I’ve received a few messages asking why I haven’t posted in a while and am I all right? I am fine, but have had a scare, as you’ll see if you read on. My rate of posting slowed down at about the time the Covid-19 epidemic started to hit the US hard. That was driven by two things: the rate of shipment of new gear slowed way down then, so I didn’t have much to test. And readership of my blog and of the fora that I frequent also fell precipitously, and there didn’t seem to be much interest in the stuff that I did get published.
The Fujifilm 30mm G-mount lens review that I began didn’t get much response, which left me unmotivated to do the testing with the GFX 100 that I had originally intended to do. It’s a fine lens, but not worlds better than the 32-64/4 at 32 mm and f/4. It doesn’t have any interesting quirks, which is a god thing if you’re a photographer, but not so much when you’re a tester.
The Nikon 70-200/2.8 Z-mount lens still isn’t shipping. I’ve had one or order for about 8 months now, and I have no idea when I’ll get it.
There has been no announcement of a professional Z-mount camera. Likewise, no replacement for the GFX 50x cameras. Sony did announce the a7SIII, but I only test gear I plan to use, and I have no plans to do much video.
I’ve also got another interest in my life now. I used to play the guitar, but stopped about 10 years ago because of arthritis in the little finger of my fretting hand. In February or March, spending more time in the house, I dragged out an old nylon string guitar and gave it a go. That went well, so I dusted off my metal-string acoustic, and started playing that. One thing led to another, and I bought my first electric guitar. An amp, a mixer, and pedals followed. That has been quite a learning experience. My finger seems to be doing fine with it, possibly because the electric is strung with lightweight strings (10s, to you guitar players), where my acoustic has medium-heavy ones (13s). Anybody who’s tried to learn how to play a musical instrument more challenging than a kazoo will tell you that it takes a lot of practice. So, the guitar has become a significant time sink.
And then we had a wildfire. Actually, 3 of them. During the night of August 15-16, the breakup of a hurricane in the Pacific Ocean off Mexico led to thunderstorms in northern and central California. The storms brought little rain, but a great deal of lightning, which is unusual in coastal California. There were thousands of lightning strikes, and many wildfires resulted. One of those was the River Fire, which started in the hills above Salinas, and eventually burned almost 50,000 acres. On the 18th, another fire started less than a mile from my house (we still don’t know the cause). It grew rapidly; all the pictures that accompany this post were made from a few minutes after the fire started to a few hours later. On morning of the 19th, we could se the fire working its way down the hill behind our house. We double-checked our defensible space, turned on the sprinklers, packed up, and left. A few hours later mandatory evacuation orders were issued. Mandatory evacuations don’t actually mean you have to leave (you can choose to stay and fight the fire yourself), but they definitely mean you can’t go back while the orders are in effect. The weather did not cooperate, and the new fire, now somewhat misleadingly called the Carmel Fire, grew to almost 7,000 acres, and came very close to our house.
There was a third fire, the Dolan Fire, that was started by arson a day or so after the Carmel Fire, in Big Sur (not far by air from where we live, but quite a long drive). The Dolan Fire has currently burned about 32,000 acres and is progressing slowly from Big Sur eastward in rugged country. All these fires, together with the others started by the October 15-16 thunderstorm, are straining the firefighting resources of the state.
The professional firefighters did a great job, as did our neighbors who chose to stay and become firefighters. The house is undamaged. We returned to it after a week in a hotel. We have been dealing with a few things, but we feel relieved, blessed, and grateful that we still have our house.
All that has taken a toll on my energy, and I have not felt the urge to get back to photography since the fire. I’m sure that I’ll get motivated again, but I’ve not going to force it. As to the technical posts, it depends on what happens with new equipment to test and the level of reader interest.
Glad to hear you are safe, hope you continue publishing Nikon reviews when they ship new equipment.
Glad you are back home safely!
Bryn forbes says
I’m glad you’re safe. I was worried given the fires.
