Thursday, September 17, 2020

The Blue Hour

This photo inspired this page. All I saw was a busy dog at dusk and everything was a shade of blue and I wasn't even messing with the white balance setting. If you use the indoor setting in sunlight it give your pictures this sort of blue shade. And that sort of messing around is what I like to do with my camera. Sometimes the drive behind the picture is to reproduce reality and other times it becomes obvious reality can't be encapsulated in a frame and then unreality takes over.  I can't do that with my phone. The phone camera I find overrides my vision and reproduces a perfect picture, no peculiar taste allowed. Besides which the phone doesn't feel like a camera, it feels like a slippery cube with no viewfinder. It works really well as a telegraph machine and a book. 
Were you foolish enough to scroll back through the years you'd see horrid small garish pictures on this page which were as good as my half megapixel Android phone could manage... and it seemed like a miracle to take pictures with a phone. And then post them online on my own page. Extraordinary.  I well remember the moment I realized I needed a phone capable of taking pictures. I was working night shift in police dispatch and the heat alarm went off in the radio room, a closet filled with towers of electronics that manage 911, administrative phone lines, and the police fire and rescue radio systems.  The stacks generate huge amounts of heat but cannot go above a certain temperature otherwise the electronics burn up.
Anyway the alarm went off and I was in charge and had to deal with it before everything melted down. My supervisor asked me sleepily to take a picture of the alarm panel and send it to her. I looked at my flip phone and pondered my options. where were: None. So I asked Nick for help and he whipped out a camera, took a picture and miraculously the camera became a phone and then a fax and the picture got sent. Furthermore Nick got exact instructions how to reset the system and the night progressed uneventfully. I was a convert and my flip phone anachronism was soon replaced by an Android camera and this page was born in 2007 as I got the urge to take pictures for fun.  Later I got tired of having to build my own phone by using Android options and  drank the iPhone integrated Kool Aid and now have electronics that work seamlessly, thus exposing myself electronically to the Apple overlords who I doubt care very much about me or my pictures or my private information. The fact is modern phones work utterly reliably and take excellent pictures. And yet I like to walk around with a camera.
In those distant days I declined to even remove overhead wires, all those black lines that clutter the beauty of Key West were reality and I was tied to reality. I struggled to make the tiny telephone take color accurate pictures which it was loth to do. Then I noticed I really liked the orange glow of night pictures which I thought imparted a warmth which seemed suitable to a place where nights are as hot as days. But for general photography I wanted more reach, a telephoto lens and the ability to compose more interesting pictures. I actually came to feel limited by the phone.
Cell phone cameras now have telephoto lenses and all sorts of electronic trickery but somehow I find looking through the viewfinder of my camera piques my interest to see more. Oddly enough my cameras aren't expensive and seater than use a thousand dollar newest iPhone I walk around with a $500 camera  with a telephoto lens and lots of electronic knobs to mess with my pictures. On a sunny day blue skies fill my viewfinder:
At night the Truman Waterfront Park showed deep sky blue on the ground at the children's water park. I filled the frame of my telephoto lens with blue, I zoomed out the extraneous rides and different colors and tried to take advantage of the street light to assist my camera. Rusty watches the performance and I'm not sure if he is bored, applauding or critical. Perhaps he wishes he could use a camera but he's not saying. I photograph for both of us.
The skies this summer have yielded surprising shades of blue often filled with impressive banks of clouds lit up morning and evening as though they are on fire. My camera inspires me to go out and look. My phone doesn't. The heat and the coronavirus have pushed me away from crowded places in daylight. My memories of this bizarre year in Key West will be tinged with the blue shades of many dawns which have seen me walking my patient dog waiting for the sun to come up. Photographers call the first shards of light and the last of the light in the evening "the blue hour" when the sun is gone and with it the preferred golden rays which give everything that special light.  Like a vampire I get to see a lot of predawn blue this year.
My Key West is a place not much recorded. When I look around I see online the pictures of a Key West that lives in the imagination of visitors and the promotional materials of the businesses that want them. I am acutely aware that after I take to the road these images will go with me and are unlikely to be replaced until I get back. I keep my pictures in the cloud on Goggle for the princely sum of a dollar a month and I like to flip through them from time to time and enjoy the memories they trigger. 
I expect I will be pushed to the fringes the deeper we go into the century. Already I see video as the tool of the short attention span masses and I can't be bothered with time and complexity of video and I hate watching videos as they rarely have high production values and don't give mt the time to linger with images or thoughts the way still pictures do. I enjoy lingering over images I like, I enjoy words, and I enjoy thinking. I do believe I am an anachronism already but this doesn't make me blue. It makes me want to seek out more pictures, they're out there, and to do it on my cheap FZ1000 camera, a six year old model still sold brand new by Panasonic. Its a complicated piece of plastic but coming to terms with all the buttons and menus and making it do what I want is where I find the fun. It has one fixed lens which is undoubtedly not the best at any one thing but it is a jack of all trades and lightweight so it travels with me everywhere. It works with no maintenance except charging the batteries and as it has no attachments all I carry is the camera, a cloth to wipe the lens clean and sometimes a spare battery. I laugh when photographers announce to the world the merits of traveling light and staying simple. I am certain my cheap simple camera is far too old fashioned for them but I do what I do for me, not a paymaster. This picture I took in the dark, in a. range of light that causes graininess in the picture, called "noise." Nevertheless I find the view across the mangroves deep into the blue hour at Blimp Road evocative for me and that's what counts. A three thousand dollar camera or the hassle of mine with a tripod could have got a cleaner image. But how could I follow Rusty with my machine stuck on a tripod? A conundrum.
I hope you can find your fun in this never-ending semi-lockdown state we live in. If you can't then the virus wins and you go mad. Better to take fuzzy pictures and keep your dog happy than to go mad. better to do that than risk getting the blues....good luck.
Panasonic Camera