Fuji Instax Square

I love making these little square photos with the Fuji Instax Square camera.

Fuji Instax Square with Gail and Jack (2019)

I own and use a classic Polaroid SX-70. Cool and retro as that is, the Polaroids are a bit of a pain to use and the film, frankly, isn’t very good. The new Polaroid film has its own look, but unless you’re going for that particular look, I don’t much like the results.

The little Fuji is much easier and more convenient to use. The smaller format of the Instax is still square like the original Polaroids and I think they’re adorable.

Having an actual print, and only the actual print, is unique and wonderful.

I miss listening to cassette tapes

In 2009, I hadn’t listened to cassettes since buying my first CD player in the 80s. I bought a Nakamichi 500 deck that year and hauled out all of my old cassettes. I listened to it on and off until it finally broke in 2015 or so. Haven’t listened to a cassette since.

After writing about seeing the music yesterday, I’ve been feeling nolstagic about that cool Nakamichi cassette deck and listening to tapes.

My poor old Nakamichi 500 Cassette Deck and tapes (2010)

And to be clear, this is just nostalgia. Cassette tapes mostly sound like shit.

Sure, you can buy a great deck, quality tapes, record music on them, and then play them back on that same deck and it’ll sound okay. But that’s not what I do. I listen to cassettes I bought in the 1970s and played a thousand times since and that have been sitting in a box for 25 years. Those sound like shit.

Still, it’s fun. I like that I can take one out of the player and when I put it back in it’ll continue from where I left off. Cassettes were great for audiobooks for the same reason (they were, after all, called “books on tape”).

I remember being able to find a specific track simply by watching how much tape was left on one of the spools. I didn’t have a fancy deck that automatically detected the gaps between songs until quite late.

And of course there’s the magic tape-tensioning-with-a-pencil trick.

Photo: reddit

I don’t miss the days sitting next to the radio with my portable cassette player, blank tape queued up, finger on the Record button, waiting for the DJ to play the song I called in on the phone and requested like three hours ago.

But I do sometimes miss listening to my old cassettes, thinking about the past.

Seeing the music

One of my favorite things about listening to vinyl records is that I can see the music as it plays. Ok I suppose I can’t exactly “see” it, but you know what I mean. I like my old reel-to-reel player for the same reason. Even cassette tapes give me a little of that feeling.

An Unpopular View on Adobe’s Recent ‘Price Hike’ (Thomas Fitzgerald)

Thomas Fitzgerald:

It should also be noted too that this was never just Adobe doubling the price in the first place. They were offering a different plan altogether. The $9.99 plan only offered 20GB of storage, which is basically useless. The $20 plan that was being trialled offered 1TB of storage. Considering Apple charges €10 for its 1tb plan for iCloud, this isn’t a bad deal.

I’m glad I’m not the only one who felt this way.

Throw away the list (Missy Mwac)

Missy Mwac:

Some successful people get up early.. 
Some successful people sleep in.

Some successful people only check their emails twice a day. 
Some successful people check it on the hour. Or whenever it pops up on their phone.

Some successful people make their bed. 
Some successful people leave their room a mess. (And their kitchen and their car and their desk…)

Some successful people say “no” to most projects.
Some successful people say “yes” to most projects.

Some successful people listen to self-help podcasts.
Some successful people would rather be attacked by wasps than listen to a self-help podcast.

Some successful people LOOK successful. 
Some successful people look like they should be on the street corner with a cardboard sign.


I’ve tried them all. Still not successful.

Street

As a new Leica user in the mid-2000s, I did what many of us do and began fancying myself a capital-S Street Photographer. Leica and Street seemed to go hand in hand, so I walked around and tried it.

This lasted until I realized that all I was actually doing was taking random snapshots outdoors. I soon stopped calling it street photography and just called it “out taking photos”.

Here are a few from my street photography phase.

