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Photography: The story behind the image

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Hermit

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It seems everyone knows about hermit crabs. Where have I been? But they are a ready target for macro photography practice. I find a shell and turn it over. The crab senses his world is upside down and emerges to turn himself upright again. We do this dance over and over. I get ready aim and fire. I’ve learned some crabs are not bright red and photogenic. I’ve learned that some crabs are faster than others. They turn over quick and then it’s a trick to be ready with the camera in time. I’m getting better. I am using super macro now. I zoom up with the digital zoom. I thought you can’t do that. But it looks like I can. So I do. Naturally. Show me a rule I can bend and I’ll do it every time. I’m still not to the level where I can image just the eyes yet. I working on it.

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I have a buddy who keeps showing me that there is a higher bar. You still have to be in the right place at the right moment.. But when that shot comes, I’ll be good to go. He’s been giving lots of folks lessons. He is the local guru of photography. His big rig Canon is quite impressive. It’s a massive housing and two flashes with double arms. The thing weighs about 25 lbs out of water. Underwater, it’s set to be neutrally buoyant. I have not taken a lesson. Cheap! But no.

When I learned to snow ski, I took a lesson. Exactly one. For four hours one morning. Mount Snow. Vermont. The instructor was busy hitting on all the girls for the four hours. I learned zip. I was married and did not need tips in meeting women. So the afternoon lesson was skipped and I learned to ski by putting on mileage. It worked. I can ski. I’m good enough to be at the bottom. In one piece. I may not look great coming down. But I sure have fun with my near escapes. How good? I’m good enough to ski down and video my kids as they go. Try looking at the slope thru a viewfinder as you go. Or to ski backwards as they come toward you. The real trick is that they would ski between and under my legs as they came by. The only caveat: “Do not under any circumstances, lift your head!” I got the video to prove it and it’s hilarious. Mileage baby.

I’m taking many many images and I keep practicing on these poor hermits. No, it’s not the same one. I got one good image. Quit? Lisa would not see the insanity. You know? Insanity – doing the same thing over and over expecting a different result. Me, I never claimed to be playing with a full deck.

Little Fishie

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Nice detail and nice background. Well, the detail in the coral helps the image. It’s why I took the image. So here’s the process. Did you want to know? No? Skip the rest and look at the fishie. First you swim by. You see the fish. You determine if it will stay put. Then you turn on the camera and the flash. Macro? Set up things by twirling the buttons and dials. Flash is done manually. There is no auto exposure. You set it up. And you set up the depth of field. And you make sure your background is uncluttered. And at high mag you are moving and so it’s exceedingly difficult to hold still while the current is pushing you up and down and to and fro. Meanwhile steady your hand and move in close whilst not scaring the poor fishie. He moves and your shot is toast. Still with me? Then you are indeed my friend. I imagine most folks would have given up on me way back. Ha! No paragraph. It makes it harder to skip ahead. Maybe you were reading along because you thought I might teach you something.

At the end of the day I like the detail in this white coral. I’d never post this image except the fishie got cooperative and stayed so that the two together make a good pair. You think this is easy? I now understand how to shoot a gun. You hold your breath and press the shutter slowly. Anything else and everything is moving and you don’t have much chance to hit a target or to get your image in focus. I’m getting quite good at holding my breath. No! That is the first rule of scuba. Breathe normally – in and out – and – out and in. But then again rules can be stretched without breaking. I’m holding in place. My lungs will be just fine. I will not pass out from lack of oxygen. And I got the shot!

In the movies the good guy shoots while falling out of a car and shoots three villians between the eyes in three shots. What you see here is a good shot. How it got here was a journey. Breathe in, breathe out.

I Lost

Bigg’s Museum ran a photo contest and I was seduced into entering. Like everything else I did not spend too much time in selecting three images for submission. You got to enter three images for $35. I think it was a fundraiser for the museum. I was persuaded to do this. Flattered into doing it. You know the drill. So I collected about twenty shots and they were passed around and around. The jury of my close admirers picked and debated. I submitted these images. I am perfectly happy to have lost. Someone better than me won. The images make me happy. In the end I have so many images that are good. Some are technically good. And others are artistically sound. There’s a difference.

