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Blurry buds

May 7th, 2000

Ah! The Baloney, The Baloney (and the mustard!)
The Magnolia buds were taken with a Nikon N90s, a body I don't use as much as the F5, and an 85mm f 1.4 lens. They are underexposed and out of focus and as photographs of Magnolia buds, they're not so hot. I shot a roll of them last week. Now, I have two thoughts: The first thought is that I should go out and buy another F5 and get rid of the N90s so that I have two cameras with exactly the same controls so that I don't make any more of these mistakes with my exposures. The F5 shoots TMY-400 just fine at ISO 320, thank you, while the N90s could have used a lower number to give it more light. Unless, of course, under these particular circumstances, in the middle of this particular tree, in the late afternoon with the light reflecting between the apartment buildings, the neighbors yodeling along with old Country & Western songs playing on their phonograph, the F5 would have needed more light too. Doodle-dee-do. Which is likely.

The second thought is to load another roll of film, attach the camera to a tripod and carefully shoot more pictures this week, noting aperture, shutter speed, light meter readings and the phase of the moon. Shoot with more light and then with less light all the while writing it down. Get the film back and make comparisons. Check the focus. Use other lenses. Learn how to shoot, in other words, a proper picture of these funky plain looking Magnolia buds that are never going to look all that great in black and white in the first place. That's the second thought.

The first thought throws money at the problem and ducks any responsibility or need to get out and do Ah Magnolia, sweet Magnolia. actual photography. It is comforting, it involves spending money on exotic toys and it requires little if any effort. It's the American Way, bound up in the notion that all is possible with a credit card, a Palm Pilot or a pill. The second thought is the one that leads to better photographs says I at self righteous attention. That's the way a photographer would do it! By golly! I don't need more equipment, I'm already in way over my head with equipment. I need to settle in and get on with the program! (The sound of clapping is heard from the orchestra while the balconies are strangely silent.)

What we need here is another option. There's got to be a third way somewhere between credit card and hair shirt. Something soothing, without working with tripods into the evening (or shooting Cinco de Mayo parades in rain) when the reality is I'd rather be kicking back and sipping on a Pina Colada in front of the television set. I've always had this compulsion with hobbies and interests and jobs: if I'm doing stuff, I don't feel right unless I'm doing stuff to the extreme. Where did I get that? Who put that chapter into my book? And there's the perfectionist streak, the one that never lets me finish anything if don't have a deadline. I could have done without that one too.

When I was younger, I would have said you can't make anything happen unless you're pushing and working at it like a maniac. As I got older I saw how little of any real value actually got done when that was my method of working. So it comes back to Magnolia buds. The idea isn't to produce photographs, the idea is to live life and if it turns out shooting really wonderful photographs fires on all your cylinders, then go for it, but don't force the issue, don't make assumptions in your head that only your heart can deliver. So I'll go with the third alternative: skip the F5, skip any guilt over not re-shooting the Magnolia buds with plumb bobs and light meters and just sit back and clear my head and write about it interminably here in the journal. (I've lost this one kids. I'm going to end it as best I am able. Prepare for a rough landing.)

I've shot photographs on and off for most of my life, same with the writing. Maybe it's supposed to lead somewhere, maybe it's not. I mean, what does "lead" mean anyway? I have a similar situation at work. I'm comfortable. Too comfortable. The kind of comfortable that leads to techie senility five years down the line when you find yourself out on the street looking for a job, no skills or abilities or ambitions beyond lunch (I'm good with lunch.) so it would be nice to find a way to relight the fire. But I'm rambling. Maybe I should have skipped the dumb Magnolia buds and written an entry about Wuss.

The photographs were taken last week out back on the balcony.