A new adventure of me. I'm heading into to see an Endodontist about a root canal Wednesday morning. If I have to sit through that I'm hellbent on rewarding myself with some juicy photo-toy.

 So there's one thing in life I hate more than just about anything else and that's having a shot of lidocaine administered into the soft tissue inside my mouth, next to my gums. Can't stand it. I'd rather accidentally drop an expensive lens into a wood chipper that's running at full speed. But that's what we've got on tap for tomorrow morning; if I'm unlucky. The injection, not the lens sacrifice...

My dentist took x-rays at my last check up, a few weeks ago. Harnessing some magic power she wields she was able to intuit that I might need to have the first root canal of my life done so she sent me to a specialist. 

I'm meeting with said specialist tomorrow and she (the endodontist) is planning to take her own x-rays and run a few other tests to either confirm or repudiate my first dentist's diagnosis. If all their stars line up together then they'll want to do the procedure right then and there. 

I'm old enough to have heard horror stories about root canal procedures from the old days when mechanical shock and awe was the oral strategy of the day. I've been told by many friends now that there are new, modern techniques having to do with ultra-sonic this and that which are mostly pain free and less....dramatic. 

But what neither dentist, nor my well-meaning friends, seem to understand is that it's not the procedure itself that fills me with gut-twisting dread. No. It's that numbing injection with which the whole process begins. That's the part that rivets my anxious brain into the paralysis of conjecturing about the worst case scenario of pain and suffering every time. 

I'm so wound up about tomorrow's (mis)adventure that I haven't been able to play with a camera or even consider taking a relaxing nap on the couch today. In fact, since I exited the swimming pool this morning (it was a nice and challenging swim, thank you for asking!) I've thought of very little else than the first half hour of tomorrow's ordeal. 

There is one glimmer of hope for me though. I've discovered that I can take my mind off the torturous anticipation, even if it's just for a little while, by going through a list of all the fine photographic products I might choose from to help balance myself and offset my trauma, after the fact, from the slings and arrows of outrageous dental anxiety. 

I have one thing in mind already but it's rather pricey and wholly unnecessary. But as my friend, Paul, quipped when I talked it over with him, "When did that ever stop you?"

So, who here has had this sort of brush with dentistry lately? And how well did you survive it?

Oh, the unfairness of life. Who would have thought that there is specific karma for not flossing as often as you're instructed? 

Ah well. We'll be through with that saga by lunch time, but the sour memory will continue through the day since I'll be nerve blocked and constrained to eating only bland and non-chewy food like yogurt until the numbness subsides.

Signed, Petrified with fear in Austin. KT

Hey. I figured if MJ can complain about the rigors and desperation of learning to type correctly I can certainly splash out my deepest fears as well....

Lens of the day. The 65mm Sigma i series lens. On the Leica SL2.

It's a nice combo; the Leica SL2 camera and the Sigma Contemporary 65mm f2.8 lens. They work well together. The resulting files are crisp and detailed. The focal length is almost perfectly optimized for my personal preferences. 

The lens is part of Sigma's new Contemporary "I" line of lenses which also includes a 24mm f3.5, the 35mm f2.0, and the 45mm f2.8. I'm certain Sony's recent announcement of new, smaller, slower lenses is a concept directly and shamelessly derived from their keen observation of the Sigma 45mm lens's popularity on the market over the past year but, whatever it takes... It's just nice to see a bit of rational thought come back into the lens market. 

The Sigma "I" lenses are constructed of metal, are incredibly well finished, are weather resistant, have external aperture rings, and are one of the few lens options for L-mount users who might not want to start a new hobby in weightlifting in order to photograph more than a few feet away from their cars.

When the newest of the Sigma I lenses hit the market I took one look at the 65mm and ordered it from my local camera shop. I like normal lenses but I like longer normal lenses even more. This lens and the 70mm Sigma Art macro lens I bought this year are both right in the sweet spot for me as good compromises between portability and having a bit of distance between myself and my photographic subjects. Since portrait styles are changing, generationally, I'm also finding that I'm willing to put up with a bit more distortion in order to use a focal length that's shorter than what I used to be comfortable with. I cheat by using the 65mm f2.0 mostly on 47+ megapixel cameras when I shoot portraits because then I have the safety of shooting with some air around the subject and being able to crop the images quite a bit, if necessary, to gain back a modest degree of beneficial foreshortening. Viva compression!

