Portrait of a Meaningless Marriage

No matter how much fun folks appear to be having on social media, it is painfully apparent what is going on these days. People are lonely.

Even if those folks are in a seemingly loving relationship, sharing a beer with him or her will usually lead to them telling you that they have no outlet for their true feelings. They are in a secure relationship, rooted in children and marriage, but they are utterly lonely.

These days, relationships are more about marking off life’s checkboxes and social status achievements than the real exchange of feelings and seeking a deeper understanding of what it means to be a loving person. I’m not saying people are decidedly shallow these days (well maybe I am) but I do think people have far too many options and distractions to have meaningful relationships.

Perhaps 200 years ago a couple, with no glowing electrified devices around, actually had to talk to one another while they lay in bed. Back then only one adult had to work per household. There wasn’t an unspoken sense of competition built into the relationship. A young couple, having avoided polio and the Black Death and insane infant mortality rates, we’re not throttled by individual ambition. A disgruntled lover could not pick up a phone and dial her mother to complain about every little thing her man does. Her mother, who lives 100 miles away, can’t tell her grown daughter to “come home then.” … thus dissolving a young relationship before it can be strengthened by overcoming workable conflicts…

People want fairy tales. It’s way deep and too much to get into for this format. I may write a book about it. Who knows?

Exit.

Dating Profile…

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I have never looked better.

 

I have never felt better physically, besides maybe when I was in boot camp in Great Lakes, Illinois or training at the RTC in San Diego, California…

 

I have never been more at peace. It’s a hard-fought, uneasy peace at times, but it is peace nonetheless.

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I’ve never been more single though. I’m single as shit. It’s crazy really…

 

My retreat from the grips of “all-social-media-all-the-time” has been documented, (and needed) but I have also retreated from dating sites. They suck these days, dating sites…

 

Dating sites worked well maybe 10 years ago for guys like me perhaps, but not now. They don’t work as well today for me because my expectations have changed a bit. Also, I see the same people on all the sites I have tried in the area. Just recycled profile pictures all over the place.

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I suppose I have resigned myself to the reality of living and dying alone. This arrangement isn’t all bad at the moment, but it could suck pretty badly if I reach old age and still haven’t found a nice pretty lady.

 

Pretty is a thing too for me. I’m dead ass sick of being rejected by mediocre looking women. If she isn’t truly exceptional looking then I’ll take my chances elsewhere. She also needs to be fit. I spend hours in the gym each week. She at least needs to be in shape.

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The older I get though, the more I realize that the entire “mating and dating” phase of my life isn’t exactly in its beginning stages. I’m far closer to the end of the era where my reproductive drive dictates the majority of my decisions. Nowadays, I just want to plan and make art when I’m not working. I don’t want any stress related to pleasing another fussy human. I don’t want to be responsible for the emotional well being of another adult. Not yet. Soon maybe…

 

The Follower…

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I have never been comfortable with the concept of being a follower.

This attitude and subsequent behavior pattern for me dates back to my days as a toddler, according to my mother. I’ve always been a bit of a rebel she says, or more precisely, a little badass free agent.

Not to say I haven’t followed behind friends and done dumb shit. Of course I have. Those experiences just made me more adamant about not being a follower.

So along comes Twitter and then Instagram and these apps ask me to follow people and try to attract followers by any means…. and ya boy Ric Ray is immediately offended. Followers huh?

I mean, Tom of Myspace didn’t ask me to follow him. Tom wanted to be my friend. I sort of liked that about Tom. Even Facebook went the “friend” route and did so more intimately by limiting the number of friends I could have to 5 thousand. As far as reductionism is concerned Facebook is an outlier. IG and Twitter put no limits on the number of followers you can amass. Myspace had no limit to the number of friends you could add.

IG doesn’t limit you. Nope. Your pathetic, uninteresting, pedestrian life limits you. Ive never had more than a few hundred followers on any platform….

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I’m too humble to think myself so fabulous that I’d have actual followers. To be fair though, I know “follower” in the social media sense means that this or that person is following my feed, not the creepy “Jim Jones in Guyana with a few cups of cyanide and a cult” type of followers…..but it still seems contrived and unseemly. Of course someone like Taylor Swift has millions of true followers and deservedly so. She’s a megastar. Perhaps a person who amasses say… 25 thousand followers on Twitter can have a slice of that megastar feeling. Maybe for a price…

You of course can buy followers. You can also “follow for follow” with people and then get sneaky and unfollow them so you can have that golden ratio of 1000 to 1 followers.

Like when you look at some pop star’s follow/follower count and she has 1.2 million followers but only follows 1200 people….Nice.

