A brief consumer note for my readers. Many of you know of my interests in neurology, books, and photography.
A brief consumer note for my readers. Many of you know of my interests in neurology, books, and photography.
The LA Weekly profiles Nick Ut, legendary AP photographer and Pulitzer Prize winner. He’s still working as an AP photographer in LA.
You may not recognize the name, but you’ll know the photo; it is one of the two most famous Vietnam War photos. I won’t embed it, but you can find all over the place, including here.
I’m not generally a big fan of the alternative papers, but this is a swell article. Some pull quotes:
Ut believes in skill, too. But on a deeper level, he trusts in luck and fate. Many photojournalists were killed in Vietnam — 135 total, according to Faas’ count. By Ut’s estimate, 90 percent of the AP photographers who covered the war got shot while there.
Pulled mostly so I can plug Requiem: By the Photographers Who Died in Vietnam and Indochina; haunt your local used bookstore for a copy.
…three months after he took Kim Phuc’s picture, he was hit in the leg by mortar fire. He was on his way to visit her. Her house, unfortunately, was located near an entrance to the infamous Cu Chi Tunnels, a network of supply routes used by the Viet Cong. After the mortar shell blew up, Ut noticed holes in his camera. Then his shirt. Then his thigh.
Young photographers today, who “shoot 15 frames a second,” exasperate him. “Too fast. Picture lousy. One frame. Show the best picture. That’s how I learned. Look for the picture first.”
Besides, “If you come back with 500 pictures from one assignment? Your boss will yell at you. Too many! Who wants to look at all those pictures?”
Gratuitous Leica for the win! (I do wish the Weekly had gone into more detail about what Ut uses today. But then again, this isn’t an article targeted at professional photographers.)
For reasons I can’t fully explain, I’ve wanted a revolver chambered in .45 ACP.
When I went to my first S&WCA convention in Sturbridge, I was able to shoot one at the Smith and Wesson Shooting Sports Center. The gun I rented was a Model 625 JM. (The “JM” is for “Jerry Miculek”, who shoots for the Smith and Wesson factory team. The 625 is the gun he used to fire 12 shots in under three seconds, including a reload.) Model 625 revolvers show up used fairly frequently, and I’ve been tempted by them. But either I’ve not had the ready cash, or haven’t quite been able to overcome my bias against shiny guns. (Also, many of the used ones I’ve seen have these kind of pastel grips, for want of a better description, and those also turn me off.)
I think my affection for the .45 ACP revolver has something to do with being drawn to the oddball and unusual. With most revolver cartridges – your .38 Special, .357 Magnum, .44 Special/Magnum, etc. – the cartridge has a rim around the bottom. When you go to unload your revolver, there’s a little metal piece (“extractor star”) that catches the rim and pushes the cartridge out of the cylinder. With most automatic pistol cartridges – 9mm, .40 S&W, .45 ACP – the cartridge doesn’t have a rim, so there’s nothing for that bit to catch on, and the cartridge remains stuck in the chamber until you push it out with something like a pencil or cleaning rod.
This wasn’t a big deal until World War I. The military couldn’t get 1911 automatic pistols fast enough to supply everyone who needed a sidearm. Their other choice was to issue revolvers, but they didn’t want to deal with the logistics of having both an automatic pistol and a revolver caliber. They wanted revolvers that could easily use the same .45 ACP cartridge that the 1911 used. One of S&W’s engineers invented something called the “moon clip”, which comes in “half” and “full” moon variants. Cartridges snap into cutouts in the clip (a half-moon clip has three cutouts, a full moon clip has six), and then the clip is loaded into the gun. When you go to unload, the extractor star catches the moon clip and pushes it, and the fired cases, out of the gun. Moon clips are basically a primitive form of speedloader. Not that it matters that much in a defensive gun, but they are also a lot cheaper than a speedloader. (Amazon will sell you an eight pack of full moon clips for $8.95 with prime shipping. A single Safariland speedloader will run you about $11 to $16.) And there’s very little that can go wrong with a moon clip; it’s just a piece of stamped metal with no moving parts.
Here’s a video from YouTube that explains how moon clips work. And no, I’m not just dropping this here for my own reference.
Model 34-1 with 2″ barrel, next to pre-Model 34 Kit Gun for comparison purposes.
Before last week, I had not purchased a gun since July of 2012*.
There are reasons for that. One was that I went through a period of unemployment, where I wasn’t purchasing anything but essential items.
A second reason is that it has been hard to find things I’ve been interested in purchasing. My local gun shops have had very few used guns that I was interested in; it seems that people are mostly holding on to guns rather than trading them in. When Mike the Musicologist and I went down to San Antonio, I did find a few interesting used guns, but either the prices were out of line (in my opinion) or (at Nagel‘s) I didn’t have the ready cash available to make the purchase.
When I decided I was going to the Smith and Wesson Collectors Association symposium in Columbus, I thought there was a good chance that I’d break the drought. I don’t buy guns just for the sake of buying guns, but I generally have a mental list of “grail” guns at any given time. The S&WCA annual meetings are a good place to find at least some of those guns, since many of my “grail” guns are Smiths.