The 65mm is an excellent performer. Check out the review on Lenstip.com and you'll find, that when it comes to resolution and sharpness it is currently one of the highest rated lenses on the entire site; regardless of price point. Even wide open, within the center 2/3rds of the entire frame, it's sharp and resolves well. 

The lens is designed with 12 elements in 9 groups and also utilizes 1 SLD element and 2 aspherical elements. It's amply engineered for a lens with a modest focal length and a less ambitious maximum aperture. It's one of the sharpest lenses I have ever used and its rendering of contrast and color are equally impressive. It's available in E mount as well as L mount and it's exactly the kind of lens that both Leica and Sony should be offering to the market.

When the L mount version is used with the Leica SL2 the camera makes use of software corrections for geometric corrections as well as vignetting control. One of the things I really like about the camera and lens combination is that Leica makes it easy to use their very well implemented focus peaking feature and it's a perfect complement to the Sigma's big, comfortable focusing ring. The combination makes manual focusing fun. And I like fun. 

I bought the lens and paid the full asking price of $699. No one flew me to Maui or Portofino to convince me to either try the lens, buy the lens, or sing it's myriad praises. My acquisition and use is based solely on the idea I have that this focal length, and the impressive performance of the optical system, are conducive to getting better images in my own style. It didn't hurt that I'm an avowed "lens nerd" and this lens also comes with a magnetic lens cap. The lens cap didn't push me over the edge to purchase it but it sure didn't hurt. 

Sigma continues to do some very interesting stuff. Maybe they think their mission is to show the bigger and more awkward camera and lens makers what the future looks like in order to guide them into a better tomorrow for the sake of the entire Japanese camera industry. Then again, maybe they are just a more creative company which is less afraid to dabble in a little bit of risk. 

The 65mm combined with the 35mm f2.0 would make a perfect match for travel and street photography. With the 35mm one could crop a bit and get a useable 50mm equivalent from that lens. With the 65mm and a high resolution camera one could crop to an 85mm equivalent without much image quality loss. Add in the 24mm f3.5 and you're ready for everything but sports and wildlife. But you wouldn't be buying middle focal range lenses for either of those pursuits, right?

All images below shot with the 65mm Sigma and the Leica SL2. I'm also pretty sure I shot them all at ISO 50 which is a native, not "extended" ISO option on this camera. Works for me.

cropped down to 25% of the original frame. 

I was on a kick when I shot this group of photographs of limiting myself to using the SL2's ISO of 50 for everything. I figured the in body I.S. would make everything okay. When I look at the full size files coming from the camera I am amazed at the purity of the colors and the amazing detail. Can't wait to try this out in the studio for portraits. ....nice reds and nice blues together in the same frame.

building with dorsal fin.

My recent obsession with yellow. And red. 

Again, 25% of the original frame...

Personal note: I'm so delighted with my friends and colleagues. Just about everyone I know (in the vaccine-able age groups) has gotten either their first dose or both doses of the Covid-19 vaccine. I just got an invitation to meet for coffee with my favorite creative director. We'll get together next week and see what kinds of new projects we can collaborate on. Then I got a call, not ten minutes later, from a photographer friend who is having an outdoor BBQ on Sunday. He had a caveat. He could only invite me and could not extend an invitation to my spouse because she is still a couple weeks behind us on getting her second dose of vaccine. The BBQ party is strictly limited only to people who have been fully vaccinated and then put in their two weeks of immunity nurturing. I accepted in a heartbeat since my friend's version of BBQ ribs is life altering. Forget being inclusive --- the lure of ribs is powerful. 

All over our social media feeds friends are starting to check in to see where we are in the process and when we can all get together for coffees, lunches, dinners and happy hours. We're still shy about restaurants and indoor dining but it's prime time for outdoor dining in Austin. Finally, finally, finally seeing some social light at the end of a long and ominous tunnel...

A much better documentation of this photograph of Gov. Ann Richards.

 ©Kirk Tuck.