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I just don’t like the concept of following anyone. No one is worth following to me really. I don’t care what my favorite rapper is doing this evening or when my favorite pornstars’ next live cam show is happening. Who gives a fuck?

The reasons I’m done with IG and Twitter sort of mirror my hesitancy to buy into bitcoin at the current time… Allow me to explain….

Bitcoin was good to get into early. You could mine bitcoin without using a completely prohibitive amount of power (electricity) to do so. Nowadays mining bitcoin can only be undertaken by people (or sovereign nations) with a lot of money and resources already at their disposal, like North Korea for instance. Otherwise your ROI will be negative in all but the most ideal circumstances. Similarly Twitter was hot to get into early when people were following like crazy, but a few million spam bots and Nigerian email scams later and people are a bit more conservative with their follows, UNLESS you are a person with a lot of fame, money, and resources…..

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I hate following people and honestly I don’t like being followed. Facebook even tries the follower thing but it’s not well defined and it comes off as sketchy. They can keep it. They all can just keep it…..

Exit.

The Slow Death of Instagram and Facebook….

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“IG just ain’t right no more…”

The hunger to be liked is perhaps the most addictive non-chemical phenomenon I’m aware of. Nearly every effort we partake in is in some manner to make someone start to or continue to like us. Who is that someone? For devout Christians or Muslims it’s God who must like us. (There is hell to pay if he doesn’t like us.) While dating, especially when we are young, it is imperative that our lovers…like us. At least it should be. At work we want our bosses or clients to like us. It certainly seems counterproductive when they don’t like us.

Is seeking to be liked wrong? Nah. It’s fine. Being liked is all about congruency. Fitting together with others is fundamental. I mean, truly fundamental. Atoms bond with nearby atoms and form molecules based on how easy it is for them to share resources. They “like” one another, so they bond.

So why am I shorting my stock in Facebook and Instagram? To put it simply, it’s because both platforms have rigged the system to control how many likes a user gets on a particular post. Initially, it was a combination of a meritocracy and a chronological reward system. Post timely, good content and get showered in likes and promotion for you self, your brand, etc…

Now Facebook and Instagram have put an invisible vending machine interface between you and those followers and their precious likes. This after years of letting people exchange likes for free, unfettered.

For me, my instagram posts generated twice and many likes when I had half as many followers…

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Now, after a very recent algorithm tweak (or I might be shadowbanned 🤔) my likes trickle in at a snails pace. Slower even. I have deleted and reinstalled the IG app a few times as I debate abandoning the platform altogether. As for Facebook I still use it but only for messenger and to scroll memes and news. My posts get substantially less likes than they used to on there of course….

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I have a serious glamour photography business developing here, and chasing IG likes seems like something I should let my gorgeous models worry about. Not me. Even they don’t get the engagement I think a typical flawless twenty something should get. I mean, a pretty gal has always been able to trade on her beauty as a commodity. If you try to force pretty girls to pay to execute that commodity trade, then they will eventually evaluate the commissions you charge (for advertising etc) and maybe go elsewhere. Instagram is losing its fundamentals. Facebook has good fundamentals but is starting to feel dated and repetitive. Perhaps some new way of exchanging real time data is around the corner. I say bring it on….

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Exit.

WHAT IVE BEEN DOING ON SUNDAYS II

I haven’t been watching football on Sundays this year.

Why?

Who knows?

I have been shooting aspiring models and friends though.

 

FUJI X100F – 6 Month Review

Enter.

I like this little camera. Model Ana Rivera ain’t bad either.

So it has been 6 months since the Fuji X100F debuted and I of course purchased the first one sold in my city of Baltimore. In fact, I have yet to see another X100F in Baltimore, but I digress. Since I bought the camera I’ve shot ~5000 photos and spent untold lunch breaks going through the menus. I’ve shot sports sidelines, pretty models, and I’ve shot and killed streets. I’ve hooked up an external flash, more on that later, and have fallen in love with using the LCD only to shoot.

WHAT I LOVE

I started out with this camera thinking I could shoot jpegs using those cute film simulation modes. I really tried to make it work too. My favorite one is ACROS (followed by Classic Chrome). I used ACROS a lot. I knew though, that sometimes I needed to record a scene in color so I quickly started shooting RAW + Jpegs to my card, which slows my Lightroom flow down, but it was manageable. Then, at some point, I downloaded the fuji film simulation plugins from some damn place on the internet and installed it in Lightroom. That way I could change a Fuji (only Fuji) RAW file to the Classic Chrome look if I wanted, or whatever. After a while I figured there really is no fucking difference between the in-camera jpeg film simulations and the Lightroom plugin camera conversions, AND I noticed that Fuji RAW files have a shit ton of dynamic range. I shoot all RAW now. Fuck it. Those in-camera film simulation modes are too cute for me…

I never understood or cared about having a leaf shutter until I started shooting sidelines at sporting events. I normally shoot 1/1000 F5.6 and auto ISO range 200-800 during the day for streets. When I’m shooting events I turn on the built-in fill flash just for shits and giggles. This is when I discovered that I could overpower the sun and create these hauntingly half dark images. I continued this trend later shooting models using an external flash….

