One of the cars I frequently see in our neighborhood has a sticker on the back that says “Salt Life.” I’ve seen it in other places too, but never really knew what it was all about. Remember that I live a sheltered life, with no advertising and stuff, so bear with me. The other day going to work I followed an SUV that was sporting a “Salt Life” spare tire cover. Finally getting the better of my curiosity, I turned to The Google to see what this was all about.
So as it turns out, Salt Life is a company that sells stuff that says Salt Life on it. According to their website, they are “an authentic, aspirational and lifestyle brand that embraces those who love the ocean and everything associated with living the “Salt Life”.” So in other words, according to the cynic in me (me, cynical? 🙂 ), they sell stuff to people who are too busy living some other “authentic aspirational lifestyle” to actually go to the beach and enjoy “everything associated with” being at the ocean. It’s a fantastic business model – get people to pay for the privilege of advertising your brand. One of the oldest models in the world.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m good with it. I ain’t judging. But the whole idea strikes me as kind of shallow. I mean, if we really aspire to living at the beach, then we need to get our a$$ to the beach. Don’t just buy stuff that makes other people think you went to the beach. Besides, the real beach people can tell.
Kathy & I attended a fantastic concert last evening by guitarist Tommy Emmanuel. For those who aren’t familiar, look him up and check out some of his recordings or videos. Regarded by many as the greatest living guitarist on the planet, his resume includes over 20 record albums and two Grammys. The dude can play!
Today, I got an e-mail from the concert promoters thanking us for attending and wanting to make sure we were aware of another acoustic guitar player that would be performing there soon and hoping we would attend. I’m sure he’s an excellent guitar player and I am fully aware that everyone needs to start somewhere. But this guy’s claim to fame, at least according to the promoters, is that he has received “over 20 million views collectively for his Youtube videos.”
That’s a lot of views, certainly. But I’d love to ask, “so what else has he done?” I suppose I’m missing the point, but it’s pretty amazing to me that someone’s Youtube videos qualifies him as a successful musician and one worth paying money to hear. I suppose we might decide to go, but at least I know I can see his videos to help me make the decision.
Samantha Chrysanthou and Darwin Wiggett recently posted on their blog that they had decided and agreed (it was Samantha’s idea and Darwin decided to go along) to a June 30 deadline to either process their unprocessed files or delete them. Delete as in gone. Forever. Their reasoning is that having so many unprocessed images was limiting their creativity by creating “clutter” and that Samantha “CAN’T STAND the idea of going out to shoot with hundreds of images just waiting for me back home.” Samantha had 89+ folders and Darwin nearly 200 folders dating back to 2005. Rather than me copy and paste their comments, you need to read the several (so far) posts on the subject to get the whole idea.
In their posts they refer to the concept of Minimalism, which is one that Kathy & I have been exploring lately. Part of the goal of downsizing to our new home was to rid ourselves of physical “clutter” that we had been making space to store and making time to think about. There’s nothing like facing the prospect of moving all that “stuff” to make one wonder how much of it is really necessary. And parsing all of it down to just the essentials for living in an apartment for 6 months really made us think about how much of that stuff would ultimately survive the move. Suffice it to say that we’re glad to have a Goodwill store close by.
I’ve never given all that much thought to my digital backlog. I have a very well thought out method for sorting, categorizing and rating my photos so I always know the status of a given image based on the Pick status, color label and star rating. Having unprocessed files doesn’t bother me. In fact, I will sometimes go back into the archives and see an image that, for one reason or another, I missed or passed over the first time or two through the folder. I’ve reasoned that as long as I have captioned and keyworded my photos, if I ever needed to process one I would, and if I never did? No big deal.
For a while I felt like I needed to have a goal of processing every single one of my “Picks.” And I actually have processed many of my files from the early digital days, starting around 2004. What I have done, though, is when I’ve gone through and made my Picks I remove the non-Picks from the Lightroom catalog while leaving them on my hard drive. I have nearly 32,000 images in my Lightroom catalog, but many multiples of that number reside on my hard drive. It’s not that I think all of those “rejects” might be valuable as much as I figure with as cheap as hard drives are there isn’t a lot of point in deleting them.
