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September 21, 2010

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Tuesday. Up at six with the alarm, out the door to breakfast at six-thirty, back now just after eight. I needed another ten minutes to properly finish the papers, but such is life. The sky is overcast, they're saying a high of fifty-nine today in Oakland, this the last day of summer. I can live with that. Another year is drawing to a close. They go quickly, these years. How many times has anyone said that, heard that? Why should it be such a revelation that I or anyone else would write it down? Life is strange (and short). Another piece of information known to all, yet, when it pops up close and stares you right in your face it creates a moment of fascination. Weird. Life really is strange.

Note to self: you really do need to get that monthly blood thinner test today. You're two weeks late. There's a reason they want you to get them done on time. Get it done this morning. Really. Do it.

Later. A bus and then a walk to the hospital for the blood test, a bus then downtown to see if I could apply for a Clipper card at the local Walmart store as advertised on the bus stop kiosk (turns out I couldn't, but I downloaded an application later from the web and will apply at the Lake Merritt BART station as suggested tomorrow), a bus then back home in time to listen to a news program or two in the background as I practiced the guitar.

A call from my doctor's office, the blood test showed I'm out of range, take an extra half tablet of the medication today and get another test in a week instead of a month. Had I been eating significantly more vegetables lately? No, not really.

I brought along one of the D2X cameras with the 18 - 200mm f 3.5 - 5.6 lens. It's a good lens, an excellent first lens, with a wide range (27 - 300mm on the DX cameras) and it takes a first rate picture, although I have to fight the notion that, as older technology, it's better to take one of the D3's with an f 2.8 (or larger) lens when I'm heading out the door. The D3's have full size sensors, their imaging CD the same size as a frame of 35mm film, so they don't magnify an image by a factor of 1.5 as does the D2X. It isn't so much one is better than the other, but one camera has strengths in some circumstances and the other has strengths in others.

The D3's will shoot good noise free images practically in the dark. The D2X will not, but it does shoot a good image when the subject is well lighted. The same for the lens. The f 2.8 and large aperture glass shoot great crisp pictures at low light, throw backgrounds out of focus like champs, but don't have the range and portability of something like an 18 - 200.

So where's this going? I'm somewhat embarrassed to say I sometimes take a D3 just because it's the newest latest greatest Nikon, even when a D2X would make more sense given where I'm going and what I would probably find to photograph. Why? Inflating your ego when you're out there on the street? Gosh, the guy has a D3? I'd say I hope not, but I'll admit it does come into play. I think we all look (surreptitiously) at and evaluate other photographer's equipment. A problem if the idea is to take pictures. The reality is most (99 plus percent) of the people you may pass don't know what kind of camera you have and, if they did, wouldn't give a rat's ass. Unless they're looking to bop you over the head and steal it.

So you notice other photographer's equipment? And you're jealous?

It's worse than that. I have no idea what they're carrying unless it's the same equipment I'm carrying and then I say, OK, I recognize the lens and maybe the camera. Otherwise I have no idea what anybody's using to take photographs and, if I ask myself honestly, don't really care. Yet I see some element of sensitivity when I go out with this camera or that. Go figure.

The idea is to get the photograph. If you're thinking about equipment, you're not thinking about pictures. All this equipment is great, I wish I had half of it when I was broke and starting out, but if that really counted no one but well heeled youngsters would ever become photographers. There are so many ways to create great photographs, some with the better hardware, yes, but so much more is possible even with something like a simple pinhole camera than most photographers (including this one) can even imagine. So it's embarrassing to realize you've got an ego thumb print on your lens and it's showing up in your pictures. Which I to some degree admit to. But I'm working on it.

So you're not going to get the next latest and greatest when Nikon announces it?

It depends on my sanity, but I'm sure I will. I have the new 24 - 120mm f 4.0 on order and I'm impatient to get my hands on it. It's been on order now for a month. The idea of that lens mounted on a DX (or a D3) whispers in my ear and has me excited. Will it by itself produce end of the rainbow stuff? Might. If I get my ass in gear, reach deep and shoot with an end of the rainbow eye. If there's an actual photographer looking through it.

Same with the cameras. I'm getting older, I've got whatever time I've got left to take photographs, it's one of the few things I do that gets me up in the mornings, I'm lucky to have it. But I don't want the hardware getting in the way of the images. That particular self image is embarrassing. And, to some degree, I'm still having to work on it.

What started this off were the pictures behind the links. They were all taken with the D2X and the 18 - 200mm lens, some of them taken last week in the late afternoon that I'd forgotten about and hadn't downloaded from the camera yet, and some of them taken today heading out and back from the hospital. None of them all that great, but all of them (to me) interesting, taken with the oldest but for one of the current cameras.

I do use the D2X and its D2Xs brother a lot, particularly during the daily walks, almost never when I'm covering a parade or a festival, although they would probably in most ways work just as well. Too much thinking, maybe? Too much time on my hands? Save the funds to give to the hospice when the man in the hood takes his first swipe? And then again, maybe just spend it on gear today and let the hospice-hospital-old folks home rely on other resources tomorrow? I've been given that advice. More than once.

The photograph was taken at the Oakland Pride Street Festival with a Nikon D3s mounted with a 70 - 200mm f 2.8 Nikkor VR II lens.