11.21.2021

Camera makers used to sell a lot of cameras based on what "professionals" were purportedly using. That's no longer even remotely applicable.

 

not shot on assignment. just shot for myself.

 Back in the film days there were a lot of barriers to entry if you wanted to quit your day job and become a photographer. Gear was more expensive as a percentage of the average income, relationships with clients took a lot of time to build, lighting was much more important and required expensive gear, cameras weren't nearly as "friendly" or "fault tolerant" to operate, and there were few free places to advertise your services to large numbers of interested people. Sorry, no wide spread web. Finally, when you did invest in a camera system it was important that it be ruggedly built because most models stayed on the market for five or ten years and heavy users expected their purchases to last at least until the next introduction of a professional model. 

With all this in mind it was an easy advertising pitch for camera makers to trot out real, working professionals who used the company's cameras and could profess to good results and the overall reliability of the products. The top end models were almost certainly purchased by a higher percentage of full time pro photographers than are top line cameras now. I'd conjecture that fewer than one tenth of one percent of professional camera models are actually sold to people who use them for full time photo work and the vast majority sold are used by well-heeled hobbyists, or people outside the actual professional willing to play fast and loose with their credit cards in order to have cool tech. 

Photography, as an overall profession; a way of making a living, has been in decline every single year since the capitulation of film to digital. According to surveys the average photographer working full time in 2019, in the USA, was making less than $ 50,000 per year. If you think someone grossing $50,000 a year (and netting far less) is a ripe candidate for a yearly update to the latest Sony A7RIV or Canon R5, and the lenses to go with it, and is happily upgrading every time a newer, "better" model comes out then you are living in a dream world of unicorns and sparkly marketing magic. Most self-employed  photographers are going along with (based on statistics) some model of the Canon 5D and whatever zoom lenses (usually just two) that they bought whenever they decided to enter the market. And most, unlike yours truly, are not gear hounds at all. In fact, a larger and larger percentage of working photographers are female, and are also statistically less apt to chase the latest technology. They're doing just fine with whatever camera they have right now.

So, where are the "working photographers" that can act as front men for camera makers? Well, in fact, they are not working photographers at all but rather influencers, bloggers and vloggers who make their living hawking any and all cameras that the manufacturers send them to review via affiliate links, and their own home workshop products such as presets, workshops, tele-coaching, e-books, flash modifying gadgets, et al. Some adopt a system to shill because becoming identified with a single brand channels more and more product from that brand to their sites for quickie reviews and also "qualifies" their viewers. If the viewers are, for example, Sony users then a person who professes a preference for Sony cameras on their site will draw a crowd that is more interested in having their own purchases blessed and then more interested in clicking through an affiliate link to buy more product in the same family. 

But this in no way means that the "influencer" has photography clients who pay him or her for work done or rights transferred. Nope, they're making T-shirts with funny photo sayings on them, pumping out videos behind paywalls that show you how to work with the cameras and lenses you just bought through their sites. Stuff you could learn handily, if you just read the freakin users manual. So, rather than work with gear under challenging conditions and turning out world class photos these "pros" spend their time, reviewing cameras from their favorite makers, setting up T-shirt sales on the web, shilling for SquareSpace or Luminar products, selling presets that will help make your images flat and overly saturated, and praying for more click throughs. They are also creating an entertainment product just for you. Their own rambling 10-15 minutes videos and reviews. All the drama, none of the meat.

Is that who you want to look to if you're considering a new camera system? That's like asking the Chevrolet dealer which brand of cars they recommend. Or a fellow bus rider which model Bentley you should buy...

The concept of the  "professional" photographer that people over a certain age carry around in their heads is a construct that I would venture to say hardly exists in reality at all now. It's gone. There are fewer and fewer full time photographers and a lot more people who are jacks of all imaging trades, from quickie web design to one man hybrid camera video makers, to ersatz designers, who will also help design your T-shirt and in the next moment perhaps deliver your coffee as part of their other Door Dash job. And you think they have the need or the means to splash out for a Sony A1? And a couple of $2500+ lenses? Get real. 

I'm sure there are a tiny, tiny number of working professionals who are in long term love affairs with their camera company's products. But just looking at my circle of photographer friends we are more driven to purchase by curiosity and boredom than any sort of spread sheet logic or well considered use case scenarios. I want to buy a Leica Q2 right now. But not because I've seen any work by any photographer who is getting paid by any client. No, the advertising from Leica shows a bunch of happy artists who are shooting to make themselves happy and that's about it. No one is showcasing a huge advertising campaign done for a huge company like Apple or Dell while touting a specific camera brand; or even the photographers who've shot the campaigns. 

