Cale Byers

Update on Life

January 26, 2018

edited February 11, 2018 to clarify alcohol discussion.

I can't believe the term is basically over. I really need to study for the exam Monday. Taking Intro to Proofs, but I also skipped about eight days of class, and my latest test score reflects that. I've been very unproductive with academic things lately, buying camera gear, cooking food, staying up until 7am, or making new friends. One Saturday night, I visited with these two people until about 5am. Why not? Ever since, my sleep schedule has been wacky.

I walked back to campus, climbed a tree, jumped out of the tree, and then I went home. I only went to school Thursday of that week. Oops. And then this current week, I've been late and missed one day I think. Not totally sure. The annoying thing is having my brain know how to turn off alarms. When I'm really tired, I'll just turn them off and go back to sleep, without actually wanting to do it. A different part of my brain is taking control in those moments.

Anyway, our exam is Monday, and then we have a presentation Tuesday or something. I planned on shooting some pics in town, and I probably still will. Saturday would be the best night. I've finally started doing film workshops. They're very informal and more like meetups. I'll post some updates once we all get film developed!

I finally got a Sony a7, so my gear co-op is almost complete. We just need adapters to connect the film lenses, and then everything will be perfect. If you'd like to get involved, please contact me! Our library needs some wide-angle or super-tele lenses. Or a medium format kit would be fantastic - film or digital.

Polaroid film arrived, so I need to test it. Hope it works. I'm modeling Monday afternoon for the drawing class, and maybe I'll have someone pose later, and I'll do a test photo. If they work, I'm going to go absolutely insane and start buying loads of Polaroid film, because it'll be worth the risk of faulty sheets (at least I hope so). I'll be taking shots at social gatherings and selling them. Also might do some art stuff, but probs not.

I'm really excited to have people interested in shooting film. It's a nice learning tool, far superior to learning with a digital camera. Being able to phyiscally move the aperture blades and see the effect is so cool. Today's lenses are not good teaching tools. The program I'm doing is forcing people to shoot with primes on their first rolls. Zooms are only for later. The available primes are small, do better BOKEH, and force people to zoom with their feet. This makes you move, try new angles, and get around the city. Zooming is annoying, and long lenses are more conspicuous.

Secretly, I feel like I'm recruiting people to the dark side, but it's kind of a joke when I say that. Digital has it's place, but for image quality, the film is better than most APS-C stuff. Especially as a learning tool. And film is cheaper than Polaroids, so ideally, I could convince dozens of students to use film cameras when they might want a Polaroid. Better optics, more control, and far cheaper. Getting a medium format film kit with a Polaroid back is my ultimate quest, but I had to buy a Sony a7 to get some jobs before getting more stuff. The digital body is necessary for low-light, journalism, video, and product shots (for now. I'm going to eventually push towards a film-only commercial studio, reserving digital work for casual stuff that requires many images. Can't afford to shoot 300 film pics at a baseball game. Not happening. I did the math on the shoot at Boys State last June. Had I been doing film I would have spent around 7,000 for development. INSANE! So there are clear use cases for digital work, but I needed a full-frame to pair with the lenses.

My eyesight is noticeably worse than this fall, but it's possible it will improve slightly over the break. I need to get glasses very soon, because I'm limited without the ability to drive. Many project ideas require a car to get the ball rolling, and then others with cars can step in and keep it moving.

I've eaten somewhat more frequently in Dillin. I used to hate them very much. But now that I know what it takes to prepare food, I'm more understanding. And their vegetarian/vegan options are a great value. There are legitimate issues, but for the price and convenience, it can't be beaten, unless you cook at home for a bunch of friends....

My latest roll was some Tri-X 400 rated 800. I developed it for just under 12 minutes, but next time, I'll dev at EI 1600 for 13.75 minutes. Wasn't happy with quite a few shots, but I'm sure they'll be fine once I start printing. My friend is shooting some HP5 with a Canon 50mm 1.4. It started raining, so we didn't actually get to shoot. We might go to Portland next week to pick up my camera & take pics. I'm also trying to get a group together for ice skating, but I guess Sheridan has a rink. Don't need to go all the way to the Lloyd Center.

I bought some cheap Arista and Kentmere films from B&H, and I'll have to shoot a roll at some point. Also not doing color film for this class. Most people don't have money, so paying $20 for development isn't realistic. I'm doing this for either $15 or 2 people for $20. Supplies cost money, and I'm spending time teaching. Also letting people use my gear, so it's perfectly reasonable. In fact, $20 to play with two bodies and make 72 shots is a killer deal. I'm reselling paper for $1, and I bought a huge pack from Blue Moon back in December.

There's discussion about making a connnection with the high school art program; their darkroom was shut down, so making ours available could be a nice resource. I'm hopeful that grants exist to cover costs & pay for my time, or perhaps the high school could arrange something. Or we could crowd-fund this. It's a nice way to learn photography, so I think it'll be met with support.

