I’ve had my Fuji for a couple of weeks now, and I’ve gotten used to most of the differences and quirks compared to my beloved Nikons. While I don’t think I’d go as far to say it’s a replacement for my DSLRs, it’s another nice tool to have in my kit.
My biggest gripe with it right now is the shutter lag. There’s a long enough delay between pushing the button and the shutter closing that it reminds me of my old Canon G3, a distant ancestor of this camera. Even when I’ve got the focus set and the frame composed, there’s 1 loooooooong beat of wait where Finn has moved out of focus or out of frame.
All that said, I’m in love with the quality of the pictures it takes. They are crisp and clean to a degree that even impresses Jen, who complains that all of her Nikon shots are out of focus. The color is great, and the kit lens it came with is better than some of the Nikon glass I’ve got.
I bought a toy for it before we left on vacation: a $20 Nikon lens adapter which allows me to use any of the glass I already own. When shooting in Manual mode, the Fuji has a zoom control that allows me to check the focus within the viewfinder, which is nice; the display has about a million more pixels than any other camera I’ve used but still manages to moire and distort the preview.
So, in short: I’m not ready to sell off all my Nikon gear, but I sure like carrying this around daily instead of a DSLR.
We had to put Pique to sleep today. He was the last of the five cats we brought to this house, and may have lived the longest. He wasn’t a good lap cat, he was dumb as a bag of hammers, his breath stank and he didn’t know his own name. But he was a good cat, and we’ll miss him.
This year, we planned our beach vacation a little differently. Our friends the Morrises had a wedding to attend in the Dominican Republic, so the Dugans were on our own arranging for a rental. We finally found a two-bedroom cottage up the beach from last year’s blue house (sadly, the blue house was bought last fall and looks to have been taken off the rental market by someone with a Tesla) within our price range and secured it in the spring; the description was vague, the pictures dark, and the amenities thin. Still, we took a chance.
We drove up to a beachfront view obscured by a large man-made dune. The rental agency had failed to mention this. The house wasn’t as bad as I feared, but definitely several steps below the luxury of the blue house or our rentals in the Outer Banks. It had been constructed four or five decades ago and upkeep had been minimal, so its age showed. At some point it settled heavily in the back, so the kitchen and everything in the back half of the house leaned 3˚ to port. This made opening the refrigerator door interesting; it wanted to close itself, so getting anything out was like wrestling a shipping container. Unattended cracks in the ceiling and walls showed how much the house had buckled over the years.
We emptied the Honda and settled in, finding the beds to be functional but thin. The master suite held a full mattress, while the second bedroom was stuffed with two bunk beds. One sectional couch was long and comfortable, while the love seat looked like a Miami whore who lost a knife fight. Still, it was air conditioned and it was on the beach.
The dune, we were soon to learn, was a month-old addition designed to fight erosion. Before that, the water had been a hundred yards away from the house. Now it was about five hundred. We walked out after dinner and checked out the water, which was cold at first but warmed up quickly.
Our first couple of days were idyllic and peaceful. We were treated to great weather, and on Sunday after most of the people left, had the beach mainly to ourselves. Finn introduced herself to a boy and girl in the water late on Sunday and I struck up a conversation with their father. We hit it off easily, and they invited us to join their family for a marshmallow roast that evening after dinner. The grill that had been advertised as an amenity turned out to be a mini-Weber knockoff that took a while to light, but I got some brats cooking and we chowed down.
It turned out our new friends were from Ellicott City and leaving the next day, but we made plans to meet up on the beach the following morning before they left town. The girls got along great and we spent time telling stories over the fire and looking at the clear band of the Milky Way above our heads.
Returning back to the house, we were horrified to find the grill had blazed back up and caught the deck on fire. It went out easily with a garden hose, but I had to make an embarrassed phone call to the rental agency the next day to let them know what had happened.
The next few days were full of beach adventure, lazy mornings and afternoons, cold beer at noon, and as little contact with the outside world as we could manage. We took a family ride up the coastal road toward the blue house, and Mama got to know her new bike.
