Saturday, December 1, 2018

Buying the Cow

So now you've had a sleep and a yawn and coffee and you are ready to actually think, so think about buying a good camera.

First let's talk about why you should buy a used camera.


Well, first they are cheaper. Camera equipment has a terrifically short product cycle. Major producers like Nikon, Sony, Pentax and Canon bring out new models before the old model's packing has been completely sealed. Canon produced seven models between 2006 and 2012 and all of them are now obsolete.

Which is very good news for you. Cause obsolete gear has a low resale value. But that doesn't make it bad or useless or even unreliable. In fact with modern electronics, they either work or they don't. So a camera two years old may be four or five hundred less than a new one and just as reliable and capable. Remember manufacturers build for extreme conditions. They don't expect every user to subject their equipment to extreme use but they have to build for it because some user will. And you get the advantage of all that superior construction.

Camera life spans are measured by shutter activations. A moderately priced camera should be good for at least fifty thousand activations: a superior build might do more than a hundred thousand. But no matter what unless you are a working professional, you'll never reach even the fifty thousand mark. That's 1700 pictures a year for thirty years for those who have to have specifics.

So a camera two or three years old will be just as reliable as a new camera, if you buy from a reliable source. Now I know the merchants want you to shop small and buy local and with Craigslist just a click away on every phone the temptation to buy from a local is pretty strong...until you think about the guarantee.

Craigslist may be local but if you buy a turkey it is yours. Besides most Craigslist sellers have a very dear idea of what their items are worth. Now I don't want to cheat anyone out of a dime they deserve but I don't want to make their Mercedes payment either.

A Canon 7D on Craigslist sells for $750 but from Adorama it is $170 body only, B&H has one for $399.95 with a two year no questions guarantee and KEH has one for $349.80 and it has the sterling reputation of KEH cameras to back it up. So for less than half of Craigslist you get the same thing and a money-back guarantee. Just a thought.

But the 7D while a fine camera is a bit of a hill for our purposes. You want to stay away from pro-level or even advanced consumer cameras. Why not go for the best? Because pros and advanced amateurs beat the hell out of their cameras taking thousands of frames a year and dragging them through all sorts of conditions I wouldn't even drag myself through. Sure that perfect image of a snowy owl is great except for the sitting in a freezing blind for twelve hours waiting for the little plucker to show up. And all of that cold and wet in addition to getting into your bones, gets into your camera. Or what about the dunes? All those wild buggies tearing through the sand with spinning tires and boiling exhausts spewing out stuff which will seek out your camera and invade any crack or cranny. No those pro cameras lead exciting lives but when they are done they are done. Think taxi cabs, you wouldn't want your daughter driving one to school in Roseburg, right?

So what you are looking for is that nice entry level camera owned by a little ole lady who only took it to church socials and teas. That puppy has a lot of life and you want some of it.

And giant sensors with a bazillion megapixels just take up space you need for all of those cat videos you downloaded from YouTube.

So how much is enough?

You are in luck, I used to say twelve megapixels but this year the sixteen and eighteen megapixel jobs are cheap enough to consider. All of which makes the twelve megapixel cameras a real steal!

Why just twelve? Because it is enough to make beautiful 11x14 prints with no image degradation. Need even more definition? Shoot in RAW and edit in post production. But that is for the advanced class so I'll just say twelve will do the job and if aunt Behapsabub keels over suddenly and names you heir to the vast hair net fortune she has been hoarding all of these years treat yourself to a sixteen megapixel baby.

Okay so now you know what you want and why you want it what makes it so much better than the cigarette package point and shoot or the camera in your phone? I already mentioned all those big fat megapixels just waiting for you to use them and the faster CMOS sensor instead of the CCD sensor in your phone, and best of all you can change the lens!

