I have a 6 foot camera crane (or jib… not quite sure of which term to use here). The photo shows the crane with the Sony camera mounted at one end and a monitor and counter weights down at the other end. The lens was made by Topcor over 50 years ago. My father used it with his full frame, 35mm SLR still camera.  It’s mounted on the Sony camera via an adapter.

Topcon RE Auto-Topcor Lens, 25mm

I set up a small test still life and shot a few test shots. The best of the bunch is presented below. The camera was 21 inches from the subjects, the aperture was f5 and shutter speed 1/60th of a second. It appears that the camera is moving straight up and down. That’s the benefit of a crane; the camera is not still and panning but is actually following the subjects. At this close range there is an interesting circular swaying at the camera end of the crane. I could not eliminate it. I used the same crane for a few shots in Nudged and that swaying was not apparent.  Those shots were of objects farther away and entailed bigger movements of the crane, so the swaying was not obvious.

I’ve been wondering how to illustrate the title in a logo. The photo above, which is in-focus in the center and out-of-focus on front edge of the lens and the back of the camera, illustrates depth of field. Depth of focus applies to where the image is in focus, inside the camera, behind the lens. So, that illustration still eludes me. A final logo is still in the future.

The Bronica medium format camera will be used by Barbara in the film. In an early scene, Barbara and her sister, Maureen, talk about how the camera was converted from film to digital by replacing the film cartridge on the back with a big digital sensor. One concern of such a conversion is: Will the lens focus on the sensor? This is where depth of focus is important. Too geeky?

The film is about the ways in which people envision their lives through dreams and how those dreams often may not be in focus with reality. We explored that theme somewhat with the character of Rusty in Nudged. In the new film, every character will be examined both in their dreams and in what passes for reality.

The photograph was taken using the photo mode of my Sony digital cinema camera with a Zeiss Distagon ZF.2 28mm Lens (60th of a second, f2.0, and ISO 1000).

Depth of Focus is a photography term.  Two of the characters use cameras. Maureen, the middle sister, is a documentary filmmaker and Barbara, the youngest, is a still photographer.  For each of them, we have a unique camera.

Maureen uses a Sony DSR-PDX10 DVCAM camera. This is the camera we shot Impasse with, it was used as the TV studio camera in Nudged, and it returns again as a prop in the new film. Maureen will use the camera during interviews employing a method developed by Jennifer Fox called “passing the camera.” During an interview the subject and the filmmaker pass the camera back and forth. The camera has two microphones so both parties can speak and be recorded.

The method is explained in this article from Documentary Magazine, “The  ‘passing the camera’ technique becomes the great equalizer, as no one person in the conversation has more power than the other. Both film each other, both can ask questions of the other, both people are equally on the line. “On top of that,” Fox adds, “the whole question, ‘Can a layperson shoot with a camera?’ is so obviously answered in the film. My camera instruction to each woman took about 30 seconds, and within 30 seconds they were filming me, often quite beautifully.”

Barbara uses a Bronica ETRS medium format film camera that was made in the 1980’s. The film used in this camera is 2 inches wide and the resulting image is huge and detailed. Barbara’s camera has been converted to use a digital chip rather than film. This makes it more practical for modern photography.

There are several ways to convert the ETRS camera to digital recording, Jeff Bauers describes one approach. Barbara’s camera conversion is simpler than what is shown in the article and practically indistinguishable from the film version.

A lens focuses light to form an image behind the lens. This image is “in focus” not at a point but across a small distance. The image is out-of-focus in-front of and beyond this space.

The small diagram below illustrates three aspects of lenses: Depth of Focus, Depth of Field and Circle of Confusion.

diagram-depth-of-focus

For the new movie, the title relates to how the characters see the world in their minds. Each of us sees the world through a “lens” of our beliefs, superstitions, fears and joys.  How the character’s individual “lenses” process the events of the story, determines the clarity with which they see and the width of their in-focus space determines the breadth of their understanding. The characters see some things clearly and other things distorted.  The out-of-focus parts lead to conflicts and confusion.

The Circle of Confusion relates somehow too but at the moment the only confusion lies in the screen writer’s mind.

girl-hareThe new film will work on a number of levels: current time, flashbacks and dreams. For the dreams I’ve been exploring Celtic myths and characters from Irish & Celtic history and traditions. One such story is the hare and the hunter.

In this story a hunter shoots at a hare wounding it. The hare runs off and the hunter follows it into a cave. In the cave the hunter finds a beautiful girl on a throne with a wound in the same place as the hare.

This story, a bit elaborated upon, will be part of a flashback (a mother reading a story book to her son), part of a dream by the grown son and part of the current time of the story.

Dianne is creating the actual book that the mother will be reading. A rough sketch of the girl and the hare are on the right.

 

Hay bales banner UTMB logo

The occurrence of multiple, chronic health problems is often a pattern as we grow older. These debilitating conditions may make one want to re-read the Book of Job to try to get some perspective.

