Monthly Archives: May 2012

If you own a digital camera you know they’re made mostly of a plastic body with some metal bits rattling around inside (hopefully not rattling), this is different from a previous time when cameras were manufactured with a different goal in mind.

Today cameras are created to withstand some impact and minor wear but are ultimately manufactured in such a way to force consumers to purchase another one within a few years. Either the camera begins falling apart or a newer, slightly upgraded device comes out the day after you buy. Obviously this is how our economy works, but it has such an unfortunate effect on cameras. This is especially frustrating when your way of earning money relies on a piece of equipment that’s designed to break in a relatively short amount of time, resulting in shelling out thousands more for a minor upgrade.

Upgrades are quite an illusion as well. Because each camera manufacturing company is waiting to see what the others will come out with, they make small incremental adjustments. Suffice it to say, new designs are coming out every month, yet progress is actually very slow. And with every adjustment, there are a few steps backward. A camera with a larger image sensor comes out, yet the compression makes it nearly unusable. Or, the compression is ok, but they chose a ridiculous codec that takes their own proprietary software to unlock. Or its a fantastic design but there is no VIEWFINDER (since when was it acceptable to not be able to see what you’re shooting?).

Wherever I travel I take along my Nikon 35mm still camera. It happens everywhere, “Why do you still use that? Don’t you know people are all shooting digital now?” Film and digital are like watercolors and oil pastels; two different ways of achieving an image, they operate differently and are useful in different applications. But there is a reason film cameras are still expensive and people still shoot on them. Why does a regular 16mm Bolex in good condition still cost as much as a mid-range DSLR? Or why does an Aaton super 16mm cost as much as a car? Why were film cameras used in some of the harsh conditions featured in Planet Earth? Because these are pieces of equipment built to withstand decades while delivering an uncompressed, high quality image. Load a new film stock and you have a camera that will never become outdated.

I could get into CMOS sensors and the way film moves but I’m sure I’ve already lost half my readers by this point. There are some exciting changes coming for the mid-range cinema camera market (for example, the Digital Bolex). And the reason why they are exciting is because they harken back to a time when cameras were built to last.


It has been forever and a day since I posted something.

Australia is still here. Its getting colder and more winter-like. We still speak English down here and get TV shows from the US. And we hear more about US politics than most Americans do. In fact, the speech that Obama gave not too long ago about homosexuality was in the paper here. Big deal, lots of buzz.

Not too long ago there was a debate on TV between Richard Dawkins and the Archbishop of Canterbury. Of course the host leaned towards Dawkins but it was still an interesting debate. Then the Archbishop said something about homosexuals and a fault in a carpet and that just sent everyone on twitter into a frenzy, kinda like leaves that get all blown when a car drives by. To be fair, I wasn’t sure where he was going with that comment, it left a lot of room for interpretation.

I’ve been keeping a journal during my time here and I wrote an entry around that time. I thought I’d share it.

Tuesday 6/3/12 22:38

I’ve been trying desperately to go to sleep but my mind isn’t obeying the call. For some reason I’ve been thinking about ideas; what I would say to the nation if I was president, what I would say to the president if I had a one-on-one with him, and what my thoughts are on homosexuality. It is truly hard to know.

I began by reliving my knowledge of acts of disrespect and violence on both sides.  By “both sides” I mean the very clear banners and battle lines drawn and rallied around by those who oppose the very idea of homosexuality and those who oppose those who oppose. Sometimes I am ashamed of the Church and the members of it who are on both extremes. That is a frustration I’m sure I’ll never get over. But carrying on…

It seems to me that on each of these banners is written a word. Those who oppose rally around “truth.” Those who oppose those who oppose rally around “love.” What is so interesting is that neither truth nor love are at war with each other, just as Darwin and Genesis are not at war. It is two people groups, two ways of thinking that are at war. And this makes the whole mess so confusing. Neither side admits to the to their true rallying point: both are afraid of being wrong and afraid of trying on what the world looks like through the eyes of the other. Obviously there aren’t just the two extremes but have you ever been involved in a conversation about it that was civil? It seems that to talk about it requires treading very lightly or not at all. No one opinion is to blame for this tension.

