It’s time to minimize my camera gear

Combatting consumerism can be hard. Advertising is a multi-trillion dollar industry that has such sinister goals that they actively hire and keep phycologists on staff to keep cranking out content to make us want stuff.

A vast majority of YouTubers are funded by this same machine, these can be categorized as “Lifestyle Advertisers”. Making videos takes time, making videos people actually want requires high production values, which requires even more time and cost.

Companies send gear out to YouTubers to “review” if their channel meets certain viewership and demographic requirements. There is a perception of there being no implicit bias, such hosts aren’t paid to review the products (such is illegal in many countries), but imagine how afraid you’d be when considering giving a negative review to a provided product?

Do you think a company such as Canon, Sony, Microsoft, Makeup brands, whatever, and so on would consider providing further products to YouTubers who had less than stellar things to say about their products?

And consider the YouTuber. To be successful on YouTube is to have much time, skill, and equipment investment for those production values which gain viewership. It’s very difficult to review products if one must purchase them themselves.

There are some exceptions. AvE doesn’t accept “free” or otherwise provided products for review, period. He relies upon the business model of Patron and some merch sales to afford to buy the products he reviews (often with a brash, yet entertaining perspective).

This channel has awesome Patrons. We have no need, nor any inclination to do corpo shill vids. If you are thinking you’d like me to review your fantastic new banana peeler, I invite you to please fuck off.

That’s the consumerist hole I was finding myself in after watching some hundreds of photography related videos over the weekend and into the week (I’ve been ill and stuck in bed). Sony A7III, awesome! Low light, ISO, 4K! Bla bla de bla.

Yes, the camera is objectively an awesome piece of kit, enough for Nikon, Canon to reconsider their product lines and scramble to put out their own Mirrorless systems. Yes, I could augment it with AI (Arsenal) which is absolutely brilliant, or at least very exciting to me.

But I just can’t justify the cost to purchase and maintain after purchasing. Not only in terms of money, but time and inconvenience lugging around yet another bag with me when I’m traveling.

What becomes of my photos? I upload them to social media.

  1. Instagram has a low ass resolution. 14MP iPhone vs 42MP interchangeable lens camera means almost nothing, in terms of sensors.
  2. Good Interchangeable lenses for 95% of my needed focal lengths are finally available for iPhone, mobile – including native Bokeh with the Moment Portrait Lens, Wide with the Wide Lens
  3. I’m going to take more photos, videos with a camera that I already have on me 24/7. Convenience = Greater Use = More Creativity
  4. Except for low light & audio, devices such as iPhone can do 4k 60fps, 1080 240fps. Moment lenses enable the use of ND filters to drop that framerate down for smooth motion blur and audio can be synced later in post with an external recorder
  5. Accessories are much cheaper, smaller. Osmo Mobile 2 is under $200, while something like the Ronin-S is $699

I don’t plan on shooting any indie films anytime soon & I can still shoot RAW with my iPhone for a flexible post experience. Sure, I’m losing tons of low light performance, but how often do I shoot at night anyway?

If I get a wild hair up my ass and want to shoot my friend’s band or something, I can rent the most modern equipment for a weekend from several online sources for cheap. No depreciation of value and the exact gear one needs without upfront costs. Maybe I can even ask for whoever I’m shooting to cover the gear. This same use model can be used for vacations.

Maybe someday I’ll deem it joyful enough to own another dedicated camera and would get enough use out of it to justify the cost.

Until then.

Portland! And camera stuff, apparently

It’s official. Our flights are booked to Portland to leave in a short while. It’ll be the first time I’ve been on the West Coast since I was in California as a teenager.

I’m looking forward to the rolling hills, mountains, liberal peeps and I’m sure Manda will quite enjoy the widespread Vegan fare, seeing the ocean for the first time.

I think that I’m ready to give flying a shot again. If the recent party of being med free with Anxiety, Agoraphobia is a benchmark (rolling around onto two months now), I have the suspicion that I should fare just fine. For everything else, there’s Xanax.

It may be the first time that I stay at an Airbnb. I’m not quite sure what to expect, but I have an open mind.

I’ve been getting more into photography recently. I have a growing understanding of aperture, ISO, shutter speed, focal lengths, crop factor, framing, composure, lighting, ND/Polarizers, bla bla bla bla. It’s one thing to be a gear whore, another to actually build experience.

I keep trying to convince myself that a 24MP APS-C with dual pixel autofocus is good enough for my skill level. A full frame Sony A7III has a backlit sensor, EyeAF, 10FPS burst & sweet sexy 4k video with SLOG3. The fucking lenses are around $2k each, with fast primes going for $899! One can pick up a used Canon L lens for more than half the price.

My current setup is a Canon Rebel T7i with a fast f1.4 50mm for portraits/night and a Tamron 18-400 superzoom for daylight photography. ISO is usable up to 12k.

Another reason for wanting to go mirrorless is handheld shooting with Arsenal, the machine learning, magical ISO, Aperture, Shutter speed, timelapse, photo stacking, kills artistic expression, end of creative photography monster that will be coming out.

