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Musing About This And That – Part 1

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It seems to me that the personal level on my blog is often missing now. Ok, I do sometimes talk about personal things in my photo posts, but I believe I did this more often in the past. When you do write a blog for so long, the focus might shift over time. I had a theme installed back then where I didn’t need to upload photos, and that was fine because I was not totally into photography at that time. With my recent theme a photo for the post is always needed, that’s fine too, because now I am into photography. But when you start with a photo, you will be inspired with the photo and your words will be inspired by the photo. Back then when I started with the text content on the old theme, it was the other way around and I spoke a bit more about personal things, sometimes like a waterfall.

This is why I will now start a series called “Musing About This And That”. I will use less important photos for the posts, and my thoughts will not be inspired by the photo but by the things that happened in my life in the recent time. In other words, it’s a series where I will do something that I did very often in the past, writing down some thoughts that I want to get out there. It will be a post series where I mix some things up, not focussed on any subjects, I will write down a mix of thoughts. When I started my blog, I called it a “diary”, the word is in fact still in the domain as I didn’t decide for a new domain yet. I think the word “diary” explains what I want to do with the “Musing About This And That” series on my blog. But it’s just a test, I am not sure how far I will go with the idea.

I just want to get quick thoughts out there, whether or not they are negative or positive. But let me start now. Recently some cool things happened. My uncle who got diagnosed with brain cancer back then feels much better now, he is still terminal ill and it won’t change, but his current condition looks good. He had all kind of problems during the therapies, including speech problems, psychic problems and other issues and he was a hospital frequenter. Now he didn’t have to visit the hospital anymore since quite some time except for some examinations, and he really feels good now. He started to eat well again, he can speak very well again too and there are no psychic problems anyhow. It surprised us all, it changed from one moment to another, we think his brain might not be swollen anymore.

I can talk with him again, as I did before the diagnose, and it makes me happy that we got the gift to spend a wonderful time together again. But then again, the future doesn’t look good, we know it. It seems my uncle got used to the fact, he told me “I am here to enjoy the remaining time, sometimes I want to think about the reality, but overall I rather want to enjoy the positive moments and forget about it for that time”. What is great too, currently he doesn’t need his wheelchair anymore. His disease makes us all feel like sitting in a rollercoaster, his condition can change so fast that it almost makes no sense to write about it. Writing about his current positive condition makes me anxious, because I know it might happen that I have to sound less optimistic another day. It’s been a rollercoaster ride.

I met his oldest daughter on the weekend. She is 14 years old and hangs around with another girl in the same age, they are best friends. I often see them when I visit my grandma, they do often bake cookies and cakes together with grandma. They do it so often that they can’t even eat everything they produced, do you see how I benefit from it? Free cookies and cakes for everyone! They are aware that I take a lot of photos, and they asked me to take “friends” portraits of them both. This happened right in time, because currently I really want to practice portrait photography as the autumn subjects rather bore me this year. I don’t want to sound conceited, but I really shot some awesome portraits of them both. They both were totally excited about the results, and it was a lot of fun for us all.

I wish I could show you the photos, but as I like to beware a bit of privacy for myself, I want to protect my family and friends on the same way. I think this is the right way to deal with the internet, but sometimes it’s also sad because I can’t show you all the cool portraits I shot over time. I told you once, people photography is very difficult to do in Germany, it’s not just about me or my family and friends, it’s that the majority of people in Germany take privacy very serious. But as said, I do it the same, and I understand it. Anyway, it’s a dilemma, because on the one side I want to protect myself and my loved ones, on the other side I start to love the art of portrait and people photography so much that I’d like to take photos of strangers to show the material on my blog. Maybe it’s even a contradiction.

There are other things that happened recently. I play Counter Strike with a friend online again, basically like every autumn, because that’s the best time for gaming, as I mentioned in another post. For us, it’s not just about online gaming, it’s about keeping company with each other too. We talk about the latest events, we talk about this and that during gaming, like I am doing with this blog post right now. I remember that I spoke often with him about the idea to stop smoking, but even if we tried many times, it was always difficult for us. Just recently he told me that he started to use vaporizers, so-called electrical cigarettes. I laughed a bit about it, because how could this be better than smoking a real one? But I listened to him, and some things really made sense and I started to research.

