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San Francisco 2007 Carnaval Parade.

July 11, 2007

Restaurants Too
Wednesday. Muggy and overcast again this morning, but not overly warm. The parked cars beaded with big drops of water from whatever rain there was last night; the head good, the attitude good, the new camera lens on the camera slung over my shoulder. All of these are good signs I thought as I walked to breakfast only to find the diner sitting across from me in the café conducting an interminable business call on his cell as I was reading the paper and eating. I suspect it wouldn't have gotten under my skin if there had been others present, talking, mixing up the sounds so as to make them unintelligible.

There really isn't any settled opinion on cell phone use. I myself wouldn't make a call when I was eating, although if I received a call at the table (in other than a high end restaurant) I'd probably answer. I would also, at least in the physical surroundings I was in this morning, have walked outside to the open air area of tables where this morning there were no diners, but I can't say I'm such a goodie two shoes I wouldn't have just answered the phone and sat there talking in similar surroundings.

It's open season on the bus. People get loud, put their stuff out there for all to see on the local busses here in Oakland. The kids up through high school and early twenties particularly, a way to demand attention, so I think it's decided busses are cell phone free-fire zones. Same with the sidewalks. Half the time you can't tell if they're talking with god or Osama bin Laden until you see the little Bluetooth device stuck in their ear and I think we're close to saying it's a cell phone free-fire zone in funky little cafés like mine.

There's a certain romantic character to the idea you can conduct business with a cell phone and a laptop while having coffee, a bit Bohemian; Irish coffee being even more Bohemian, something that's nice to romanticize if nothing else. Did I say anything to the guy at my café? At least wrinkle my nose? No. I'm well aware I'm skating on the edge of hypocrisy here, that I might have done the same had I received a call, although I wouldn't have spent thirty minutes dissecting a business problem with other people close by picking at their food and trying to read the paper.

I mentioned I was waiting for a lens to arrive yesterday. This is a newly released 18mm - 200mm Nikkor zoom lens for digital cameras that has been impossible to find (they sell out the minute they reach the camera shops) let alone buy and I've finally (after waiting six months) gotten my hands on one. The 18 - 200mm range is unusually large and they've done it by varying the f-stops from f/3.5 - f/5.6 over the 18 - 200mm range, shots at 18mm at f/3.5 and shots at 200mm at a fairly constricted f/5.6 on a sliding scale to keep the size, cost and weight within reason.

I generally use a 17 - 55mm on one camera and a 70 - 200mm lens on a second, both of them f/2.8, both of them larger and heavier (especially the 70 - 200), especially since I'm carrying two rather than one camera, so I'm interested in seeing how this lens performs. Since I try to keep the backgrounds in my photographs out of focus, the f/2.8 aperture is important to me, but how important? I guess I'm going to find out. This is the same scene, shot from the same spot on the shore of Lake Merritt, the first set at 18mm and the second at 200mm.

The photograph was taken at the San Francisco 2007 Carnaval Parade with a Nikon D2Xs mounted with a 70-200mm f 2.8 Nikkor VR lens at 1/4000th second, f 2.8, ISO 640.