The image quality beats the unholy fuck out of my Canon 5d Mark III, even when the DSLR is coupled with the world class 70-200 2.8 IS II lens. This little Fuji point-and-shoot compact beats it handily as far as micro contrast and sharpness is concerned. RAW to RAW the Fuji wins handily when it comes to dynamic range for both shadow pulling AND highlight recovery. Colors are more of a taste thing, but I find Fuji colors to be more accurate than Canon, even though Canon’s colors are warm and lovely.

The face detection works reasonably well, and it will even detect a models eye (left or right depending on your chosen setting) when it feels like it.

 

This is most likely the finest street photography camera ever made.

Models and subjects smile at this camera, as opposed to my big ass Canon which makes folks get all serious or run away.

THINGS I HATE

The afl/ael button is useless and positioned horribly. I have reassigned it to change my focus type.

The control ring concept is so horrid that I try my best to never touch the lens unless I’m changing apertures.

What the fuck is up with Fuji and off camera flash? Nothing works right. I can get my Canon (actually a Pixel Mago) flash to fire in manual using a chord that I have to jiggle and pray to get it to work. When it works the results are good though. I’m getting the X-T2 and some lenses soon as well as this new Godox flash trigger and flash unit that’s supposed to work with Fuji TTL and HSS and do it all wireless. We shall see…

I hate the view mode button. God forbid you ever hit that bitch by accident and spend an hour thinking your camera is malfunctioning. Perhaps I’m just an idiot but still….

FINAL THOUGHTS

This camera is a nice intro into the Fuji universe and also has a leaf shutter. That’s the deal. The jpegs are good but overrated. The RAW files are superb. It’s compact yet made of steel. It’s sharp as fuck. It’s silent. The autofocus is good in single shot mode. If you’re a street photographer this camera is superior to almost any camera you can buy besides a manual focus Leica and maybe my beloved Leica Q. None of those cameras have a fill flash though. This one does….

Exit. Please like and subscribe.

Tee shirt available at: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B073X8L6WS

Model: Ana Rivera @myrlanis_ on Instagram.

Muggy Summer

This summer has been very hot and muggy. Blame global warming I guess, but if I’m going that far I may as well blame the sun while I’m at it…..

I’m gearing up to accept a second sports photography gig for the school year. Here goes….

I’ve been shooting street, working full time hours at my day job, and launching a few other business ventures. I’ve also resumed investing in my potential retirement. Here goes….

Single again. Here goes…..

Summer means scooting around on my Harley. I’ve been doing that a lot. If I wasn’t so busy maybe I’d combine my rides with street shooting….

The next big purchase for me is the Canon 1dx II. Then after that I’ll try to get the 300mm 2.8 IS II…..

Besides that shit is real. Keep banging….

Exit.

PHOTOGRAPHY: The Meaningless Struggle

Nobody cares about your photography.

Of course people enjoy glancing at your photos, or maybe they just enjoy “liking” photos on various social media outlets. Hard to tell. It’s very simple to “like” a large number of photos in a short span of time if you want to. In fact, you barely have to know what you’re liking. You scroll and like, all the way down the feed until you get bored, and maybe if you’re lucky somebody will “like” you back….

We sure would like for our photos to be liked, and I don’t mean social media liked…. I mean deeply liked. I know I would like that.

Well…. I think.

Would you like that? We spend a lot of money on gear and time on social media pumping our brands. I know I do. Maybe I should do more. Hard to tell. Will I ever get people to like my photos or will I simply get people to “like” my photos? Hard to tell….

Am I even good? That’s not hard to tell. I haven’t been shooting for very long and I don’t have any formal training so my guess is I’m average at best. Does that even make a difference? I see photographers who are definitely not good have wild success due to their networking skills and personal charm. Is being good overrated? Hard to say….

Delilah Jean never goes outside they said….

We struggle so hard to get a foothold in this business but for what? I could rob an NYC subway train car at gunpoint, demanding each passengers cell phone, and I’m certain that 100% of those phones have cameras on them. Everyone is a photographer these days to some degree. In fact, many folks with cell phones shoot more photos per day, thereby getting far more practice, than art-school bred professionals. An Instagram model may have 2000 photos on her page while an artist might think he’s one of the best in the world having an online portfolio of 20 photos. Both may have thousands of followers but for different reasons, even though the reasons intersect at the corner of brand popularity and photographic content….

