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San Francisco Carnaval Parade

June 19th, 2000

In And Of Themselves
I'm going to attend a night photography shoot Wednesday night, a gathering of graduates of the night photography class I took last year. The summer solstice is this Wednesday, some five days after the full moon, a full moon being an important participant, what with the light and everything, so we're going to get together and shoot pictures. And show any pictures we've taken since our class. Right. I haven't shot a single one. I've told myself on numerous occasions that I should go out and shoot the city after dark, shoot things around Lake Merritt, shoot things downtown, get all that nice moody after dark noir looking shit on film. But I haven't.

This kind of shooting is best done with a tripod or a monopod (that's right, a tripod with one leg), although you can get some really interesting hand held stuff. (Shit, if you've got the eye, you can knock over the world with a point and shoot wrapped up inside a brown paper bag.) I haven't gone out at night because, well, I don't know. I haven't. Maybe it's just not my bent. Maybe I'm lazy. Maybe I'm better at spending money on equipment than using it. (Knock it off! Are we hammering this one again? You don't care, you know. You just write this stuff down to see how it looks in print! You're a faker and a flake!) And a fibber and a ribber.

Someone mentioned recently that a guy I know at our company would be leaving soon on a six month sabbatical starting, I don't know, next month. He's taken two of them in the past, this being his third. It seems we have a company policy that allows a six month unpaid leave of absence after three and a half years of employment. I've been thinking about that. One little voice whispers I can't take six months off without pay because I need to work like a dog and put more money into my 401k account so I can retire in forty seven million years and not starve to death in some hole in the wall cold water flat and another voice says, well, how much money would it take to live for six months, six months to work on a project, travelling around the country shooting pictures and keeping the journal, maybe, or documenting something interesting in or around the city? Rent, food, film. Bus fare. Gas. What else? I could do the whole thing for $12,000, max, including the rent. I'd probably get tax money back from the government since I was cutting my income in half. How much?

So I'm going to plan out a six month sabbatical. Just for the hell of it. Do the numbers, figure out Oakland Carnaval Parade what it would take to live and to do whatever it is I decide I would like. Pick something. Go somewhere specific to shoot pictures. Go somewhere I haven't been before. Or stay here in Oakland and come up with a photography project. How much would it cost to live in Hawaii for six months? A room, a bedroll and a camera bag. A short sleeved shirt. Shoot people on the beaches. This is simply an example. I have no idea if I'd like to go to Hawaii or not, no idea if I'd like to shoot people on the beaches. All these pictures recently of scantily clad women in and around the Carnaval parades. Are we getting obsessive, self? String bikinis on the beaches? Is that your idea of going to Hawaii? Are we in danger of losing all our female readership? Just another string bikini shooter, lurking behind a pineapple bush, a camera and a telephoto lens? Nah. I don't hide behind no stinkin pineapple bushes!

But I'm drifting. My thought is to plan a six month leave of absence right down to the place and the penny without the slightest thought of actually doing it. Once it's planned, once I've really spent the time to think through the mechanics, where I would go, what I would do, how many rolls of film I'd take, maybe it would just happen. Maybe it would become inevitable. Think of all of the reasons for not doing it. Think of how many people actually do. Then go to bed. You're thinking too much.

(I asked a friend what she thought of my recent Carnaval pictures and she asked me, with a quizzical look, if I understood that she didn't necessarily find women - young, old, naked or not - all that fascinating in and of themselves as subjects? This thought had occurred to me, right? Well. Yes. Just now. It has.)

The banner photograph was taken at the San Francisco Carnaval parade and the second photograph was taken at the Oakland Carnaval parade the next day. Both of these photographs could stand more work in PhotoShop.