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The ponies

If the ponies are tired...
Fujifilm X-T30 | XF 27mm

If ponies are tired we go home early… sorry

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X-T30 needs more time

Sacramento Zoo
Fujifilm X-T30 | 48.4mm | f5.6 | 1/125 | ISO 400

Some follow up to yesterday’s post about the T-30 and the button placements. There is a firmware update that allows the user to toggle the Q button on and off. But, that’s a Band-Aid solution. The Q button and menu are useful; turning it off takes that way. The issue of placement still remains.

It’s overall a great camera. I have no plans to “abandon” or get rid of it. I love what it allows me to do. I love the extremely minimal processing I need to do with its images. My gripes will most likely subside with continued use and customizations (of button functions) until I find what’s comfortable.

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X-T30 frustrations

Sacramento Zoo
Fujifilm X-T30 | 23.3 mm | f6.4 | 1/125 | ISO 400

I got frustrated with the camera, today. Specifically, I got frustrated with the X-T30. A lot of it can be chalked up to user error, much of which can be overcome with more use and practice with the camera itself. Possibly some menu and button customizations.

One of the main reasons thatI switched to the Fujifilm X system line is because a lot of the main functions are controlled by dials and outside buttons (as opposed to hidden in menus). It’s why I very much love using the X-T1. Everything I need is within reach.

The X-T30 is close. A lot of the dials are familiar and do exactly what I want. But I have an issue with button placement, some of which I find myself accidentally pressing all of the time. I’m looking at you Q button placed on the thumb grip!

Today, while out, I keep hitting the Q button and inadvertently changing the settings controlled by the front (ISO) and back (aperture) dials. It was aggravating.

As I said, most of this can be overcome with more practice. But I’m not sure that’s what I want to spent my time on. The X-T1, for me, fades into the background. I can change settings instinctively, and the tool itself fades into the background. That’s what I want in my cameras.

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Reducing delivery

mahi mahi tacos
Mahi-Mahi tacos from Dos Coyotes Border Grill

Delivery is awesome. Food delivery is, well… sometimes it brings tears to your eyes when you think about how amazing it can be.

No cooking? No mess to clean up? No need to put on pants to go out and interact with people? Sign me up.

I closed/deactivated/deleted all of my food delivery accounts (Postmates, Grubhub, Doordash, etc.), this week. Not to make any kind of statement (though, I do not like some of their practices) but because it’s a lifestyle that I no longer want.

Amongst other reasons, I want:

  • to cook at home more often.
  • to have more control of the ingredients and food quality that I consume.
  • to reduce food waste (and the utensils and plastic bag waste that comes with delivery).
  • to stop ordering too much in order to meet the “delivery minimum”.
  • to force myself back outside more often, to interact with people and experience places.
  • to “consume less from the internet”.
  • to treat “eating out” like an occasion, not a routine.

This isn’t to say that “I’m never ordering delivery again!”. When those occasions occur, there’s always the phone (who does that anymore?) and even ordering online, direct from the restaurant (not a service) without needing an account.

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Apple Hill, Placerville, CA

Boa Vista pumpkin patch

People in this area are obsessive about visiting Apple Hill during Fall. Ok, that’s a bit of an exaggeration but, it’s definitely “the thing” to do. Apple Hill is a series of 50 local farms, near Placerville* where people can visit to pick apples, eat a variety of apple pastries and donuts, wander through arts and crafts booths, and more. 

We spent Saturday visiting three farms, High Hill RanchBoa Vista Orchards, and Abel’s Apple Acres. They’re three of the more popular, bigger farms, which was evident with the sheer amount of people at each one. High Hill had the most to do while Boa Vista had better overall prices. Abe’s Acres was a more intimate setting with a great area for kids. 

High Hill Ranch
High Hill Ranch Jona Golds

We had fun wandering around each of the three. it was nice (as always) to be out in fresh air and nature, while taking in the sites and sounds of these ranches. The arts and crafts booths were intriguing, though we didn’t buy anything. The people watching was stellar.

Boa Vista sugar apple cider donuts
Boa Vista glazed apple cider donuts

I’m generally a fan of glazed donuts over others but, in the case of the glazed vs. sugar from Boa Vista, the sugar donuts won out. They were so, so good.