I can assure you that the photographers who actually are shooting for the biggest and juiciest campaigns are no more spending time on the web to tout product than Scarlett Johansson is opening for some dinner theater in Des Moines this weekend. But wouldn't she be so good in "Streetcar Named Desire"? Or "Our Town"?

The photographers who are pulling in big rates and even bigger usage fees wouldn't see much benefit in shilling for camera companies. Most of which would never pay anything close to the rates that real, top end pros can demand from authentic clients. It's that old "one tenth of one percent" rule. Offering a billionaire a toaster oven to move their bank account is... laughable. 

There is a whole industry set up that's just about marketing, talking about, and benefitting from cameras sales. There are a few sites on the web that can support a whole team of marketers masquerading as "journalists" who actually drive many, many more camera sales than any current testimonials from working pros. The only problem is that these journalists aren't quite making enough hard cash, individually, to buy the cameras and lenses they'd really like to own and the cameras they have in their hands for a few weeks to test are never put to the kinds of real tests that a working pro shooting in a metal fabrication factory in Mexico or on an infrastructure project in the Florida Everglades, in the dead of Summer, would put to a camera in the space of a day. 

I remember being a one time spokesperson for a camera maker at a big trade show for the photography industry. I could make nice photographs and we could stream them to big screens at the booth. But to be really transparent (which also means "honest") with prospective buyers we should have also noted that a crew of three support engineers was standing by the whole time fixing the cameras as they bricked and recycling them back to us to shoot. The excuse? We were shooting with "prototypes" or, we were shooting with non-final firmware.  But believe what you will. 

Are there still full time pros left? Let me know, I'd like to watch them in action.

11.20.2021

My List to My Secret Santa. Here's what I want for the holidays!!!

 Dear Santa,

I have a few things on my list this which I don't think my friends and family are going to get me. I thought that since I have been so, so good this year that you might see your way clear to assemble these items for me and gently drop them down my chimney. If you can't get everything on the list I will certainly understand because I'm sure you are as much at the mercy of shortages, et al as everyone else. But, as you are magical I do expect you'll fare better than most... Again, I have been very good. By my scale I've been extremely good. No felony arrests, no arguments or fights with anyone. I even held the door for people behind me from time to time. 

So, let's get started. 

Santa, please bring me a Leica SL2-S so I can take advantage of the great high ISO performance, where needed. The camera will go nicely with the other SL variants I've been using but, if you have the time, would you instruct the elves to paint in the Leica logo with white paint on the pentaprism? I think the black out logo is a bit pretentious and messes up the overall design aesthetic when viewing the camera from the front. And as usual, can you include an extra battery? They're pricey. 

Since we're already knee deep in the Leica catalog I hope it's not too much to ask for you to bring me one of those snazzy Leica Q2 cameras. I thought for a while that I might want the monochrome version but I think I'm capricious enough that I'm a better fit for the regular, color model. I'm sure you are thinking to yourself, "This dude already has a CL, what does he need a Q2 for?" And usually I'd agree with you but...I want to see for myself what all the fuss is about with this camera. I mean, I'm seeing great images from it everywhere and everyone who owns one just gushes about it. If you can get it to me in time I promise I'll write a really nice article about it before the end of the year. I don't want it to appear as though I'm trying to bribe you but we get our cookies from a famous baker and we only set out Horizon Organic milk with the cookies... just sayin. If you can't make up your mind between the regular version of the Q2 and the Monochrom it would be totally cool to just bring both! 

Santa, I'm sure you have a back-up sleigh for those just in case moments when everything goes to hell with your regular flying equipment so you'll understand if I also ask for another Leica CL. When I find a camera I really like I'm always a bit apprehensive about it being discontinued or otherwise made unavailable. If you were to source me the "Starter Kit" which includes the 18mm lens I'd be most grateful. Sure, the TTArtisan 17mm lens is really, really close but sometimes you just feel lazy and want that autofocus. You know how it is... And as long as you've got the Leica elves on overtime making stuff for the people who've been extra, extra good could you also drop a 23mm Summicron in my stocking? To keep that 18mm company? It just seems so logical. Salt and Pepper, peanut butter and jelly, 18mm and 23mm...

