I’m sitting on so many drafts of posts it’s getting kind of silly. My phone is full of voice notes, my notebook full of scribbles and sketches, my brain full of ideas.
The truth is, I started writing this post exactly a week ago. I forget where I was at the time, all I know is that right now I’m laying in a bed in Hudson, MA, typing this out on my Kindle Fire (which I had to root and side-load the WordPress app onto, among other things), while eating a tiny sandwich. In the time between, I flew to Las Vegas, photographed an amazing model, drove to Los Angeles, photographed the same amazing model (and a bunch of other stuff), hung out with my brother, got invited to Palm Springs for New Years, and flew the redeye back into Boston.
I should probably be filling this post with all kinds of insights onto the valuable lessons I learned on this foray. Things like being amazed at how sometimes age has nothing to do with maturity (in both directions), that my brother and I continue to discover things in common (we both continually push ourselves, trying to find our own breaking points [neither of us have]), and that I might actually like Santa Monica despite it’s association with Los Angeles. Really though, I not in much of a recapping mood.
The quickest way to get over a woman is to climb on top of another. – Marc Mercury Some things we don’t agree on.
My Tumblr pages have been keeping up lot of the regular day to day stuff. My current host hasn’t upgraded the PHP or MySQL on this webserver, so I can’t upgrade to WordPress 3.3 yet, which is driving me crazy since it has Tumblr integration. That is actually something I’m really looking forward to and is one more step in aggregating all the outlets named in the last post back here to //dropslash.
I’m, of course, working on a 2011 recap post. It has been a hell of a year, so expect that to be full of all kind of fun lists and anecdotes and recaps. There is still some writing to finish in the meantime. I’m also working on multiple photo sets, including the aforementioned Vegas and LA shoots. I’ve also been trying to keep up with the December Bohemea Photo Challenge. I’m a little behind because of travel, but I’m working on getting caught up and filling in the gaps. That gallery is below.
Project: BoChallenge – December
[flickr-gallery mode=”photoset” photoset=”72157628242239117″]
Angel, angel, what have I done
I’ve faced the quakes, the wind, the fire
I’ve conquered country, crown and throne
Why can’t I cross this river?
Well, last night was the last party in Paris. I would say “sad”, and it is, but it was such a good time and I met so many great people.
Café Martini was the venue of choice. I’d been there once when I first arrived here in Paris and for whatever reason really liked the Bourgogne (Burgundy) red they serve. I was happy to return. I also love Le Marais, and while I’m not sure I could live in that part of Paris, I’ll use any excuse to go.
I was so glad to see the wonderful and brilliant Jessica again. She is the words and images behind cartasafilosofia.com. We had an Indian food adventure a couple weeks ago and she totally busted out an ICQ reference during our conversation about how digital communication is becoming more and more fragmented and it’s relation to my “Real Time” vs. “Real Life” concept. Yeah, that’s how awesome she is.
I also got to finally meet the lovely and talented Haleigh of MakingMagique.com fame. We talked adorable bunnies and got to wax photographica a bit. She shoots on a Canon EOS 7D with a EF 50mm f/1.2 L USM and I will freely admit to being insanely jealous of that lens. I talked up one of my favorites (as I’ve written about before), the EF 28mm f/1.8 USM (all the shots in this post were shot with the 28mm, on my trusty 60D). It’s always so refreshing to meet intelligent people who share interests and passions.
There were so many great people there, I’ll have a full gallery of the evening up soon.
As I mentioned, I shot most of the evening with my 28mm, though I did switch over to my EF 50mm f/1.4 USM for a while. I usually only use it for portraits, since it crops down to 80mm on my 60D and I find that a little tight for candid shooting, but it’s the fastest lens I own. The light in the bar was decent, and I had my 320EX with me, but I typically try to avoid flash photography in public places, if I can. The Great 28 came through admirably, as always. It was a great example of how even though I love, love, love the EF 24-70mm f/2.8 L USM as a utilitarian master lens, there was no way it could have performed in this light at that speed. The overall size would have made it much more “in your face” as well, and that definitely was not the theme for the evening. I shot most of the night with a +1 stop exposure compensation too. It gave me a little more flexibility when it came to shutter speeds, and I find it to produce slightly deeper colors with my lens/body combinations.
