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The Power of Power

Whereas once photography ran on chemical reactions and sheer guts, digital photography and digital editing rely on power. No matter how good or how daring you may be as a photographer, you are dependent on electrical power. Something to think about.

They were predicting heavy winds this weekend, and we got them. Power flickered off and on, and then went out for good. It's well into the afternoon now, and I'm typing this courtesy of the battery in my laptop. Even the cell towers got knocked out initially, although I was able to get at least some signal again after a while. It's normal to be totally disconnected when out camping. That's part of the freedom and the joy of it. But to be completely cut off while at home is something I haven't experienced in many years now. Weird not having at least a cell signal. I remember living in a Houston apartment in 1983 when Hurricane Alicia struck. My unit was built on stilts above the parking area, and it gently swayed all night. Back then it wasn't the Internet that went down when the power did, it was the radio. Everything went black and silent. As the eye of the hurricane later passed overhead, I walked around the neighborhood to marvel at the fallen branches and other such damage. Thankfully, nothing major to report beyond a fallen tree blocking the road. But my car radio ran off battery, so I gingerly turned it on to see how the world beyond had fared. Then the winds came back, and everything started all over, but blowing from the opposite direction. That's how hurricanes work, you see.

This was nowhere near that severe, but apparently two major arterials here are blocked by trees. I can report that the neighbor behind me lost a large tree branch this morning. That's going to take some effort to clean up. And I just lost my cellphone signal again for a bit — likely a sign of more necessary clean-up being done out there. In an unrelated matter, my home cable internet was down for nearly two days earlier in the week. Turns out they need to run a new underground line to fully restore service. That's a different kind of power in today's world. Not everything works, or works fully, without Internet access. Ah, how spoiled we are.

When I go camping on a photo trip, I find that I rely much more on my phone these days than on my laptop. I've noticed that I have been increasingly at home, too. On the road, it takes far less power to operate and provides but Wi-Fi and cellular access. Not that long ago, I carried a 110-volt inverter connected to the car battery to drive my laptop for any period. Now, all I need is a lithium battery power pack and my phone, and I only lug the laptop for extended trips. I have quite a few different power pack models, from small ones that fit in your pocket to bigger ones that sit on a shelf. For convenience, I like the ones that can charge more than one device at a time.

One of the other things I need to keep charged is my LED headlamp. If you haven't looked for a new one latterly, I recommend you take a gander. I like ones that can be recharged via USB so I can stop consuming so many AA and AAA batteries. Buy two so you can charge one while using the other. My power may be out now, but I can have light as needed on demand without sacrificing the use of either hand. I may be feebly attempting to make dinner shortly by the light of my LED headband.

I've never understood the obsession over third-party camera batteries. Depending on where you are willing to shop, you can get some great deals on unknown branded batteries. But doing so always seemed shortsighted to me. I want reliable batteries and while Nikon may not be the cheapest or the most state of the art, but there's one thing I know for certain is that they are safe and reliable. People spend into the thousands of dollars on camera gear but draw the line on investing $35 more on an actual Nikon battery confuse me. But then I grew up in an era in which you were eventually certain to have an AA-alkaline explode in your camera body. Boy, did that take some work to clean up. And I'd prefer not to have one catch fire — as poorly constructed lithium batteries have been known to. That would be a major clean-up.

Wherever you find yourself, make sure you're prepared for the winds of weather and the winds of fate. Consider your power needs because you will eventually. And you don't want the first time to be when you're cut off and without power. Battery technology has improved immeasurably in recent years. Although I grow increasingly tempted, I can't yet justify buying an electric car. But I can certainly benefit in other ways from the innovations that are driving the electric automobile market. Did you see what I did there with that car driving pun?

Anyway, that's the power of power. The events of this week have caught me without anything prepared to write about today. But as fortune can lie hidden in any situation, I find myself with the perfect subject falling right into my lap. Better an article subject than a fallen neighbor's tree landing there, if you'll allow me to so stipulate. But before I need to recharge this laptop, I think I'll end for now. Be safe and powerful out there everyone!

Date posted: October 24, 2021


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Hurricane Katrina and the Power of Photography
Power to the People

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