Fail and Fail Again

If at first you don’t fail then you really owe it to yourself to try again. Fail people, please fail. There is nothing wonderful about ease, perfection,routine and the word that will ultimately destroy photography….convenience. Failing is like slamming your shin into that chair you moved right before you went to bed and right after you forgot you moved it. It sucks at the moment of impact, but it reminds you not to forget you can’t see in the dark. I fail all the time, and I routinely go out of my way to do things that ensure my failure. Like testing. I was recently given a camera, a plastic camera. I looked at it, opened up the box, figured out a way to customize it then promptly went outside and shot the images you see here, junk images rife with self portraits and odd little backyard landscapes, telltale signs of the all important test. In other words, crap.

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However, as it turned out, these are important crappy images because they don’t actually look like the kind of crap I was going for. If you like these images, that is okay too, but I don’t like them which ultimately is all that matters. The technique I THOUGHT was a slam dunk was in fact a complete air ball, but I didn’t know that so I tested. I do this on a regular basis and actually find it very entertaining. My office is littered with bad images, prints, books and odd tests. It is FROM these creative debacles that I often times find my visual promised land.

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Testing One Two Three

The official results are in.

First, I’m REALLY fast on my bicycle, as you can see be this visual evidence. Most people wouldn’t consider a 25-pound steel touring bike to be such a rocket, but as you can see….

So if you have been with me for a few weeks now you will remember a post I did about being handed two Voigtlander rangefinder cameras with ultra-wide lenses and finders. Well, I finally got a chance to test one of them. As many of you know, I love the bicycle. Frankly, I think the bike is one of the best inventions of all time, and is a perfect example of clean efficiency. I know a FEW people who don’t like riding bikes, but the vast, vast, vast majority of people I know love it. The bike is typically one of the first glimpses of autonomy we get as young people. Those training wheels come off, we heal from our road rash wounds, and before long, we are exploring the far reaches of our civilized boundaries.

This new site, Smogranch, will in coming weeks, hopefully have a bike blog built in. I’m not sure this will happen, or when, but that is my goal. If you thought photographers were obsessed with equipment, wait till you meet a few bikers. Crazy obsessed. But, I think the bike has only begun to crack the American lifestyle, and what I’m hoping for is to simply raise awareness of what is possible. Bikes aren’t for everyone. Bikes won’t solve our problems. But maybe, just maybe, they can help us rethink some of our current lifestyle choices. And let me be straight here in case you think you think I’m an anti-car, tree hugging dude who is naked at the mall on the weekends burning fur items. I’m not. I love cars, trucks, motorcycles, etc, and I know they are not going away. I drive thousands of miles a year, and am part of the fossil fuel masses. But, when I look around, I see a need for drastic change.

So gearheads, in case you are wondering, these images were done with the 12mm, handheld, as I tried not to crash or get my strap caught in the spokes. The bike is a Trek 520, built for the tour, with Tubus racks front and back. Tires are Continental Gator Skins, 25mm, and the saddle is a Brooks B-17. Other than lights, a computer, it’s stock. I love this bike. Heavy but steady is how I would describe it. I’ve had it LOADED and it still handles well. Trek has a lifetime warranty on frame and fork and this bike carries the touring legend for the Trek brand. There are things I would improve, for sure, but overall, a great bike. And in case your wondering, I use this bike for everything. Training, tour, commute, errands, shopping, etc. The only thing I don’t do on it is off-road. I have another bike for that.