12.10.2021

What's coming up in VSL news next week? Work and Toys.


Here we are in the last few weeks of 2021 and I haven't made predictions for 2022 or done a look back at all the photographic milestones of this past year. I'm not sure I will because I'm pretty certain we've all read the same news and seen the same trends. The holiday season seems a bit uneven, at least for camera sales, this year. When I mentioned selling my two Fujis I could see almost immediately that it must be one of the products that's backordered or temporarily unobtainable since so many people reached out to me online with questions and offers. I'm pretty sure we'll see a lot of shortages in product lines over the next month and people panic buying the cameras still on shelves, and hunkering down to wait for more stuff to come in. 

I'm a little sad right now. I figured that 2021 might be a lost year for travel but I had high hopes that 2022 would mark a fast and happy return to easier international travel. But with the Omicron variant rising quickly along with re-surging Delta Covid-19 shutting down large swaths of Europe it looks like travel outside the borders, for pleasure, will be touch and go for a while longer. 

With the pandemic making paradigm changes to work and lifestyles I figured my business of commercial photography would dwindle into irrelevance this year and then we'd snuff it out like quick fingers on a candle flame. There's a certain amount of emotional conflict that's inherent in "throwing in the towel" which is probably why I've been reticent to do so. People of my generation have a hard time of letting go of the work that defined them for decades. And it's felt, I think, more acutely if it's work that you enjoyed and which challenged you. Without the safety rails of work, and the social interactions it provides, you'll likely need a new map with which to navigate life. 

With this in mind I was surprised with the big uptick and in projects I've been offered in the last quarter. On one hand I feel as though I've been validated once again as a photographer. On the other hand, after the periods of quiet reflection, provided by the un-dodge-able events of the last two years, I'm confronting the real prospect of not wanting to go back. I certainly don't want to regress to the client-driven panic scheduling of the past or any sort of capitulation to some client's legal department's bullying. I haven't missed that at all. 

Today, and again on Tuesday and Wednesday, I have the pleasure of working on assignment for one of my very favorite advertising agencies. The job is to make photographic portraits of their burgeoning staff. It's an unhurried and happy assignment that I'll be shooting in my favorite area of downtown and at a joyous and unhurried pace. The whole assignment will be done using only available light and there is ample time scheduled for a long lunch or two with my old friend, who also happens to be the creative director for the agency. This, and one or two portraits for friends, will be the wrap up here in December, for 2021. An ending on a happy note. When I wrap up this post I'll be out the door and off to the races. Or, for the literal among us: Off to the location where I will make a few portraits this morning.

Gear notes: I'm waiting (always) impatiently to get my hands on two new pieces of gear that I've wanted to try out and review. Both are set to arrive this coming week. One is the much mocked and maligned Leica TL2 camera and the other is the much praised and almost embarrassingly inexpensive TTArtisan 20mm f1.4 lens for the L mount systems. 

Over the years I've groused about cameras without eye-level viewfinders and so never took cameras like the TL2 seriously. Maybe I still don't. But I've noticed that as cameras' rear screens have gotten better and better I've spent less time looking through the finders and more time checking composition on a rear screen than ever before. Especially when shooting portraits with a camera on a tripod. I'm finding that I can be more social and convivial if I'm constantly making direct eye contact. At least that's one rationale for trying out the TL2... (yes, I know there's an accessory EVF available but since this will hardly be a "primary" camera for me I can't justify the expense of one). 

The TL2 uses the same APS-C, 24 megapixel sensor as the CL and the same color science so I'm anticipating that I'll enjoy the images equally well. When I last lambasted touch screens they were pretty primitive and I'd spent sparse time with the touch screen on my phone. Years have passed and some of my prejudices have fallen by the wayside. But we'll see just how flexible I've become when I confront the new (to me) camera. 

The other piece of gear winging its way in my direction is the aforementioned 20mm lens. I would never have considered it if I had not already been blown away by the 50mm f1.4 (the one for full frame) lens from the same company that I bought a month or so ago. It's fantastic. So I figured that maybe TTArtisan are on to something. You give up automation of any kind but in return you get a metal lens that's very well finished and optical performance that rivals more expensive, more contemporary-designed lens with all the bells and whistles. 

Ah, these short flange distance mirrorless cameras have opened up a supermarket full of choices for those willing to experiment with different types and brands of lenses. 

While you probably know that I'm not so fond of ultra wide lenses (and I consider the 20mm focal length on full frame to be extremely wide...) I thought I might push my own rigid thinking a bit. But I was also cognizant that the 20mm focal length (in an L mount!) would translate to something like a 30mm lens on the TL2 or the CL and I might have fun with that. We'll know more after I've spent some time with it. 

Public Artist. 

As I stumble towards 2022 I know I'm gearing up for big changes to the way I've traveled through life. I'm kicking shitty jobs (and the attached clients) to the curb and only accepting projects I like and want to be involved with. That might be less income from the business and more from retirement accounts --- and that's fine with me. But it should also mean a lot more time really digging into personal projects and I'm beyond okay with that. It should be an interesting year upcoming, but for now let's dig into the newly arriving camera and lens and see what they have to offer. A good project for the last half of December.

Out now to do today's project. Have a fun Friday. Comments will be moderated at the speed of light.