Rudimentary Lathe

A blog about everything by Jack Baty

Keeping the Leica SL2

The Leica SL2. I’m keeping it.

I had every intention of selling the SL2 in order to fund the new Leica Q2. Good intentions being what they are, I should be sure to always sell the old camera before getting the one meant to replace it.

I took some photos of the SL2 and posted it for sale on I thought I was asking a fair price and expected a quick sale. The offers that came in were too low, so I waited. After a couple of weeks, I reduced the price a little. There was one serious buyer, but he was taking his time and his offer was less than I liked.

At a certain point, it feels like too much of a loss and I start second-guessing the whole enterprise. After all, I would still need to sell the L lenses and such, which is a hassle. And you know what always happens, right? Yep, I get the itch a year from now and have to re-buy the entire kit.

So I skipped all that and decided to keep the camera. The Q2 is great, but I still don’t love the 28mm focal length. Or at least not having only the 28mm. Plus, I have a few really nice M-mount Leica lenses that work great on digital. The SL2’s versatility is useful, and maybe I’ll finally do that series of extended family portraits I’ve been planning.

Self-portrait in mirror. Leica SL2 with my favorite lens, the 50mm Summilux ASPH

Film photography as late-stage Burning Man

Original photo: Depositphotos

I’ve never been to Burning Man, but for years I really wanted to go. I mean c’mon, a bunch of normies heading out to the beach (at first, but later, the desert) to do drugs, walk around half (or fully) naked, and opt out of society for a while. A place to really hippie it up for a week or so. I think I would have loved it.

Today, I wouldn’t go to Burning Man if you paid me. Best I can tell, it’s become a giant, corporate, Silicon Valley tech-bro networking event. A place to “cut loose” but also maybe find some VC money while we’re at it. Something like LinkedIn on Dirty Joke Day, but in the desert (if LinkedIn had a Dirty Joke Day, that is).

Earlier today I was going through YouTube and my RSS feeds, which are very film-photography heavy, and I became disenchanted with the whole film photography bubble. The comparison is weak, I know, but somehow following the online film photography gang is starting to feel like I imagine recent Burning Man events have felt. Everyone is a Brand™. YouTubers mention each other like some Influencer circle jerk. Everyone is all “OMG Cinestill makes these neon signs look amazing!” and “10 reasons why you SHOULDN’T buy a Leica.” Boring, is what it is. I’ve probably just become oversaturated with it all. I can only imagine what’s happening on TikTok.

My current mood really got rolling after I found a list of recommended photographers and many of them were film photographers. Normally, this would be cool, but I noticed that many of them introduced themselves something like this:

I’m a film photographer based in London.

Yuck. If you have to lead with the “film” part, I can’t help but be skeptical about the “photographer” portion1.

I’ve been shooting film since the 80s, so maybe I’ve seen so much of this for so long that I’m easily annoyed when some wannabe Influencer acts like they personally discovered Tri-X.

I’m too old for Burning Man and there are too many people there anyway. Harrrumph!

  1. Some were actually quite good, but my point stands. ↩︎

Org-journal stays

My org journal. September.

I’ve been keeping a journal using Org-journal in Emacs since 2016. I’ve got the writing process nailed. I’ve configured it so that with just a few keystrokes I can export it to a nice PDF file every month for archiving and printing. I have no complaints.

The looming problem is that I can feel myself pulling away from using Emacs for everything. Org-mode uses the most powerful markup language and tooling there is, but I haven’t been feeling the need for such powerful features. I just want simple, uncomplicated tooling that doesn’t lend itself to endless fiddling. Emacs is the granddaddy of endless fiddling.

Org-mode does task management better than anything, but I’m perfectly happy with Things or OmniFocus or even Apple Reminders. Email is cool and fun to play with in Emacs, but it’s not easy and definitely too much work.

Objectively, Org-mode’s markup is superior in nearly every way, but if I’m being honest I get along fine with Markdown. As we all know, Markdown’s VHS beat Org-mode’s Beta in the mindshare race, so everything works with Markdown while almost nothing works with Org files1

My latest experiment with Obsidian for notes is going better than with earlier attempts, so one of my heaviest uses of Org-mode, note-taking, is at risk.

But nothing I’ve found is as good at journaling as Org-journal. Day One is pretty and is probably more appropriate, but I don’t like writing in it. I could use Obsidian’s daily notes feature, but I already use that for more of a lab notebook. I just really like using Org-journal, is the thing.