When I write, I consider myself writing for people in future, not just present readers. Maybe low interest, low page views today.. but some people will read it later. Technical stuff can be outdated, but opinion and analysis, may not.
As a faithful lurker, I was glad to see this post and glad you are ok. Your background and perspectives on photography are unusual. Even if you’re talking about equipment I don’t have, I’m still interested in what you have to say. I had planned to go see your exhibit, but COVID-19 changed a lot of my plans.
Jack Hogan says
Hey Jim, I was wondering what was keeping you down, glad to see you and yours are safe and sound.
Stephen Starkman says
Best news yet that you’re well and playing guitar! Had me concerned….
Zé De Boni says
Luckily your beautiful green background may recover. May take some time, but it will.
I hope you too recover your motivation for making images with that high standard that we got used to appreciate. Wouldn’t it be interesting to follow the transformation of the landscape as it rebuilds by itself? My advice is that you should order some macro lenses. And, please, test them!
Keep sharing your experience. Keep safe.
I have learnt a lot here , do keep it going please!
Canon R5 v Sony A7RIV would interest me a lot if you get the opportunity.
Thanks. I have intellectual interest in the Canon, but I have enough incompatible systems in my life.
Erik Kaffehr says
Thanks for telling us the story! It’s nice to hear about the guitar thing, in a way it is a new endeavour.
I am very happy to hear that you don’t have serious damage to your home, studio and test lab!
Just to say, I don’t see you as a tester, more like an explorer of whatever may be your interest.
Good to hear you’re fine! I’m really looking forward to your review of the Z 70-200!
Bruce E Oudekerk says
Stay safe, stay healthy and stay away from the flames… both online and in the bush.
David Braddon-Mitchell says
Glad you are safe and have a home. I know how you feel. We had the same scare in Australia back in January when the Cuurrowan fire, having destroyed 300 square miles of wilderness, was contained just a quarter of a mile from our house for long enough for the season ending rains to save us. But it was close.
Joseph Holmes says
Oh Jim, I’m so glad it was stopped. These few weeks have been head spinning, trying to just keep tabs on all the fires. I didn’t know exactly where your house is or I’d have been watching MAPS.NWCG.GOV to keep tabs on the threats there. Your output of published work has been off the charts for a long time now, and it’s very special too, in a class by itsel. It’s been a great gift, and I’m sure a lot of us will continue to benefit by whatever else you come up with when you’re good and ready.
Mark Woods says
I’m glad to know you’re okay. Happy to hear about the things that keep you going. And grateful for all the work you’ve done and shared with us.
Jerry Rosenthal says
Jim glad you are doing alright and the fire is not a direct threat now.
About posting, I wouldn’t give it a second thought. I always have thought that
quality is more important than quantity.
Under the circumstances we are all in any new posting is welcome but at your convenience.
Be well and stay safe.
Good to hear you’re fine and your property undamaged.
A time lapse out your studio window with an image once a week or so could be interesting as well as a convenient opportunity to see and document nature starting all over again.
Thanks for the update. One thing that my cousin and I have increased our interest in during COVID-19 is long exposure astrophotography. It’s a technical hobby but it is pretty easy to get started with a simple tracking mount.
I personally like the Vixen SXD2 if you have the budget to swing it as that level of performance is what you need to take advantage of your gear.
Robert Frangioso says
Wow I’m glad you and yours are safe and your house made it through the fire. I also noticed lack of activity on the boards early in lockdown. What a year!
Josh Himes says
Jim, I am in the process of catching up with your blog and reading your (always informative) posts from 2020. I’m glad the fire was not a major issue for you. I live in the Colorado high country and fire is always a danger here, so I know how concerned you must have been when you had to leave your home and how relieved you likely were when the threat passed.
We share many common interests and your recent tests of various lenses on your IR modified GFX are very pertinent, as I use a similar camera. I look forward to reading about your future discoveries!