Thursday, October 27, 2011

How Film Improved My Life

I completed my 365 "photo a day for a year" project in March 2011 and I think it really helped me become a better photographer. Now, I'm not saying I'm a great photographer, but definitely better than I was before I started the project. Since completing my 365, I purchased an old Nikon FM2 manual film camera and have been shooting it almost exclusively. I must say, it not only helped improve my photography, it has changed my life!

I've found film is much better than digital…here's why:

Improves Shot Discipline: Most people think digital capture is free, so they "spray and pray" with their digital SLR cameras. They snap away mindlessly, capturing hundreds of frames per day, and hope to get a good one. What they don't realize is digital isn't free. It takes an incredible amount of time to review and process the hundreds and thousands of photos. We all lead busy lives and time is money…at least that's the way I look at it. Shooting film costs me about 55 cents per frame, so I can't afford to spray and pray. I look at the scene, carefully determine my exposure, set my shutter speed and f-stop, frame the shot, and press the shutter release button. I don't shoot the same subject 30 times, from different angles or with different camera settings. All the thinking is done up-front before I snap the photo and I shoot it just once.

Shooting Film is Healthier: Shooting digital is time-consuming. It takes a lot of time to transfer the photos from the memory card to the computer, catalog the photos, and post-process the images in Lightroom, Photoshop, etc. This process consumes hours each day and frequently forces people to eat unhealthy fast food for supper, neglect their exercise programs, and generally disappear from their this. With film, I may shoot a roll of 24 frames over the course of 2-3 weeks. This means I don't have to process photos for 2-3 weeks, allowing myself more time to spend with the family, go grocery shopping, cook a healthy meal, go for a jog, and get to bed at a reasonable time. Film clearly improves the quality of my diet, exercise, and sleep. It also creates a healthier family and social life.

Cheaper than Digital: I paid $200 for my Nikon FM2 and $170 for my Nikon 24mm f/2.8 AI-S lens. Now, $370 for a full-frame camera is a huge bargain! A Nikon D700 (or Canon 5D Mark II) with a 24mm lens would cost me more than ten times as much. Plus, in the next fifteen years, my film FM2 will likely increase in value. My D80 will be worthless in fifteen years. Digital also requires a computer, which needs replacing every 3-4 years, and tons of hard drive space. One does not need an accountant to figure out the financial benefits of shooting film!

Film is Sexier: Retro is hip. Chevy has their retro Camaro (based on the 1969 model), Ford has their retro Mustang, and even Fiat has a retro inspired car. Oh, and how can I forget...the Mini Cooper! In the camera world, Fuji has their retro-styled X100 camera….and it's selling like hot cakes! Since getting my FM2, I've had to lock myself in the house because it drives the women crazy. Guys, trust me on this, get yourself an old, manual focus film camera and watch your coolness factor increase ten fold. Only geeks carry around big, black, shiny, digital SLR cameras, with huge zoom lenses….just ask any woman (and women, just ask any guy). Ditch the huge camera, ditch the dorky backpack with the extra lenses, and get a cool, retro film camera with a small prime lens...preferably with a leather case.

Really the only problem with film is not being able to post photos as frequently on Flickr or my blog. That drawback aside, film has enabled me to spend more time with my family, saved me thousands of dollars, enhanced my well being, and improved my social life.

Disclaimer: This article is pure satire. Shooting an old film camera will not make you cool. If you are a dork, you will probably remain a dork.


Friday, October 21, 2011

Breast Cancer Awareness Month

Pink, a photo by Wayne-K on Flickr.

I was reared in a household where the line between men and women was clear. There was no such thing as metro-sexual and it wasn't considered a good thing to be in touch with one's feminine side...well, unless you were a girl...and even then, it probably wasn't okay either.