The best example I could give was in painting figures. Dave and I painted detailed figures for a game we played. Jules did for a while but then lost interest. Dave kept me at it. I was technically sound. After all I was a surgeon and good with fine detail. So I could paint tiny detail and get it just so. Dave painted too. He was a kid. Mistakes and all. But his finished product was better than mine. Forget detail. We had both painted the same figures and his were better. Art. He had that “je ne sais quoi” (I don’t know what) that cannot be translated by technical excellence. That’s the difference in knowing and winning. I’m just happy that there are some folks who like what I’ve done.

By the way, the fish kissing was real and not post processed. Yes, they came together for a second, long enough for me to get the shot. I imagine it wasn’t kissing but then again, what else?

Red – As in Background

Hey! A new trick. Multiple photos are place in a mosaic. Where have I been WordPress?

I know I talking macro photography like it’s a new discovery. And for me the fascination is in the learning. Technique is half the battle. Not that you might care too much, and besides, why do they call it macro? I think that micro would be a better way to describe something close up. You know, like micro-scope? Or microscopic slide. But nope, they call it macro photography. Which is, get in close, get very close. A zoom lens does not cut it. Underwater the more distance the more dust in your way to ruin the sharpness of your image. So I got the first part ok. The next trick is composition. Background matters. And the detail – oo la la! The fish has horns. Don’t ask. I’m just taking the picture. I got a profile. It’s what I could get. Right and left side. And his mouth is open and you see reflections off the lens of the eye. When you consider that the camera takes care of itself I feel fortunate to have the capability to utilize its potential. There is some skill involved. You have to know when to press the shutter. Otherwise it’s pretty simple.

So red, the background, it’s coral – you know – it’s why they call it the Red Sea. And my fish posed perfectly. And if he had not, the image would not have been nearly as striking. I am just getting beyond where I happy to just have a macro image. Now I can go for composition and background. Yay! I’m still not giving up my day job.

 

 

Eggs

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The chicken or the egg? Clownfish reproduce. Cool! They laid their eggs on the wall of coral beside their protector, the anemone. Mama, papa, they look the same to me. That’s a nice thing. Eggs need protection. We were a few days early. I showed you the embryos with eyes not too long ago. Now, I got a few really nice images close-up. The eggs in fact look pretty detailed. I have no complaint. It’s not easy to spot the eggs. And then the fish nip at you as you move in to take a picture. Alas, by the time we return in a week the eggs will have hatched. Not many will survive to maturity. I’d come back to photograph the developing eggs but I have a day job.

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This Was Small

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Look, I admit to being a certain age. And it’s beyond middle. Who lives to 100? That’s all I will say. I discovered I needed glasses when I was lost in Puerto Rico and tried but failed to read a map in a rental car’s interior dome light. That’s another story. But suffice to say when I visited my good buddy ophthalmologist he said, “You need glasses. Go to K Mart (yup, K Mart!!) and get a pair of 1.50 reading glasses.” Darn if that didn’t work for almost twenty years. I’m pretty lucky. My vision without glasses is good mostly. Dim light is bad for me. In the operating room, well, that’s different. I used strong headlight illumination – halogen then xenon. It worked till recently. Then I succumbed and got proper prescription glasses which I promptly crushed in my pocket. So now they are always on my head to avoid crush injury.

Back to my post… I dive with a guy who would be supernatural. He must have another sense. Maybe he sees infrared. But no, that won’t work in an ocean full of marine life. Who knows?! The son of a gun can spot things that mere mortals, even with good vision, cannot possibly see. This nudibranch is tiny. How small? Smaller that 1/16 inch. Who knows. It was so small that he took my close up lens and piggybacked it to his and then shot with +20 diopter. I hovered. It looked like dust, maybe a piece of stray debris. I mean I was looking now that he was all over the subject. Yeah. Really! And when I took my turn and got my shot, I could only see this in retrospect on the screen of my computer. Yes, it ain’t fair that some people can spot stuff I would have no ordinary hope of seeing. Hey! Look close, the rhinopores have striations. That’s really fine detail. Do I sound impressed? Well, I am unabashedly happy to have been there to get this shot.