So I’m not judging anyone else’s decisions or their workflow, but I’m pretty comfortable with my “system” and it doesn’t bother me to have unprocessed photos. But it was obviously something they considered to be important, and more power to them. Not all “clutter” is visible, and if something is hampering their creativity, addressing it in the way that works for them is the right approach. I’ll be interested to see how they did come June 30.
Kathy & I spent the week leading up to Memorial Day at Hilton Head Island, South Carolina. HHI is our “go-to” beach for a nice, relaxing vacation.
As I had hoped to do, I bribed Kathy with good food and some wine from home to convince her to eat in a couple of evenings so we could enjoy – and I could photograph – the beach at sunset. She’s such a good sport! 😉
Capturing the water in the evening light often results in images like these that just ooze peace and quiet. I had a little extra incentive to come up with some good images this time, as we have a few walls in our new place that need some art. I even made a few verticals with that specifically in mind, but those will need to wait for a blog post since not too many people I know use their monitors in the vertical position. Although it might make a nice phone or tablet wallpaper. Hmmmm…. 🙂
I was a little slack with my posting and processing the last few weeks, but I have a lot of new photos to process and a number of them that I am looking forward to sharing!
Keeping with the theme of abstracts, here is another take on one of my favorite “beach blur” photographs. Captured by panning the camera at a slow shutter speed, I’ve always loved how the motion tends to simplify a scene. It’s tough to get right, and a lot of experimentation is required. One of the benefits of digital cameras is the ability to try stuff like this until we (hopefully) figure it out!
I’m going to try something a little different starting with this month’s calendar. For the last year or so I’ve been mostly dredging up old landscape photos mixed in with a few more recent shots. I’ve recently started to realize how much my photographic emphasis has changed over the last few years, and I find myself photographing a lot less nature and a lot more of what I call “found scenes.” Sometimes they are scenes I find in nature, but often they are scenes I come across just walking down the street in some town I happen to be visiting.
These photos won’t necessarily be the iconic “hero shots” that I have been posting as wallpaper, but I feel like I need to be true to my own sense of what it is I happen to be seeing and shooting. And that changes, necessarily I think, over time as I learn and grow. Some readers may enjoy this work and others may not. For those who like it, please say so and thanks. For those who don’t, please feel free to let me know!
I may also add in a few abstract photos that I’ve come to enjoy. Those also make nice wallpaper, although they may be a little different from what I’ve posted here in the past.
This particular photo was taken in Charleston, South Carolina, last winter. For me it represents the change from winter to spring – winter from the bare branches on the trees, but spring through the green on the bricks in the background, set against a whitewashed wall that hints of color but also could be seen as representing snow. Not in Charleston probably, but certainly in many parts of this country, even in March.
I hope everyone enjoys this little change of pace and I hope everyone has a nice March!
Whew! I have to say that 2013 was a wild one for the Dills family! We sold two houses, observed the construction of a new house, moved twice, took a couple of great vacations and just generally had a lot of fun. But I’m just about worn out! Kathy & I are really looking forward to a little quieter year in 2014, with some time to recharge our batteries, catch our breath and enjoy life with just a little less “excitement.”
In keeping with the “quiet” theme I decided to go with a beach scene for this month. This is another from the archives – all the way back to 2007. Taken on the beach in Hilton Head Island, South Carolina, this photo reflects the peace and calm I feel at the beach, especially in the early morning or late afternoon. One of our very favorite getaway locations, the beach is high on our list of places to return to in 2014.
We have a little more settling in to do in our new place, but we’ve got things just about to the point where I can start thinking about photography again. I sort of hit the big “Pause Button” this past year, since I just wasn’t able to give it the time and attention I like to devote to my photography. I’m looking forward to settling in and really wrapping my brain around it again. Stay tuned!
