Good tools are a joy to use

I’ve been accumulating new tools.  About a week ago I bought some new inks.  This past week I bought a lightpad to use in laying out pages or tracing.  Today I bought and downloaded a page layout app.  I’m ready to go.

My new inks are my old inks.  Higgins makes excellent bottled indelible inks.  I use them with my dip pens.  Their inks were among my favorites for a long time.

My other new old ink is Quink, by Parker.  As a schoolboy, I learned to love fountain pens with a Scheaffer.  But, when I became a man, I discovered Parker and a refined writing tool.

Quink is a good all-purpose ink Parker makes to fill it’s fountain pens.  It flows freely, dries quickly, has good density.  But Parker is stingy with details about its manufacture or properties.  This bothered me.

At some point I discovered Noodler’s.  It seemed perfect for both dip pen and fountain pen.  It was indelible (or nearly), had good density, yet flowed freely enough to be used in a fountain pen.  This was all true, though the free flowing fountain required attention.  But the ink dried slowly.  What I mean is that it took a long time to dry.  In the time that it took to read this essay, the first line of ink would not be dry. 

So now, I have my new old inks back.  It’s good.

I’m excited about the lightpad.  It’s an Artograph, 12 x 17.  I’ll use it for a lot of page layout tasks, as well as giving invisible bases to lines of handwriting.

I think my first experience with a light table was working on some high school rag.  It was a lot of fun.  Later, working on various publications and as a shoestring publisher, I used light tables that, if I recall, may have been 36 x 36.  That’s a lot of light, and a lot of work area.  Most were smaller.  

In my own endeavors, I had a light box about the size of a small suitcase or a large briefcase.  This new lightpad has about the same area, but is less than half an inch thick.

For page layout software, I chose Affinity Publisher.  It’s been reviewed well and rated favorably.  I haven’t tried to use it yet.

I rode into the world of desktop publishing in 1985 with a piece of software by Aldus called Pagemaker.  I think I started with version 1.4.  For someone at home with newspaper layout on real layout boards, Pagemaker made perfect sense.  I loved it.

Eventually, Adobe captured Pagemaker, and then slowly let it die.  I’ve really been at a loss for a layout application since then.  I’ve tried a few.  We’ll see how it goes with Affinity.

With these new tools, I’m fully equipped to finish my project.  It’s a collection of illustrated broadsides of poetry.  I’ve been working on it for over a year, I’m embarrassed to say, and now I’m at the final step.

You may suspect that there will be another step after the final step, and you would be right.  I’ve thought about that.

Shutterbug makes a break…

I finally created a Shutterstock portfolio.  And I uploaded some pictures from my trip to Garner State Park.  Soon I’ll be rich.

I don’t know what took me so long.  I love taking pictures, and people like them.  It’s only natural that I should publish them.

I first started taking pictures seriously (seriously?) as a young newspaper editor.  I had a really good black-and-white camera and a tiny darkroom.  Yes, I did my own darkroom work.  I published those pictures in the newspaper.

The pictures went with words, of course.  But sometimes, the words can go with pictures.  You call those captions.

I’m a word man.  Usually, when I take pictures, they go with my words.  And I use my words to paint pictures.

Every year at the winter solstice I shoot the sunrise to go with a poem.  I send those out in a card to a few thousand friends and acquaintances.  (Ask me.)  And I take pictures to go with other poems.

I guess I’m a picture man, too.  Some people call me a photographer, but I feel more like a shutterbug.  Either way, I love the visual world.  I love color and form and motion.  I look at a scene, and I’m compelled to take pictures of all that. 

I went to Garner last fall when I was trying to figure out where I am in my life.  It was a moving trip.  You can read about that (and see some pictures) here.

A big part of where I am in my life now is getting my work out there.  So, hello, Shutterstock.  I have a lot of what they sell.  And they’re willing to market it for me.  (I’m going to read their terms of service real soon.)  Look me up.