The Last Straw

I’ve been using the expression “the last straw” for most of my life without really appreciating the metaphor. I’ve been fine with “last” – done, finished, the end, punto final. It’s the “straw” that I haven’t really thought about. That changed this morning. Contemplating moving my negative digitizing setup from my office upstairs to my desk in the apartment I brought the little Logan light box downstairs to see if it would fit in one of the desk drawers. It did fit, but when I took it back upstairs and turned it on to look at some negatives it flickered briefly and went off. “That’s it, I’m done,” I thought. 

And I meant it. I was ready pack in the whole 35mm digitizing business and go back to shooting MF and scanning the negatives with the Epson flatbed. I was not ready to track down a replacement bulb, and then buy a replacement light box if that didn’t work. This despite the fact that the cost of doing either, or both, would be minimal compared with that of the rest of my 35mm setup. That’s when it finally dawned on me that it’s not the weight of the last straw that matters. It’s the fact that, for whatever reason, and however little it weighs, it really does break the camel’s back. 

I was already predisposed to switch back to medium format. That has always been the case when I am shooting 35mm and my MF gear is packed up and put away. The opposite has always been true too. When I am shooting MF and the 35mm gear is packed up and put away I am more or less continually tempted by 35mm. The difference this time was that a relatively minor setback with the 35mm kit had the potential to make it slightly easier to switch from 35mm to MF and harder to switch back, and I don’t remember that being true before.

Back up in my office, I opened the light box and tried twisting the florescent bulb in it’s sockets, removing it, swapping it end for end, putting it back in and twisting it some more, all to no avail. Finally, as a last ditch effort, I used a pair of needle nose pliers to jump the circuit across the on/off switch, and to my surprise it worked! I removed the switch, twisted the appropriate wires together, soldered them, gave them a quick wrap with BPET and the light box is back in business. I’ll buy an inline switch at the hardware store tomorrow so I don’t have to plug it in and out to turn it on and off. 

All of which is a very long winded way of saying that my commitment to 35mm over MF, or vice versa, is a mile wide and an inch deep. More to come, I’m afraid.

2 thoughts on “The Last Straw”

  1. I see you have the same difficulties making decisions as me… swaying from one final choice to the next. Sometimes we think ‘signs’, like the bulb in your lightbox failing, are guiding us but no, the next day that choice seems stupid and all bets are off once more…

    Happy decision making!


  2. One difference between 35mm and MF that might actually influence a final choice is that I am more and more convinced that I should move all of my photo work from my office upstairs into our little apartment and that means using a 13″ laptop rather that a 27″ desktop, and the little square MF images look very tiny on the laptop screen. The 35mm 2:3 aspect ratio is a much better fit with the laptop screen.


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