The Mentalist (2009)
God (2009)
Skates (2009)
Girl (2009)

Man writing with Sidewalk Chalk (2009)
Nine One What? (2009)

There are lots of wonderful street photographers out there, and I love their work. Good street photography makes for some of my favorite images. Bad street photography makes for, well, boring snapshots. My feeling is that a lot of what people call “street photography” is nothing more than that…photos taken on a street.

Cropping film images

I used to subscribe to the idea that cropping film images was cheating and made the image less “pure”. This was especially true when using the Hasselblad because its frame lines have those famous notches, so not only was I proving that I had planned the shot perfectly, but also that I had done it with a Hasselblad!

Pickup for sale (2010)
Field (2010)
Katie (2016)
Jessica at photoshoot (2013)

What nonsense.

Worrying about showing the frame lines took a lot of the fun out of taking photos. These days I crop at will, without regard for the “purity of the shot”. It’s better this way.

Bokeh gonna burn your eyes – (Dante Stella)

Dante Stella:

In the present, good composition can still be shot at f/16.

I may have actually uttered the word “bokehlicious” once. I’m not proud of it.

I agree with Dante, we need to back off of the wide aperture/fast lens thing a little.

I’m guilty of falling into the bokeh trap. I’ve noticed and have been concerned about it for a while now.

Before computers knew how to fake it (badly, see “Portrait Mode”), having a super fast lens was expensive and I thought using them suggested that “I’m Serious.”. Even if it did then, it doesn’t now. More often it’s a gimmicky attempt to turn a mundane subject into something interesting. It usually doesn’t.

Here’s one I took with the wonderful Zuiko 85mm f2.0 on an OM-2n…

Underside of basketball net (2015)
Zuiko 85mm f2.0…because I could.

It’s a boring subject, and the narrow DoF doesn’t make it interesting. I probably thought it did at the time.

Exceptions? I’d say many portraits lend themselves to “subject isolation”. Or, if you’re in a location where the background just sucks, then fine. And for the occasional “ooh neat!” shot, I say go for it, but treat it like candy…too much is bad for you.

As for me, I’m going to pay closer attention to my own tendencies and see if there are occasions to stop down some. It’s not fair when using film, because light is precious with 100 or even 400 ISO emulsions. I have to open up just to keep the shutter at a reasonable setting. What I mean is that I should try paying more attention to the composition and less to the cool effect shooting wide open might have.

A different editing experience

I typically edit the markdown files comprising my blog (baty.blog) using BBEdit. It looks like this…

Editing a post in BBEdit

While experimenting with Typora, I noticed a difference. Here’s the same file in Typora…

Editing a post in Typora

Can you spot the difference? While I love BBEdit for editing and processing text, I can’t help but think that writing markdown in Typora instead might offer a nice improvement in the experience.

So, yeah, for now, it’s Typora definitely.

State of the System – Spring 2019

I’m exhausted.

I’ve been tweaking my “workflows” again since the beginning of the year. I started with just bare-bones Emacs and a web browser. I kept fiddling and somehow ended up with a super-cool-but-disasterous combination of Curio, BBEdit, Tinderbox, TheBrain, and DEVONthink. Each of them is awesome, but I end up not knowing where to put anything. Finally, I tired of the entire process and burned it down. I am starting fresh.

I’ve been here before, of course, but here we are.

I thought I’d record my (new) current system so that we all have something specific to make fun of next time I change everything…again.

Writing: Ulysses

Blog posts, project notes, proposals, newsletters, meeting agendas, etc. all go in Ulysses. Once I permit myself to ignore the fact that everything I put in Ulysses goes into a database, Ulysses is my favorite. Here’s why…

  • It looks good
  • It’s feature-rich
  • It can publish to WordPress.
  • It has Groups and Smart Groups. Hierarchy fits my brain better than just tags (see Bear).
  • Extensive export options
  • Very good search
  • Comes with my SetApp subscription

Note Taking: Apple Notes

Quick notes, lists, reference notes go in Apple Notes. Notes isn’t as fancy as Bear but if I put stuff in Bear it makes me overthink it and then I’m back wondering why I’m using that and Ulysses. Apple Notes is simple and everywhere and I can share notes or scribble on it quickly with the Pencil. It’s plenty good enough for jotting things down.

