leading horses to pasture
A friend of mine once expressed to me his admiration of Google’s Street View feature and how amazing it was to be able to explore any city at the touch of a button. He’s right, that is amazing, but nothing beats walking the beat yourself. Smelling the baconey-smelling breeze as you walk on Alki beach on a Monday morning. Or that disgusting but familiar scent of urine in the alleyway as you hunt for new street art. If you’re doing it virtually, you miss out on those things.
Virtual reality can never replicate the five senses. You can’t touch anything. You can’t smell anything. You can’t feel anything. The burning in your legs as you climb a steep incline, the feeling of someone bumping into you on a bustling street. The man behind the computer screen, his legs don’t feel anything. They may even be asleep from lack of blood flow.
You miss the sounds of the street, happening in real time, not in pre-recorded Dolby surround sound, we’re talking the real deal here. The whining engine of the garbage truck, the screeching sound of brakes, the bongos off in the distance, the chatter of people talking, birds singing, waves crashing, planes flying overhead, people singing to themselves, sidewalk preachers shouting about eternal damnation, you miss it all.
The man in the bandanna with no shirt and cut off jean shorts that conjure up memories of Daisy Duke if she were a homeless Native American guy selling newspapers on the corner. He has a football in his hand. He’s trying to coax the businessmen and women into playing a game of catch with him, he makes a throwing gesture with his eyebrows raised in an inquisitive fashion to one of the suits, who instantly breaks into a passing pattern and catches a perfectly thrown pass over the shoulder. The suit throws it back, and another suit joins in the fun and wraps our homeless QB in Daisy Duke’s up for a tackle, it surprises him. All three of them are smiling and laughing. You don’t get that in virtual reality, no matter how hard you try.
Another suit walks up to him and says something I can’t make out. The QB shouts at the smiling man as he walks away, “YEAH, YOU JUST LIKE TO HEAR YOURSELF TALK, THAT’S WHAT YOUR PROBLEM IS!” and he starts his routine again, trying to get the movers and the shakers to take a break from the day to day routine and engage with him in a game of toss.
He’s a homeless guy, conducting a sociological experiment. I guess in a way, all homeless have the potential to conduct sociological research on the human condition. They have a worms-eye view of the human race living life, its beauty, its flaws, its serendipitous twists and turns. Google Street View doesn’t make you feel anything close to this. It’s a tool and nothing more. It isn’t a replacement for the real thing, the experience. It’s just pixels.
The road through life is often uphill, and there are those moments when we all have to lean in and give it everything we’ve got to reach the summit. Witnessing this man climbing the street in Seattle, hands clasped behind his back, taking a low angle, eyes on the ground in front of him. He was making good time. I admired him for his tenacity. He seemed to be using his low center of gravity to his advantage.
This man, hunched over, leaning into the steep incline, hurriedly making his way through the people who seemed oblivious to his presence. At this moment, I felt like I was the only one who noticed him at all. Thinking back, I imagine there had to be someone else whose eye this character caught. He navigated the sign behind him by shouldering it like a tackling dummy, slithering around it like a snake and continuing on, ever moving forward, like a salmon fighting its way upstream.
This blog has been a wonderful place for me to share my photography, haiku and thoughts with all of you. One afternoon at the Mall of America has given me enough material to last for months in terms of street photography. I’m currently on the road with my family, traveling the United States in our 1982 Vanagon. If you can find it in your heart to follow me there, come check it out at http://www.poptoptour.com
We’re having a wonderful time touring the U.S. and we’ve been to Missouri, Iowa, Wisconsin, Minnesota, and Kansas so far. I’m typing this from Fargo, North Dakota. Looking forward to seeing all of you on my new blog. Support your fellow WordPress bloggers! I could use your help.
Thanks for reading, and you can expect more street photography from my journey here on Perception.
My favorite lens to shoot with, the Pentax 21mm prime, suddenly stopped working. The outer lens ring was completely knocked off the lens. I suppose I banged it into too many steering wheel and walls in its lifetime, and it just finally had enough. This lens is tough. It comes with a lens hood that is made of metal, and its profile on the camera is minimal. I like to shoot close, and this lens makes that possible. I’ve put it through its paces on the streets of Denver and in the Rocky Mountains of Colorado.
I’ve used it to capture tens of thousands of images and there isn’t any lens I like better. I found Precision Camera through Pentax. It seems that’s where Pentax sends their lenses off for repair, so I contacted them. I went through an online process with the company to start the repair order, and shipped the lens myself from UPS. The lens arrived in early May and I assumed work had begun. After several weeks of silence, I attempted to e-mail the company through their website. I received no response on three separate e-mails.
I then called their customer service department, and spoke with Charlene, who said that the problem was that I hadn’t authorized payment on the credit card for the $166.50 repair. I was under the impression that this was paid up front, when I entered my information online and received a confirmation. She was short, and I would bet she didn’t look at the order itself, just repeating the phrase “now that the payment is received you will get your lens in four to six business days.” Today the timeframe given was five to seven business days. I didn’t feel confident about the conversation or the information I was receiving, as the online order status had a big red stop sign on it and stated that they were waiting for backordered parts. I told the customer service representative and she stuck to her story about the payment problem and now everything is on schedule. I wasn’t surprised when I didn’t receive my lens within that time frame.
So I called again today, July 26, and spoke with Charlene again who says that the payment was approved, and the parts are on backorder until July 6th. After that date she says the lens will be returned as soon as possible. I asked her about the reason I was told on my last call that the lens would be delivered in four to six days, she said that was me that told you, and normally repairs take five to seven days barring any unforeseen circumstance. In this case I supposedly have parts on backorder that will arrive on July 6th. I asked how long ago the parts were ordered and she gave me two different dates in May, the eighth and then the 12th.
I will follow up on July 6, to determine if the part was received or not. My complaint about this experience is that the numbers keep changing, and I’ve been kept in the dark for long periods of time. I think your customer service department is suffering a deficiency in effective communication. The system you have in place isn’t working and the customers are receiving mixed information from your website and your live representatives. The information we do receive is often incorrect and is leaving your customers dissatisfied. We are vocal about this problem, and your company received poor reviews in many internet forums where fellow photographers warn against dealing with your company in any way.
I will join the ranks of your naysayers and advise any photographer I come across to steer clear of your company. The equipment we send you is expensive and waiting more than three months for a lens repair is just bad business. After being completely ignored on four separate occasions online, and getting mixed and inconsistent information on two phone calls, I am completely frustrated and unhappy with this experience.
Camera companies would do well to take their business elsewhere. I will contact Pentax about this experience, and while my one voice might not worry you, the voice of potentially tens of thousands of other photographers and customers of yours will eventually be heard and a good number of us are unhappy.
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By Lisa Smith Molinari
Le frontiere, materiali o mentali, di calce e mattoni o simboliche, sono a volte dei campi di battaglia, ma sono anche dei workshop creativi dell'arte del vivere insieme, dei terreni in cui vengono gettati e germogliano (consapevolmente o meno) i semi di forme future di umanità. (Zygmunt Bauman)
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Brussels based, cat loving, shoe obsessed, photography lover
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