8.08.2019

Adding up the numbers in Lightroom. What camera have I really shot the most frames with? Which lenses?

I've been using Lightroom for a long time. I haven't always run all my files through the application because I've also used other software like DXO, Capture One, Apple's now dead Aperture, and even iPhoto and Snapseed. But I now use Lightroom pretty consistently for all my commercial jobs if for no other reason than that I'm most familiar with it and it does batch processing quickly and efficiently. 
sometimes I make mistakes and get rid of cameras I should have kept.
One of those is the Panasonic G9. It may be the best still camera I've ever owned.
This was done in Iceland with the 8-18mm lens. Pretty much perfect in my mind. 


So, after a bunch of folks chimed in on theOnlinePhotographer to talk about which lens they shoot with the most, and someone posted a bit about how to look up your usage in the metadata, I thought I'd poke around and see what my numbers look like.

The first thing took me back a little bit. I've been accused of working too much but it was a bit shocking to see that there are 396,878 photos, total, in my libraries. That's a lot of photography. 

Then I decided to check and see which cameras I used the most. Since I have the Fujis in house right now I assumed those cameras would have fairly high numbers but that's not the case. To look at the numbers you'd think that all I do is shoot with Canon cameras. With one surprising Sony tossed in. 

It reads something like this:

Canon 5D Mk2 = 32,555
Sony A77 = 30,297
Fuji XH-1 = 25,142
Panasonic GH4 = 15,497
Canon 7D = 15,286
Canon 1Dmk2n = 15,079
Olympus EM5.2 = 14,124
Sony A99 = 13,495

There were 27 other cameras on the list, each with a representation of under 10K. The range of total lenses was embarrassing as well. 

The rest of the info shows me that while some cameras had bigger short term impacts on my consciousness they didn't have the staying power of the cameras I listed above. 

Most used two lenses? Not fast short tele primes I always seem infatuated by, but maybe the equivalent.

The #1 lens I used was the Canon 70-200mm f4.0 L, followed by
the 35-100mm f2.8 Panasonic.

My use of the vaunted 50mm was no more or less prevalent than most standard zooms (which I count in the 24-120mm range). The lens I've used most in the new Fuji system is the one I hesitated most to buy; the 16-55mm f2.8. I seem to grab for it all the time now. 

I'm guessing I should just hold onto to the XH-1s (and, of course, the X-Pro2s....) and the 16-55mm along with the 50-140mm f2.8 and put everything else up for sale.... at least it would make numerical sense. 

Funny that I always thought of myself as a resolute normal focal length photographer when in fact the range between 95 and 135mm seems to be where I gravitate.

I'd be interested to hear from y'all to see if my perception versus statistics is just an anomaly or if other people's nostalgia for popular, legendary focal lengths from the "golden" days of photography also cloud their clear vision of reality. Interesting exercise.







Digging in deeper with assignments. Sometimes you need to revisit projects to finally do your best work.

Libby Villari as Gov. Ann Richards in the play, ANN, at Zach Theatre.

I keep taking these deep dives into the theater and I'm almost convinced it's the best way to really divine the essence of a photographic subject.....the deep dive. Zach Theatre is opening the play, ANN, tonight with a big, Champagne reception and party. We'll all be there. But my contact with the play started nearly a month ago when I dragged my usual portrait lighting rig over to the theater in order to interject myself between shots of a video production (for a television commercial) in order to make marketing photographs of the play's actor, Libby Villari. 

That was followed by a session of on stage documentation of the play at the Sunday evening technical rehearsal (where I got a first look at the blocking, lighting and flow of the play) followed by yet another session of time-compressed photography at the dress rehearsal. Somewhere in this timeline Ben and I packed up a ton of lighting, video and audio gear and spent a Sunday doing three camera video interviews with writer (and the original actor in ANN), Holland Taylor; the play's director, Benjamin Endsley Klein; and the actor who will star in this production, Libby Villari. 

