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The Solano Stroll parade.
October 3rd, 1999

Class Has Started
Well, foolish me. I drove to Oakland this morning parking on the street in front of the Sears store at 11:00. Try that in any other Bay Area city. Foolish me in that I bought a fanny pack (and some other stuff, you can't waste a rare visit to a department store.) and it works just fine, thank you, any of my aesthetic considerations having strictly to do with my ego and stupidity. And being an old fart. Maybe. Holds film, batteries, lens cap and lens cloth, all out of the way yet accessible. Carried it and a camera through Berkeley this afternoon. Felt fine.

This may seem a small matter, but I carry a camera most of the time. When I'm covering a parade or some other event where I really want to deliver a set of pictures, I carry two cameras and additional lenses. One goes kablooie and I've got a backup. That means a camera bag over the shoulder and sometimes a shooting vest. A professional would do this without thinking. I have other camera bags from large Lowepro backpacks to shoulder bags which I rarely use except on trips. They, like the big Nikons, seem the best solution for photography only, got to deliver the picture projects. The difference is when I'm carrying a camera just kicking around running errands, going to a movie, going to lunch or walking down the street ready for but not necessarily thinking about photographs. There is, after all, life beyond photography. I think. Better to carry one of the smaller cameras, light weight, easy to use with little to nothing else. You still need film, batteries and prophalactics and a fanny pack (I now know) works better than pockets.

I'd done amateur "photography" during two or three separate periods totaling maybe four The Solano Stroll parade. years between them before I started again in 1997, not seriously, but, with some enthusiasm. In the early years I built a temporary darkroom in a bathroom at home where I did black and white photography, both developing film and making enlargements. During my sophomore year in high school I was the photo editor of the school newspaper and yearbook and had access to a large well equipped darkroom with some very nice equipment. I was lucky. I was not a "serious" photographer in the sense I understand the term today and I didn't start out with high end fully automatic cameras (because they hadn't invented them yet, these were the days, after all, of the Nikon F1), but with a borrowed Pentax 35mm, a borrowed medium format Rolleiflex, my own $99 Yashica-Mat and the school 4" x 5" Speed Graphic.

This was good equipment to learn with as none of it had internal light metering or automatic flash. You really did have to understand the relationships between film, exposure and light. I liked medium format (2 1/4" x 2 1/4") for its grain and size and I may shoot it again (I still have a pair of Mamayaflex TLR's), and, if this gets totally out of hand, I may search out what's happened with 4" x 5"'s since that Speed Graphic. Today I use the high end professional Nikons, all of which can be set to shoot anywhere from full manual to full automatic with any combination you may choose in between. They're easy to fuck up if you don't use them every day and get yourself into the rhythm. And read the manuals every now and then to remember what all those buttons are about. My problem is I need to go back and learn the basics again. And again.

I talk about this because I think I'm going to get "more serious" about my habit, The Solano Stroll parade. the technical camera side and PhotoShop. Well, let's see. I don't really mean more "serious", but more "rigorous". There's too much "serious" about the artsy fartsy side of photography already. I don't think I want to go back to the darkroom except to develop film and make contact sheets, but you never know. Once you start, it tells you where you're going, you don't tell it. Maybe this will settle some of the fidgety crap I've been experiencing this last year. In the past I'd have pulled stakes and moved to something else. I'm learning the solution is maybe to start over again, but on the same subject. Start photography over, start PhotoShop over. Go to another step. Not necessarily "up" another step, but "to" another step, one not being better than the other, just different. The satisfaction is in the doing, not in the product. The "doing" can be done forever. I think I'll stop before I make us all throw up.

I do snapshots. I want to do better snapshots. Of naked women leering under a late afternoon Tahitian sun on a beach with a bottle of Tequila in an ice bucket and a Margarita (on the rocks, no salt) on the table, all of this funded by the company with its name on the label. This is not actually my fantasy, but you know, fill in the blank. I suppose class has already started.

The photographs were taken at the Solano Stroll parade.