Here are some facts, as far as I am, it’s not meant to be a way of healthy smoking, there are however some benefits related to health. When I smoke a cigarette, it contains around 9 mg and up to 14 mg of nicotine depending on the brand of course, apart from that I do inhale several hundreds of toxins. That’s very different with vaporizers, you don’t burn the tobacco but you heat a liquid, that means there will not be tons of toxins and tar entering your lungs, it’s not smoke but steam. If you mix the liquid on your own, you just mix propylene glycol and vegetarian glycerin as a base, and then you decide how much mg of nicotine you want to add, and last but not least you can even add a flavor. Is this the healthy alternative to smoking? Probably not. Is this less dangerous than smoking? According to my research, this seems more likely. To get to the point, my friend didn’t want to convince me that it’s healthier, he said it’s a way to get control over your habit.

I became interested because there is one interesting point. Instead of burning a tobacco product, vaporizers and self-mixed liquids would allow me to gradually reduce the amount of nicotine that I consume. That’s sounds like a game changers to me. To make the point more clear, my friend told me that he mixed 12 mg and reduced it gradually over time so that he now only consumes no more than 3 mg of nicotine. His goal is to consume a base with no nicotine at all, but at this point he want to quit with the vaporizer too. He tried a real cigarette again, and he said it was a hell, he couldn’t stand it anymore. Now you can come up with all kind of arguments, like vaping is so new, it has not the research history of tobacco products. You could say, it’s unknown what it’s doing to your body, it’s just a substitution for the previous bad habit and so on. But one thing stands out, he almost managed it to get away from nicotine and the other hundred toxins.

To be honest, I am not sold yet on vaping, because I don’t do decisions without thinking about it a lot. But I am interested to hear how this turns out for him. I like the idea that you can get control over the ingredients, that it’s not about burning tobacco but about heating the ingredients you choose. If something new is not around since a long time, we should be careful, but we should be as careful if all media channels start to bash an alternative. Wether or not it is a safer alternative, the control you can get with self-mixed liquids and vaporizers, is an interesting point. I researched hours over hours, and when I see how hard the media tries to only report negatively about e-cigarettes, I get the impression that this is happening because the tobacco industry and pharma industry plays a role too. Both industries lost a customer, it’s my friend, and he is definitely not the only one who decided for an alternative way to get off the cancer sticks or expensive medications. I am not sure what is worse, inhaling several hundreds of toxins, or trying a not well researched alternative that actually helps to get off it.

To blow all the smoke and steam aside, I am still thinking about getting a 50mm prime lens. No, in fact I am already so far to be sure that I want to play with a 50mm prime lens and I’d like to get my hands on the Nikon 50mm 1.8g lens. Over the last days I mobilized, I logged into my Ebay and Ebay classifieds accounts, I searched through every listing and did set my bids on several offers, on the classifieds website I emailed and called some people who wanted to sell the lens. On Ebay I was outbidden, on the classifieds website I got told several times that I came too late. Generally I don’t like the idea to purchase used products, but we are talking about a 200€ lens here, and we talk about a lens that definitely would not be the main lens in my arsenal. Talking about the 200€ retailer price in Germany, I did set my budget on 120€ when I bid on the lens or if I contact the sellers of classified listings. I won’t purchase the lens for a cent more than that for now.

Here is something not related to photography in general, it’s more about bidding and purchasing used things. You definitely need to know what a used product is worth to you. If you didn’t set a price for yourself, you won’t make a good deal but you will bid through the roof. Just a few days ago I saw how someone did just that, I am not sure if it was family or fake bidding, but if not, the person didn’t get a good deal and ended up purchasing a used lens for 10€ less compared to a new lens. This happens if people don’t do research, if they are driven by impulse bidding and so on. Will I get the lens for 120€? It will probably take a bit of time, because it’s mostly running out for 130€ – 150€, but my point is that I definitely know what I want, and I really want to make that deal. I might add 10€ to my budget after some weeks but as said, when it comes to used products, it’s about yourself and what it’s worth in your opinion, and you should act determined.

