do-stuff-1.2068612