It was a great night, all in all. Today was a little bit of a recovery day, complete with some hilarious out-of-context quotes over breakfast, Indian for lunch (and another bag to add to my collection), some napping, and some more packing. The idea of leaving doesn’t get any easier, but I do keep in mind that I can always come back and that there are great people here when I do.
Still have two days left. Tomorrow is French haircut day. I haven’t cut my hair since I moved here (3 months) and it’s the longest it’s ever been. It should be an adventure.
WiFi + Bistro = Wistro. I’m not sure I like this name, but it’s everywhere here.
I was told that I need to start making food more of a priority. This is actually pretty true. For some reason eating just sits at the bottom of my daily “to do” list. I can go an entire day on a cup of coffee and a croissant and just not feel hungry. It’s not that I don’t like eating, or food (quite the contrary), it’s just something that slips through the cracks. I actually love sharing meals with people as a vehicle for conversation and interaction, so maybe that’s part of it. When I’m on my own to eat I guess it just doesn’t seem important. Speaking of priorities, every time I hear that word I can only think of the following quote from Jim Collins:
If you have more than 3 priorities, you don’t have any…
Works for me. Oh wait, you wanted to know what they are? Hmm… maybe next time.
Real Life vs. Real Time. This is something I’ve written about in the past. It is essentially the conflict between people and the world we live in as it relates to expectations about interacting with each other within the context of that modern world. Technology now bends us toward “Real Time” interaction, but the reality is that we exist in a “Real Life” setting. This is something I’ve experienced first hand in my life, from both sides, and is something I go back and forth with. These days, when you receive an email, or a text, or a missed call, etc, from someone, “Real Time” dictates that you reply immediately simply because you have the capacity to do so. Technology has given us nearly 24/7 availability and can provide us with the options for a near instantaneous response time. Because of this, the sender has an expectation about how quickly you will reply because they know you have the capacity. Not meeting this expectation can result in conflict (I’m sure that if you live in the “modern” world, you’ve experienced this, it’s often very passive-aggressive). The truth of the matter is though, that expectation usually does not take “Real Life” into account. Just because you have the technological capacity to reply immediately, doesn’t mean you always can… or should. This is where the line exists when it comes to compromising “Real Life” for “Real Time”, that the communication should exist a kind of bubble. Now, I say “compromise” on purpose because there is a lot of the time where this competition just doesn’t exist. If a person is sitting on a park bench and they get a text, email, etc, of course they can just immediately reply. That isn’t really compromising anything critical or high impact for the sake of availability. But if you send an email while someone is in a movie or on a date or in a meeting or… whatever, and then get mad because they didn’t reply until it was over (even after they may have told you where they were), that is kind of, well, the essence of this idea. The expectation that a reply will come back immediately because they are enabled to, and the obligation they might feel do to so for the same reason, is a little silly. And that’s the weird back-end of this, the sense of guilt or anxiety from not replying immediately. It’s almost like “Real Time” is becoming human nature, an innate desire and need to be that available, to provide “Real Time” responses to everything, and supplanting the concept of “Real Life”.
Now, this isn’t all to say that “Real Time” should never be considered. It’s very easy to read through this and say “You know what, screw “Real Time”, I’ll reply whenever I feel like it!“. I suppose no one can tell you not to, but there is a bit of modern courtesy and practicality involved. Not replying just for the sake of sticking it to someone’s ideas about an appropriate time-frame, or to prove a point, is just as nonconstructive as sacrificing “Real Life”. Some people just have priority status, and of course there are things like emergencies and other mitigating circumstances. The point is to find a balance and not let one take over the other, and if you do let it fade either way, to make sure it’s for the right reasons.
