Saturday, April 29, 2006

Like offering heroin to a junkie on credit

The camera drama...oh, the camera drama.

What I have learned about myself this week: I am mentally unstable when it comes to my camera. Ha ha! No, seriously.

Long story short, my beloved workhorse of a D50 is at Nikon getting a new sensor and will not be back for God knows how long--estimates range from 6 weeks to a couple months. I more or less lost my mind over it. I knew photography had stretched its roots deep into my soul, but I didn't know they went that deep.

I spent a lot of time this week arguing with the guy at the camera shop about getting a loaner while mine was gone--I mean, you don't pay half as much as a product is worth for a three-year warranty and not expect a little more accommodation--and he finally told me that the regional sales manager of the company said I could buy a D50 on credit, use it for 14 days (presumably during which point they'll come up with a loaner to loan me), and then return it for a full refund. Sounded risky to me but I was willing to do it. Because it is like the color and wind and movement and reason for living were gone from my life while I didn't have it. You think I'm kidding. Uh-uh.

This is a lesson in saving my pennies for a back-up.

Anyway I was telling my mother about all this, and it so happens that she knows the guy at the camera shop through mutual friends, and she told me his wife shot and killed herself last year. So I felt rotten for arguing with the poor guy about how the whole thing got so bungled (the camera was sent to Nikon without them ever telling me they were doing that--I had to call and keep pestering in order to find out). Let this also be a lesson in being kind to everyone, no matter how upset you are.

It is 6:35 a.m. on Saturday. I've been awake since four. One of these days, I swear, I am just going to fall over and not get back up. I am so far beyond tired.

One happy thing--a lens I ordered months ago from this same camera shop, and had given up hope on ever seeing it arrive, finally came in yesterday. So I have this sweet 50mm f1.8 prime to go with my "loaner-on-credit you better hope to God you don't break that thing" D50. I was playing around with it last night and the DOF at 1.8 is beyond amazing. Sadly, I can only hold the camera for 20 minutes or so before I can't stand up straight because the pain is so bad, so I think my experiments today will have to be mainly tripod-based. But I really can't complain about it too much; at least I have a camera, even if it is not mine.

I got that project I was rambling about last weekend started; you can see it here. It was great climbing around on that roof with a busted arm, let me tell ya. But the pictures came out pretty much exactly how I wanted. Pain is sometimes worth it. Both my models did a fucking awesome job.

I guess I'll go lay back down again.

Saturday, April 22, 2006

Losing my 2MP mind, one pixel at a time

I bought a bag of stuff to use in an art project the other day and I can't find it *anywhere*. The stuff was not expensive and I can do the art project without it, but I can't stop thinking about where on earth I could have put that bag.

It is driving me batty.

Which isn't a far trip.

I had a fit about the camera being gone that long and called the shop back and asked them to instead clean it thoroughly, which costs $50 and takes a week. I don't know if I really scratched the sensor or if I just gunkified it; I am crossing every set of fingers and toes and praying that it's just gunkified. So it is getting cleaned. And in the meantime, I am super-lucky, because my dad has loaned me his D5o while he is away for the weekend.

I am counting my blessings. I have some models lined up to shoot today and I would have felt like and idjut backing out on them. I feel quite fortunate that they agreed to do this in the first place, because what I'm asking them to do is a wee bit complicated. With any luck, if you go to my Flickr page, I'll have a few of the shots up by the end of the weekend. It is a project I am excited about. It is also the project I lost the bag of stuff for.

Here is a picture of my brother. I laid down underneath the trampoline to take it. I can take pictures lying down :)

The shoulder...ugh, the shoulder. I have given the double-gun salute to my sling and I am boycotting it. I'm not technically supposed to be out of it until Tuesday, but for God's sake, enough! I'm into the 7th post-op week! I still can't actually lift my right arm; I can type, but only if I pick my right arm up with my left arm and set it on the keyboard. Sleeping is farking hell. I can't go more than 3 hours without waking up in a lot of pain. It makes it hard to fall asleep in the first place, when you know you're waking up to that. It's 8 a.m. right now and I've been awake for 2 1/2 hours already...and it's Saturday! I am pretty much strung out on exhaustion at this point. Delirium is a way of life, etc....Can't fold laundry or change the volume on the radio or eat properly yet. I can hold the camera, but I have to get into strange positions if I actually want to take a picture, and half the time I have to straighten it because the right side tilts down. There has been much tripodage in my life. The area of sternoclavicular separation, which was the area the surgeon did not operate on because you can't really fix it, is still just as swollen as it was on February 10th when I took the damn face-plant in the first place, which worries me some. It still hurts when I sit up or roll onto my side in bed. In addition to the plain old "take the shoulder apart and put it back together" pain. Which is not really plain, or old, at all, but instead is freshly agonizing every time. What fun!

Down with face-plants.

