Don't try to be consistent; it is a waste of time. Just try to update your truth with the real truth!
   Mehmet Murat ildan

For years I've been adding an article each month to this site. I write them because I enjoy the challenge. I'm not a “natural” author; writing these things is not always easy. Some months just finding a subject is hard. But sometimes an article almost writes itself, just flows out from wherever these things come. When that happens it's pure joy, so I keep doing it, hoping the next article brings that rush.

Easy or not, dozens of articles have accumulated here. Several have offered my reflections on technology. Camera gear, computers and software, file storage, and the peripheral stuff associated with all of that have been fodder for my keyboard ramblings. Technology changes rapidly; I've written articles that have become obsolete within weeks of their postings.

Life beyond tech changes, too, sometimes more profoundly and rapidly than our technologies. People relocate or pass away (the ultimate relocation), social connections are dynamic, personal economic conditions change, inspiration comes and goes. Even the climate is changing, impacting everything, including conditions for photography.

The Web being what it is, most things posted there live on forever. Many of those articles, essays, blog postings, and stories become inaccurate or even silly after a while. (Please don't go back through some of my older writing! I like to think I'm better at it now, but that may be an unjustified assumption.) I've written on a variety of subjects, generally from a photographic perspective, but have rarely revisited any of those articles to offer updates. Herewith, then, some updates.

Picture of the Day

A recent (April, 2015) picture of the day made with the iPad Mini 2.

A recent (April, 2015) picture of the day made with the iPad Mini 2.

In December, 2013, I wrote about making the Picture of the Day, which has appeared here at lumen-perfectus.com since late 2005. The article explains why there's a PotD, how I'd made it for nine years, and how I'd just made the change to using an iPad to capture the photo. The article also describes using Dropbox to copy the photo from the iPad to my Mac Pro, where I do the processing necessary to create each day's date-stamped jpeg, and then post it to the site.

The then-new iPad Air, our first iPad, has been great fun, useful, and educational. I've learned much about it since writing that 2013 article. Dropbox works well, but one can simply use iTunes to connect from computer to iPad, either via USB cable or wi-fi, and copy files. With FileApp one can use the iPad as an FTP server, connect wirelessly from the computer, and then copy files with complete privacy, with no “cloud services” in the link. There are many other ways to copy files from an iPad to a computer, and vice-versa.

In February, just two months ago, I wrote about installing Network Attached Storage (NAS) here, replacing an ancient Windows computer I'd been using as a file server, and on which I'd stored all my photo files. The NAS is working out beautifully. I've been using it as a private alternative to Dropbox. With a couple of iPad apps from the NAS maker, QNAP, I can wake the NAS from standby mode and copy the PotD from the tablet to the NAS. I can then grab that file with the Mac for additional processing. Since the NAS, which is isolated from the Internet, uses my in-home network, transferring the small (1.5 megabytes) jpeg is nearly instantaneous, and of course is completely private.

The final change to the PotD process began earlier this month, when I got an iPad Mini 2. The Mini has a smaller screen and more storage (32 gigabytes vs.16) than our iPad Air, but is otherwise identical, including the camera hardware. There's no obvious change in the posted PotD, but the Mini's smaller form-factor makes it a bit less awkward a camera than the larger iPad Air.

There are many camera apps for the iPad. I've tried several, and while some have impressive and potentially useful feature sets, the Camera app Apple includes with the iPad meets the goal of simplicity and provides an acceptable result. The PotD is not fine art. It's a snapshot, a documentary photo, and is never printed.

Sandpiper Art & Gift Gallery

In January, 2011, I wrote about the joys, and the hard work, that come with membership in a small-town co-op art gallery. I explained my involvement with the small, all-volunteer non-profit, and wrapped up with “If you're not careful you may find yourself in charge of something. Don't say I didn't warn you. Helping to manage a co-op can be a challenge, but can also be enjoyable and rewarding, and you'll certainly learn something.” I've been a member of the Sandpiper since 2005. I'm no longer Gallery Director; that's due in part to term limits, but even without that I'd have given up the job. I joined the Sandpiper because I wanted a place to display some pictures, I wanted to meet other photographers (and painters and sculptors and other artists), and I wanted to have a good time. I got more than I'd hoped for, but I've also taken on more responsibilities than I should have, leaving me feeling a little burned out.