Why in the world would you want to change a lens and how would you do it even if you wanted to? First changing lenses offers a whole range of new views. The McCollough Bridge needs a wide angle lens if you want to get it all. Sure you can do that with your phone but what will it look like when it is blown up to 11x14? Maybe you want a perfect image of your daughter before she goes off to school and dyes her hair blue and red and gets a piercing through her nose and eyebrows and tongue and maybe I'll just stop there, You want her to look like you dreamed of her, grown, fresh and oh so beautiful, you can do that with an 85mm lens. And it will stay that way even when she starts dating that thirty-five year old grunge guitarist named Barf with the bleeding heart tattoo on his forehead.

Oh yes, if you can operate a flush toilet or a light switch you can change a lens.

So what does all of this mean? It means you now have to decide, Pentax Kx, Canon Xsi or Nikon D90. (You could also do a Sony A700 but you;d be losing out on a lot of accessory choices)

How to chose? Isn't there a for DSLRs? No but before you rake in all that Holiday cash I will help you make a decision which will warm your heart, save your 401K and fill your New Year with glorious images.

Friday, November 30, 2018

Can You Hear Me Now

The time has come the walrus said, to talk of many things...

Like why you are still using your phone to take pictures.

Yes, it is convenient, but you are crippling your ability to make great images. Do you really want to see tiny little pictures on that three inch screen? Or how bout downloading them. You can do that right? You can't? So all the fantastic images you take are stuck in that brick in your back pocket.

Okay, I'll admit carrying around a DSLR is like the Ancient Mariner with the albatross around his neck, but Coleridge's boy couldn't make pictures with his bird. And why would he , he had other more serious problems but you don't have an albatross around your neck and you aren't stuck at sea for the next three years so why don't you have a decent camera?

Yes, I do know that your pocket picture machine has a forty megapixel sensor. All those teeninesy little pixels jammed up together trying hard to be individuals. And they do a pretty good job. Like when the Jordan Cove Export Terminal blows sky high and you want to get a picture before the blast wave pounds you and your phone into jelly or when tsunami from the earthquake caused by all the fracking sends a forty foot wall of water rushing across the bay or when the cat does something so cute you have to take a picture even though there are a hundred and fifty million cat pictures on the Internet already, (See I wasn't all gloom and doom), so far on the spot snapshots the brick in your back pocket will do just fine.

But what do you do when the shot you want isn't six feet away or the light is fading fast or the critter is moving at the speed of light, (Which all critters seem to do when you want to take a picture), or the whale which has just broken the surface isn't right beside your boat or he sun set is breath-taking in an array of colors so brilliant that it couldn't be reproduced by any artist?

That's when you need a real camera.

You see the phone is really a device designed to carry voice messages, in spite of the fact that they have become the Swiss Army Knife of modern culture, they connect, they Facebook, they fax, they chat, they Instagram, they walk, they talk, they wiggle and squirm, the living, breathing cell phone! And for the most part they do all of those things pretty well, but just pretty well.

A once in a lifetime image is by definition a once in a lifetime deal and do you really want to trust your fate to something you sue to order pizza?

So for real work, you need a real camera. Now in the olden days when the Ole Trawler started taking pictures cameras were heavy, complex, cumbersome things which at film like a Suburban drinks gas and were just ever so slightly smaller. Now that bestest, neatest, most wonderfulness thing you can buy weighs less than three pounds. And don't try to kid me, I've seen you hauling fruit cakes weighing more than that to the post office to send to smelly uncle Fogbound because you don't really know him but if your mother found out that you hadn't sent anything in fifteen years you be on garbage can duty for the rest of your life. So stop whining about the size and weight and admit that what you are really afraid of are all the bells and whistles.

And yes, there are an awful lot of bells and whistles, that's what makes a real camera so useful. But you don't have to use them all at once. Every camera even the baddest Nikon “I am a pro photographer because I have a Nikon see my dust”, has an Auto setting or better still a P setting which stands for Program which gives you a lot more options than Auto but no more heartaches.

And you get all those big fat pixels.