Sign at High Hill Ranch

I will never not be entertained with the way that some people use quotation marks on signs.

Overall we had a fun time, and we’re sure we’ll be back to visit again. There are 47 other farms up there!

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Additions to my T30 kit

I found the Fujinon 27mm f/2.8 for a great price (refurbished) and, even though I haven’t spent a lot of time with this focal length*, I bought it. One, because I had been thinking about adding a pancake lens to my inventory and, two because of the price.

I plan to use it this weekend.

I added a larger eye cup and grip to the Fujifilm X-T30. While the size of the camera makes it great for quick excursions, I found I didn’t like carrying it for longer periods of time. The grip helps that.

The eye cup was a necessity (for me) to help better use the viewfinder with my glasses. When possible, I always try to put bigger eye cups on my cameras so, this isn’t unique to the T30.


*40mm equivalent on a crop sensor camera

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Oki Bowl

Oki Ramen

Last week, while in Washington, DC, I had a chance to visit an old favorite, Oki Bowl. We sat at the bar where we had this view (above) of the “magical window” and watched bowls of ramen make their way from the kitchen to the tables or the to-go orders.

It’s not the best bowl of ramen that you’ll ever eat but it is good, and comforting, and a great place to sit and have conversations about life, work, and anything else that you want.

oki ramen

The setting and decor is what makes this place for me. Even though most of the tables are communal, it’s setup where you still feel like you can have an intimate conversation with the people you are with.

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But next time, the camera comes with

Washington Circle Park
Washington Circle Park, Washington, DC

The above photo was taken as I was walking from the metro stop to my hotel, passing Washington Circle Park (in DC). It was much darker than the picture shows but, all I had was my cameraphone and this was the only result that made me happy. This was one of the few times that I regretted not traveling with my camera.

There were a few other times that I regretted not taking my (Fujifilm X-T30) camera. I opted not to because I assumed that 1) I wouldn’t have time to take pictures, and 2) I didn’t want to carry more things with me (I like to travel light). 

Rather than dwell on whether leaving the camera behind was the right decision, I am happy that I at least had the cameraphone for the few times I did want to take pictures, and still was able to travel light.

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Taking in the view, and fresh air, after a day full of meetings

Exhale
View of the Kennedy Center from Georgetown Waterfront
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Accepting imperfection

Cosumnes River Preserve
Cosumnes River Preserve
Fujifilm X-T1 | 18 mm | f 8.0 | 1/60 | ISO 200

There’s a purple streak of light, resulting from the lens flare, in the middle of the photo. I spend a lot of time deliberating whether to remove it. Ultimately I decided to leave it in, accepting the photo’s imperfection.

One of the lessons I like to reiterate in my work (with people with intellectual disabilities) is that you cannot just look at a person and know that they have any disability. And it’s the same in reverse; you cannot assume someone has a disability if they look physically different.

The same goes for other aspects of people and health. Judging people by how they act, look (physically), or communicate is not enough for you to make a decision about their health. This rings even truer for me now, with a recent diagnosis of another chronic disease.

Pain, stress, confusion, sadness, denial, worry, and depression. They can be hidden with something as simple as a smile.

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Using nature to heal

Cosumnes River Preserve
Cosumnes River Preserve
Fujifilm XT-1 | 19.6 mm | f 11.0 | 1/30 | ISO 200

August was a particularly difficult month for me, having received some personal health news that forced me to evaluate and make some immediate changes to my lifestyle. While the main focus of these changes revolved around diet and exercise, there were other changes that I have implemented (and are considering) that were caused my a “ripple effect” in my overall quest to make positive changes.

Armstrong Redwoods State Natural Reserve
Armstrong Redwoods State Natural Reserve
Fujifilm XT-1 | 35.8 mm | f 8.0 | 1/60 | ISO 1000

I started to take more walks and hikes, making it a point to not only get daily exercise but to be outside to experience and explore. An added benefit to this is being able to take my camera with me, to achieve my longstanding goal to simply “photograph more”.

