These last couple days – yesterday and today, have been really annoying. You know the type – days were everything goes wrong, technology twists around to screw things up, and every undertaking takes three times longer than it should.
I should be used to it, but still get annoyed. Nothing to do though, but to push on and get down what can be done.
I had planned to spend these last two days photographing as much as possible. I had some tasks to accomplish, errands to run, but figured I could squeeze those in as needed. Unfortunately, things didn’t work out that way.
For starters, the weather turned against my plans yesterday. The once predicted clear day was preceeded by a night of torrential downpours, and dark clouds, gloom, and the occasional spit of rain were on hand as the day broke. No problem – time to do those errands...
But then, first thing in the morning, the wireless lan dropped dead, and no amount of rebooting and powering off and on could restore it. Whenever I mess around with the wireless router, I think of an old Dr. Who episode were Tom Baker steps out of the TARDIS and finds an old TV set. “Looks like human technology” he says to his pretty companion. He flips the switch, nothing happens, and then he gives it a good whack and it comes to life. “Definitely human technology...”
Whacking was an option, but I opted for a firmware upgrade to the router – and after a mere two hours of cussing, rebooting, and more cussing, things finally came back on line and got stable.
Great – still time left to drop off a couple of pieces for entry into a local art competition. Carefully setting the framed pieces against the wall, I turn to hear a crash and see Cali running off, her great plume of a tail signaling some new accomplishment of mischief. And there is my oversized print, face down on the floor, and when I pick it up I find the metal frame dinged and scratched with paint and plaster. Grrr – run to the store, no frames that size in stock.
Needless to say, I was cross with Cali, and with Arti who no doubt played a role in destruction. I patched up the piece as best I could – hopefully my photograph is so compelling the juror’s eyes will never stray to the frame – and dropped the pieces off just on time.
With that, the weather cleared. I decided to plink away at the flies in my back yard, but found that the flash on my camera simply refused to fire. After a few tests, I found that the adapter on the flash cable was broken.
Someone once told me that only two types of people opened watches. Watch makers and idiots. The same concept applies to photographic gear. Well, it was broken, and I opened it up and confirmed that – or maybe broke it for good. In any case, I mounted the backup adapter too late to do any shooting.
Today I went to the local camera shop, bought a replacement adapter and cord to boot, and after a bit of brief interference went out to to the McLindon trails to try for dragonflies again.
The dragons were out in abundance, and that’s always a pleasure. Today there were lots of widow dragonflies - all apparently female though the juvinile male widow apparently looks much like the female widow (yes - 'male widow' is a contradiction in terms). Since we are so early in the season, I'm pretty sure that reason I'm confused by the species I'm shooting is because there are a lot of juvenile forms out and about - but knowing why you are confused doesn't do much to get you to an answer!
At any rate, my technological difficulties were not over. Despite the new adapter, my TTL flash was working erratically. It would abruptly reset, loosing the compensation and zoom settings I had entered, and often it would just fully discharge, blasting the subjects, when all that was needed was a gentle splash of light.
I ultimately flipped it into manual mode and just worked the old fashioned way – with the digital camera and the histogram, it was pretty simple to figure how to balance the ambient and flash exposures. I did miss some shots that I otherwise would have gotten, but overall the day was not a waste. Some images, like this one, certainly show a more clumsy approach to flash than I would like. Getting home I swapped out the old cord I had been using with the new one I bought this morning – and it looks like a short in the cord was the reason why the flash was cutting in and out.
On the bright side – I took technological countermeasures. I packed up a pair of Holgas with me, and took some landscape shots while out chasing dragons. Nothing much an go wrong with a Holga – and when it does, that’s just part of the charm. I’ve been writing this essay with the laptop on my clothes dryer – the laundry area in my basement doubles as the film developing area. The negs look thin, but scannable.
A few more of today's insect photographs: