Another go around with an old friend

Image shown from eBay auction.

In a strange turn of events, I have accidentally won another insane eBay auction. If it weren’t for the amazing effort put in by the eBay support staff after the debacle involving a hostile buyer for my canon 1d (yes my idiot self had to sell a beloved camera for car repair and such), I would have sworn off the site entirely. In the wee hours of the morning I sent a random “joke” offer to a seller for the camera above and they accepted.

For an accidental $8 I accrued through doing those pointless online surveys for dimes, I said why the hell not and made a gamble. It’s tough to find motivation to not be online, despite my amazing surroundings, when you’re stuck with only a broken Nikon f2 eating half of every roll or breaking them mid-roll and my trusted Olympus with its now broken lens.

The focus ring is coming apart due to age. 7 years of going everywhere, I suspect.

This “little win” means so much. If you’re unfamiliar with my older work, ( hint: the images are buried in the earliest posts of this blog.) I used one of these and a Nikon f4s almost exclusively for a few years doing editorial fashion in Florida. I sold my old Argus c44 kit, as they are known, to a friend who fell in love with it. She had developed a focus issue in the geared finder so he got quite the deal. I sincerely can not contain my excitement. These lenses have accumulated a cult following with Sony users creating custom mods for their digital bodies. The “kit” lens has a 19 blade aperture and a full leaf shutter, providing flash sync throughout its entire shutter range. I have a sweet spot for leaf shutters for this very reason. The camera provided a solution to combating the harsh gulf coast sun, where the Nikon usually fell short. In my opinion the lenses rival most Leica lenses in color rendition. Sadly, this was argus’s only interchangeable model. Made in Ann Arbor, MI as well!

These are just a couple of the examples form the previous copy I owned.

With luck, I’ll find a few rolls of film for my trip down to LA. I am still, just shy of the GoFundme goal to repair the car. But the idea of having access to processing chemicals in California is brightening my day. As always, much of this work is for sale, so please message me for any bookings or print orders. Ultimately, this is how I fund my #vanlife. Speaking of which, will from now on be known as #focuslife, as this feels more appropriate to having a normal car and not an $80k custom conversion van, while not also making six figures and “living off the grid” to be trendy. I love the outdoors and I’d rather sleep outside. as always, thanks for the support.

Summer Weddings

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Summer wedding and engagement season is here. My schedule is remarkably free for photographing/videographing weddings and events. I may even be able to sneak in a few portrait sessions. While currently in Montana. I am able to accept appointments throughout the Pacific Northwest. Please email for bookings.

Art is here, too.

This may feel stretchy. I know I sense the elasticity, even as I write this. I have not abandoned my blog. I swear. Though my traveling has slowed to a realistic, not happening at the moment factor, I am finding myself more in an exploratory mode with a few art projects and such.

35mm Kodak b/w c41.
35mm Kodak b/w c41.

St. Petersburg, for love or hate, is home for the time being. Future excursions out of state are very likely, and also much welcomed. Home is a pretty happy place for the time being. It is also a very artsy place as I keep discovering and rediscovering. This last year has found me very busy, mostly at this little bicycle shop in town, but also trying to revamp myself as an artist. It is a good feeling to finally have a reconciliation with my former journalism work and my background in printmaking and painting, finally coming together in my photography.

More importantly, The Toasters are going to become extremely active, but less centered on travel. It needs more art.

Since, I’ve been in this area, I’ve seen a few new exciting places growing and flourishing. We have the Warehouse Arts District, one of many developing powers in the scene here. A new super bad ass eatery is popping up every other day. As is happening, street art and murals like the one pictured with model and local fashion blogger Kat at Costumely are exploding down every alleyway in the downtown area.

35mm kodak b/w c41 process film.
35mm kodak b/w c41 process film.

Its exciting, its art, and its taking hold of this blog.

buckets of the things i need to learn about parachord could fill tropicana field.

