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Thread: Credit due to Mr Ashenhurst

  1. #1
    rtbaum's Avatar
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    Credit due to Mr Ashenhurst

    By Barry Ashenhurst

    Iím 66 next month and have been a photographer for 40 years so Iíd know everything about photography if I hadnít forgotten most of it. But I still know a lot about being an old guy with a camera. Taking up photography will give you a reason to go outside and maybe clean up your act a bit. Then you wonít come out of the bathroom looking like Jack Nicholson in About Schmidt.

    Okay here we go. The difference between an old and a young photographer is subject matter. When youíre young you can hike anywhere and carry a large pack but when youíre old you have to go shorter distances in your pyjamas.

    Handy rule of thumb about where to go: In the driveway is good.

    And of course itís important to prepare carefully when you age. If youíre going all the way to the street, take warm clothing and any medication you might need. Tell your wife where youíre going and inform local police. Give emergency services your mobile number and phone home when youíre half way there. That should be somewhere near the garage.

    Handy rule of thumb about trail food: take something easy to chew, like milk.

    Watch for bits of driveway grass that could trip you up, and try not to go arse-over-head on slippery concrete. An upturned geriatric photographer in chequered pyjamas with his legs in the air and dribble everywhere is enough to scare the crows.

    If you tire half-way to the street, remember the old Special Services mantra: I can do it. I can do it. I can do it. If you canít, take a nap. And if you canít remember the mantra, forget what I just said Ö if you havenít forgotten it already.

    If you make it all the way to the street and then feel too tired to continue, call a taxi.

    Now about equipment. Modern camera gear is heavy and cumbersome, designed for 18 year olds with four arms and muscles in their sweat. So, before embarking on your landscape shoot, chuck out anything in your camera bag that could slow you down. That huge 2-stop grad will have to go. So will those heavy lens tissues and any fluff you find hiding in the corners of the bag. (According to the AMA, heavy fluff is the number one killer among geriatric photographers).

    Take only one lens. And remember:
    ē Make it a wide angle; anything longer than 28mm will be heavier than you are.
    ē Donít activate focus beep; youíll never hear it.
    ē Dial up INFO on the LCD. Anything else is too small to read, even with bifocals the size of milk bottles.

    Handy rule of thumb about bracketing exposures: Donít do it. Youíll never remember which is which.

    ē Set the camera to P for Professional.
    ē I glued the rubber viewfinder thingy to my 5D2 because it kept coming off when I pulled the camera out of the bag. Now I canít get my camera out of the bag. So donít glue your thingy.
    ē All camera bags are clumsy and poorly designed so do what I do: carry your camera in a footy sock around your neck. The only drawback with this method of equipment transfer is that when you topple backwards on wet concrete or trip on a blade of grass, the camera will wreak collateral damage. Youíll be upside-down in your $500 North Face mountaineering jacket (over chequered pyjamas) with your legs in the air and a 5D MKII in your mouth.

    The decision about which tripod to carry is always a tetchy one with the elderly because tripods are heavy and unfriendly. But Iíve found two solutions: one; donít use a tripod or; use something lighter than a tripod.

    Iíve discovered through trial and catastrophe that common items from the average geriatric household make good tripod substitutes. For example, Iíve achieved acceptably sharp pictures by balancing my 5D2 on a walking stick, two crutches taped together and even on an oxygen cart. Iíve tried hanging my camera from a catheter too but that didnít work, mainly because the catheter got tangled around my neck and I went down like a starving water buffalo at a Crowne Plaza buffet.

    Handy rule of thumb about tripods and/or wheelchairs: if someone would fit a ballhead to a wheelchair, none of us geriatric photographers would have to walk anywhere - or own a tripod.

    You probably know this, but old bones donít flex as well as new ones and this means youíll have to be careful with picture selection and composition.

    Handy rule of thumb about composition: low angles are dangerous. You could be down there a week.

    I found this out when I had the catheter around my neck and tried to get up quickly after taking the ultimate picture of a fence post.

    Then thereís the matter of what to do with your pictures once youíve crawled back to the bedroom and got the nurse to do the downloading. If you managed to navigate your way through the perilous straits and rocky outcrops of Photoshop, several on-line photo forums cater to the elderly, and since they receive only three or four pictures a year, thanks to those perilous straits and rocky outcrops, theyíll be glad if not overjoyed to publish your pictures.

    Chief among these on-line sites is Soft Tissue, a forum promoting landscape photography among those too infirm to move in any direction. Pixel Pete is another, this one dedicated to 80 year old men who still believe a gallon of testosterone is sloshing around in their systems. Adventure Before Dementia is the new mover and shaker, a colourful, funky site for those who appreciate the larger than normal image format, the big writing, plus the occasional medical explanation, like how come your toe-nails are turning black.

    All in all thereís a lot to get involved in if youíre an over 60s photographer whoís sick of playing Fun Things To Do In The Dark, or youíre bored with the weekly Easter egg colouring competition, exchanging cookies, quilt making, mowing the lawn with an iPad or learning Norwegian.

    Donít worry about Hue and Saturation or Smart Sharpen or Curves or Levels or any of that technical stuff. Just stick the camera on your crutch and leave the rest to Nurse Stoneface. Sheíll be by next Tuesday. Maybe sheíll help you download again. Wonít that be nice?

  2. #2
    Moderator Donald's Avatar
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    Re: Credit due to Mr Ashenhurst

    Wonderful.

    Unfortunately an awful lot of it rings too true!