Almost done with the Leica catalog but there is one more thing I was hoping you could tuck into that big bag of gifts. This is a big ask so I'll go out on a limb here and give you my solemn promise that I'll be even better next year than I was in 2021. I mean I'll be so nice it will amaze people. Influencer strength nice-ness. So, what I think I might enjoy as we go into the long Winter month (yes, in Texas that would be singular) would be a 50mm Summicron SL. It would just look so good on the front of my cameras. And you know how much I love the 50mm focal length on my full frame cameras....

Now, this one is not really a Leica product so there's some divergence here but...could you light a fire under one of the better makers of flash equipment to get a nice TTL flash made that supports the SL cameras but has a smaller price tag and better performance than the current Leica flashes? I'm thinking along the lines of a Godox V1 but set up for Leica. You don't even have to splash out and get me one. Just get it on the market and I'll pay for it. Crazy that I have to ask you, Santa Clause, to goose the flash makers to support a worldwide brand in this way but there it is....

Moving on from the Leica stuff. I've been patiently waiting for Apple to release two things and I think they'd make perfect gifts for someone who has been platinum tier good this year (that would be me! Did I mention that I let people pull into my lane, with a warm welcome---as long as they use their turn signals?). Now neither of these is currently available but I figured you could expedite... The first would be a new iMac Pro but with a 30 inch screen and powered by the new M1x Max processor(s). If I had to make a color choice I'd stick with Space Gray but, hey! since it's a gift I'll leave it up to you choose the color. If I up the cookies to a couple of chocolate rum pecan pies could you see your way to stock the computer with 64 GB of super fast RAM? That would really rustle my holly. 

Next up, I know the Apple car isn't scheduled to be launched until 2025 but I'm equally certain that they'll need Beta testers soon. You know, real people. People who've made it to near the top of Santa's list of "good" or almost saintly people. If you could work on hooking me up with a Beta model of the car I'd be more than happy to send the folks at Apple feedback now and then. It's a big ask but....when you are working hard at being so good there should be a few rewards. 

That was an odd detour but now, back to photo stuff. 

Not sure if anyone is currently making these but a set of three or four good light stands that are made out of titanium would be great. Easier to carry and sure to impress. Please make sure they go up to at least 10 feet. And, if possible, maybe a titanium tripod as well (Arca Swiss bullhead, of course). Certainly will make all those people toting around carbon fiber tripods sit up and take notice; right? 

That's about it Santa. If this list is too vast you can pick and choose but be sure to start with the top items first. We all have to prioritize. 

Not sure what my fellow photographers want for their holiday gifts. Maybe they'll chime in here in the comments. 

Almost forgot... always looking for better camera straps. You know, if you just need some throw-ins to flesh out my stocking cache. 

(somewhat tongue in cheek. But only "somewhat." )

A Quick Gallery of Images from the Leica CL + TTArtisan 50mm f1.2

 I'm including this gallery of images which I took on Thursday since they show more examples of the kinds of photographs I like to make when using the little Leica. It's an enjoyable camera to have around and the ability to use interesting lenses makes it even more valuable to me. 

The 50mm f1.2 TTartisan lens is really good if you shoot it at f2.5, 2.8, 4.0 or f5.6. When you go to faster apertures the edges and corners suffer a bit but this is only important if you can about what's on the edges and in the corners. Otherwise, shoot the aperture that allows you to get the shot. The lens isn't doing anything that a different legacy lens could not do. For instance, if I put a Nikon manual focus 50mm f1.4 lens on the front (with an adapter) I could probably get images that were just as sharp in the center and maybe even better on the edges. But it would be bigger, heavier and more cumbersome to shoot. The real advantage of the TTartisan lens is that it's sized for APS-C and part of that advantage is down to the fact that it doesn't autofocus nor does it (or the camera) provide I.S.

I'm enjoying the pleasure of capping a work day with a nice walk around and through downtown as the sun sets and twilight descends. People are on the move from work to cafes, bars, the hike and bike trails or just heading home. The tops of buildings glow from the last vestiges of direct sun while the valleys in between buildings turn more and more blue. The pace is different. 


these (above and just below) were included not because of my fixation with this particular mannequin but to show the difference in f1.2 and f2.8 with the 50mm f1.2 lens. The focus is on the hand in front. You can see much of the difference if you look at the reflections of the buildings...




The moon in the early evening sky. In the top right section of the image. Vignetting supplied for free.

Note the nice sunstars on the street lamp and the lack of flaring from any of the light sources. 
It may not be the sharpest lens when it comes to wide open apertures and corner sharpness but
it seems to have flare under control.



