10.08.2021

More photos of Michelle. News about Ian's past due book. (Patience, patience, it's getting here). And a little bit about used cameras.


Have you ever had one of those days when you just felt like you didn't get anything done? If like I was trudging through knee-deep sand for most of the day. Sure, I took out the recycling and cleaned the bathroom. I read the news and wrote a blog post. I met with my friend, Ian, to discuss, among other topics, his book on food and Day of the Dead which was supposed to be here by now but is stuck in a shipping container in the port of Los Angeles. And that's really a shame because it's an absolutely beautiful book and it's filled with something like 500 photographs from Mexico. Here's a lot of info on the book: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/rionuevo/dining-with-the-dead-a-day-of-the-dead-cookbook

After I got back home I fiddled around with cameras and reconsidered ground I'd already considered settled. Yeah, yeah. We're still working under the presumption that the travel kit going to be the two Fuji X100V cameras but that sneaky Leica SL2 keeps trying to insinuate itself into the backpack, along with a couple of its batteries, and a lens or two. I think I had too much caffeine today and it's messing with the "make smart choices" part of my brain. 

Anyway...here are some more photos of my friend Michelle. She's considering working with a talent agency in Chicago that specializes in more "mature" women; a niche that's incredibly popular in the U.S. these days. I guess the marketing people finally figured out that women make something like 82% of the day-to-day buying decisions for their families now. And I guess they figured out that the ones with the best stocked wallets are not the ones who are currently 19 and dancing to videos on Tik-Tok. 




I'm getting excited about my vacation. I don't usually take vacations. Seem unproductive to me. But I'm finally convinced that taking real, authentic downtime is actually healthy and good. Something about delivering perspective. I could use some. 

When I had coffee with Ian today we discussed the huge, huge inventory of used cameras and lenses Precision Camera currently has amassed (he works there). It seems like one of the biggest problems for photo retailers of all sizes is that they just can't get new product to sell. The stories are getting tiny allocations of product instead of the quantity they've asked for. Batteries for Canon cameras are "almost non-existent" and it's been like that for months. 

The used cameras are inventory they can readily get from customers who want to trade in old product in partial payment for new. The margin on used equipment is higher, the selling prices are substantially lower than new gear and there's brisk demand. 

The hottest sellers right now? Film cameras. Mostly 1980's and 1990's film cameras. They fly off the shelves. Many selling at higher prices than they commanded when new. Why? They are becoming scarce and specific models are becoming harder to find. It's amazing turn of events. 

Maybe someday that Canonet I keep writing about will be worth thousands of dollars... I can dream, right?

And every time the store sells a film camera they create a new customer for film. And processing. And printing, etc. It's a nicely profitable circle.

I know Eric is still shooting film. I wonder how many other VSL readers do the same? 

 

Leisure travel with cameras.


When I first started thinking about making a trip to Roswell, NM to visit the aliens I pictured the trip as a short jaunt and one that would be done solo. Just me and a bag of cameras and a car. Well, and also a credit card. But as time ticked by it became more and more apparent to me that both Belinda and I were in need of a more complete "holiday". We haven't taken a legit vacation since our fun adventure to Montreal, Canada, nearly two years ago. 

With both parties in agreement we started fleshing out a low impact and low risk (pandemic...) adventure that wouldn't require full days of white knuckle driving and wouldn't reply on cheap hotels (my specialty). The benefit to B. would be having a full time chauffeur, roommate and dining companion and documentary photographer while the benefit to me would be saddling the family treasurer with the task of scheduling and funding such trip. But the trade-off is that we'll be changing the focus of the trip from non-stop and compulsive photography to something more graceful and relaxing. And therein lies today's subject: what cameras (if any) to take along on a vacation (as opposed to a dedicated shooting trip). 

My first thought was to go loaded for bear and to take the Leica SL2, the Leica big zoom and an assortment of smaller and faster primes. Oh, and a back-up SL body. You know. Just in case. 