Yes, I have heard Canon has a fifty megapixel camera. That's 5-0 of big fat real, useful sized pixels. They just don't offer to buy a new computer with a two terabyte drive to store all those fifty megapixel shots of the cat.

Sure more pixels better images, but there's a point where better and reasonable meet. Even Canon still offers a first line camera with a twelve megapixel sensor. Why do they do that? Because boys and girls twelve megapixels is just about perfect for us not pro photographers. And the good news is twelve megapixel cameras are obsolete for the most part. Obsolete! Why would I want an obsolete camera?

Because the photfiends and the pros want the newest, latest, brightest thing to come down the pike and they toss their old cameras out when there is mucho life left in them. And that is very good news for the rest of us, cause the price of a twelve megapixel camera is now so low it is shocking. You can put your hands on a nifty, neat and cool Pentax K-r for $119 dollars! That's one step up from my beloved Kx and still a great deal. A Canon XSi can be had for $129 and the high priced spread Nikon for $159. That's cheaper than most point and shoots and you get a better machine for less money.

But the news gets even better because the new cameras have dropped the bottom out of even the best cameras and now you can get a sixteen megapixel camera for what a twelve would cost you just a year ago. So a Canon 2Ti, or a Nikon 5100, or a Pentax K30 are all below two hundred dollars. Just think sixteen fat juicy megapixels and they are all yours.

So start thinking right now. What do you need and what do you want? A twelve megapixel camera with save you a coupla hundred bucks and do almost every job you can ask of it and if you keep it for the next twenty years it is unlikely to break or reveal all of it's secrets.

Or do you want to do poster sized prints and the extra megapixels are a must. It will only cost you about fifty bucks to move up but is it worth it?

Oh yes, I hear know-it-all brother Cecile tch-tching. He is dying to tell you buying a used camera is like throwing money down the drain. It will break in two weeks and you'll be out money you could have spent backing his canned air factory. After all he only needs another two or three million to get it of the ground and then once the IPO comes you will get all of your money back in quadruplicate!

Bad news for brother C, most DSLRs are engineered to stand up to fifty thousand shutter activation's, that's a lot of clicks and Nikons are said to be able to do a hundred thousand although like the second sentence in Moby Dick nobody has ever gone there. My own Kx came with forty-five thousand activations and I have been using it for four years without a single hitch. That includes a clumsy fall which pinned the camera between me and the very hard deck. I am happy to say the Kx never missed a beat and after three weeks of Aspercream and heating pad applications I regained the ability to flag waiters with my right arm.

So sleep on it and we'll talk further later in the season.


Yes, the most feared, dreaded, horrifying present of all...socks!

And you don't want to see the strained smiles, the forced grins, the false gratitude on the faces of your closest friends and relatives, well, okay so on your relatives it would be okay, but for the rest you do want them to still be speaking to you in the bold, bright New Year?

So save your self from socks and go to the Coos History Museum's 2nd Annual Artisan Sale this Saturday from 10am to 4pm and find something that your friends would really, actually like, like...

Catherine Walworth's beautifully conceived and executed pottery.

No, not the dish your Aunt Bethembla gave you six Christmases ago which you use for an ash tray when the people from your spouse's work who are really disgusting and nasty people and who smoke like a chimney and expect you to have an ash tray even though you have made it clear to everyone and their dog your house is a smoke free zone, a dish you'd be proud to have sitting on the coffee table you snatched from the Hospice Thrift shop and refinished with your very own two hands and now tell all your snotty relatives who only buy from Marc Jacobs that it is a Charles Eames original.

This is a fish you won't have to throw out in three days or wonder why you thought it was a good idea to fix dill encrusted salmon at home when it can be had in twenty humpty-hump places here in town and if you get it there instead of home the is no clean up and why did you think it was such a good idea in the first place? No silly not the beautiful dish but cooking fish.

Or instead of dumping your keys in the cracked bowl which you have to hide every time you invite guests or have kin stop by why not have a gracefully designed bowl like, ahemmmm...

