The Beginning of Life Sans SLR Camera

by Jim on 2011/04/18

[Jimbaux just needs . . . . to realign.]

I want to acknowledge and thank everyone who wrote to me publicly and privately after last night’s post about how, as Brandon Boyd so beautifully sings, we’ll always have each other, when everything else – including $3,000 worth of photography gear – is gone.  If you haven’t read last night’s post, please do so; it’s one of my best.

My friend Taylor Davidson, also a photographer, must have been sitting on his computer last night right as I sent out a mass e-mail with the link to the story, as he replied to me only 10 minutes later thus (yes, I got his permission before I published what he wrote to me in a private e-mail):

You’ll survive.  The most important thing about your photography is your mind and your eye.  Everything else can be replaced.  Until you can replace the gear, use a point-and-shoot, a cameraphone, and embrace the constrictions.  Remember this as the time you refreshed your eye and mind, until you can refresh your gear.

Not only is he right-on in his comment, but the comment  builds on the theme of hope that I made in yesterday’s post.

In Every Problem, There Is An Opportunity

Taylor’s comment, though, shows one of several opportunities I now have!  It’s almost inevitable that any good and prolific photographer with SLR equipment has heard the oh-so-ignorant “I’m going to get a nice camera like you so I can take nice pictures like you” silliness.  Yeah, right, pal!  I’ve often held up my fellow whoadie and foamer The Cajun Porkchop as an example of someone who uses point-and-shoot equipment but takes great photos.  Similarly, I know people with equipment equivalent to or even better than what I had who take lousy equipment.  (I won’t name names, of course.)  As Taylor points out so well, it’s all about mind and the eye and not the equipment.  My pal Bernie just told me that he’d let me use his point-and-shoot camera (which he doesn’t use very much) until I can get my hands on another DSLR and some glass.  So, while I won’t have the big-glass to get the head on shots of the trains or the across the field shots for which I’m so famous, at least I’ll have a camera when we go to Charlottesville on Wednesday!

A New Theme

So, perhaps what you will see here on Jimbaux’s Journal in the coming weeks are experiments in point-and-shoot photography from me!  Actually, I’ve wanted to get such a camera  for a long time for its easy mobility and portability; there are plenty of places where I didn’t take my old gear because it was too bulky to lug around.  I’ll like having a camera that I can just slip into my pocket and forget is even there!

Have Glass, Will Travel

Still, this will be difficult.  Those of you who’ve met  me over the years generally know that if I venture off away from my truck and need to have all the gear I’m using on my person, I just kept the bigger lens – the 70-200mm/f2.8 – on the camera.  There are so many things I just won’t be able to do with that lens, seen hanging off of me in the below picture, taken nearly three years and about 20 pounds ago in Tennessee during Hurrication Gustav.

Geez, I need to get myself back in the gym.  The most important thing is that I felt better back then.

I Need Big Glass!

Well, in addition to needing to get back into the weightroom, I really need to get my hands on some big glass again.  Some of y’all will remember that I was talking, wishing recently about getting my hands on a Canon 5D Mark II.  I definitely don’t have the cash to get one of those now, but I’m thinking that the best way for me to be able to get enough cash to buy one now would be to have one.  Make sense?  The truth is that there are several money-making photo jobs I turned down because my camera wasn’t of good enough quality, and I knew it.  I had a 2005 Rebel, and you photographers will know that not only has compressor and sensor quality greatly improved since then, but the 5D2 is the cheapest Canon body with a full-frame sensor, something that’s essentially a necessity when photographing people at close range and for architecture photography as well.

My approach until now has therefore thus been that I’ll do photo jobs if people ask me to do them, but I won’t advertise.  With a 5D2, I could really do some great work.  Yesterday, the manager of a local music group talked to me about doing some photo work for his band, and I told him that my gear was gone!  The truth, however, is that I was never eager to do that job because I was afraid that the limitations of my camera compared to what they could get elsewhere would make me look bad.  I know that those of you who think that my photography is awesome (because you repeatedly tell me this) have trouble understanding how my now-gone camera could have been bad, but realize that I never showed you the great pictures that I could have taken but didn’t because the equipment wasn’t up to par.

Here’s An Example

Check this out, dudes.  We’re in Trafalgar Square in London in July 2009.  That big, tall thing on the right is Nelson’s Column, but do you notice how it seems to be falling over to the center of the frame?  Notice how the light pole at the left also appears to be leaning to the center?  as if the two vertical edifices are about to fall onto each other?  That, my dear Jimbauxlings, is barrel distortion.

In order to “correct” this problem, we could rotate the shot clockwise a few degrees, but then we’d have the ground sloping downward to the right, and we’d have the light pole at the left falling even more toward the center!  Nope.  Oh, the lens in question is the 17-40mm/f4.  With a camera like the 5D2 with its full-frame sensor, this problem would cease to exist in some situations.  Have I mentioned that I hate barrel distortion?

A Divine Message

Maybe this is the photography gods’ way of nudging me from my nest and forcing me to spread my wings.  Time – and my will – will tell.

No Anger

As I’ve written, I’m a recovering addict to anger.  People continue to be surprised at how well I’m taking this, but it is difficult, my friends, and maybe it hasn’t fully hit me yet.  A friend wrote to me after last night’s post and said that she teared up as she tried to sense the loss that I feel, that my perspective seems healthy but that I’m allowed to feel pain about this loss.  Knowing all to well how it has damaged my life, I refuse to allow myself to succumb to the toxic anger.  After making last night’s post, I headed to some crappy fast-food joint to get a midnight snack (another reason why I don’t look today like I look in that picture above), and on my way back, I saw some boys walking in the ‘hood.  There was a part of me that was tempted to say to them, “Excuse me kind young sirs, but would any of you be the worthless dirtbag(s) who took my stuff last week?”  Nope.  I’m not going there, and I also know that whoever took this stuff may not have really even wanted to take it but needed to do it due his own addictions.  Therefore, I’m too weak willed (in a good way) to hold anger at someone and call him a “dirtbag” for this.  Addictions, whether they be to anger or to chemicals, are hard to fight my friends.  Keep fighting the good fight, and remember, as Boyd says, “we’ll always have each other, when everything else is gone.”




1 Rita April 19, 2011 at 01:11

I’m sorry to hear what happened. And I look forward to getting to know you sans the camera.


2 Sandra Robichaux April 19, 2011 at 11:18

James, it is great that you have decided to take this camera loss without anger. You will have to get used to the one you are carrying around well.

Thanks for the photos……

3 Joshua Chlapek April 19, 2011 at 19:27

Serious bummer about the camera gear. 🙁

Good to hear you’re not going to let it hold you back though. What your friend said is true; the most critical part, the irreplaceable part, is still there.

I know sometimes I notice some “killer angle” only when I don’t have a camera with me. Part of it’s Murphy’s Law I guess, but part of it is most assuredly not coincidental. Sometimes the drive to “get a shot” can leave us without “getting THE shot.”

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