Going further, Truth can be translated, in this case, as Accountability, and Love as Acceptance. Again, both are valuable aspects of a community, however, one without the other proves dangerous. Acceptance is wonderful, but without accountability it becomes stagnant. The mantra is, “be who you were meant to be.” Unfortunately, us being us equals evil. Accountability is there to challenge. But accountability without acceptance is destructive. This is the fabric of abusive families and prison dynamics. There is no question that this is no way to live.

The unfortunate thing about this little spiel is that in the end it only clarifies, it doesn’t inform. Questions still remain unanswered: by what do we have the authority to keep people accountable? Hold them accountable to what? By what? And what is acceptable? How do we know?

Just some thoughts.

While in New Zealand I searched for a place that sold 35mm film. I finally found a few rolls. After a week of waiting here, the film has been processed. Of course in that time I found two different places in Sydney that process on site. Now I know where to go next time.

After a few accidental runs through airport x-rays:

View from Picton (South Island, NZ).

The Interislander Ferry headed for Wellington.

The Marlborough Sounds, South Island.

The impressive peaks of The Sounds. Not long ago these slopes were pasture for sheep. Thanks to conservation work the native forest is growing back.

The tiny town of Waikawa, from the Snout Track, just east of Picton.

A friendly Kiwi offered to take a picture of me at the end of the Snout Track. Behind me is the Marlborough Sounds.

Taking advantage of the jungle gym.

A few Torea-Pango at Ship Cove, South Island.

Captain Cook spent 150 days out of his 5 voyages to New Zealand at this cove, no wonder.

Ship Cove from the top of the Resolution Track.

Taking a light reading in (I’m convinced) the spot where the Uru-kai carry off Merry and Pippin.

Moss on the south side.

If you’re interested in something to mentally chew on:

It is amazing to see the presence of colonialism in Australia. It allows me to see it clearly in the US as well. Why have the stories of the Native Americans and the Aboriginal Australians turned out similarly?

Often the negative effects of colonialism are justified by the bringing of technology into a civilization. Perhaps there is some flaw in that thinking. It first assumes that we (western civilization) are the bearers of technology. The societies of present day North and South America constructed impressive monuments, cities and temples that rivaled those of Europe during the same time periods, however, they did it all without the wheel. Clearly they had created a useful system of construction that worked.

It also assumes that the only way technology can be passed from one people group to another is by conquest. Why does this have to be true? And has it always been? Of course not. During the late 19th Century and early 20th Century Japan was furiously building its empire. Those in power in Japan saw it as beneficial to bring experts in many fields from the West. Why? Technology. The important part to realize here is the lateral movement of that technology. Japan was receiving this technology as an equal with the western experts who brought it. And the result? They have taken what they learned, made it their own, reinterpreted it into their cultural context and took it to the next level.

What have we missed out on by assuming that conquest is the only means of interacting with nations different than our own?

In what ways does colonialism affect life now where you live?

Recently I had the opportunity to travel to New Zealand for a short holiday. I know, “hard life, someone’s got to do it…”

I spent a few days in Wellington (southern part of the North Island) and a few days in the Marlborough Sounds (northern part of the South Island). I had previously only been to Auckland (up north on the North Island). I shot a few rolls of film on my many excursions around Wellington and Picton. However, when I dropped off the rolls today in Sydney, I found out hardly anyone processes on site here. SAD! So I’ll have to wait for another week until I get to see the photos.

But, as an appetizer, here are some pics I took with my cell phone.

The first one is cows on the ferry. They were just sitting in these trucks with the doors wide open and it was pouring down rain. Bummer for them.

In Wellington there is this museum called Te Papa. It is hands down the coolest museum I’ve been to. There are 6 floors of legitimately interesting content. On one of the floors was the exhibit for the Treaty of Waitangi. This treaty is a rarity among commonwealth nations. For one, the government of New Zealand actually made a treaty with the Maori. Not only that, this document is continually referred to and utilized and reinterpreted for changing times. It made me think of Australia, which to my knowledge doesn’t have any formal treaties with the Aborigines, and the US which just broke all of its hundreds of treaties throughout the decades.

I had many thoughts about these things but I will have to write them later. Maybe by then I’ll have some pictures to show.