Pink was clearly on the female side of the line. Years ago, my brother in-law gave me a dark, pink sweater for my birthday (maybe it was for Christmas?). It wasn't a bright, pink sweater, but it was pink nonetheless. The sweater just lay in my closet. I had no intention of wearing it, but I felt guilty donating it straightaway to charity. One day, I decided to wear it to work. After a few hours, I was so self-conscious, I took it off and stuffed it into my backpack. That sweater was immediately donated to charity, for some metro-sexual man to enjoy. I think that was the last time I wore pink.

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. A few weeks ago, we participated in the Komen Race for the Cure 5K walk. A number of corporate sponsors generously donated to the cause, many giving away free pink things. I typically hang my work identification badge on a lanyard around my neck. In October, I changed it to a pink lanyard that I received from the Race for the Cure. I felt a bit strange wearing a pink lanyard, but thought it was important to help increase awareness.

While riding up the elevator to my office today, a young lady stared at my badge and boldly asked, "you like pink, huh?" I was initially surprised by the question, but explained October was Breast Cancer Awareness Month and showed her the pink "Komen for the Cure" card. I'm glad she asked because I was able to increase her awareness....and clear up any misunderstandings that I might be a metro....

There are a number of fundraising activities this month, supporting breast cancer awareness and the search for a cure. Please donate to the cause and help in the race for the cure. Thank you!

Monday, October 17, 2011

Walking San Francisco

I've lived in the Bay Area for a number of years and I used to strongly dislike going into San Francisco, primarily because driving was a nightmare, parking was a nightmare, the maze of one way streets was a nightmare, and getting lost was a nightmare. However, since the Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) train station was built in Pleasanton, visiting the city has been a pleasure.

My brother and his family visited us from Hawaii this past summer and they had the great idea of doing a walking tour of San Francisco. They printed off a couple of walking tours from the Frommers Guide and enjoyed a day in the city on foot. It was such a great experience, I decided to go on a walking tour of the San Francisco Presidio. Patrick and I took the day off from work, hopped on the BART, and enjoyed an urban hike in the city. We walked through Chinatown and to North Beach, where we enjoyed a nice Cappuccino and pastry. We then walked west to Crissy Field and over to the Presidio. We strolled through the historic grounds of the Presidio and then linked into the wonderful trail system, finding our way to the Golden Gate Bridge and back to the heart of the city. We finished off with a few pints of Guinness at the pub and a light dinner at the Gordon Biersch brewery. We eventually found our way back on the BART and returned home to Pleasanton.

Today is my wedding anniversary....18.5 years of marital bliss (just kidding) the wife and I headed into the city for a short walk, a bit of shopping, and lunch at Kuleto's. Unfortunately, we had to return home early because of other obligations...AKA, picking up kids from school. The weather was beautiful and we had a good time.

If you're ever sitting on the couch bored, try a walking tour of your local city. Research it as if you were a tourist and get out and enjoy the city. It's amazing how much fun is waiting for you, right around the corner.

Dublin/Pleasanton Train

Welcome to Chinatown

Remember Us

For Our Country

The Bike

17 October 2011 - A Day in the Life

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Lessons from an Apple

Apple by Wayne-K
Apple, a photo by Wayne-K on Flickr.

I learned of Steve Jobs’ passing last week while having dinner with customers in Plano, Texas. In the days that followed, there were a lot of things published about Mr. Jobs, including his accomplishments and his life. I learned a lot about him and many of these themes apply directly to my own life….and my photography.

Apple was about simplicity. Macintosh wasn’t the first personal computer, but it had a more intuitive graphical user interface. Most people today probably didn’t have the “pleasure” of using the DOS command line interface. The Mac (and Microsoft’s copy…AKA, Windows) made computers more user-friendly. The iPod wasn’t the first MP3 music player, but coupled with iTunes, it made it easy for people to access and organize digital music. I’m not a huge Apple user, but I think I understand….I get it. It’s not about the fastest processor, the smallest size, or the lowest price. It’s all about the simplicity and elegance in the product.