My UTMB colleagues and I taught a graduate course between 2006 and 2012 that was titled, Suffering: Cultural and Spiritual Perspectives. It was developed and taught by Kay Sandor, Ph.D., RN, Harold Vanderpool, Ph.D., Th.M., and myself.

One of the topics we visited was why does God allow bad things to happen. As the texts, we used two classic books by Frankle and Kushner (see below). The academic discipline of  Theodicy was also relevant to this topic. Theodicy is an area of philosophy that attempts to answer the question: Why does God permit the manifestation of evil? One of the faculty, Vanderpool, is an expert on Theodicy and his section on this topic was brilliant.

In 2008, he needed to leave the course. To enable his ideas to still influence the course, we made a short movie (22 minutes) in which he condensed his views on Theodicy and it was a part of the course until 2012 when we stopped teaching it.

The movie is below.

Further, between takes the camera captured Dr. Vanderpool musing on karma and cheap grace. This is included as a bonus.

As an aside: Dr. Vanderpool has a new book out: Palliative Care: The 400-Year Quest for a Good Death, Harold Y. Vanderpool, McFarland Press.

References

  • Book of Job, New Oxford Annotated Bible, 3rd Edition, Oxford University Press, 2000, p. 726 Hebrew Bible.
  • Frankel, V. (1959). Man’s Search for Meaning. Boston: Beacon Press.
  • Kushner, H. S. (1981). When Bad Things Happen to Good People. New York: Avon Books.

The two movies are copyright © 2008 by Harold Vanderpool and used here with his permission

I have two parallel thoughts for today. I want to talk about each and then try to pull them together.

Thought Number One

When I was a kid, my parents allowed me to wander the streets of Oakland, California on foot and by bus. Things were pretty safe and I never thought twice about being and going anywhere. There was a local clothing store on East 14th Street. It was part of a shopping area that once was its own little suburb. Before World War Two, my father had been the manager of the Western Auto Store along that street and he knew all the shop keepers; the barber, the watchmaker, the guy who ran the war surplus store, the insurance salesman, the skating rink owner, and on and on. He also knew the people at the clothing store (its name lost in the mists of time). My parents had a charge account at the store and as a teen I got to charge stuff on their account. No credit cards yet. The salesman knew who I was and put it on the account.

My father and his two Sisters in Oakland around 1922

My father and his two Sisters in Oakland around 1922

Those were simpler and safer times. As Oakland changed over the years all those people died and the stores closed. New people and new stores are there along East 14th street. It’s not so safe as it was, stores have big steel bars on the windows and probably the credit cards are scrutinized carefully to insure they are not stolen.

I think that living in a rural community is one way those of us of a certain age return to those simpler times of a more trusting society where everyone knew your name.

Thought Number Two

My usual source for ideas, the Austin American Statesman, presented me with this article by Michael Young (Young, 2015) dealing with how rural communities are losing population and floundering to stay in business. In the article, Young points to whole counties in Texas that are losing population. Now Texas is a big place and growing rapidly in the major urban areas. On the other end of the scale, there are 14 counties (whole counties) that have fewer than 1,500 people living in them. If there were major businesses in these counties and towns – be they railroads, oil, coal, cattle, farming or manufacturing – now they have all moved on. Young said, “People don’t move to Foard County to find a good paying job.”

So why would someone move to Foard County, Texas?

Young suggests this: people move there because… “they live beneath a sky so filled with stars they seem uncountable. They know their neighbors. Their kids can be good friends with everyone in their class and maybe everyone in their school. And they remain what most of Texas once was.”

Merger of Thoughts

Rural places in Texas that are currently losing population preserve much of what made life good a half century ago in urban areas that now are growing rapidly and may no longer offer those values. A future exists for these empty communities as folks like me and my family return to rural areas to seek that quieter, friendlier life. We can do this because we do not need those steam-age industries that in earlier times were the sole sources of an income. I work on-line at my own work as do many others here (here being Wimberley, Texas). Still others work in service businesses (restaurants, hardware stores, grocery stores, etc.) where we take our trade. Small communities can continue to exist using new models for income but keeping that more trusting society where everyone knows your name.

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As a side note: Not everything about rural life is nostalgic. I just watched the film “The Homesman” and it dealt with the awful privations and stresses that faced early settlers on America’s Great Plains in the 1850’s. In all things there is a perspective to keep.

References

  1. The Homesman (2014), http://www.imdb.com/title/tt2398231
  2. Young, M. E. The other Texas the boom forgot: Rural counties struggle to stay afloat. Dallas News, July 17, 2015.
    Story: http://www.dallasnews.com/news/state/headlines/20150717-2.ece
    Photos: http://www.dallasnews.com/photos/20150714-trip-to-foard-county-is-a-step-back-in-time.ece

August 1, 2015