Which after seeing how good it looks on the hall table you'll be too embarrassed to put keys or candy in it and cover up the cute bird so you get the old cracked bowl back out to put beside it because you still have to have a place to put your keys...

Just go to the Coos History Museum's 2nd Annual Artisan Sale and stop by Catherine Walworth's table and buy something you will like so much that you won't want to give it up at all and will wind up at Walmart on December 24th buying those old socks anyway.

Last, Best chance

Tomorrow at the Coos History Museum, you have a chance to shop local, shop small, see the important, historical, local, stupendous stuff and goodies, (Technical insider-name for artifacts and gifts) all for free, FREE, and still be home in time for dinner!

You know there is nothing on television except another football game and how many football games can you watch before you grow roots into the couch and become a complete, mindless slug and waste all of the gifts you have been given watching the same endless run and catch and punt that come every year at this time and the you will be just like The Thing on the Couch with a beer in one hand and the remote control in the other and fuzzy slippers and a newspaper and open mouth sleeping and that's just too horrible to contemplate. so...

Come to the Coos History Museum and have your mind expanded, your senses stimulated and see all of the unique gifts not available anywhere else and all without guilt of sin and how can you beat that?

Or you could wake up New Years and find you have become the Grinch!

Thursday, November 29, 2018

Plumber's Block

Tis the season for madness, panic, despair and depression.

And those are the good parts. It's less than a month until Christmas and you still have six months worth of work to do. The kids are screaming about the things they want which will cost more than Trump's wall, the relatives keep calling and threatening to come and stay (forever), the school/church/PTA has a bazaar/ cake sale/ spaghetti dinner which you have to provide enough stuff to feed the sixth division of the Chinese army, the fridge just made an odd sound and belched out an odor that there is no polite description for and The Thing on the Couch hasn't moved since the Wednesday before thanksgiving and the only sign of life is his death grip on the remote control. Thank God the holidays only come once a year!

So what is the Ole Trawler going to say about all of this to lift your mood, lighten your load and bring light into the darkness which has settled over the entire world like fungus or Global Warming?

You are lazy.

That's right, I'm talking about lazy creative people who use the season to avoid working on their art.

I you are an artist you have to work at your art all of the time. There is no time out, pause button or reset, you have to keep going in spite of all of the things which get in the way and the holiday season is sure to bring on that dreaded curse of all creative people, Writers Block.

You know all about Writer's Block, or if you don't I'm gonna tell you cause it is a pet peeve of mine and I whine about it every chance I get cause there is nothing that burns me more than to hear some writer moaning about being blocked when the truth is they are just too lazy to get up off the couch and start working.

Let's be clear, if this were any other profession you laugh at the notion of being blocked. You wouldn't put up with a plumber who has Plumber's Block. Bad tooth and need a Dentist? Sorry I have Dentist's Block you just have to wait for me to get the right inspiration to work on that bad tooth. You understand I am a creative person and can't just produce on demand like a trained seal.

Horse radish! Let's step back to the glorious days of radio. You remember, like television or the Internet without pictures. Why go so far back? Because it is one of the best examples of why creative people can't be blocked.

In the days of radio, the shows went on twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week. The demand for scripts was ravenous, rapacious, voracious and there was no alternative. The show was going on the air at the scheduled time with or without a script. So the writers were in a constant cold sweat working to beat the clock.

And guess what? They did it.

That's right, those creative people came up with scripts on demand. There just wasn't any time for Writer's Block.

And the strange thing is this applies to all areas of creative effort, if you have to do it, you can.

The notion that you have to wait for inspiration is like waiting for a politician to do the right thing. It might happen but more often than not they just feather their own nest.

So when the ideas just won't come what do you do?

Do something. Albert Einstein said, “Life is like riding a bicycle, in order to keep your balance you have to keep moving.” So is inspiration, to get it, you have to get going.