Following each photo session is an hours long session of editing, color correcting and assessing hundreds and hundreds of images and then getting them quickly into the waiting hands of the public relations department and the marketing department at the theater. Following the video interviews was the scrubbing through of all the footage, marking the usable quotes and stories, creating a series of multi-cam clips, assembling the videos and then fitting them out with carefully chosen music and appropriate b-roll (which came largely from the stills I'd been shooting; with a little help from the Ken Burns Effect). 

At this point I think I know the play well enough to be Ms. Villari's understudy (but that role is already filled). Tonight I'll put the cameras aside and take Belinda to see the production without the physical barrier of multiple cameras between me and the stage. 

But I will say that each touch and each intersection with the process of making the play and creating the visual collateral made each successive session better and better. My understand of how to translate the drama, and the comedic moments, was more nuanced. I knew better by the dress rehearsal exactly what images I could pull out with my cameras and lenses because they were the images that were selling me on the play. 

And I think this sort of immersion, which pays off in better and more interesting photographs, is largely missing from our current practices (collectively) of commercial photography. We are mostly given one chance, one day, one match up to get all the pieces competently cobbled together but because we don't generally have the option of coming back several times to refine our vision, or our equipment lists, or our timing and positioning, we fall back on proven techniques (which may be made boring by our need to make them bullet proof in the moment) and a hastily formed first impression of the material being presented to us. 

When taking portraits on location we are often pressed by the client's schedule to hastily decide on a location and to push through on a tight schedule. Even if we discover a better location within the location many times we don't have the luxury of disrupting a fixed schedule to stop and change lighting and location; even if it might make a much better visual outcome. By the same token we're locked into whatever outfit the subject shows up with. Even if the CEO comes with a plaid jacket and a wrinkled shirt, along with a novelty tie that has monster truck imagery on it, we rarely have the ability to demand/ask/cajole the marketing people into let us come back a second time, hoping that the CEO's handler will have remedied his sartorial suicide.....

I place part of the blame for this increasing compressed and rushed process that used to be photography. We need to push back. I've been working on this for a while and since I mostly photograph people I've started to invent ways to build in some "do over" capability, even within a one day assignment. 

A recent assignment called for location portrait photography with one CEO and four senior V.P.s. I was tasked with photographing each one individually. I asked for/demanded that we take time to scout their offices before the day of the shoot. I figured out three different locations that could be used for our portraits and I worked out how to light each of the three, making notes on gear and logistics during the scout. 

At the end of the scouting I met with the marketing director and let her know that I wanted to photograph the CEO first and also last. I explained to her that most people don't get photographed all the time and they tend to bring a lot of nervous energy into their sessions; especially if it is the first time they are working with a photographer. My strategy was to meet with the CEO and have a coffee and conversation prior to his first session. By doing this I was able to select which jacket he would wear (he brought three! Good job, Mr. CEO!!!) and which tie (6!!!). I was also able to get some insight into his personality and some of the things that most interested him. We also went over how the session would work and what to expect. We did a nice job on the first location and then I cut him free for the next few hours. 

In the interim I photographed the other executives, taking time to chat with them in their offices before we got into our sessions. Worked pretty darn well....

Near the end of the day I set up my lights in the final location and tweaked everything. Then I invited the CEO in for his second session. He was much more comfortable, less rushed, more compliant, and it felt like we'd known each other for ages. All of the images of the CEO chosen from our sessions on that day were from the final session. He was visibly more comfortable just as I had become more comfortable with him and also his staff and offices. It reminded me that we've allowed ourselves to rush even when it's counter productive and not required. Habit. But a good one to break. 

And maybe not just in our work.


This Summer I've made a conscious effort to book as much client work as I can in the afternoons. Not in the mornings. I can usually find a plausible excuse to offer a client to make this happen and the lack of booking client driven work in the mornings offers two benefits: The first is that I have not had to use an alarm clock to get up for the entire Summer. I can sleep in a bit and get better rest; especially since I tend to be one of those people who anticipate the alarm and wake up half an hour before, and then spend idle time waiting for the buzz to go off. Better to do it naturally. 