For now, then, my use of Emacs has been reduced to writing my journal and for when a note would benefit from a longer outline format.

  1. Please don’t send me examples proving otherwise. I know about them. ↩︎

2023-Roll-118 (Leica MP/HP5)

Roll-118 in the Leica MP with 50mm Summilux ASPH. HP5+ in HC-110 and scanned on the V850.

At my analog desk

I still call this my “analog” desk. It’s for reading real books and articles. It’s for journaling. It’s for painting and drawing. It’s for sitting and staring out the window, even if the view is only that of a cul-de-sac in a boring middle-class suburb.

I sat here for a good portion of two days during a recent power outage. It was refreshing and mentally invigorating.

But that was last week. Now I’m once again staring at my computer in the basement office, letting the internet think for me.

Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny

It makes me sad that some people were going to hate “Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny” no matter what. They did hate it, and they’re wrong.

I went to see it today with my dad and we had a blast: fun chases, crazy villains, a bullwhip, and maybe the coolest hat in history. I liked Phoebe. I loved seeing Antonio Banderas along with some of the old characters.

A great time at the movies is all I wanted, and Dial of Destiny delivered that, with just the right amount of nostalgia thrown in.

Silver is Better

Back in’s and’s prime, there was a gruff, opinionated, brilliant, and helpful forum member and photographer named Al Kaplan. He helped me a great deal after I got my first Leica.

When he died in 2010, his family sold mugs and T-shirts to raise money. I’ve kept the mug on my desk ever since.

Silver is better

Silver is better, indeed.

Oh, and here’s one from later that’s actually on film, as it should be.

Silver is Better Al Kaplan mug. Leica MP. HP5.

Unexpected side effects of throwing away ruined film

Tornadoes blew through nearby and took our power with them for a couple of days. I keep my film in a small fridge in my office, so when the ice in the freezer section melted, it soaked my large format film boxes. While disappointing, most of the film had been expired for years. Some of it was E6, and I have no chemicals to process that anyway.

Most of the boxes were already opened, so even though the remaining sheets were still in the interior plastic bags, I decided that it wasn’t worth the trouble of testing to see if the film was still usable. So I threw it all away.

Instead of feeling bad about not having that film, I was surprised to find myself feeling relieved. I could finally stop thinking about if and how I might shoot it. Was it even still good?

So now I’m looking sideways at my bags of oddball and expired 35mm film and wondering how I’d feel about getting rid of those, too. I have been going through the expired color rolls, and it’s been interesting, but color film doesn’t offer me much over nice digital files. I can’t make color prints in my darkroom, which is a big part of why I shoot film in the first place.

But the oddest thing that’s happened is that now I’m looking at my books, records, movies, cameras, RAW files, saved articles…everything. How much do I actually need? How would it feel to only have the stuff I actively use/love. You know, stuff that “sparks joy”.

I don’t want to do anything rash, but I kind of want to do something rash.

The Book Doctor

Ok, I’ve changed my mind. I want to be a Book Doctor when I grow up.

(via swissmiss)

Blogging like it’s Twenty Twelve

WordPress theme designers need to calm the fuck down, IMO

 Me, in 2021

Has every WordPress theme created since 2012 been competing to see how overwrought it can become? Seems like it. All I want is a simple, chronological, full-post layout with decent typography and a clean layout.

I spent a couple of hours scouring the web for a suitable theme. I couldn’t find one. Also, have you searched for WordPress info recently? What an SEO contest nightmare of ads, newsletter popups, and content farm nonsense.

And don’t get me started on “full-site” editing. JFC I don’t want to design the thing myself. I just want to pick a nice theme and start writing. Too much to ask, apparently.

Anyway, I got so frustrated that, in protest, I installed the Twenty Twelve theme from the WordPress folks and it’s as good as anything out there, so here we are.

I expect to interact with this blog primarily from external tools such as iA Writer or MarsEdit or even Emacs. I haven’t installed a single plugin yet1, and have only made a couple of minor CSS tweaks. I don’t care if it’s ugly, I just want it simple and familiar.

My favorite feature of using Twenty Twelve is that it tricks me into believing I don’t give a shit about endlessly tweaking my blog’s design and that I only care about the writing.

  1. Not exactly true, but I consider JetPack part of WordPress. ↩︎

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