It’s the combination of body movement, breathing fresh air, and taking time to notice and really look at things in different ways, that has had the most impact on my mental (and physical) health.

seeking light
UC Davis Arboretum
Fujifilm X-T30 | 50.5 mm | f 20.0 | 1/60 | ISO 200

My mindset is shifting in various ways. As much as I have shifted and reprioritized what is important to me, this last month has destroyed most of those ideas, forcing me to rebuild. It’s certainly not a negative thing rather, it’s just unexpected.

Hike #30 - Dave Moore Nature Area Trail
Dave Moore Nature Area
Fujifilm X-T30 | 35 mm | f 16.0 | 1/60 | ISO 400

A lot of my recent photography has been around flora, including a lot of trees and shades of green. Sure, while on the surface this is simply due to the hikes and nature areas I have explored but, it’s intentional. I find the shades of green to be calming. I appreciate the longevity of trees, especially those of the Coastal Redwoods. I admire the resilience of flowers and plants that find ways to grow and survive in so many different kinds of conditions.

Being outside, walking through nature, has become very important to me. It’s something I never want to take for granted (again).

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Unintentional breaks

She goes where the sun goes

I haven’t written much lately. While it’s obviously on this blog, I haven’t posted much anywhere else. I haven’t opened my paper journal in a few weeks. I just haven’t written.

I wish there was some profound, deep excuse for not doing so. The truth is, I just haven’t wanted to write.

Focusing on fundamentals. That’s what I like to think of myself doing fopr these past few weeks. Getting back to basics and whatever other cliché you might want to insert here. This includes home and school, really.

We spend a good part of the weekend reorganizing the garage to more efficiently use the space (and built-in storage cabinets). We inherited a refridgerator when we bought the house and have since ben using it as a second space in the garage. But I have come to realize that it’s just not needed. We don’t need the extra space, the extra add to our power consumption, nor another appliance to maintain. So, I donated it to a local high school “life skills” group.

We also spent a lot of time on the kitchen, reorganizing for a cleaner workflow and grouping like items together in a much better (I think) way than they were before. We have a lot of ideas along these lines for all over our house, and want to work methodically to “implement” them for the next few months.

Making our house a home.

I have managed to keep up on my weekly newsletter. I like the routine of reflecting on the week and sharing those random topics with the subscribers. It keeps me thinking about writing overall.

The break wasn’t intentional but it was necessary and appreciated. I think I’m ready to get back into it now.

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Margaret Bourke-White

I spent a lot of time looking at Margaret Bourke-White’s photos, on this The Atlantic article. Such amazing work, still relevant today. What a life!

Bourke-White held numerous “firsts” in her professional life—she was the first foreign photographer allowed to take pictures of Soviet industry, she was the first female staff photographer for LIFE magazine and made its first cover photo, and she was the first woman allowed to work in combat zones in World War II.

Alan Taylor, The Atlantic
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I am loaning money to Starbucks

I subscribe to, and enjoy, Dave Perell’s Monday Musings newsletter. This morning’s contained a link to an article on Starbucks, which I found very interesting.

Basically, when Starbucks customers add money to the company’s app, they are effectively giving the coffee giant a free loan. At Starbucks’ scale, the benefits are enormous. 

Dave Perell

Per Dave Perell, “Some sections that caught my eye:

  • Starbucks has around $1.6 billion in stored value card liabilities outstanding. This represents the sum of all physical gift cards held in customer’s wallets as well as the digital value of electronic balances held in the Starbucks Mobile App.* It amounts to ~6% of all of the company’s liabilities. This is a pretty incredible number. 
  • Stored value card liabilities are the money that you, oh loyal Starbucks customer, use to buy coffee. What you might not realize is that these balances simultaneously function as a loan to Starbucks. Starbucks doesn’t pay any interest on balances held in the Starbucks app or gift cards. You, the loyal customer, are providing the company with free debt.
  • The only way to cash out of Starbucks balances is to buy a coffee–a promise that Starbucks can always keep! And so Starbucks can immediately put its customer loans to work in higher-yielding opportunities like funding its operations and expansion.
  • Each payment made through the Starbucks app is a payment that isn’t made by credit card. Since each credit card payment will cost Starbucks 1-2% in interchange fees paid to the card networks and banks, the company saves a lot of money by guiding customers to its payments app.”