But then I started remembering times past when I tried to mix family vacations and purposeful photography and I started to reappraise my options. I could go middle ground/eccentric, buy the new-ish Sigma fp L (61 mp) and pair it with the original fp, along with the Sigma 24-70mm zoom and a couple of the smallish Sigma I-Series primes... But the fly in the ointment there is the imagined "need" to buy yet another camera. And a not insignificant expenditure of $3,000 for the pleasure of doing so. And at a more expensive outlay than all the anticipated vacation expenditures.

I had a quiet breakfast and coffee out on the patio today and while savoring the slightly cool morning and the  gentle breezes it dawned on me that I should go in a completely different direction and take only two small, light, but competent point and shoot cameras. Those would be the Fuji X100Vs. One black and one chrome. It's been a long, long time since I limited myself to one small platform in any sort of photographic undertaking and it seemed to me that I had been trying to make what might be a nice, calm and relaxing trip into a bifurcated mess by dragging along all the big guns of photography. Wouldn't it be nice to travel small and light?

Not everything has to be a project. When we decided to make a vacation out of what had been considered a hipster photographer road trip B. mentioned that having one vacation in October certainly didn't obviate the possibility of taking a second solo shooting trip in November. I've already started blocking dates and thinking about potential locations. I'm hoping Canada will be open to fully vaccinated Americans by mid November as I'd love to get a blast of cold after a long Summer. But I'd settle for NY or Boston.

But back to the Fujis. The benefits of the X100V are many, including: small and light. a great lens. wonderful files. surprisingly good video. long battery life. and the fact that one could run a marathon with an X100V over one shoulder and not feel burdened. The only downside, in a situation like this, is the lack of interchangeable lens choices. But I have to remember one basic set of facts: no clients to please. no agenda to follow. and no expectations of "once in a lifetime" photo-opportunities. I just have to put myself into a Joel Meyerowitz/Robert Frank 35mm mindset and get comfortable there. And I need to make sure it's also fun for my partner...

We leave this weekend and have lined up our favorite house-sitter to be here for the duration. We've mapped out a trip that takes us to Santa Fe in multiple days of driving with none over 4 hours and change in any one day. Roswell is on the route as is San Angelo, Texas. We'll be in Santa Fe during the middle of the week and then arrive back in Austin just in time for the intimidating task of making dinner for a famous chef and his famous pastry chef partner. (Filed under: what was I thinking?)

My one nod to equipment satiation will be to run up to Precision Camera today to buy an extra battery for the Fujis. I'd like to have two batteries for each camera but I am, of course, bringing the charger and a battery bank. What I'm not bringing is a computer --- and I have no intention of trying to type out a blog post on an iPhone. So it might be quiet around here starting on Sunday. Don't worry. I have every intention of starting right back up on the 18th. In the meantime there are over 5,000 posts here you could catch up on and hopefully MJ will be back to writing more about photography and less about diet and snooker while I'm disengaged. 

It's fun to start out on a trip with a new car that's just cresting its first 3,000 miles, a wallet full of paid up credit cards, a smart and fun to hang with navigator and treasurer, and reservations at the best hotels along the way. Certainly not the way I usually travel for working photo shoots. Still remembering weird hotels in rural Florida and Indiana from the 2018 shoot for the big infrastructure company. Still remembering flying all day, driving till midnight only to check into a barren hotel and then launch back out in the pitch black in the early hours of the next morning with a bad cup of coffee in one hand and another full agenda in the other. This, by contrast, is starting to feel a bit more like paradise. 

But I'm a bad judge of my own intentions. Just now I could feel my sneaky self trying to figure a way to smuggle along a Sigma fp and the new 90mm lens. You know. Just in case...  Ah, I've defined it. Finally! I think my super power is the ability to rationalize just about anything when it comes to cameras and lenses. 
Things could be worse. I could have a hankering for fancy cars. Or private planes...

If you feel strongly compelled please chime in and tell me why you think my vacation gear choices are all wrong and instead tell me in no uncertain terms what you think the correct approach might be. I'm listening and all the lines are open...

Except...if you think an 8x10 Deardorff is just the thing you might save yourself some typing time. That's just not going to happen.