Two pictures from my last show at the Sandpiper Gallery.

A couple of my pictures from my last display at the Sandpiper Gallery.

As intended by the gallery bylaws, there have been periodic management changes, along with some new or changed policies. This dynamic should be a good thing, but I think it's led to stagnation. There's been a sameness to the exhibits in recent months; they lack the sparkle and uniqueness once common in our shows (I'm not alone in that opinion). It would seem little thought is given to hanging shows in an effective way, leaving us with boring, lined-up wall art grouped by artist. No effort is made to create dynamic or imaginative groupings. The Gift Shop area of the business does well enough, but hasn't changed in any substantial way in years. Some board members have been blatantly obvious in pushing their own agendas, while others turn a blind eye to what's clearly having a negative impact on the gallery and its mission.

Personally, I'm not having much fun anymore. I've accomplished a number of things I set out to do, and I'm happy about that, but it's time to move on. I have a couple of projects to wrap up, but will let my current membership expire this summer. The board can find others to take over as gallery Webmaster, handle general maintenance and lighting, create the annual exhibit- and workshop-schedule brochure, and produce the handful of annual workshop advertising posters, all jobs that are currently mine.

I'll visit the gallery occasionally, and attend opening receptions for shows that sound interesting. I've made some wonderful friends among Sandpiper members; there's no reason not to maintain those relationships. Perhaps I'll miss my current involvement and rejoin the co-op someday. Perhaps I'll enjoy freedom from my responsibilities there, and from the annoyance of some of the current leadership, and wonder why I hadn't left sooner. We'll see.

Life With a 7900 (blog)

The Epson 7900 producing a <b>large</b> print.

The Epson 7900 producing a large print.

In November, 2011, I wrote about my research and buying decisions to replace a failed Canon iPF 5000 printer with an Epson Stylus Pro 7900. In the three-plus years since I installed the 7900, most of the mysteries have been demystified, making prints has become fairly routine and usually proceeds without surprises, and the quality of the prints has been outstanding. The machine is not without its issues and hassles, but even those have become part of the routine.

As mentioned at the end of the article linked above, when I installed the printer I started a blog, “Life With a 7900”, intended as a long-term diary of owning and using the Epson. I had plenty to write about in the early days. Blog entries have become much less frequent as there's been less and less to report. The blog is alive and well, receiving a fair amount of traffic, but I only post when something interesting or unusual happens; often weeks will pass with no new entries. I'll continue to maintain the blog at that level until the machine ultimately fails. These machines are complex and major repairs, such as head replacement, or replacing the chain of components that supply ink to the head, are expensive and beyond the abilities of all but die-hard tinkerers. A service call costs more than the machine is worth, and there are plenty of reports of unsatisfactory repair experiences. For those of us who simply want to make prints, and to continue making them after a major component failure in the printer, I suspect the most practical approach is to replace the machine (assuming one can figure out how to dispose of a 200-plus pound printer!). Until that day comes, I'll continue to make great prints with my 7900.

I make prints of my work, of course, but that's hardly enough to keep the machine running with the frequency and regularity it requires. I've had the good fortune to develop a regular and diverse clientele of photographers and other artists, mostly here in western Montana, but also a few scattered around the U.S. This allows me to run the printer more often. Thanks to that clientele the printer has paid for itself, and the consumables (paper and ink), many times.

The More Things Change…

I can find another half-dozen of my articles that could be updated. Things change constantly, sometimes for the better, sometimes not so much. We see it all the time, of course. Taking a little time to think about some changes, as I was forced to do when writing this article, has been cathartic. Perhaps I'll write something like this every couple of years.

April, 2015

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