On the other hand, (ha ha! literally! ha ha!) I am now ambidextrous. Which, who would have guessed all the bonusey-type side effects that brings? Apparently I'm now using the side of my brain I don't usually use to do stuff. Which...makes me more creative. And as of late, is making that whole tweaking-out-on-color synesthesia thing go a little awry. I had to stop looking at Flickr yesterday because every color I saw made me all dizzy and faint. I sat and stared at my tan-colored, flat desk for a while and felt a little better. I thought that if I made a color set, it might have the effect of overloading whatever it is in my brain that causes me to feel strong emotions when my eyes look at certain colors--but that didn't really work. Instead it just kinda made me feel like I was going to yak. It's better today, so I can look at that stuff long enough to make a link, but things are still off.

O little brain of mine. I wish I could take you out and roll you around in some honey and lick you clean. And then tuck you in for some desperately-needed sleep.

This day is going to be weird.

Monday, April 17, 2006


my camera will be at Nikon getting fixed for 6-8 weeks



Saturday, April 15, 2006


I wrote a post earlier this week, but Blogger crashed while I was trying to upload it, and then my life got all busy, and long story short, I didn't get back to it.

But the big oops is that I scratched the sensor on my camera trying to clean it tonight, and now it's useless. Pretty cool, eh? It's a good thing M is the most thoughtful person on earth and when he purchased the camera for me, knowing my utter klutzitude, he also purchased a very expensive total warranty. Which means I'll be getting a new camera. Monday, I hope.

I never would have tried to clean that thing without the warranty though.

I'll tell ya what. That dust on the sensor business, that is wicked stuff.

Week and a half to go with the brace. I've been taking it off around the house and my whole arm hurts. None of those muscles have been used in five weeks, and now I have to use them again, and they hurt. Building up from nothing.

A picture I took today before I broke my camera:

Bah. Thank God for warranties.

Sunday, April 09, 2006

Ugly things can be beautiful sometimes

Moods running the gamut lately...earlier I felt just awful, but now okay. Ah spring. My state of mind is as fickle as your temperatures, my anger like your tornadoes and my peace like your teasing sunshine. Wheee.

Frustrating with the arm. The silly arm. I didn't think it was going to be this bad. This big a deal for this long. Sooprise!

I see the surgeon Tuesday. We'll see what he says.

I haven't been visiting many blogs. Sitting at the computer is ok, using the mouse is ok, but typing sucks. Have to be at just the right angle and it's fleeting.

Sunny and high sixties tomorrow. That's good stuff.

M spent the weekend painting the house. He got cooked standing on the ladder with his shirt off for hours today. Silly boy. Dear little lobster. He worked so hard. I wish I could do something really nice for him. The house looks great.

Here is a random picture of a pipe, that I like.

Thursday, April 06, 2006


Tuesday, April 04, 2006

At therapy

today I was flat on my back on the table, a position I have to get into every time I go to therapy. My therapist stood next to the table, holding my arm, trying to get some life back into it, stretching it. She holds it at an angle I can't move it to yet. It is odd to have to trust another human being so completely. Should she let go of my arm, just for an instant, my muscles would not be able to hold it in the socket. My shoulder would pop right out, undoing everything I've been through in the past month, putting me in screaming agony. But she doesn't drop it. She holds my arm with her small hands, with a grip that I try to relax into. It's hard. I feel as though my grimaces and my pain frustrate her. She looks so sad sometimes, and becomes very quiet, and I don't know what to say to her. I can't not make my face contort when she has to move my arm in ways that are still excruciating. She says the tendons are holding it the ball in the socket, but that the muscles are shot to hell in there. It's still popping out. I don't want to frustrate her. I don't want to puzzle her. I don't want her to have to come to my next appointment with the surgeon and ask what on earth to do with me. I don't want this problem. I don't want it.