I was lucky enough to find two guns that I fell in love with, both at the table of noted dealer David Carroll. I was even luckier in that they were within price ranges I felt I could afford, and that Mr. Carroll was willing to work with me on payment and shipping. (Mr. Carroll is a swell guy. Go buy things from him. Please.)
(As a side note, it isn’t as easy to buy guns over the Internet or out of state as lying liars who lie would have you believe. The S&WCA meeting was in Ohio. I live in Texas. As a non-resident of Ohio who doesn’t have any type of Federal Firearms License (FFL), I couldn’t legally buy a gun in the state. Private sale or dealer, it wouldn’t make any difference; I’d be breaking the law, as would the person who sold it to me. I had to have my dealer in Texas send Mr. Carroll (who is a licensed dealer) a copy of his FFL, Mr. Carroll had to ship the guns to my FFL dealer, and then I had to go to my dealer, fill out a BATFE Form 4473, and provide my Texas concealed carry permit to my FFL dealer before I could take possession of the guns. If I didn’t have a Texas concealed carry permit, I still could have gone through with the purchase, but my dealer would have had to phone in a NICS check. The only thing my Texas concealed carry permit gets me is bypassing the phone call, since I’ve already been through a background check.)
(If I had a limited collectors license, what BATFE calls a “Curios and Relics” (or “C&R”) license, I probably could have brought one of the guns home with me. The “C&R” license is less expensive and less invasive than a full FFL, but it limits you (generally) to guns more than 50 years old. So I still would have had to have the second gun shipped to my FFL, plus there’s the whole “traveling with a gun on an airline” thing, which is kind of complicated.)
(And I’ll admit, it gave me more than a little thrill when I went to my FFL to pick up the guns, and the guy behind the counter said, “Oh, yeah. I saw those earlier. Those are pretty.” They especially admired the one I’m about to write about.)
(I’m sure many of my readers already know these things. The above is for the benefit of new readers, and people who may not be aware of the process. Remember: lying liars who lie, will lie.)
After the jump, photos and words and things.
In retrospect, it would have been better if I had uploaded these on Friday, but I’ve been busier than the proverbial one-legged man in a butt-kicking contest since Friday night. This is the first chance I’ve had to settle down and post photos.
Peace statue, Ohio Statehouse, Columbus, Ohio.
Ohio Veterans Plaza, Ohio Statehouse, Columbus, Ohio.
The Veterans Plaza does something I haven’t seen before, and that I kind of like. The writing on that wall isn’t names; those are excerpts from letters by veterans. You can read the complete text here.
My great and good friend Marty recommended a Chinese restaurant named Moy’s to me. This is just a tiny hole-in-the-wall place near the Ohio State campus, but Marty was right; it was pretty darn good, and the people were very friendly. If you’re in Columbus, I urge you to give it a try.
It turns out that Moy’s was also just straight up High Street from my hotel. Waze had it at about two and a half miles; I took a cab up to the restaurant. I was going to flag one down when I left, but it was a nice night, so I decided to walk back to the hotel. The walk down High Street takes you along the fringe of Ohio State. I almost want to say High Street is to Ohio State what Guadalupe is to the University of Texas.
I didn’t bring the Nikon with me, but I did take a couple of photos with the iPhone that I thought were compositionally interesting. You might not agree, which is fine with me. I’m just messing around, trying to get better.
Those black spaces actually have quotes on them; if you zoom in far enough, you should be able to read them. I can’t find a site that transcribes them, or I’d link it here. But I do like this one from Edmund Burke: “Law and arbitrary power are at eternal enmity.”
Edited to add: I cropped the Wexner Center photo some, but the law school photo is untouched. I didn’t do anything to the exposure on either of those.
Heading home. Travel day. In the meantime:
1. Go read this post by Tam. There are echos in it of something some less smart person wrote a couple of years ago.
3. I took a fair number of photos yesterday while running around with my aunt and uncle (who graciously drove the two hours each way from Cleveland to spend part of the day with me; thanks again, guys!). I’m waiting until I get back to do the post-processing and uploading, but I thought I’d throw one up here that I played with last night.
I took this with the D40X and the 18-55 kit zoom. It was cropped and the exposure adjusted slightly using Shotwell on Project e. I’m actually pretty happy with the end product, though I may make a second pass over it once I’m in front of iPhoto.
I’m really happy with the way this one came out, given the circumstances. The photo was shot through a glass display case using the iPhone camera.
According to the display placard, this is a .38 “Smith and Wesson Special CTG” (Edited to add: I just realized the display placard is probably just echoing the barrel marking) that was carried by George H.W. Bush during his WWII service. I am not completely sure if this is the one that he was carrying when he was shot down. At some point in the near future, I intend to email the staff at the GHWB Presidential Library and ask them if they have a record of this gun’s serial number.
…’cause now I got a reasonable economy!
The Berlin Wall!
I don’t think these came out quite as well as I would have liked. I did get around to purchasing one of the Olloclip lens kits for the iPhone after my trip last year. But then I kept forgetting to take it with me when I went places. Yesterday was the first chance I’d actually had to take it out for a spin. It seems to work well, but the photos could have used a bit more light; I had the iPhone flash turned off.