I-55 is NOT the place to stop and take pictures

I’m in Chicago on business and that business doesn’t include any time for Forkboy’s Photographic Travails, which means I haven’t had time to run off and snap pics (like some folks do of Derby, UK).  However, this evening as the sun was working it’s way into the western horizon I was reminded of this spot along Interstate 55 on the near south-west side of Chicago (you can actually see this spot of highway during the opening credits of the television show “Married with Children”) from which is a fantastic view of the city.

Fantastic view?  Ummmm……isn’t this the sort of thing for which photographers crave?  Doesn’t this mean that I should be hauling ass to this spot, with camera in the car, so that I might create a fantastic picture of this city I so love so that I might post it upon Flickr and have all of you, my humble readers, bask in its glow and heap upon me no small amount of praise and glory?

Shit yeah!

However…..like most things in my life the plan didn’t quite gel with reality.  The time it took to get my car to this magical spot on Interstate 55 was around 35-minutes, which took me too far into dusk and the magical moment of the low sun shining off the thousands of mirror-like windows in all the tall buildings was lost. 

That and the fact I was suddenly concerned that pulling onto the shoulder/emergency lane might very well have led to my sudden and immediate death as my body was splattered across the west-bound lanes of Interstate 55.  If you have ever driven in a major metropolitan city you will know what I mean.

I didn’t know photography was going to be this hard.  Had I known I might have taken up something less stressful and less irritating.  Like bull semen extraction.

When nature isn’t oh so cute

I was up very early this morning for reasons that I’d rather not divulge here.  I was standing at the end of my driveway looking back up it and into the back yard where the cherry trees stand.  As I stood there in the dawn’s early light a handsome male robin landed upon the drive.

No sooner had the words “Damn.  I wish I had my camera,” passed through the various rusty synapses of my brain the little fellow dropped a robin-sized load on my drive.  And as soon as he had finished relieving himself he made two hops and flew off into the large air.

For a switch I was pleased I didn’t have my camera after all.

Suck it, ya’ll!

Okay…okay…okay. I said I wouldn’t be posting for a couple of weeks, but here I am posting my second entry since I made that statement. So sue me. I’ve had a slight change in plans and as such I have a few free hours this weekend in which to do things….

Like this!


Isn’t it fucking sweet?!?!!!! The Canon 100-400mm f/4.5 – 5.6L IS USM lens. This baby rocks like Kiss in a 1978 concert in Detroit! I cannot wait to get this baby out in the field (or back yard) and start snapping up those pics of squirrels, cardinals and blue jays as if I were standing right on top of them. (because for my money you simply cannot have enough photos of squirrels, cardinals, blue jays, chipmunks, etc.)

Fuck yeah!

But first: props. Props to the wife for letting me do this. It wouldn’t be happening if it weren’t for a few pertinent facts: (1) we’ve paid off a bunch of bills, (2) I wrangled twelve months of interest free financing, and (3) I didn’t get this lens for my birthday, for a bunch of reasons, like she had wanted to do in the first place.

Second: “Suck it, ya’ll!” For those folks who do not call America their home this title may sound a bit odd. I don’t know that it translates at all to other nations, including our special friends in dear ol Blighty. Basically it’s my way of saying “Hey look! I got this really cool new bit of glass for my kit! Isn’t it fantastic?! Don’t you wish you had one?! Look how cool I am!” but with a big smile on my face because it’s all a big joke. It’s all meant to be fun.

But suck it anyway!

I hope this was a dream….

(while it wasn’t my intent to post for a bit due to certain issues and matters, this was too weird to not post)

It is not unusual for reality to slip into my dreams and create some unusual circumstances and last night’s dream is no exception. I really like the way my dream pulled points of reality into the chaotic world that is so often our dreams, but also pulled something from its bag of tried and true points, which will become clearer soon.

In this dream I was attending some sort of extended family get-together, which included a dinner and such. While making my way into the house I noticed the rising moon and thought to myself, within the dream of course, “I need to get a picture of that,” which I blame on this friend’s lovely photo. I worked my way around the back yard of this family members home, but couldn’t find the right place by which to snap my picture.

The dream jumps such that I’m now standing in some sort of narrow road in a small town’s downtown area (High Street for those readers across the pond) not unlike this friend’s image, but I’m again having issues with finding a good vantage point from which to snap a picture. I decide that I should use my telephoto lens so I pull it out of the camera bag and begin putting it together.

Now, I’m having a hard time trying to figure out how to describe this ‘lens’ as it looks nothing like a lens. The base of the lens, the part which attaches to the camera, is shaped not unlike an open umbrella if you pressed it together from two opposing sides. Attached to the top of this section was what can best be described as a lens tube that was more like a tripod leg in that each section fit inside a slightly larger one and there were locking clamps for each section. I busied myself with extending and locking the tubes and thinking to myself “This is going to be really big. I wonder if I need a tripod?”