I had a book lying on the table next to me. I always bring a book to therapy, because after I run through the isometrics, once she has me on my back and my arm out in her sure grip, after that, I am hooked up to electrodes, draped with an ice pack, and run through with electricity for twenty minutes to stimulate the muscles and confuse the pain transmitters. I read while I am being ever so slightly electrocuted. I've gotten through "Back When We Were Grownups," by Anne Tyler, "Galen Rowell's Inner Game of Outdoor Photography," some book set in post-WWII Spain I forget the name of, "Farm Fatale," etc. etc. etc. Today I had a copy of "The Neon Bible" by John Kennedy Toole, the man who wrote "A Confederacy of Dunces." She asked about the book, which is unusual, since she hasn't asked about any of the other books I've had. I explained about Toole's life, literary ambitions, and suicide in his early thirties. I felt her grip on my arm change. She asked me more questions about the book--about its tone, and more about Toole. I explained what I knew from reading about him and about "The Neon Bible," which he wrote when he was fifteen and which is blowing me away with its intuition and insights as I read it, and how different it is from "Confederacy," which is a funny book. She said, "Some people use humor like that, to cover crippling depression. Like a defense mechanism." Then she was silent for a moment and I felt the pain getting more intense as she torqued my arm. She had a strange look on her face, one I hadn't seen before. "My brother killed himself just before his fortieth birthday," she said. I ground my teeth together. My skin prickled. I couldn't move. I didn't know what to say. I said "I'm so sorry." I look up at her when I'm on the table when we have conversations. Sometimes she looks at me to speak to me, sometimes she gazes off into nowhere as we talk, with her gripping my arm and me lying prone. She had her face turned partly away from me. I couldn't tell if the pain I felt was coming out of her and radiating up my arm into me or if it was from my shoulder. I felt so bad. Her eyes were full. I thought she was going to cry. And then she abruptly changed the subject. To my arm. To why what she was trying wasn't working, hasn't been working for two weeks. I said that heat helped relax the back of my arm sometimes. She handed me my arm (and this happens: I can't move my right arm, and so to hold it in place while she retrieves something or goes to assist another therapist, she hands me my own arm so that I can hold it in whatever position she wants it held until she comes back) and went to get a heat wrap. I laid there feeling rotten for having felt sorry for myself at all lately. I wanted to suck all that sadness out of her and let it rot in my busted ball and socket. I started thinking about guilt and Catholicism and how Father Chris scared all the joy of Jesus out of me in my alter attendant days, the shame and wrongness I felt in that white robe, and why I turned into a hoarder of guilt. I wanted to eat the marrow of pain right out of her bones to make that look in her face go away. I loved her so much while I lay there holding my arm, waiting for the heat, waiting for her to come back. Because I know I can take it. I am not innocent. Innocent is the last thing I am. I wanted to take that off her and feel it myself the same way I want to be the puppy that gets left out in the cold, to be the starved pack animal, to be the abused kid. I can fucking take it. Somebody like her, somebody who was obviously innocent until, until, until, until whatever it was that happened to her to take it away--it's not right. Maybe I complain a lot, but I can take it. And I wanted to take it.

I've been thinking about it ever since she said those words. I don't know why she said them. What I know of her, she always stays on the surface when she talks. She is friendly, she is kind, she is a damn good therapist. She seems to genuinely care how your weekend was, how you're progressing, what you think. And yet there has always been this sort of space she won't cross into. It isn't like I go to physical therapy with all the weight of the world getting ready to bubble forth from my lips; it's just that this is something I've noticed. And I also noticed how her voice was shaking, and how she seemed to be concentrating really hard on explaining to me the importance of a new isometric exercise she showed me when she came back with the heat wrap. It wasn't lost on me that she didn't really make eye contact with me for the rest of the session, looking instead at my arm and the way my shoulder sits now (two inches lower than the left one). It wasn't lost on me that though she smiled and acted like her breezy self, something was profoundly different.

I don't know. The condition of being human, it's so extraordinary. It's so full. I don't know what I mean when I say I want to chew it up and swallow it, but there it is.

Sunday, April 02, 2006

Big, fat, lip.

I know this blog has been suckin' lately. I know. I have not been in much of a writing mood. Plus sitting at the computer is not all that comfy because of the arm sling. But hey, only like, 20 more days of that...sigh...

That lip thing I was complaining about a month or so ago, I got that taken care of Saturday morning. Lip surgery. Almost as much fun as shoulder surgery! In addition to the busted wing, I now have a busted lip, which is all fat and swollen and purple and has stitches in it. Let me tell you how much fun lip stitches are. No really. Let me tell you.

No, I won't tell you. You can probably imagine.

So, ha ha ha! ha ha! I have to eat with my left hand, which I am not all that good at, and put food into my mouth which I can only open partway, and my motor skills suck, so when I eat, ha ha! ha! I get food all over myself. In addition to the pain. Having to take Percocet just to eat, fuck.

Just fuck, man. Fuck fuck fuck.


Can I cram a little more gloom and doom into one post? No? Okay.

I'll talk about photos instead.

Being laid up has forced me into editing a backlog of photos and into learning new editing techniques. I've joined the HDR craze. Check it out:

This is probably going to look too dark on your monitor, because I realized recently that I have a monitor calibration problem that is not a good thing for a pro-photographer wannabe to have. But, I haven't bothered trying to fix it yet. Maybe one day.

Anyway what is going on in this photo is that I have laid three exposures of the same scene (M's muddy truck) over one another, and then generated a high dynamic range image, and then mapped the tones so that each part of the photo is similarly exposed (which sounds very complicated but isn't). If you want to try this yourself, here's the basic version of how:

Get a tripod. Take three pictures of the exact same scene. Underexpose the first one, regularly expose the middle one, and overexpose the third one. Download Photomatix Pro from Follow the tutorial here and here. Voila.

Other HDR madness of mine can be seen here. In some instances, I like the CG-ish look this gives photos, in other instances, I don't.

It's late. I'm going to bed. Because I so enjoy waking up in agony every three hours.