Monday Musings

I was running late this morning and even though I really love to walk downtown every day, I jumped in a cab. The cabbie was an older Indian man and we had a delightful conversation. He didn’t have a divider between the front and back seats, which I prefer. We talked about drivers and road rage and the dangers of being robbed when driving a taxi.

He had a very pleasant way about him. Very calming. He told me a story of three young guys getting in his taxi and directing him to an address on the west side. He said they were drinking and smoking, which he let them do. They told him to put on the radio so they could groove to the music and he did. At one point one of the guys asked him how much money he had in the cab because they were going to rob him. Rather than try to prevent them from taking his money, or telling them he didn’t have any, he asked them how much they wanted. They told him they wanted $200. He had $250 and gave it to them. Amazingly, he gave them his phone number and told them to call in case they needed a cab again.

As they were approaching their destination, the old cabbie said one of the guys, he said you could tell he was a good kid, he started to have second thoughts about robbing him. The kid was telling the other guys they should give the money back. And amazingly… they did. In fact they gave him $40 for the ride on top of giving the money back.

The old cabbie said we can all avoid danger if we respond in a way that does not escalate the situation. By not only not fighting the idea of being robbed, but offering them kindness he completely diffused what could have been a deadly situation.

It made me think about our world, our country, our government and how much different things might be if the old man who was driving me was President of the United States. We’ll never know.

It made me think.

It’s been a great couple of days. I had another amazing shoot with my beautiful friend Morgan. We took advantage of the Chicago spring weather and went out to a nice sunny space on the side of my buidling and then up to the roof to catch the light of the setting sun. Lovely.

I also am working with a new light that I’ve been saving for her. It’s a classic fashion ring light and it creates a very specific look. Perfect on Morgan’s skin which is very white and creamy. We’ll be using that more in the future. She looks gorgeous in that light. This is an image from our first pictures with it.

On a slightly different note, since I’m using more digital technology than film these days, I’m relying a lot more heavily on computers than traditional darkroom equipment. But I’ll never stop shooting film. Film has a quality about it that I still miss when I shoot digital. It might have something to do with the fact that a digital image always starts out in color even though I may be imagining the image that I’m creating in B&W.

It’s hard to explain, but when I’m photographing an image that is specifically a B&W art photograph, I compose it differently. Color has as much to do with composition as anything else in the photograph. If I’m shooting in B&W, I look to shapes and brightness and darkness when composing. If I shoot an image and see it in color first before I change it to B&W, it takes a while to get used to the color intermediate stage.

Morgan and I were having dinner the other night and talked a lot about my art and what I’ve been doing the last few years It really was important to talk about because I’ve been trying to grow as a photographer. She’s been working fairly closely with me on several projects and she had a very interesting perspective on what a “Billy Sheahan” photograph is. I may have to think about it a little more before I can write about it. I have a lot to think about. One of the things I value most about working with Morgan is her perspective on my work as well as the work we create together. It was a great conversation and I appreciate her words and wisdom as well as her beauty in front of my camera.

Back to the technology. In the last few months I’ve having some issues with my computers. So much trouble in fact that several of my major hard drives have been failing and only because I’m meticulous about backing up my work, I haven’t yet lost any of my images. But I’ve had a few close calls. I have thousands of images that were created as digital files. There is no negative to go back to if the drive crashes and there is no backup. The digital file is the negative.

During Morgan’s shoot on Saturday I managed to get my computer back up basically only enough to copy images from my camera memory cards to my hard drives, but even that was dicey. So on Sunday I took the whole system down. Unplugged everything. I have four terabytes of storage for my photography including the backup drives. I mounted the drives one by one, updated the firmware on all of them, ran diagnostics and reordered and redesigned how they are connected to my system. As I was running the test software I kept getting a message that there was an unknown firewire device still hooked up to my computer. Hmmm. All my drives were disconnected.

The iSight camera. Ah yes. Those little cameras, while incredibly easy to use to video chat with friends near and far, they do have a reputation for causing gremlin-like havoc with other firewire devices, such as hard drives. I had forgotten about that. Maybe all I had to do was unplug that little bugger. But my system is probably healthier because of a day of maintenance. It will pay off in the future.

You see, there was a time when I was fascinated by technology. I was a nerd. I still have a reputation for being a go-to guy when you’re having trouble with your Mac. But it seems like I am not really interested in keeping up with the technology at the level that I did only a few years ago. It’s not that I don’t want to know how my tools work, but I don’t think I’m as willing to spend as many hours a week, reading and researching and testing that I once did. I have too much I want to accomplish and being a nerd is getting squeezed out by the fact that I want to experience my art and my life and my time with people I care about.

Maybe it’s because it’s my birthday this week and I’m in a reflective mood, but I have a lot to do yet in my life. Too many things I want to experience and accomplish. I’m happy to pass my pocket protector to the next guy.

I want to make beautiful things. It doesn’t matter what tools I’m using to that end.

And in the spirit of my birthweek, I want to say thank you to some important people in my life who I will thank personally in private this week. They are the ones that have helped me grow this year more than I have in many recent years. I will be around to have many more happy and healthy birthdays in the future because of their encouragement and support and love.

Thank you. And happy birthday to me!

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