By Dick Kraus
OK, so I tend to bitch a lot. It's what I do. That doesn't mean that I'm not happy or that I don't enjoy what I do. Maybe I'm searching for Nirvana. Maybe one day I'll find it. In the meantime, I'll bitch.
These are just random thoughts that I have
been having while I pass the time in airports, waiting for planes. Or sitting
in my car, killing time between assignments. I like to think that Iím
being productive in my down time. So, I have random thoughts. Here comes
Schools are a major source of soft news for the media and we are frequently assigned to cover some event or photograph some teacher or student for one reason or another. Because of the lunatics running around there is a high level of security in place at our schools. Especially after that slaughter at Columbine High School in Colorado. I am fully in favor of the security efforts being taken at the schools to protect the students from the crazies of this world. (Unfortunately, sometimes the crazies are the students themselves, as in the case of Columbine.) I am more than happy to announce myself at the main office upon my arrival. I cheerfully show my press credentials when asked and I have no problem with being escorted to my assignment location by a member of the school administration. BUT, first I have to get into the schools.
Like most suburban schools, the ones on Long Island are spread out over acres and acres of ground. They have a lot of doors. A lot of doors. And they are scattered all around the building. This is good, I suppose. In case of fire, you know. And, all of them are locked from the inside. Except one. Which one? Do you know which one? I sure as Hell don't. One would assume that the one open door would be the one at the main entrance. The one near the main office. The office to which you are expected to report when you enter the building. That would be a good assumption, but it is usually the wrong one. Sometimes it's the door near the gym. Or the door in the back, by the parking lot. Or maybe it's the one by the janitor's slop sink. There doesn't seem to be any rhyme or reason. I love that. It makes my job so much fun. (Please take note of the intended sarcasm.) I schlep about 40 pounds of camera gear in my bag, plus a heavy-duty tripod that I generally use on soft news assignments. Throw in my senior citizenship and a friggin' ruptured Achilles Tendon on my left foot and you've got a very unhappy, gimpy old photographer rattling on every door as he limps around the building trying to find the one friggin' damned open door! By the time I finally gain entrance and get to the Main Office.....well, it's not a pretty picture. Hey, I've got an idea! Why don't the schools mark the one friggin' damned open door with a green light. Oh, well. It's just a random thought.
As long as it has been discussed, let's talk about how I come to have a friggin' ruptured Achilles Tendon in the first place. I felt it pop as I was running to the scene of an accident because the cops wouldn't let me drive any closer. No, this isnít a bitch about the cops. I'll save that for another random thought. In fact, this isn't even a bitch. It's a simple fact of life. It's about progress. Sort of. It's about carrying forty pounds of cameras. Back in the Middle Ages, when I started out in news photography, I had a 4 X 5 Speed Graphic. It was a big, boxy affair and weighed, oh, I dunno, maybe eight pounds. Throw on a flashgun with 3 D Cell batteries and a film holder in the back and maybe you've got ten pounds. Over my shoulder was a leather camera bag which held about ten cut film holders and a film pack as an emergency back-up and perhaps a dozen Press 40 flash bulbs and it totaled 20 pounds. As soon as we started using 35mm cameras, my first reaction was one of joy. No more big, bulky cameras. I could stick two Nikon F bodies in a small camera bag, with a 35mm and a 135mm lens. Throw in a Weston hand held exposure meter, half a dozen rolls of Plus-X and another six of Tri-X, a dozen M-5 flashbulbs and a compact fan flash and I was loaded for bear. The whole kit probably weighed in at under 10 pounds. That's half of what I had been carrying but now I had two cameras. TWO CAMERAS! And two lenses. Ok, so it wasn't long after that when I realized that I needed a wider angle lens. So I found room for a 20mm in the bag. Soon after that, I started shooting multiple flash on my feature and soft news assignments so I needed another couple of flash guns and some wire to hook them up. Plus, I now needed to carry more flash bulbs. OK, OK. I bought a larger bag. Just in time, too, because I got a motor drive for one of my cameras. And you know how much bulk that adds to your camera. I won't bore you with each new piece of equipment that I added after that, and how many times I outgrew my camera bag. Each new line of cameras that came out gave you added versatility but the trade off was bigger size and more weight. Built in exposure meters, auto focus lenses, electronic shutters, zoom lenses. I gave up any hope of carrying my entire inventory of cameras and lenses in my camera bag. I currently have two D-1 digital cameras and one F-5 for film. I was just issued two beautiful Silent Wave auto focus lenses. One is a 28-70. The other is an 80-200. They are fast, quick focusing and sharp as a tack. And they are cannons. No, not Canon lenses. They are Nikon lenses. But they are artillery pieces. They are thick and heavy. But, what a job they do. I needed a new camera bag. So Joe, our equipment supervisor got me a new one.
It's a beauty. It holds one D-1 with the
SB-26 Flash attached and a battery pack for the flash hooked on underneath.
The two zoom lenses and another 15mm super-wide lens fit snugly, along
with 4 rechargeable batteries for the camera and a wallet that holds four
flash cards (no more film). Oh, yeah, there's a compartment in the bag
that holds my laptop computer. I don't keep it in there unless I'm traveling.
I also don't try to pack my 300mm, 600mm, tripod, monopod, and lighting
kits. What I'm trying to say, in this random thought kind of way, is that
I probably have close to 100 pounds of equipment in one form or another.
Even though I mostly carry the 40 pounds in the bag plus another 10 or
20 or more if I take the 600mm, progress has taken me a long way from that
big, bulky 4 X 5 Speed Graphic and led me to this modern era of miniaturization.
Ah, yes, the equipment is smaller than it was. But, there is so Goddam
much of it. Do I want to go back to the Graphic? Hell no! Are you crazy?
(Note the lack of sarcasm at this point.)
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