On Wednesday, the Morrises came in the afternoon so Jen made dinner and we shuffled the sleeping arrangements around. The kids got along easily and we adults stayed up talking until midnight. Thursday morning we woke up early, got the beach gear together, and walked out to an empty, windy beach under a partly cloudy sky. The kids couldn’t have cared less and jumped straight into the water, but clouds in the west said there was going to be rain at some point. We made the best of things, staying in the water until about 3:30 or so, but when the thunder started rumbling we packed up and headed in.
Friday morning the weather looked bleak and there was a heavy wind blowing up the coast from Rehobeth–the kind that kicks up stinging sand. We cleaned up the house and put some walking around clothes on, and drove into Rehobeth to have some lunch at Dogfish Head pub. Stopping in a storefront on the way up to the boardwalk, we got Finn a henna design on her arm, and did some window shopping. Then we braved the boardwalk itself to let Finn play some games in an arcade and have her fortune told by Zoltar, who went through his shpeil but then failed to deliver her fortune. The maintenance man stepped in to unlock the cabinet, revealing the space where Zoltar’s lower body should have been was filled with cobbled-together electronic parts from a Radio Shack clearance sale. Way to sell the magic, buddy.
With our fill of white trash and cheap arcade prizes, we headed back home and got a couple of hours on the beach before dinner. The wind had died down and most of the people had gone in, so Finn and I had an hour and a half of alone time in the water while Mama napped on the sand.
Saturday morning we packed up the car and cleaned, and said goodbye to the raggedy house. Driving into Lewes, we got some diner breakfast and then hit the outlet stores to keep from having to drive home immediately.
This week I had the opportunity to attend An Event Apart, a top-level design conference for people who work on the web. The founders are two people I still look up to after almost 20 years in the business, Jeffrey Zeldman and Eric Meyer. The speakers talked on a wide range of topics. Zeldman did the keynote, which was an overview of and advice about working in the business. There were speakers on accessibility, site testing, new tools and techniques, and design philosophies. (It’s somewhat heartening to see that nobody has yet been able to figure out how to move away from the 3-designs-5-sizes-and-a-million-comps model two years after I left the biz).
Monday night we were treated to craft beer at Caboose, a new microbrewery featuring the former brewmaster from Heavy Seas, courtesy of Facebook. Somewhat apprehensive about mingling, I drove to the venue and found my way inside, and after dropping my name in a hat and grabbing a beer (a delicious IPA), I found some folks to talk to and wound up having a very good time. Here’s to getting out of the comfort zone. And it just so happened that I won my very first door prize after 20 years: a set of very nice brush pens, a calligraphy set, and a book.
I told Jen it was the kind of focused experience I really could have used in 2011 or so to re-energize; One speaker alone shared knowledge about current features of HTML5 to alter the way I approach design and building, and another shared 5 new tools for building and testing I might never have known about. Overall, there was enough knowledge to make the conference more than worthwhile even though I’m not directly involved in the business anymore; my job demands that I stay current, and this was a good way to check back in.
I’m about 4 days behind at work (a combination of the conference and one of my designers being on vacation) so it’s hard not to feel some guilt for going, but I’m very grateful for the experience, and conferences like this are something I’ll be pushing for in future years for my staff and I.
This weekend: A Friday night bike ride for ice cream with my girl. A little cleaning. Perfect weather. A trip in the Scout with my family. Delicious barbecue. Picking blackberries in the sunshine. Picking peaches in the evening. Meeting at the Farmer’s Market for produce and an early lunch. A quiet afternoon at the house. Birthday crabs down the street with Bear and his parents. Early bedtime for everyone.
I got my paperwork in the mail from UMBC today, which means I’m officially teaching another class in the fall. I’ve been working on the syllabus for this one for a while, but now that it’s set I’ve got to finish it up and develop about 6 lectures: an overview of concept, a refresher on grid systems (I’ve got some before and after National Park Service brochures for that one), a primer/refresher on paragraph/character styles in InDesign, a primer on typography, maybe some modern typographic history (I’ve got the inaugural issue of Bikini magazine for that one), and whatever else I can cook up. I have no idea how many students I’ll have this semester–last spring I had 18, which was 5 more than I was supposed to–but I’m not afraid of a challenge.