Sold my favorite sports lens this week: The Canon 400mm f/2.8 telephoto. No, I’m not switching camera brands and I didn’t do it for the money. I simply had to accept the fact that at 61, old age and old injuries have caught up with me and I can’t lug 30 or more pounds of camera equipment around any more.
I bought the lens in 2007, primarily to shoot high school football. As soon as I started using it, I started having problems with my right shoulder. After a game, my right arm would be numb. Doctors first diagnosed tendonitis, then said it could be a pinched nerve. An MRI found town rotator cuff muscles. A surgeon wanted to cut but that meant six-to-eight weeks of down time, which I can’t afford. We tried cortizone shots instead.
The arm improved over the summer but I wasn’t using the 400mm lens to shoot softball, track, soccer and baseball. When football season arrived last fall, I tried the lens again and the arm got worse. The docs delivered the bad news: Lighten the load or face loss of use of the arm.
A spill on my motorcycle over the weekend sent me crashing to the ground on that same right shoulder and I woke up Monday morning with enough stiffness to limit my movement. So I made the decision to go through my camera equipment and look for places where I could take out some of the bulk. The 400mm was the first to go.
An ad on Sportsshooter.com brought a buyer within 30 minutes. UPS took the lens later in the day and my PayPal account is decidedly healthier.
Over the next few weeks, I will be looking at other ways to reduce the load of the equipment I carry on a particular assignment. Fewer bodies, smaller lenses, a carbon fiber tripod, etc. — anything that can help.
Old age can be a bitch.
Professional photographers who shoot with Canon and Nikon gear have longed enjoyed special privileges through both camera makers’ “professional services.” As a member of both Canon Professional Services (CPS) and Nikon Professional Services (CPS) I’ve enjoyed fast turnaround on repairs, loaner equipment, services at special events and other perks.
Admission into the programs wasn’t easy. You have to prove your made your living with their brands of cameras by providing tear sheets, serial numbers and other information. Up until recently, membership in both programs was free.
Canon, however, changed its CPS program this year and now has three levels of membership: Basic (still free but with limited services), Gold ($100 a year with better services) and Premier ($500 a year with more services). To qualify, you have to have what Canon considers an acceptable number of their “pro” cameras and lenses.
It wasn’t hard for me to switch over. I own a bunch of Canon equipment and, fortunately, most of it is up to date. But shooters who depend on older camera bodies (like the original EOS 1D MK I) or older lenses can’t qualify for the new program, even if they made their living with Canon equipment.
This changes of the rules of who qualifies as a “pro.” It no longer means making a living with your equipment. It simply means affording the latest and greatest equipment and whether or not you make your living with that equipment is secondary.
I work with aspiring photojournalists through the mentoring program of the National Press Photographer’s Association (NPPA) and enjoy working with a number of talented young people who could bring a lot to the profession.
But more and more, many of these young shooters question the wisdom of going into the business.
Last week, one of my mentorees — a bright student at Hollins University — announced she was switching her major and is no longer planning photography — and particularly photojournalism — as a career.
“I don’t see a future there,” she said.
There was a time when I would have tried to talk her out of such a decision. Not now. She’s right to question whether or not a career that combines photography and journalism. With newspapers laying off thousands of staff and many closing their doors for good, the profession that has been such a part of my life for the past four decades appears doomed. As the economy worsens, so does the outlook for those who make their living reporting the news.
If this were 40 years ago, I’d probably be thinking the same thing.
Snow covered pines provide a grand entrance to Floyd on U.S. 221 at the north end of town.
The snow that blanketed Floyd County and most of the rest of Virginia ranged from 5 inches to a foot or more and winds drifted what fell into drifts of two feet and up.
While the white stuff looked pretty on trees and branches, it also turned roads into hazardous treks. By 8:30 a.m. Monday, no snow plows from the Virginia Department of Transportation had made it to Harvestwood Road (right) and the tracks left by earlier travelers quickly drifted over.
Schools were closed in Floyd County along with many businesses. In Floyd, only Cafe del Sol was open downtown for coffee or food. The Courthouse was closed as well and a scheduled court date was postponed.
With single-digit temperatures forecast for tonight, the snow that does melt will turn into sheets of solid ice by morning.
And this is the month when Spring arrives?
March roared into Southwestern Virginia like the proverbial lion Sunday, dumping snow on the area in ranges from 2-8 inches or more.
We managed to make it from November through February without a significant winter storm and the month associated with the arrival of Spring opens with the first real snowfall in years.
The snow is expected to last until the early morning hours and then taper off but with temperatures expected in the lower 20s by dawn the white stuff will be with us for the next day or two before the temperature climbs into the 40s on Wednesday, 50s on Thursday and 60s by the weekend.
There’s a signpost up ahead. Next stop, the Twilight Zone.