This post has been rolling around in my head for some time, but Thanksgiving and all the Black Friday hoopla seems to be an appropriate time to gather these thoughts and put them out on the blog.
On our recent journey to Charleston, I remember at one point commenting about the number of car dealerships clustered around a particular interchange. I think it was somewhere around Columbia, SC but it could be anywhere in the US big enough to have car dealerships. As much as I love and appreciate nice cars, the automobile business has always served to me as a prime representation of marketing-driven consumption. If I wanted to be negative I could say “greed and excess” here, but it wouldn’t serve my point. So we’ll call it marketing-driven consumption. Black Friday is another prime example of marketing-driven consumption to the max.
I specifically remember, shortly after buying a new car several years ago, someone told me “congratulations!” as if to imply that purchasing a new car was some kind of heroic achievement. But that’s how cars have always been marketed, as symbols of success and status. When I was growing up, each September my brother & I would start sneaking into the storage lots behind the local car dealerships to get a peek at the new models to be introduced in the fall. Back in that day, models tended to really change between model years, rather than just another homogenized ToyHoNisOlet, because the manufacturers relied more on the cars to sell themselves. And they all had somewhat distinctive features, from styling to performance.
Today, many cars, at least those the regular folks can afford, all look pretty much alike. So it takes marketing to make us want one over another. And that marketing is usually aimed at making someone feel young, attractive, successful, more interesting or some attribute only accomplished by purchasing a particular product. Because it’s been hammered into our heads for so long, whenever someone sees a friend driving a new car, there is often a tinge of envy (or worse) and at least a little bit of “must be nice.” I usually look at it and think of what I could do with the payment. But that’s just me.
Anyway, the comment that I made when I saw all of these car dealerships was that if there was some way we could be identified and ranked (because after all this is all about judging and ranking – a subject for another post) not by how fancy our car is or the neighborhood we live in, but by the size of our 401(k) our IRA or our savings account, would there be investment offices at all of these interchanges instead of car dealerships? Would we make different decisions if they were based on mindful reasoning instead of marketing? And how would those decisions be reflected in our personal wellbeing if they didn’t involve spending huge sums of money or committing to an endless stream of payments?
In that same vein, why do so many people tend to judge how serious someone is about photography based on the type of equipment they own or the subject matter that they photograph? Have we been convinced by marketing and promotion by the camera manufacturers and retailers that the only way to take meaningful photographs is to have the latest and greatest camera and lens? Perhaps. But I prefer to appreciate a photographer’s work based on the quality of their photographs, and when possible the stories behind the photographs. THAT is what photography means to me, not what brand of camera someone has, or which lens or how big their sensor is. Or even whether they are using a digital camera or film. But that’s hard, just like resisting the temptation brought on by advertising and marketing is hard.
As someone who doesn’t own a television or listen to commercial radio (I usually say that “I don’t watch TV” because saying “I don’t own a TV” makes some people uncomfortable) I’m not bombarded by all of the marketing messages that drive consumer spending. Kathy & I just don’t buy a lot of stuff, and when we do, we buy it because we need or want it. Being on sale isn’t generally a factor in our buying decision, although once we make a decision to purchase something we will often wait on a sale to buy it if we aren’t in a rush. But I still find myself attracted by the “Sale” or “Limited Time Only” mentality, and sometimes have to work hard to curb that feeling I get when something looks attractive because I’m afraid that I might not be able to have it.
As Kathy & I prepare to move into our “downsized” new home, and after having lived for the last 6 months in a rented apartment with just our most essential belongings, we have come to realize that all of the things we have been storing since May are things that aren’t really necessary for our daily lives. And while we did a really good job of paring down the things that we deemed “disposable” before we moved, we now think that maybe we didn’t go far enough. Many of things we have been storing are things that we’re going to have to think really hard about, in order to decide how much of it we even need or want to keep.