Gun Battery

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The site of the watchtowers had gun batteries of all sorts. This site gu.arded Cape May and it required guns capable of throwing a projectile more than ten miles. This would guard the harbor in case of invasion by ship. In other words it could hurl a shell from Delaware across the water to New Jersey. As near as I can estimate this took a 16 inch artillery shell.

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And of course, this required a very large gun. So we had an opportunity to look at the gun and shell up close. It’s a very large canon. And it shoots a big shell. And the armor it will pierce is quite thick. How thick? As much as David’s forearm thick.

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Are you impressed? I am. And to think this all started from a Chinese invention for fireworks and progressed to mass destruction from miles away with truly massive armament. And all of this is antiquated and way out of fashion. I do not believe such a shell or gun would ever be of use nowadays.

IMG_4463It appears that the principle of groves in a rifle barrel to create spin to improve accuracy is applied to large canon as well. Ignore the trash. This is a big gun!

All Along The Watchtower

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I’m down in Delaware with the boy. Dave was the first male born to Lisa’s side of the family. Two sisters married to guys who were three brothers and the first grandkids were three daughters. Everyone kindly kidded me and said the fourth would surely be a girl. Nope. Ha! Fooled ‘em all. Dave was a surprise so much that whenever Lisa’s family would call they would ask, “How’s the boy?” Naturally. He’s left handed like his dad. Now that he’s bigger but not older, he abuses the old man when he can.

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Or should I say tease? I reference an old Dylan song from the ‘60’s. There really were watchtowers in Delaware during World War II to watch for German naval boats.

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These towers were associated with gun batteries and guarded key harbors against invasion. Many towers are still preserved. We took a ride to a site and got to climb the tower and see what the Army saw. I do not think they ever had to fire a shot but the site is still eerie and impressive. The tower is not to photogenic. It’s a curiosity sticking up in the skyline from the road. Warfare has changed such that they will never be relevant. And so a park has sprung up from the site. The military presence seems to have discouraged development of prime beach front. It works for me.

Leaping – Wall

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Remember the wall? The nine foot one from yesterday? Hey! Sometimes the posts link. Jumping is an art. To do it the lazy way needs no real leap of height. It’s an illusion. Just bend your knees as you go. Then you will look high without hurting yourself. It also helps if the photographer (you know who you are) presses the shutter while you are in the air. Otherwise it looks like you are holding up your hands at a stick up. Hmmmm? That begs the question, do you know what, “Meet you at the pass” means? It’s an old west term from the movies, when the bandits split up to escape the posse. They would say, “Split up. We’ll meet again at the pass.” It seems they don’t say that in the movies any more. And you need to be a certain age (old) to know the term.

So there was this metal bridge in the park that cut over and across the highway.

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Neat. It made for a photo op. I did not have time to plan. It was cold and slightly rainy. Windy. Hey, it was Chicago! No standing around in the rain.

I Thought Different

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I thought cats hated water. I thought they hated to be wet. I thought they hated baths. And mostly I think they do – not like water. And there’s always the exception. His name is Willow. He’s fat. You would need side by side comparison. But trust me, he’s fat. Well, relative to Lulu, he is. Funny! I was never ever a cat person. The felines are not friendly and don’t do as you please. They don’t roll over and they never fetch. Cats train humans to do their bidding. How? It’s like being subservient to your spouse. You live longer. So. Willow stands by the sink. He jumps to the counter from a standing position. That would be like me leaping a nine foot wall in a single bound. Nope, not me, not on a good day and never ever on a bad day. Then he waits. Lurks. Just sits patiently until I notice him. Then he gets all excited. I let the water trickle and he might jump into the sink or not. He will let the water run over his cheeks. And he will lap at it. This goes on for several minutes. Then he’s done. Meanwhile I watch. He gets soaked. He soaks the counter and the floor. He splashes and frolics. I get to clean up. It’s kind of like cleaning up after my kids. Oh joy!

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