The second benefit is that I never have to miss a swim practice or give up a long walk. I usually swim with my master's team but if I want to swim at the Deep Eddy Pool it's far less crowded at 8 am, before the rest of society rises, has coffee and gets out of their houses. Not missing the exercise portion of the day is more important to me now that whatever money is attached to the jobs. I'll gladly trade a bit more excess prosperity for a cool swim in the shade of towering cottonwood trees. And I'll happily take advantage of spare morning time to read, and drink coffee.

I swam with the masters team this morning and that pool's water is heating up as the over 100 degree days arrive and linger. I'm going to start alternating. As the water in our main pool heats up we have to shorten the distances and be a bit careful about intensity. It's easy to forget that swimming in warm water can be dangerous and lead to hyperthermia and dehydration. By switching between pools I can swim hard distance in the 70 degree spring water and then work on sprint-y sets with more comfortable intervals in the conventional pool. Problem solved? We'll see. But short of everyone bringing a 100 pound bag of ice with them in the morning to dump into the pool I think we're just going to have to live with warmer water temps in the Rollingwood Pool until the Fall.


Musing about cameras. I woke up today and chose the Canon G15 as today's shooting machine. Small, agile and a good enough image for just about all uses. One of my friends called to see if I'd seen the review the Fuji GFX 100 over on DPReview.com. For some strange reason I had no interest at all. None. Not in the camera, not in the review and not even in the concept. I think I'm back into one of those cycles of trying to see just how much I can accomplish with the most rudimentary of tools. 

There is one camera that I need more of. That's the Fuji X-Pro2. If you've gotten tired of your mint condition X-Pro2 and want to trade it for an X-T3 I'd love to accommodate you. I might be negotiated into kicking in some cash as well. Let me know. Don't know why I want an extra one but I do. I really, really do. 

Hope you stay cool today, wherever you are. If you are in Austin you might enjoy the ANN play. If you are highly partisan and can't stand the thought of people liking a democratic governor in Texas then too bad but I think it's going to be a long while before you get to see a Greg Abbott play.....

8.07.2019

I've been propelled into the second half of this decade by my new "camera" acquisition....


The AMC Gremlin. 

A bunch of us guys would be sitting around at Starbucks, sipping our venti, triple shot, whole milk quattrochinos and we'd pretty much all have our smart phones sitting around on the table. But not me. I kept my in my pocket. I was a little embarrassed to be the only person in my peer group who seemed reticent to spend (waste?) money by endlessly upgrading telephones. And I must admit that I was a bit jealous as I timed the start up of some of their new miracle phones and realized that I was basically sporting the Nikon D1 of the Apple iPhones. I won't even admit which phone I was using as recently as this morning but I will confess that part of my reason for buying a new phone was that the model I've had will not be upgradable in the next iOS software upgrade. Gone will be those marvelous tweaks that make moving around my brilliant messages and enticing conversations so secure. No more performance fixes. No more ephemeral something-ness for my phone. 

My friend, James, looked at my phone and you could tell by his expression that he envisioned it as the AMC Gremlin of communications. I explained that I bought it on a two-for-one deal from AT&T when Ben was a senior in high school and, well, that was a while ago.... but it really was.....almost?....state of the art at the time... It could be worse, it could be an Android phone...

The funny thing is that my even more frugal spouse and partner is sporting an even older phone. She recently had it lounging on her work table at the advertising agency where she's employed and all the millennials in the office stopped by to stare at it. They had never seen a smartphone that was so small. They loved it. They assumed it was a next gen product. But Belinda set them straight by telling them that it was an iPhone 4. A phone first introduced when most of her associates were still in middle school. 

