Personal

Too many books

I’ve been a reader as far back as I can remember — more nonfiction than fiction, and more short works than long books. But I love to read.

A book about me

I used to keep every book I read. That way, there was a lasting physical connection to the feelings and thoughts each book stirred in me.

Additionally, from my mid-20s until about my mid-30s I edited books, for a while as my main job and later as a side gig. Publishers sent me a copy of every book I edited. They were like my babies; how could I let any of them go?

I had shelves and shelves full of books, and more in closets, and some in boxes in the garage.

And then my first marriage ended. Nearly broke, I downsized into a 300-square-foot apartment. There was no room for most of my stuff, let alone my books.

As I sorted through them, I realized I had read only tiny fraction of them more than once. It finally struck me that keeping them was just wasting space. I sold or gave away all but a short stack of books that represented a cherished memory or that affected me deeply.

I took to borrowing books from the library, and later buying them for my Kindle. The cloud can store far more books than my house can! And when it’s time to move to a new house, the Kindle is far lighter than a whole library of books.

This was part of a larger change in the way I looked at stuff. I had tons of it, and to fit in my tiny home I could keep almost none of it. So I got rid of it — and then I felt free owning so little. It shocked me how good it felt.

I eventually bought a house again, but did not return to my accumulating ways. I furnished the place and I bought things I needed to function there. But periodically, and especially when I sold the place a couple years ago, I went through my stuff and got rid of things I didn’t use regularly.

In recent years my hobbies have led me to buy paper books again. I own a couple dozen books related to transportation history, which I use to research my road trips. They are all long out of print and not available electronically.

I started buying books of photographs a few years ago. It’s lovely to see photographs printed, rather than always on screens. I own a book of Polaroids made by Ansel Adams, one of 1930s New York scenes by Berenice Abbott, a collection of Edward Weston images, and a lovely book about making photographs around one’s home by Andrew Sanderson. I’ve learned a lot studying these works of accomplished photographers. I also own a couple dozen zines, chapbooks, and Blurb books published by other photo bloggers. I’m a sucker for those. If you make one, I’ll probably buy it.

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Photography, Road Trips

Published: My photo of a stainless-steel 1950s diner on US 40 in Plainfield, Indiana

My photo of a 1950s stainless-steel diner on US 40 east of Plainfield is featured in a new book from Indiana Landmarks.

The Diner
Minolta X-700, 50mm f/1.7 Minolta MD, Fujifilm Fujicolor 200, 2009

The book, Rescued and Restored, “celebrates remarkable historic places snatched from the wrecking ball or lifted from decades of neglect.” So says the Web page Indiana Landmarks put up about the book, which includes a link to purchase a copy. See it here.

My copy of the book arrived last week, and it is a lush look at many beautiful and interesting historic structures around Indiana, telling their stories and showing photographs before and after they were restored.

You’ll find the Oasis Diner on page 77. It was manufactured by Mountain View Diners, a New Jersey company, in 1954 and shipped to its original site on US 40 east of Plainfield. It operated there until 2008.

Stainless-steel diners like these were once common on the American roadscape, but have dwindled in number over the years. Indiana Landmarks worked with the City of Plainfield to find it a new place to operate, and new owners who would restore it.

In 2014 the diner was moved about four miles west, still on US 40 but in downtown Plainfield. After an extensive restoration, including a recreation of the original Oasis sign that had been removed many years before, the Oasis Diner reopened for business in November, 2014. I made this photo on my first visit, about a month later.

Oasis Diner
Canon PowerShot S95, 2014

I have thin memories of passing this diner by from trips along US 40 as early as 1984. I first paid real attention to it on my 2006 road trip along US 40 and the National Road in western Indiana. I made that trip again in 2009, which is when I made the featured photograph. See this post for a writeup of this stop on both of those road trips.

When the Oasis Diner was being moved and restored, Indiana Landmarks asked for permission to use my photograph in their publications. I gave it happily. I am a Landmarks member and support their mission. I loved the thought that one of my documentary road-trip photos could find a useful purpose beyond being on my blog. My photo appeared in news articles about the diner, as well as in at least one issue of Indiana Landmarks’ monthly member magazine.

I thought that would be it, but then this year they used it again in an email to members announcing the book. Had they not done that I might never have known they published it in this book!

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Excel and PowerPoint

My secret life as an author
Nikon N8008, 28-80mm f/3.3-5.6 AF Nikkor
Kodak Tri-X 400
2017

I used to edit and, sometimes, write books about popular software applications.

I started doing this in 1994. It was the job that brought me to Indianapolis from Terre Haute, at a time when the “For Dummies” franchise was red hot. That job turned out to be a sweatshop grind, and I left it after just eighteen months. Shortly I made connections with a competing publisher and edited on the side for several more years.