I write so I know all about Writer's Block, usually that means I am just too lazy to sit down and write. When it isn't laziness, it is because I am bored with what I am writing. Fix Writer's Block, switch what you are writing. I try to keep at least three stories going at once.

Sure that takes a bit of concentration but I have a trick memory so I can always remember just where I left off and can pick it up right away.

But what do you do when you aren't Rain Man.

Take notes, use a tape recorder, join a writer's group, have a coffee klatch with other writers and above all do something.
And every other artistic discipline is the same, stuck, keep going.

When I can't work on a photographic project I want to work on, I work on what is available. I'm trying to locate veterans and get their pictures for a project I want to do in the new year. But guess what they have lives and opinions and they don't always want to help me with my little project and why should they. They've already given their pound of flesh whether is was overseas or at home and they should get to do whatever they damn well want. So when there are no veterans to shoot I shoot what I can find.

My cats are always willing to pose. They think the camera is fascinating and they are little drama queens so they love preforming for me. And that is a good thing cause I would do nothing if I could.

The holidays are a great time for doing creative projects. There are lights and ornaments and packages and people, festive decorations and food, food and lots of food.

So when the inspiration needle hits empty look around. There's a whole world of interesting things to fire your creative rockets. Don't be that guy, the guy with Roofer's Block.

Wednesday, November 28, 2018

In Darkest Night

"Not for the feint of heart."
"A light dip into darkness." 
So It Goes Coffeehouse will host a release of Nothus Rex's new poetry book with a reading from the author. Copies available at So It Goes Coffeehouse. Champagne, free admission. Friday Dec 7th at 7pm. 190 Central Avenue, Coos Bay, OR 97420

John Beane

Dance the Night Away

From: South Coast Folk Society
Subject: South Coast Community Contra Dance!
When: Saturday Evening, December 1, 2018
Time: 7:00PM to 10:00PM
Where: Coos Bay Senior Center, 4th and Ingersoll, Coos Bay, OR
Dance Calling by SILAS MINYARD from Portland

Folk Society Contra Dance December 1, New Dancers Welcome

This Saturday evening, December 1, the South Coast Folk Society will host a public Contra Dance in Coos Bay.  All are welcome to this special event which features live music by the popular Cultural Ecology Band, and dance calling by guest caller Silas Minyard of Portland.  The Contra Dance will be held at the Coos Bay Senior Center Dance Hall, located at 4th and Ingersoll, from 7-10PM.  Contra dancing is a light-hearted form of social dancing that is easy to learn and fun for all ages.  Singles, couples and families can all enjoy this exciting new form of dance.  New dancers are always welcome.  No experience or partner is necessary.  Wear comfortable clothing as contra dancing is quite aerobic and great exercise.

The Folk Society welcomes back the talented Cultural Ecology Band to play music for Saturday’s Contra Dance.  Cultural Ecology is a six-member folk dance band based on Oregon's south coast. With Sharon Rogers on accordion and vocals, Stacy Rose on hammered dulcimer, flute, and pennywhistle, Gail Elber on bazouki and mandolin, Alayne Olmsted on fiddle, Tom Purvis on flute, and Marty Giles on percussion, Cultural Ecology employs a variety of textures and arrangements. The band incorporates their experience with international folk music into the lively genre of American contra dance music, to create a unique and beautiful dance experience.

The Folk Society has arranged for a skilled guest caller from Portland, Silas Minyard, to guide dancers throughout the evening.  He will teach all the steps and patterns you need to know.  Silas is a very personable caller with an exciting repertoire of dances.  His dances are appropriate for all ages and skill levels.  He will give a lesson at 7PM, and first timers who show up for this lesson will receive a ticket for free admission to their next dance.  Wear your dancing shoes, casual clothes, and a big smile.

This event is alcohol and fragrance free.  Refreshments are available.  Doors open at 6:45PM.  Admission: General=$7; Seniors 60+=$6; Members=$5; Students are always free, and Supervised Children under 6 are also free. For more information call 541-404-8267 or visit