I’ll be straight; this is a two parted review. I could go into detail about everything that happened before 1pm, but that’s best left for someone else’s’ lawyers to figure out. After 1pm, I began my day trip north. I set out with a simple mission to try on some of the backpacks I’d been drooling over for months online. It was a nice sunny afternoon to bus/hike/hitch up to the other side of Pinellas County, FL.
My first leg, well the snake rather, almost caught my leg as I took my first twenty steps towards the bus stop by where i’m staying. i startled a 5 foot black racer poised under a bush by the sidewalk. Fast little things. What is it with me and black racers in Florida? I know, I must have mentioned this in a previous posting. The wildlife here never amazes me, As though the state’s ecosystem is always trying to kick out civilized mankind. The bus trip to the transfer with my trusty new camera remained uneventful. The next bus was 25 minutes off, so I ducked into a wendy’s for a frosty. It’s the columbus, oh part of me. I had been avoiding this chain the entire time I lived there and for the past half year. As I finished some fries and approached the stop, a bumper from a newer mustang flew across the road into the sign post in front of me. Thanks to the county for amazing sign placement. I avoided the debris from a 55 mph crash. luckily a woman pulling out of the parking lot near me ran from her car and called 911. As it turned out the camero, hit by the mustang, deployed all its airbags. Neither driver, being only one person per car, sustained any injuries. They both denied the paramedics help. Two totaled sports cars, completely sober drivers, and zero injuries: one hell of an insurance problem for someone, i’m sure. With the stall in traffic, I even caught the bus to just south of Tarpon Springs. Oops. My destination is just outside of Clearwater. Taking some spare time saved for picture taking, I hoofed it to the store, over a few miles and through a really nice Korean War memorial park.

the scene of the accident.

florida has an amazing collection of old war vehicles lying all over the place.

As I thought the stores entrance was on the south side of this park, I walked the length of the park. In hindsight, the backdoor is actually a loading dock for kayak tests, not an entrance, but the employees graciously led me through the door and onto the amazing showroom floor of Bill Jackson’s. This is a store I’d heard about in great detail on the way down through Georgia. The place lives up to the hype and exceeds it in many ways. Unlike a box store, no one pestered me at minutely intervals to ask, too chipperly, if I needed anything. This is one of my greatest pet peeves. But the second I had my first question a gentleman was there with exactly the answers I needed.

the ebtrance to bill jackson’s, just off us 19.

I really only meant to see how the packs felt, but there is something amazing that happens when you step foot into a real live store with real live people, especially such a nationally recognized, locally owned, outdoors store. You spend more money, but you wind up with what you actually need, not what you thought someone else told you to want. No specs or biased, inflated forum reviews. With bags, its just that. You need to speak to someone who actually uses the products. Like shoes and cars, you, also, have to test drive them. I’ve owned as many bags as any bicycle-commuter/weekend warrior and have owned many things that have been returned or suffered catastrophic failures. I lost a laptop down three flights of stairs in college from a faulty shoulder strap, for example. Just as you’d expect from a place like this, the person assisting me took his time to help me get everything right. They offer an amazing $35 pack fitting. Without even asking, I was given a general fit by the associate at no cost. I had become overwhelmed with so many options from kelty, northface, and $900 wonder packs. This store only carries what really works, something for every one’s individual needs, no crap, and nothing that costs more than is worth in practice.
I found out as I combed through each model with my rep that I’d been looking at packs from the wrong perspective. I wound up purchasing an osprey porter 65, from their travel and trekking collection. Basically, what I needed was a backpack/duffel bag/back country hiking bag. Osprey actually makes something that does all this, with out jingling outer straps, can be checked on planes, has a removable day pack(which at $35 I saved to buy later), and all for $129.  I chose the 65l version which is the larger so that i can use the extra room for film supplies and my sleeping bag. For now I find my Timbuk2bag fits perfectly as the attachable day-bag. I hope the photos of all this do it justice, my journey now takes me back home and to the grocery.

What went into the bag.

with room to spare.