The two pictured books have my work in them. The PowerPoint book was originally written by the two other authors listed on the spine. But PowerPoint marches on, and new features are added. The publisher paid me nicely to update the entire book for what was then PowerPoint’s latest version. You don’t see my name on the Excel book’s spine because I was a ghost author, contributing to about half of the chapters.

My favorite work was technical editing, which made sure the books were accurate. Nobody wants to spend $30 on an instructional book only to have it steer them wrong! The publisher paid me by the page, and I was fast, so my effective hourly rate was high.

I gave up the work near the end of my first marriage, as I wanted my nights and weekends back. My first wife and I paid down a lot of debt from editing money. I wouldn’t mind picking up a little side editing now, for the same reason.

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Film Photography, Stories Told

single frame: My secret life as an author

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Photography

A gentle plug for my two books as Christmas nears

Books of my photography make great gifts for yourself, or for the photographer in your life!

My newest book, Textures of Ireland, collects black-and-white photographs I made on a 2016 trip to the emerald isle. If you like travel photography, or rich black-and-whites, you’ll enjoy this book.

From the book’s introduction: “We rented a car and drove to Ireland’s northern tip. Over several days we slowly made our way back to Galway, passing through Portrush, Letterkenny, Donegal, Ardara, Killybegs, Sligo, Ballinrobe, Clifden, and Oughterard. The beach town of Barna, a short distance from Galway City, was our home base for the next several days.

“I chose T-Max for its low grain and well-managed contrast, in its ISO 400 form so I could confidently make photographs in a wide range of available light. I had no idea it would yield photographs so rich in detail you want to touch them, and when you do you’re surprised that your fingers can’t feel the textures.”

Textures of Ireland, 36 pages, $14.99 plus shipping. Printed on demand at Blurb.com.

My first book, Exceptional Ordinary, is a collection of images I’ve made with my favorite film camera, the Pentax ME.

From the book’s introduction: “You can realistically expect any working 35mm SLR to perform well. With rare exception, they come with good features and optics. … Get even a basic body in working condition and even an entry-level prime lens like a 50mm f/2 and you can make wonderful photographs for years.

“I didn’t know any of that when I went looking for my first SLR. I simply wanted a Pentax K1000, as it was the SLR I knew best. I was once married to a pro photographer who did wonderful work with hers. … But even 20 years after the venerated K1000 went out of production, prices on the used market were more than I was willing to pay. But I kept coming upon another Pentax SLR, the ME, and they sold for peanuts. And it took all of the same lenses as the K1000. So I bought one. And I fell in love with it.”

Exceptional Ordinary, 44 pages, $14.99 plus shipping. Printed on demand at Blurb.com.

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Film Photography

Photos from my new book, Textures of Ireland

Here are a few photos from my new book, Textures of Ireland, to show you the incredible scenes I captured on black-and-white film. Don’t these images look almost three dimensional? I shot Kodak T-Max 400 film, by the way, in my Nikon N2000 through my 35mm f/2.8 AI Nikkor lens for all of these photos.

If you’d like to buy a copy of my book, scroll to the bottom for links.

Portrush

Portrush, County Antrim, Northern Ireland.

Sligo Abbey

Sligo Abbey, Sligo Town.

At Kylemore Abbey

Kylemore Abbey, Connemara, County Galway.

St. Stephen's Green

Caretaker’s house at St. Stephen’s Green, Dublin.

TexturesOfIrelandIcon Textures of Ireland Book

A copy of my book, Textures of Ireland, printed on demand and mailed to you from Blurb.com.

$14.99 plus shipping

Buy-Now-button

 

Textures of Ireland PDF

A copy of my book, Textures of Ireland, as a PDF — which I will email within 24 hours to the address you provide.

$4.99

 

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Film Photography

My new book: Textures of Ireland

Ireland is a country of color — especially green, in astonishing shades across its rolling countryside.

texturesofirelandcover1.pngYet I shot black-and-white film all over that country, looking for light and shadow. What I got was a set of images with such texture that you want to touch them. When you do, you’ll be surprised not to feel the textures in your fingertips, as if they were pressed into the pages in relief.

My new book, Textures of Ireland, shares the best of my black-and-white photographs. You’ll see scenes from Northern Ireland in the region where the show Game of Thrones is filmed, country scenes from Ireland’s rich northern and eastern counties, as well as ruins and modern architecture from cities and towns.

I’m offering my book in two ways: a traditional paper book printed on demand at Blurb.com, or as a PDF. The PDF is the fastest and least expensive way to see my book — but the textures come out best by far in print. I hope you’ll buy a copy today!

Textures of Ireland by Jim Grey, 36 pages, published via Blurb.com.

TexturesOfIrelandIcon Textures of Ireland Book

A copy of my book, Textures of Ireland, printed on demand and mailed to you from Blurb.com.

$14.99 plus shipping

Buy-Now-button

Textures of Ireland PDF

A copy of my book, Textures of Ireland, as a PDF — which I will email within 24 hours to the address you provide.

$4.99

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