As it relates to my photography, cameras have become overly complicated and feature laden, and I now seek an elegant and simple solution. I yearn for a camera that gets out of my way. Remove the video capabilities, fly by wire focus rings, electronic viewfinders, and complicated menu systems. Just give me a simple camera that allows me to adjust the shutter speed, aperture, and ISO…nothing more. For the last few weeks, I’ve been looking for a small, “everyday,” digital camera. Unfortunately, most small cameras today are too fiddly. I don’t want to scroll through menus to change my camera settings. I don’t want to touch a screen to focus the lens. I wish Apple would design a camera. It would be a major hit with pure photographers….clean, simple, and user-friendly.

Another article was about his authorized biography, written by Walter Isaacson. During a visit with Jobs at his residence, Mr. Isaacson asked why Steve Jobs would “open up so much for a book when he was usually so private?” Jobs responded, “I wanted my kids to know me, I wasn't always there for them, and I wanted them to know why and to understand what I did."

That really struck a chord with me. I experienced a life-changing event in 2009 and since then have reprioritized things in my own life, spending more time with the family and less time in the office. I’m not rich and famous, I’m not a CEO….and I’m not planning on writing a book for my children. I think we can also simplify our lives, removing the clutter of unimportant things. Let’s focus less on material things and keeping up with the Jones’; let’s remove “poisonous” people from our lives and spend more time with loved ones and real, genuine friends; and let’s shut off the garbage programming on TV and spend quality time around the dinner table.

BTW, Happy Columbus Day (traditional) and Happy Birthday Bryan!

Thursday, October 6, 2011

I'm Tired

I'm tired!

The week started with a nice hike on Sunday morning. Ruben, Mary, Lyn, Kim, Patrick, and I met at 8:30 AM and headed over to Mount Diablo State Park. It was a wonderful day for a hike and the weather was perfect. A cold front was moving in, bringing cooler temperatures and beautiful clouds (for landscape photos). I shot my FM2 film camera with the 24mm f/2.8 AI-S lens, experimenting with my filters. I plan on posting a few photos once I finish the roll of film. After the hike, we enjoyed a quick beer and I headed home to pack for Dallas.

I spent a restless night in bed and awoke at 3 AM on Monday, so I could catch my 4:13 AM BART train for airport. I drifted in and out of consciousness during the one and a half hour train ride to the San Francisco International Airport...and drifted in and out of consciousness during my three hour flight to Dallas. I spent the rest of the day in meetings and went to dinner with a customer from Guam. I finished off the night staying up too late, drinking beers with the sales team.

On Tuesday, I woke up early for a conference and spent all day struggling to keep my eyelids open. In the evening, we entertained the customers at Top Golf. I didn't swing the club, deciding to focus on eating (great BBQ), drinking, and socializing with my customers and co-workers.

Wednesday started similar to Tuesday, with an early conference start and all day sessions. We had dinner with more customers and finished the late evening with more beer and wine.

I headed into the office today for an 8 AM meeting. Overall, it was a very productive day, but I definitely could have used a few more liters of coffee. After returning to my hotel room, I packed my luggage, in preparation for my departure tomorrow morning. I then relaxed in bed, considering my dinner options. I finally decided to order room service. I rarely order room service, but today, I was too tired to drive anywhere in search of food.

I was torn between the Monterrey Chicken Stack sandwich, a spicy chicken breast on a Jalapeno roll, served with cheese, guacamole, and ancho-mayo....and the Blue Line Cheeseburger, choice ground sirloin, cheese, bacon, mushrooms, and grilled onions. I asked the room service guy for his recommendation. He said the burger was heavier but good and the chicken sandwich was also good. Basically, he said both were good....not much help there! Well, with all my travel recently, I've noticed my slacks and jeans are shrinking. My wife must be washing my clothes in hot water. To compensate, I decided to go with the chicken sandwich...and added a salad.

It's been a long week. As soon as I'm done with this blog entry, I'm logging out of the computer, calling home to say hi to the family, and then going to bed. I'm heading to the airport in the morning to return to California....and I hope to get some rest this weekend. Good night moon. Okay, that was random, but folks with kids should understand...