Task Management: Things 3

I waffle here quite often, mostly because I love Org-mode so much. But then Emacs eats everything and suddenly I’m painfully managing email, notes, and journaling with it and hating myself because I can’t decide between my DIY configuration or Spacemacs and I should learn Lisp etc. Way too many rabbit holes with Emacs. OmniFocus is a good option too, but I’m not in the mood to tweak things, so Things it is.

Text Editing/Coding: BBEdit

I’ve been using BBEdit for so long and with such success that it’s foolish to look elsewhere. Again, Emacs could rule here if I felt like dedicating large swaths of my time to tweaking it. Of course I don’t have to tweak it, but that’s not possible for me. VSCode is nice, but it’s just too much, somehow. If I were a full-time programmer, this section might look different, but for now it’s BBEdit.

Journaling: Day One

Day One is so good at journaling it seems silly to try anything else. And yet, I try using org-journal, Tinderbox, VSCode Journal, Diarly, MacJournal, and so on. I spend half the time trying to make whatever I’m using more like Day One. It’s crazy-making. So now I’m just using Day One. It hasn’t let me down in years. Works great on iOS. I also love the books I can order from a Day One journal.

That’s it. For now.

UPDATE 2019.05.10: The above is almost completely incorrect as of this afternoon. Sigh.

I’ll follow you on Twitter, but…

I’m dipping my toes back into Twitter. I know, I know, it’s a dumpster fire of angry hyperbole, pretend activism, humble-brags, and abuse, but…

I used to learn a lot from people on Twitter. They used to make me laugh and show me wonderful things. I miss that.

I unfollowed everyone a few months back and stopped posting. I’m thinking now that I will cautiously start following people again. In order to keep my feed sane, I have some rules.

I’ll follow you, but only if…

  • You don’t mention Trump more than once a week
  • No more than 10% of your tweets are links to your podcast (or any podcast, for that matter)
  • No more than 10% of your tweets are ads for your “side gig”
  • You only retweet things that you personally find interesting
  • You don’t bitch about everything
  • You don’t retweet other people bitching
  • When you point out wrongs in the world, you do it constructively and thoughtfully
  • You don’t pretend to know everything about whatever topic is trending today
  • In fact, don’t even mention whatever topic is trending today
  • You don’t spend much time speculating about things you really know nothing about

I’ll add to this list as I’m reminded of things that drove me away to begin with. Also, as I’ll be posting again, I’ll try to behave like someone I would follow.

Anyway, I’m still @jackbaty, who are you?

Instagram influencers are out, slackers are in (Quartzy)

Quartzy:

Where once the social network was basically lunch and sunsets, it’s now a parade of strategically-crafted life updates, career achievements, and public vows to spend less time online (usually made by people who earn money from social media)—all framed with the carefully selected language of a press release. Everyone is striving, so very hard.

And great for them, I guess. But sometimes one might pine for a less aspirational time, when the cool kids were smoking weed, eating junk food, and… you know, just chillin’.

God, let’s hope so. I’m exhausted just watching people try so hard.

(via David Chartier)

Vinyl: Is This The Life We Really Want?

Now that I no longer live alone, I don’t get as many opportunities to put some vinyl on the turntable and turn the volume way up. I’m doing it right now, though, and it’s wonderful. Today’s selection is Roger Waters’ “Is This The Life We Really Want?”

Meta: About syndication

I won’t be automatically syndicating posts from here to any other services. It’s not that I don’t want people reading what I publish here, but rather that I’m not planning to get all breathy and needy about it. I want to write what I feel and what I’m thinking about without concern for the reaction it may (or worse, may not) receive on social media.

If there happens to be something I want to share, I’ll post a link to Twitter or wherever. Those few actually wanting to get updates can subscribe to email or RSS.

Ever since starting my wiki at rudimentarylathe.org, I’ve found that writing publicly, but without telling anyone about it, has been quite enjoyable. Let’s find out if the same the applies to a blog.