Technology Yin Yang

This is a story about the yin yang (not yin AND yang as most boorish Americans call it) of technology. Tech provides both vast opportunities to create and the equally vast power to destroy great craftsmanship. But first I must set the stage for this philosophical debate. It all started with Robert.

Robert is a quiet guy but thoughtful. He and I see each other now and then at parties and events because our wives belong to the same social club.

I had probably never had more than a two-minute conversation with Robert. Yet here we were at a party and he knows a lot about something I care about but know very little. Photography. Robert is a professional photographer. I, on the other hand, gave up even my minor amateur status when film died as the preferred medium for pictures. (I have a very nice Nikon I’d sell if anyone still wants to shoot film).

For a bit over two years I have limited myself to a point and shoot digital picture-taking devise that fits in my pocket. No changing lenses, no focusing, no worrying about the light. So I ask Robert, “What advice can you give to me about starting to get into digital photography?” This leads to the discussion about how digital has taken much of the craftsmanship out of photography. I will do my best to capture his points though I admit to you now I may not be doing justice to them or him.

He started with the technical and then moved on to the philosophical. Technically he tells me that digital cameras, and these are SLRs a professional would use, do not provide consistent shots the way film cameras do. Something in the technology of the camera or the software leads to different readings and pictures in identical lighting situations despite improvements in built-in light metering and other technological improvements. He spends far more time making adjustments than when he shot with comparable film cameras.

That was the tip of the iceberg. His next point was that looking at the small screen on the back of the camera was the wrong way to visualize a great photo opportunity. The artist/photographer should be looking directly at the subject checking the nuances of the lighting, the composition, the shapes, the colors, the shadows.

Additionally from a commercial side says Robert,  having sooo many pictures available to download devalues all pictures. Users no longer discern between the great and the not-so-great. Will this phenomena dishearten the skilled craftsman who can no longer make a living at his craft? According to Robert, the photographers that survive and thrive are the better business people not the better shooters.

As I was listening to his point of view I began to wonder if this is true for writers as well. Bogging, tweeting and Facebook posting has opened the door for written expression to millions who would never have done it or at least never had shared it. For every 100 no talent blogs there is the special one by someone with so much to say and that beautiful way of telling a story.

Yet has this hurt the truly great writer starting out. Can very many writers make a living at their craft. Do people take the time to create things longer than a post? Will the art of short stories, novellas, novels and well written nonfiction disappear, the light blocked out by the shadows from a million free three paragraph posts?

Only time will tell whether all of this technology brings greater creative force and beauty or just more stuff. Or maybe both. Yin Yang.

Thursday Night Lights

The following is something I captured on paper as I flew home Thursday December 4. I Just wish I could have captured the moment in pictures.

This was my second flight of the day. Now heading from Charlotte to Chicago. I was in the aisle seat on the right side of the plane.  The action was outside the window on the left side.

It was a beautiful sunset sky. At the bottom of the frame was a black horizon stretching horizontally forever.  Above the horizon layers of color formed and bled into one another. As my eye moved from low to high there the scene had a deep, rich reddish-orange at the base. Above that the layers grew progressively lighter, orange, yellow-orange, the a layer of sky blue topped by a thick layer of royal blue.

Each color stood out clearly. So clearly that at first they seemed to be drawn one on top of the other. But  after a few moments you would begin to notice how each layer bleeding into the one above. Orange into yellow and yellow into the blue.

Ten minutes later the picture had morphed. The layers changed and became less distinct. On top of the dark horizon was a thicker layer of reddish orange. This was topped by a diffuse orange to yellow band. Now there was a hint of green. between this layer and the blue above. Minutes later the picture became fuzzy as this glorious palette of colors mixed together.

Finally the blackness took over.

I have been on dozens if not hundreds of flights at night and this had to be one of the most beautiful skies I had ever seen.


Yes there is one. I have been there several times including today. Don’t know where it is? Its next to Mt. Pleasant. 20 miles from Paris. West of Texarkana. 140 miles mostly east of Dallas. When you go, and you will want to once you get to the end of this post, stay at the Holiday Inn Express in Mt. Pleasant. It is by far the best hotel in the area. Be aware that it tends to fill quickly Monday through Friday.

The Pilgrim family led by Bo Pilgrim have had a significant influence on the Mt. Pleasant/Pittsburgh community. Bo and his brother started Pilgrim’s Pride, a chicken company with revenues now at $8 billion. The Pilgrim family also own one of the banks in town. Besides being one of the primary employers in town the family has donated much including parks, a cancer center, and other local landmarks.

That is why if Bo wants to have a 34 foot statue of himself wearing a Pilgrim’s hat then I say more power to him. In case you can’t think of any other reason to go to Pittsburgh, TX. Here’s one. Go Bo.


Bo Pilgrim

If It Walks like A Duck And Quacks Like a Duck…


…it may be a Muscovy duck. This picture was taken on the Big Island of Hawaii. Actually,  I can’t guarantee the breed but I think two hours is enough time googling ducks and, just in case, geese.

It amazes me how much time we, or maybe just me, will spend time on something in order to get closure. Yes this is an unusual looking waterfowl,  but do I really care what kind it is. I may not really care but the call of the hunt was too great.

Part of the problem I had was that I started searching for ducks of Hawaii. Unbelievable how many websites you can find with pictures of Hawaiian ducks. It had not occurred to me that this particular quacker may not be native to the island. It matches no pictures of Hawaiian ducks. Of the pictures I found on the web and the written description it is likely a Muscovy. They tend to live in Mexico and Central and South America. This link to Wikipedia is informative but their picture is not as close to my duck as this one (you need to go to the middle of the page).

Mystery solved. I can move on. Cool duck though, don’t you think!

Digital Picture Taking Starts Tomorrow

olympus.gifFor me, at least.  I will get an SLR at some point but to get the hang of this I bought a small Olympus. I have been enjoying pictures of Philly, Asheville and people on others sites. Am in Austin for a few days. If I can figure out how a few pictures of Texas may show up here in the not too distant future.