Dear Family, Friends, and Diary,
After last week's trip to Seattle and the extra-long diary that came out of it, I probably do not NEED to post anything, but I continue to find this process to be a sort of therapy. Recording even ordinary life is reflective therapy and helps to assure that life doesn't just happen and disappear without a record. It is amazing how much is forgotten.
For example, last Friday we went to our local old-fashioned theater, the Tower Theater, namesake for The Tower District, our part of town. Except in summer, The Tower shows foreign and art films at least one Friday a month, but we usually can't seem to get organized enough to see very many. Our April choice was Woman at War, a subtitled Icelandic production telling a story of 50-year-old woman who combined an anti-industrial passion with a quiet choir-leader life. The plot had plenty of twists, the photography of barren Iceland tundra set a dark mood, and the acting was understated excellence. A movie-going experience worth recommending - and remembering.
Photography also forces me to think and, sometimes, to just get out of the house. Our local photography store, Horn Photo, occasionally arranges "Clicking Caravans" at not-too-far locations with their staff and vendors around to coach and answer questions. This week's event was at Fasi Estate Winery, just north of town, and featured Canon camera gear to experiment with. I had no excuse not to take the time.
The most popular feature of the caravan seemed to be the opportunity to shoot pictures of real models with Horn folks serving as both lighting coaches and grips. Not my normal fare, but next Caravan I think I will spend more time listening, to see if it SHOULD be something I need to do. (Marianne would need to come alng so she can learn grip techniques!)
Canon was offereing free use of their lenses, a great chance to experiment to see if one NEEDS new glass. First, I tried a lens often characterized as "a portrait lens" (85mm, f1.2, $2,000 retail). My outdoor test of a fountain illustrates how a fast lens can freeze water, but at the cost of overexposure. I think I like both the f1.2 and f14 exposures, but maybe because any picture of running water seems good.
Inside the winery the light was much more subdued and, set wide open at f1.2, the lens gave a nice combination of sharp subject, even when cropped, and diffuse background. Worth $2,000?, not to me.
The other lens I tested was a macro or (very) closeup lens (180mm, f3.5, $1,400). I might use this type lens with flowers, although remarkable flower pictures are surprisingly hard to do. On the other hand, good-but-not-remarkable flower pictures are easy.
I tried a pair of "industrial" closeups too. I like them. I should do more of this! But, do I need to spend another $1,400 - nah.
Also inside the winery, a Canon representative gave a basic-but-excellent explanation of flash photography.
I had to admit I really do not know how to use a flash. In the half-hour demonstration, I learned more about flash than I knew from years of trial and, mostly, error. Biggest lessons? Shoot manual. Expose the background for natural light and use the flash for the subject. (May require the flash to NOT hit the background.) Test everything. In this case, do I need new gear? Maybe, since new flashes are more easily controlled and I might need a light stand or two. (I asked Marianne if she would buy this for my birthday and she is willing, but I am still cautious about jumping in to more camera stuff. We'll see.)
More than this? Nope. I did want to get up to Yosemite to see the waterfalls with the streams and rivers in full flow, but there just hasn't been time. Too many mundane chores. We NEED to change this.
John and Marianne