Tuesday, January 20, 2009


Cracking and eating some pumpkin seeds to whittle away the time..

Watched part of the Obama inauguration this morning, half because I wanted to not work, half because it's sorta historic. I'm not an Obama fanatic, even though I did vote for him, and I have a meager interest and knowledge in US politics/ government. I know it's important, but my mind gets hazy after reading or hearing too much about it. Since when did being informed citizens take so much work? Transparency about how things really are, what politicians really do seems impossible. Anyway, his speech was excellent. He made us sound... humble. Definitely a new step in defining America's identity, post-Bush. It left me wondering just how much he could lead the nation to accomplish during his presidency. I would really like to be proud of my country again.

In my recent craze to become a financial wizard, I sure am glad I procrastinated (or am still procrastinating) on converting my traditional IRA to a Roth IRA. Due to the state of the economy, if you have a Roth IRA, despite significant losses, you will be taxed on your "pre-loss" balance. Ouch. Though, seems like you can profit from this...? I don't like jumping through hoops for money.

Last weekend, I purchased a new old camera! The Canon AE-1 Program. I had previously been floored by the quality of these photos produced by the Canon A-1, and since then, have been researching the different models and running the occasional eBay search. I prefer to keep transactions local and found a craigslist post selling said camera. I don't know much about thoroughly checking the condition of an old camera before buying, but lucky for me, the amiable seller agreed to take it to Precision to get an estimate of repairs. Everything was in fine condition, and it only needed its light seals replaced, which is pretty standard for a 30 year old camera, so I completed the transaction. Can't wait to take it out on a test run, especially since my 50mm lens is still being borrowed by my pastor... The only thing I am wary about is the manual focus lens. I'm so used to autofocus that I'll have to work more efficiently and think ahead before taking the shot. Hope it's worth it.. The other thing I love is the sweet sound of the mechanical shutter (no Canon squeak!). So satisfying! Also, I thought I wanted to get a nice, thick, vintage strap just like this, but the woven hippie strap it came with seems to fit the piece. And if all goes as planned, I'll have a new Domke F-3X sand color bag to carry it around in at the end of the week..

It's easy to get caught up in accumulating the "right" gear and forget the art you are making. I am not sure towards what direction I want my photography to go. I don't think about it much, except that I try to steer clear of what has already been established. Or even what is soon to be established. I'm not interested in creating a perfectly exposed photo.. or an artsy-fartsy/light-leaky/fuzzy/badly exposed photo. Or even super hip photos like this, or this. Point is, I know what I'd like to avoid copying. So much has been done already that I can't have anything but a humble attitude towards my output, and hope that somebody will like it. In fact, most of my photos which I deem ordinary other people on Flickr seem to appreciate. I know I'll never be great (due to lack of passion?), but I think that as long as I try to look at the world differently and find some meaning in what I capture, it will be worthwhile.

Whew, those last two paragraph were long and boring. Sorry for the readers who have no interest in photography or rather, no interest in my specific photographic interests, hah.

Regarding being in the know: I'm generally not a big fan of media overconsumption anymore. What's the point? I have used it to avoid asking myself important questions before. So now, as I am timidly revisiting those questions that will not disappear, I am also laying off the design/music/culture/fashion blogs, the news sites, google reader, the millions of interesting looking links. A hiatus, for now, but I believe that a quiet, uncluttered life is more ideal. Coupled with a life passions and goals, of course, including serving others. It's definitely hard to accomplish that simplicity in this age, where connectedness fuels efficiency, and so many distractions compete for our attention. Skimmed (when do people really read? It's exceedingly difficult for me to really read anything online) this article today about a woman around my age whose lifestyle (and existence!?) relies on social networking. I'm not behind the times, but the way she relies on these tools astounds me. What a product of this age. I do admit that I am somewhat jealous at all her traveling, but she definitely works to get what she wants. I don't think I can be this type of super-connected person, which may be to the detriment of my future career. It isn't smart anymore to believe that if you only work hard doing what you are told to do, it will eventually pay off. As much as I wish I were a Big Thinker, I am not. I was raised to follow. Wondering if I should look to enter a trade, in a smaller sphere that is easier to understand and operate..

Speaking of being a natural-born follower, what do I do when everything I was taught is in question? I was also taught to distrust my own conclusions about things.. that there is a Truth about everything outside myself. Finding that all my answers are merely regurgitated dated teachings, where is there to look? Who can I trust for wisdom? It's hard swallowing the fact that your nurturing parents may be wrong about some things. Or everything? (I admit, much of this is a rephrasing of what my boyfriend said to me during a heated and revealing discussion. It ended poorly. But that's how much it rattled me.) Just trying to get a grip and keep the daily routine without falling asleep again.


Rachel B said...

I hear you on a lot of those things, Frances. First of all, it IS a lot of work to keep up with politics, especially since you have to sort through all those biases and research historical information necessary for understanding issues of today (if only I'd paid better attention in 11th grade history!)

Also, I know what it's like to be dissatisfied with myself. I've often wished I was innovative and intellectual, wise, funny, or even just a good conversationalist. Interestingly, the person I admire most on earth, an 89 year old woman named Mary, is none of those things (Of course, anyone who has lived to be 89 has at least a little wisdom, but she's not the sort of person you think of as an advice-giver.) What makes Mary so special is her attitude: it's one of humility and thankfulness. She's faithful in all that she does and spends basically all her time in service to others. So fundamental and seemingly obvious, and yet that's rarely where my longings lie.

Best of luck to you with your revelations!

marylamb said...

gurl, i would feed you my goodness if we lived together. i usually do not cook unless someone is over. maybe we can have a 4314 reunion dinner at mine sometime soon.

Fern said...

Rachel: Do you still try to keep up with politics? That's heartening to hear about Mary. Who is she?

Mary: Yes!! A 4314 reunion sounds mighty excellent. I love eating and hanging with friends so much. We plan?

erin said...

ah the right gear. i think having certain things is really important but i have to say i get turned off by photographers that can't talk about anything else. i don't know if i'm intimidated or if it's just being bothered by their arrogance. this is probably a bad generalization, but it's what my limited interactions with such people has shown me.

and as far as what direction to take photography... i never really know. i feel like i have a general point of view that is unique to me, but in so many ways i'm indirectly and directly influenced by what i look at who and the photography i enjoy and it ends up echoing their work a bit. i guess that's just the way it goes. i try my hardest though to take pictures of my gut tells me is interesting to me, and sort of hope that someone else might like some of it and that my intention to be myself rings through. i'd be the biggest jackass though if i thought i was onto anything new at all. i just love taking pictures in the end.

i like your photos by the way! i'm of course no expert but i think you have a good eye and should stick with it.

Fern said...

Thanks, Erin. Your photos are also fun to look at. I think you are right, that as we are not pro photographers, taking pictures is something we do for our own personal growth and enjoyment. So in the end, we should take photos that we like, and if others like them, then that's pretty awesome too.