Saturday, May 13, 2017

Old Words (Still Relevant)

Note: I wrote the majority of this some time ago. It still resonates, but a large mass of the body text was lost and I can't remember for the life of me what it was that constituted the last bit of introspective pontification. Regardless, I'm posting this because it's been too long since publishing words.

Some days I don't know what I'm actually focused on.

Keeping in line with my arbitrary commitment to "self care" as this new year's resolution, I treated myself to something of a vanity item for my birthday (the big 3-0). Olympus' Pen-F, potentially the most hipster-attuned digital camera to come out since Fuji's original X100. Having been in the market for about a year, Olympus finally had some refurbished units at a decent enough discount to supercede my otherwise frugal gear-buying habits (well, perhaps less "frugal" and more "utilitarian"). It is no more and no less than exactly what I expected it to be - As comparable an imager as any current Micro Four-Thirds camera, with the subtle twist of a very fluid (and JPG centric) workflow. Essentially, it's exactly what the more spiritual side of the underlying artist in me needed, needs, and would do best not to forget.

I'm not going to deep dive into specifics or quantifiable analysis of the camera. Having fiddled about with so many different cameras by so many different manufacturers, they're all just goofy little boxes with expensive bits inside. While the Pen-F is just fine to hold, the E-M1 still fits my hands better. The differentiation comes back, as it always does, to abstracts of typical use cases, the "feeling" of the camera. I'll never be able to escape the emotional assignment of the E-M1 to work. The Pen-F is just the right amount of different in that regard. And with the fine controls available with the creative mode dial on the front of the camera body, it's a camera I want to shoot in JPG and never give a second thought to loading up RAW files in Lightroom. This is a camera that compels me to relax. To just do things absent elaborate considerations. In its use, I've felt closer than I ever have before to the mysterious zen state of legendary street photographers (primarily noted by a marked lack of giving a shit, so long as it felt right to take the photo... perfect hedonism).

With a smaller body back in play, I'm back to running around with a couple small primes once again, namely the 12mm f/2.0 (which is still soft in the corners after servicing), 17mm f/1.8, and 45mm f/1.8. Rob loaned me his Lumix 20mm f/1.7 II pancake, which is fun given my history I have using the original variant of that lens on the Panasonic GF1 back in 2011. Curiously, I've been heavily considering a mid-grade zoom such as the M. Zuiko 14-150mm f/4-5.6. As I type this, there's an M. Zuiko 40-150mm f/4-5.6 in my bag. Honestly, I don't much give a crap about ultimate lens sharpness or perfect optical corrections right now. I just want to enjoy taking pictures without fighting focal lengths juggling primes. It's certainly not like I'm preserving ultimate image quality after butchering an image in Lightroom or Snapseed as it is, so what's the damn point in all that crazy glass anyway?

I'm still doing photo work, the paid stuff. The business is actually on track to cross the $100K threshold this year, which is pretty good for 5 years invested part-time (at best). I'm just not going after things aggressively, chasing down leads and new clients. So long as I satisfy my current contracts and keep up good relationships with those repeat clients I already have... that's good enough for me right now. And I'm sure this is a valid ebb in the flow of creative work. Creativity, artistic expression, they aren't measurable resources that can be reliably, consistently, or constantly, extracted as applies to business use. Something so dearly tied to the emotional and spiritual epicenters of our individual being absolutely merits time to rest, recharge, and rebuild. Success can't be sustained in perpetual burnout. One can't will a car to win the race if it runs out of gas in the middle of the track.

So, in general, I don't entirely know for sure what I'm focused on right now, but that is rather the point. After 5 years of conditioning myself to be in a constant state of growth, this clouded frame of mind could be called withdrawal from rigidly enforced goals. This is a time for soul searching, personal redefinition, and gazing past the horizon as I figure out where I'd like to go next. It may turn out this road I'm on is just fine, but it's always important to survey.