Down Time. That gap between "too busy" and "lost in the void."


Success with the Nikon 20mm f2.8 Af lens and the SL2.

December without a deadline or a map. This is not something new that's happened to me while thinking about retiring from the drudgery jobs of photography. Nope. This is a malaise that happens every December. Like clockwork. I finish up all the last minute jobs, all the billing, all the studio organizing and I then confront that there are no guardrails, no deadlines, no "must have/must do/must deliver" constraints to give form and boundaries for my everyday. From December 15th to around January 15th it's like entering an episode of the Twilight Zone where everyone is relentlessly busy around you and yet you are able to sleep in, have a leisurely breakfast, read the news and reviews, make plans for lunch and even look, ruefully, at how your stock market investments are faring. (Do yourself a favor --- don't bother to look this week...). 

I'm looking for a non-work project for the next month. 

What engages me right now? Spraying mold and mildew killer on the beautiful stone wall that runs across one edge of our property to keep the mold from destroying the integrity of the stones. This morning I looked ahead at the weather reports and took note of an upcoming spell of really cold (for Austin) weather. Predicted overnight temperatures in the low 20s. But the weather men did such a poor job with last year's predictions that I'm preparing for Deep Freeze Armageddon, Part II. 

I've ordered a covey of Plankets. These are blankets or covers for plant beds and bushes. I'll start "planketing" the landscaping this coming Tuesday; a few days ahead of the anticipated deep freezes. I've already had a service out to re-weather strip all of the doors on the house (too many!) and we replaced all the windows earlier in the year with stout, double, and in some areas triple, paned windows. We should be good but I always worry that the water pipes from the city's street side to the house itself are not buried deep enough. I'll pay special attention to the outside faucets and known weak spots for water delivery...

With that in mind we just had the 30+ year old water shut-off valve replaced by our favorite plumber. My first "pro-active" plumbing initiative --- but I saw what happened to people's houses the last time the deep freeze hit and they struggled to get the water turned off.....

On the photography side I'm trying valiantly to come up with some over-arching project I will want to work on for the next year or so. I have the time and the cameras but now I need to do that deep dive into my own brain to try and ferret out what it is I really want to do. It's harder than it seems. But I know I won't spend the next 30+ years playing golf, getting fat and giving up. 

I love making portraits. Covid threw me for a loop in that regard but once we finally emerge from our current pattern of sine wave-like increases and decreases in rates of community infection I think we'll get the process of making personal portraits straightened out too. 

Funny that I most like to do portraits which are a slow and considered thing to do and yet I keep buying cameras and lenses that are more geared to street photography than anything else. I'm pretty sure it's some level of boredom with the constraints of in-person, studio photography that motivate my camera purchases but most of the gear is so good I could press it into service for just about anything.

The harder I push to discover my "big" project the more elusive it seems to become. Sometimes I get so frustrated I consider giving up and becoming a novelist instead. But this time around I'll do a better job with editing. Or at least I'd like to think so. 

But as I said at the top. This is a perennial void/gap/malaise that happens each year as we reach the end and everything slows down. By the end of February I predict we'll be back to happily "too busy." 

The photos below are from the Q2. It's a marvelous camera. Can't wait for the 40mm or 50mm version. Easy sale here.

No theological ambiguity here. Not on this truck...

would it really kill the window designer to dress her up for the holidays?

Just reflecting on the current state of my photography. (ha. ha.)

Just a prevention note. I know these are the times when everyone is supposed to gather together with family and friends and celebrate with gusto but... the Covid numbers are rising again just about everywhere and the disease is no less icky and virulent than before. If you really don't have to jam into crowded restaurants and bars maybe taking a pass is a good thing. You may think you look dorky wearing that KN95 mask on the flight home to see the (aging) parents but won't you feel really good about yourself if you don't inadvertently kill off members of your family when you arrive bearing gifts .... and more?

Finally, would it really be such a hassle to wear that mask in the grocery stores? Especially if there is a long line of people ahead and behind you sniffling and coughing? Maybe it's not just the Covid you'll be dodging but also the flu, colds, RSV and so much more. Worth a bit of risk and reward analysis. Don't you think? 

And for all those rationalizing that they've already had C-19 so.....  Please remember you can catch all this stuff again. Well maybe not the seasonal flu --- that seems to be a one and done deal for each year, but our old friend Covid is the "gift" that keeps on giving...

Go buy yourself something fun and let's keep moving forward.