[This fragment is available in an audio version.]
It is an annual tradition on this blog to celebrate the early-spring arrival, in our front yard, of the first crocuses. Winters suck everywhere in Canada and while Vancouver’s don’t freeze your ass they do subtract light from life for way too many months. Thus, giving the little purple fellas a hearty greeting is therapeutic. With notes on photography and dead leaves.
Our front yard is half-ish garden patches, the rest mossy/grassy green. Normally we shovel autumn’s leaves off the whole thing but last fall I only cleared the green space. I was a little worried that the leaves might get the in crocuses’ way — they’re such delicate little things — but as you can see, they cheerfully muscled their way through to the sun.
We can all use the help; it’s been a shitty winter, what with the endless Covid grind, nasty notices of incoming climate change, and mental-health issues. Also, several people I’ve known a really long time, and been close to in various ways, are starting to exhibit dementia. (One’s younger than me, shudder) (One is treatable, yay!) Days are still grey, dark, and short.
But: The flowers are up! And I got to be on the anti-anti-vaxxer bike squad!
So, back to the purple. Here’s a picture that I want to talk about; take a moment and check it out.
I find that, among the pictures I take, there’s a huge gulf between what I like best and what other people think. I like this one really a lot, and whether you agree or not it’s an excuse for a little bit of camera geekery.
“Special”? · So, as you may have heard me say: All the cameras these days are great. Any old mobile phone or entry-level DSLR or mirrorless can routinely take pictures that were technically impossible a decade ago. So, what makes a picture special? Obviously, finding something special to photograph is the most important thing. Once you get past that, lenses are big difference-makers, and post-processing (for me anyhow) is crucial. Notice that I didn’t mention the choice of camera?
Anyhow, this was shot on a Fujifilm mirrorless using the 35mm F1.4 lens, which is now nine years old and remains by a wide margin my favorite lens ever. Yeah, it can take very sharp pictures but that’s not it, there’s just something in there that makes things look better. I’m not the only person who feels this way; lots of photogs are very emotionally attached. More evidence: In the decade since this was introduced, Fuji has shipped a 33mm F1.4 and a 35mm F2, but they’re still making and selling it. On top of which, it’s super-light and compact, which is great when you’re hunched over on soggy moss trying to get the right angle on little wee purple flowers.
I spent a lot of time in Lightroom fooling with that picture just above. I think I’m not alone in really enjoying this process; I stay up after everyone’s gone to bed with the lights low and maybe an adult beverage, and obsess enjoyably over fine tonal gradations and color intensity and so on.
I gripe about this or that Lightroom foible but it’s really become an old friend. Lots of times I find my hand going to one of the sliders without the conscious part of my mind having been noticeably involved and whaddaya know, the adjustment works. It occurs to me that maybe, the next time I shoot a bunch I should do a Twitch stream…
These guys had the poor taste to situate themselves right by a plastic rod which supports the raspberry climber, but I couldn’t resist their eagerness and the adorable sharpness of the shadows cast by their sex organs.
But which camera?! · Oh, right, this is the Fujifilm X-T30 I bought in Hong Kong in 2019 to take lots of early-spring pictures of China. It’s great. (All cameras are great.) But three years in, I’m falling out of love. It’s not that Fuji cameras take better pictures or have better autofocus or viewfinders or shake reduction; it’s just I’m totally in harmony with their ideas about what kind of controls a camera should have on the outside and how they should work. Also, they have a pretty great lens lineup.
Except for, the X-T30 is too small for my big fat farmer’s hands. I deliberately bought it small to carry around the Great Wall, and that was great, and I’ve come to a compromise with it, but my fingers fail to fall on the right place too often and I often find I’ve woken up the touch-screen and mis-adjusted something.
It doesn’t help that, what with Covid-19, we never really go anywhere and thus I take the camera off the shelf far less often.
They say Fuji’s announcing new stuff in May and I’ll take a close look.
But that’s not what matters · What matters is that the crocuses came up. And that we had a nice bright day. And that my mind and body still work well enough to get me out in the chilly moist air stalking the purple and gold. And that I can still care about it, and be pleased by it. Is that a low bar? In 2022, I’ll take it.
Happy almost-Spring, everyone.