Archive for August, 2008

Down in the dumps

The other day I was at a funeral for my uncle, who recently succumbed to liver cancer. After the burial, I started thinking about my own mortality. What I’ve done in my life. What I haven’t done. What I still want to do.
I have a lot of regret about what happened (or didn’t) in my 20s and now early 30s. You only get to live your life once, and I feel like I’ve missed out on a lot of things (most of which is my own doing). Most people I know have moved on to another stage of life, and I’m still in the same place that I was 10 years ago.
Lately I’ve been thinking about finding something else to do with my life, instead of reviewing cameras. I’m burned out, and tired of the politics and false promises. Site revenue and now traffic has been dropping as the US economy slows. I’m working just as much, but now I’m making a lot less money. I still have dreams of hiring people and getting the other two sites back up, but there’s not enough revenue coming in for that right now.
Thinking about other career options produces uncertainty and anxiety. What would I do for a living, and how would it be any better than what I’m doing now? And wouldn’t it be foolish to give up what I’ve spent 11 years working so hard for?
I think it’s going to take some time to figure all this out. Perhaps I’ve hit my mid-life crisis a little early. After spending some time thinking about life and death, I decided that I don’t want to regret that things that I didn’t do when my time is up.

How to get from here to there

I’m really interested in taking this cruise next March. It goes to lots of interesting places, you get two nights in each destination, and it includes a three day land tour in China at the end.
So what’s the problem? Well, it’s expensive, for sure. But more pressing is that I’ve got nobody to go with. I can’t travel with my folks, and most everyone I know isn’t in a position to come along. I suppose I could go alone, but that doesn’t sound terribly exciting. What’s a guy to do?

Playing favorites

I’m probably going to get into trouble for writing this, but here goes. I’ve grown increasingly frustrated with how several camera manufacturers are “playing favorites” when it comes to sending out cameras to review.
Now, I understand that sites like Digital Photography Review, or big media outlets like the NY Times would get things before I do. What bothers me is when sites that get as much traffic as the DCRP get things first. What really bothers me is when websites with substantially less traffic get things weeks to months ahead of me.
I think the cause is two-fold. For one, some of these websites write very “fluffy” reviews, where any negatives about a product are glossed over. A friend once said that these reviews have a “Disney (happy) ending”, and I agree completely. “Well, this product has all of these flaws, but it’s still an excellent choice”. You better believe that the manufacturers love that.
Many of these sites also have cozier relationships with the manufacturers than I do. I have been turning down junkets (free trips) for ten years. Manufacturers will often spend five figures per person on these trips, and I don’t want that weighing on my conscience. The downside to not going on these junkets is that I don’t have as close of a relationship with the “powers that be” as those who do.
I don’t really know what to do about all this. I’ve complained to the various manufacturers before, and usually get an excuse or apology, but nothing ever changes. I’m definitely going to stick to my guns and remain as independent, critical, and unbiased as possible when I review digital cameras. I guess the trade-off is that people are just going to have to wait longer than they should to read my reviews.

Zoe: Afraid of Herself

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I was preparing a photo gallery for an upcoming camera review, and the photo on the screen was the one you see above. A moment later, Zoe arrived for a visit, so I picked her up. She took one look at the cat on the screen and immediately got really low in my lap, flattened her ears, and fluffed up her tail. Despite looking at a photo of herself, she really thought it was another cat! As soon as I closed the picture, she relaxed again, and went on her way. Bizarre.

The agony of defeat

It’s been too foggy to take my standard DCRP night shots for the last week. The other night, I thought it was clear, but when I arrived at the usual spot ($4 in bridge tolls later) I found that the SF skyline was shrouded in fog.
Tonight it looked a lot better. No fog in Montclair, light winds. I gave it a chance and drove out to the island. I got there and it was pretty good… the fog was behind the buildings, and there was a good crowd (I’m not a fan of being out there alone).
I grab the tripod and my cameras and head over to my spot along the fence. I then realize that something is missing. It’s the stupid quick release plate for my tripod. In other words, I had no way of attaching the cmaera to my tripod. Mission: failed.