If I pay attention to technique and my own breathing I can often handhold shots 
at 1/15th or 1/30th with no major hits to sharpness. The CL doesn't seem to suffer much (if at all) from shutter shock. And it's easy to handhold. 


Stopping down and staying steady at f5.6.




So much about noise in files has to do with the particular scene.
In this one there's a lot of dark blue sky and you can see appreciable noise in the top of the frame where the sky gets darkest. The camera is limited, for this kind of work, to ISO 3200 and below. 
The frame above was done at 6400 and that was a stretch too far. 
shot through the plate glass window of a furniture store. Lens used wide open.



The mannequins are becoming risqué. 


I focused on the second jewelry form. It's nice to have so much depth of field control in a smaller format. 





I just read the announcement of a 23mm lens for APS-C from TTartisan. I hope they make a version for the L mount cameras because it's a focal length that actually makes a bit of sense for a smaller camera. 

In the meantime I'm using the larger, more modern and maybe more functional 20-60mm Panasonic lens when I need to cover focal lengths around that range. 

Great swim this morning. My lane leader was on fire and pushing the intervals in a private competition with the lane leader in the adjacent lane. Our rest intervals shrank to nothing and then the pace got bumped up. By the end I think we were all of the opinion that we didn't leave much in reserve. On days like this a good, mid-afternoon nap is strongly indicated.  

Our coach today was Olympic Gold Medalist, Clark Smith. He knows how to motivate masters swimmers to really get moving. We earned our coffee today.

11.19.2021

When I get a new lens everyone always asks me if it's sharp. The smart ones ask me: "Is it fun?" This one is....


The TTArtisans 50mm f1.2 lens for APS-C (so many 50mms floating around these days I feel I have to make that distinction) is far from a perfect lens. If and when you use it wide open you can only expect the central core of the lens to be at all sharp. Many will grumble that the only reason to buy a fast lens is to use it wide open all the time but that's just silly. Why would the makers have taken the time to put all those other apertures on the f-stop ring if they weren't also useful? 

The lens also has more vignetting when used at f1.2-f2.8 than I'd like but Photoshop does a good job handling vignetting so it's certainly not a "deal-killer." Oh, and distortion. It has a nice serving of barrel distortion. But the lens also has a lot of personality. And, if you use this lens in a rational manner you can get some really nice photographs from it. If you point it in the right direction and you point it at interesting things. 

I was in an odd mood yesterday afternoon. I felt a bit disconnected. So, after I took care of getting important information to a new client who arrived yesterday with a platinum level recommendation from a valued client, and arrived with a hot/short deadline/high stress project (next week, next week), I wanted to take advantage of the cool, rare Autumn weather and walk downtown from just before sunset to that period that just settles in to full darkness. I took the Leica CL and the new TT-A 50mm since it's hardly a burden and I didn't have anything on my walk agenda that would dictate one camera or another...

So I walked down a few different streets and caught a few new angles of a building that's been under construction for quite a while. I'm not an architectural photographer but I'm happy with my latest shots of the "Sail" building. I also walked into a music memorabilia store on Congress Ave. that I'd never really paid attention to before and loved it. Then I went next door to a coffee shop/live theater that has been in the same location on Congress for decades but the surroundings always looked a bit seedy and unwelcoming. They make a great latté and I should have been patronizing them for years. But mostly it was a disjointed walk in a cool evening.

Funny times. I was walking south from the Capitol and I stopped at a cross walk to take a photo of something across the street. A young woman in a bright red hoodie, a pair of jammers and odd white shoes stopped to wait for the light next to me. After I took my photo she smiled and said, "It's so beautiful and peaceful down here. I just love downtown Austin at twilight." We walked along and talked for a little while. She's young, just moved here from Albuquerque, NM and is still discovering all the things that make Austin different. And interesting. 

And after we parted ways I started thinking about my walks downtown and how calm and happy almost every one of them has been. Camera or no camera. But maybe better with the potential a camera brings in tow. 

So, here are some photos I took. I think the 50mm f1.2 works really well when stopped down just a bit. I won't be trading in all my full frame cameras and going completely APS-C but it's a nice package for walking and just having a nice camera to catch weird and angles and weirder moments. 
 




When I got back home there was an e-mail waiting for me. It was a request for a bid on a large project. The budget they're mulling over is $ 50,000 to $75,000 but there are a lot of moving parts and a lot of agency and client politics to maneuver around. Five years ago I would have jumped on it but now I think I'll just tell them that this isn't the kind of project I want in the moment. This impetus to decline complicated projects is part of a process I've going through which I hope will give me a good roadmap to follow. Funny, I only want to do fun stuff with short fuses. 

I'm tired of managing bigger projects because the pay off is about the same as stringing together a good collection of smaller, but more fun, projects. I think I'm just spoiled. 

Reminiscing about Wednesday's Photograph Job. And stuff.


 We had fun yesterday. I worked with my friend, Amy. She's assisted me on and off for over a decade now and we've worked together enough so that the mechanics of photo assignments are pretty much autopilot. She's one of those great assistants that works as a grip on TV commercials and also shoots her own assignments so she's very aware of how to make a day of shooting smooth and efficient. 

I'd been hired by a client we worked for back in 2015. They wanted a refresh of their website photos. This is the first full day shoot I've done in years on which I used only one lens, one camera body, and one light. The lens was the Leica 24-90mm f2.8-4.0 and the body was the Leica SL. I used one Godox AD200 Pro electronic flash and I was finally able to draw down one battery completely. Usually the battery lasts and lasts but I managed to shoot about 1,600 frames yesterday and that seemed to be the limit for the single, rechargeable battery. Seems like you can light just about anything with a good flash and a 60 inch, white umbrella. 

We spent our time photographing lawyers and staffers at a law firm. They office in a large, three story, historical house that's a stone's throw from the state capitol building. The windows in the house are big and beautiful and I made full use of the great natural light flowing through them. I walked around carrying the camera on a tripod while Amy trouped along behind with with the light and umbrella on a stand. 

The SL generates raw files that seem to love the whole idea of nice flesh tones. Not the pinkish tones of one popular camera brand and no problems with shadow banding, or vaguely yellow skin tints as in another brand. Just straight up, sweet files that don't need much in the way of post processing.  And that lens.....so sharp. Too sharp, maybe. I'll be softening skin during the entire retouching process.

I spent a few hours today trying to edit down the take to a manageable number of frames but here I am, finally, at 11:30 at night, uploading about 800 files for them to choose from. However, in my defense I did photograph fourteen people and most of them we photographed in multiple locations. I would photograph someone in one setting only to stumble on to an even better setting and I'd go back and round people up and photograph them again. It was fun. It can be good not to be too satisfied too quickly.

Amy and I are still being careful with the dreaded virus so we wore our face masks and tried to maintain a nice distance from anyone who was unmasked; even if they had also been vaccinated. 

In the "good old days" we would have taken a break for lunch and gone to one of the downtown restaurants. Not this time. Most of the lunch restaurants we liked, and which were in driving distance from the offices, closed down during lockdown and have yet to re-launch. The restaurants that are open are understaffed and that means long waits and slow service. So, the night before we conferenced and decided that we'd each just pack a lunch and eat in the lovely, tree-shaded courtyard at the client's office. 

We seem to have been on the same wavelength because I pulled a peanut butter and jelly sandwich out of my canvas lunch bag at about the same time Amy pulled out her peanut butter and jelly sandwich. We also packed some fruit and some really nice trail mix. Water all around. 

A far cry from some of the indulgent lunches we had in the past. 

I traveled so light, gear-wise, yesterday that I surprised myself. Amy was even more amazed. She's used to working with me back when I thought it was prudent to bring everything along; just in case. We didn't even need a cart to bring out stuff into the location from my car. It all packed down into a roller case (lighting), a backpack (cameras and lenses) and a skinny stand bag. A side benefit of going full on minimalist is that we moved like sprinters through the project. No fussing with cables, no over engineering.

I especially liked working with the AD200 Pro light and an on-camera trigger. I know it's old news but it's so efficient to stand at the camera position and turn the power of the flash up or down using the radio trigger on the hot shoe. My big goal for the day was to integrate the ambient light with the flash. Generally keeping the ambient lighting about 1/2 stop lower than the flash. It's a sweet way to work.

If I could change one thing about the shoot I would have left more room around some of my subjects instead of composing as tightly as I did. I guess I was subconsciously channeling the times when camera resolution was much lower and cropping seemed egregious. I'll remember for next time. But I'll remember mostly because I wrote it down here. Addressing stuff like this on the blog is a good way to reinforce information for me. Once I write it down it seems more real. 