This is a micro-struggle indeeed. The fate of our great nation does not hinge on the need for a person to buy a better lens to take better portraits. Still, sometimes I wonder if any of what we do in photography is worth it when nobody gives a fuck about our photos anyhow. In fact, if you let art-school geeks tell it: most people don’t know how to give a fuck about photography. We lack the necessary education and refinement to do so. We’re photographic savages basically…

Well, I won’t give a fuck if you don’t. Let’s keep posting photos we snap and maybe I’ll slap the shit out of an art-school nerd just for fun. Sometimes it feels good to bully the bullies….

Exit.

Street Photography and the Irrelevant Majority

Let me get two boring but true aborted blog titles out of the way to start:

Street Photography is Art.

Street Photography is Journalism.

This blog post is more about journalism than art for this particular point…

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Striped shirts make me think of France for some reason…..

With that done let me get to the meat of my point. Typically journalism documents famous people, criminals, politicians, athletes, and war. I am none of these things. Neither are most of you. Most of you are just regular folks with regular jobs and regular numbers of Instagram followers. Most of you don’t matter in the grand scheme of social media or even your local church or civic organizations. Most of you, of us, will matriculate through history with only selfies, family portraits, embarrassing school photos, and equally embarrassing party candids as our visual legacy.

Some of us however, will be fortunate enough to catch the random eye of the growing number of street shooters out there. Street shooters are not the paparazzi. We photograph nameless people with the intent of posting or printing the likenesses of those people to be preserved forever. Street photographers document the history of you, of us, the irrelevant majority.

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I admittedly haven’t worn headphones outdoors in years. I wear them everyday at the gym however…

1000 years from now people will look back at street photography and be able to glean what life was actually like in the early part of the 21st century. They will, our descendants, notice that celebrity and standard journalism, coupled with selfies and social media branding, can be contrived and propaganda driven, whereas street photography is pure. I take a photo of a woman walking and that’s all it is: a woman walking. I have no agenda. I am not trying to sway public opinion for some financial or other nefarious end. I am not sure more than a handful of people will ever see the photo. Nonetheless I am protecting the integrity of history in the truest sense. I see. I compose. I shoot. I record the history of us. I stay low and I keep shooting

Now ignore everything I just wrote and like and share my blog post so I can someday rule the world….

My Social Media Blackout

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Canon 5d Mark III with a 50mm 1.2 lens…

I don’t know if you fine citizens in America have noticed but social media is nearly unusable during the weeks leading up to an election for President. I can’t enjoy one good WorldStarHipHop fight video before I see folks who only watch CNN when there is a tragedy, all of a sudden write posts as if they are talking heads or political pundits. I had no idea watching two debates on TV gives a citizen an honorary degree in political science.

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“Get out. Bye”….my reaction when I see a mean spirited call-for-action political post on my timeline. 

So this week more than any other before, my Facebook feed is largely anti-Trump posts (most of my Facebook friends are black liberals) or the occasional “Hilary sucks too” post. My white Facebook friends are all over the map topic wise. Some are dreading nuclear war if Clinton is elected. Others are offering up no-chance third party candidates. Many are dead quiet, and these are probably folks who have decided to vote for Donald. Your boy Ric Ray is a moderate and is a registered independent. I never know who I will vote for until I’m in the booth staring at the names. The last two times I voted for president I was overcome with the spirit of “we shall overcome” and voted for Obama. In truth I wasn’t too keen on him or his opponents. I’m just not enthusiastic about the major elections at all.

Scrolling through my Facebook feed, and to a lesser degree my Instagram feed,  I am horrified at the depths to which people are going to in order to bash these candidates. I understand that in a democratic nation such as ours, coupled with modern tech and social media, this is what is going to happen. There will be doom-and-gloom posts and deeply ironic judgements rendered on a candidates’ character, judgements that a person would never want made against themselves. When confronted with that argument people like to say, “…but I’m not running for president!”

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My reaction reading all this madness on social media. One of these candidates will be our president you know…..

My response is always, “…you would if you could”

Every working adult would accept the position of president or king or queen if the position required little to no effort to gain and maintain.

I get it. This is the first, full-fledged, reality-TV based election. Both candidates are famous for being celebrities mores than for being good politicians, even though Clinton was a senator for a decade. The same way people bash or blindly worship Kim Kardashian, folks will do with Trump and Mrs. Clinton. I’m not even saying this is wrong. I just don’t want to see it on my Facebook feed. Thus, I’m unfollowing damn near half my feed until this whole “leader of the free world” thing gets sorted out…..

Unless you are one of those folks who post mean political attacks, please like and share my post….