I asked her if she wanted me to buy her a new phone when I decided to buy a new one. She declined and explained to me that while my use of my phone was more like the use of a defacto mini-iPad she still only uses hers as......a telephone. And in that capacity it works quite well....

I didn't push it. She makes far more money than me and when she needs a phone I'm sure she'll research her purchase for weeks, or months, and then buy the right one. 

I went out for a walk this morning and at the end of the walk I headed into the local AT&T store and bought an iPhone XR. We did the transaction and they walked me through the set-up. The store staff seemed amazed that anyone over 60 knew how to back up a phone to the cloud, or set up a new phone and transfer vital data. I tried to explain to them that I'd been working as my own, in-house I.T. director since the first Apple Macintosh came into our lives back in 1984, and that I still owned both the first and second generations of iPhones but that part of the conversation seemed lost on them as they explained to me how useful plastic cases are for phones, and how I'll need to "charge" the battery. 

Setting up face detection was fun. Paying for a new phone was less fun. But then I used my new phone to take pictures of wet towels and everything came clear to me in a flash. I'll be able to sell off all my cameras and lenses and depend completely on the camera in my phone. I just hope I have the marketing chops to monetize the results....

I posted some photos here to flesh out the post. Have you upgraded your phone yet? Gotten a vaccination for shingles? Started wearing adjustable waist slacks? Started wearing stuff with more Velcro? Drinking more Sanka? Watch out. 


The large antenna required for Russian mobile phones. 

A Kirk Tuck original: COFFEE TO GO.

SUMMER SWIMMING.



THE GOLDEN AGE OF 12 MEGAPIXEL M43 CAMERAS



TRAILER TOP SUMMER WEAR.


It's the "dog days" of Summer, I've broken the washing machine, and I've found a new use for some of those C-Stands floating around the office....


It's getting nasty hot this week and it looks like the sizzling weather is here to stay for the next ten days or so. I guess it's not so bad. Everything from the dog house to the tool shed is air conditioned, we've got a constant 70 degree, spring-fed pool to swim laps in, and the brutal heat seems to slow down the migration of wealthy Californians and New Yorkers to Austin, Texas. 

I wouldn't mind the heat so much if we still got to have that season northerners call, Winter. But, alas, our new take on Austin winter is that it might be wise to take along a sweater if we're going to be out for a long time. Gloves? Only required if you're trying to make some sort of fashion statement...

Since the weather has heated up swim towels tend to pick up odors and that mildewy smell more quickly; especially if you leave them in your car for too long. So I've tried to stay ahead of swim towel maintenance by getting stuff into the washing machine on a regular and frequent basis. Sometimes I try to put too many towels in the machine but usually there are not bad consequences resulting from my overpacking of the appliance. 

Today was an outlier. I packed the Kenmore 90 Series, heavy duty washer with too many towels. I didn't space them accurately and, at some point in the spin cycle, everything became unruly, the washer bounced around a bit and then I hear a "SNAP!" or a "CRACK!" and the washer stopped spinning. Now it won't spin at all. And it is important to note that the initial drying stages of heavily sodden towels depends almost entirely on centripetal force and spinning motors. 

I've already called, Mike, my cherished appliance repair person. He's really good, really reasonable and not too judgmental. I learned that as he explained to me that gas powered clothes dryers should have their internal filters (no, not the one you see when you open the door; I know that much...) cleaned out more frequently that once every twenty or so years....

After the call to Mike I pondered the pile of soggy but clean towels I had created. I figured that mass would be a taxing load for the dryer, what without the spin dry treatment, so I looked for some alternative method to achieve drying that might also be carbon neutral. Finally it came to me. The old fashion clothesline! Something I've never seen behind any house anywhere in my zip code in at least the last two decades. I surmise that people have forgotten that they can harness the power of the sun to dry their garments. But I was equally remiss because I don't have a clothesline either (although I do have bags and bags of clothespins which we use to mount filters to lights and diffusion sheets to soft boxes, etc.). 