Just as I had some bus issues finding the store, these problems persisted. After a bus passed my by at the stop a mile down from bill Jackson’s, I spent a half hour talking about weather, storms, and Florida’s heat with a woman waiting on the next bus. Luckily, I flagged down a pickup driver and went on my way to the downtown Walmart for groceries, skipping the bus, altogether. The bag on my back ignited constant conversations with almost everyone I met. But what better way to test a frame less 65l bag than to fill it with $75 in groceries for the next few weeks, then hike the five miles home. I’m sure the sight was something strange to people downtown. Drenched in sweat, I made it home just before 9pm. My initial findings are that I’ve found the best possibly bag for the way I travel. I may never fill it up to 38lbs in canned goods again, though it handles well. I suited it up with everything I had to normally carry as well, roamed around the house, yet nothing I could do made it difficult to maneuver in or carry. I even found that the cavernous sleeve for the straps to tuck away into at the airport can hold a water bladder, if needed. Not having the extra straps is a godsend. I’m yearning for the daypack to go with it. It’ll give me a system which is actually only one pack when it needs to be, but can be separated when i need something lighter or hop the train. In the coming months, I’ll be able to fully test it out, as I plan on heading back to Ohio for a short family reunion, then out to Vegas to visit with friends. All this after the summer heat passes of course.

a shot of the bag, fully loaded with all my camping gear. smile.

iOS, my savior.

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These last few weeks have been extremely difficult for posting. My old trusty iBook is no-longer handling flash and is crippling my ability to post. On the plus side, iOS and my trusty recycled iPhone are up to the task. So I’ll be posting more, yet slightly shorter pieces. This will give me the ability to cover more of what’s going on and hopefully allow me to dig into some more images that couldn’t work with larger stories.

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On this note, I’ve a started riding bmx again. I guess it’s just a product of the cycling culture in the Tampa area. We have Profile Racing merely two miles from the bike shop I work at. One of the most promising things with traveling is the ability to try new outdoor activities or rekindle things I used to do.

Packing, Working and Managing Flat Rate Shipping.

Sarah and I at the beach.

Today I am celebrating the end of my first official month as a professional vagabond. Following a ferocious night of drinking on the docs at Madeira Beach in Florida, today was spent with some hours at work and nursing a well deserved hangover. These things happen when your gracious host happens to be celebrating her birthday and no one has to drive anywhere. My trip landed me in Florida for a little while. The Tampa area proves itself with daily excursions to the water front with my camera and odd days working at a little bike shop, Bicycle Outfitters, off the main cycling path through St. Petersburg. Strangely this isn’t much of a change from Columbus routine and my coworkers are amazing talented mechanics.

Playing around with one of my Kiron lenses. A hotel at Madeira Beach.

Its obvious, since Sarah and I are parting ways on our travels, that a serious rethinking has to occur with my travel plans. Sarah is headed off to New Orleans, then back north. I am planning on keeping with my original route through Texas then up to Las Vegas. Most of the last week left me repacking, condensing, and rigging my few belongings for a more two legged approach to my transit needs. I shucked the insanely large, military duffel for a smaller, packable 28” shoulder bag. It fits over my shoulder and easily still sits on a bicycles rear rack. Given my new job, and continuation in the bicycle retail industry, acquiring a two wheeled rig to load down appears to be the best way to get to Texas. Cheaper in the long run, and resell-able, if need be. A certain surly has also caught my eye. A few “nice racks” and I hope to be back on my way.

The last major piece, aside from busting my ass at work, means shipping a few heavy weight items back home, or at least to Dayton, with my family. I picked up a large and a medium flat rate shipping boxes from the USPS store. I do love these little boxes. For something designed to serve troops in the Middle East, they are an essential tool for anyone traveling, via backpack over any great distance. My peacoat, as its no longer sub twenty degrees, my busted and expensive camera, some other clothes, and a couple of souvenir gifts for my parents should fill them rather well. My two nikons are awaiting a trip to a nearby camera store to trade for more film. What’s not going is my new amazing military sleeping bag, and my little tent. Everything else lies in three bags and weighs in about 40lbs. I am absolutely proud of myself this week.