Enjoying a different type of subject matter. Making one (really lucky) processing "error." And a TLDR bit of health news below.


When I was teaching my one person workshop this week I made a point to bring along the same camera and lens that my student brought. We both dug into the Panasonic S5 equipped the 20-60mm Lumix lens. I had no intention at all to make photographs for myself but wanted to have a camera in my hands to match menus and shooting parameters so I could be quicker with fixes and explanations of the features and settings. 

I put my camera in the "vivid" color profile, set the color balance to the little "sun" icon and shot with manual exposure. Everything was a Jpeg. When we found something that provided a teachable scene we'd both stop and shoot it in the way each of us liked best. 

I've always thought of myself as a portrait photographer or a people photographer but lately I feel like I'm shifting into what I can only think of an urban landscape photographer instead. Sure, I still like to make images of people but I've expanded my circle of what interests me when I have a camera in my hand. 

We were out at the Wildflower center and on our walk around when we found this area which incorporated a series of greenhouses on the West side. For some unexplainable reason I found myself captivated by the lines, colors and atmosphere of these functional and simple structures. I guess I was lucky in that the high, thin clouds worked well to impart both contrast and a lack of contrast at the same time. 

When we describe photographs that we generally like we often talk about an image's three dimensional quality. I think we mistakenly imagine that the effect is the provenance of very expensive lenses coupled with very elite cameras but reality likes to smack us on the head and show, sometimes, that even modest cameras and lenses are more than capable of realizing the same effects. 

When I got back to the office I imported the files into Lightroom. Normally I do this without applying a preset so I'm starting with a neutral image that's been modified only by the in-camera settings. However, the last time I imported files I was importing raw test files from the Leica SL2 and I imported them with a profile/preset I got from David at Leica Store Miami. I made a few modifications to the preset to better align it to my tastes in images but all the starting points came from David. I forgot to turn off the preset. Forgot to uncheck the little box in the import panel. So all the already vivid files got a dose of SL2 preset added to the overall color, contrast and dynamic range settings already selected in camera. 

It was, by definition, an accident; but a happy one. I loved the way the balanced dynamic range of these shots is shown here. I also appreciate the saturation of the blue in the skies. In fact, thinking back, these are my favorite non-human images of the last three or four months. They seem to capture a time and look that really resonates with me. 

What a happy bit of happenstance. 

Health notes: I've lately become more focused on maintaining good health. My elevated interests in personal fitness were magnified by my reading of Michael Johnston's medical scare over at "TheOnlinePhotographer.com"...

I've never been a fan of pharmaceutical cures or crutches but I've been forced to pay attention when a routine calcium CT scan returned some less than perfect numbers. That was behind my recent interest in Vitamin K2, M7 (not all K2 is the same. do the research!). Under the supervision of both my primary doctor and my cardiologist (everyone should have a great cardiologist who returns email and stays current) I've started to take 150 mcg of K2, M7 along with 5,000 mcg of vitamin D3. I also added 100 mg of Niacin along with my usual 150 mg of CoEnzyme Q10, too. I feel like I've opened a pharmacy now. 

Scans done a decade or so ago showed that swimming and running have succeeded in adding much brachiation of capillaries around my heart and lungs. Essentially I've developed lots of pathways for good circulation and am not depending on "one road in and one road out" for blood flow. According to my medical team that's a really good thing. (An older Texan probably would be wise to have the following: cardiologist, general practitioner, dermatologist, and dentist and to see them once a year). 

Diet crazies would suggest that I need to radically increase all the dosages of the above supplements if I'm to see any real changes in function, flow and arterial calcification, and Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn cautioned me in a phone conversation a year ago that reversing any arterial build up is tough to nearly impossible without the world's strictest diet. I'm conservative enough to want to go slow with new stuff. 

But all three of the people I trust with my cardio health are adamant about the same message: Exercise is the magic bullet. Exercise is the fountain of youth (not immortality). 

I've never smoked. I've never had more than a few glasses of wine during a week. I don't eat much sugar. I love peanut butter (which I predict will be the next insanely popular new "cure" for everything, and trendy health food). I eat a lot of fresh caught King Salmon. I eat fresh berries and apples pretty much daily. I've held my weight to a max of 158 pounds for the last 20 years. I sleep  seven to eight hours a night. I don't snore. I'm happily, happily married to the same person for nearly 4 decades. I have reduced stress to such small levels that my main worries revolve around whether the pipes at the house will freeze if we have a prolonged cold snap....

I swim, hard, five days a week. I walk at least three miles, seven days a week. 

To be clear, I'm not trying to live forever but I want to live well, pain free and with abundant energy while I'm here. So many people my age (67) seem to have an acceptance of the narrative that ALL of us will have horrible symptoms of decline by the time we hit our sixth decade. I believe that can be true but I think it applies only to those who are constantly willing to cut corners with their health when they know better. The people who give up. Who resign themselves. Who think staying in shape is too hard. But...

We weren't constructed to live with constant pain. We weren't destined to fall apart once we've retired from work and child rearing. Just as giving up smoking prolongs life so do all the things I mention just above. And just like giving up smoking they all revolve around personal choice.

Life's a gamble. There are some of us who, at no fault of their own, will contract some sort of disease or malady that truly is beyond their control. But that in no way constitutes the overwhelming majority of people over 60. Most of the decline the majority experiences is in one way or another self-inflicted. And a large part of the decline caused by casual disregard for good choices can, to an extent, be stopped and even reversed. Mostly by eating a much better diet and getting good, daily exercise. 

But a person has to WANT to do it. Yes, getting back in shape is much harder than staying in shape but the benefits are obvious and the costs of not staying in shape become more and more apparent as the years go by. We all get to choose. 

The biggest impediment to staying in shape is being surrounded by a negative community of family and friends, co-workers and neighbors. If no one around you exercises that factor alone pounds a message into your brain that says, "Don't bother." Many studies have shown that people with overweight friends quickly become overweight themselves when they become part of that group. Drinkers whose friends regularly drink alcohol drink more alcohol. BUT...

People who exercise with a group tend to stick to the program with much more tenacity. A spouse on a healthy diet helps to bring along everyone in the house on the adventure of improving their eating habits. 

An unsettling thought: Since it takes less energy to carry around smaller and smaller, lighter and lighter cameras are the ever shrinking burdens of carrying around ever smaller, lighter cameras actually reducing the exercise we get from good, long photo walks? Should I find a battery grip for my SL2 to add some weight? (somewhat kidding here...). 

Most of us get wake up calls from our bodies warning us that we've made some bad choices. The few who don't get the wake up calls are the ones who sometimes suffer cardiac arrest and go out in a flash. Maybe we should work on being supporters of each other's healthy habits. I'll stop thinking of donuts now.....

I feel sympathy for folks in rural communities. They often lack the easy availability of resources some need to stay in good physical shape. Weather, lack of access to facilities, lack of easy access to friends and exercise partners, all play a huge part in reducing compliance to good health habits. It either takes more discipline to stay fit and healthy or requires a re-location to someplace more conducive to living a healthy existence. 

All the cameras in the world won't help. So much off topic stuff for a Wednesday. I'm done. I'm going to grab a heavy camera and go for a loooonnng walk.