Then it dawned on me that I do have a collection of C-Stands (Century Stands) which also have "arms" and could be easily pressed into service as portable drying racks. So I pulled a few C-stands, and a couple of conventional light stands, out into the blazing afternoon sun and hung towels over every horizontal surface. We are now in the mid-process. Each time I check the fabric of my swim towels it feels just a bit less wet. We are making progress!

Since work tends to slow down in the middle of Summer I was excited to find new ways to press my gear into service, even if it is just domestic service. But then, all work is noble; right?

Photographed with brand new camera gear; which I will discuss in the next post. 

The walk way between house and office offers a wonderfully reflective surface for towel drying while sheltering the down market application of sunday's from street view. 
Another task undertaken. 

Need to dry off some fabric or buy a Hasselblad H1Dii?
Try buying through this link to make me richer than Midas. 

8.05.2019

I always imagine that I took this photograph in a studio in the 1950's after having looked at a book of Irving Penn photographs...

 But it was part of a series of images that were done for an international financial services company. This portrait session was done on the 17th floor of a decidedly modern office building in a prosperous part of Dallas, Texas.

My assistant and I were in the middle of a large open plan office and we took over part of it to set up our thick, canvas background and a 4x6 foot softbox powered by a Norman 2000 W/S flash system.
I used a Hasselblad ELX camera to make the exposure onto Agfapan APX 100 black and white film. The final "deliverable" was a double weight fiber print printed on Ilford Gallerie and toned.

The work was slower and more measured than the pace we keep now. It's with a certain twinge of nostalgia that I remember days when we were consumed with making portraits in the most unusual places, and with lots of time provided in order to find just the right composition, and just the right look. The assignment was circa 1988.

We didn't use no 'stinkin' fill light back then..... Not on that assignment.

8.03.2019

On Topic: The tale of two 50mm lenses for the Pentax K-1.

Camera's internal B&W interpretation in Jpeg.

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times... Just kidding around. But, in my usual, mysterious and painfully endearing way I did manage to buy two different 50mm lenses for my new Pentax K-1 camera. Sit back down and mitigate your excitement; neither lens is the new, super Pentax HD Pentax D FA 50mm 1.4 SDM AW that sells for $1,000 USD. That's just not going to happen.

The "normal" 50mm f1.4  lenses I did splash out for are both well used and were quite reasonable, considering that the glass on both is pristine. The one that came first, on Wednesday, was an earlier AF lens with the screwdriver focusing cam that makes a pleasant whirring sound as it autofocuses. Its body design is kind of round-y and it has a window on the lens barrel so you can see the distance scale. The seller supplied a generic, but nice, metal lens hood and, of course, front and rear caps. I played with it for while and walked around the house focusing on stuff with the lens wide open and then kept hitting the review button to see if the camera and lens combo was any good at nailing focus. They did quite well and now I trust the auto focusing on the system. At least for now.

The second lens came on Thursday, right before my lunch with Paul. I caught the mailman just as he was about to pull away from my mailbox and mis-pitch my package somewhere else. I went back to my office, tore open the box and popped the newest lens (but oldest, chronologically) onto the K-1, put the assemblage over my shoulder and headed out for sushi at Whole Foods at Lamar Blvd. and 6th St. Paul and I have both owned Pentax medium format film systems and the styling of the 50mm f1.4 SMC manual focus lens was an instant reminder of Pentax 645 and 6X7 system lenses; just in miniature.

I've done busy work all week long and I was anxious to get out for a walk with a camera today. I headed for downtown straight after the family lunch (a Saturday tradition from back when Ben was in high school....) with the K-1 and the older, 50mm manual focus lens, and not even a spare battery in my pocket.

The MF lens is hefty and dense and the focusing ring is like butter. So much better than the run of the mill, fly-by-wire manual focusing implementation we seem to get on most AF lenses these days...