The lens is worth 200€ if it’s new, that’s just how it is, but I am not gonna pay an amount close to it when it’s already used. My budget is actually much higher, but I try to kill two flies with just a single clap of the hands. I will try to get this one used for the mentioned price, and then there is still enough budget leftover to purchase a brand new 105mm F2.8 EX DG OS HSM Sigma macro lens in addition. This is basically my current goal, there are still some alternatives on my list, but that’s really what I try at the moment. The 50mm prime lens could be fun, but I would just use it here and there, but I am very interested to play with a macro lens, and it would be cool if I can achieve both things with my piggy bank. I think this blog post is now long enough, there is not much more in my mind…

If you liked this type of blog post, let me know it in the comment section. It’s just a new idea, but now that I finished the first post, I think it’s a great way to get back to free writing and to get some of my recent thoughts off my chest. Sometimes it’s just not worth it to create individual posts for every single thought. I think my mixed “Musing About This And That” post will allow me to talk about several things at once like a waterfall. Let me know if you like the idea too.

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10 Comments »

  1. Hi Dennis, I do enjoy reading this type of diary post, firstly because we share an interest in photography but also because when you discuss your everyday life it is interesting to me to compare cultural differences and just to read your opinion on various subjects. I don’t do as much free writing as I’d like to either as my blog is also photo driven to a large extent. However, I do try to share my thoughts in Cee’s Share Your World Challenge and have recently started a series of posts I call “The 3 am Rant” which I used for my more grumpy posts when I want to complain about something. It’s just an occasional thing as I don’t want to post negative stuff all the time.
    I have heard of e-cigarettes which I assume is what you are talking about here but I did not really know what they were or how they worked so that was interesting. As to if they are a good or bad thing I’m not qualified to say as I have never smoked. I know people who have tried nicotine patches, hypnotherapy, tapering off and going “cold turkey”. Different things work for different people and you have to find the way that is right for you. You always research things thoroughly so I’m sure you will but anything has to be better than smoking cigarettes. I would not be surprised if the tobacco industry lobbies are behind some of the negative reports on e-cigarrettes which suggests that they are really worried about them.
    Regarding your portrait photography I quite understand you wanting to protect the privacy of your family and there is a lot of complication around publishing photos of strangers. If you really want to do it perhaps you should consider using a model release. If you ask permission and offer the person a nice photograph to keep perhaps some would not mind. That is one good thing about taking photos of well known people, they expect it; although having said that if I were to meet one of my favourite cricketers at the local shops buying groceries with his family I would not publish a photo of that meeting without asking permission because that is private time.

    • Hi Vanda,

      Yeah, it’s the same here. My photo posts are only about the photos, and I just add a few words or sentences to it because I don’t like empty posts. My tech or gaming articles are longer by nature, but that’s because things are explained or because I write about a certain news or a review. But I really wondered why I stopped with the old diary-style posts. It must be the heavy shift on photography. It’s as you said, because our blogs became mainly focussed around photography. That’s fine, but sometimes I’d like to talk more freely about the every day life.

      With e-cigarrettes I am most concerned because it’s not regulated yet, but this happens in May 2017 because the EU decided there must be regulation. I am not so concerned about the base with propylene glycol and vegetarian glycerin, you can stand in a disco and inhale this stuff too, it’s in fog machines, it’s even in asthma sprays and so on. I am more concerned about the flavors that need to be added to the base if you want to taste something… there are thousands of flavors, and it’s not regulated what kind of substances can be used for flavors or not. Everything sounds too good, but I see the flavors as a big issue. I did more research yesterday after writing this post, and it looks like my fear is justified, because recent and new studies show that the flavors are the big issues. Some studies show that toxic substances are produced by heating the liquids, however, 9 to 807 times lower than from cigarettes. I think people are a bit too fast to say that this is some kind of healthier alternative to classical smoking. I am still very skeptical, maybe it’s even worse, who knows that, it’s to new and not many studies are there. Talking about my friend, I like it that I can discuss these things with him, without getting an argument. That’s what I like about friends 🙂 However, I am honest, if this is the way my friend can stop smoking, I’d be interested to try it too, because I know he failed with everything else, and if this turns out better, it’s definitely the alternative to get off it. I do inhale already thousands of toxics, if there is something with less toxics but that makes me stop smoking, it could still be beneficial. Yeah, I research more on it, I really don’t like fast decisions. Talking about the other alternatives, I tried too much, nothing worked for a long time.