I know. Weird doesn’t even begin to cover it.

As I finish setting up this crazy contraption called a ‘lens’ I notice an Air Force B-52 fly overhead from right to left. It is low, wheels extended and obviously coming in for a landing or practicing touch-and-goes at some airfield. Right after the B-52 passes from sight an Air Force B-1 flies by, but makes this impossible turn and dashes in another direction. And right after this occurs a plane of some sort (one I don’t recognize as I’m reasonably certain it’s made up, but possibly based upon the 1950’s F-104 Starfighter (here)) appears in the sky, also makes an impossible turn and then tumbles from the sky heading straight for me.

I dream about airplanes quite a bit. And I always dream about them in one of two ways: (1) They are falling from the sky onto or quite near me, and (2) I’m in one that is always taxiing (yes, it is a real word), but never taking off.

Needless to say I never manage to snap a picture of the moon as I’m fleeing the falling plane, which narrowly misses me and by ‘narrowly’ I mean by inches.

I only wish I WERE on drugs as this would go far as to explaining these sorts of dreams.

Lucretia, My Reflection

I’m actually going to be sort-of unavailable for a few weeks. While I will make time to visit other folks blogs and Flickr sites (and leave comments because I KNOW you cannot live without my rapier wit) I’m likely going to be too busy to post either blog entries or pictures.

(Oh….please don’t cry. No. It’s okay. I’ll be back. It’s just a few weeks. Here…..let me wipe away that tear……all better?)

I’ve got some ‘work’ to complete and then I will find myself out-of-town for almost two weeks while I do some work for an old employer and friend, and then go visit my grandmother, who lives in Wisconsin. But I want to say a few things before I temporarily disappear (now don’t start crying again…I told you I’ll be back soon enough….you’ll hardly know I was gone…)

First, to those of you who drop by on a regular basis: you’re aces. Not that the other one-off folks aren’t fine too, but I’ve been so very happy to make your acquaintances. Everyone is so pleasant, easy-going, and supportive and I hope you have found this electronic relationship to be satisfying as well. Really. You folks are great……except for that part about blowing dandelion seeds everywhere……I’ve simply GOT to draw the line someplace!

Second, this has certainly been an interesting, albeit short thus far, journey. When I started this blog my first main entry discussed the process of decision making regarding the purchase of equipment. During the time I was going through the decision process I had done one thing, which I have come to regret: I lied to myself. Deluded, if you will. I really wanted to make the jump to a dSLR because I enjoy photography and my handy and useful digital point-n-shoots simply didn’t cut it. I imagine we’ve all been there with our p&s models….too slow to snap the picture, white balance off and no way to fix it, lens quality only so-so, etc. But for me there was the issue of justifying the expenditure of so much money on what basically is a novelty. Having been unemployed for so long (and with no real hope of a regular and ‘real’ job on the horizon) I was having great difficulty convincing myself that this desire for a dSLR was reason enough to warrant the cost, even with the wife’s permission.

So I did something I don’t normally do: I lied to myself. I take pride in the fact that I believe I understand myself very, very well. This isn’t to say that I think I’m perfect, quite far from it, but that good or bad I understand my motivations. However, and in this instance, I opted to delude myself into believing that the purchase of a nice dSLR kit would allow me to do ‘artsy’ things (thanks to all the lenses and options a dSLR has) and possibly make some cash on the side by shooting whatever for whomever. But the truth was much simpler: I just wanted the ability to take better pictures and that required better kit than my Canon A630 digital p&s camera.  And I should note that these things are not outside the scope of possibility, but that they aren’t probable.  I’m not an artist.  I understand the basics of photography; nothing more.  I just wanted to have the requisite equipment to allow me to do what I had been doing with my digi p&s, but be able to do it better.

It doesn’t take a great leap of the imagination to see why I lied to myself. Money being constantly tight and a long list of things that need to be done to and around the house meant that the expense of purchasing a dSLR was, and remains, frivolous. It wasn’t a necessity regardless of how much joy it brings me. (and I know it doesn’t sound like I’m always having a good time with my new kit, but trust me; I AM! It’s just more fun to bitch about the stupid things that don’t work out and that makes for better blogging!)

So….to help me along the path towards purchase (and recall that I put this off for almost two years) I told myself…no….I lied to myself to help remove the barrier of cost so that I could make this purchase. Maybe this is the real reason I opted for the less-expensive Canon kit over the Nikon D300? Maybe it was my way of mitigating the damage I foresaw of having to make payments for a year (but without interest!) on what basically amounted to a purchase based almost solely on lust. Of course, if this was only lust I SHOULD have purchased the Nikon D300 as my nipples harden just thinking about it.