I did my research and knew that I could use the lens in aperture mode and the camera would give me wide open viewing for focusing, and would take care of stopping down the lens automatically, if I put the external aperture ring in the locked "A" setting. Set up this way one can use one of the control wheels on the camera body to control the aperture setting. Pretty decent backward compatibility.

With MF lenses I'm prone to taking more chances with composition because once I know that focus and depth of field are in the ballpark I seem to move the frame around much more, and instinctively place more of each scene off to one side or the other. I'm not sure of the psychology involved but knowing that the camera and lens won't move focus around seems to be a big part of that. If I were a fan of "back button" focusing perhaps I'd manage all this differently but I'm resistant to changes like that. Changes in camera operation. 

In the three hours I spent shooting lens I careened around the aperture ring from f2.0 to around f7.1; all depending on the subject matter. I found the lens to be very neutral and well behaved. There's a bit of uncorrected chromatic aberration that manifests itself as colored lines adjacent to high contrast intersections but it's manageable and only is really obvious if I sharpen too much in post.

For far less than $100 dollars I'll chalk up the purchase of a nice, clean MF 50mm lens, that works well with the K-1 body, as a win. Next week I'm going to make a little trip to San Antonio and spend some time with the camera and the other new lens; the 50mm FA f1.4 AF, and see if the optics are any different from the manual version. The front and back lens elements sure seem to be the same. Maybe the coatings are different or something. 

Below are samples and some have captions to note special news. 








Downtown was awash with groups of young women on tour. 
There was also a big convention of people; mostly women, 
who sell scented oils and waxes.

Even Austin is plagued by "crumbling infrastructure." 
Where did all those "shovels on the ground" get off to?


See the middle scooter? Look at the right hand grip. Now look at the image just 
below. It's a big crop of that small handle and it shows the detail possible 
with this 50mm even though the lens aperture was nearly wide open (f2.5)

And there it is. At least a 100% crop. The focus was right where I expected it to be and 
(I hate to say it) the bokeh is very nice. 

A box used to protect a vendor's cart's electrical connections and also a target for my
"OMG! Look at my crop just below!!!"
It's just a little cross section of wires but I think you can see 
that the camera and lens do a nice job of getting stuff in focus and delivering details. 






One more set of "looky-looky!!!!!" photos. 
See the telephone pole in the image just above? 
The image below is a detail shot of the lower part of the pole.
I think my ability to manual focus is still pretty good but I 
will confess to using the focusing indicator in the viewfinder
to confirm good focus. It's pretty accurate. 








I've always felt like Range Rover ownership was a basic cry for help. 
One in this color is more an admission of sociopathy. 
And I'm pretty much over the style of all black wheels.


And, of course: My Homage to William Eggleston. 



On Topic: My Photographic Homage to William Eggleston.

"Red C'Art from Trader Joe's."

©2019 Kirk Tuck

What is the preferred, end result of all this camera ownership for me?


This is from a print of my friend, Sarah. It was originally shot with a camera that just made square photographs. It turns out that squares are the format that's seems best to me for making the kinds of portraits I like to construct and, also the kinds of portraits that I like to look at. I blame Irving Penn and Richard Avedon for their strong influence when it comes to formats. My one push of non-compliance with their work is that I never learned to enjoy the 8x10 format with the same enthusiasm.

I can set the Fuji cameras to shoot squares and when I look at the EVF or the LCD I end up composing in the square with a beautiful field of black framing the image.

The Pentax K1 I recently bought also allows me to set a square crop. If I use live view I see the crop in the same fashion that I do on the Fuji cameras but if I use the OVF I see a strong square made by thick lines overlaying the 3:2 ratio finder. While that's not as elegant as looking through the Fuji EVF, I'm happy to have the guidelines. The more restrictions I can add to my composing the happier I am with the end results.