Financial note: I didn't think much about inflation until I started putting together a bid for this job. When I got in touch with Amy about assisting I asked her for her current fee. When we first started working together ten or twelve years ago she was charging $200 per day, as a subcontractor. When we worked together a few years ago it was $350 per day. Now, with TV commercials and other projects she's in high demand and her going rate for photo assisting is $450 per day. 

I'm fine with that. I understand inflation and I'm getting a bargain since she's busy and learning new stuff all the time which will ultimately benefit me. But it did make me pause and reconsider my pricing. I try to add 5 or 10% per year to my fee but this pushed me to increase it by a lot more. I've bid three jobs in the past week and a half, all at a new, higher fee and experienced zero push back from any of the clients. Makes me wonder how much money I may have been leaving on the table.

It's wise to continue to raise rates. Even when inflation is lower it's a process that you share over time with your clients and it smooths out the effects, shocks and momentum of economic shifts. 

Domestic note: B and I have been on a tear with home improvement stuff. We've finally gotten around to ordering new windows for the house. We hoped we'd have them installed before winter but home improvements are so popular in central Texas now that we'll be waiting about 20 weeks to see ours. That puts us somewhere near April or May for final installation. Now, when I look around the house, the older, single pane windows in the back half of the house look so dowdy to me. Funny, I didn't really notice until we started researching custom windows. Glad I'm raising my rates. (Smiley face icon here!). 

Swim/Health notes: I'm trying to summon up a modicum of courage in order to go and get a shingles vaccine this month. I'll probably do so right after the Thanksgiving weekend. I'm trying to stay on top of recommended vaccines so I don't inadvertently stumble into nasty stuff that can be prevented. Apparently shingles is a very sucky malady to deal with and even the vaccines can leave on feeling puny for a few days. After the shingles vaccine I'm also going to get a pneumonia vaccine. I may have to retire just to keep up with immunization and doctor appointments. As a light complected, life long Texas swimmer I'm always running to my dermatologist to discover whether some new spot might kill me or just needs to be burned off my body... such fun. 

Swimming: I was watching one of our coaches swim and noticed that her freestyle had a different recovery method for each arm. Her right arm did a classic "high elbow" recovery which takes stress off one's shoulder as the arm heads back toward its very front reach point. The other arm was recovering with a high, straight movement that puts lots more stress on the shoulder. Having swum for many decades now I asked her, at the end of workout, if she was having shoulder pain. She was. 

She's a very competitive swimmer and is always going hard and swimming at speed. That leaves scant time to really work on stroke mechanics. And once your stroke falls apart it gets harder and harder to swim well and comfortably. Brute strength isn't always the answer....

I suggested that she take a couple days a week to pull over, out of the fast lanes, into a slower, quieter, non-competitive lane where she could practice stroke drills and perfect form. She followed my advice and came back three weeks later to thank me and let me know that her shoulder pain was abating and her stroke was easier. Nice. All of which started me thinking about how I've been training lately. I'm 66 and I'm trying to hold onto my place in lane four with a bunch of younger swimmers. I swim some workouts to the point of exhaustion and I'm sure it was having a negative effect on my stroke as well. I've started doing what I'm going to call: Stroke Drill Sundays. 

Instead of being competitive and trying to knock out maximum, fast yardage on Sundays I get in an uncrowded lane in which the swimmers are slower than me and I hang back at the end of the pack and just work for an hour on crafting as perfect a technique as I can. I get out at the end of the session feeling as though I've gotten away with something. I guess it's all the years of swimming in competitive programs that makes me feel a bit guilty. But the improvements, already, in my stroke are noticeable...and I like that. Good mechanics should mean that I make it well into my seventies with no shoulder injuries and a continued love affair with swimming.

I set a new goal for my competitive swimming. I'm just going to outlast everyone else. Then, when I turn 90, I'll be in the 90 and over age group and I'll just clean up at the USMS Nationals. The only things I'll have to do is finish each race and not get myself disqualified.... Should be a piece of cake. 

Ultimate swim goal? Dominate the over 100 year old age group at nationals. It could happen. As long as I get that pneumonia vaccine...and barring civil war.

Final thought for now: I'm really enjoying photographing with the Leica CL camera. It's tiny and inconspicuous. The equally small TTArtisan lenses are great. And, when the camera is used with non-AF lenses the batteries last and last. As far as files go....they're nice. I'll post some from the little 50mm f1.2 a bit later. But today I'm learning how to mix mortar and I'm filling in the spaces between our sidewalk and our new raised planter beds, near the front of the house. It's all about leak prevention. Who knew?