January, 2015 Archives

Coming of age in the pre-digital era

January 30th, 2015

Back in my day, we had to walk uphill to get to the darkroom.

When your assignment said, “shoot Color and B&W,” you had to carry two different cameras and shoot the exact same thing twice.

When you spent forever photographing a subject and at the end, they asked you what channel they’d be on.

When the photographer just before you only left three or four inches of film in the bulk loader.

And along those same lines, when you went to develop your film on deadline and there’s barely a splash of D-76 left in the jug (or worse, no fixer after you’ve developed your film).

When you began your shift at 3:00 pm in the middle of winter and had to drive around looking for two random Feature photos to fill blank holes before shooting your 7:00 pm game.

When somebody told you your photo was “wire sharp,” meaning once you transmitted it out to AP or UPI, nobody would know it was originally just a bit too blurry.

The Sports editor wanting color photos on deadline from a dimly lit high school gym out in BFE.

Spawned from the pits of Hell, those evil densitometers that certain newsroom and production people would whip from their belt holsters, plop down on your gorgeous photos, and proclaim, “you need more tone in your highlights or less black in your shadows.”

Rushing out to get a Feature photo of snow because it’s the middle of winter and the readers have apparently never seen snow before, (then getting beaten out by the punk intern who never lets you forget it — cough, cough, Dick Van Nostrand ).

Shooting a deep, layered, compelling photo and getting beaten out in the clip contest by a shot of a cute kid with a puppy.

Shooting a deep, layered, compelling photo and having the Metro editor not “get it,” and instead running a shot of a cute kid with a puppy.

Transmitting your own shot of a cute kid with a puppy over the wire and 29 minutes into the 30 minute color transmission, some yahoo from Dubuque ruins your picture by picking up the dedicated phone line to send his much more meaningful cute kid with a puppy photo.

When you were asked for the tenth time that week, “what do you do with the pictures you don’t use?”

That time when somebody swiped your pica pole or reduction wheel, but you didn’t really mind because you secretly didn’t know how to use them (except for the pica thingy; it made a great letter opener).

Due to the continual fear of staffing cuts, you never knew if you had job security (the more things change …).

(Rodney Curtis is an award-winning photographer and writer based in the Greater Detroit area who sometimes adds tag-endings to his posts purely in hopes that they’ll help his darn SEO analytics. You can see more of his photography at RodneyCurtis.com)

My Prius priority

January 29th, 2015

Saving gas while saving the planet

It’s the end of January and looking back over the month, this Wanderer blog has been pretty bleak. I blame the cold and the grayness mostly. But I don’t want you to think that I haven’t accomplished anything. Apart from a super top-secret bit of long form fiction I’ve been writing, (my great American novel), I also made it through the month on just under $12.00 worth of gas!

Like others here at Read The Spirit, I drive a Prius. Unlike the others, mine plugs into the wall (but boy, do I need a mighty long extension cord when I go somewhere! — rim shot, please). My plug-in allows me to barely sip gas, filling up generally about once each month. Like The Chevy Volt and the Ford C-Max, the car runs on electricity, mostly, until it needs to be recharged. Then the gas engine takes over with some help from electricity generated whenever I brake. Residential electrical power is still much cheaper than gasoline — especially when I charge it overnight during off-peak hours — so I save even more.

People wonder if I’m bummed out about my purchase, in light of the currently low gas prices. Here’s the thing. Low gas prices are low gas prices. What helps you, helps me too. $12.00 a month is wonderful. We buy all our cars used so they’re typically a lot less expensive. And we buy them from local dealerships so we’re still contributing to the area economy.

More and more, people are doing the same thing. I parked in an Ann Arbor parking garage and found myself taking the last available spot of the dozen or so provided free of, ahem, charge.

Yes, I realize our electricity doesn’t always come from clean sources (cough, cough, coal). But the trend is moving in that direction. If I can get some solar shingles attached to my roof or maybe buy some wind power from those wonderful turbines in Michigan’s thumb area, I’d be all set. Until that time, I’ll cruise along at 60 miles per gallon (58 MPG, actually, during the dead of winter).

I don’t mean to come across as self-righteous or holier than thou. Making a conscious effort to help the environment just makes me happy, that’s all.