I made some square portraits yesterday. Not quite dialed in just yet; not ready for public sharing, but a nice twinge of nostalgic resonance.

on a different topic: I seem always to talk about cameras I've just bought or have circled back to use with more frequency and this gives the appearance that all cameras are incoming and that none ever leave the fold. Since I subtracted a camera and a lens yesterday from my inventory I thought I'd mention it here.

I hadn't intended, really, to get rid of anything in the moment but I have a photographer friend who was flirting with the idea of adding a small, Fuji camera to his equipment selection. He shoots mostly architecture and has a Leica S2 and also a Nikon D850 and D810 but he likes to travel with his wife just for fun and has become dis-infatuated with carrying heavy cameras around in places like Santa Fe or Carmel.

We've talked about some of the advantages of the Fuji cameras and lenses over the past few months and he narrowed down the travel cameras he was interested in to the just the little Fuji X-E3 and the 18-55mm f2.8-4.0 zoom. I had one that I liked but once I brought the two X-Pro2s into the mix my embrace of the X-E3 loosened up a bit. My friend also pointed out that I had many duplications in the Fuji system and, with ownership (and near constant use) of the 16-55mm f2.8, I really didn't need the pixie zoom as well.

He dropped by yesterday with the pretense of just wanting to handle the camera and lens and, well, one thing led to another which led to him leaving with both. I think he'll like that small system for travel and I actually like having some extra space in the equipment cabinet. But all empty space wants to be filled...it's almost inevitable.

Just wanted to let you know that we let one go. Not for the first time. Won't be the last time.

Bottom line? The finders on the X-Pro2s are more compelling. I'm happy to trade smaller size and weight for user effectiveness. YMMV.

When do you "get" old? Who is in charge of your perception of aging? How does your approach to healthy living aid or hamper your photography?

"Old" men with no beer guts, swimming fast. 

I have an acquaintance who is about my age. When I think about him he seems at least ten years older than me. He's just a bit taller than me but he weighs a good 50 or 60 pounds more. His belly hangs over his belt and he's always got a sore back. The sore back is his go to excuse for not wanting to/being able to exercise. Then there are the sore knees (most likely from supporting excess weight) and the sore feet. His idea of recreation is to sit on a couch with his wife and binge watch shows on Netflix. His idea of exercise is walking from his car to the grocery store or from his car to the local Starbucks. He imagines that everyone "dumb" enough to run in the Summer will keel over and die. He has been deeply involved in nearly every fad diet you can think of. He went all vegan last year and lost 20 pounds. Then he rediscovered cookies and ice cream and gained back 25.

He'd like to get in better shape, and with three college degrees is smart enough to understand and calculate the cost/benefit calculus of exercising and improving his diet, but he is addicted to sitting in front of his computer for hours and hours each day researching websites and watching videos... and snacking.

He's had a number of health issues and his doctor tells him he is "pre-diabetic."  Thank God he's not also a smoker.

I understand that bad habits of a lifetime are hard to break. I understand the process of getting in shape for the first time in decades is uncomfortable and not nearly as much fun as already being in good shape. But there's nothing other than this acquaintance's own reticence to make lifestyle changes that stands between him and better health; and potentially a longer life. He's just continually making the same choices because those choices seem to be the path of least resistance and are more comfortable, in the moment.

I have a friend who is a couple of years younger than me and he's the opposite of the acquaintance described above. My friend just broke the world's record in his age group for the 200 meter, long course backstroke. He still competes in triathlons and is a national contender in his age group. He's good about diet and I can't remember ever hearing him say he'd been to his doctor. He's got great muscle tone and not much body fat. None of this came about by accident. He was a UT swimmer in college who never stopped exercising and he exercises, generally, for at least a couple hours a day. And yes, he holds down a job, is raising three younger kids, and still has time for fun stuff. But he makes choices. He gets out and makes time to exercise because he can't imagine anything more fun. He passes on the donuts and margaritas. I never see him wolfing down scones, candy bars, Frappucinos, etc. It's a consistent pattern of combining discipline and goal setting in order to see the long term advantages to his short term behaviors. And yes, he can do 50 push ups without breathing hard or breaking a sweat.