      About people photography, you make a good point. I have read about model releases, photographers do this in Germany too to be on the safe side. If I ever want to get more into it, this is indeed the only solution. But then there is still a fear to overcome. I started to take a look at peopel faces, wandering though the city and look at people with the “photographers eye”. I spotted so many people, both males and females that I’d like to photograph, but I noticed you would also need to have the courage to ask them, and explain them why you’d like to take photos of them 🙂 If I ever start to do this, I definitely will have pre-printed agreements with me, but that adds an additional difficulty because spontaneous photos would be still better.

  2. Hey Dennis,
    i did’t care much about WordPress the last weeks. But this morning i read your musing and i liked it. 😉 It can’t stand postings on other platforms (like Facebook) anymore, with all that moaning and hatred. It feels good to read something with ordinary topics where i can find myself in it.

    I live in the same contradiction that i would like to photograph other people but i hate being photographed.

    About smoking i can only advise you to give it up completely. I used to be a hardcore smoker for many many years and i had a lot of hard fights to give it up. Today i am so happy not to smoke anymore for 8 years and i regret what i did to my healthiness and the waste of money in the past. There is no single sense for smoking but a hundred reasons against it. It is not even an enjoyment. That is an illusion. The only thing you are enjoying is relieving the nicotine withdrawal. That relief makes you think that a cigarette is such a pleasure. It’a devil circulation.
    It is not up to me to tell you how to live, but i wish you to give up smoking one day. It is not easy, but it’s absolutely worth it. Think of your healthiness and all the money you are wasting. You can almost buy a prime lens every month for it. 😉

    The 50mm/f1.8 from Nikon is a good lens, by the way. I had it with the D7200, before i switched to a mirrorless system.
    I buy my lenses second hand very often. For that i prefer the “DSLM-Forum” instead of Ebay.
    I am looking forward to see some results, when you own the 50-prime. 😉
    Best wishes
    Marco

    • Hi Marco,

      I am glad you liked this post. This is something that I did very often in the past, but as said with the focus on photography it went a bit in the background. Now I will do this at times again like in the old days, because I like free writing, not caring about where to start with the words feels like freedom to me. 🙂

      Yeah, I think since most of us Germans do take privacy very serious, I assumed that many photographers live with the same contradiction. If you like the art of people photoraphy but you understand the point of the people on the streets, it’s really difficult to get into it. I think I uploaded a few photos on my blog where you can not recognize the face of the person, but I think that is the farest I want to go. Also I would not mind if I am the so called “Beiwerk” on the photo, because that can happen anyway if I run through the city.

      I completely agree with your point about smoking. What makes it so annoying is that I am completely aware of what I am doing with my body, but yet the addiction is so strong that I failed several times to give up. I always thought it’s easy to get over the 48 hours of withdrawal, but then comes the difficult part, the years long habbit, the hands that search for something to light up, and all the people around me who still smoke. Giving up worked the best when I was extremely busy, in Reinfeld it worked for example when I went hiking every day, I didn’t even took my cigarettes with me because I was more busy with my camera and it worked well. I wish I never would have started with it. The only plus is that my mind seems to prepare for the stopping, I never cared if I smoked or not, at least not regularly, but over the last year the idea of stopping crossed my mind much more often.
      I am very glad that you could do it, and that for so long. It seems you are absolutely over it because 8 years is a lot. That shows willpower, I hope I can do that too.

      I like the bokeh of the 50mm lens a lot, would be a great lens to take family portraits and gettings more into it. Also I like the idea to have a lens that I can use if it’s darker. While I know the DSLM-Forum from googling, I didn’t know they have a section for buying and selling. Awesome tip, I will check this out! I am ok to purchase from people in the photography communities, because we photographers treat our gear very well. On Ebay I still have the fear to purchase something that was found in the dusty attic.I do my research with Google, if the photos of the lens were just taken from any website, and other things. I’d prefer to get it used locally on “Ebay Kleinanzeigen”, but at the moment I had no luck. Let’s see how it turns out and if I find a good deal. I am also interested to use it as a video lens, until I own a 35mm some day, but 50mm should be fine too. I’d like to record a christmas video, because all the christmas lights would make great bokeh material 🙂

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