People complain about each innovation in the artistic space. “Oh, noes! Rangefinder cameras will kill the art form!”. Meh, I don’t care as much – I’m a technical shooter and enjoy the technological aspect of it. Fucking around with the deep learning AI sounds complex enough to keep me entertained after I memorize things like what shutter speed works for x situation.

But one thing that I don’t like is Canon intentionally gutting video features from their “lower end” products to ensure continued sales of their cinematic line. The marketplace is finally changing with companies such as Sony and Panasonic releasing featured 4k “DSLRs”, it makes me wonder if I should hold out and see how Canon responds with their mirrorless lineup (cheaper glass, yo).

But then I have to ask myself, is it even worth it? This is a hobby for me, one that I enjoy, but I’d never make money with it. The 14MP sensor in the iPhone is more than adequate for Instagram, Social Media, plus it fits in your damn pocket.

With Apps like focos, you can expose the depth data from the dual camera iPhone to refocus in post?! I guess it comes down to low light performance (small sensors = smaller pixels = shittier low light performance) and glass options.

It boils down to what one needs, versus what one wants. Is lugging around a device that I can’t stuff in a pocket going to be a help or a hindrance to my travel experiences? Is the novelty as a hobby enough to justify the investment?

I haven’t the slightest of an idea and I shouldn’t make any decisions until I do.

In other news, being sick fucking sucks. The distraction of writing is helping pass the time, yo.

Look at that fake ass fog effect that I was too heavy handed with while messing around in LensEffects.

Inner, mid, outer ear infection, sore throat, runny nose, yellow mucus. Yum. Delicious. I’m half deaf and can’t really talk. You would be surprised at how much I’m complaining and moping around in misery (I’m not). Whenever I feel like crying or becoming a mess, I remember that life is beautiful and this pain is a gift to experience, as the alternative is being dead, in the ground, incapable of anything. Ha! Or like, its humbling to be sick because you are more grateful when you aren’t. Sometimes you need your ass kicked to put things into perspective? Woo, positivity. Optimism.

Or, I suppose that forcing myself to get shit done, like putting together nightstands, running to the store, whatever makes me more prickly and less filtered with my words. Whatevs. WHATEVER. I reject your reality and substitute it with cheezepufs.

Oh dude, last thing. Remember that 3D Printer that I kickstarted like a year ago, that was supposed to be my first 3D Printer, but I consumerist’d out and tried to buy shit to fulfill personal happiness, for a lack of self love; so I ended up going into debt and buying three? Then I bought three more from the same kickstarter, then traded in those three in credit for one big ass machine?

Yeah. That is coming on Thursday. Its massive with an almost 400x400x400 build surface, is fully enclosed, has dual mixing material support, has an ARM processor, is a CoreXY, and so on.

I’ve been without a 3D Printer ever since I brainfarted in December and sold off my Taz 6 to buy a vacation that I didn’t say more than 24 hours at, brilliant. I’ve been craving designing and printing things like a fat kid wants to break into Dairy Queen at 3am.

Oh noes! Doesn’t that mean that you are copious consuming again, Ross? Fuck no. I still need to like, go through my clothing and the remainder of the stuff that’s been moved here when we moved in to get rid of even more stuff, but overall – I don’t need this printer to be happy.

Instead, it’s a mindful decision to seek out things that bring true joy and push out the rest. It also has utility, by being able to manafacture my own goods right here in the good ole USA, in my garage, whenever I want for base material and time cost.

Things like Donald Trump buttplugs, apparently.

P.S. Cats are sometimes douchebags.

Home is wherever I’m with you

July always seems to breeze on by for me. As soon as you hear fireworks, you’ll see Halloween decorations being sold with the thought, “Too soon! Too soon!”. So, how have I been spending my summer?

Bike riding has been a cornerstone activity for me. I find the physical activity to be grounding. I’m seeing myself biking for an hour a day, sometimes more. Eventually, your ass stops hurting, and you start building endurance.

Lola has taken quite the liking to bike with me. Amanda joins us every so often, although she wiped out the last time we were out (along with Lola running her over).

Swimming has been a frequent activity. The feeling of floating, bobbing in the water, wrapped around Amanda like a Koala Bear, and her I, is one of my favorites. Lola loves the water.

Anxiety & Agoraphobia has been mute. I haven’t been on medication for a few months now. I find myself biking tens of miles a day, dragging my RV around the Midwest, doing just about anything. I finally feel free, like I can live now. It’s fantastic.

Summer break with Lola is always a welcome challenge. This year has been a bit more challenging due to living in a 200sq ft space on the road. While an RV can undoubtedly be comfortable for two adults, throwing a child into the mix leads to the feeling of being on top of each other.

Never the less, we spent much time outside. Lola enjoys photography; it was something that she picked up on her own.