I was also thinking about the correlation between coin money, comparing the Dollar to the Euro, and speaking French. So, first off, there is a common American joke about the “man purse”, or “European man bag”, etc etc. Well, it’s for good reason. COIN MONEY. Good lord, there is a coin for every possible denomination here and they are used exclusively in a lot of places (i.e. no bills) so you have to carry them around with you (This does lead to a fun game though, of having a “coin money” day where you just try to get rid of all of it). So having some kind of bag makes a lot of sense here, which is good news for me since bags are my one real retail weakness. This kind of ties into living here for a while now (does 2 months count as “a while”?) and the need to stop comparing the Euro to the Dollar. It is incredibly difficult to do, especially as someone who will end up back in the US at some point, and even more-so as someone who watches his money like a hawk. The Euro is strong against the Dollar right now so money goes quicker than anticipated. It’s easy to keep comparing, but it is also maddening to do so. I was thinking about this relationship and it reminded me of learning and speaking a different language. At some point you just start to innately understand the new language instead of using your native tongue as a reference. I was only thinking about that because I really need to get on the ball about learning French.
The last thing I’ll yammer about is the Canon EF 28mm f/1.8 USM. This is a bit of camera nerdery so feel free to skip it if that is of no interest to you.
So, the common recommendation for prime lenses when you first pick up a DLSR is the classic 50mm. If you’re a Canon user, this is the EF 50mm f/1.8 II, aka The Nifty Fifty. No doubts, it is an AMAZING lens (although I use it’s big brother, the EF 50mm f/1.4 USM) especially since you can pick it for about $99. It’s incredible for portraits, but a bit tight on a crop sensor, like the 60D, for everyday use since it actually becomes an 80mm. For a while I was shooting walk-around on the EF 35mm f/2. It is the classic length for full-frame photography and it crops out to 56mm on the 1.6x sensors, so it’s is decent to work with in standard shooting, although the quality of the lens itself leaves a little to be desired. There isn’t currently a mid-tier USM version of the 35mm in Canon’s line-up, there is just the 35mm f/2 and the $1500 EF 35mm f/1.4 L USM. It’s too bad, since it’s a good length and probably a better prime length to cut your teeth on than the 50mm. The real hidden gem here though, and what has become my most used and most loved lens, is the often overlooked EF 28mm f/1.8 USM. This lens is my little workhorse and it produces some amazing images, especially of flowers (yeah, that’s right, I like to take pictures of flowers. So what. Wanna fight about it?).
It produces bokeh unlike any other lens I own, adding a sense of almost “hatched motion” to unfocused backgrounds. A lot of the photos in my Flower Flicker Set were shot on the 28mm for this very reason. It’s similar to how the 50mm f/1.4 produces the “dream” effect around subjects when it’s stopped down all the way. I pretty much never go anywhere without my 28mm because I know that it can pick up any of my daily duties in a pinch. It crops to 45mm so it can handle portraits, as shown, it’s amazing for flowers (rivaling even my EF-S 60mm f/2.8 USM Macro) and other daily shots, and with a little distance, can pull off wide-angle duty. It’s very a much a “frame with your feet” lens, but given it’s small size, it’s easy to get right up on whatever you’re shooting without too much hassle. If I could only ever bring one lens with me anywhere, it’d be a tough choice between the Great 28 or the EF 24-70mm f/2.8 L USM. That’s saying a lot for an obscure little prime, but it has made a believer out of me.
This post was originally started on June 6th, as a kind of short summary about why I decided to leave the United States and move to Paris, France for a few months. It is now July 7th, 11th, and as I think more about it, this post is really going to be about the time I’ve spent here so far, my experiences, observations, likes, dislikes, etc… I’m just going to sticky it at top and continue to modify it as I spend more time here and add more photos to the included gallery.
Since this post is going to be insanely long and constantly updated (at least for a little while longer), I’m going to put the bulk of it under a cut. Follow away, if you’re interested…