Five things for the week

Sunset across the park

  1. I wrote a post describing the photography equipment (kit) that I ultimately want. Sure, it would be nice but, it’s absolutely not needed. Thus, there’s no rush to go out and start switching and acquiring equipment. If I continued with what I currently have, I would be perfectly content doing so.
  2. Money. It’s been on my mind a lot, lately. Maybe it’s age, maturity, or just the events in my life these past few months. Or all of the above (pretty sure all of the above). I want to get way smarter with it.
  3. I want a drone but, for very specific reasons that closely straddle the line between ethical and not.  So, no drone for me.
  4. The Apple announcement did nothing for me. I do appreciate the that Mac Mini was refreshed (I have a soft spot for that computer. Always loved small-footprint desktop computers). The iPad Pro is intriguing but, in reality, I wouldn’t use it for half the things it’s built for. I’m not even sure I need my current iPad anymore. My “computing” has trended more towards laptops and desktops and away from mobile devices.
  5. Next week is going to be a good week because I’m going to make it so.

Heading into the weekend

 

Blending

The above picture reflects my weekend plans.

I can’t remember the last Friday when I felt I was going into a “stress free” weekend. Sure, I’m not 100% stress free but, I don’t have any looming deadlines and I feel caught up with everything.

So I may just lounge around all weekend. At least, I see myself sleeping in.

Of course, there are things to do. I have some odds and ends around the house to take care of. Most of them are along the lines of us still getting settled into the new place. There are restaurants I want to try. There are some events happening around downtown and mid-town. There are family and friends I need to catch up with. There’s a Netflix queue that is scary-long.

The lounging around seems like the most enticing thing, though.

 

Recently read, watched, and listened

Read

I have not had as much time to read (recreationally) as I would have liked to, this past week. My week’s reading quota was spent on technical documentation (reading and writing) and textbook chapters (school).

the-pretty-ones-9781476783765_hr

I did manage to zip through Ania Ahlborn’s The Pretty Ones. It’s been on my list since it was released. I love her works and, on the rare occasions when I read horror, she is the first author I’ll look to. While this was a very quick and easy read, it wasn’t the most shocking nor suspenseful. It was even predictable. I don’t equate that to a bad thing, rather… It felt familiar much in the same way that one might put a Law & Order (or any other procedural) on the TV. You can pretty much guess the guilty character at the beginning yet, you still watch the story pan out. And you feel entertained while doing so. That’s what this was, for me.


Watched

Just as I didn’t read a lot (recreationally), I didn’t have a lot of time to really watch anything. My DVR is filled with things I need to catch up on, and my Netflix list is embarrassingly long. I meant to watch Netflix’s Haunting of Hill House before Halloween (but no time for it). I also meant to watch a couple episodes of Parts Unknown but I’m finding them difficult to get through (and, no time).

Over this past weekend I did manage to watch the Galaxy choke (up 2-0, lose 2-3!) in a “must win to get to the playoffs” game, and the Dodgers come up way short in the World Series (where did our bats and pitching go?). That was really rough for me.


Listened

ANYTHING and EVERYTHING that Janelle Monáe has done. Lately, I have taken to just playing her albums on repeat. She’s a musical genius and worth your time. If you haven’t already, check out the Song Exploder episode featuring her “So Afraid” track. Here’s a video from her Youtube channel.

Seriously. Janelle Monáe. Seriously, a musical genius.

HONY’s Rwanda

I follow Humans of New York for the stories. The photographic medium to tell these stories is so very powerful. Brandon Stanton gives you a deep, layered image of an individual. But the portrait is in the words that accompany them.

Rwanda.

The stories from his Rwanda series.

This one, about the shopkeeper.

This one, about the orphanage.

This one, about the church.

Any many more.

Rwanda.

That we humans can be as horrible to one another.

That we humans can be so kind to one another.

Settling on my photographic kit

Untitled
For the past few weeks, I have been slowly working myself back to using the different camera bodies and lenses that I have. I say “slowly” meant in the same vein as “methodically”. I am trying to be real with myself; what is it that I really want my kit* to be like?

What do I like to photograph? What do I want to be able to photograph? What am I actually willing to carry when I travel, or even on photowalks or weekends exploring? What do I like to use, and how do I actually use it?

I know that I want to use Fujifilm mirrorless as my camera system. I feel like it fits my overall wants/needs in a kit. I do long for my old Nikon and Pentax systems but, realistically, I just didn’t want to carry them around anymore.

It turns out, I’m very close to the complete kit that I established as my goal. Below is the kit I’m working towards, with items in italic being the items I still want to get.

Bodies:

X-T1 – I love this camera and don’t use it as often as i would like to. I plan on changing that. Even though it’s a few iterations behind (the X-T3 was just released), I don’t have any urge to upgrade this one. I haven’t had a chance to put it through its paces. The layout and manual controls are exactly as I want (and invokes the film SLRs I used when first learning photography). This is the workhorse and projects camera.

X-E3 – This will replace the X100T that I currently have. The X100T is a neat camera. It’s quirky and limiting enough to keep challenging my photography. But, it’s not me. I want something more flexible, specifically, interchangeable lenses. I enjoyed the Sony A6000 I had (a few years ago) for travel, and I want something more like that. The X-E3 seems like a good fit here, and I imagine it becoming my everyday and travel camera.

Lenses

18mm f/2 – Landscapes. I know I should go wider for landscapes but, I like this one for landscapes. I can see trading this for a wider focal length if/when I get more serious with landscape photography. But, for now, I genuinely want this as part of my kit. I like it for what it is.

23mm f/2 – this is close to a 35mm lens (on a 35mm equivalent). I like this focal length as an everyday and travel lens. So, when the X100T (which has this focal length) goes, I will pick this up to reside on the X-E3 the majority of the time.

35mm f/1.4 – This is my second favorite focal length (close to 50mm on a 35mm equivalent), and going down to f/1.4 gives me the reach to do portraits on the rare occasion that I do them. I like this one for food shots over the other lenses, though I can see using those as well. The 18mm. 23mm, and this one are the reasons I want my everyday/travel camera to be interchangeable (with lenses), not fixed to one.

60mm macro f/2 – Currently my least used lens but, the few times I have used it, I love it. I want to do more macro photography, so envision this one being used more often.

50-140mm f/2.8 – This is the lowest priority item on my list right now. I want this one for events, sports, and wildlife. I miss photographing those, and would like to get back into it. Mainly wildlife photography. Eventually.

Overall, I’m already in a really good place. Even swapping out the X100T for the X-E3/23mm f/2 combination isn’t necessary nor urgent. I’m feeling good about this overall, and am realizing I’m in a place to really ignore the equipment and focus on the craft.

 


*I’m carrying this approach over to a few other aspects of my life. Kitchenware is another where I am trying to pare down to the essentials. What pots/pans/small appliances do I actually use, and how?

Five things for the week

she lurks

  1. The above picture was featured on the utata.org front page. It was not a planned shot. I saw this scene when I took a short break to get a drink of water. The light and the look on my cat’s face was too good to pass up so, I ran back to the office to get my camera. A few clicks later and this was the result. I’m happy with it and proud that it was featured.
  2. I like the juxtaposition of Halloween and Thanksgiving (and Christmas). Wander through a store like target and one weekend you’ll see horror, gore, skeletons, witches, etc., and the same store the very next weekend will be trees, cute characters and animals, and family themed.
  3. I start a new (school) term tomorrow, and I’m nervous. I feel like I’m trying to squeeze something else into my life right now (I am) that I really don’t have time for. But, this is necessary. It’s necessary for my long term plans. I just need to build and stick to a routine.
  4. Relearned (is this a word?) a good lesson this week: when it comes to meat and seafood, pick it out yourself. Grocery delivery is awesome; it’s both a timesaver and takes care of a chore I hate. The issue is when it comes to meat, seafood, and even some veggies. There are just some things that I need to see and pick out for myself.
  5. On social media, I’m trying to get into the habit of commenting in addition to liking/favoriting. I want to become more verbal (if that makes any sense). I can’t be introverted online AND in real life (or, can I?).

Simple and decadent weeknight meal

At the risk of sounding overtly dramatic, Marcella Hazan’s tomato sauce is life changing for me. I always knew I could make simple sauces from scratch, and even did so from time to time. But, in my mind, they still took too much brain power and energy for those times I’m just trying to throw a quick weekday dinner together. Like a lot of people, spaghetti dinners settled for being a jar of pasta sauce and boiled noodles. Exciting, not at all. Now, no more buying pre-made jarred tomato sauces for pasta.

Last night was my third time making Ms. Hazan’s recipe. It’s so so easy and makes the house smell so so good. And, the three ingredients (onion, butter, can of tomatoes), is always something I have in my pantry.

This time I added some chicken sausage but, I can assure you, the original three ingredients are stellar on their own.

Plated
Plated

I had a package of chicken sausage in my fridge and I thought, “why not?”. I heated the cast iron pan to “crazy hot” and got a nice sear on the sausage slices. I also wanted something other than spaghetti noddles, and opted to indulge in the box of bucatini that we had.

Bucatini, if you don’t know, is a thicker noodle that is also hollow. It’s fantastic for picking up a lot of sauce and, when cooked al dente, has the perfect bite to it. It’s one of my favorites.

Sauce
All four ingredients starting to get to know each other

Combine one 28oz can of tomatoes, 1 onion cut in half, 5 tbsp of unsalted butter (this makes it both rich and smooth) to the seared sausage. Simmer for 45 minutes.

So simple, so good
It’s ready

My wife and I ate in silence. We even ate without looking at phone/tablet/tv screens. With how simple this is, you wouldn’t think it could be as good as it was. Those supermarket jarred sauces have nothing on this.

I’m re-teaching myself how to cook and appreciate making things. Through this process, I’m also learning that I like making things from scratch. I definitely appreciate the shortcuts but, making things from individual ingredients helps me destress and enjoy cooking more. It also increases my appreciation for it.