The Good Stuff.


The Holiday Season is Upon Us. Now is the Time to Spend More Hours Taking Photos and Fewer Hours on the Web. (Web = sticky, sticky, a spider web).


Ebenezer Scrooge and the Ghost of Marley. 
Dicken's "Christmas Carol." 

December marks the start of the holiday season and with it comes more free time to plod through websites, blogs and videos on the web. Most are either directly or indirectly trying to get me to buy more stuff. All kinds of stuff. Any stuff. It almost worked over the weekend. I had nearly convinced myself that I needed a second Leica CL. Someone close to me suggested I learn to use the one I already have before lighting another $3,100 on fire and tossing the burning embers into the fire pit of commerce. In the cold, hard light of day they were absolutely right. I was misguided. I should stay focused on the Leica Q2 instead! (Joking, just joking. It seemed to write itself...). 

I hate the fact that if I look up the price of a camera on B&H Photo or Amazon I can "look forward" to seeing an infinite number of ads for the same camera pop up as ads on all my newsfeeds. There's an ad for X camera on the Washington Post site and here's the same ad on the business section of the New York Times site. And the ads are kinetic. The camera in the ad keeps jumping out at me from a whole ad full of similar products. 

Business tends to slow down around the holidays. With my parents gone and the locus of celebrations dispersed there's less required attendance and supplication to family events than ever before. It essentially means that I'm more free to do things like supervise this morning's repair of our septic system or to wait on the phone to schedule having the same system pumped, later in the week. I might even have enough holes in my schedule to be present for that exciting event as well. 

Since my small, nuclear family has been well provided for no one really needs or especially wants to get presents galore. In fact, everyone I know is busy trying to clean out clutter, to simplify their lives, and to remove all the over-aggregated possessions they've spent so much time and money getting in the first place. The running joke in our house is that I buy everything I want when I want it so instead of trying to be creative and finding the one thing I haven't gotten for myself the family can just come out to the office, sort through the cameras, wrap up the newest and shiniest one and put it under the Christmas tree. No muss and no fuss. 

To a person we're all more interested in sharing a great meal with friends or buying stuff for extended family members who are still struggling to get established. It's much more fun that "getting something." 

But, as photographers, I think the coolest gift we can reward ourselves with is the free time and the permission to go out on adventures taking photographs hither and yon. So, right now I have choices; I can sit in front of the computer and talk myself into ever more expensive and mostly useless (to me) camera gear or I can plan out shooting trips, get in the car with the right camera and lens (which I already own) and go have an adventure. I can watch tutorials on YouTube or I can go out and live my own tutorials in the world outside of my computer. 

I love walking through various downtowns at late afternoon and early evenings, in new places, with a camera in my hands. I need to head to San Antonio during the holidays and spend a few evenings photographing the holiday trappings along the river walk. I need to head to Johnson City to see the 1,000,000 Christmas lights that Pedernales Electric Co-op puts up in the trees around their H.Q. and I really want to make it to San Angelo to see how they decorate their historic downtown for the season. 

Since a lot of people are taking time off around the holidays I think it's high time I pressed some of this needlessly expensive photo gear I've been buying into taking personal portraits of all the friends I've wanted to have come over to sit in front of the lights and camera for me. 

It's time for me to stop shopping for gear and start using what I've amassed. It's also time to turn off the mercenary photo sites and start looking around for things like good holiday movies, great cookie recipes and fun events I haven't discovered yet. If you can't make time for some of this stuff you might be working too hard. (But if that's fun for you then go ahead and do it. Advice seems specific to the particular human giving it). 

It's a good time to write a few checks to the charities we support. It's time to remember friends who seem to inadvertently fallen off the radar. But it's mostly a time to celebrate making it as far as we have with as much grace as we can muster. 

I guess when you hit a certain age you become happy all on your own and you finally realize that making other people happier is the secret.

Besides, the sales are generally better in January....

Don't look for gear links here. We're not part of the sales team.


  1. Yes, same here. I already have too much stuff. I'm looking to unburden myself of much of it. I don't make New Year's resolutions but I think I'm going to devote the first part of 2022 to decluttering and unloading. Not just camera gear but anything and everything else I've accumulated. I haven't used any of it in the last several years. I have pretty much every material thing I've ever wanted except for a Leica...and honestly, I can afford to get one if I really wanted is more rewarding. I want peace in my life. Not just in my environment but in my heart and in my mind. I'm getting older. I'm changing. I've seen some friends and close family pass on in the last few years and it's been a big eye-opener for me. I'm now keenly aware of my own mortality, but worse, my own atrophy brought on by the natural process of aging. I'm fighting it and always will. Use it or lose it...but we all know how this plays out for each and every one of us.

    So peace and love to everyone out there. Treasure what you have and what you have left.

  2. I would consider myself blessed if all I got were camera ads. With almost a year to the next election, I now get perhaps twenty or thirty political emails a day demanding money, and if I don't pay up, the worst will happen. Val Demings alone will send me six or eight "personal" notes, which I'm pretty sure are sent only to her 1.3 million closest personal friends. My eyes skip over the ads in the Post, NYT and WSJ, but I've got to dig my real emails out of this daily mess, and guess what: to unsubscribe seems to mean that you're actually paying attention and might be worth another email.

  3. one store I use took to emailing me every time I looked at something, "we noticed you've been looking at this interesting product", I asked them to stop and I think others did too, eventually I got an email allowing me to unsubscribe

    I use an adblock plugin for my web browser, it's glorious, even strips the ads out of youtube videos, I never see them

  4. Re charitable donations, again this year if you take the standard deduction on your taxes, you are allowed to deduct up to $300 ($600 for married individuals filing a joint return) from your 2021 taxes for cash donations to qualified charitable entities. "Cash" means payment by cash, credit card, debit card. For the straight poop, see here:

  5. Thanks Chuck. They need to raise that limit. A lot.

  6. Here you go, freedom from web advertising. I did not purchase this kit because I already had a disused Raspberry Pi, but for someone just getting started, it sounds like a handy option.

    Tech tip: For maximum efficacy, disable IPv6 networking on home networks unless you actually need it (doubtful).

    Toys: If you insist and I don't get to leave the store until I decide on something substantial, then an Apple iPad Pro, Sony SEL40F25G and Sony RX100-7 would do nicely thank you. If I gotta choose something not made by Sony, how's about Nikon Zfc with matching 28 mm lens? No particular strategy behind the Nikon, it just seems like it could be a fun standalone purchase.

    Won-the-lottery/Cost no object: (Shrug) No idea, but I'm pretty sure that I don't need a flashy car that can't be left unattended, and medium format digital might wind up collecting dust.

    Jeff in Colorado

  7. I'm decluttering. Finally cleaned up and re-assembled the old Durst M800, (a 35mm to 6x9cm enlarger), works fine. But I don't need it, so it has to go. Problem is that no-one seems to need them anymore, so effectively giving it away via free collection is hardly an option either.


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