It now appears the college is blocking access to the Tor network and also their project website. I'm dismayed but not surprised. The college should be running at least 1 high-speed exit relay, but that could be a challenge to convince them. I was supposed to get in touch with the public library regarding tech-support, online security, and other random stuff. Would just do some basic things and then allow people to sign up or express interest in particular topics. Some example things would include

  • Device locks, encryption, fingerprint sensors
  • Email security, password managers, links or documents
  • Javascript surveillance, malware blocking, internet browsing
  • TAILS, Tor
  • Signal, encrpyted communication, government surveillance
  • encrypting disks, erasing files, recovering data
  • Modifying accounts to require in-person changes
  • App security and surveillance. DNS blocking.

As you can see, there's a lot of stuff that could be covered. It would take weeks. I can't do it all, so I'm going to try for only a couple.

This Thursday night, there was a "Create Night," which was essentially creating collages with magazines. I put some masks over these nude models and then a cat's face betweeen their hips. It's kind of artsy but not anything special. Would be interesting to do more collage work. I used to throw away my junk photos, but now I'm saving them for that exact reason. I'm going to do collages or let others use my pics to play around.

The blacklight dance photos are still not finished. It rains a lot, I'm tired, and the files are in the art media lab, not my laptop. So it's been too much effort to go edit things for free. I understand this is inconvenient and frustrating for people, but it's not very high on my list of priorities. There's no excuse, because they should've been done by now. I really will try to finish them tomorrow after class.

Looking ahead

An ideal spring semester involves some regular work with photography, a healthy sleep schedule, and decent academic performance. I'll be doing about 12-14 credits and maybe getting a job at a restaurant. I'm not sure. I want to, but at the same time, I'm not interested in making a few bucks to inconvenience myself with school or photography. I already learned that lesson last fall.

I'm hoping to get some project ideas going, cook more food, teach people to shoot film, and keep working on photjournalism. In addition to homless topics, I'll be focusing on students and maybe some other secret ideas. Film cameras are only going to become more expensive. I try to buy them whenever they're ridiculously cheap. Because I know I can always make a profit re-selling, or I can just hang onto them and make it easier for people to shoot film. It's possible we'll have about 15-20 film bodies by the end of th year, provided some financial support exists. There's someone in Salem I need to contact about film gear. Just don't have the time until break.

I'm considering applying to be an RA, but I'm not sure that I want to. I know it would be a good experience, but at the moment, I'm more consumed by photography and other side-projects. Some ideas, like the safe-ride system, wouldn't be possible if I were an RA. I think the policy is wrong-headed, but AFAIK, RAs are obligated to report drinking. So there's no way I could give people free rides and be an RA at the same time. It's kind of silly, and it seems like we'd want a safer environment, but certain policies get in the way of safety. Or suppose you see someone throwing empty bottles in the recycling bins. What do you do? Turn them in? You can't prove they actually drank them, but there are so many obnoxious and petty hypothetical circumstances that would be irritating.

I firmly believe our country's laws contribute towards unsafe behaviors. Parents are also failing to introduce alcohol to their children. I didn't drink anything until the spring of my freshman year. I had 0.5 shots of some delicious watermelon vodka. Didn't affect me whatsoever. I didn't "get turnt" until the October before I turned 21, a full 17 months later. Thankfully, my friends were supportive, and we stayed in their apartment. Had I been drinking for the first time in an unsafe environment, there's a high chance someone could have given me too much too quickly. When you don't know how your body responds to various alcohols, you are at risk for going too far. I don't think anyone particularly wants to get "fucked up," although it does happen sometimes. For the most part, I think people are all unfamilair with their limits and just accelerate way too quickly.

This lack of knowledge is the fault of their parents, but this largely stems from our drinking laws and cultural choices. And the legal system doesn't allow the college to encourage or demonstrate safe consumption of alcohol. Dillin should serve wine, beer, vodka, and whatever else people want to buy. There should be occassions for students to drink in the company of adults or their RAs, so they stop associating alcohol as some party drug. Right now, it's a forbidden thing to be done in secrecy, and that is a very dangerous circumstance. Even wiht medical clemency protection, people fear authority and don't think rationally while in a state of fear, contributing to more unsafety. They are likely to avoid asking for help, even though the option exists. It's far more enjoyable to drink wine with a meal than end up passed out in a hallway somewhere, or worse, die from aspirating your vomit. The college could facilitate healthy drinking. But our laws are too restrictive, and the college administration is unlikely to support this idea, even if our legal system had an easy pathway.

Good night

I'm getting off topic and need to sleep. It's 1:34 am. I want to make more friends and do more things this spring. It will be easier now that I have a place to live and won't be taking such an aggresive courseload. Photographically, I'd like to explore B&W studio lighting and some nude stuff. Robert Mapplethorpe's style is a strong influence with composition and lighting. It amazes me how studio work doesn't always rely on thicc apertures or background blur. It's all about the lighting and capturing nice detail on faces. Working with more control and purpose will be a good change. I've been shooting whatever happens in the world for the last year, rather than taking control and making a composition. Improving my flash technique will be another helpful thing. If I could start producing amazing 4x5" portraits & nudes, I'd be very happy with myself as a photographer. Going to look for some macro lenses and then do some food stuff also.

Okay, I'm actually going to go to sleep now. I have to upload the modified files and then brush my teeth. ADIOS!