So what does this all have to do with anything? In the last few days, like many of us I’ve been bombarded by e-mails from every merchant I’ve ever done business with promoting their Black Friday “Doorbusters.” I don’t know about everyone else, but I haven’t yet seen a “deal” on anything I’d actually buy. I don’t think of camera equipment as something that is an impulse purchase. Most people only buy a camera when they need one, after weeks or sometimes months of analysis or research. I’ve enjoyed several recent exchanges on the blogs of some of my photo friends, discussing things like the aesthetics of a particular camera. Talking about how a camera feels to hold versus another, the ease of use or feel of the controls. Discussions around the mindfulness of talking photographs and cutting out the noise and chatter that distracts us from the pursuit of activities that make us happy. Things that matter to those of us who actually use a camera to take photographs, not just collect equipment or are constantly chasing after the next great thing. But that isn’t stuff you can buy at the mall or Best Buy.
Monte has demonstrated that you don’t need to necessarily buy the latest version of a camera, that the introduction of a new model can mean a good deal on the previous one. That makes the older model a good value, because it will do exactly what he needs it to do for a fraction of the cost of when it was new, or of the cost of the new model.
Chris has spent some time comparing the relative qualities of several mirrorless compact camera models, and has formed an opinion that seems to be contrary to the popular opinion. But if a particular camera meets your needs, then it is the right tool for you. Whether or not something is on sale doesn’t make it a good deal if it isn’t what you want. And I guess that is my point.
And Cedric wrote a similar post about how the ergonomics and feel of a camera means more to him than megapixels and dynamic range. His story about an exchange with a photography professor about the “feel” of a camera was a good one.
Mindfulness is a theme I have been pursuing lately. Decisions made in a calculated fashion, not driven by a marketing frenzy. Just being on sale isn’t a reason to buy anything we don’t want or need. Not buying something means you have saved the entire price, not just a percentage. And not needing a place to store all of our accumulated junk means we have room and resources for things that do matter to us. A purchasing decision made mindfully is a good one regardless of the price of the item being purchased.
I’m looking forward to living even more mindfully in 2014. We’ll see how that actually plays out. But first I’m going to have to sort through all the stuff that the movers are going to deliver in a couple of weeks! I’ll probably decide to start planning a vacation…that’s a lot more fun than a car payment.
Kathy & I spent some time in Charleston, SC a few weekends ago. I took a few photos, and these are a few that show my take on Charleston, although perhaps not what most tourists take photos of. I got a few of those, too. That will be the topic for some future posts. For now, here are a few of my “non-typical” Charleston photos.
It’s hard to believe it was just a month ago that we spent the Labor Day weekend at the beach in Hilton Head. I wish I was still there.
Kathy spent a nice quiet weekend at home this weekend, so I had a chance to process a few more of my selects from our weekend.
I upgraded part of my computer setup this past week. My aging iMac was starting to show it’s impending obsolescence, and I had a newer MacBook Pro sitting here being used for little more than running our banking program and the occasional web surfing session. So I picked up a new monitor, keyboard and mouse and decided to give the laptop a try. I’m not seeing quite the performance improvement I was hoping for, but it is noticeably faster in most things.
The biggest improvement is with the monitor! While the screen on the iMac was quite nice when it was new, there has been a pretty big leap in monitor quality over the past few years, as evidenced by the improvement in the new one, a 24″ ASUS ProArt PA249. Pretty nice stuff, no yellow bars like I was seeing on the old monitor. And no more high-gloss mirror-like Apple screen. Yay! 🙂
As soon as I save a few more pennies I’m planning to build a new machine, so the purchase of a few peripherals gets me an interim performance bump until I can go the rest of the way. I was just about there until a fire at one of the factories that makes memory added about $300 to the price of the items on my NewEgg wish list. Hopefully in another month or two those prices will recover and I’ll be ready to forge ahead, just in time to outfit the office in our new place. We hope to be in by the end of November. Hopefully November 2013. It’s been a long process!
I’m still working on Nova Scotia photos too, so there will be more of those coming as well.