My favorite shot of Lola’s

Moving in together with my partner has been the highlight of the summer. Our love languages continue to complement each other, leading to a mutual feeling of care, appreciation. I can’t explain it, but everything is simple and works. We maintain our agency, independence and treat our relationship as a mutual meeting place.

It’s the willful embrace that we aren’t perfect, that relationships take work. That people change, goals and priorities change. That you have to always put yourself first in everything that you do. We continue to heal ourselves and each other. I’m excited to what the future brings, but find myself perfectly content with existing in the here and now.

First weekend trip with Manda and RVLyfe update

We started out the weekend by replicating much of our first date in the RV. We baked Vegan Sweet Potatoes.

We loaded up and headed to Lafayette, IN to work on the old place. My friend Travis whom I met on Facebook Marketplace, of all places, offered for us to park the rig in his backyard. He owns a gorgeous property!

Campsite setup!

Luke going for a morning walk

I found that the replacement for the bus, a Ford F250 with a 6.2L V8 to be more than adequate for pulling the ~8,000Lbs trailer. We averaged 8MPG with mostly highway driving. Compared to the overtaxed 5.4L Triton on the aerodynamic brick of the E350 bus, it was a confidence inspiring experience.

Saturday night we headed to Logansport, IN to see family in celebration of my mother’s and brother’s birthday. A cookout and bonfire out in the country. We finished out the night stargazing.

Kevin swinging. Happy Birthday!

Hanging out in the “introvert trailer.” Family time is excellent, with some quiet time

Manda and I on the swingset.

There was no setup. We merely connected power and slid out the slides

Taking a ride with Silverbell to pick up birthday presents

RVLyfe, minimalism, anxiety, and agoraphobia

I find that while the novelty has worn off, I remain excited to experience independence and exploration. There is and always will be more minimalism and organization to achieve. After all, everything I own resides in this rig.

Something my daughter said still reverberates in my head, that I’m “running away from my problems.” She is nine years old. Let’s explore that a bit as it’s been bothering me. Maybe she will read this one day.

I could see that within a society which idealizes home ownership, consumerism, “settling down” and judging personal happiness on the quest of acquiring material goods – that my chosen path may seem unusual.

There could be other reasons, such as living in Lafayette for the better half of five years, most of that time spent while I was with Elaine. Lafayette may represent “home” for her.

Regardless of the reason, I have to say that, instead, I’m running head-on into my problems. Do you have any idea how terrifying this life I have chosen can be to someone who has agoraphobia and anxiety?

A few years ago I couldn’t drive a block away to the store by myself.  If I got stopped at a red light, I started panicking, turned around and drove home as quickly as I could. I felt trapped and in extreme danger.

A few years before that, I stopped eating solid food for fear of choking. I was so hyped up that I’d gag and end up choking. This went on for a few months until I became so miserable that I wanted to choke on food and die. DIY exposure therapy, I began eating again once the pain of remaining the same became more than the pain of change.

I remember going to the Chinese Buffet, preparing an enormous plate of food that I can muster, and screamed to myself, “You are going to choke and die on this.” It became more comfortable, and more natural until I had sufficient exposure to normalize eating again.

Last December, when my life fell apart, I was at a rather dark place. Up until that point in my life, I spent my life in the pursuit of being a people pleaser. I was co-dependent and changed myself to appease others. I stayed in relationships far past their sell-by date in fear of not being able to exist alone. I was a fraud.

I have no greater fear than vomiting and this catalyst for change is much like vomiting for me. One time I consumed a large bag of spoiled pistachios. I became ill, yet through some extreme meditation, I managed to hold it in for a few days. I was more than miserable, the contents of my stomach were poison.

But I’ll never forget the moment that I chose that enough was enough. I went to the bathroom in terror, yet with the sheer determination that if vomiting would kill me, I invited it. I then proceeded to projectile vomit everywhere, all over everything. The feeling of relief was so thick that it was spiritual. I felt like I was born again.

Through sheer determination, I began driving alone. I started traveling. I severed connections to the possessions that I found the illusion of comfort in, distractions. Escapes from my problems. I cut everything and everyone out of my life that tried forcing an identity upon me. I let go.

At that critical juncture of my life, where I could choose to keep holding it in like I did for so many years, meditations to distract me from my problems. Relationships, possessions, hobbies, time wasters. I chose instead to engage in the terrifying thing that I could imagine: An independent lifestyle of travel, as a minimalist.

#RVLyfe for me isn’t a hashtag Instagram curated life. It’s the willful exposure to discomfort, challenge for continued growth and achievement. I often go to bed emotionally, mentally and physically exhausted, but with a humbling feeling of accomplishment and growth.

As for Manda? I’ve accepted that for myself; life is more fulfilling spent with a partner. We have more than adequate communication, problem-solving skills. We share more intimacy and vulnerability than I’ve ever experienced before in a relationship. There will undoubtedly come times in which we will need to support each other when we are weak.

But I think that we both have had our fill of emotionally unavailable, co-dependent relationships to not slip into toxicity. It’s easy, yet challenging enough to continue inspiring growth for the both of us, just as it should be.