  3. #3
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    Re: Credit due to Mr Ashenhurst

    Now that was a very interesting read if memory serves me right. I just can't remember what it said - something about Depends? Yes, IT Depends, or something like that. Thank you for posting Randy, you young whipper-snapper! Back when I was your age I could remember the first 10 words or so of songs like 'Mrs Brown you have a Lovely Walker".

  4. #4
    dje's Avatar
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    Re: Credit due to Mr Ashenhurst

    Yes I'm afraid I can identify a little with some of that ! One consolation is that we have more time for photography than those young bucks (and does). Adventure Before Dementia sounds like a great site - must look it up.

    Dave

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    Re: Credit due to Mr Ashenhurst

    I agree with everythind that DJE has just said. And Dave, you have so many beautiful images on your PBase site. They are wonderful, but one thing bothers me. Does your nurse know that you are up and about so early in the morning, and so late at night? Super photos Dave, thank you for sharing them.

    Charles

  6. #6
    tbob's Avatar
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    Re: Credit due to Mr Ashenhurst

    Darn. I was sort of looking forward to retirement so I could have more time to devote to photography.

    The advantage here might be that one of my favorite photography exercises; forcing myself to sit in one place in the forest or in a roadside ditch for ten minutes or until I begin to see opportunities for macro photography images, would convert from a choice to a necessity. I would just have to remember why I am sitting in the ditch in the first place!

  7. #7
    Black Pearl's Avatar
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    Re: Credit due to Mr Ashenhurst

    You paint such a wonderful image of old age......can't wait to drag my failing body into it.

  8. #8
    dje's Avatar
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    Re: Credit due to Mr Ashenhurst

    Quote Originally Posted by charzes44 View Post
    I agree with everythind that DJE has just said. And Dave, you have so many beautiful images on your PBase site. They are wonderful, but one thing bothers me. Does your nurse know that you are up and about so early in the morning, and so late at night? Super photos Dave, thank you for sharing them.

    Charles
    Thank you Charles for the compliment. And no, my "nurse" doesn't know I'm up so early - she's still soumd asleep !

    Dave

  9. #9
    rtbaum's Avatar
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    Re: Credit due to Mr Ashenhurst

    I must admit that have always wondered what people must think when they see some scruffy guy, laying in the woods, on the side of the road, butt sticking up, with his face in the bushes.

  10. #10
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    Re: Credit due to Mr Ashenhurst

    I found the solution !
    When you are young shoot thousand of pictures.
    When you are old, stay home and play with your pictures and push your stuff in some forum !

  11. #11
    darkslide's Avatar
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    Re: Credit due to Mr Ashenhurst

    Brilliant stuff - a huge thank you! Laughed until I...well, I laughed a lot!!

  12. #12
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    Re: Credit due to Mr Ashenhurst

    Super write up Randy. I can certainly relate to your humor...

    I'll be 72 next week! Just waking up on this side of the grass is an accomplishment.

    I have more time for photography and less energy. I have the time and resources to go anywhere I want but don't have the physical agility to go a lot of places. Old Mr. Skin Cancer has been visiting me lately (probably as a result of the many days I spent on the water fishing) and my dermatologist recommends that I don't spend days in the hot sun like I used to.

    That limits my choices of photo venues. I cancelled out on shooting the rodeo a little while ago because we had a freakishly hot day and it was well over 90 degrees farenheit at the rodeo rink and I let discretion overcome valor. I could buy just about any photo gear that I want but, I keep thinking about how much time I have left to use it.

    However, I am better off than some. I looked down at the grass this morning, not up through six feet of earth. I can still see and hear (although not as well as I could when I was younger). I can still drive and I exercise doing water aerobics 2-3x weekly. My wife and I are financially relatively secure and we have wonderful medical coverage due to our choice of jobs from which we retired. We have a great home and wonderful animals who keep us young at heart and happy.

    My mother lived well into her nineties and my dad died in an accident, so I don't know how long he might have lived. Looking back at my family tree, it seems like my family possesses genes that allow a reasonably long life.

    Besides my dogs, I have several enjoyable hobbies that keep me busy and keep my mind active (to a point). Luckily my hobbies such as genealogy can be enjoyed without the expenditure of great amounts of energy. Even photography allows a greatly diverse physical agenda. I would be a very unhappy guy if my only hobby was mountaineering.

    I also enjoy my time spent with my friends on CiC... Thank you all!

  13. #13

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    Re: Credit due to Mr Ashenhurst

    Very funny and too true.

    I was recently sitting on the ground to get the perspective I wanted for a shot, (the knees no longer bend reliably), when a couple was heard to exclaim, “Oh! That poor dear has fallen over – quick we must help her up!) Luckily a friend managed to restrain them, fearing no doubt what the ‘poor dear’ might do with her tripod were she summarily manhandled to her feet.

  14. #14
    rtbaum's Avatar
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    Re: Credit due to Mr Ashenhurst

    I too have continuing bouts with precancerous spots and occasional cancerous. You should be able to cover up with long sleeves and a broad brimmed hat and use that sun screen. I work outdoors pretty much year round, my customers would not recognize me without my 'cowboy' hat, although the scrungy beard may be a tip off.............that and they are getting used to seeing me laying in their lawns taking pictures of some flower.

  15. #15
    rpcrowe's Avatar
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    Re: Credit due to Mr Ashenhurst

    Quote Originally Posted by rpcrowe View Post
    I'll be 72 next week! Just waking up on this side of the grass is an accomplishment.
    This proves that I do have "senior moments" I'll be 72 next month, not next week!

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