We all get to make a choice. Which guy do we want to be? Which protocol will best benefit our active working lives?

Some people couch the choice for fitness as being something for which you must give up something else. If so, I have absolutely no clue what people would need to give up other than their resistance to movement or their habitual sweet tooth.

But what does this have to do with commercial photography? Or even recreational photography?

I don't know about everyone else but I find commercial photography (especially working outside, on locations) to be physically demanding. Where a hobbyist can carry one bare camera and a single lens the professionals are usually bringing along redundant camera gear, lighting equipment that they may or may not have to use, modifiers for the lights and support gear for everything (tripods and light stands). They may walk miles a day with the gear, or pushing a heavy cart with gear. There are rarely convenient elevators in industrial settings. You'll probably have to climb some ladders... Sometimes you have to walk a mile or so to work to get to more remote locations. And you might need to be able to do all this in weather extremes.

Clients aren't interested in whether or not you are tired, your back hurts, you are out of breath. None of that is their responsibility. They have engaged you to complete a job which you accepted in complete awareness of what was required. In order to do the jobs and make the fees you need to be in good enough shape to complete the contracted tasks. Whether you are 63 or 23 you are engaged with the same set or parameters and you have accepted the same scheduling and rigor. Being in excellent shape means more profit, more efficiency, more accomplished in a day, more fees.

Being out of shape means being miserable by midday, having to cancel work days because of a lack of energy, or from the exhaustion that comes from not using muscles and the whole cardiovascular system on a regular enough basis; such that normal, physical work seems...extraordinary. And clients who are confronted with a photographer who isn't up to the task of shooting and moving through a job, physically, will almost certain NOT book that person again.

If you are a hobbyist/photo enthusiast you don't necessarily need to be worried about your income stream as a result of self-induced poor health but if you are not fit you most certainly cheat yourself from getting full value from opportunities. If you sign up for a landscape phtotography workshop in a remote location but you don't really feel comfortable walking more than four or five hundred yards from a trail head you'll miss so many opportunities to see and photograph amazing sights. If you book a trip to Rome to photograph in the streets but you haven't stayed in good shape by routinely walking for hours with your gear over one shoulder you'll most likely truncate your daily schedule and miss so much.

You are paying for the potential in every shooting opportunity. You pay for plane tickets, hotel rooms, meals in restaurants, entrance fees and so much more. How sad if you can only enjoy half of the potential of your vacation/shooting trip/personal project. It's like paying to see a good movie and having to leave halfway through.

I'm pretty sure the difference in exercise perspectives is a combination of factors but there are certain cities (and neighborhoods within cities) that are more focused on fitness. Austin, Texas, Boulder and Colorado Springs, Colorado, Eugene Oregon, etc. are places where so many people in the total population are regular, and consistent, exercise fans. The same places seem to have community support for healthier eating and lifestyles. And then there are the rural and rust belt communities where fitness (real fitness, not a half hour at Orange Theory or twice a week at Yoga) is an almost foreign concept. Where pushing into momentary physical discomfort for a long term benefit is laughed about and minimized.

I would guess that where you live and the kind of people who surround you have profound effects on your personal perception of what even constitutes true fitness. My advice for people living in exercise deserts, and in places where traditional American diets prevail, is to pack up, sell your house and move to someplace far healthier and then change your own perception about what you can accomplish to improve and preserve your health. It's a hell of a lot more practical than staying put and complaining about being tired, cranky, fat and unmotivated.

Cruel advice? Maybe. But would you take the advice if the majority of the last 20 to 30 years of your own life were much, much better than they would otherwise be?  I would.

Just back from morning swim practice. 3,000 yards knocked out by 8:30 am. Already planning on that long afternoon walk.... What's on your agenda?