But no matter how frivolous the purchase, no matter how unnecessary the acquisition, no matter what better things could have been done with the money, I’m EXTREMELY happy, nay…thrilled, to have this Canon 40D as it finally allows me to do the very thing I’ve wanted to do: take better pictures!

Of course ‘better’ is VERY much open to interpretation here…….

Flickr again!

Hey all. While I didn’t think I would be posting new pictures to Flickr (or writing in WordPress for that matter) while my inlaws are in town, it seems that it is a far safer thing to do when compared to being engaged in conversation with them.

Oh well.

Over the past few days I’ve been looking over pictures from other folks (hi Tam and Bri-n!) and I’ve come to two inescapable conclusions: (1) I suck, and (2) that’s okay

2008-05-11 (19)

It’s okay because I now fully and truly realize that I simply enjoy taking pictures. Maybe I’ll get lucky and take one that is really great, but for the most part I simply enjoy the process of taking pictures. And I’m going to continue in this fashion and then share them with the world for what it is worth.

Now doesn’t that make you happy?

Does that camera come with a flame thrower attachment?

You may recall I had some words to say (or is that type?) the other day about finally having some success at photographing the couple of blue jays that have been hanging about our back garden?

No?  You don’t?  Really?  Well refresh yourself here, okay?

Well this a.m. I’m walking through the kitchen, past the table, and I happen to steal a glance out the windows towards the back deck and what do my eyes see?  Blue jay.  No.  Not blue jay, but blue jayS.  Not one.  Not two.  Not even three, but four gorgeous blue jays.  I freeze.

“Where the shit is my god-damn camera bag?” I think, while cocking my head to one side as if it will help conjure-up the location of my camera bag.  Too late though.  The blue jays had spied me and as if on cue with the cocking of my head they took off into the trees and then off into the morning sky.

I don’t get it.  I didn’t think blue jays were this skittish.  I thought they were pretty calm for birds.  It’s rather clear I’m going to have to construct a blue jay blind and park my fat ass (‘arse’ for you folks across the pond) in it for twenty-four straight hours if I hope to have any chance in hell of getting some decent snaps of these beautiful birds.

I’m more certain than ever that Mother Nature has had a long talk with these blue jays and they are both hell-bent on just pissing me the fuck off!

94 days later….

When my Canon 70-20mm f/4L USM IS lens arrived back in January of this year I was totally down with it.  Gorgeous lens.  Big lens.  Heavy, but not too heavy lens.  But it was missing something.  Something I had seen with other larger Canon lenses; a tripod mount ring.

I wasn’t certain what was the purpose for a tripod mount ring so I did a bit of reading and quickly realized that: (1) a tripod mounting ring makes good sense for a longer and heavier lens, and (2) the Canon 70-200mm f/4L USM IS lens doesn’t come with one.

Not certain if this was important I found some online reviews of the Canon 70-200mm f/4L USM IS lens (I just like typing “Canon 70-200mm f/4L USM IS, so please for give me) and each mentioned that no tripod mount ring was included and that in the opinion of the reviewer the lens should come with one as it was just long and just heavy enough to warrant a tripod mount ring.

Being the dutiful consumer I rushed to the online Canon e-store and searched for the appropriate Canon tripod mount ring as apparently there are more than one style from which to choose.  I found the correct model and then turned to an online vendor whose price structure is very favourable for the dSLR consumer (you may find them here).  I located said item and on 30 January, 2008 I placed my order for the Canon Tripod Mount Ring, style AII (B).

It arrived by post today.

That’s 94 days later.

Now, before you get all up in my grill and tell me what a crappy company is here, keep in mind that it was on back order from the manufacturer.  About two weeks ago, tiring of the long wait, I contacted the Canon e-store by telephone and explained that I had ordered the Canon Tripod Mount Ring, style AII (B), from an authorized vendor and that they had been unable to deliver said part as it has been on back order for all these weeks.  “What gives?” I queried.

The customer service person placed me on hold and upon returning informed me that the Canon Tripod Mount Ring, style AII (B), was on back order for Canon as well because it was a brand new part and was a ‘bit behind’ in the manufacturing process.  However, Canon anticipated delivery would be made within four weeks to Canon and then they would, in turn, deliver to all the various vendors who had the item on back order (hopefully including mine).

And thus ended the saga of Mark’s ordering of the Canon Tripod Mount Ring, style AII (B), which SHOULD have been included with the Canon 70-200mm f/4L USM IS lens in the first place.

Clearly it’s time to order more shit.